29 October, 2014

10th of Av, 26th of December: Divine Retribution As Hard Evidence Against Atheism

One of the key questions atheists use, and I've clearly noticed this myself, is something kind of ridiculous: they use the category error of asking for geological and/or historical evidence of a God whose kingdom is clearly "not of this world". They go and claim that in order to believe, God must be a physical, tangible being and not the invisible Holy Spirit that He really is. What they don't realize, however, is what happens in areas where persecution occurs: catastrophes line up so closely with Jewish and Christian holidays that mere coincidence becomes all the more improbable compared to just believing.

Av 9, A.D. 70. Roman authorities get word of a massive revolt involving thousands of Israelites, some Jewish, some newly Christian, wanting to get even with the empire that longs so much to want to rule them. In response, they send a massive new army to crush the rebellion, and the army marches on the very temple that they worship in. Under the command of General Titus, who would become another Roman emperor a few years later, this army burns the Temple, crucifies rebelling men by the hundreds of thousands, and kidnaps over 30,000 Israelite women and children for use as slaves, forced to either work themselves to death or, worse, offer sexual services and serve as baby factories for the Roman elite. Since Pompeii and Herculaneum were both resort towns that the emperor and his wealthy servants loved to hang out in, as wicked as they were, most of this slavery and forced servitude also happened in the Pompeii region. Throughout that very region, of course, there have also been countless graffiti findings that warn their Roman captors of utter destruction ("poinium", "cherem") to come, including graffiti that manages to analogize Pompeii and Herculaneum with Sodom and Gomorrah. That destruction wouldn't be too long in coming.

Av 10, A.D. 79. It seems like just another day in the elite Roman playground that is the Pompeii region, and the slavery and sexual exploitation of Jews and Christians is as prevalent as ever. Then, suddenly, the ground begins to rumble. The mountain above them ― Vesuvius ― begins to blow off some steam... but by this time, it's too late. The volcano blows its top. A huge eruption column blows ash 20 miles into the sky. Day suddenly turns to night. Ash begins to rain down on this elite Roman playground for hours, and the Roman elite start to wonder what the heck is going on... ah, but the Christian and Jewish captives knew all along that this was payback for what the Romans did to them in Jerusalem nine years earlier. Then, it happens. The volcano becomes exhausted of all its magma reserves, and the eruption column becomes too heavy. It then collapses as a series of massive pyroclastic flows. Herculaneum, upwind of the column, is the first to go. Pompeii follows. Over 16,000 of the Roman elite are killed, while the slaves, shielded from the ash by thick underground bunkers, manage to make it out alive the way the prisoners in Saint-Pierre did when Mount Pelee erupted. After completely burying Pompeii in ash, the pyroclastic flow proceeds to blast its way into the Bay of Naples, where it displaces water. The resulting tsunami devastates the port city of Stabiae, which is probably the most important port city in the entire Roman Empire, since it's the closest port city to Rome. Without it, Rome's residents are helplessly marooned off from the rest of the empire. A year later, in A.D. 80, and certainly not within enough time for Stabiae to be rebuilt, an urban conflagration breaks out in Rome. With no port of Stabiae to get supplies and people in and out of the city, the city burns to the ground, taking tends of thousands more Romans with it. The destruction of Stabiae also bears a stark resemblance to another, more modern act of divine retribution.

It begins in a country where Islam is the official religion and Christianity is brutally repressed under dictator Suharto's regime for over 20 years, and continues long afterward as the radicalized Muslims that Suharto forms an alliance with suddenly roam free. That country is Indonesia. It's a nation where an uncle of mine is in fact a missionary, managing to overcome countless acts of violence to save people. In Indonesia, most Christians happen to live in the islands surrounding Western New Guinea and Timor, which is basically cut in half between Indonesia and the young independent Christian nation of Timor-Leste. Most of the radical, Christian-killing Muslims, in groups such as Jemmah Islamiyah and the notoriously ISIS-like, caliphate-wannabe Free Aceh Movement, are concentrated in the main islands of Java and Sumatra. It's here that radical Muslim groups go on a rampage against Christians. They ransack churches. They attack Christians in the most horrific means imaginable, mostly through either beheading or burning alive. People celebrating Christian holidays, like Christmas, are especially easy targets for their brutal oppression. Then came the day that the Judeo-Christian God would once again have His payback, also with timing relative to a persecuted holiday that should be noted: December 26, 2004.

