June 30, 2004

We're celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this year. The traditional gift is tin, the modern gift is diamond jewelery.

I think the modern gift list is the DINK list.

Well, it official: Barbie Finds a New Boyfriend. I think that its a bit creepy that the boyfriend chosen by Barbie fans seems to have the exact same eyes and hair as Barbie herself. Ken always looked like someone who could be the Barbie owner's father. This punk is more of a "older boy".

June 28, 2004

Here are my reviews of the hotels we stayed in:

Sandusky EconoLodge South: I know I shouldn't expect much from an econolodge, except a cheap rate, but compared to many of the other motels we stayed at on out trip, this was a downer. The room was clean and functional, but just not very good. The showerhead was a high-pressure jet, the bathroom fan was very noisy, and the motel is located right next to a "haunted house" attraction which made things a bit noisy.

It was cheap for a Sandusky hotel, but I felt like I wasn't getting my money's worth.

Best Western, Janesville, Wisconsin: My disappointment with the Econolodge was alleviated by this hotel. I was cruising at about 10 at night after the kids had finally conked out, but I was feeling sleepy too, and the construction lane changes on I-90 were stressing me out. We made out unscheduled stop in Janesville, and went with some worry we'd pay a lot for a room without reserving it in advance. Well the best western here gave us a rate of about $58 for AAA, which was $50 less than we paid for Sandusky and for a much nicer room with nicer amenities. They have a huge indoor pool, but we didn't have time to swim in it. The breakfast was also very nice.

Then we made it to Minneapolis, where we stayed at the Embassy Suites Bloomington. We've stayed there before, and appreciate the free cooked breakfast (omelets good for Atkins!), free manager's reception/drink, and the spacious suite with fold out bed. $10 a day for wifi was pricey, though. The pool also had a salty taste to it, and only two jacuzzi nozzles were functional.

On the trip back, I decided that Best Western was my new friend, so I made reservations for one in Merillville, Indiana, and one just on the outskirts of Columbus. Both were very nice: the one at Columbus a bit more spacious. I had a problem with the free "wired" internet connection in Merillville, but I finally did get a connection. The one in Columbus had free wi-fi, had pre-cooked eggs and sausage for the breakfast, and were very nice in letting my family play at the pool after checkout while I did some pre-origins stuff in Columbus. I joined Best Western's travel club at the Merillville hotel, and their special promotion means I've already earned a free night's stay

We went looking for some good kid games at Origins this year, armed with an article from Games Quarterly that listed games by educational content.

We picked up Birds, Bugs, & Beans from R&R Games, and so far we've had a blast with it. You have to pay attention to the cards that come up, everybody does somethign (flipping a card) each round) and the physical activities for the birds, bugs and beans engage the kids. Its a bit tough for our three year old though, but he has fun calling out when its time to flip cards. 5 stars!

June 26, 2004

We're back! Successfully completing a trip of 2700 miles, with no car trouble and paying gas prices from 2.03 to 1.68 (minnesota was the cheapest). The kids had fun, mom had fun, and as you can see from this picture of Dad playing Candyland at Origins 2004, dad had fun too.

The kids were remarkably well behaved, considering the wringer we put them though of changing hotel rooms and waling long convention halls and meeting lots of grandparents all at once.

We'd better get to the grocery store soon today, or we'll have naugh to eat. More later

June 22, 2004

Page 4 of this pdf version of the new Games Quarterly Magazine has a cool preview of the Lord of the Rings miniature collection that will be played and displayed at Origins in columbus this weekend.

Peter Leithart has an interesting posting drawing connections between the covering of Noah's Ark and the tar used to bind the bricks of Babel together.

I've read of Babel as a continuation of the themes of the Noah story before, with the tower as a possible house to survive a future flood. I haven't seen anyone mention the most important way the tower might survive the flood though, which is that a tower is TALL and the top would exceed the hight of a future flood.

I'm also intrigued by Josephus' claim ( if I recall) that the purpose of the pyramids was to survive a flood.

