ornament 31 October 2003 ornament

Getting What You Pay For

I don’t know how many times I heard my mom say it when I was growing up; “You get what you pay for…” Well, consider me finally learned of this in respect to web hosting. I haven’t posted in a few days—and it’s not because I’ve been sleeping in on account of Daylight Savings Time.

My webhost (which is now my former webhost), WebHostingBuzz.com, decided on Wednesday night that they would ban the Movable Type software which I use to run this blog. This effectively shut me out of my weblog completely. No warning, they (or more correctly, “he” (I think WebhostingBuzz is a one-man show) simply banned it because they claimed it used 90% of the server loads when the program was running. I think this claim is probably fallacious, but the terms of service allowed them to do so. This is not the only thing that has been banned since I started with them six months ago. Audio files were the first to go, and then email usage was limited—all without warning. My brother aptly commented, “at this rate image files will be banned because they take up server load.”

I was a fool. I paid $30 because they offered me what seemed like a steal—200 MB web space, 5 GB traffic, php/MySQL, etc. I’m usually pretty cautious, so I read the reviews on this website that reviews webhosts. Everyone was really positive about WebHostingBuzz.com. This was too good to be true, so I signed up.

I soon found out why the reviews were so good. In the first email with all my account information, there was the following offer:

1. Upgrade your hosting account to the next level absolutely FREE!!!
Q: What would you have to do for this FREE upgrade?
Ans: Due to overwhelming client appreciation letters, we have decided to go for some independent reviews about our services. If you feel that you are satisfied with our services and would like to rate us, kindly do so at:
http://www.findmyhosting.com/addrating.asp?id=6027
Please find time and contribute on your end. Your ratings will boost our morale and dedication to serve you better. Once you submit a rating, we would upgrade your account FREE within 6-12 hours.

I fell for this one too. I was pleased with the intial service, so I thought, “Why not?” Unwittingly I was contributing to a paid advertising scheme that gave the appearance of objective reviews.

Therefore, now I’m here pleading with anyone who is looking for webhosting, STAY AWAY from WebHostingBuzz.com! I even asked to be let back into my blog until I had time to find another host only to be told “we are very sorry.”

Thankfully I’ve found a new host, Amhosting.com, that has bit more proven track record—I’ve used them with another site and I know others who have had success with them. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

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ornament 27 October 2003 ornament

Reading Required

I’ve written briefly on this before, but the importance of the written word to the Christian faith cannot be overstressed. Very helpful in adding stress to this point is a new WORLD magazine feature by Gene Edward Veith. In the article, Veith aptly defends the necessity of reading for Christians—after all, we are a people of “the Book:”

Imagination as a human capacity is extraordinarily important, and greatly neglected. Imagination is not some mystified “creativity” that is the sole province of artsy types. If you can picture the tree in your back yard or recall the new car smell or visualize the finished product while you are still working on it, you have imagination. But those who merely consume visual images by sitting passively in front of a TV screen are absorbing the products of someone else’s imagination. Those who created the TV shows are indeed using their imaginations, just as they are writing and reading, but the viewer’s mind is not left with much to do. Read a novel, though, and your mind, as led by the storyteller, is doing the imagining.

So reading remains indispensable. Even television scripts have to be first written and then read. For the ancient Canaanites, the ability to read was reserved for the priesthood, whose monopoly on knowledge gave them power. The biblical legacy is that everyone should read, with power dispersed. Many people today care less about this power and therefore lose it—but leaders and culture-makers continue to read. Christians too, as “people of the Book,” continue to read. This means that thoughtful, reading Christians can also be leaders and culture-makers, especially if their non-Christian peers just watch television.

There seems to be something special about formulating the image in our mind based on words. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t go so far as to say that television is morally evil—but it does occupy much of our time, and to what end? Rarely can we say that we walk away from a television show having gained any insight into life.

