Happy Anniversary

A year ago today was the crash.

I went back this morning and took this shot. I ended up on the grass behind where I’m standing here. At my feet in this image was evidence that the sweeper had been there in the past couple of days. Some things never change — heh.

From there I rode on into Bricktown. The route took me past the lower dam on the Oklahoma River at Eastern Avenue. We’ve had a good bit of rain lately, so the flow was decent. As always, a good flow means silt and brown water. I managed to spook the white cranes hanging out just below the end-around flow in the foreground.

I rode on down the south bank trail to Lincoln Boulevard, then up and over to the ramp leading up to a new overpass. This is what links to the Oklahoma City Boulevard. I frequently pass under this thing because the huge parking lot runs all the way under and connects to the east end of the north bank bike trail. I cruised around Bricktown a bit but nothing new caught my eye. So I headed north to NE 4th and pedaled back home. Just enough exercise to feel like a workout.

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The Fixer 10

Tim first sent a brief message to the senator in question, alerting her to the insider threat. Let her clean her own house. Then he began putting together his official report to the committee.

Ned still had one nagging question, something that hovered just beyond the edge of conscious awareness. He sat quietly with his eyes closed for a few minutes. Seeking a path that would pull it out into the light, he went through a sort of checklist he used for moments like this. He began asking himself if there was any threat to him in all of this. Ping! That was it. Deep inside he knew that the stalking of the past few days was connected in here somewhere. Then he pondered whether it involved Franklin. Again, he was certain it did.

To keep things in perspective, he whispered to himself that anything he might find would not necessarily make their lives any safer, but it would help them fix in their awareness how to deal with the ongoing threat.

To his surprise, Tim was listening. “Quite so. We aren’t going to fix any problems in the long run. All we can do is answer our own inner call for justice in what we can touch.”

Ned smiled; Tim always had is own way of saying what they both believed because Tim’s normal audience was entirely secularized. He shied away from what sounded like religious talk, but Ned knew Tim held the same faith.

Now he at least had some direction to look in working with his AI. Something in all of this senator’s mess was a connection to their personal threat. Her enemy was their enemy, though they could hardly be her allies outside this one issue. It was the enemy who was indiscriminate. So he began by trying to find links between that spider’s nest and the contractor.

Ned figured that was the kind of question AI could not yet anticipate, but it seemed to have no trouble finding such a link. It ran through an intermediary, though. Or rather, it ran through a conglomerate intermediary. Even as he prodded AI to refine the picture, it began to dawn on him that this looked almost like some weird plot to overthrow the government itself. The senator they just rescued was priming to reach for a higher office, and her peculiar agenda, bad enough in its own right, would act as a firewall for what seemed to be this other plot to seize the government. And the current government, though not a total rebuild from scratch, was substantially new in itself, so it was also rather vulnerable. Something told him that if this plot got very far, things in general would far worse than they were now.

That is, human government would never be good. The current system was tolerable. Something in his soul warned that this dark plot would be downright painful.

He turned his screen to share his thoughts with Tim. His boss responded, “I suppose you could say I have made a commitment to make this government work as well as it can, by whatever small part I’m playing. Someone who’s willing to walk on everyone in their way can’t be planning nice things for their subjects. Stay with it.”

Ned turned back to his task. A conglomerate like that was a whole new game of complications, largely because it had operations in multiple countries. Not just the Coalition members, either; this thing went off into places Ned felt his AI might never be able see.

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Boondoggles

Riding north on Midwest Boulevard, I thought about good places to shoot a video. I recalled that woodsy spot on the mouth of Crutcho Creek. It was perfect. However, shooting a video with the big camera turned out to be a boodoggle. Okay, it was a pain in the ass — too much pain to be worth the results. It still takes the best still shots, particularly when using the tripod. However, I’m not doing videos that way.

So I’m going to start saving for a good used digital video camera. Meanwhile, I’m still going to use my iPhone to record these short worship chorus clips. I’ll craft a rig to let me stand my phone on the tripod and see if I can make it work better. Otherwise, it was a decent ride for exercise and fun.

So if you want to contribute, use my donation link to PayPal. Otherwise, pray with me as I try to find good places to do this stuff. Eventually I’ll try to record teaching videos, if it seems there is enough interest.

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So Here’s the Plan…

Right on the tail of my bicycle crash about this time last year, I began having serious trouble with tachycardia. This stuff started maybe a decade ago, but it was always pretty innocuous. An episode here and there and it always stopped on its own. Nobody could catch it with proper monitoring. But something in that wreck and the treatment for my shattered patella, this stuff kicked off in earnest. At one point it kept running past an hour and the VA emergency room physician injected me with adenosine to make it stop. Fortunately, their efforts worked much easier than they expected. One shot and it was over. Had there not been an intervention, I’d likely be dead.

