Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pedantic Pr0testant

Apparently, Frank Turk, he of Centuri0n fame, has been clandestinely impersonated by somebody using the handle "Centurion." Frank uses a zero "0" and not an "O" for reasons of which I'm unaware.

Anyway, the editorial and marketing staffs here at PP are holding their breaths while the real culprit is tracked down. From fourth-hand rumors, the staff of CSI: Miami is investigating the scenes of the crimes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sci-Fi on the Silver Screen

I and perhaps a few others will probably see the Aeon Flux movie when it comes out in a few days. We're sci-fi fans, and, while we both have the gut feeling that the movie isn't going to be anything great, we're hoping to have two hours or so of possibly mindless fun.

The movie is being touted as "sci-fi" but it is really some futuristic utopian/dystopian mystery flick, at least if I understand the movie's plot description as put forth on the site. And yes, the heroine is hot, at least from the eye candy perspective.

On the larger scale of things, there really seems to be a dearth of good sci-fi movies out there. I don't consider the Star Wars movies to be sci-fi, but more like "space opera." Having been a fan of Asimov and the golden-age sci-fi short stories, sci-fi, in my book needs a lot more of the sci- than what many consider to be sci-fi material.

It is hard to compile, by the fact that I consider sci-fi to mean that there is some science and such in the work, a list of "great sci-fi movies" because there just don't seem to be that many.

I'd list the following as prize-winners at the 2005 PP Sci-Fi Film Festival:

THX 1138 [Creepy. I think this qualifies as sci-fi. I read the book too.]

A.I. [I was absorbed in this flick.]

Planet of the Apes [Maybe this doesn't qualify as sci-fi and more as adventure.]

The Andromeda Strain [Possibly the purest sci-fi movie ever.]

Minority Report

The Time Machine [and not just because Yvette Mimieux was in the flick either!]

I'm probably missing a few here and there due to a pokey mind [hey it's 11pm].

I'd dearly love to see the robot novels and the Foundation novels of Asimov turned into films. At the same time, my mind can supply better imagery than can today's computer graphics, so it is like a movie in my mind when I read those books.

My main complaint about what passes for sci-fi today is that much of it seems to be an excuse to show off computer graphics and special effects. Frankly, while the eye-candy does produce an Oooooh and Aaaahhh factor, it gets old quickly. What matters, I'd contend, is the plotline, the writing, and story.

For example, I'm a sucker for the old B&W Twilight Zone. I believe I've seen every episode. Now that show is the ultimate budget production. But the writing and ideas were superb and delightfully twisted. Some of the ideas on those old TZ episodes still freak me out, and I'm a grown man.

Fast forward a few years to a good number of original Star Trek episodes. Much of these were interesting for their ideas. Yes, the 60's luvin' and collectivist mentality were on display, but the writing was good. The special effects weren't good enough to where they could dominate the story. Captain Kirk was a man's man. I'm not sure I can in good conscience approve of rampant rolls in the hay with green alien females, but, I found Kirk convincing in his own hammy Shatneresque way.

But what have I seen in the more modern times? Well, for example, I was a high school senior when ST:TNG came out. Wow. Star Trek. New episodes! Hooray! But what did we get? We had political correctness shoved down our throats at times, we had special effects galore, and we had that touchy-feely chick Counselor Troi talking about feelings. Now Troi's character was certainly eye candy, especially when she moved from the skirt to the, ah, form-fitting outfit that, we daresay, fit her ample form quite well. But I'd want to set phasers on "kill" when she'd spout her feeling-based empathetic psychobabble.

BTW --- I watched every episode, obviously. Some episodes were good, but other episodes gave me the feeling of being a dad sitting through his first-grade daughter's school play. I should mention that Picard and Number One always rubbed me the wrong way. I personally detested Number One.

What would I like?

Well, I don't think I've ever seen a romantic comedy --- oh wait, yes, I did once back in college with another Diane. The romance in romantic comedies makes me groan, and the comedy is strangely lacking. Any woman I date who insists that I see a romantic comedy is in effect telling me that the relationship is over. Anyway, I don't care if romantic comedies are consigned to limbo. They waste space. They cause fights in relationships. They're just bad for humanity. So, I guess I'd like romantic comedies to die a quick, efficient Kevorkianesque death.

What I'd really like is a Christian sci-fi movie, perhaps something like CS Lewis' Space Trilogy set to film. I personally have several ideas for a Christian sci-fi novel or series, but I vacillate between how explicitly Christian to make things. But we'd want to work some metaphysics in nonetheless! I've written one dry tome of a book, and perhaps I should pound out a more pleasurable book, though I wouldn't say I have any more qualifications than the next guy apart from a firmly-warranted confidence that I could do something that wouldn't be too bad.

Well, anyway, perhaps I should post some semi-intelligible ramblings on Aeon Flux after I see it. This is when I wish Steve was on the West Coast. I believe he and I could kibitz through the entire movie, exchanging pithy and pointed thoughts on the film. We could at least do as good of a job as those guys in Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Get it?

You finally did it!

You finally dropped the big one!

[Falling to knees...]



Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm "It" [Whatever That Means!]

Apparently the Turkoman of the rapidly-approaching-legendary-status Centuri0n blog has tagged me [among others], making me "it."

What does being "it" mean? If I understand him correctly, it means that I am responsible for giving seven lists, each list containing seven items. Also, if I understand him correctly as well as the woman who tagged him, I don't have liberty in choosing what the lists should be.

At least this isn't like receiving a letter asking me to make seven copies and mail them to others under threat of curses, bad luck, etc! At the same time, Frank is a big-league blogger, so it is an honor for him to make a trip from the city out to the blog-equivalent of the Alkali Flats and call me out.

Since my brain --- which is easily overtaxed at times --- is presently overtaxed with all sorts of mundane matters, it seems like a good way to get two things done at once by blogging a reply and honoring Turk's tagging.

One warning --- this may perhaps be uninteresting reading, so proceed at the risk of falling asleep and having your head smack the desk on the way down. I'm not responsible for any resulting head trauma, so don't sue me.

Seven things to do before death:

(1) Run a marathon.
(2) Be able to say "I made it" in the sense of business and financial success.
(3) Make several albums of varying types of music.
(4) Be a nicer person.
(5) Learn that many people do not view their words as necessarily connected to reality!
(6) [[The Pedantic Protestant had something here that apparently he meant seriously. We here at the PP Editing Committee are rather shocked that he tried to sneak the deleted paragraph past us. Good try, PP, but you can't say that in the Blogdom of God.]]
(7) Make sure I'm really justified! [This is tongue-in-cheek.]

Seven things I cannot do

(1) See how Roman Catholicism of any of its various flavors is strongly supported by the evidence. [This line is just for Diane...]
(2) Understand how the fact that people want something to be true somehow makes it true.
(3) Understand how people think that we need elected busybodies running and regulating our lives.
(4) Instantiate the NT ethos as well as I'm supposed to. [Thank goodness for Romans 7:7-25.]
(5) Resist a cocker spaniel or chubby grey tabby with black stripes.
(6) Watch Oprah without yelling pointed comments at the TV about muddled worldviews.
(7) Have the sort of prayer life I should.

Seven things that attract me to my spouse

In a way that alternates between felicitous and lugubrious, I say: "N/A" !!

Seven things I say most often

While my vocabulary is hardly Buckleyesque, it is varied enough to where I can't pin down any personal catchphrases. JJ had DYNOMIIIIIITE....Chico [from Chico and the Man] had LOOOOOKING GOOOOOD... Quagmire from Family Guy has ALLLLLLLRIGHT ... Dr McCoy has something like DAMMIT JIM I'M A DOCTOR NOT A TOUR GUIDE FOR THAT GREEN-BLOODED POINTY-EARED HOBGOBLIN.

But I have nothing. Sorry to disappoint.

Seven Books I Love [At least at the time of typing this....ten minutes from now the list could change.]

(1) E. Vestrup's The Theory of Measures and Integration. [C'mon...this was a softball. The book reportedly has proven medicinal value for insomniacs.]
(2) The entire Robot, Empire, and Foundation series [plural] by Isaac Asimov. [Fun reading, but you have to swallow his atheistic materialism for the setting to be viable.]
(3) CS Lewis' Space Trilogy
(4) M. Spivak's Calculus, a book so wonderfully written that my plans to write a calculus book of my own felt futile compared to Spivak's work.
(5) Oh yeah, the Bible. [Almost forgot about that. And at a blog called "Pedantic Protestant" ? That would be inexcusable.]
(6) God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science, Neil Manson, editor. IMHO the entire book is worth it for Chapter 10 alone. [Inside joke.]
(7) CEB Cranfield's two volume ICC Commentary on Romans.

Seven movies I could watch over and over again.

I'm not the sort of guy who can watch a movie over and over again. I believe the movie I have conscientiously seen the most times is Ben Hur, and that is a mere three times. Sorry to be a party pooper here. I'll put the lampshade on my head if that helps things, though...

Seven people I want to join in, too

HAHAHAHA, the chain letter stops here. Curse me, promise me bad luck, etc.

On the other hand, if I loop back to somebody who has done the list already, will the resulting logical conundrum cause the universe to crunch back into a singularity? Just checking.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The More Things Change....

[Primarily for Diane, but also for other readers who have known me for a while.]

1976 [or 1977] The parents go shopping for furniture at some store. They can't locate little Eric. They find him, not sitting in the temple explaining the law to the priests, but in front of a display featuring a Pong Unit.

1978-1979 The parents go to the pizza. But Eric doesn't sit with them. He's playing Sea Wolf, Space Invaders, Asteroids, etc. Of course, he's asking for quarters too.

1979-1983 Shopping at a department store for school clothes or clothes in general [ick!], Eric is found gawking at whatever Atari 2600 games are on display.

1982 Dad goes to a Radio Shack for some phonograph component. Eric looks at the Intellivsion units there.

1987-8 Last year of high school, Eric goes shopping with Mom, looks at Nintendo games.