What is it about the television that compels us to sit in front of it regardless of what is flashing across the screen? This may be an oversimplification, but I think laziness is part of it—for me anyway. It’s easier to let the television form the pictures while your brain rests. It’s a struggle sometimes to pick up a book, and use my imagination to connect the dots. It is a struggle, however, that we Christians must face in order to mature in the faith. The Bible, after all, has been given to us not in pictures but in words. And words are significant as we follow the Word that was with God and was God.

UPDATE: Study Links TV Habits to Reading Trouble. Oh, the irony…

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ornament 25 October 2003 ornament

Fall Back

For those of you in the United States, don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour tonight. If you’re interested in finding out more about Daylight Savings Time, this website has a good history of the practice.

I used to think that Daylight Savings Time was only an American practice, but when I lived in Belarus, my friend called me to tell me to set my clock back because of the time change. I thought he was pulling my leg, so I feigned agreement and disregarded what he said. I was early to church the next morning.

Daylight Savings Time is international, it does appear.

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The Third Saturday in October

Vols 51, Crimson Tide 43

After 5 gut-wrenching overtimes, Tennessee defeated Alabama tonight to take the traditional third Saturday in October meeting. Neither team played especially well, but most importantly Tennessee played slightly better than Alabama. It always feels good to beat Alabama, and I feel that the old rivalry that has waned in the past few years has been recharged—especially after this game. Go Vols!

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ornament 24 October 2003 ornament

The Iceman

There are men, and then there are men. No, I’m not talking about Casey Clausen, Tennessee’s rough-and-tumble quarterback sometimes called “the Iceman,” I’m talking about THE Iceman. It appears that The Iceman, an Icelandic fishing captain, caught a 660lb. shark with his bare hands, dragged it to shore, and killed it with a knife. All in a day’s work.

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ornament 21 October 2003 ornament

Boykin’s “Blunder”

The furor over comments made by U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Boykin in speeches he made in churches regarding Islam shows just how ignorant many of our government officials are regarding religion. Boykin said things in the speeches to the effect that Muslims worship an idol and not a real God.

Of course, the PC crowd is all upset about this because the usual line that someone will be offended. Even Republican Senator John Warner is suggesting that Boykin be reassigned from his intelligence post. Surely a man in such a position shouldn’t be making inflammatory remarks, should he? This could cause hate or even violence toward Muslims, couldn’t it?

I suggest that Sen. Warner and his PC crowd take a survey of historic Christian doctrine. Even better, pick up the Bible. Take Isaiah 45:21, for example, “Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me.”

One might say that Christians and Muslims serve the same god in different ways, but if pressed a serious Muslim and a serious Christian could not agree on this point. The clincher is that Christians believe that Jesus Christ and the God the Father are one. A Muslim would never agree to this—Muslims I’ve talked to about this get nervous even discussing it—it is blasphemous to them.

All this to say that Christians do not believe that Muslims worship an accurate God, and Muslims do not believe that Christians worship a real God. The big shocker in all of this is that this is not a big shocker at all. Christians and Muslims have had opposing beliefs since the inception of Islam in the seventh century. To pretend that this is not so is just that—pretending!

I may have some differences with some of Boykin’s claims—I don’t think, for example that America is quite the Christian nation that he said it is in his speeches. I think the current firestorm he’s under quickly dispels that notion. I do believe, however, that he has the right to assert Christian beliefs even as an intelligence officer—especially in a church with like-minded believers.

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ornament 20 October 2003 ornament

The Box Cutter Boy

John Derbyshire has a pretty good idea about the guy who smuggled bags of box cutters onto two Southwest Airlines planes:

I think the guy performed a valuable public service. In fact, in the spirit of Inspector Clouseau encouraging his valet to ambush him, by way of keeping him alert, I’d like to propose a system of federal rewards to be given to anyone successfully smuggling dangerous objects through airport security. (To avoid nasty accidents, you would only be eligible for one of the rewards if you declared your contraband at the departure gate, just before boarding the plane.) It could be one on a sliding scale: $1,000 for a box cutter, $10,000 for a shoe bomb, $100,000 for a live hand grenade, $1,000,000 for a nuclear weapon… That sort of thing.