Eventually they managed to catch a significant episode on a heart monitor. There were other tests. So they gave me a prescription for metoprolol. The side effects were troubling for me at that time. Right before the initial prescription ran out, I stopped taking them. No more symptoms all summer and through the winter. I learned how to do what are called “Vagal Maneuvers” and they seemed to work at stopping any minor recurrences. But it’s springtime again and the episodes came back, and those Vagal Maneuvers didn’t help at all. The episodes terminated on their own, but they were longer than in previous years. It made me wonder if they would start getting longer like they did last year. This last time I decided to bite the bullet and take one of my leftover pills. The episode ended in five minutes, which is what you would expect from such a medication entering my system.

I got back with my primary care doctor at the VA hospital. He conferred with the Cardio department and they have renewed my prescription and demand they I stay on it now. The official diagnosis is episodic ventricular tachycardia. That means the source of trouble is in the lower half of my heart muscle. Look that up and the primary cause is hereditary. On my father’s side, men typically die in their 50s of heart trouble. What has saved me so far is that I’m much more athletically inclined than any of them ever were. I’m still hitting it pretty hard.

So here’s the thing: This stuff aggravates my tendency to doze off sometime within an hour after a meal. The medication pushes my heart rate down below 60 BPM quite often. The drowsiness hits very hard and I have to jump up and do something. This annoys me trying to read; I’m constantly doing research on one thing or another. So when I notice it coming on, I have to get up every ten or fifteen minutes and do calisthenics or some household chore to keep myself awake. On the other hand, this stuff makes me sleep rather profoundly at night.

This is what’s going on in the background of my life. Just pray with me; God warned me some years ago to get fit and stay that way. He’s not ready for me expire yet, but part of my obedience is handling this heart issue. I’ve still got lots to do, and so do you. I’m hardly afraid to die, but it would be nice to see some of you working your missions, too, before I go Home.

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The Fixer 09

The next attempt targeted Ned.

It was just two days later that Tim had sent him down to the state’s corporation records office. For once, they were on a case trying absolve someone — a senator — of false accusations. The senator wasn’t a good gal at all, but she certainly wasn’t doing what she was charged of. Ned was collecting evidence to show the charges were false. At least this particular state office was more or less on track with current technology. Ned needed the actual official proof on paper, but he was most certainly going to allow AI to snoop and plunder whatever was within reach while he stood in proximity to equipment connected to the LAN.

But he didn’t have time to stop and check on his new phone what AI had accomplished. Needing to keep his hands free, he stuffed the sheaf of papers inside his jacket, where a pocket was made just for that purpose. The offices were across town and he was taking the subway to get back to Tim’s office.

On the way out, AI had notified him of two different people carrying substantial knives, but they showed no signs of interest in Ned. Thus, he was ambivalent about the notice from AI as he entered the car that another passenger at the same station had an icepick. With the surveillance cameras in the subway cars, AI had suggested an attack there was unlikely. Most attacks were on platforms where people clustered closely and cameras would miss much, or on the stairs where camera coverage was poor. Most hits were made near the tops of the stairways.

Like any other bored rider, Ned scanned the ads scattered along the space between the windows and the ceiling of the car. He glanced down to see a slender Asian man that AI had tagged as the pickman. Ned had seated himself near one door and facing it; the pickman was at the other end on the opposite side. Ned tried to stay relaxed. At the third stop, he rose and stepped off the train and paused. AI told him the man had risen and was hovering at the door. Just before the door closed, Ned ducked back inside and resumed his seat. The pickman did the same.

Ned rode past his intended destination because the next one had stairs that were wider and not so steep, coming up in a small park. There had been an overnight frost with some rain, so when he exited to the train, the platform was wet from foot traffic, but no ice because it was slightly warmer than the open ground above. The stairs were icy, but traction plates had been installed on the lip of each step. Ned had moved quickly to the stairs and started ascending; there was very little other pedestrian traffic near him. AI whispered in his ear about how the pickman had raced to catch him and was drawing close. His own ambient hearing confirmed that.

A few steps down from the top, Ned suddenly turned and sat down. While he could have fought off an attack from that position, he was pretty sure that wouldn’t be necessary. The pickman suddenly froze in mid stride, two steps down and right in front of him. The man’s left hand disappeared inside his coat pocket. Ned gave the man a steely gaze, showing no emotion at all, his posture signaling a readiness for combat. After a few heartbeats, the pickman stepped sideways, then averted his gaze and continued up the stairs to disappear around the concrete entrance wall.

After a few more seconds, Ned had to peel his pants off the icy step as he stood. Had he handled this any other way, the message going back to the sponsoring party would have been ambiguous. Now the people behind this would know Tim and Ned were aware of the persecution and were not going to be easy targets. Whoever it was, they would have to change tactics. Would it be worth it to them?

AI said he was in the clear, so he walked out into the cold breeze, his heart now slowing as the steam from his breath disappeared quickly. A couple more deep breaths and he headed toward the building where Tim was waiting for the papers he bore.

