Book Log – Our Endangered Values

Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter

“It is much easier and more convenient to focus on sins of which we are
not known to be guilty.” -Jimmy Carter, on the Christian Right’s attacks
on homosexuality to the exclusion of other topics closer to home, like
adultery and divorce.

Jimmy simply savages the current administration in this book. I’ll
bet he doesn’t get invited to many of their parties.

Endangered Values is an overview of Carter’s worries on America’s
current trajectory in several realms, kind of an extended opinion piece.
He warns in the introduction he’s going to be mixing politics and
religion, but that he does so as a private citizen.

Given that his motivations are fairly different than mine (his reasoning
comes from his religious beliefs), we both end up at the same conclusions
most of the time. He’s a good guy.

I am wary, however, when people get too “Good Old Days” on me. I question
his assertion that the country is more sharply divided along partisan
lines than they used to be in his day. I don’t know for sure… I wasn’t
even remotely clued in to politics before the mid-90’s, to be honest. To
me, it was always just a bunch of people in suits squabbling with each
other. But I thought people got up in arms on both sides of that Vietnam
thing, and perhaps Reagan raised some hackles here and there.

At any rate, it’s a fine little opinion piece, and he scored points with
me for quoting both Warren Buffett and Stephen Jay Gould.

Rice and Carrots and Lettuce, Oh My!

My mother called me at work today (she’s in town, staying with us). She was in the basement asking how to make my printer work.

She mentioned that it smelled musty down there, which it does, a little.

But when I got home, Stacey said there were puddles downstairs, presumably from the rain storm of late.

I went down to investigate, and noticed that one of the puddles was composed mostly of ground up rice, carrots and lettuce. Directly below the kitchen sink pipe.

So… does anyone have a plumber recommendation to fix rusted-through pipes?

Book Log – Don’t Know Much About The Bible (re-read)

Don’t Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the
Good Book but Never Learned
by Kenneth C. Davis

This is a re-read.

Recently, I was asked by my sister-in-law to be the godfather to my
nephew, Frankie Richie (or Frichie, as I like to call him). There was
some consternation about the request… I’m notorious on that side of the
family for my nontheism. I think mostly they were worried I would be
offended; It certainly isn’t because of concern that I wouldn’t step up to
guiding the boy spiritually. I don’t see any of the other kids’
godparents giving Bible lessons.

But I’m taking this seriously. While I’m going to let the kid make his
own decisions about what he believes, I will certainly make sure he’s got
all the data at hand.

This book is a great read. It really brings out the interesting thoughts,
quandries, contradictions, and interpretations of the bible. It talks
about how it was collected, what was left out, when everything was written
and by whom (as far as we know at this point, anyway).

I’d like to learn more about the Gnostic Gospels and how they fit in…
how credible were they as “authentic” records of the times and why were
they left out? Don’t Know Much documents the split of the early
church, and how much of Paul and other’s writings are condemnations of the
Gnostic take on Christianity. But in retrospect, are the Gnostic Gospels
just as valid as the canonized ones? Had Paul not been such a good
marketing director, would we be singing hymns about hot Mary-on-Jesus
action?

Also, I’d love to have a conversation with a fundamentalist and find out
how they rectify the contradictions in the Bible. I mean, just a few
pages into Genesis, there’s already conflicting accounts going on. The
Gospels could have used a committee meeting to make sure they were all on
the same page as well. Often with any debate, there are grey areas and
both sides make good points, but I don’t see how a fundamentalist has a
leg to stand on.

Yeah, that seems about right.

You scored as Libertarian. Libertarians believe that you have the right to live your life as you wish, without the government interfering, as long as you don�t violate the rights of others. This translates into strong protections for privacy and property rights, and a weak to non-existent social safety net.

Libertarian

75%

Old School Democrat

65%

Green

60%

New Democrat

55%

Foreign Policy Hawk

35%

Pro Business Republican

30%

Socially Conservative Republican

20%

What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with QuizFarm.com

75% Libertarian, 65% old school democrat… yeah, that about sums up my confusion.

For the Code Monkeys

I like Jonathan Coulton, who is a stay-at-home-dad podcaster who writes a song a week (Thing-a-week podcast). I think I’ve mentioned him before. His stuff is sort of a blend of Weird Al Yankovic, They Might Be Giants and Bare Naked Ladies.

This week’s song is dedicated to and any other cubicle-dwelling codemonkeys on my friends list.

Book Log – Freakanomics

Freakanomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

I’m probably one of the last people in america to read this book.

I read it this past weekend while we were up visiting my parents in
Kentucky. I had given it to my father for Christmas and he had spoken
glowingly of it; This made it significant, because he is one difficult
person to shop for.

It’s certainly a short read, as evidenced by the fact that I read it in
bits and pieces between Friday morning and Saturday night.

It’s an interesting tome. Most of the critiques of this book seem to
center around a lack of rigor or failure to demonstrate in detail the
analysis behind the assertions. But given that it’s written as a “pop
economics” book for mass appeal, this doesn’t really surprise or bother me
overmuch.

While I wouldn’t take any of the conclusions as gospel truth, it’s got a
bunch of fun stuff to think about, which is probably all it was meant to
be.