A Romney-Biden administration? Really?

Just a quick follow up post to the “Non-Prophet Presidential Predictions (or Probabilities, Perhaps)” post of a few days ago…  Did you know that, given our election system in the United States, there is a non-zero probability that the result of tomorrow’s elections could be a Romney-Biden administration, in which Mr. Mitt Romney is the president and Mr. Joe Biden is the vice-president?  Believe it or not, there is!

Since a presidential candidate must win 270 Electoral College votes to be declared president and there are 538 up for grabs, that leaves the possibility open for each candidate’s receiving only 269. I was playing with an Electoral College calculator yesterday (feel free to do so yourself: Time Magazine: Electoral College Calculator Map) and came up with a not-too-unrealistic scenario in which exactly this happens.  (Admittedly, I did this on purpose, with an even split as a goal.)  Here’s the resulting map:

[Split Electoral Map]
One scenario in which the 538 electoral votes are split evenly, taken from Time’s fun “Electoral College Calculator Map.”
This isn’t the only scenario, as others have noted.

What happens in that case? Well, the Constitution specifies that the House of Representatives gets into the act, as does the Senate, and based on how it looks like things would fall out, Governor Romney would be named President and Vice President Biden would keep his seat. Weird, huh?

If you’d like to know how that would actually play out, there’s a great article providing the details at, of all places, The Asian Tribune. Check it out here if you’re curious.

There are lots of other reasons that this election may not truly be settled tomorrow. This possibility, to me, would be the most fun to watch… Sort of like hitting your head with a rock might be more fun that hitting your head with a hammer. By which I mean to say, not really fun at all. 🙂

Will Alcubierre be the real world’s Cochrane after all?

Image representing the warping of space-time by in such a manner as to allow effectively faster-than-light travel by a ship in the “flat” space in the center. (From Wikipedia)

The article on Yahoo News yesterday (actually from, Space.com) about discoveries making physicist Miguel Alcubierre’s concept of a warp drive was exciting to read. You can check it out here: “Warp Drive May Be More Feasible Than Thought, Scientists Say” (Space.com, 9/17/2012).

(As a side note, I can see the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto reading that title and thinking, “Yeah, for some people thinking really is unfeasible,” but that’s another story.)

For those who’ve never heard of the “real life” warp drive scenario, Alcubierre worked out in physics what science fiction writers like to take for granted: the possibility of traveling faster than the speed of light.  Actually, Alcubierre has stated that he was inspired by the “warp drive” of the Star Trek fictional universe. The idea was to take advantage of a loophole in physics’ normal “No faster than light” speed limit. Although matter could not be accelerated to faster-than-light speeds, space-time, itself, has no theoretical speed limit (part of the reason why inflation is considered a legitimate idea in current Big Bang cosmology). So, all you have to do is create a “bubble” of space-time around your ship that will remain constant to you and then accelerate this “bubble” through the intervening space-time between your current location and the location where you wish to be. The “bubble” moves as fast as you like, even faster than light, while you and your ship remain essentially motionless inside the “bubble.” Voila!

Well, not exactly voila… There are numerous practical problems–among them, the need for exotic matter related to “negative energy” and the need for an amount of energy equivalent to the mass of the planet Jupiter. Feel free to check out the Wikipedia article on the matter.

But, according to the Yahoo/Space.com article, the calculations and physics has been refined to allow for a different design of the warp field (“bubble”) generator that would reduce the amount of energy needed to the mass of one of the Voyager probes — still huge (a little mass means a lot of energy), but less than the mass of Jupiter by magnitudes and much more imaginably feasible.

Scientists are still considering the possibility of exotic matter, though I recommend that they begin looking into McDonald’s Chicken McNugget ingredients. You never know, you know?

Personally, I am fascinated by the idea but wonder about the paradoxes that would arise. It is generally understood that Faster-Than-Light (FTL) travel causes causality paradoxes, where effects are observed to occur before their causes (see a discussion here if you are curious and don’t mind space-time graphs), but do we go so far as to say that FTL is impossible because of such potential paradoxes (as does the author of the notes I just linked to)? We like to talk about “Speed of Thought” travel in the Church — is there no resolution to such things? I suspect that there are, and I look forward to understanding those resolutions. For now, though, I’ll stick with STL travel. I’d hate to mess up the space-time continuum in some unforeseen way…

The F-22 Raptor versus the Eurofighter Typhoon: And the winner is…

The F-22 Raptor fifth generation stealth air s...
The F-22 Raptor fifth generation stealth air superiority fighter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, that depends.  ABC News reports today that America’s incredibly expensive F-22 Raptor has been pitted against Europe’s Typhoon in combat simulations (simulations involving real flying, real pilots, and real aircraft, just not real missiles or bullets) and has found that the results are mixed, though not surprisingly so.