1998 Diane and Eric go to Target, Eric hovers to where the Playstation games are.

2000-1 Same story, replace Playstation with Dreamcast.

2001-4 Diane and Eric go to a computer store, Eric is in the PC games aisle.

2005 The hero of this post, in his thirties, goes to Best Buy to scout out fridge and television prices. He ends up spending 90% of his time looking at the XBOX 360. In another sociological coincidence, plenty of other twenty-, thirty-, and forty-something males are standing around with a very covetous look in their eye.

Can you, dear reader, spot the pattern here?

The Running Man

One of my pasttimes is running. Depending on if I was carrying a few extra pounds [or more than a few!] or at a good weight, it was work or pleasurable toil. Regardless, I have found it the best way to keep the weight in check. A 6' male at my weight burns about 1200-1300 calories in a one hour run [according to what I've read] even going at a pokey 10' per mile pace. Besides the caloric burn, speaking only for myself, the running really suppresses the appetite, not in the sense that I decide to go hungry, but it silences the little devil sitting on my shoulder whispering those sirenesque words "Chinese Buffet! Chinese Buffet!" And, given that I love to eat --- ask anybody I know for confirmation --- any sort of appetite suppression is a good thing!

There is this 7.5-mile outdoor circuit that I run on the weekends, and, during the week, I run a treadmill for 60 minutes at the health club. So, the legs are fairly used to a respectable middle-length distance.

Anyway, yesterday, running the 7.5-mile circuit, I had completed one loop, but had this feeling that, yes, I could've pulled double-duty and done the loop a second time, making it a 15-mile day. Back in '00-'01, I was able to pound out 15 miles, and, just as importantly, I still had enough legs to run 7-8 miles the next day. But this gets me thinking: why not prepare for a marathon?

A marathon is something I thought of early in graduate school when I was in really good shape and could run a seven-mile route in under 50 minutes. But with a dissertation and then a life as an academic afterward --- not to mention the cold Chicagoland weather --- the running became a seasonal affair, and, I played basketball anyway, which left no legs for running-for-its-own-sake.

The thing about a marathon is that the very length is psychologically intimidating. Those 15-mile runs were rather boring after the first thirty minutes. And, even if you're in good shape, you're still going to feel rather put out after a 15-mile run. Now tack 11+ miles on to that already-existing feeling.

Another thing, and I'm not sure if this is idiosyncratic or ubiquitous, is the fact that how my legs feel and how they can hold up is something that appears to be at the whim of the gods. My legs can feel great but peter out in a mile or two. Other days, I can go on forever with the same feeling. Some nights at the gym the treadmill is a pleasurable affair [as far as treadmills can be pleasurabe], and other times I'm huffing and puffing within five minutes. The same guy who could truck 15 miles could also just not have it after a few miles on another day.

All of this adds to the psychological intimidation of running a marathon --- not only is it long, but you might very well train and end up with legs that just aren't up for the run come the day of the marathon.

The other psychologically intimidating factor of a marathon, at least for a hack like myself, is the sheer boredom factor. A friend will bike with me as I run the 7.5 mile route, and this makes the hour+ of running bearable. The better the conversation, the quicker the route seems. And, I could see this lasting for two hours.

However, four+ hours of running? Even if the body could take it, it sounds boring. Thoroughly boring. Dreadfully boring. And when you're bored, you begin to think of your joints getting shocked repeatedly with each step, and you begin to feel as if your quads and butt and hamstrings are starting to tighten up, and you begin to notice that your lower back is starting to tighten....

I hope that all the running won't diminish strength and muscle mass. I intend to keep lifting 5x per week. But I've heard that a lot of running diminishes your strength even if you keep lifting. [?]

Anyway, I'm going to train for a marathon and hopefully pound one out in the next calendar year. I'm about halfway there in terms of distance on a good day. But the second half seems rather intimidating.

I suppose you just have to tell yourself that if you can run x miles, you can run x+1 miles when x>13.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Drive-By Comments on Ephesians 1:1-14

I've been going through Ephesians in my on-again off-again NT studies. Being rather burnt-out on Greek for the time being from doing Romans and the Corinthian epistles, I've just been going through my NET translation of Ephesians, banking on the fact that I went through the Greek of Ephesians a few years back, so it is still in the back of the brain if I need it.

Anyway, let's see what Paul is saying in 1:1-14, and then I'll put up some simple comments that come to mind.

(1) Paul makes the salutation in 1-2. OK, this epistle makes the claim that Paul is the author. He wishes the readers --- who may or may not have been the Ephesians depending on the textual question --- grace and peace.

(2) Turning to vv 3-12 now:

(a) Paul blesses God, referring to Him as "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul notes that God has conferred blessing on the Christian readers of the epistle --- more precisely, God has conferred "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ" on the Christian readers of the epistle.

(b) But why or how has God conferred such aforementioned blessings? Context seems to clearly indicate that Paul is answering the "how" question just asked. Proceeding, then:

God has conferred great blessings on us:

(i) God chose us in Christ before creation, predestining Christians to adoption as His sons through the person/work of Christ. [3-5]
(ii) God has conferred upon us redemption through the blood of Christ. [7]
(iii) Similar to (i), we have been claimed as God's very own possession "in Christ" by virtue of the predestination mentioned in (i). [11]

(3) Focusing now on 13-14:

(a) "Those who heard the word of truth" seems, according to the NET translation, linked with "when you believed in Christ." Is Paul stating here that truly hearing the word of truth, that is, truly being open to the content of such a message and being able to starkly discern the dichotomies between the gospel and the world, concomitant with belief in Christ?

If I'm understanding the NET correctly here, the answer to the question is yes: truly hearing the message and belief in Christ are simultaneous.

Now, I have no problem with this possibility. In my own lifetime, I'm not sure the true hearing of the message and my belief were simulataneous. Does Paul mean by "true hearing" a sort-of hearing of God's irresistable and effectual call? I'm not quite sure here.

(b) What does seem perfectly clear is that belief in Christ is followed [immediately] by a marking with "the seal of the Holy Spirit." The HS is mentioned as the down payment made by God to us of our inheritance to come eventually at the terminus of time as we know it.


Let me offer some comments now, using Eph 1:1-14 as a pretext for making them. So far as I know, there is nothing special about the order of the comments as they're made.

(A) Predestination. I have heard various people over the years stating that the doctrine of predestination [which is, I'd assert, a starkly plain and clear doctrine] is meant as a comfort to a troubled believer who perhaps wonders something along the lines of "Am I really saved?" The idea, if I'm representing it correctly, is that the troubled believer, being a believer, was predestined to believe, and this is supposed to help a troubled soul.

FWIW, I don't find the doctrine particularly comforting, but not particularly troubling either. When I went through a few years' worth of wondering if I was really regenerate or if I had merely deluded myself into thinking I was, thinking about predestination never particularly comforted me. If I was certain that I was a believer, I could take comfort from predestination. But the very question happened to be whether I was a believer, so the doctrine, as I understood it [and still understand it in its simplistic form] offers no comfort.

On a philosophical level, predestination seems quite natural. God, who exists outside of time and indeed created our universe with its inherent sense of time, would at the very least seem to predestine things. On the other hand, predestination's negation would seem to undercut the omniscience [and perhaps the omnipotence] of God. In other words, if God doesn't in His timeless existence see an agnostic graduate student [none other than the PP!] coming to faith sometime in '94 or so, I would seriously have to question God's omniscience.

One other point to make here is that while believers are mentioned to be predestined, nothing is said here about unbelievers being predestined to enmity with God. However, the philosophical paragraph above would seem to imply that unbelievers are predesinted as well to their particular fate, because otherwise, it would seem that the above paragraph, if correct in the former case, would also apply in the latter case, allowing God's omniscience to be questioned.

[I wonder if any pastors use this doctrine for comfort and such in dealing with parishoners who come to them.]

The most likely option is that my amateurish thoughts in matters of free will and causality are verified in their amateurism!

(B) Paul isn't discussing charismata here in 1:1-14 specifically, but he does state that belief in Christ is accompanied with the Holy Spirit. Now in Romans 8 Paul discusses the role of the HS who is already present in the person who is justified by faith alone. One needn't wait for the agency of the HS to begin.

This perhaps seems like a truism, but I've had some fellow Evangelicals tell me that I have to ask God to give me the HS. However, those who believe already have the HS.
[Now, to be sure, some seem to have much more of the HS than I do, but the question isn't about the degree to which the HS' agency manifests itself, but is rather instead a question of mere existence. ] It irks me when I hear people tell other believers to ask for the HS. He's already there, "inside" them.

(C) 1:1-14 seems very heavy in terms of Pauline use of prepositions. Paul didn't write for somebody sitting at a desk in 2005 in a first-world Western culture, but, it doesn't stop me from wishing he were more clear at times!

BTW --- these drive-by comments are spoken with a very tentative stream-o'-consciousness tone, and represent some thoughts being sketched out moreso than serious theological discourse.

Time For Plan B

[File this under unintentional humor]

In chronological order of things, so far as I can put things together.

(1) Sometime in April or May [?] some fake Dave Armstrong blog goes up. This angers Mr Armstrong, who devotes some posts to the fake blog. Eventually, after much protest, the hoaxster takes the blog down.

(2) I post some threads on narcissism a few months back having nothing to do with Mr Armstrong. Mr Armstrong brings in the accusation that the threads are about him, despite my not mentioning him by name, my not hinting at him, and discussing leftists in subsequent threads. Later, I am accused by Mr Armstrong of thinking of Mr Armstrong in a "secondary" fashion. [I suppose if I deny this, I shall be accused by Mr Armstrong of thinking of Mr Armstrong in a tertiary fashion.]