It was on this day that a killer subduction zone, the Sunda Megathrust, began to slip, epicentered approximately 50 miles off the Acehnese coast. The fault then continues to rupture north and south along a good chunk of its length, finally stopping as a 600-mile-long rupture. Seismic waves radiate out from this rupture in all directions, lasting as long as 6 minutes in duration. The moment magnitude of the quake is registered by seismologists as 9.1. During this hellishly long shaking, numerous unreinforced masonry structures ― including most mosques, which are notoriously URM ― are extensively damaged or destroyed, and falling objects cause numerous injuries, becoming strewn all over the place. Minutes later, the Indian Ocean suddenly retreats from the coast of extreme northwestern Indonesia, where the most Islamic extremism is concentrated.

Then, an ominous white crest appears on the horizon. It's a tsunami. The ground that Banda Aceh is on is almost perfectly flat, and there's no high ground for several miles. The tsunami uses these fallen unreinforced masonry objects as weapons, smashing countless buildings already damaged by the quake and using the resulting debris to then smash more buildings, ultimately flattening the entire city. Buildings that survived the quake soon become moved, displaced, flattened ruins. Most importantly, however, these people had absolutely no clue what a tsunami was or how to survive it. The result? Of the 220,000+ casualties in this dreaded 2004 disaster, over 150,000 were in the region where the Jemmah Islamiyah and GAM insurgencies were most active, in the proposed capital city of the separatist caliphate, Banda Aceh, and of those 150,000, a good 30,000 or so were indeed members of those radical Muslim groups who always loved persecuting the Christians that they thought were a nuisance. Most Christians, however, were in eastern Indonesia, shielded from the tsunami by the main islands of Sumatra and Java, and were almost all completely unscathed.

There's clearly an interesting pattern here. Geology can only involve guesswork as to when events like these might occur, even today. Even with all the modern technology we have at our disposal, no one in their right mind would ever come close to saying that "this quake will happen on precisely this day" or "this volcano will certainly erupt on such and such a day". There's just no way. For the timing of these events to suddenly tweak itself so perfectly as to, in both cases, occur exactly one day after a Jewish or Christian holiday in both cases, that certainly can't happen blindly. Some outside force, like, oh, I don't know, the Holy Spirit, must be at work, manipulating the timing, either delaying an eruption so it builds up a boatload of pressure and goes off as a much bigger eruption on precisely the date it's predestined to, or delaying an earthquake so that it becomes much bigger and also goes off at a predestined date. If these events could happen on a whim, that's exactly what they would do: occur on a whim, which would mean frequently and subtly. The fact that these events are happening in such perfect alignment with brutally suppressed Judeo-Christian holidays certainly can't be mere coincidence.

19 October, 2014

"Is The Nexus 7 a Phone or a Tablet? I'm confused," says the customer...

October 19, 2014. I must admit, this post is a few days late... but this past Wednesday, Google unveiled not just the two rumored Nexus devices (the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9), but three — if you count the Nexus Player, that is. Since I've got a Chromecast and a cable box, along with only two HDMI ports, well, they're all in use... but the fact that the Nexus Player is Google Cast Ready AND supports Android TV apps as well should be a good selling point. Anyhow, in 2012, we had the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. In 2013, the Nexus 5 replaced the Nexus 4... ah, but the Nexus 7 was simply replaced with another Nexus 7, and the Nexus 5 came on board, replacing the Nexus 4. Now, in 2014, the Nexus line-up got a total makeover, with the Nexus 6 replacing the Nexus 5 and the Nexus 9 replacing both the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10, respectively.

For 2015, however, this poses a bit of a dilemma. If Google decides to simply replace the Nexus 6 with another Nexus 6 the way they did with the Nexus 7, then there won't be any problems... but if they decide to actually increment the number once again, they would end up reusing the Nexus 7 name... for a phone!

This presents a myriad of problems. For starters, just like the title states, it would confuse customers a whole lot... and confused customers hurt business. Beyond that, however, there's also the size factor: sure, a tablet with a 7-inch screen is fine, but a phone with a 7-inch screen?!?! Talk about something that just can't be handled. You couldn't put a phone that big in your front pockets at all (only your back ones), and what's more, you can't pick up a phone that big to make phone calls without using two hands either, which means, nope, if you're in a dire emergency and need to make a phone call quickly with one hand, good luck.