After relating the events to Tim, his boss smiled. “Good. Maybe they’ll let us get some work done for awhile. See if you and AI can discover where this fake whistleblower is who is attacking the senator. We can let someone else worry about who it is, but I want to see how these organizations and agencies interact. There’s big money behind this attempt to smear Madame Senator, and I want to see if I can shake this network loose.”

It seemed like a good time now to assess what AI had grabbed from the state’s computers, since it would have been pertinent. Ned had added two more servers to the stack and AI was getting faster at absorbing and processing the vast piles of data. But this time it needed a much larger display, so Ned transferred the image to Tim’s desktop. It was a large 3D model of how people and money connected a large network of what amounted to front offices, all with different pieces of the same single agenda. Adding a historical component made it almost incomprehensible to the two men.

Ned was laughing. “It’s worse than that Bermuda grass that grows in the south. It has runners going in all directions underground, and if you cut something off, it grows its own roots and you get even more of that nasty grass where you don’t want it.” He had AI collate the date with the secretive emails that had started this nasty mess of false accusations.

Granted, some network companies routinely deleted their records, and some never kept any in the first place. However, the logs AI did find scattered around the Internet were just enough. Whoever sent those messages didn’t control the network routing, and a few bounced in and out of government-controlled virtual space before arriving at the destination. It was the work of several hundred man hours for skilled technicians, but in less than just one hour, AI found the source inside the senator’s own home state office. A little clever source bouncing using wifi had no effect on the route the messages had taken after the first three hops.

It was yet another inside job. Someone was trying to unseat her and take over the network she had built. Instead of ruining the ongoing work she was doing by uncovering it, they were trying to move her out of the way with something totally bogus and unconnected to what she was actually doing.

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Kiln blog: Not a Replacement

Teaser…

We do not support Replacement Theology.

The Covenant of Moses was unique, a singular example of God choosing one nation as His sole representatives on earth. Their mission was to exhibit His revelation, to breathe life into it by living it. The covenant came with promises that were an extension of Noah’s Covenant, but added in a special status that granted them the best and most direct revelation of God and His ways. This covenant was restricted to this one nation….

You can read the rest of this message by clicking this link to Kiln of the Soul blog.

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Closer to Iran than Bellicose America

In logic, we call it a “category error” when someone tries for to force something into the wrong category of logic. It’s one thing to cling tenaciously to Aristotelian denials of other realms of existence; it’s another thing to try forcing belief in God into Aristotelian logic. The fundamental nature of faith is a denial of Aristotle. You cannot reason about God and get anything useful from it. God is not subject to Aristotle’s logical boundaries; everything about revelation denies those boundaries.

So a Western approach to an Eastern society will inevitably fail. Once again, I have to admire a philosophical discussion by a Muslim scholar. The writer notes that you cannot understand a covenant community as a civil society. If you apply the ideals of the Enlightenment to an Islamic nation, you simply will not have a clue. The internal consistency of the covenant community will escape you; you will not have the equipment necessary to discern the pattern.

In a world where the universe is believed to be created (and didn’t “just happen”) and the warps and woofs of whose fabric are utterly moral in their composition, and in a world whose creation is a program upon whose stage mankind is positioned front and center, and in which God is intimately involved by way of his comprehensive providential administration in the affairs of man and in the affairs of the world, the meaning and compass of religion are going to be very different and far more expansive than the conception of religion in a society whose citizens either do not believe in God, or believe that “religion” is a private affair and is best kept out of the public arena.

It’s a long and scholarly article, full of heart-led wisdom. We don’t have to accept the particular conclusions, but we must respect how he got them. In that article, the concept of covenant community is very similar to what we proclaim here. The claims of Islam cannot be evaluated by logic any more than could the claims of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Logic cannot take you there. Either you will be drawn by faith or repelled by the impossible demands. If your belief stands on logic, it will not outlive your flesh.

Our primary difference with that article, by the way, is that we devolve the authority to decide what is and isn’t the will of God to a much lower level. We find that the apparent necessity of governing large numbers of people spread over large areas should be far more cautious about seizing too much detailed control, but should strive to reflect the consensus of many lower levels of authority. We do not believe a covenant can stretch that far in full detail.

So it’s not as if I suggest we idolize Iran’s current government; we should understand the genuine moral differences between an empire that is essentially secular and bellicose versus a religious government that is considerably closer to Biblical Law.

Addenda: In response to an offline question — Islam as a religion and Islam as a lifestyle are two different things. But they are synergistic; if you attack Islamic countries, you breathe life and power into their religion. If you leave them alone to fail in God’s good time, Islam dies with the lifestyle. It may never go away, but there would be no Islamic terror if it weren’t for the CIA and friends creating it, fostering it, and trying to use it for their own ends. It is 100% the child of Western imperialism.

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