Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hidden meaning or coincidence?

The song "One Tin Soldier" has long occupied a personal place for me that no other song I know of can match. According to Wikipedia, the Coven version was the number one requested song in both 1971 and 1973.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPNDBEuKCdY

The song always gave me goosebumps from the year it first appeared. For many years I attributed that reaction to the poignant circumstances as described in the song.

When I got older, I found myself looking closer at the lyrics. I ended up seeing symbolism I wasn't aware of previously. The song is described as an "anti-war" song, and certainly that message can be found in the irony of the story it tells. However, there are aspects to the song that now give me pause.

Here is a line-by-line exposition, with my thoughts following each line. After consideration, you certainly can make up your own mind. Because the song tells a story, I've listed all the verses first, then the chorus at the end, as it repeats throughout the song and remains the same.


VERSES:

Listen children to a story that was written long ago
First we start by recognizing the story isn't the teller's, and furthermore, it is implied that it could possibly be ancient.

'Bout a Kingdom on a Mountain and the Valley folk below
A Kingdom above, and a group of "folk" below. Notice the Valley folk likely are not an actual kingdom, and the implication is that they are not as much of an established and cohesive entity. I believe the distinction of above and below is a metaphor for the Kingdom of Heaven and of the Earth.

On the Mountain was the Treasure buried deep beneath the Stone
Notice it's not 'a' treasure or 'a' stone, but "the" Treasure and "the" Stone. While this might not necessarily be significant, it does suggest a specific reference rather than a generic one. A specific description could be that the Treasure is an eternity in God's presence, and the Stone is Christ, also known scripturally as the Rock, and as the Cornerstone.

And the Valley people swore they'd have it for their very own

The idea is presented here that it could be possible for the residents of the Valley to take something away from the residents of the Kingdom on the Mountain.

So the people of the Valley sent a message up the hill
The intent of the "valley people" has never been ambiguous, neither in the song, nor in the embodiment of the anti-theist.

Asking for the buried Treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill

While "tons of gold" could be a metaphor, in the end I believe it wouldn't matter what the Treasure is. It's just an excuse to destroy anything related to God.

Came an answer from the Kingdom, with our brothers we will share

This is the answer that one would expect from a Christian perspective, because God's intention of salvation and forgiveness has never been a secret since Christ rose from the dead.

All the secrets of our Mountain, all the riches buried there
The secrets of Heaven, that are scripturally described as being beyond our ability to even imagine. The riches are the rewards of the Kingdom, shared among all those who seek good and not evil.

Now the Valley cried with anger, "Mount your horses, draw your sword!"
The expected reaction of those who would rather not take the high road, and believe that they are entitled to anything they think they deserve. They are, after all, acting on their own conscience, and care nothing about what God may think.

And they killed the Mountain people, so they won their just reward
This is where the story diverges from reality. From an exclusively human perspective, this kind of carnage has historically happened so many times that it's delusional to imagine we have ever rose above it. In spiritual matters, the anti-theist ethos that drives many to rebellion for its own sake, encourages one to mistakenly believe that the darkness in the universe will one day triumph over the Light.

Now they stood beside the Treasure, on the Mountain dark and red
Another aspect of anti-theist fantasy. To rid the world forever of the allegedly hypocritical morons who humbly adhere to the writings of "bronze age sheep herders" is an unwritten dream of the dark side of humanity. The bloody imagery, coupled with the biblical reference in the chorus (See chapter 8 in the book of Revelation) about trumpets blowing, strongly indicate that this is a metaphor for Armageddon. The word "Armageddon" comes from a Hebrew word Har-Magedone, which means "Mount Megiddo."

Turned the Stone and looked beneath it
No comment.

"Peace on Earth" was all it said
A consistent desire of God from Genesis all the way to Revelation. The anti-theist labors to discredit anything that requires personal accountability regarding God's rules for the celebration and protection of life as a human being.


CHORUS:

Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend
As a boy I thought this was written with irony. Now I believe it's misguided admonishment.

Do it in the name of Heaven, you can justify it in the end
Anti-theism gives way to pernicious cynicism.

There won't be any trumpets blowin' come the Judgment Day
A direct reference to Revelation, and one that completely contradicts what is actually written.

On the bloody morning after
The morning 'after' Armageddon.

One Tin Soldier rides away

This is a slander toward Christ Himself, who will lead the battle of Armageddon against the remaining anti-theists who eventually decide to summarily obliterate the last remaining remnants of believers from the earth. Referring to the triumphant and judgment-bringing person of Jesus Christ as a "tin soldier" is a sarcastic display of disrespect.


