Friday, April 18, 2008

What I learned from Universal Healthcare

I ran across this article which gave a good close look at how five other countries provide universal healthcare.

Three things stood out:

1. Solidarity

Over and over in the interviews, representatives from each of the countries talked about solidarity. It occurred to me that such a concept is lacking in America. Face it, our country is very much divided. Universal healthcare doesn't mean national healthcare, so to frame the issue as a personal responsibility/Republican vs. government entitlement/Democrat debate is to completely miss the point. Americans don't believe all Americans should be taken care of, as Americans, because of our social division. As long as this social division persists we may get nowhere on healthcare. Our social division stems from a history of racism and extreme individualism. Our division probably also stems from the number of ways "American" is defined. The inability of individual American citizens to stand up for their neighbors in this and many other areas, just based on the fact that they are Americans also, is troubling.

2. Non-profit Healthcare

Most people don't understand what non-profit is. They somehow think that a non-profit organization is all-volunteer and funded by contributions. Of course this isn't the case. The people who run a non-profit may charge for cost of material used and services. What they can't do is pay investors or offer stock. For a long time I have wondered why our government allows the profit motive to exist in the healthcare industry. Money and compassion are like oil and water.

3. Facilitating, not Funding, Coverage

Of the five countries mentioned in the article, only one, the UK, fully funds health coverage from taxes. The other governments facilitate coverage primarily through regulation. This regulation includes:
1. Making it illegal to turn people down or refuse to cover pre-existing conditions
2. Offering premium assistance to low-income families and/or pegging premiums to income

A Word on Jeremiah Wright

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wierdness for Today

Burger King Eat Like Snake Triple Whopper Commercial

Windows ISN'T Collapsing

So the big news is that some over-paid analysts are telling us that Windows is collapsing.

Not so. The answer is pretty simple; if Windows' was THAT much of a disaster, people would be buying A LOT more Macs then they are. They are not, and it proves that the value of an OS, for most, is determined by what it can do, not so much in terms of OS features but in what software is available for it. It's why OS/2 Warp and Geoworks Ensemble went the way of the Dodo bird.
A poster on the Ars Technica forum put it well:
"There's no real alternative for a PC based OS, so it is not collapsing. Every time someone tries to come up with an alternative, they just end up making another version of crappy linux. Not everyone is going to run to Apple."

Backwards-compatibility is the selling point that trumps new features. I find it interesting that these analysts never tell us WHAT Vista should have been, only that it was lacking.

While Microsoft did have to reset the code base during the development of Vista, they actually took a risk and DID IN FACT impinge upon the all-sacred backwards-compatibility somewhat by introducing UAC and Virtualization. Even at that, Microsoft wrote hundreds of "shims" to ensure maximum compatibility even in this scenario. And look where it got them... the uninformed among us are calling Windows a disaster for the simple reason that it chokes on the software and printer drivers they have had laying around for two years. So real glitches with Vista don't get the spotlight they need, such as WEP adapter/router issues, file copy speeds, and ZIP extraction speeds.

The ultimate villain is.... the consumer. The level of vitriol you get from people when they are told the new OS won't support there old software and drivers and they are going to have to spend $$$ to get things working right is ridiculous. They try to blame Microsoft when Microsoft was simply trying to make a substantial improvement re: security. And, after all, is that what the customer paid for? A new OS with substantial improvement?

The consumer is the ultimate villain in a another way, too. For the entire reign of XP, consumers have griped and moaned about Windows lack of security. It has been the single biggest tarnish on Windows' reputation. Microsoft actually DOES SOMETHING ABOUT IT in Vista and consumers whine and cry about the side effects.

People complained the first few years of XP, too, but that is all but forgotten in the now-is-too-late world of personal computing. So yet we see a THIRD WAY in which the consumer is the ultimate villain. Microsoft releases XP SP2 to more-or-less critical acclaim and gives us all time to breathe and spend the next THREE YEARS running one of the best versions of Windows to ever exist. The consumer gets spoiled and as a result, no new version of Windows would have made them happy. But if Microsoft had released Vista in 2005, they would have still taken flak. Darned if they do, darned if they don't.

A new OS isn't a glorious occasion, no matter how much the marketing people say otherwise. It is a changing of the guard and a new way of thinking.

What really leaves me dumbfounded is the number of people who claim to be "technically savvy" putting down Vista and assuring us they are going to keep XP for a few more years. Anyone who made the transition from Win9x to WinXP should know and understand the stakes moving from XP to Vista, and be able to vet the software/driver config on their system. While it may not make sense for Granny to upgrade, if you are a technical person running Windows- I am going to go ahead and say it- you are a wimp if you are not at least WILLING to go to Vista. Now.

At the core of the issue is the fact that a desktop OS has to be jack-of-all-trades. It has to fit in a corporate environment, and it has to play games and manage photos at home. It has to expose enough functionality to satisfy the tweakers and techies, while being intuitive enough to be used by Joe Six-pack. It has to run on budget boxes, and high end gaming rigs. Windows does pretty well, all things considered.