June 20, 2004

Tomorrow its onward to Chicago and the cousins, then resting in Merrillville, Indiana. Then we'll progress through Indianapolis and Dayton, Ohio, stopping over to see the Wegerzyn Gardens and the USAF museum at Wright-Patterson AFB. Then we'll stop just outside of columbus prior to our arrival wednesday for Origins.

I think my polyannish view has been at least partially justified.

I forgot to actually upload the file to my laptop that I wanted to edit on vacation, and I've not gotten very far at all with Wolfe's The Knight. This wasn't a "get away from it al vacation" by any means.

But really supremely blessed.

$2 a gallon - Car Songs - Rest Stop Farmer's Market - Atkins on the Road - Cicadas on the windshield - for purple mountain's majesty above the fruited plain - the license plate game - "just go in your diaper!" - interesting side trips we have no time for - expensive econolodge in Sandusky - Friendly's Restauraunt - fairly quiet Harley Davidson motorcycle expo.

Kelley's Island - swarms of mayflies - the ferry - racing back to the ferry - "is this our new house?" - glacial grooves - pounding rain - horrible traffic around Chicago on a sunday and we'll have to back through it on a weekday - driving till bleary - a really cheap and nice Best Western in Janesville

beautiful Wisconsin farm landscapes! The Laura Ingals Wilder house in Pepin, Wisconsin! Meeting a family aquaintance in Pepin! Wildly liberal talk radio though Madison! Absolutely beatutiful driving up the Mississippi River valley on Route 35! Arriving in Minneapolis! Confusion about the hotel! My father in law brought my parents out to join us for his wife's 75th birthday! The Mall of America!

Lots of nice restauraunts for dinner & lunch - swimming in the pool - more still to come

Wow what a great week!

I'll have lots of pictures from the trip sometime after I come back on Friday. One thing with a digital camera is you suddenly realize that web-based file storage is really important. This wouldn't have been so much of a need for me if the laptop I have along for the trip wasn't an un-windows-activatable (ugh) loaner of an HP laptop "test" machine from work. Since its going to becomme non-functional on thursday I can't leave the images on the hard disk. Maybe I'll buy a USB keychain drive.

June 19, 2004

Well isn't that special. The hotel we are staying at in Minnesota is hosting a wedding.

A Star Wars theme wedding, with ushers in stormtrooper outfits

June 15, 2004


After three days, a motorcycle gang convention in Sandusky, a footrace on Kelley's Island, and the Laura Ingals Wilder house later, we are in Minneapolis!

Blogging will be light, unless I find out where the free wifi spots are around here ($10 for 1 day is not a "nominal fee" no matter what the hotel claims it is...

June 11, 2004

Here's a copyright puzzler that Barlow or others might try to unravel.

I refered to a massive Lord of the Rings miniatures game that will be played & on display at the Origins game convention.

The game miniatures I believe are all made under a license for use with miniature rules.

The game being played with them is a rather massive piece of entertainment for a large number of players. At what point does such organized play become an infringement of the rights of the Tolkien estate? They (presumably) licensed the figures for use with a game that lets you recreate the battles of middle earth. At some point, does such a game become a "performance" of the content of the books? Or is it already, but nobody really has realized that a license to game implies a license to "perform"?

Can I have 500 people play the game at one time? Can I invite spectators? Can I charge admission? Can I make up other events that didn't happen and play them in my public scenario?

Can I film the play of the game? Can I film the play of the game with a stop motion animation technique that makes the figures look like they're moving?

Who decides when a "game" becomes a "performance" when dealing with a licensed property? Can we really deliniate the two? What are just criteria to make that determination.


My insinuations about why reagan may have decided to not attend church are much too uncharitable.

Assuming this is accurate

Leaving for Minnesota tomorrow! I'm being rather polyannish in my expectations about the drive, assuming my kids will think its so kewl that they're seeing the countryside and staying in motels and visiting an island Laura Ingals Wilder's home in Pepin, Wisconsin that the three-day trip will be happy smiles and singing.

I'm doing all the driving (with regular breaks) and prayers for traveling mercies are appreciated.

I'm also looking forward to the return trip where my indulgence is that I'll be in Columbus Ohio for part of the Origins Game Convention. My wife will get to see some friends of hers from school in Gambier so its not a total loss for her.

