August 2003


Two new images of Mars (a little red pebble) taken from Hubble were posted at space.com today (the second one goes up at 4pm EST). Apparently we’re closer to Mars than we have been in 59,619 years and we won’t be this close until 2287. The big advantage here is that we get some great photos that will hopefully inspire us to spend more money in sending a man there. Wired doesn’t seem to think that is going to happen any time soon.

The conspiracy theorist in my wonders if it’s a coincidence that these photos are coming out a day after a report blaming “NASA culture” for the Columbia crash?

I recently served as the contemporary music minister at an old church in Indianapolis. As with every urban church these days, the congreagation was split in to those who go to the traditional service and those who go contemporary service. Last summer we experimented with a “blended service” meaning that both congregations met together each Sunday. Obviously, some people liked it and some didn’t. A major reason the traditional crowd didn’t like the blend was that they found the use of PowerPoint annoying and distracting. One reason for this was that the screen blocked their view of the gorgeous stained glass at the front of the church. Another reason is that they just hated PowerPoint presentation.

Wired has a casually related PointCounter Point regarding the use of PowerPoint.

Secular criticism of the Church always makes for an interesting read. Usually, the writing is ignorant… obviously written by an unbelieving outsider who is astonished that people still believe this stuff. This article (requires free registration) via Urban Onramps is no exception.

Americans believe, 58 percent to 40 percent, that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. In contrast, other developed countries overwhelmingly believe that it is not necessary. In France, only 13 percent agree with the U.S. view.

What’s the problem here? Morality isn’t decided by popular vote. The first two of the famous 10 commandments have to do with proper belief in God’s identity and they form the foundation of then entire point of Judaism and Christianity. Both faiths use a word to describe morality without a proper understanding of God as revealed in sctipture. Idolatry.

I’m not denigrating anyone’s beliefs. And I don’t pretend to know why America is so much more infused with religious faith than the rest of the world. But I do think that we’re in the middle of another religious Great Awakening, and that while this may bring spiritual comfort to many, it will also mean a growing polarization within our society.

This, however, is a good point. The type of polarization (terrorism, witch hunts, Crusades) this author is writing about will always happen when flocks of people seek to bend God to match their political and moral preferences. History has always shown that religion when used for purposes other than worship of God is a very ugly thing.

Guardian reports on the rise and fall of the cosmos (via SlashDot).

Present day

New calculations show that star formation has peaked. Not enough new stars are being born to replace those dying. Astronomers say the universe is getting dimmer.

5bn years ahead

So many stars have gone out that scientists predict the universe will be half as bright as it is now. The sun will swell to become a red giant until it engulfs Earth.

? billion years ahead

All the stars have long burned out and the cosmos is a cold and dark place. Dead stars and black holes are all that remain.

Better enjoy the good times while they last. With all the advances in modern medecine you might still be alive then.

Ever stumble across something that you immediately realize could change your life forever? Click here.

You’ve been wondering how the east coast power outage started? CNN and the US Government are liars. IMAO has the real story and a fine suggestion for how to deal with the… uh.. problem.

Much like InstaPundit, I’ve been meaning to be better about keeping on top of the burgeoning world of video games.One that has caught my interest is called Republic: The Revolution which I first read about it in a Wired Magazine review. Though the article is old (from October), Elixir Studios is just now getting around to releasing the game.

The game’s premise is that you are one of a million citizens living in a former Soviet Republic called Novistrana which is ruled by a heavy-handed dictator. From the official website:

Starting with a single loyal supporter create a powerful nationwide faction strong enough to oust the President and take control. Using either your Influence, Wealth or Force, gain the allegiance of prominent public figures including members of the Secret Police, Councillors, Celebrities, Priests, and Criminals. Hundreds of diverse actions enable you to order and manipulate the masses from rallies and riots to constructing crime syndicates, holding charity galas, organising secret police ‘hits’ or broadcasting news propaganda.

In the past, I grew bored with this type of game because the same bad guy was always hiding around the same dark corner. This resulted in me feeling more like I was Bill Murray in Groundhog Day than a counter-terrorist fighting a splinter rebel group in Chechnya. The interesting thing about this game is that each of the million people is individually programmed with a unique artificial intelligence engine. The result is (or is advertised to be) that each person in the game’s world is as close to human as the character you control.

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