I believe it is no coincidence that the band Coven recorded both of the wildly popular versions, and I think the Biblical references and metaphors in the lyrics are also no coincidence. I believe the song had intentional malice toward Christianity. Coven weren't the writers, but the decision to have them record the song is at the very least a conspicuous one.

One of Coven's albums (from 1969) was called "Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls." Jinx Dawson, the band's singer, was often photographed wearing necklaces that featured upside-down crucifixes. Etc., etc.

But of course, as with anything else in life, subjectivity provides the possibility that everything I just wrote here is misguided.

What do you think?



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The real delusion

Some angry anti-theists insist that a belief in God is a delusion. I've heard that same belief in God referred to as a "mind virus." A virus that infects and destroys one's ability to reason.

Let's say there's a local health club that guarantees results if you do the program as it is laid out. Then let's say you know of a few members who aren't getting results at all, but you also know for a fact that they're not working out regularly or watching their diet. You also know there are members who have successfully achieved their goals.

My question is: Despite the successful members, since you know of members who have not maintained their programs and have failed to achieve their goals, would you then conclude that the health club itself is a scam?

A silly question, right? Who would blame the health club for any members not doing their part?

But that is exactly what angry anti-theists do.

Everyone is pretty much familiar with the characterization of church-goers, 'religious' people, Christians, et al, as hypocrites. In the above analogy, the hypocrites would be the health club members who don't follow the program of the health club.

But how is it that anti-theists can't see the incorrect reasoning of blaming the church for imperfect believers?

Another way to look at the same issue is to be more honest about the historical results of religion in the world.

I've heard the arguments, ad infinitum, regarding atrocities committed in the name of religion. However, it is an inconvenient fact that the atrocities committed by human beings apart from religion have been exceedingly more heinous and numerous.

It's as though the myriad selfless acts that have occurred through the centuries, by both the famous and the unknown, motivated by a belief that God actually cares, are somehow erased by the actions of a corrupted few in the past and present.

It becomes clear, upon dispassionate scrutiny, that those who insist religion poisons everything are merely maintaining a stubborn grip on an idea that is easily demonstrable as false.

It has been pointed out by some impressive intellects such as David Berlinski, John Lennox and others, that the grand vision of secular humanism is guilty of theft. Its tenets are stolen directly from Christian principles.

As with so many things, the effects of both time passing and arrogance serve to drown us all in a sea of cynicism. That seems to be the singular human experience: doomed to repeat mistakes of the past, and eager to jump headlong off the cliff despite a multitude of warning signs.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Apple ugly truth

Get your seatbelts on. First, I'm going to make some bold statements. Then I'm going to back them up with documented and photographed evidence.

Fabrik, a subsidiary of Hitachi, which is licensed to manufacture and sell products for Apple, currently sells at least one external storage device that overcharges customers somewhere between $267.19 and $386.91. Why would the customer unknowingly agree to this? Because there is an Apple logo on the device. Furthermore, Apple does not license anything without knowing vital manufacturing details, for quality control. This means Apple is complicit with this blatant cash grab, something not that surprising since they have been overcharging for their products for decades now.

What's particularly galling about this fraud is that the whole reason customers are willing to shell out so much more money for an Apple-compatible product, is that they are trusting Apple to provide them with superior devices, when in fact that's not actually happening, at least not in this case.

For those who want the details to back up these statements, keep reading.

A friend of mine at work asked me for help with his external drive. He knew I had recovered files from a corrupted drive for someone else, and that I have helped others with their computers.

He said the problem was that his drive didn't work anymore. The light came on when he plugged in the power cord, but when he plugged it into his computer with a USB cord, the computer no longer acknowledged the drive. I told him to bring it in, and I'd have a look.

I had no idea that it was an Apple device, but saw as much when I got the box home. Here is what transpired, complete with pictures.

See link for pictures: http://www.7162.com/apple/simpledrive.htm

The external drive turned out to be a SimpleTech SimpleDrive, model number 96300-41001-073, which is manufactured by Fabrik, licensed by Apple. See link:

http://www.memory4less.com/m4l_itemdetail.aspx?itemid=1457071079

As my friend had said, when I plugged in the power, the white light on one end lit up. I could also hear the drive trying to spin up, but it kept clicking, which can sometimes indicate the drive's internal mechanics are failed or failing. Also as my friend indicated, when I plugged in the USB cord and connected it to my computer, the computer did not acknowledge it.

I had no choice but to disassemble the enclosure and see if I could salvage the drive inside.