Even something like a Nexus 6.5 would be problematic. Why? Because the names in the line are often rounded down or up to the nearest whole number... which in that case is also 7. That leaves Google with only two options: Either go Apple-style and treat the generations of Nexus 6 like the generations of iPod Touch, releasing three, four, even 5 generations of phones with the same name (which is a good one IMHO) or simply replace the Nexus line altogether with a turnkey solution for OEMs and carriers in the US the way they already did with Android One in India — or, in other words, Project Silver redux, which would seriously increase the adoption rates of new Android releases on a prompt basis, which is the holy grail of fragmentation reduction.

Let's hope this worst case scenario doesn't happen, shall we? Of the two above options, however, I personally would love to see Project Silver manifest itself much more so than I would multiple generations of Nexus 6. Why? Because of the crushing impact it would have on Android fragmentation: by forcing all the phones on the market to stay on the latest version of Android and get updated on a prompt basis, version fragmentation would be, for the most part, a thing of the past. Then again, I need more opinions here. Would you rather want multiple versions of Nexus 6, or would you be fine with every Android phone on the market being updated on a prompt Nexus-like basis?

17 October, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins and Their Real-Life Consequences, Part 2: Greed

In the first post in this series, the consequences of lust were discussed... naturally. Now, however, it's time to move on... to another sin of excess. A sin that is often committed by people whom we Christians (unfortunately) share a political party with. It's an obsession with material wealth, a sin where instead of controlling our possessions, we let our possessions control us. That sin is greed. Why is greed a sin, you may ask? Well, while some of greed's real-life consequences simply involve making the "least of these" angry (and marginalizing the greedy from the world), others, like the first one I'm about to go over, are capable of literally ushering in an end to the world in ways that the nuclear alarmists of the 1960's never saw coming.

Climate Change


It's definitely human nature for some Christians to bring climate change down to the level of evolution or claim that they're studying it because they don't have anything else to study in an attempt to demonize the atheistic science community... but in all actuality, the amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere has increased to a 20-million-year high as a result of human activity. Which, of course, begs the question: What human activity? The fossil fuel industry is definitely one where greed is rampant and widespread, to say the least. By collaborating with the auto and power-generation industries to create dependence on itself, the oil industry is easily one of the wealthiest ― and greediest ― industries in the world, and up until very recently Exxon was #1 in the world in terms of market cap. Until, of course, Apple and Google managed to reach the top... but still, oil greed ― and oil dependence ― continues to persist. What do those oil companies use that vaguely robber-baron-like fortune to do? More often than not, it's to pay politicians to deny climate change, which is to say "I'm going to bribe someone in science/academia to deny the consequences of my sin so I can keep on sinning," and also to send politicians into office that give them tax breaks while going to great lengths to squash competition. Thanks to the fact that CO2 emissions have also gone on to trigger methane release, well, it may already be too late to avoid this particular consequence of greed, but if not, then it's time to let the world know that it's our own sin that's responsible. As for competition-squashing, well, that brings us to our next point.

The "least of these" wanting to rebel


While, I admit, envy is just as much of a sin as greed (will definitely be going over it at a later time), greed in one group of people often triggers envy in another. Remember what the initial cause of the American Revolution was? "Taxation without representation?" Yup, it's the British king's own greed that pissed us off. Think that's always good? Not so fast: The same thing happened in Russia. Tsar Nicholas was notorious for his endless pursuit of material possessions. So too were nearly all the tsars prior to him. The US and Russia were the last two countries in the world to end slavery. In the case of the US, it was the African-Americans who were the slaves. In the case of Russia, it was the common Russians who were the serfs — or, in other words, slaves ― for nearly three centuries. The common people suffered, while the tsars lived in outright luxury... until, of course, the Bolsheviks came along. Little did they realize, communism would be just as bad as tsardom/serfdom... and thanks to the rise of dictator after dictator after dictator that came with the communist regime, it wasn't until the 1990's that Russians began to enjoy the freedoms that us Americans have been enjoying since the 1700's. Think that can't happen in a democracy? Think again. When China's Qing emperors were ousted around the turn of the 20th century, a 50-year democracy ensued. At that time, those who ran for office began to, during the Roaring 20's and what not, amass huge amounts of wealth. The result was something not too dissimilar to the situation we Americans had during the 19th century: a situation where a select few held a large swath of China's wealth. People like Mao Zedong and the gang were obviously fed up with this, and revolted. The democracy was then banished to Taiwan, and now Taiwan is democratic while mainland China is just as communist and freedom-lacking as ever. Speaking of the massive economic inequality gap, that brings us to our third and last point.

