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Archive for February, 2013

I haven’t written that much so far in 2013. But I haven’t been idle.

No, instead I have been working on another project – launching a project on Kickstarter!

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And my app is going to be awesome! I’m combining great writing, visual aesthetics along with a solid user experience (intuitive, easy to use and never crashes). Trust me, you’ll all like it.

You see, I’ve been able to travel a fair amount in my time, especially over the past few years. I also like to write; I always have. When I was in junior high and high school, I was good at math and science but my highest grades were in Language Arts. When I go back and read some of my old journals, I am impressed by what I wrote way back then.

I decided to combine my two hobbies into an app for iOS and call it Go Somewhere. I wanted my app to have a tactile experience. Not just a website but an app where I can control how the user interacts with it.

It’s kind of like a travel book except I find that travel books have too much information. I just skim it. And they also aren’t personalized enough whereas I like to write in editorial style (the way I do on this blog).

I checked out a couple of apps in the Apple store last year and downloaded them. My favorite is National Geographic’s 50 Places of a Lifetime. I liked the way it went through and talked about all the places in the world and what was neat about them. However, I thought I could do it better:

  1. I could build a better way to navigate through the various places.
  2. The descriptions were good, but not “deep” enough. I wanted to go a bit deeper in each place. For example, for Peru, I wanted to write 6-8 things about Machu Picchu instead of National Geographic’s short blurb.
  3. I also wanted to write about interesting socio-cultural facts such as conditions that led to the downfall of the Incas. Education + Entertainment.
  4. I wanted my writing style to be funnier (you know, like the knee-slapper that is this blog).

I found a couple of other apps like Amazing Earth and Beautiful Planet. The pictures in them are good but the descriptions are too short.

The above icon represents the spirit of Go Somewhere: a silhouette looking out into the background. Where do I (that is, you) want to go next?

The below is the splash screen when you open the app:

Splash screen

You can navigate through the app with a bunch of countries and places using a map:

Navigation

I’m not going to go through the full set of features because you can read about it at the Kickstarter link for Go Somewhere.

I’ve designed most of the app and written or edited all of the little blurbs (so far over 400, with two more places to go before launch, and two more to come by the end of the year). However, I outsourced the development and I didn’t get the quality I needed so I’ve decided to start over.

I’ve gotten some other quotes and they are expensive. I can’t keep putting more money into this without a good understanding of whether or not I’ll see a return (my wife wouldn’t stand for it). So to that end, I’m getting funding on Kickstarter!

Or trying to, anyhow.

I figure this represents a good proxy for whether or not there’d be any demand. If I can raise funds to develop a polished app, then I figure there’s a good chance that this will “sell” (that is, be downloaded. The app is free with some free content and you can purchase to unlock additional content for a low, low price).

Looking out New Zealand

 

So check out Go Somewhere on Kickstarter! And if you feel like it, kick in a little bit of money.

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Valentine’s Day 2013

Today is Valentine’s Day, 2013, and it’s the third Valentine’s Day the wife and I have spent together.

She’s working late tonight, so I think that as I write this, there is no chance that she will read it because she’s currently on the way home from work (11 pm). We’re not big holiday people (i.e., doing major things on holidays) because that’s just not who we are.

But I did get her a card. I put it in the refrigerator because when she gets home, she always eats something. When she opens the fridge, the card will be there right in front of her.

What a surprise!

This plan only works if my timing is right and she started work at 2:30 pm today and not anytime later…

45 minutes later…

It worked!

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Debt free? Maybe.

The wife and I are targeting getting out of debt as quick as we can but it’s a long, up-hill battle. So we’ve chunked it down into a series of goals.

The first goal is to pay off the mortgage on her condo. It’s only $25,000 to go. She wants to pay it off by the fall whereas I am more hesitant because we’d be house rich but cash poor.

The second goal is to pay off my condo. It only has $172,500 to go. I feel like I’ve owned it for 4.5 years and barely paid off anything. Ugh.

People sometimes say that your house is good for saving money. Not us. The place next door to mine sold for 1/3 I bought mine for (foreclosure) and the unit two doors down sold for slightly more.

