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Church of Lee February 12, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in News and politics, Personal, Religion.
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My mother wrote me an email last night expressing a bit of spiritual hollowness. I dashed off a rather flip response, something to the tune of, “beats the hell out of me what it’s all about”. I don’t want to seem flip about this but religions seem to be headline grabbing lately, all of it based on fire, death and hatred from Tehran to Texas. I am expressly concerned with the Iranian prospects of nuclear war over a cartoon. Everybody is going to hell tortured in eternal flame forever except for us. The only difference I’ve been seeing lately is that the Christians seem to be content with smugly trying to outlaw the non-christians on their way to hell while the Muslims seem bent on hastening the day.

Ok, here is the deal. I’m a closet Christian. When I read a bible I skip to the text in red. But I firmly believe that politics and religion have no place being interlinked. How exactly does “Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s and to God what is God,” reconcile with the neo-con’s assertion that Jesus is in favor of lower taxes? I’m also in favor of lower taxes but I don’t think these two subjects belong in the discussion. I like discussing politics, I don’t mind discussing religion but I absolutely hate they way they have become linked. I would like to say that this kind of politicizing peaked last May when the Pastor of the East Waynesville Baptist Church resigned amid a storm of controversy after he told his congregation that if they had not voted for Bush they were no longer welcome in Church. I fear that we will see more and more of this as time goes on. I have no desire to be linked in any way with these people. Spirituality is best kept to oneself. This habit among religions and the religious to make a list of people they deny, behaviors that they abhor and then ask for help removing them from society is not not Christian, it is not loving, it is the politics of hate and destruction. I reject this. I would rather keep my thoughts and feelings to myself than to identify with these people even a little bit. Their hypocrisy is the real evil in the world today.

So that’s my sermon for this Sunday. Knowing the way I evolve I will probably violate my own rule about keeping my spirituality to myself and keep writing on the subject in the future. Mine is a dynamic and evolving mind. Sometimes it is a struggle to remember that that is a good thing. Sometimes it is a struggle to embrace myself. But I keep pushing along.

The Rejuvenating Power of Sunday Breakfast February 12, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in News and politics, Personal.
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Breakfast out with coffee and The New Yorker can do wonders for breaking out of a rut. At least that’s how it feels right now. I’ve just returned from the restaurant that my apartment window looks out on. I’m feeling at ease for the first time in weeks. I just read Peter Hessler’s letter from China, “Hutong Karma, the many incarnations of a Beijing alleyway”. It is a nice account of living in a four hundred year old Beijing ally and the changes it has been through in the last thirty or so. Some seventy-five percent of the old city has been demolished for new development. The remaining neighborhoods are just now being “protected”. You can translate that into disneyfied. The architecture remains the same but the boutiques and cafe’s and trendy bars are coming in. I’m a sentimentalist and that makes me a little sad. Sentimentality has always taken a back seat to practically, as it rightly should, in this city of fifteen million.

My own city remains completely untouched by the ravages of practicality. Last night was the Chinese New Years Day parade. I did not go. I was close enough to hear the firecrackers from the parade start, and helicopters buzzed around the neighborhood all night. I had been turned off by the bickering of the pro-human rights/anti-Beijing lobby in the city, the intensely pro-Beijing Chinese Chamber of Commerce and of course the Falun Gong who were banned from the parade just like they were outlawed in China. Nasty stuff for an event that used to be my favorite in the city. I stayed home caught up with my blog and played World of Warcraft instead.

So what does breakfast have to do with China? Not much particularly. The point is that feeling like myself again. I’m writing about what is occupying my thoughts again. Today I’m not afraid of the blank page. Today the blank page is my friend again.

Updates January 26, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Computers, Creativity, News and politics, Personal.
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Well I made a test page in iWeb and posted it to my .mac site. I’m still not sold. I’ll play with it some more tonight. I still have 10 days before my .mac account expires. I’m not even going to put a link to it here yet. It took forever to upload even the most basic changes. So I came back to do a little work here and see how much I liked working with WordPress after iWeb.

I decided that it was time to clean up some of the stuff that was still just being placeheld. I finally started putting up some links and I made catagories for every post. I also updated my About page. I’ve decided that I’ll let the internet decide who I really am. Just click it you’ll see.

I have more bookmarks to put up. Sites I like. But the ones I put up today are truly daily reads. I watch no TV, the only newspapers I read are print editions of the two links I listed. I subscribe to the New Yorker and Esquire and pretty much read them from cover to cover. So these links give you a good look at what my media filters are.

Evil Empire January 4, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Computers, News and politics.
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It’s a popular way to describe Microsoft. I myself have never used it before. The news on the wires right now have changed my tune. Microsoft has taken down a Chinese language blog that was critical of the Chinese government. This blog was not not a .cn site it was a .com. It is being censored not only in China but throughout the rest of the world. Here are some good links on this. Microsoft takes down Chinese Blogger. A take on the story from Microsoft Employee Robert Scoble. And the Metafilter’s comments section on this story. You know my brain gets it. They are in it for the money. Sometimes I just want to believe in a company a little bit. Sometimes I want to think that they are designing products to make the world a better more just place. Sure that’s naive but why shouldn’t there be a little romance in business.

As I have been looking into more and more things Apple I have re-discovered some of that romance. Apple has true fans. Microsoft has apologists. Another reason that I don’t feel like firing up my PC in favor of my old iBook is this:

There is another security hole in Windows. It has to do hiding code in a WMF. It be set off by simply looking at the wrong picture on the internet. Microsoft has a patch. But since they have a new policy of only issuing patches once a month they are saying that everyone will simply have to wait until next Tuesday on patch day. Until then they are testing. Security companies are suggesting the normally unthinkable: using an outside patch since Microsoft doesn’t feel like doing it’s job and doing something about this broken product they sold us.

Anyway I’m not turning my PC on until next week. In the meantime I’m looking at getting a desktop Mac. I bought an old G3 for my mom off of ebay for $125 and had it shipped here so I could load it up with new software and tweak the settings for her. It was actually pretty cool. That doesn’t seem quite enough to totally replace my PC. (I can hardly believe that I’m talking about replacing this computer that I have babied for these past couple of years…All that money all that time) I am also looking at the Mac Mini. Believe it or not this crap has been keeping me up at night as I read whatever I can about potential upgrades.