(3) Recently, Mr Armstrong assembled a rather pathetic compilation of so-called evidence that I was the hoaxster. In fact, Mr Armstrong declared that the evidence was good enough for him. The so-called evidence was dissembled in my post "Press Conference" below. In that thread I also denied being the hoaxster, and I denied having any clue about the hoaxster.

Mr Armstrong also posted a picture of my friend, claiming it was me. [A link to a picture of me is given in the "Stating The Obvious" thread linked below.] This was stated with certainty, an assured result of his not-meticulous-enough ruminations and investigation.

(4) No personal apology so far as I can tell is forthcoming for this charge or the incorrect picture. It isn't too big a deal to me, but at the same time it would've been nice.

(5) Mr Armstrong declares after the fact that the purpose, or one of the purposes, it seems, was to make me deny or confirm being the hoaxster, so that he could put the matter to rest or continue his hunt for the hoaxster. He could've merely sent me a private email [or we could talk live] and handled things like an adult, but he preferred to publicly posture and adopt the affectations of victimhood.

(6) Mr Armstrong puts together a few obvious pieces of information and, so it seems to me, has this attitude that he's "outing" me. Of course, I've stated more than once that anybody who wants to know who I am can ask and I'll tell. See the "Stating The Obvious" thread in which I tell people how to post the pretty-obvious clues together to deduce who I am.

What's the point of all of this? Well, Mr Armstrong's bungled charges apparently caught the eye of the hoaxster, one "Cardinal Neumann." If I understand the hoaxster correctly, he felt bad for my taking the rap [as very well he should].

So in the end, after all of Mr Armstrong's master plan has been carried out, the very hoax blog whose existence Mr Armstrong deplored is back up. It has apparently raised the ire of Mr Armstrong, based on what I saw when I perused his outfit. That is, after (i) posting a false picture of me [a real picture of me is presented in the "Stating The Obvious" thread below], (ii) making a very serious false charge based on the most specious of evidence, and (iii) attempting to "out" me as if it were some big secret [which it has never been], the hoax blog is apparently back up, and the hoaxster has dropped the gauntlet right before Mr Armstrong. Mr Armstrong even provides the link to this hoax blog so that we too can feel his pathos and outrage at the hoax blog.

So Mr Armstrong's original plan failed, at least as far as Mr Armstrong is concerned: false charges and the resurrection of the hoax blog. As the saying goes: it's time for Mr Armstrong to go back to the drawing board.

Friday, November 25, 2005

One Month 'Til Xmas

This is a friendly PP reminder. Don't let Xmas sneak up on you. Get your shopping in now.

What do you want for Xmas?

Stating the Obvious

Over at Mr Armstrong's outfit, there appears to be some titillation about my true identity, as if Deep Throat has been revealed to the world. While I often joke about the secret identity, semi-pseudonymity, etc, it is pretty obvious who I am if you put two and two together. I've certainly left behind enough "Easter Eggs" in the posts. I'll walk readers of this thread through them so that they can put everything together.

Back in the early days of PP, with its single-digit readership, I told several people about the blog. The usual blogging suspects have all known since the early days, and not a few comment-droppers here know as well. I even told the Crimson Catholic back in April or May sometime. Sometime in June, Eric Svendsen put up a little thread stating that if people couldn't figure me out, then, well, they have a problem. [That was rather funny.]

That I didn't take myself or the little mystery too seriously comes from a June 3 post, wherein I state the following:

As for my "secret identity," bah humbug. I truly am a nobody relative to the Christian Church, though I'd say I already have a large core of a conservative seminary curriculum thanks to about 6 years of being an automath. I hold no position, no title, in the Church, other than that of a reasonably well-read layman [who can discern or at least claims to be able to discern the structure of an argument]. Well, I was a Sunday School teacher once, and was a dismal failure at it. Actually, in a way, I have a sort-of position in the Roman Catholic Church. Pretty much anybody who wants to know can know whatever they'd like. The main thing about anonymity is not to abuse it and get personal with folks. In this case, it would rather be immoral. One could also say that by not putting my name with things, I don't have the courage of my convictions. Whatever. If my arguments or ideas resonate, they resonate regardless of whether I'm one of [say] Dr Svendsen's multiple personalities or a po-mo trying to imitate a Biblicist. If they fail, they fail on their own merits.

Note the invitation for anybody who is curious. As Fox Mulder would say: the truth is out there. The statement stating "Actually, in a way, I have a sort-of position in the Roman Catholic Church" was said somewhat tongue-in-cheek. If I remember, I was thinking of a few people who had told me that I didn't know what I was talking about regarding liberalism in the RCC and in some RC educational settings. Looking back on it, I should've said something like "I'm closer to the inside of the RCC than you might think." Oh well, what's written is written.

Not that many people asked, btw. That's a sign of a "mystery" for which there is no or little interest!

Let's review some of the Easter Eggs I left behind. If I wanted to stay completely dark and shadowy like some 1940's comic villain or man-of-mystery, I wouldn't have left these eggs behind. In no special order, let's proceed.

The silver-bullet piece of evidence is (1):

(1) In a thread called "Tim on Tim," I also mentioned something to the effect of a McGrew, McGrew, and Vestrup publication in the journal Mind dealing with fine-tuning arguments, and said that perhaps this high view of the paper is due to personal pride!

Now, given that I talk about Tim McGrew as a separate person, and given the clear fact that I'm male, I can't be the L. McGrew [Lydia --- an intellectual titan far beyond me and Tim's wife] of the paper either. So, if there is personal pride in the paper, it seems pretty strong evidence that the person making that statement must be, by simple elimination, one E. Vestrup.

(2) I've stated that I worked at a large Midwestern Catholic university a few times.
(3) I seem to read the Chicago Sun-Times.

This would allow people to possibly deduce that I worked at one of the Catholic universities in Chicago: Loyola, DePaul, and St Xavier [if I remember correctly].

If you put (1) together with (2)-(3), then one E. Vestrup seems to be the culprit or mastermind [depends on who you ask!] behind the PP blog. One could quickly peruse faculty pages at those universities to "pin me down," so to speak.

Here are some other Easter Eggs that might be more subtle:

(4) Those who read the NTRMin message boards probably saw a few posts about my entertaining the idea of a second doctorate in OT or NT studies. In a post called "Theologians Gone Wild!" I state at the end the following:

I've often entertained getting a doctorate in NT or OT, but, if I have to interact with the material as exhibited above as part of my studies and growth, I'd just as well be better off to keep the day job!

Given that I posted at Eric Svendsen's blog from time to time, one might peruse the NTRMin Areopagus board, wherein there is some intro thread somewhere where I introduce myself, stating that I worked at DePaul as an assistant professor and was interested in Christian apologetics [among other things]. The EV there sure sounds a whole lot like good ol' PP, doesn't he?

Some more clues that don't seem too subtle to me, but, then again, I may not be the best judge of these things:

(5) Both PP [here]and EV [at NTRMin] have the authorship of the fourth gospel as their "hobby horse."
(6) Both PP [here] and EV [at NTRMin] seem to make the same references to Wallace's Grammar.
(7) Both PP [here] and EV [at NTRMin] seems to have the same issues with Roman Catholicism.
(8) Both PP [here] and EV [at NTRMin] seem to have low views of pomo'ism.
(9) If memory serves me correctly, EV at the NTRMin board seem to have a libertarian streak. I too have a libertarian streak? What a coincidence....

Note too: [and this is good evidence, I'd say]

(10) They have the same sensibilities when it comes to humor. They're somewhat over-the-top at times.
(11) They both reference Trench and Lightfoot, two 19th-century guys who aren't commonly-dropped names today.
(12) I put up some really goofy phony poem making fun of pseudointellectual poetry early on in the blog [have you ever been to a poetry reading?!?!], and then EV put up some crack at NTRMin about how he hoped that other parts of PP were better than the poetry at PP. Not that many people read the blog back then, so wasn't it a bit, shall we say, suspicious that EV somehow knew what PP was doing? just might begin to put two and two together.

There are probably more "Easter Eggs" out there but these are the ones that come immediately to mind. If anybody thinks there is an "Easter Egg" worth mentioning, feel free to drop it in the combox.

I promised a picture a long time ago. The problem is that I don't have anything current. This photo from 2000-2001 [don't remember exactly when] will have to suffice. Unlike my buddy Dave, there is no awful wallpaper in the background! Note St Elizabeth on the far left of the picture trying to sneak in the picture. I think the photo was 2000 or so. The CV there at that page is from, if I remember correctly, 2000. I look much the same today as in that photo. I was in good shape back then and am in good shape now. Vanity says that my face looked a bit puffy in that photo, though. If you see a similar-looking 6' guy at your basketball court shooting comfortably from behind the arc while screening you and backdooring you to death, and if he happens to be rather just might be me.

[BTW --- Feel free to take the MAT 453 take-home exam. IIRC, people had a 90-minute time limit on it. Make sure to derive the hypothesis tests before actually carrying them out! I love mathematical statistics. That would be a topic for a second book in the future.]

Here's another major clue as to my "secret" identity: My favorite book ever written is as follows:

Either I'm the author of that book, or my taste in reading leaves a lot to be desired!

So, with all of this evidence put together, friend and foe alike can say in unison: Dr Vestrup, we presume?

So, can you guess who I am now? I'll give you three guesses and one final hint: my initials are EV. That should allow for a comfortable "educated guess." Those who guess correctly receive a noncorporeal PP Coffee Mug.

People can call me whatever they wish when they comment, btw. Eric, Mr V, Dr V, PP, "Hey You," etc. [My preference: Eric or PP. I never liked "Mr" or "Dr" too much, to be honest. Undergrads and grads just called me Eric or "EV."] "PP" started out as the name of this blog and I was a pedantic Protestant [note the indefinite article]. Soon, either I followed comment-makers' lead or they followed mine and I became the Pedantic Protestant. A similar situation is where people seem to refer to Dr Frankenstein's monster as Frankenstein, whereas Frankenstein was the scientist who created the monster. Same thing here. The blog's name is PP, but I'm Eric, but people [quite understandably] conflate the two --- not that I wasn't having any fun going along with it!!