Isolation


Let's be honest: Would you rather hang out with only 1% of the population or with 99% of it? Hmmm? I don't know about you, but I'd definitely choose my time with other people ― and with fellow Christians ― over my time with material possessions hands-down. Unfortunately, greed is a sin that tends to cut off its victims from the rest of the world. Unless the greedy start using some of that money to help their friends and family out, they're going to find themselves in a pickle. That is, a pickle where everyone they used to love suddenly hates them for enjoying all the wealth in the world while letting their own friends and family suffer. Thankfully, most of us who aren't compulsive hoarders (or disposophobes) aren't that dumb... but for those who are, this consequence is clearly one that's bound to affect them.

Then again, as early Christian monk Evagrius Ponticus has clearly stated, it's disposophobia that often results in greed. Greed is a sin of fear. It's a sin that's born out of uncertainty, of not knowing what the future holds. Because the greedy are often disposophobic (or, technically, phtocheiophobic ― irrationally fearful of poverty) when it comes to the future, their response is to want all the money and possessions in the world. Little do they realize, when it comes to only wanting more and more, the risks clearly outweigh the benefits.

16 October, 2014

The Seven Deadly Sins And Their Real-Life Consequences, Part 1: Lust

When people think of issues like sin, what comes to mind? More often than not, they use it (and particularly the medieval mistakes made in response) as an excuse to criticize the church. They go and vehemently attack the church for oppressing people, for burning people at the stake for heresy, and what else they may throw as a form of ad hominem fallacy that's directed not at current behaviors but at ancient history that they're unwilling to put behind them. What they don't realize, however, is that these sins have self-imposed consequences that can sometimes result in far more pain over far more prolonged periods than even getting beheaded or burned at the stake can cause. One of those sins couldn't be more debatable. It's one that has marginalized people from the church, often to the point where it becomes a clear focal point in the conservative-vs-liberal debate. That sin is lust, and its self-imposed consequences do indeed range from painful to deadly. Let's start with the obvious:

Sexually-transmitted infection


It's no debate. It's a scientific fact: Sex spreads disease. It spreads chlamydia. It spreads Hep-C. It spreads HIV/AIDS. This is especially true if it goes unchecked. When people have sex, they exchange bodily fluids like saliva, breast milk, semen, feces (!), uterine fluid, and what not... and of course, those fluids all contain bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, yes, and toxins to top it all off. Of those bodily fluids, the one that contains the most pathogens, by far, is obviously feces (which have something like 50 times the concentration and diversity of pathogens compared to that found in urine, semen, and vaginal discharge combined) ― that's why homosexual males tend to be 20 times more likely to contract, not to mention fall to, STDs than anyone else ― but that's another topic for another post. Anyhow, when you have sex out of wedlock, you're going to get sick, and, if that sickness is left untreated, you're likely to die. Then, of course, any offspring you may have may also get that disease... and if the disease you give them is something other than AIDS (which they build up natural immunity to in the womb), they're lucky if they live to be 5. Speaking of offspring, that brings us to our next section.

Illegitimate children


There are indeed plenty of birth control products out there. Everything from birth control pills to condoms to surgically implanted birth control devices have been put out there as means of keeping the possibility of having an illegitimate child to a minimum. However, there's a clear issue here: None of those methods are ever 100% accurate at preventing illegitimate pregnancies. The only way to be 100% sure you're never going to have a child out of wedlock is to not have sex until wedlock. Condoms can tear, and when they tear, yup, you've just given semen free reign to leak into the vaginal cavity and merge with an egg to form a child. Likewise, birth control pills can wear off... and they only really stop about 50% of the hormones responsible for ovulation anyway. Surgically implanted devices, although they are 99% accurate, are still costly and there's still a chance they can come loose, causing extreme pain, yes, and pregnancy. When that does happen, there's a financial burden: how is that child going to be fed? How many diapers are you going to need to buy? A whole lot... which can total thousands of dollars per child. You say you have a choice to abort that child? That's tantamount to saying that you have a choice to commit genocide: it's not a democratic choice, it's a totalitarian one, committed out of, yes, terminological hypocrisy all around. Don't have sex in the first place, and you won't feel a need to make that choice.

Addiction


Ever wonder what makes stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine so addictive? They inhibit the enzymes that break dopamine down, resulting in excess dopamine being released throughout the nervous system. Well, guess what? Excess dopamine is also released during sexual arousal, according to a scientific study. Excess dopamine overwhelms ― and decreases the number of ― dopamine receptors. Regardless of what the source of that excess dopamine is, there's still excess dopamine. The result? You create a scenario that makes sex just as addictive as cocaine. Once you start, you can't stop. It becomes a habit... a habit that spreads STDs, gets people illegitimately pregnant, and, yes, kills.