Part of the problem are the programmers themselves. Unfortunately, programmers write for operating systems, not platforms. They have been writing for Windows XP, not the Windows platform. They take their shortcuts to get it to work on the target OS and think Vista is stupid for breaking their code, when Microsoft has been basically telling them how to write Vista compatible apps for YEARS- if they would only follow Microsoft's guidelines.

For this reason, if you are running Vista, ONLY install software and hardware that specifically says it is Vista compatible. Oh, and if the instruction booklet says you have to turn off UAC for the program to work, IT ISN'T VISTA COMPATIBLE, no matter how much that company says it is. Run, don't walk, from that company's products, because their programming team is criminally ignorant.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Geekiness

If you are a true computer geek, you will appreciate this screen shot!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Uncomfortable in Church this Morning

So I was uncomfortable in church this morning concerning the preaching.
Depending on your background, this will provoke one of many responses:
1) Wow, the preacher must have been hot and screaming and stomping on toes!
2) The preacher must be teaching some weird doctrine.
3) You must have been convicted.

I have to say it was #3. Now, I post this because I want to focus on what it was not- #1. The preacher is not a toe-stomping, barn-raising, pulpit-kicking kind of guy. He doesn't have to be, though. Had he been, I could have walked out of church and blown it off because I figured he just pressured me. Or, I could have gotten scared and decided I had better do what he said!
Neither response is edifying for the Christian. Had I blown it off, I would have missed an opportunity for real growth, and that would have been the preacher's fault. Had I knuckled under to the force of his pulpit presence, I would be doing it out of the fear of man- something the Bible warns us against.
Instead, it is clear to me that the Spirit inside is trying to speak. It is clear to me that by taking this step, I am following the Spirit. It is clear to me that this guidance comes from God, not man.
Toe-stomping preaching causes Christians to "grow" based on fear, guilt, and manipulation. It is a false growth that further separates the Christian from the Holy Spirit at every step since the Christian is responding more to the preacher's "power" then to the power of the Spirit.
This is why I have a red cross-out over a picture of Billy Sunday on the right side of my blog, with the reference to II Tim 3:5, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."

If toe-stomping preaching is what you are getting then find a church that doesn't have it. Ignore the blowhards that call you liberal, lily-livered, panty-waisted, and any number of other adjectives that prove the point.

Its not about finding a church that makes you comfortable; its about finding a church that lets the Holy Spirit do its job of making you uncomfortable.

Good Churches

You may read my blog and wonder, "he seems really down on churches, especially independent Baptist churches." Well, now is the time to discredit that notion. While I struggle with what church is supposed to mean to me as regards my relationship with God, I want to list three churches I have been to that I am impressed with. All have solid expositional teaching, and incidentally, none are connected with First Baptist of Hammond. Just thought I would throw that in there. Oh, and this is a shocker, all of them use the KJV and TWO of them are KJVO & IFB! Yeah I know, that's trippin', right?! They all have websites. They all are very conservative smaller churches. If I were near any of these churches I would go to them in a heartbeat.
I have been to many other churches, some good, some important to me personally, some bad, some REALLY bad, but these stand out for me in general.

Church #1, my present church,

Faith Community Bible Church

A conservative baptistic church that has early services and uses the KJV as the main translation- that is a tall order in San Diego, CA. FCBC fits the bill, however. Like all the churches on this list, solid expositional preaching is what you'll get. Sunday morning is preaching service only, Sunday night is more of a teaching time, and Wed night is devotion and prayer. The people here seem to manifest the fruits the Spirit, and they seem to exhibit an attentiveness to doctrine, not just in creed but also in understanding from the Scriptures themselves.

Church #2, my previous church,

Cornerstone Baptist Church
Finding conservative, expositional preaching the St. Louis area is nearly impossible, but the pastor here does a great job of it- his commitment to the Scriptures and his education make for some really edifying teaching. The music is excellent, and the people have a Christian spirit.

Church #3

Peoples Baptist Church
Pastor Wetherington has a passion for solid Bible teaching and it really shows. Not only does he bring forth the Word but he does so with passion- not a Billy Sunday theatrics passion, but a heartfelt passion that challenges you personally. In addition, the schedule of church functions made it really easy to fellowship with everyone there. I'm still kicking myself for leaving. :)

So there you have it. Three churches I am actually fond of. You see, KJVO and dress and music really isn't the issue for me, although I could be considered "liberal" by some on those matters. When the Word is preached thoroughly and accurately, and when the people manifest the fruit of the Spirit, and when evangelism is truly balanced with discipleship, that's priceless. Hell, I'll read along in the Greek if that's what such a church is using.

:)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Of Villains

"We all want to hand that world off to our children in slightly better shape than we received it. No one...has any reason to want anything different. But, for some reason, we find ourselves searching for villains. Surely they exist, but the endless quest to create them sometimes overwhelms our better judgment, whether intentional or not."

-Glenn Beck

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

There Should Be a Bumper Sticker...

Dogma: Anything you are not allowed to be skeptical about

CAPS LOCK IS A STATE OF MIND

Its Not Wrong to be Right

I saw what you did & I know who you are!