Anyway, I need to recover 40 or so minutes of holiday time now...hope this reveals the mystery. In the next thread, I'll reveal the plot ending to Lost and tell you who really shot JFK.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Understanding Beer-Drinkers Better

Having had nothing but water to drink for 11 or 12 days now, and having kicked the soda habit [though the desire is still there], I broke protocol somewhat at Thanksgiving dinner when somebody suggested that I try a certain beer.

Now in the past I have not had much beer:

(i) The taste was too bitter
(ii) I'm a real lightweight when it comes to alcohol


(iii) I prefer[red] soda.

With (iii) out of the option, I decided to try some beer. Now not having sugary fizz water on my tongue for close to two weeks, the beer, instead of tasting like paint thinner, actually had a taste to it.

So, in the end, a minor discovery was made. Some beer has a satisfying taste. This beer had a full-bodied taste and it tasted good and felt good going down the hatch.

But as for the quenching capacity, beer still doesn't do as much [IMO] as water. Water is better. However, I'd imagine that a lot of beer drinking is not done for reasons that are strictly thirst-related. If I trust the beer commercials, drinking beer surrounds you with beautiful women and gets you invited to hot, trendy parties moreso than being, say, a rather vanilla Evangelical blogger with his own set of faults. [Another note: these parties are probably more interesting than "Bible Study Night at Josh's apartment" or "Another 60 minutes on the treadmill at the health club."]

Resolved: I'll stop looking at beer drinking people with a puzzled look of wonder. I sort of see why, now.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of T-Day, folks!

Press Conference

Mr David Armstrong thinks he's rather nailed me on a few things. First, he has a picture up, claiming that it is yours truly. Second, he claims that the evidence points to me as author and perpetuator of a fake Dave Armstrong blog. Third, if I understand him correctly, he seems to believe that my narcissism posts refer to him in some sort of implied or exclusively Armstrong-esque sense, and this counts [in his mind] as evidence that I am the author of the fake DA blog.

The problems with these three claims:

(1) The picture is not of me, but a friend of mine.
(2) I had nothing to do with the fake blog in any way.
(3) The narcissism posts were motivated by seeing leftist activists and professional victims in action.

Let's back these claims up:

(1) The picture of somebody else came in a thread back in August. It was rather fun to put up as my friend and I laughed at the possible choices. Of course, that pic was the only real option, but, not having a good enough picture of myself to put up [vanity on my part!], I hoisted my pal's photo, indicating as such in a later thread. BTW, I hate that wallpaper in the background of that photo.

(2) I'll tackle this in parts:

(a) Mr Armstrong makes hay of the following quote from my June 29 "Bored" thread, where I listed some things to do while bored and getting ready to move. One item was this:

*****BEGIN QUOTE*****

(5)Attempt to drum up readership by being much more provocative.

Here's an attempt at provocation by an admitted novice:

Hey Catholics: You're a bunch of Biblically illiterate Romanist idolators!
Hey Reformed Catholics: You're a bunch of psuedointellectuals!
Hey [insert Catholic apologist here]: Get a real job and stop asking for money!
Hey Atheists: Jesus Saves!
Hey PoMo's: Your purported scholarly writings require the same intellectual rigor as does popping bubble wrap!
Hey James White: You're a narcissistic perpetual victim whose favorite topic is himself! In that regards, you're like Dave Armstrong!
Hey Eric Svendsen: You're a radical sectarian gnostic!
Hey New Yorker: Jets suck, Yankees suck, Knicks suck.... [a Peter Griffin reference]

And so the list could go, but, in the end, it just ain't me. I suppose the PP will have to live in its richly deserved obscurity.

*****END QUOTE*****

Armstrong seems contextually immune here. I was saying things to people that, were I to play provocateur, would certainly get their dander up. For example, I don't consider Svendsen a radical sectarian gnostic, but calling him such would certainly be provocative! Ditto for White. I don't know the man, but I know he's not fond of Mr Armstrong, so this would be how I'd provoke them. I could've used Sippo or Enloe or any other of Dr White's various demons. Armstrong was just the name that came out.

Note that Armstrong leaves out the bolded sentences at the end of the quote, in which I state that "it just ain't me." He seems to be taking it seriously. You'd think the Family Guy reference would make it clear that the whole thing is a not-too-serious what-if scenario.

(b) Mr Armstrong invokes my threads on narcissism. I'm not sure how to prove that my state of mind was X and not Y when writing such things, other than to assert that the follow-up to those threads dealt with leftists and some experiences I've had with them.

What's interesting is that, despite the followup posts on certain leftists and personal experiences, Mr Armstrong wanted to make it about himself, at least, this is what his actions seemed to be from my perspective. This seems to fit right into the narcissism mold described. So, in retrospect, I suppose Mr Armstrong could've been in mind for those threads. I never responded to him because I felt that such a response would be futile, given his propensity to make it all about him. Mr Armstrong's problems are with various comment-makers on the thread --- I never said anything to him. He can take it up with them.

Question: is there perhaps a reason why several people consider Mr Armstrong to fit my generic narcissism profile? Could it possibly be because of the comments that he made there --- turning it into something about him --- reflect what some would consider a regular behavior trait of his?

Question: would this not make some think you're narcissistic when you consider yourself so important that you expect somebody to answer your every charge whenever you make them?

For Mr Armstrong to use the quotes of others as evidence of what I'm thinking is not evidence, but grasping for straws. [EDIT: To be sure, I've long since considered him quite narcissistic, but he wasn't the person, or, more accurately, the type of person I had in mind when doing those threads.]

(c) As for my Pedantic Papist schtick a few weeks back, here's what Armstrong said:

I found PP impersonating what he thinks is a typical apologist-type Catholic and his arguments in defense of Catholicism, in a series of wacko posts designed to make what he felt was serious commentray on Catholic deficiencies.

Armstrong somehow missed the paragraph of mine in the thread explaining the schtick that stated:

What was the point of the whole Pedantic Papist schtick? The answer was merely to have some pointed fun by creating an amalgamation of some of the more obnoxious internet RC's that I've seen. Oh, I suppose getting Diane's goat was a secondary goal too. But, if she knows me as well as she thinks, she already knew that.

An anonymous commentator below made the claim that I was demeaning Catholics. In one sense, the schtick was over the top, but, in an example of art imitating life, the spirit or gist of the arguments that I was using tongue-in-cheek have been put forth to me with a straight face by real, living, breathing Roman Catholics.

Note the phrase "an amalgamation of some of the more obnoxious internet RC's that I've seen." This is not the same as "a typical apologist-type Catholic and his arguments in defense of Catholicism" as Armstrong states.

Somehow, a Protestant blog having a bit of comic relief at some really bad RC arguments counts as evidence towards the thesis that I was the fake Armstrong. That is quite the stretch!

(d) Let me understand Armstrong's use of evidence:

I make up a temporary hoax blog making fun of leftists and progressives


This counts as evidence that I'm the culprit.

This is hardly compelling, obviously. Or, as another deduction:

The fake Armstrong blog had the same template as Prog Christian


This counts for evidence that I'm the culprit.

This is not elementary, my dear Watson. If I remember correctly, when you go to change your blog template, the "dots" template is the first template on the upper left corner of the template screen. I changed to the "Dots" template from a black PP-like template when starting Prog Christian. Also, going on memory, I think the Dots template is right near the top of templates when starting a new blog, so it is not great rare event of note that somebody chooses "Dots" when it is right near the top.

I suppose in the end, if Armstrong wants to play the victim and keep accusing me of doing the DA hoax blog, he will continue to do so. But he does so without real evidence and in light of the fact that I know, others know, and God knows that I had nothing to do with that blog. Sorry, Mr Armstrong, you're barking up the wrong tree here.

BTW --- I don't know anything nor do I have any clues about who did it, either.

(3) Here, if Armstrong wants to identify with the narcissism profile in the threads or think that I'm talking about him, that is is prerogative. It unintentionally, in a retroactive sense, makes the threads about him in part, even though I was thinking of leftists.

In the end, Armstrong has no real evidence; what he does have is a bunch of non-evidential pieces. But a load of bad evidence or non-evidence evidence doesn't add up to much of the case, especially since I can say with God as my witness that it wasn't me. If Mr Armstrong wants to put up a photo of a friend of mine, claim it is me [that might insult the friend!], and make rather serious false accusations based on the most tenuous of hand-picked coincidences, well, that's his prerogative too.

Anyway, to all readers and such, happy Turkey Day. To all those watching what you eat, remember that [and I need to tell myself this too] five minutes of eating pleasure are not worth the hours of feeling as if you've "blown it" or having to run that extra hour on the treadmill, so keep up the good fight!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Turk

Frank Turk, of Centuri0n fame, has apparently drawn the ire of some people. I'm referring to the Internet Monk and [I believe] various members of the Boar's Head Tavern outfit.

Check out the link and the comments. I find it rather interesting, for whatever reason.

Some brief editorial:

(1) The comment by Phil Johnson of Pyromaniac fame regarding one facet of the pomo mindset merits a hearty amen from this corner. His comment is somewhere down the list there.

(2) It seems to be the case that calling somebody "Truly Reformed" at the BHT seems to be some sort of derogatory slur or a label that is used to do the heavy lifting of an actual argument, much in the same fashion that leftists use the terms "racist" and "sexist" etc as proxies for an actual argument.

Here's an interesting fact: I'm not Reformed, let alone "Truly Reformed," though I have the same sensibilities as does a Turk, Hays, Engwer, Svendsen, White, etc. I have the same sensibilities as does any conservative Evangelical with a high classical view of scripture. For all of the purported bullishness and alleged polemicizing in which these fellows have engaged, I have never had my fur rubbed the wrong way by any of them, and, coming from an orthodox Lutheran background, there's plenty of fur to be rubbed the wrong way by the likes of a Hays or Turk or Svendsen.
But we seem to be at relative peace...condition green as they'd say.

