Archive for March, 2009

A Knowing Nod

Friday, March 27th, 2009

I see a pretty fair number of movies but I mostly don’t talk about them here. I figure there’s plenty of places you can go to read a movie review, so that isn’t what Unscriptured is about. However, once in a while I see a movie that gives me insight into one of the things that Unscriptured is about. This week was one of those times.

I saw Knowing this week. Let me warn you right now, this post is going to contain spoilers, so if you don’t like it when secret things about a movie are given away, you’d better stop reading now. I’ll try and be gentle about how we get to the ending, but I’m definitely going to blow a lot about the ending.

You’ve been warned.

Anyway, “Knowing,” right up front that’s a pretty good title for something religious, though the movie isn’t overtly religious. It hints at angels and it’s one of those Adam and Eve origin sort of stories, although it is a little more oblique about it than usual. Anyway, there’s these guys, these “whisperers,” and while you don’t need to know the specifics about them for my point, you do need to know that they aren’t strictly human and they are the source of the secret information that Knowing is driven by.

And they’re no better with their knowledge than the typical villain in any number of intricately conceived films where they give away their whole plan with just enough time for the hero to bring it all crashing down. Only they do sort of the opposite. They start giving out their information fifty years before it’s needed and dole it out so obscurely that it takes a guy that is smart enough to teach hard sciences at MIT until pretty nearly the last minute to figure it out and do the right thing. I mean, they can whisper psychically to a child with such magical skill that the kid will write a nonstop stream of digits across both sides of a piece of paper without a single transcription error, but they can’t just say to anybody, hey here’s what’s going to happen, would you like to hear what we think should be done about it.

So I was bitching about this to God when it hit me. These are the guys that wrote the Bible. Or rather, the writers of Knowing, there are five of them, are the same sort of people that must have written the Bible. They give a lot of obscure information, tell people to do things without telling them why, then when the people figure out why, they tell them that it’s up to them to decide to do the right thing, they won’t make them do it. It’s more about the game of telling than it is about what there actually is to say.

It’s enough to make you scream.

An Emerald in the Rough

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Earlier this week was St. Patrick’s Day, the day when many Americans celebrate just about everything about Ireland and we all get to claim to be a little bit Irish. This does lead to a lot of drunken fights, but that’s part of being Irish too. Of course, the big Irish fight is the one between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is now mere grumblings compared to it’s former level of violence.

There’s two main ways to look at the dispute. Some will tell you it’s a religious war, pitting the Protestant North against the Catholic Republic. Others will tell you it’s all about self-rule, with the North being part of the United Kingdom and the Republic feeling rather ripped off about it.

But God tells me it was really about map aesthetics. From time immemorial Ireland has been called the Emerald Isle. See, they get a lot of rain, and that causes a lot of green stuff to grow with great profusion making the place as a whole pretty verdant. And emeralds are green, see. So, see, well, you get it I’m sure. Anyway, when you’re drawing your map and picking the colors to make each country, you obviously make Ireland green. But not Northern Ireland. Not the north because you can’t do two bordering countries in the same color and so in order to make the emerald isle, well, emerald, everyone always makes the bigger of the two countries the green one.

And the people in the north get this schizophrenic feeling that they should be green but they aren’t. So they get to feeling resentful deep down inside and it eventually ends up boiling out and, well, you get decades and decades of war without really knowing why.

Or at least, that’s what God told me.

Updated Privacy Policy

Friday, March 13th, 2009

This is to let you know that we’ve updated our privacy policy.  We use Google to provide advertising on Unscriptured and because of Google’s newly announced “interest-based advertising” initiative, we’ve added the following paragraph to our “cookies” section:

As we use Google’s AdSense to provide advertising on our site in a vague hope of paying our hosting costs, we need to inform you that Google uses what they call a DoubleClick DART cookie to track your interests across multiple sites.  Unscriptured does not provide them directly with any information about you but they can connect your visits to us with your visits to other sites that use Google’s ad services.  The reason they state for doing this is so that they can provide ads that better match your interests.  If this bothers you, you can read more about it at, which also contains a means to opt out.

There Ought to be a Law

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Well, here it is, Friday the Thirteenth. I don’t really know the frequency with which this comes up on average but it sure feels like we had to get through this just last month. Oh wait, God tells me that Friday the Thirteenth happens somewhat less than two times a year on average. I guess he’d be useful to have on the team when playing trivia games.

So anyway, I set up a ladder to walk under and then took the time to ask God about it. I asked him why Friday the Thirteenth was considered unlucky, and what he had to do with it. It was sort of like a minor variation on the old philosophical conundrum of why God allows evil to exist.

Anyway, I never really got an answer to why we consider that day unlucky. Instead God went off on something of a rant. He complained about calendars in general and suggested that we were just supposed to enjoy time and take things as they come. He didn’t want to hear about it when I tried to suggest that we really do need ways to plan for the future and to set reasonable time limits on contracts and such. He just complained that he had gone to great lengths to make calendars hard to implement. He made sure the year isn’t an even number of days. He even made sure it isn’t an even number of lunar cycles. And even if you take the simplification of 365 days in a year, well, 365’s prime factors are just 5 and 73 which doesn’t make for convenient anything unless you just want to deal with 5 day weeks and then have weeks as your only named subdivisions.

Of course, it would be pretty nice to have a two day weekend after just a three day week. Especially if we still had holidays.

Maybe we should write to our representatives in Congress.

Commentary Reason

Friday, March 6th, 2009

As you might expect of someone writing a blog, I’ve done a lot of reading on the web. Many places, here among them, offer the ability for people to comment on the articles they post. One of the things that often strikes me when I bother to read the comments on an article is the number of people that are driven to speak but have absolutely nothing to say.

They’ll post something like “I agree completely.” Or “good article, keep writing them.”

So I asked God why they do it. We talked about it for a bit. We talked about how in some cases it’s just a carry over from live conversation. When people get together and talk they sometimes interject meaningless chatter just to show that they’re paying attention. They throw in a quick, “yup,” or “mm, hmm,” but in a comment form those don’t really seem right so they expand them into a real sentence. The thing is, in live conversation these things are ephemeral, you toss them out and then they’re gone, like cotton candy in the rain; but on the web they last, they stay there just as long as the article does. The other thing about them is that in live conversation they tend to happen in parallel. While you say them the person you’re talking to doesn’t have to stop, they just keep talking and maybe nod their head to show that they heard you; but online they interrupt the flow, you have to work your way through them to get to the next comment and see if it offers anything that’s actually interesting.

The other thing God offered that I found interesting was that a lot of these comments come from the same place a lot of graffiti comes from. Not the graffiti that offers to help you find a good time, or a quickly scrawled joke, but the kind that does nothing more than tag something with the “artists” name or mark. It’s the sort of graffiti that just says, “I was here.” Like a dog peeing on a tree.

So if you ever find yourself interested in making a comment on someone’s web forum think about if that’s what you’re about to do. When you take that moment to think, I’d like to suggest that you follow the same advice we give here on Unscriptured, be substantive. Be substantive or don’t bother.

And for a final take on the subject, let me just leave you with this passage from the King James Bible: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” — Proverbs 17:28

Hey, an actual Bible quotation here on Unscriptured. How rare is that?