The guy does deserve some justice for scaring everyone, but he also exposes a gaping hole. This story kind of reminds me of the story of Mathias Rust, who landed his Cessna in Red Square in May 1987. The Soviets were so embarrassed that besides “rewarding” Rust with some prison time, they fired about 2,000 officers.

I think that the many of the security procedures we face today would be laughed at by any terrorist seriously want to do some harm. I even had my Leatherman Micra confiscated at a sporting event—now that’s a real weapon! (I wonder why Al-Qaeda isn’t armed with those…) The more effective security measures are being taken on the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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The Times & Post-Gender America

Russell Moore has good take on post-gender America as he examines the New York Times Style section. After wading through the mire of spouse roles, violent women, “metrosexuals,” and same-sex partnerships, Moore concludes:

…this is one small section from one newspaper on one random Sunday morning. But there is much at stake here. The revolt against one’s gender might be seen as a desperate cry of self-loathing. But it is much more than that. The apostle Paul says that it is ultimately a revolt against the Creator Himself (Rom 1:24-28). This is nothing new. Divine revelation has warned against the consequences of disordered sexuality since the mysterious incident of the sons of God and the daughters of men in the early pages of Genesis.

This is an important point—the annulment of gender that is going on in our society says, in effect, that God did a poor job when he created us. Sometimes I wonder just how far proponents of the post-gender movement can actually go—surely no further than the physical markers of gender we each have on our bodies. Surely not…

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ornament 18 October 2003 ornament

I Cannot…I Will Not…Recant!

Last night we went to see the film Luther, the new movie about the 16th Century reformer Martin Luther. It’s only playing in limited release, so we had to go to the old, run down cinema here in Louisville. Most of the kids in line behind us at the box office were there to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre. When we went into the theater, my wife and I were the only two people there until 10 minutes before it started, when finally about 20 people found their seats. Judging by all these markers, this had all the makings of a bad film.

Luther

One hour and fifty-three minutes later, I could easily say that this was one of the best films I’ve seen all year—not that there has been much competition this year. The movie was historically accurate, and Joseph Fiennes did an unexpectedly good job as Luther. Peter Ustinov gave a likeable performace as Frederick the Wise, and the rest of the cast supported the story well.

One of the best things the movie does is to capture the cost of Luther’s actions, alongside what was happening before Luther spoke out. I know I’m overly biased in recommending this film—after all, I’m a theology student, and I’ve sat in under Dr. Tom Nettles rousing lectures on Luther. All the same, this movie did stay true to Luther’s theology, and the gospel is heard in the film. It’s strange to see a film with a Christian message done so well. The last I can remember is Left Behind, oops—I mean Chariots of Fire.

I’ve seen several more negative reviews, saying that the film is boring, or places Luther in too positive a light. Thomas Hibbs, probably my favorite movie reviewer, argues that Luther is too dull. I believe though, that Hibbs is Catholic, and obviously wouldn’t get as charged up regarding a film about a man who severely shook up the Catholic Church.

The only thing I can see that the movie suffers from is the fact that it has to cram so many events of Luther’s life into so little time. Other than that, I highly recommend this historical, moving film about a man who changed the world.

8 out of 10—I will not recant!

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ornament 17 October 2003 ornament

Modern Flirting

An intriguing Washington Post feature laments the passing of the “good ol’ days” of the male-female flirtation game:

In the spirit of gender equality, many a young woman has discarded the slow, subtle arts of flirtation and charm that females have used successfully on males for millennia, and replaced them with quick, direct strikes: punching her number into his cell phone memory, rubbing his shoulders, grinding with him on the dance floor, hooking up in the spare bedroom at a party.

I think that one of the cheif problems with the feminist movement is that rather than bringing equality to gender roles, it has encouraged women to step into roles of men. This negation of female sex roles has made the world of courtship even more confusing than it already was—though I think that “confusion” was an integral part of the game.

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