And another point: what's wrong with being "Truly Reformed" anyway? Is it more cool to say you're Reformed but hold to [say] a Barthian view of scripture? Do you get a discount on your latte for saying "We need to incorporate the decline of modernism into our studies" ? Etc. If the Reformed folks are right --- a fact I'm not entirely sure of btw --- one should be "Truly Reformed."

(3) No matter how informal the conversation between adults, bad theology is bad theology. Adding a bunch of cutesy snark to bad theology may make the bad theology entertaining reading, but it is still bad theology. If people want to put up bad theology, that's their right, but they shouldn't act like narcissistic victims if somebody calls them on it.

BTW --- full disclosure --- I've never had any interaction with IMonk or the BHT crowd. This is based on their reaction to what seems like an in-bounds post by the Turkoman.

(4) I get the feeling that orthodoxy is viewed as boring. A high and inerrant view of scripture is considered yesterday's news. It seems much more fashionable to see how much of orthodoxy one can deny and still be considered conservative; it is almost a game now to see how much of scriptural inerrancy and authority can be denied while still allowing one's self to be considered a full Evangelical. This is just an impression for now, perhaps it is wrong.

(5) On a different but Turk-ish note, I note that, whereas the PP Coffee Mug, the PP hooded sweatshirt, and the PP mousepad exist noncorporeally but in a different plane of being, the Turkoman appears to have quite the array of Turkish Delights out there.

(a) I can imagine carrying organic vegetables around in my Centuri0n tote bag to the next love-in or protest.

(b) I don't know what it is, but seeing an Evangelical chick in a "female minion" shirt just might make the heart beat a little faster.

(c) In an odd twist of pricing, the stoner-black Centuri0n tee-shirt is pricier than the Centuri0n polo shirt.

What should Frank add to the inventory of fine Centuri0n gear?

(i) The Centuri0n thong. For the, ah, shall we say, more provocative female blog-readers who want to show it off...

(ii) Frank could put his picture in concentric circles and sell it to the BHT as the Centuri0n dartboard.

(iii) Or, couldn't one market Centuri0n tp. Then his foes can have the satisfaction once or twice a day [if they're healthy] of claiming to....oh never mind, I can't say it in politic fashion.

Views on Scripture

Somebody asked a while back what my views on scripture happened to be. This is something I was going to address [briefly] anyway, so I'll take this little 20-minute work break to hammer out an answer.

(1) The OT and NT writings are divinely inspired. Paul, for example, wrote [say] Romans in the normal course of affairs, but the Holy Spirit was working through Paul in a manner such that Paul felt perfectly natural while writing the epistle. Whether Paul was aware of the agency of the HS is unknown. The end product is something that is normative.

(2) I hold to all of the traditional authorship and unity claims. Examples:

(a) I hold to the essential Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, allowing for what appear to be obvious later editions. Frankly, I find the documentary and fragmentary hypotheses to be not very-well founded and more driven by naturalistic assumption than be actual evidence.
(b) There was but one Isaiah. No deutero- or trito-Isaiahs in my book.
(c) I hold to the conservative dating of Daniel.
(d) My hobby horse is the fourth gospel. I think John bar-Zebedee's authorship is the best explanation.
(e) All of the epistles claiming that they were written by Paul are authentically Pauline. Of course I allow for the possibility of an amaneuensis [Tertius, say].

(3) I don't have much patience for people who want some of the Bible or certain parts of the Bible and resort to ever-more general philosophizing to get rid of those parts that inconvenience the modern mind.

(4) I chuckle when various internet pseudointellectuals out there talk about hermeneutics and epistemology when they can't even show a rudimentary ability to exegete scripture.

(5) Anytime somebody turns to philosophy when discussing scripture, I take that as their saying "I concede the argument to you."

Now philosophy is a good thing. I have two publications in high-level philosophy venues, which is two more publications than most of the poseurs and pseudointellectuals have on the internet. I've also written a pretty thick grad-level textbook in a top publishing line as well as authored/coauthored 5-6 other published papers in a hard mathematical science, so I'm used to academics. So nobody should accuse me of obscurantism.

But if we're talking about Christian revelation, then the place to go is to scripture, not somebody's philosophical musings. I have my own set of speculations about things for which there is not much info: heaven, hell, the Trinity, etc. But one should not be so arrogant to put these musings on par with those things that God has revealed to us.

(6) Any sort of Christianity that diminishes the centrality of scripture and its normative authority is, at best, a very dangerous Christianity, and, at worst, is a humanistic fraud.

(7) Regarding inerrancy: I subscribe to the Chicago Statement unapologetically. But modernism has so taken its hold in the Church-at-large that to say so invokes certain cries of "fundie!" or "philosophical backwater!" from those who fancy themselves to be our intellectual lights. So be it. I make my stand [for whatever that is worth] with the Chicago Statement.

BTW --- I didn't read the Chicago Statement one day and then decide that, like a woman's handbag or shoes, the CS went well with my idiom. I affirm the CS because it states what I have, for most of my Christian life [11 years or so] naturally held from my own independent thinking and study of scripture. In other words, CS just put my thoughts into writing.

But of course there are problems in scripture. There are a few places where it is hard to see just how, say, two accounts can be reconciled.

But, I treat scripture as any other historical document when it comes to putting things together. There is enough capital built up to where, if I dont see how things piece together, I give scripture the benefit of the doubt and conclude that it is not wise to be dogmatic. The skeptics make good points from time to time. So do conservatives. I have not seen anything yet that seems so unharmonious as to where the burden of proof lies on our conservative side of the fence.

In short, all of these enumerated points are held by the author without any dissonance. Now various statements within scripture make me scratch my head at times, but statements about scripture don't make me scratch my head.

It's a pretty simple affair unless you're a pseudointellectual who is trying to prove something to himself by being a contrarian with views that would make uncritical readers say "That's deep, man."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Heavyweight Champion of the World Washed My Car

One of the advantages of being semi-pseudonymous is that I can say things such as "I still watch pro wrestling" without fear of reprisal by those who think that thirtysomethings should be into more "mature" things, such as the Food Network or the Home and Garden Television Channel, let alone the CNBC channel with the stock ticker at the bottom of the page.

I grew up watching pro wrestling. I enjoy the spectacle, the pageantry, the bread-and-circuses atmosphere. Even though it is all fake, the moves are real, the bumps are pretty vicious at times, and the feuds/storylines/angles are still fun to watch. Think "male soap opera." At the risk of creating dissonance in the reader's mind, I used to study Greek and read my Greek NT while watching pro wrestling, so if I ever make a blunder relative to the Greek, perhaps there was some exciting move that pulled my attention from the sacred page to the TV screen.

Anyway...there's a local indy wrestling federation that my friend videotapes from one of the community cable channels. We've watched his tapes for about 3-4 years, and we mark out and pop to the wrestling just like it is '85 again, even though it is completely low-budget stuff.

We tried this last September to hit a live show, but we didn't arrive early enough, and the small warehouse ["arena"] where the wrestling fed holds its live shows was filled with 100 people or so, so I couldn't get in to watch the action. Oh well.

However, I noticed a few months later that the wrestling fed needed some money to pay some rent for the arena [read: "warehouse"] and, to boot, they were having a car wash in a parking lot not too far from where I reside. [Pro wrestlers don't hold bake sales; washing cars is more in line with the idiom.] At the same time, it wouldn't be right to say my car was dirty; it would be more accurate to say that my dirt was car-ish, so the car needed a washing. Apparently some of the wrestlers would be washing cars [remember this is a small indy fed, not the WWE or TNA], so, what the heck....why not?

It turns out that I got there about fifteen minutes after the car wash started. I was the first customer. Alas, there was a problem with one of the hoses, and one of the wrestlers had to get some other hoses, which meant a 90 minute trip for him to pick up more equipment.

As a result, I got to talk for about 90 mintes with one of the legends of the fed as well as with the current heavyweight champion. It was a good 90 minutes of talking shop. It was a genuine Norman Rockwell moment --- twenty- and thirty-something guys hanging out in a parking lot talking about wrestling past, present, and future. I got to ask about where my favorite wrestlers were, what happened to them, etc. I got to ask them how they felt the day after a 30+ minute barbed wire match. I learned how to take a steel chair on the head properly. We talked about wrestling camps and training schools. It was a good conversation.

Well, the hoses arrived some time later, and the 4- [or is it 5- ?] time former heavyweight champ of the fed as well as the current champ of the fed [who takes some of nastiest bumps I've ever seen] washed my car. How many people can say that the heavyweight champs of the world [past and present] washed their car?! Not many, I daresay.

Anyway, I told the Daveman about the car wash, so he marked out and had to get his car washed too. So, we took his car to the car wash, and his car got washed by one of his favorite wrestlers in the fed, a rather athletic high-flying sort of wrestler who can do incredible flips and crazy moves off of the turnbuckles and ropes.

This would've been good enough. But, I was invited to watch a live taping that same night for their two weekly shows. Now I've never been "behind the scenes" relative to wrestling, so it sounded like a hoot. What was I going to do, go out again with another ditzy supermodel? No...a man needs his space. He needs his wrestling.

Well, I ran my 7.5 mile route, lifted, got a salad at Wendy's with Dave, and then headed over to the taping. I watched them plan angles and determine how the matches would end. I talked in appreciable detail to most of the wrestlers in the fed. All of them were pretty nice and social and I complimented them on their crazy stunts, expressing a bit of remorse that they get the $&!^$* beaten out of them for my entertainment, whereas I do nothing but watch from the Barca-lounger. But, they love wrestling.

[BTW --- unless you're a big-name wrestler in a big-name fed, it is one hardscrabble life. Nothing romantic about it. Makes minor-league baseball look like a dream job.]