One of the highlights of the show will be a massive Lord of the Rings miniatures set up (not the Games Workshop license, but an earlier pre-movie set), a few pictures of which can be seen. The owner of the dioramas and miniatures (thousands!) is selling his set. We got our new digital camera so I'll have pics of it later.

Normally I'd say blogging will be off for my vacation, but my office is loaning me a laptop with a wifi connection, so we'll see if I can't find some time to update the ol' blog.

[stupid blogger spellcheck still doesn't know "blog" is a word]

Once when I was a student I met for lunch with out InterVarsity staff worker. She asked me what I saw as my gift.

I thought for a bit and said "well, I have a pretty good anaylytical mind and I can pick apart mistakes in arguments fairly well, so I guess I'd say that I'd be good at arguing for truth"

I thought that sounded like a great answer at the time.

I don't know from Garlington or Piper, but this quote from John Piper Responds to Don Garlington seems wrong to me
Garlington is clear that for him justification is "the power of Christ taking over our life, so that justification is seen to be coextensive with new creation." In other words, justification includes sanctification. Or to use his language, their relationship is "the mutual interpenetration of the concepts, as illustrated by overlapping circles."
If I recall my Van Til, in Trinitarian theology we describe the persons of the trinity as "coterminous" or "coextensive", and they are frequently referred to as "mutually interpenetrating". So since we can confess that the Father and Son are coextensive and mutually interpenetrating without confessing that the Father is or includes the Son. Now maybe what Piper objects to is that Trinitarian language is accepted as a great mystery in theology, while the definitions of systematic theology are supposed to be univocal.

I think that's assuming a great deal about the fact that Paul is explaining the way that God can be just and the justifier of the ungodly. That's gotta involve a mystery somewhere, no?

Wouldn't a Lutheran say the human nature of Christ was the 'alone instrument' of the atoning sacrifice? But the human nature of Christ was certainly not 'alone' and if it had not been united in the person of the God-man, no atonement would be possible.


June 09, 2004

Idea: set up a cafepress shop selling a bare midriff t-shirt that reads

It doesn't look any better on you, girl

Then go out and wear it around the young women who wear such ridiculous getups when they have a dunlop.

Unfortunatly I'm so svelte since I started Atkins I wouldn't be a good test candidate. (not really)

I still don't like the new blogger. I now see that i can expand messages in the edit window. I don't like that it seems to more quickly forget the login I used for my ftp site and I don't want to put the username/password for my ftp in the blogger settings. It used to keep the login I used for at least a little while as I made a couple of posts. I also don't like that I can't seem to write a whole bunch of drafts and then publish them at once.

I suppose Jordan's point about the call of Adam and Eve to be worshippers of God together might be seen as giving strength to a more 'patriarchal' or family-centered approach to corporate worship.

But I think we have to account for the call of Adam and Eve in the context of them as the progenitors of all humanity. As Wright reads Paul, we Christians are not many "seeds" (families,tribes), but one seed of Abraham. So what business does any physical father have asserting church-like authority over his household as if the other men in his church were not involvable in "his" family?

June 08, 2004

A few Sundays ago I heard a sermon on Matthew 25 and the judgement of the sheep and the goats. The point was made that yes this is a real judgement of the actions of the sheep and the goats, but that it couldn't mean, of course, that the works of the sheep were what won them the approval of God because we know that the whole rest of the bible cries out on every page that we are saved by faith and not works.

What we needed to understand was that the good works that the sheep did flowed from a heart that truly loved God, and that loving heart was given to them by the God who elected them to put their faith in Jesus and to do those good works for his own glory. While the kind of good works in view were the things that are evidence of a saving faith in that they show gratitude toward the savior by their self-sacrificial love for others, they were merely fruit of that faith and it was the heart of faith that was the important thing to focus on. We should not "run out of a sense of guilt at our lack of performance of these good works and go do them", but rather renew our faith to the point where these good works simply flow naturally from a heart that is in tune with the love of Jesus.

The goats of course stand condemned because they did not do the righteous works that God requires.