In the ways the F-22 was designed to be superior, apparently it was handily so: super stealthy and the most powerful thing in the air for the long-distance attacks that are the new norm in modern air-based warfare. On this level, the F-22 is apparently everything it is designed to be, as reported by those who “fought” against it:

Two other German officers, Col. Andreas Pfeiffer and Maj. Marco Gumbrecht, noted in the same report that the F-22’s capabilities are “overwhelming” when it comes to modern, long-range combat as the stealth fighter is designed to engage multiple enemies well-beyond the pilot’s natural field of vision – mostly while the F-22 is still out of the other plane’s range. Grumbrecht said that even if his planes did everything right, they weren’t able to get within 20 miles of the next-generation jets before being targeted.

That is pretty amazing.

[Note: I don’t know which last name the reporter spelled correctly: “Gumbrecht” or “Grumbrecht” but the mistake is in the original article.]

But in close combat, one-on-one dogfighting, the F-22 apparently has no particular advantage over its European counterpart:

“But as soon as you get to the merge…” Pfeiffer said, referring to the point at which fighters engage in close-up dog fighting, “in that area, at least, the Typhoon doesn’t necessarily have to fear the F-22 in all aspects… In the dogfight the Eurofighter is at least as capable as the F-22, with advantages in some aspects.”

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the second most exp...
The Eurofighter Typhoon is the second most expensive fighter aircraft in the world after the F-22. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Typhoon and its German pilots apparently held their own very nicely in that area. Someone should notify The Royal Guardsmen. (Raise your hand if you get that reference…)

This does not necessarily represent a failure of the F-22, which was designed to be king of the skies from the perspective of modern warfare in the air, which is increasingly considered to be a long distance affair. (I’ve seen the results spun both ways, so who knows?) However, the prospect of German pilots flying Eurofighters going up against American pilots in their newest and best was too fascinating not to post. And while, on one hand, it is easy to imagine a future match up for real given what prophecy indicates is ahead, on the other hand the more likely scenario might be F-22 versus F-22 (after all, they are currently allies, and we share when the price is right) or, more depressing, Americans in ultralights with slingshots versus the F-22’s we sold to Europe for a steal in our “Going Out of Business” garage sale.

With the way things are going, we might be grateful for a lone beagle in a Sopwith Camel. Hopefully Britain won’t have sold all of those, too.

[EDIT, 1/16/2014: As alluded to above, Bible prophecy speaks of a coming conflict of vast scope, with the United States & Great Britain on one side and Europe on the other, with Europe victorious and the US & UK crushed beyond recognition. It may be hard to see now, but prophecy is about highlighting those things that are hard to imagine now before they become easy to see. If you’re interested in putting that prophecy to the test for yourself, here are links to two free books from Tomorrow’s World that walk you through your Bible and history on the matter: The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy and The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality? All the material on that website is completely free (Matt. 10:8), whether you want to read it there, download it as a PDF or e-book, or even request a physical copy or the book to be sent to you.]

The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy   The Beast of Revelation: Myth, Metaphor or Soon-Coming Reality?

Desktop Debris Potpourri!

Picture of a potpourri
Hmmmm… potpourri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Howdy! Finally back to the blog after my annual pre-teen camp-related self-imposed exile (additional exiles probably coming in connection with teen camp and the Feast), and it is good to type, again. Though, as usual, I have a lot on my brain and not much time to delve into it all, so I thought I would simply focus on getting something off of my chest.

Or, actually, my desktop. My computer’s desktop has been horribly cluttered for the better part of a year (or two) and I have finally cleaned it off. Over the course of doing so, though, I came across several links I had “saved” there in the hopes of perhaps blogging about them or keeping them for future reference (for which the desktop is not the ideal place). In order to ease my conscience at their passing, I thought it would be great to put up this Desktop Debris Potpourri! If the link looks interesting, feel free to click and read. If not, feel free to skip it. It just feels good to get these things off of my desktop…

Wow! I feel purged! Thanks for letting me get all that off my chest. The sky is clear again! My clean desktop is staring at me from my laptop screen, suggesting that a whole new world of wonder is out there waiting for me to explore! Thanks for your help. And, as always, if you go clicking around any of those: caveat navita stans.