Dave and I got to go in the ring and see what it was like. There are apparently two types of wrestling rings: the ring that is real [and hurts when you're slammed into it even if you fall properly], and what is called a "training ring" where the floor of the ring has a lot more spring and give. This ring was a training ring, but I wouldn't want to get slammed, suplexed, powerbombed, chokeslammed, piledriven, tombstoned, etc on that canvas anyway. I did ask the 300 lb guy if he could powerbomb Dave in the ring, or, even better, on the concrete, but for whatever reason Dave just didn't seem hip to that idea.

About 10pm or so, their 300 lb behemoth had a match with the reigning champion, and the 300lb guy powerbombed the champ so hard into the canvas of the ring that one of the metal supports of the ring bent and another metal beam actually fatigued and had a tear in it, and the right side of the ring collapsed. File that in "I've never seen that." It was the hardest powerbomb I've ever seen. Even the other wrestlers were marking out to the fact that the powerbomb broke the ring. [I wonder how they'll fix it, or how much it costs, etc. Can't be cheap...] This is the wrestling equivalent of a basketball player dunking and shattering the backboard --- everybody pops and goes nuts 'cuz you don't see it that often.

One of the funny things is that, watching the shows on my pal's VCR made me believe that many of the wrestlers in that show didn't have to act like they were crazy --- they were genuinely crazy in real life. [Anybody who wants to be a pro wrestler with the pain and very low pay is somewhat crazy in my book.] But, being the mark that I was, they were all pretty nice without exception. They can turn the crazy-man persona on and off like a switch.

I had this great angle that I wanted to suggest to the guy who runs the fed, but I forgot what it was, and drove myself crazy. I remember Dave and I laughing at the angle when I first suggested it during a game of tennis. But we can't remember it. We were going to let them use the angle if they thought it was good or funny.

The problem with going behind the scenes is that it de-romanticizes wrestling to a certain degree. Back in '86 or so when I first realized that, no, pro wrestling is not real, that killed much of the excitement for a few years. But as I got older, I just enjoyed the spectacle and athleticism of grown men in tights beating the stuffing out of each other. I loved the feuds, the angles, etc. When you only know the wrestlers as they appear on TV, they seem much more believable. But when you meet them in person and you realize that they're not so big, or, that they're real people, etc, it is harder to suspend your disbelief when watching, say, Zombie Man take on his hated rival The Krushmaster, when you know that Zombie Man's name is Carl, he works construction during the week, and The Krushmaster is Richard, and he and Zombie Man were football teammates and are best friends in real life. It just makes seeing Krushmaster's slamming ZM on a ladder and then ramming his head into the ring post just a little less believable. The disillusionment isn't as drastic as when Neo takes the red pill from Morpheus, but it does kill a bit of the romance.

[BTW --- the wrestlers I spoke with there said that, being in the biz, a lot of the romance of wrestling died with them as well. When they watch the big name feds, they don't get into the storylines, but instead note that Wrestler X made some technical errors in that Irish Whip, or that Wrestler Y didn't take the bump properly.]

All in all, the day was a completely impromptu blast, and, just as nice, my car is clean. The heavyweight champ really got the hubcaps shiny too.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Anatomy of a Mediocre-at-Best Blog Hoax

Rumor has it --- confirmed through third-hand verification of fourth-hand exchanges of hypotheses --- that the Progressive Christian is a hoax site done for furthering my loopy-at-times sense of schtick and humor.

The rumors are completely correct, as are many rumors. I am the Progressive Christian, or, more accurately, I'm the guy who puts forth the affectations of a fruitcake leftist who drags Jesus into the mix to justify his goofy ideological statements.

I've deliberately made the posts at PC cornier and more over-the-top in their nuttiness, which has made it clear that PC is not a serious individual, but is, as are many sites, a hoax site designed for the amusement of a handful of people. As a result, no comments have been coming in there the last few posts, so nobody is taking the site seriously.

This is probably a wise move on their part.

The problem with doing a lot of leftist and "prog" schtick is that much of leftist and progressive ideology is, in my opinion, already a self-parody of itself. One might think that this would make the hoax less obvious, but the problem with too perfect a parody is that normal, rational people who are bound by the semantic range of words and, say, the law of the excluded middle, quickly grow tired of conversing or interacting with somebody who doesn't give words any meaning and freely contradicts himself from one sentence to the next without even a crimson hue appearing in his cheek.

But in the early days --- a few weeks ago at most --- there was some fun to be had. [And, trust me, I almost spit out my soda or water half the time while laughing during writing those silly PC posts.]

The first post was called Greetings and the content of the post was as follows:

I have gotten really tired of fundamentalist and logocentrist "Christians" acting as if they have sole access to the truth. This blog exists to put forth the real teachings of Jesus, and Krishna, and Mohammed, and Buddha, and all of the other great teachers.

Fundamentalism is a threat to our tolerant and open society. And, as it will be seen, I will be intolerant towards Fundamentalists. There is no contradiction embodied in this. But even if there is, I'm not going to be logocentric.

Note of course the self-stultifying m.o. in the first paragraph. Observe the mere handwaving accompanying the self-stultifying in the second paragraph, the handwaving being "justified" by throwing around the term "logocentric." Intellectuals like that word, for whatever reason.

This sort of silliness at first drew a few earnest commentators. Poor Ken Abbott was the biggest mark, and to be sure I use the term "mark" in the sense that he seemed to take the site seriously. I'd bet the farm he knew after a while that the site was somebody's being very, very, silly. So Ken, wherever you are, I hope you take this as a "laughing with you" and not a "laughing at you" sort of statement.

Ken originally asked: If I understand you correctly, you're going to blog, but you're not going to be concerned about words or language...?

This is a perfectly reasonable question, of course. But PC replied: I'm concerned with tolerance and following Jesus's desire for social justice.

I don't recall Jesus requiring that we act like latent logocentric oppressors. Words and language are useful only as they promote equality, love, and social justice.

Note the entire dodging of Ken's question. It was mere posing, affecting a cool, hip, trendy "thing" and running with it. HAHAHAHA.

Poor Ken, blindsided by PC's immunity to reason, presses on: How do you define "tolerance"? Was Jesus' desire for social justice what got him killed?
Please unpack the phrase "latent logocentric oppressors" for me.

Again, Ken is completely reasonable. What is tolerance? [I ask this to liberals, leftists, etc, and never get much of a workable answer.] What in the world does "latent logocentric oppressor" mean? Who knows? The words sounded good when strung together, so it was easy to type them while emitting audible guffaws. Anyway, PC replied with another silly collection of drivel:

Ken --- you need to take the phrase as a whole and stop worrying about individual words.

As for Jesus, his early career was brought to a tragic end by the right wing factions amongst "organized religion."

Another non-answer by PC! Such a surprise. Now it is true that a word's semantic range is partially determined by context and the surrounding words, so PC's statement, taken innocently, are not damnable. But of course, PC's statement is uttered with this aire of sheer arrogance and condescension so that, functionally speaking, PC gives Ken another blowoff, the polite scholarly version of yelling Up yours! like some New York cabbie. Of course, PC just had to bring right-wing folks and "organized religion" [complete with the melodramatic and the completely useless scare quotes] into the mix for a stunning display of the non sequitur techique!

Ken is now thrown for a loop. He's probably thinking "What a nutball" about PC, but, in charity, he then asks the following:

Okay, then, what's the whole phrase mean? Pardon my ignorance--I'm just trying to follow the conversation.

Why did the "right wing factions amongst 'organized religion'" bring about Jesus' death?

Again, completely reasonable questions. He had more patience than I do in real life!
You'd think that the Progressive Christian, that man of God who embodies all that is progressive and tolerant, would have a substantive answer. You'd be thinking incorrectly, dear readers, for PC issues more boilerplate material:

Modern scholarship has conclusively shown such a thing. We have to read between the lines and perform a structural analysis to see this. A "straight" reading of the text [as fundamentalists do] won't show this, which is why they're completely misled.

I believe this answers your question.

The inspiration for this completely unsubstantiated reply comes from the fact that in my own discussions with people, the things in the text they don't like are "inauthentic" or discussed with the prefacing word-formula "Modern scholarship has shown that ....." which is then followed by some liberal statement that has nothing to go for it other than assumption: "Modern scholarship has shown that 8% of what Jesus is recorded as saying is authentic." Or, for another one, "Modern scholarship has shown that epistle X is not authentically Pauline." Etc.

I'm proud of the dig on fundies and the "straight reading." Of course, the statement itself denigrating "plain reading" is understood by a "plain reading." No self-stultification there. Uh huh. Perhaps PC was speaking that way to condescend to fundies.

Ken then states: No, it doesn't. Neither question was answered.

Of course, Ken is, once again, completely correct. Ken asks good questions, and PC responds with random piles of arrogant, condescending, scholarly b.s.

Then somebody named Kim joins the party. [At least it was a party for me. I'm not sure about Ken, though.]

Two questions:
If you are a "Christian" but you don't use the text of the Bible, then where do you get your direction? A Christian is a follower of Christ and the last time I checked, the life and teachings of Christ are in the Biblical texts.
If you describe yourself as "tolerant" why do you express yourself as so "intolerant" of the evangelical (or as you call them fundamentalist) Christians?
I find your blog to be highly contradictive.
BTW, the last time I checked, the DaVinci Code is listed as a work of fiction not as a historical novel.

Hee hee, more good questions. Of course, without the Biblical texts or some sort of special relevation, one is playing paint-by-numbers with Christianity. And, of course, how can somebody who prides himself in tolerance [whatever that means!] be so intolerant? Doesn't that make the promoter of tolerance a hypocrite? Sure does! But what's a little contradiction or two to stop the Progressive Christian? He responds in turn:

Kim, I believe I have fully deconstructed your questions in a new post at this blog. Please check there.