I'm not sure the anthropology underlying the sermon is true to the way the bible speaks. The sermon's understanding of the falsity of "salvation by works" led to a denial of any utility to a person hearing the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ and obeying them out of a sense of duty or that God offers to reawed such works. Its as if we are to hear the reward of the sheep and the judgement of the Goats and simply avoid the issue of the actions which Jesus spells out as those actions which will receive his approval. We're not to be concerned with specific actions, but just have a "natural flow" of good works where we avoid any intentionality or conscious choice to do the works.

If I were to justify that view, I supopose I might point to the fact that the sheep are seemingly unaware that they have done good works. But closer examination reveals that they are unaware that they have done good works with Christ as the recipient. Which is still a source of confusion for me, because now that Jesus has let the "cat out of the bag" who will be really suprised in the day of judgement? But the story is still a parable.

My understanding of this was deepened by an analogous situation in my marriage. My wife is quite wonderful in doing so many good things that I need or want for her to do. My worry is often that I am taking advantage of her comparitively selfless nature and so I try to avoid asking her to do some specific things that I'd like her to do, because if I ask her to do them for me, though she will, I worry she'll be doing them out of a sense of "duty" instead of a sense of "overflowing love from within her heart". This leads to her frustration because I'm apparently bothered by something but don't want to tell her what it is I'd like her to do. Or I try to stop her from doing something because I think I've discerned that she didn't "want" to do it and I end up making things worse than if I'd said nothing.

I think the danger here is ending with reading Matthew 25 and then sitting around waiting for some feeling of overflowing love from within our hearts so we are moved to do these good works, when we know that frequently, by consciously and intentionally doing a good work from duty can lead to a change in the heart attitude that reinforces the motive for the work

I'm trying to finish up China Meiville's Perdido Street Station before I'm off to minnesota so I don't have to lug the big book with me and finish it early into vacation.

I'm amazed with it: its really fine mixing of fantasy with dickensian urbanism and a "cyberpunk" feel. Mieville has alot of cool ideas that he throws into the story mix, so many that you think he's cluttering things up, but it all seems to work.

There are some very creepy and distrubring images in the book as well, mostly dealing with the Remade, who have magically reconfigured their bodies using flesh like putty.

Good stuff.

I've been picking up a few recent issues of Superman, Action Comics, and Adventures of Superman, partially to catch up with what's been going on, and also because my son (3) is very into "superbatman".

The mainline books are still a bit old for him (and the ones based on the WB cartoons pronbably are too, but work better). I was amused by the direction of things in Adventures of Superman, where the latest 2 issues spend about half the time on Clark Kent's journalism career, and his interaction with fellow journalists. He tries to encourage a young reporter to do a bit more research and background on the story she's writing. It was rather interesting to me as far as it went, but bored my son pretty much, though he was happy daddy was reading a Superman comic to him.

One Batman comic we read didn't have Batman on every page, and he kept asking me where Batman was and would Batman be showing up soon.

I got a few of the new Swamp Thing series, which is now in the mature reader's category, which means they get to use the F* and S* words. Its bringing many old threads together after it seemed to have gotten off track after its last incarnation following Tefe. I'm not sure the story will have any coherent resolution though

Jordan's essay also impressed me with the emphasis on the impossibility of individual worship. It is not good that man should be alone, especially in worship.

Which leads into my lack of much emotional connection with the death of Ronald Reagan. I appreciate his political acumen and positions, and certainly thought he was a very good president, but his lack of churchgoing and paens to his spiritual feelings contemplating God on his ranch strike me now as very hollow.

Frightening that a man who liked to be "alone" with God so much ended his days incabable of even recognizing the people in his life who mattered the most to him.

What a contrast to the current pope, who remains a public figure even as his wracked body collapses around him.

Justin Katz has a fairly good rejoinder to Andrew Sullivan's attempts to make Reagan into a secularist libertarian though.

Must. Get. War. of. the. Rings.

Lots of information is available, including a brochure and pictures of the units.

It doesn't come out till July or August, so I won't be able to pick it up when I'm at Origins

Even more gaming goodness: Richard Borg's (Battle Cry) Memoir '44 commemorative D-Day game. This looks better than the Axis & Allies: D-Day game.