So, that's it for the consequences of lust ― which is clearly the sin behind abortion/gay activism all around. The driving force is clearly the sin of lust, just lurking, waiting to corrupt the world and bring it to its doom. Treating it with activist mentality is treating it with the absolute wrong light, besides: instead of getting rid of the problem, they go and make the problem worse. Little do they realize, lust has a way of striking back, like a mousetrap with bait on it, just waiting to spring on them.

02 October, 2014

156 years later, the 1858 San Diego Hurricane still raises eyebrows

156 years ago today, a hurricane which formed off the coasts of Mexico and Central America several days prior took a very unusual course. Most of them either A, move westward, or B, move slowly over cold water, which thus has enough time to make them die out. Not this one. After missing the southern tip of Baja, this menace was picked up by a trough and swung rapidly northward. Having been a category 3 storm at peak intensity, it weakened down to a category 1, then briefly re-intensified to a 2 due to the pressure gradient influence of a ridge behind that trough (not to mention a patch of unusually warm El Niño water)... then back down to a 1, dangerously close to, where? None other than San Diego, California:


This monster hurricane caused damage that we can't even fathom today. It tore roofs off houses. It created a storm surge that overtopped Coronado Island, blasted across San Diego Harbor, flooded a good chunk of the city (well, actually, small town at the time), and shoved three large US Navy schooners, the USS Plutus, the USS Lovely Flora, and the USS X.L., completely aground. That's a key point: Schooners aren't just boats, they're massive ships. In order to completely beach (!) a 200-foot schooner with the massive keel that it has, much less three of them, you need at least a 15-foot storm surge. On top of all that, rain fell in buckets, enough to overtop rain gauges and cause normally dry, ephemeral riverbeds to rapidly overflow their banks. Due to the long time it took news to travel back in 1858, however, the folks on the east coast didn't even know about the damage until several months later.

When I bring up this storm, people are literally freaked out... and of course, I don't blame them. Why? Because if it happened before, it will happen again. What makes such a storm so destructive for only a category 1 hurricane is the sheer size. Remember what kind of storm surge Hurricane Sandy caused? Sandy was also a category 1, but the wind radius, just like the wind radii of most intense East Pacific hurricanes, was a good 500 miles out from the center. That is key to a storm surge catastrophe that could make Marie seem like a mere dress rehearsal.

See, when hurricanes are forced to move away from warm water at speeds too fast to dissipate in time, they begin to compensate for the lack of fuel by spreading out their wind diameters. A storm that's only 200 miles across at peak intensity can end up expanding to 1000 miles across when it gets to California (or New York)... and likewise, one that's 500 miles across at peak intensity can end up being 2000 miles across in that same case. The larger the storm's radius, the more water it displaces. Translation: it's a recipe for disaster. Something halfway between Sandy and Ike in terms of storm surge impacts.

Then, we come to the second major impact: rain. Rain that can amount to a staggering 2 inches per hour — on par with the kind of rainfall rates that Hurricane Irene brought to New York and New Jersey. When that gets dumped on mountainous terrain, guess what that causes? Extreme flooding. In 1976, our neighbors to the east — in Ocotillo — got a glimpse of that potential for catastrophic flooding when Hurricane Kathleen made landfall in Baja and moved north across the border as a tropical storm. As much as 14 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours, causing a dry creek bed that flows toward Ocotillo from the Baja mountains to suddenly explode into a 40-foot wall of water that blasted its way through the town, flattening everything in its path. When the storm was over, it looked as if a tsunami came through the town. Expect a repeat of that in multiple locations should a repeat of the 1858 storm occur.

And that's the thing: history does repeat itself. It's not a question of if, but WHEN SoCal will get hit again. Also, it's El Niño events like the ones in 1997, 2009, and, yes, 2014 that tend to result in far more powerful East Pacific hurricanes... not to mention, of course, that during the early fall months, the winter storms also begin to pick up strength and have more of a tendency to fling storms northward. Santa Ana pressure gradients also play a part, as do those whisps of forced evaporation that Santa Ana winds pick up when they hit the water: they not only instantly transform the Santa Ana air from dry to moist, but they also increase the salinity of the water and force it to temporarily downwell. Hopefully it's not too late. If it is, however, better hunker down...