Ken, I showed some of my friends in critical theory your questions and my answers and we all agreed that I answered them.

To be honest, I'm not sure what thread at PC was meant to respond to Kim. They're all so full of drivel, it is hard to remember which one was meant to perpetuate the hoax. I think the link gives the right one though.

Note the little shot across Ken's bow. Critical theory --- HAHAHAHAHA --- and "my friends in critical theory" --- HEE HEE HEE --- are all comic props for this little hoax. Had to keep Ken on the hook....

Ken was still on the hook, for he replied:

Well, I showed some of my friends who speak the English language my questions and your "answers," and they agree that indeed you did not answer my questions.

On the retort scale, throwing out the West German judge's low score of 5.4 and eliminating the Argentianian judge's high score of 5.9, Ken averages a 5.7 [out of a perfect 6.0] on the retort scale. Good one, Ken!

But of course, illogic --- especially the illogic manifested by PC --- cannot be stopped:

Well, you have your truth, and I have my truth. But my truth is more true than your truth.

The first sentence is a real life living, breathing, quote I have heard more than once from university goofballs over the years as well as various people who consider the embracing of blatant contradiction to be a sign of liberation, freedom, etc. Note that PC, after relativizing truth, takes a decidedly absolutist turn with the second sentence.

Ken then asks: Says who? to the previous comment. This is the natural, logical reply, obviously.

PC's next reply is a bit of an over-reach. See if you can spot the tactical error that destroys his credibility as a serious blogger:

The people at my organic produce co-op, that's who. Anybody with a brain. Anybody who believes in tolerance and inclusiveness.

Need I go on?

In retrospect, the whole organic produce co-op thing was a case of too-much-too-soon. Too stereotypical --- and I've frequented organic produce co-ops enough to say that it is NOT a caricature!!

PC probably shot himself in the foot by mentioning his co-op, but the rest of the post is a gem: more question-begging and condescension-as-argument. Just like the leftists!

Ken may very well be playing along with PC at this stage, sort of the way that the crowd at a wrestling show gives the wrestlers a pop or two even though everybody knows that pro wrestling is fake!

So who died and left you the one to make up the rules? Why are "tolerance" (which we have yet to define) and inclusiveness the virtues that trump all others?

Good questions, Ken. I've asked these too, and received in reply gasps and muted sighs as if such questions are not welcome in polite society. Ken's guess is as good as mine.

PC replies to Ken in a fashion to which I've been replied: That you even ask such a question is proof enough of your intolerance.

At this point poor Ken probably realizes he's dealing with a complete and utter loon, and the comments for the thread cease.

Oh, what a ride.

Another thread of note there was one called The Problem with "Christians". Since it is my material ultimately, I can quote the entire idiotic thread here in its entirety. I'll respond to myself --- surely a self-referential feat of flexibility if there ever happened to be one!

The problem with "Christians" is that they think that they're right and others are wrong. This is not acceptable, nor is it polite behavior in our modern enlightened times.

Of course PC thinks he's right in the second sentence.

Today, I had a discussion with one fundamentalist Christian who told me that Jesus was God. My response was "I'm glad Jesus is God for you." This should have been good enough to drive away this uneducated cretin. However, the cretin then said "He's God for you too."

I don't think I have to rebut this sort of silly "logic." In fact, I won't. It suffices merely to say that just because he thinks that Jesus is God for him doesn't mean that Jesus is God for other people.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Note the absolute statement in the last sentence. Just because HE thinks X doesn't mean that X is true for all people. PC is arrogating to himself the right to make an absolute statement here but denying the silly fundie's potential to play the absolute-truth game. The waiter has just brought you a plate full of petitioning the principle!

The fundamentalist then countered with the statement "But certain truths are universal."

Wow those fundamentalists are stupid! Them rednecks and their universal truths!

Again, I don't think I have to rebut this sort of silly "logic." In fact, any one of my former Womyn's Studies professors would laugh at this blatant logocentrism. This isn't how educated products of our universities are supposed to think.

I may sound intolerant to say that I find fundamentalists uneducated and not very bright, but sometimes you have to use a justifiable amount of intolerance to fight for tolerance.

C'mon...don't I get point for the spelling "womyn" ? Surely, if you hate me, you must at least give me parody props for this. I've seen elite academics use this spelling, btw. The rest of the snippet is just more "Fundies are hicks" rhetoric.

By saying "Jesus is God," the fundamentalist was dividing people into two camps. One camp might agree with the statement, and another camp would disagree. For example, my environmentalist friends would disagree with the statement. Jesus wouldn't want this sort of divisiveness. Only fundamentalists want this sort of divisiveness.

More unsubstantiated statements. CS Lewis remarked that writing the Screwtape Letters rather ground him down. On the other hand, writing PC posts really picked the mood up, for such posts are easy: type in a lot of feel-good pseudointellectual drivel, hope for a few marks, respond with equal amounts of the aforementioned drivel, repeat, etc.

On a side note, somebody recommended a poster named Sam Hays as a barometer of what fundamentalist thought is out there. I read his "review" of Star Wars. I wonder if we're watching the same film. I for one was appalled at the dearth of people of color and other underepresented people in the film. And, I happen to think that only bad people deal with absolutes. The fact that this reviewer didn't like that statement says a lot about his intolerance. I would advise him (he probably won't listen since he thinks he's right) to perhaps particapate in some sensitivity seminars. Another thing about the film is that it still acted as if light and dark were in opposition rather than 2 sides of the same coin.

Comments here: (i) I deliberately erred by writing "Sam" for "Steve." (ii) Note the intrusion of racial bean-counting into something completely unrelated. (iii) The magic word "tolerance," which PC seems to invoke as if it were the name of Jesus Himself, is also sprinkled in there. (iv) The sensitivity seminars are real features of universities and even the business world, alas. (v) The statement about light and dark, in retrospect, was too boilerplate given all of the other garbage that PC had written.

For more guffaws, check out the comment threads. I'll pull some comments and replies by both marks and the Progressive Christian.

Lindsey asks: Ok, I'll start right out by saying that I'm a Christian. You can see that very easily by looking at my blog. Let me just ask you one question: are right and wrongs absolutes, or relatives?

Good question. Too bad PC spews forth more drivel in reply:

Lindsey ---

Rights and wrongs are what I call "relative absolutes." They're possibly absolute for the person who says something is right or wrong, but their definitely relative for other people who may not agree.

I believe I'm being perfectly clear.

I find at least two self-stultifications going on here. If I try to understand my own words, I get a headache. Of course I was being anything but clear.

But Lindsey presses on:

So you are saying that, for me, right and wrong can be absolutes, but for you they can be relatives? Then there is no such thing as truth. Then there is no law, no order. Then policemen and government and everything that enforces law is, according to your logic, intolerant; after all, they are ENFORCING thier 'view' of 'right' or 'wrong' on US! In your world, there would be utter chaos. You see, Hitler considered murdering millions 'right'. You're saying that it's allright for him to do that, because who is to define what 'right' or 'wrong' is anyway? Right and wrong are real aspects of daily life, not abstract concepts! And if you don't believe they exist, try imagining a world without them... and then think again.

She dares ask PC to think! The nerve of today's women. [Shouldn't they be making me breakfast and doing my laundry?] They challenge a fraud such as the PC. But he's up to the challenge with all of the flair that accompanies his, dare we say, idiom:

Ah Lindsey, you're being so logocentric. You talk about "truth" as if it is some arid, dead proposition. I live it [my truth, not yours, to be sure] every time I tend my organic vegetable garden or recycle some cans of Hansen's natural soda.

I don't see why you bring up Hitler. He was a right wing guy. He went too far with the Jews, even though they're rotten oppressors of the Palestinians. But, if this is the best you have, keep firing away.

But again, that's my truth. Your truth might be different. Jesus would celebrate all truths. That is possibly yet absolutely true in an indefinite sort of contingent fashion.

I think at this stage, this pile of rubbish deserves no comment. BTW --- I'm rather proud of myself for indefatigably coming up with this crap in stream-of-consciousness fashion. The level of pride is somewhere between the pride in being able to walk and chew gum simultaneously and the pride that comes from tying my own shoes.

Lindsey presses on. More good questions. But PC is always ready with a non-answer answer and an affected pose:

Lindsey, you're beginning to border on hate speech, and hate speech is not tolerated here.

Sometimes you have to be intolerant in fighting intolerance so that tolerance can prevail, otherwise being tolerant to intolerance allows intolerance to continue to be intolerant. That should be clear.

As far as the Jesus "quote" you give, I believe real scholarship has shown that that is not one of the "authentic" sayings of Jesus. Critical feminist theology has shown through form criticism and post-structural analysis that statements from Jesus that portray him as anything more than a great teacher or as something unique are later historical additions by the early church. This is because (probably) the early church was trying to be relevant and assertive.

On the other hand "Judge not" is considered authentic. I advise that you follow that.

I'm very proud of this "reply" obviously. :-)

BTW --- anybody who uses the "Judge not" quote of Our Lord gets the following questions from me in real life:

(a) To whom is Jesus saying this?
(b) What is the surrounding context?
(c) What sort of judging here is condemned?

Of course, people who can answer (a)-(c) aren't stupid enough to throw around "judge not lest ye be judged" as if this is their ticket to "Go" and $200 whenever they see something they don't like.

Lindsey --- this is too good to be true --- apologizes for the possible offense. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I did not border on hate speech. But I apologize for offending you. I did not mean to give the impression that I was judging you. I was merely debating and asking questions.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. HO HO HO. HEE HEE HEE. A PP hooded sweatshirt is on its way to Lindsey for her indefatigable spirit and her superior degree of niceness. Hopefully she'll laugh at the joke too. If not, I'll have to surround myself with guys named Biff and Rocko for a while; such gentlemen carry around violin cases, if you know what I mean.

