Friday, July 30, 2010

Holy Crud

Well, Louis Farrakhan certainly has chutzpah. I don't think I have words to describe this.
...For Farrakhan, dialogue equals reparations. Because Jews “are in a position to help me in the civilizing work that The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was given to do by Allah (God).” More specifically: “This is an offer asking you and the gentiles whom you influence to help me in the repair of my people from the damage that has been done by your ancestors to mine.” In other words, after years of unsuccessfully demanding reparations for blacks from the U.S. government, he is now looking to Jews to make amends for their alleged past injustices.
Farrakhan presents this moment as both a unique opportunity for Jews (“This is a wonderful way of the present generation of Jews to escape the Judgment of Allah”) and as an ultimatum:
you may either gather your forces for an all-out struggle against me, the Nation of Islam, and the truth that I and we speak and write, or as an intelligent and civilized people, we can sit down and carve out a way forward that can obliterate the stain of the past and render us, Jews and Blacks … in a new, honorable, and mutually respectful relationship.
Should Jews spurn this offer, Farrakhan threatens “disgrace and ruin”:
should you choose to make our struggle to our people more difficult, then I respectfully warn you … that the more you fight and oppose me rather than help me to lift my people from their degraded state, Allah (God) and His Messiah will bring you and your people to disgrace and ruin and destroy your power and influence here and throughout the world.
He signs off with “Respectfully and Sincerely Submitted, The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Servant to the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in the West.”...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So Sometimes Arguments Convert People

Case in point:
We had a “come to Jesus” meeting (without Jesus). My uncle was not directly interested in my faith at the moment. He was more interested in seeing that I not flush my life down the toilet, which was exactly what I was unknowingly doing. I owe him a lot—that (terrifying) experience changed my life. It was the first moment of my conversion. I was readmitted to Georgia Tech. I left my fraternity (the problem was me, not the fraternity), and I moved in with my brother. I began doubling up on classes and excelling in them. And slowly I began to return to the faith. It began in “chat rooms” where I would debate with religious folks and would occasionally be bested. I learned that I had to know my enemy, so I began reading religious books. Lots of them. Eventually they took their toll on me. In fact, after about two years, I had reached a point in my reading where I knew that the Catholic Church had the whole thing right -except that God didn’t exist. But, if he did happen to exist, I knew the Catholics were right about the rest. I was in a bookstore one summer afternoon and ran across a five-volume set of books that never should have been there. So, I figured I would give them a chance. It was thus that I began reading the first volume of St. Thomas AquinasSumma Contra Gentiles. As I read, I could feel my legs giving out. I ended up sitting on the floor of the store tearing through the first volume. About fifty pages in, I sat back, exhaled like a man who has just been shot and is about to die, tossed the book away from me and began to sob. St. Thomas Aquinas had just proven to me that God exists. And if God exists, the Catholics have it right. Bingo. I return to Mass. Then I begin attending Mass daily. Then I begin hearing that voice: maybe you should be a priest. Why not ask? What can it hurt? After all, you’re too old and you’ve done too many bad things and they are going to turn you down anyway, so give it a shot. Except they didn’t turn me down. So here I am, a couple of months away from ordination. They still haven’t turned me down, and every year of my life gets better. I don’t know how many young men read this column, but I know a whole lot of parents read it. Who better to have in your family than a priest? When I was a kid, I heard about doctors and lawyers and firemen and marine biologists, but priesthood was never mentioned on the same level. In fact, it was never mentioned. Your sons will only be generous with God if you teach them to be. Encourage your sons to think about priesthood, and your daughters to think of consecrated life—even the ones who seem like they could never want to do it! Your boys might surprise you. I sure surprised my family. From my seminary, recently ordained priests include doctors, lawyers, an NFL quarterback, and professional soccer players—God calls whoever he wills, and it does not always conform to our expectations! I am so grateful for the blessings of the past six years. Please pray for me as I approach ordination. And pray for your own children, that they will seriously consider the priesthood or consecrated life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Geek Reads

Well--this looks like fun.
This gallery of fiction and nonfiction books every geek should read is a compilation of recommendations from TechRepublic members, contributors, and editors. (You can also view the recommendations in list format in this Geekend post.) If you want to recommend a geek book to the TechRepublic community, post the title in this discussion. Atlas Shrugged, recommended by Edmond Woychowsky as the ultimate geek book, discusses how modern "geeks" hold the weight of the heavens upon their shoulders like Atlas in the Greek myths. Ayn Rand's tenets are in total contrast to modern business theories (for instance, there is no "I" in team) and suggest that certain individuals are irreplaceable. Edmond wrote, "I find the concept of a world that demands the fruits of geek labor, yet belittles the geeks themselves strikingly familiar." This book is sure to spark a memory or two in your mind and stimulate conversation, which Edmond's original TechRepublic post did.

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand
Lord Of the Rings
2001 A Space Odyssey
War of the Worlds HG Wells
Neuromancer William Gibson
Snowcrash Neal Stephenson
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand
The Soul of a New Machine Tracy Kidder
Hackers:Heroes of the COmputer Revolution Steven Levy
Brave New World Aldous Huxley
Frankenstein Mary Shelley
If Chins could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor Bruce Campbell
Shadows over Innsmouth HP Lovecraft
the Call of Cthulhu
The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
The Illustrated Man Ray Bradbury
Does It Matter? Nicholas G. Carr
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid Douglas R Hofstadter
Microserfs Douglas Coupland
Show-Stopper! G. Pascal Zachary
The Cuckoo's Egg Cliff Stoll
The Google Story David A. Vise
The Road Ahead Bill Gates
Wikinomics:How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything Don Tapscott
IWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon
1984 George Orwell
20000 Leagues Under the Sea Jules Verne
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K Dick
Foundation Isaac Asimov
Harry Potter
His Dark materials Philip Pullman
The Day of the Triffids John Wyndham
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis
The Time Machine HG Wells
1632 Eric Flint
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Gregory Maguire
Contact Carl Sagan
Dune Frank Herbert
I, Robot Isaac Asimov
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert M Pirsig
Lila Robert M Pirsig
Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the limits of the Possible Arthur C. Clarke
Revelation Space Alastair Reynolds
Starship Troopers Robert A Heinlein
Where the Wild Things Are
World War Z:An Oral History of the Zombie War Max Brooks
The Geek Atlas
Nicole Bremer Nash
Little, Big
John Crowley
The City China Mieville
Everything Bad is Good for You Steven Johnson
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A Heinlein
The cluetrain Manifesto
Anathema Neal Stephenson
Predicably Irrational Dan Ariely
Amber Series Roger Zelazny
Magician:Apprentice Raymond E. Feist
Magician:Master Raymond E. Feist
The Serpentwar Saga: Book 1 Shadow of a Dark Queen Shadow of a Dark Queen (The Serpentwar Saga, Book 1)Raymond E. Feist
The Serpentwar Saga: Book 2 Rise of a Merchant Prince Raymond E. Feist
The Serpentwar Saga: Book 3 Rage of a Demon King Raymond E. Feist
The Serpentwar Saga: Book 4 Shards of a Broken Crown Raymond E. Feist
Code Complete Steve McConnell
The Mythical Man-Month:Essays on Software Engineering
Enders Game Orson Scott Card
American Gods Neil Gaiman
Ringworld Larry Niven
The Forever War Joe Haldeman
The Ghost Brigades John Scalzi
The Sword of Shannara Terry Brooks
Hyperion Dan Simmons
A brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
The Dilbert Principle Scott Adams


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