Jim Jordan had a fairly stimulating essay in his latest Rite Reasons newsletter. He did a number on the whole women in office question, which caused a similar reaction in me to Peter Leithart's arguments on paedocommunion where he tries to show the "problem text" for paedocommunion is actually a text which agues *for* paedocommunion.

Jordan's argument is that woman was created to be a helper to man particularly in the area of worship. Adam has a priestly/teaching task with respect to his wife/helper as he instructs and leads her in worship of the Father, as the Son and Spirit likewise worship the Father.

With the coming of Jesus Christ, the priest/teacher par excellance, we all become participants in worship Christ the human being renders to the Father as man. This means that in Christ, there is no 'male or female' since we are all, men and women, in the Bride with Christ as our priest/teacher.

But we have not transcended entirely our Adamic/evic (evic?) earthly natures, and so there is an order to the worship we do in our Adamic creaturehood and that order is reflected in the male headship of the worship leader, who represents Christ. Male headship in worship remains part of the protological order, but will not be replaced with joint headship in the escahtological order, but by Christ's non-represented headship. Thus women already participate in that escatological goal of submission to the male Christ, but men have not yet matured into it.

I may not be explaining this in a satisfactory manner, but I was impressed with how well it takes into account Paul's argument that "adam was formed first". I also am impressed with the way it stands representative headship "on its head" and makes it as a whole part of the old order passing away. Unless you want to deny any kind of special office in the Church, a special office reserved for men continues.

(i'll revise this when I read the essay again)

Saw Master and Commander last night. An enjoyable diversion, continuing the trend of movies which show us valor in the face of very realistically portrayed horrors of war.

One of the main valid uses of the R rating (M&C was PG 13) I suppose.

My interest is now piqued to try a game like Wooden Ships and Iron Men (out of print, but availble in the shrinkwrap from www.nobleknight.com) or pick up some 1:1200 scale napoleonic naval minatures. My kids are either going to really excited by their cool dad who plays such fun and visually exciting games with them, or the're going to like sports and be bored to tears with wierd dad. I wish they were 10-12 years old RIGHT NOW!

Hasbro/Avalon Hill should have got on the ball and reissued WS&IM with cool plastic pieces in time for the movie. Maybe if the age of sail continues as trend they'll do so.

A company called Front Porch Games has made a limited edition Master and Commander game, which looks like it could be fun, though I'm guessing its a bit simplistic for my tastes. The production values (and price) are out of this world though! It really looks like something you'd find on the HMS Suprise.

June 02, 2004

Byron York tries to claim a criticism of Cheney attacking Kerry is wrong, but is wrong (follow?). This gets complicated.

First Milbank & VandeHei criticize Cheney: "But Kerry did not say what Cheney attributes to him. The quote Cheney used came from a March interview with the New York Times, in which Kerry used the phrase 'war on terror.' When he said 'I don't want to use that terminology,' he was discussing the 'economic transformation' of the Middle East - not the war on terrorism.

York: "But that account appears to be incorrect itself; contrary to what Milbank and VandeHei claimed, Kerry did indeed say what Cheney said he said. Kerry's interview with the Times is available on the paper's website, and in the portion in question, he said the following:
The final victory in the war on terror depends on a victory in the war of ideas, much more than the war on the battlefield. And the war - not the war, I don't want to use that terminology. The engagement of economies, the economic transformation, the transformation to modernity of a whole bunch of countries that have been avoiding the future. And that future's coming at us like it or not, in the context of terror, and in the context of failed states, and dysfunctional economies, and all that goes with that."
I can see why York might think this is a damning quote. Kerry does say he doesn't want to use the terminology "war". But I read him as saying that he doesn't want to use the terminology "war" to refer to a "war on ideas", which he then fills out with "economic transformation" and the "transformation to modernity". Kerry is saying, yes there is a War on Terror. It involved literal war on a battlefield, and it involves economic ideas too. and Kerry doesn't want to use the metaphor of "war" to refer to that part of it. Which I suppose is legitimate.

There is a legetimate policy debate in here, but York and Cheney and Kerry are arguing semantics.

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