[By the way: Pre-teen camp in Missouri was incredible! Really, the best one ever in my experience, and I am thankful to all of you who may have prayed for it. Thanks much!]

Neat musical video of Venus transit

As I mentioned recently, I missed the Venus transit due to the unhelpful cloud cover in Cincinnati, but there are no clouds in space! (Yes, there are nebulae and such, don’t be picky…) NASA has compiled a nice video from satellite images of the Venus transit taken through different filters and at different wavelengths. And it’s accompanied by trailer music, my favorite!

For those who just can’t get enough of seeing a planet pass in front of the sun, here it is:

There’s a little black spot on the sun today…

…but I won’t see it, clouds are in the way…  (Apologies to Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland.)

Well, I was really looking forward to seeing the transit of Venus today, but the weather here in Cincinnati is getting in the way as it is quite overcast. I’ve borrowed a welding mask from a local family (it’s nice to have a local family who has stuff like welding masks), but it looks as though it will go unused.  Phooey.

So, I’ve have to settle for the online live views. Here’s the current one (at the time of my typing) from SLOOH SpaceCamera:

Image of the Venus Transit from SLOOH SpaceCamera. Click the picture to visit the SLOOH website.

Click on the image to go to the SLOOH Website, yourself.

Also, here’s a great movie from NASA — they have others available, but I’m just linking to the one showing ingress: http://venustransit.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/kiosk/dataset/Venus_AIA96s_171In/phase/ingress

I suppose I’ll have to wait until the next one next century. If you’ve got better weather in your area, congratulations!

Egyptians looking for “superman” president

Standard of the President of Egypt
Standard of the President of Egypt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought the AP article distributed by Yahoo! News on the current Egyptian elections was interesting: “Picking new leader, Egyptians search for superman” (by Sarah El Deeb, 5/24/2012).

Never really having had the chance to participate in the selection of their nation’s head of state (I hear the pharaohs didn’t really give the people much choice either), Egyptians are apparently very excited about the possibilities and about participating in the process. One has to wonder, though, how some will feel when if man elected does not live up to what are apparently some terribly high expectations. As the AP article summarizes the sentiment (backed up by quotes later in the article), to satisfy everyone the new Egyptian president will need to be be “honorable, smart, a knight, a man with a heart, a military man, a religious man, one who goes down and meets with the people. What they are really looking for is a superman” — all while “facing an incredibly tall order of problems, from a tumbling economy and a beat-up security force to decrepit schools and hospitals that can’t even provide enough incubators for premature babies.”

Do read the article if you are interested. The comments from voters about their hopes and expectations were interesting. Here’s one from Heba el-Sayed, a 42-year-old teacher:

“We want a flawless president. We want him strong, just, respectable, clean, someone who feels for the poor. We basically want a superman.”

So many in the world are crying out for righteous government after years, even generations, of rule by those whose reigns have provided anything but. Such sentiment will likely play a role in the rise of a future King of the North and King of the South in the years ahead as discussed by the prophet Daniel — developments in which Egypt can be expected to have a role (cf. Dan. 11:42-43).

And while these leaders will not ultimately be the fulfillment of the deepest desires of humanity, there is One coming who will be flawless, strong, just, respectable, and clean, and who feels for the poor. And beyond comic book caricatures, he truly will be a super Man. May that day come quickly — not only for those in Egypt, but for all of us.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

J.P. Morgan Chase, Jeremiah 17:9, and Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman: Physicist, yes, but also economist and Bible scholar? Well, sort of… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wish I had noticed this article when it first came out in the Wall Street Journal a week ago: “Polishing the Dimon Principle” by Jason Zweig (the online article doesn’t seem to require a subscription and also includes a video, which I have not seen).

In the article, Mr. Zweig notes his opinion that the investment problems roiling J.P. Morgan Chase are rooted in ignoring the advice/warning of famed physicist Richard Feynman: “You must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool.”