On a serious note, many in the Left try to put us on the defensive. I have to prove that I'm not racist, sexist, homophobic, nonecosustainable, etc. I simply refuse to play that game, and, I will not let somebody wax victimological around me.

Another highlight lowlight of the PC blog include the post titled Let's Get Modern wherein I uncritically spout Jesus Seminar goofiness.

By this time, I had exhausted any sort of goodwill with anybody who posted there. And, of course, this is quite natural, for the Progressive Christian persona is that of a frothing idiot with real issues and insecurities through which he needs to seriously work.

To try to lure more flies in the flypaper, I tried what even then I knew to be a strategy of desperation: starting a mini-feud between the Pedantic Protestant [he's my hero] and PC. The problem is that this is rather obvious or forward.

(i) Why, out of all the goofball lefty blogs out there, would PP pick on PC's blog as compared to some other blog?

(ii) Hmmmm....anybody notice that the posting times for some PP and PC entries are really close to each other, as if it was one guy going from blog to blog on his break or little 10-minute surfing forays on the internet?

Of course, this assumes that anybody cares. That is a most questionable assumption.

The fact is, a few NTRMin folks did care: a very small thread was devoted to discussing briefly whether PC was a hoax or serious. Good ol' Ken of course by then knows the site is a fraud and a marginal excuse [at best] for somebody's humor.

This thread is ridiculously long, and, so I hope, not too self-congratulatory. But, I must mention [it is MY blog after all] the thread of which I am the proudest for the most idiotic parody-but-it-is-really-true post: My Vagina, Your Vagina. Most everything said in that spoof post [but the play is completely real] comes from (i) what I've seen intellectuals saying about the play, (ii) some flyers at my old university that asked really silly questions about vaginas to "stimulate discussion" regarding the play, and (iii) some far-left literature that I don't have access too presently.

[Editorial: The thing about this sort of stuff is that while sexuality is, like anything else, something that can be used for good and for ill, modern life throws it in your face. Sex is everywhere --- radio, TV, internet. (Let's not discuss the unsolicited copious porno spam that ends up in many an inbox, please.) People are naturally "horny," but now we've made horniness something for scholarly and intellectual discussion. Something that should be kept in the bedroom is now in your face 24/7. This would make a good separate thread someday...]

It was heartbreaking to see that post, which took all of five minutes to type, elicit no comments. That's when I realized that the jig was up. Game over, man.

Another stupid post on organized religion followed, and nobody wanted PC's snake oil. Ken had hit the ol' dusty trail by the 50th invocation of the word logocentrist. Lindsey was reduced to apologetic rubble after I accused her of hate speech. PC, in the end, had no friends to make his blog feel like home; he only had his own self-righteous musings. :-(

Well, with PC at death's door, he may as well go out with a bang. To do this, I came up with a post called The Final Solution where I call for the rounding up of "fundies." Complete parody of the Third Reich [obvious by the title of the thread, methinks]. And, in a most fitting tribute to the Left, I adapt the closing quote of Marx's Communist Manifesto. They make a fitting epitaph to the Progressive Christian, the thinker who described himself as "tolerant, open-minded, and not bound by superstitious things like the Bible."

Oh, one more comment to this even more ridiculously long thread: that Progressive Christian's initials were PC [hahahaha] merely happened to work out as a really-funny-after-the-fact coincidence. I'm not that clever...or, if I am, I'm sure not letting anybody know that I'm really that clever.

Recall this post of mine where I coveted the glory of Rev JJ's hoaxiness [is that a word?] much in the way that I totally coveted my friend's Colecovision back in 1983.

In the end, was it worth doing a hoax blog that lacked much of the punch that, say, the "Reverend James Jackson's" Reformed Catholic Pentacostal [sic] blog [see the sidebar here] had?

Probably not.

Will I do something so silly again?

You never know. If I can take a week off and turn Pedantic Protestant into Pedantic Papist, who knows where the oddball humor will strike next?

Perhaps, [cough cough], there is a blog out there [possibly a Roman Catholic blog] that, despite serious appearances, is a hoax? Wouldn't you all be seeing red at that? [That would be rather cruel if people had spent time responding to it, would it not?]

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Don't take the preceding paragraph seriously, please.

Anyway, have a lovely day, and, yes, I am a thirty-something adult male, contrary to the overwhelming evidence provided by this post! :-)

Marking Out to Reformed Rasslin'

Hello dear readers! I can't post anything of substance today, but I do want to shout out a "hullo" to friend and foe alike.

An interesting post is coming tomorrow. A very interesting post, we believe. Not theological, but this isn't necessarily a theological blog. The post is about pro wrestling, surely an issue of similarly cosmic significance. Other blogs like NTRMin and Triablogue and Reformata, etc, just don't go this deeply into things, which is why the world needs a PP blog or two.

Let that whet your appetite. And imagine me power-bombing annoying Catholic apologists on the concrete, throwing them into the turnbuckle, or pulling a foreign object out of the tights and blindsiding them while Frank Turk and Steve Hays distract the ref! Let's hope the papists don't in turn pull out a steel chair and smash it over my head. [That wouldn't serve ecumenical dialogue and catholicity very well, would it?]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Reds at NEA Cafeteria

From Bob Novak's column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

********BEGIN SNIPPET********

The District of Columbia cell of the Communist Party USA has been revealed as holding a monthly luncheon in the cafeteria of the National Education Association, without the sponsorship but not with the disapproval of the huge, politically powerful schoolteachers union.

The Communist meetings were reported by Chris Peterson in the Washington City Paper edition of Nov. 11-17. A lawyer attending the September meeting bolted from the cafeteria when he learned a reporter was present.

''We had no knowledge of this,'' NEA spokeswoman Denise Cardinal told this column, ''because the NEA does not screen the patrons of our cafeteria or listen in on conversations. It's open to the public.''

********END SNIPPET********

Does this mean anything? Maybe so. Maybe not. I don't personally see the big deal about it if the NEA spokeswoman is telling the truth.

But it is worth a chuckle for those of us who wouldn't mind seeing the NEA's demise.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Nothing Good To Say

So I won't say anything for the weekend.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Love for Soda Loses its Fizz, Goes Flat

File this post under "Lifestyles" or "Narcissism: PP-style." This post has absolutely no theological content, and, doubtless, absolutely no substance. Read only if you're really bored with your life or are in prison trying to pass the time off a 30-year sentence.

Most people have cravings for something, whether it be power, sex, money, the love of others, certain foods, alcohol, etc.

I've never "needed" coffee, tea, booze, power, etc.

My vice, if we ignore hammy and schtickish blog entires, is soda pop. I grew up with it. The fizz is good. The carbonation is even better. I'm in my thirties, and I still get excited to reach into the fridge and pull out a soda.

Now fortunately I have chugged diet soda for the last decade or so. I find non-diet soda to be too sweet for my taste. Diet Coke with Lime has been the drug that gives me my high for the last few years.

Anyway, where is this post going? Well, a friend challenged me to quit soda cold turkey. I should be drinking water instead. And, the friend is correct. She knows of what she speaks. Given that she always saw me with a soda, she thought that, whether it be the caffeine and the sugar, I was mildly addicted to it.

The response: I can quit anytime I want to. Surely, this is the very first time that such a reply has been offered to a charge of addiction.

So, last week, I decided to drink nothing but water for a month. And, I resolved to phase soda pop out of the life.

So, on day 6 of the Great Pedantic Protestant Soda Prohibition [GPPSP], here are some interesting tidbits:

(i) Headaches off and on for the last three days, though today's headache was much more mild and gentle. My body does not appreciate sudden changes in chemistry.

(ii) I gained 10 lbs of water weight in 1.5 days of drinking water and not soda. Now I'm not some huge guy, so that is a lot of weight. The body must have been severly dehydrated.

(iii) In the same respect, I lost 7 lbs of that water in the last two days. BTW --- I ate the same as I had done all of the other days.

(iv) I don't feel thirsty all of the time, but am --- what's the word? --- well-watered. [Hmmm...that makes me sound like a dog or a plant.]

(v) On the other hand, the sleeping schedule has been thrown for a loop. But this could be due to bi-daily workouts at the gym taking their toll after a month too.

(vi) At a friend's place [Dear ol' Dave's place to be exact] on Day 2, I watched DoD chug down a Cherry Coke while I just sat there. Somehow, I didn't cheap-shot DoD and wrest the soda from his hands. Or, to be more civilized, I didn't walk to his fridge and yank out a Cherry Coke of my own. But now I know how the dog feels when it watches humans eat human-food.

The big thing is this: after 5-6 days, while the thought of a soda pop brings the same pleasant anticipatory thoughts as does, say, ravaging a Chinese Buffet with Frank Turk, the urge or craving is mostly gone. Now if God commanded me to down a Cherry Coke for my salvation, I'd certainly do so, but, to tell you the truth, water gets the job done.

The problem is that water is rather boring, vanilla, bland, blase, homebody-ish. Yet it gets the job done. So, after six days, the GPPSP seems to be mostly successful. When the headaches stop completely we'll declare it a raving success. But, what happens when water gets really boring?

Another problem is that everybody I know chugs down the cola. I can relate. Soda pop tastes good, and it has that really nice good burn as it goes down the back of the throat.

But, quoting somebody from the Betty Ford clinic, we just take one day at a time and try to keep busy, and eventually, my almost-dead love for soda pop will finally die, so we hope, a long-deserved death.

Now, I have no idea what it is like for alcoholics. I've never been drunk in my life. I don't even like alcohol, though a wine cooler or a beer is fine at just the right time. [I have no hangups with alcohol, btw. It just isn't my sauce.] Certainly, I'm not wearing week old clothes, rolling in the gutter, with a bottle of Mr Pibb in a brown paper bag. Yet, I'd imagine that for alcoholics who want to kick the sauce, they'd have a much harder time of it.

Oh well, those are today's profound thoughts. Don't let them blow your mind.