Now, what most computer users don't realize is, many external storage devices (not all) are really just custom-made outer shells (enclosures) that surround the exact same kind of hard drive that already exists in their desktop computers.

So it was no surprise that the actual drive inside the Fabrik enclosure was a regular desktop hard drive manufactured by Hitachi. It was a Deskstar model (HDT721010SLA360). See link:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145233

I was able to remove the custom-made USB interface and plug the drive into an SATA docking station. And guess what? The drive was working perfectly fine and all my friend's files were still there.

What makes these facts interesting are the following:

1) Other than a groovy SimpleTech logo and Apple logo, the only functions that the cheap plastic enclosure provided were a power-is-on light, a basic on-and-off switch, and the minimal electronics necessary to convert the hard drive's native SATA connection to a USB connection.

2) I'm not sure what Apple stores are asking for these units, but the link I provided above displays the suggested retail price of $478.89 (currently selling at a "Summer Savings Discount" price of $359.17).

3) The Hitachi Deskstar internal hard drive within the cheap plastic enclosure currently sells for $66.99 on newegg.com.

[Note: Interestingly, just one day later (July 11), the drive now sells for $79.99, with no indication that the previous price was a discount. I have not adjusted the original math, because I suspect this price fluctuation will continue.]

4) For $24.99, at a local computer store, my friend can purchase a hard drive docking station that converts the SATA connection to USB. Thus by simply plugging the actual hard drive into the docking station, and connecting the USB cable, he can have the exact same functionality originally provided by the Fabrik enclosure.

http://www.microcenter.com/product/432414/25-35_SATA_Drive_Docking_Station_w-_USB_30

5) This means in fact, the electronics that likely cost a couple of dollars, together with the cheap, brittle plastic case, are apparently worth more than SIXTEEN times the cost of a simple docking station that performs the exact same function. [($478 - $67) / $25 = 16.44]

6) For those who still want to believe that Apple is innocent of any wrongdoing, remember that for any third party to be licensed to sell Apple-compatible products, that third party must agree to kick some percentage of their profits back to Apple. Thus Apple is aware of, complicit with, and profiting from this larceny.

As stated in the first paragraphs of this blog entry, this is business of a fraudulent nature. The unwitting customers are literally paying around $300 for a cheap plastic enclosure and potentially faulty electronics. That Fabrik can get away with this, and that Apple signs off on it, is outrageous.

Somewhat coincidentally (or not), the other friend at work whose corrupted drive I recovered was also using a faulty Apple product.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A revealing dichotomy

My wife just sent me a link this morning to this page on Amazon.com:

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist

It popped up in her Amazon homepage, certainly because of the nature of the books I've asked her to include on her Amazon orders.

It was interesting enough that a Christian public figure who was a well-known friend of Christopher Hitchens should write a memoir of their relationship. However, what immediately grabbed my attention was the reaction of those who have allegedly read the book and posted reviews.

As of today, April 22, 2016, there were 78 customer reviews. The first indication of polarity is in breaking down the numbers:

5 stars - 69%
4 stars -  6%
3 stars -  0%
2 stars -  3%
1 star  - 22%

Not surprisingly, the 3-star middle ground is completely absent. The believer/new-atheist issue doesn't lend itself much to temperate response. In keeping with this phenomenon, the 4- and 2-star reviews are also comparatively minimal.

The most revealing aspect of this page, however, is when one actually takes the time to read both the 5-star and 1-star reviews.

For the reader of this blog to verify what I'm about to describe, they need only click on the link above, choose customer reviews, then filter out the 5-star and 1-star reviews in turn, and take a look.

The 5-star reviews concentrate on:

1) Intelligent, thoughtful, and often extended commentary on a book that deals with a complex personal relationship.
2) Pleased surprise at the friendship between two men who were so completely opposite in their views on God.
3) The effective way the author relays the memoir, thus the moving nature of the book.
4) The pleased recognition that the end of the book does not include a death-bed conversion, as one might expect from an author who is a public Christian and could possibly be motivated to take unfair advantage of a deceased person.

Nowhere in any of the 5-star reviews, did I find any customers that cackled about nor celebrated the alleged demeaning of Christopher Hitchens. This is first and foremost because nothing but respect is expressed for Hitchens throughout the book, according to the positive reviews.

On the other hand...

The 1-star reviews are almost all very short, and concentrate on:

1) Calling the author a "shallow huckster," a "Liar for Jesus," "another Lying Christian," "The Evangelical Judas," and a "hyper-religious nut of an author."