Reading this, I could not help but think of Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (The answer, by the way, is given in v.10, and how thankful we should be that there is an answer!)  I frequently refer to the principle there and what I call our natural “Jeremiah 17:9 heart” in my sermons and such, because the truth of this verse has so impressed me over time. Our capacity for self-deception is seemingly boundless, and I see it so frequently in play that it makes me wary of it in myself, noting that I’m just as human as the next fellow.

But the correspondence to biblical principles in the article didn’t end there. Later, Mr. Zweig — who writes a regular WSJ feature “The Intelligent Investor” — also quotes (or paraphrases) economist Peter Bernstein as saying “[T]he riskiest moment is when you are right.”

What Scripture does this remind you of? Possibly the same as what it reminded me of: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). I could see some others in there, but this one seemed the most natural to me.

As Mr. Bernstein noted, the moment when you are right–or, actually, when you believe you are right, since, in your mind, there is no difference–is a time fraught with peril… Because, unless you are God, you actually might be wrong, and your conviction that you are right is one of the insurmountable obstacles to learning that you are not.

This thought frequently crosses my mind when I read 1 Corinthians 10:12, and it strikes me that Paul’s words there are an interesting warning: They are meant to warn those who feel they are in no need of warning. In fact, they are a warning to those who are, perhaps, among the least likely to listen to it and heed it.

On this thought further, Mr. Zweig points out that studies have shown those who actually make a bet on, say, the outcome of a horse race become up to three times more confident that it will actually turn out the way they gambled than they would have believed if they had not bet on it at all. The choice to take the stand, in and of itself, affects the belief that the stand is correct. (We could push our theme in the post and mention Christ’s teaching that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, I suppose.)

On one hand, some of this we all recognize as true.  We see it in action in others, and we know the human capacity for such self-deception.

But rarely do we apply the knowledge to ourselves. Like the hypothetical individual of James 1:23-24, we see the capacity of self-deception in humanity, recognize that we are human, and then fail to make the connection — at least to the point that it impacts action. It should provide us with a healthy self-doubt — not so much self-doubt that we take no action at all, but enough self-doubt that we are open to hearing (truly hearing) the opinions of others who disagree with us and evaluating them on the merits.

Anyway, I have other things to do, but I thought it was nice to see these biblical principles in play in Mr. Zweig’s article. And it’s a reminder to me of something I know to be true but which is still neat to see: The Bible really does offer insight on a surprising range of topics. However, that advice isn’t always in the most obvious places — after all, a concordance search on “economics” isn’t going to yield Jeremiah 17:9. Yet, as J.P. Morgan Chase sure could have used that advice…

Roderick Meredith’s commentary on homosexual “marriage”

Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washingto...
Portal of the Church of Pilgrims, in Washington, DC, with a LGBT banner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw in my Inbox this morning that there was a commentary by Mr. Meredith concerning homosexual “marriage” and the President’s recent “coming out” on the issue. (You know you can subscribe to Tomorrow’s World commentaries and get them in your e-mail, don’t you?) Very strong and very straightforward. Here’s the first paragraph of the commentary:

My friends, America is increasingly acting as if there is no real God. Millions of young couples are simply “living together”—without benefit of marriage. Other millions are slowly going over to the dark side of human nature and getting into homosexuality—even “men marrying men”!

You can read the rest here: “What Is God Thinking?”

I’ve read that some homosexual “Christian” ministers are tired of talking about the same verses in the Bible over and over, and these verses are among those Mr. Meredith cites in the commentary. I can understand why they’d be tired of talking about those verses, since those verses clearly demonstrate the stand Christ and His Church should take on the matter. If I were them, I would get tired of talking about the same verses over and over, too, given their clarity on that sin.

Thanks, Mr. Meredith, for the commentary!

Episcopal Diocese of Washington praises President’s stance on homosexual “marriage”

The Washington National Cathedral, also known ...
The Washington National Cathedral is part of Mrs. Budde’s diocese. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just read that Mariann Edgar Budde — the “spiritual leader of 40,500 Episcopalians in eighty-nine congregations and twenty Episcopal schools in the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties” and the “the Chair and President of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which oversees the ministries of the Washington National Cathedral and three Cathedral schools” — has published a statement praising President Obama’s public embrace of homosexual “marriage.”

You can read the press release, titled “Washington’s Episcopal Bishop Welcomes Obama’s Change of Heart”, here.

All I have to say is that the things prophesied of our people, and of our clergy, will continue to come true:

“Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them.”

Ezekiel 22:26