2) Accusing the author of "fraud," "heresy," "slanderous claims," "veiled, judgmental barbs of his deceased friend," "ham-fisted moralizing," a "quite repugnant, backhanded snipe," "poor taste to write such an undignified book," "us[ing] that friendship as a vehicle to proselytize and besmirch the character of a deceased man who was more substantial than himself," "exploit[ing] their relationship to sell books," "promot[ing] his own tawdry religious superstition," "defecating on the memory of Christopher Hitchens," "Another 'Christian' out to make a buck," "trying to poison Christopher's contribution," "outwardly t[aking] advantage of the death of an Atheist to lie to people," "misrepresent the truth," and "cowardly demean[ing] a dead man."

3) Describing the book as "a despicable act of literary malpractice," "one of the most morally reprehensible books to be published this year," "tripe," "fiction," "a load of BS," "Outrageous lie," "Pathetic," "A post-death attack on everything Christopher was and thought," "A smear by a religious fanatic," "disrespectful and pathetic," "Unsubstantiated bull," "Double BS," "revisionist history," "An obvious cash-grab," "Unverifiable lies," "Lies upon lies," "Another Christian delusion," "plebeian," "the second greatest fiction in the entire history of christianity," "disgraceful," "typical of the dishonest tactics evangelicals employ," "rife with fallacy," and "Typical religious nuttery."

...

In conclusion, still not having read the book myself, I am bound to ponder: if I explore its pages, which of the two entirely different books described above am I going to find?


Monday, March 7, 2016

Why Windows and Mac OS are doomed

One look at this chart, and it becomes obvious why Windows and Mac OS are eventually doomed to legacy status. Apparently, more collective time has already been spent developing Linux since 1992 than all the total Microsoft and Apple man-hours combined.

Linux Distribution Timeline

It was fun to root around and find where my favorite versions belong in the mix. It's interesting to explore the distributions that were developed independent of the big three (Debian, Slackware, Red Hat).

Also interesting to note that Debian and Slackware were started a year after Torvald's first kernel was released, and Red Hat two years. Once those three took hold, the whole movement exploded with possibility.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Thirty dollars?

I took my three year old to his first movie. We went to see the new Peanuts. After buying the tickets (a matinee, mind you) and one small popcorn and one small soda pop, I had spent thirty dollars.

Thirty dollars.

Really?

How does a wonderful rite of passage get sullied so easily?

We had fun, so that's not the issue. My son had no idea about costs, and enjoyed himself as he should have.

I understand that the MPAA wants us to believe they don't make enough money to "cover their costs" of making a movie, and that attendance in theaters is probably down due to Netflix, Redbox, etc.

But seriously, thirty dollars?

This has the unintended effect of making me less interested in attending more movies, which perhaps the MPAA hasn't given enough thought to... a habit they exhibit with some consistency, as copyright troll law firms are notorious for gleaning IP addresses and threatening the general populace.

 Their ugly sister, the RIAA, also sends expensive law firms after eleven year old girls for "piracy," among other things.

These activities don't exactly make me sympathetic to their concerns.

Well done, greedy jerks! Good job attending to your profit margin at the excessive expense of the people who provide your revenue.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A somewhat brief explanation

I realized soon after posting the short essay yesterday that some might wonder just what was logically impaired in the sentence I quoted from Hofstadter/Dennett. I will take a moment and explain it, in case the shortsighted authors' blunder does not appear obvious enough.

The sentence was:

"How could the science that had worked so well for so many things turn out to be so wrong?"

In context, it was prompted by their thoughts regarding whether or not extrasensory perception could be proven to exist.

The sentence presents a statement and a question. Hofstadter/Dennett are referring to "science" as a collective entity, the sum of all scientific disciplines:

1) ...science [has] worked so well for so many things...

2) How could [that same science] turn out to be so wrong?

The statement (1) stands on its own, and is quite sound.

The question (2) is the problem, for the following reasons:

1) If science is correct about X, Y, and Z, it is not unreasonable to imagine that it could possibly be incorrect about A.

2) Their sentence as a whole implies that since science has produced many positive results, it's incredible to think that it could be wrong about something... even if that something happens to be outside of science's purview.

3) Science is a collection of different disciplines, all allegedly guided by the scientific method to draw their conclusions. To the best of my knowledge, all scientists in the world have not signed off on some consensus to validate nor invalidate extrasensory perception.

4) A scientist or scientists could potentially pursue extrasensory perception with the scientific method if they desired. But their results, for or against, are the findings of one or more studies, and are not the embodiment of all science.

3) Therefore science as a whole has absolutely nothing to say about the subject the authors are pondering, namely the possible validity of extrasensory perception.

But that's not what Doug and Dan would like you to think.