The wife has a unit in her complex that is selling for about 40% of what she paid for hers. Taking this math together and assuming that what both of us could get and adding 20%, then we’ve lost 56% of the total value of our places.

People then say “Oh, the market will come back if you hold on long enough.”

Oh, really?

If the real estate market increase at 4.5% per year, it will take 19 years (from today) to get back to what we paid. That excludes maintenance, taxes and condo dues.

Ouch.

Better to buy a place to live in because you want to live there rather than buy it for its profit potential.

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Continuing on from my other two posts, here is Part 3 – The Rest of the New Testament.

  1. Hebrews 13:9, 10

    Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings… We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

    I don’t know what the strange and diverse teachings are, but evidently they are known to the readers. The writer goes on to say that “they (the readers) have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.”

    That looks like a reference to the Jews who practice sacrificing of animals after the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD (they used a tent since there was no longer a temple). It could be that the diverse and strange teachings of verse 9 is something to do with this.

  2. James 2:17-18

    So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

    Paul stresses that it is by faith that we are saved, not by works. Yet here the writer of James says that faith without works is dead.

    I don’t think this is a criticism of Paul. Instead, it is a criticism of what some people taught about what Paul taught. For Paul, “works” refers to “works of the Jewish law”, not “good deeds.” Yet here, the writer of James is saying that “faith without good deeds” is dead. I think Paul would agree.

    I think this passage attacks a misrepresentation of Paul’s views which evidently existed at the time of the book of James’s composition.

  3. 1 Peter 5:13

    She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.

    1 Peter is a difficult book to find an overt criticism or insult against an opponent. There are allusions to many things that people shouldn’t do. To me, this means that people were doing them and that they were wrong (e.g., 1 Peter 4:3-4 which talks about how Gentiles participate in debauchery).

    Instead, I went with 1 Peter 5:13. “She who is in Babylon…” Babylon in the New Testament is a code word for Rome. The city of Babylon comes from Old Testament as symbol of evil, it is something opposed to God (this comes from when the Babylonian empire destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC). The writer of 1 Peter is calling the Roman empire evil and opposed to God.

  4. 2 Peter 2:1

    But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

    The writer of 2 Peter goes on to say that these people would be destroyed in verse 21. In fact, if you read 2 Peter chapter 2 and then the book of Jude, you realize that the two of them sound very similar, as if one borrowed from the other.

    This is why many biblical scholars think that the apostle Peter did not write 2 Peter, but instead used the book of Jude as a source (paraphrased and expanded) and then signed Peter’s name.

  5. 1 John 4:2-3

    By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

    This is an anti-Gnostic polemic. The Gnostics were a group of Christians who believed either (a) Jesus was a spirit and his body only appeared human, or (b) Jesus was a man and the Christ spirit entered him at his baptism (in the form of a dove) and left him at the crucifixion. The human Jesus was not really Christ.

    This verse rejects that view and affirms that Jesus (the human being) really was Christ, the son of God. Affirming Gnosticism is Antichrist.

  6. 2 John 1:7

    For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.

    This is the same as 1 John.

  7. 3 John 9-10

    I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

    Here, the writer of 3 John is criticizing someone name Diotrephes who would not welcome certain people who testified of the good work Gaius (the recipient of the letter) was doing. I wonder what Diotrephes’s side of the story was?

  8. Jude 1:4

    For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

    Jude goes on to give examples of what these people are doing in verse 10 and that they would be destroyed in verse 15.

  9. Revelation 18:2

    "Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast.”

    There are too many to name in Revelation, but nearly the entire book (the vision part) is an apocalyptic criticism of the Roman empire (the beast in chapter 17, the woman in chapter 18) and a prediction of its downfall.

 

So there you have it. Some books are more pointed in their criticism, but most of them have something.

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Continuing on from my previous post, Part 2 – The Letters of Paul.

Not everyone thinks that Paul wrote all of these letters, but whoever did, they had things to say about other people in the early Christian community.

  1. Romans 9:18-20

    So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"

    This is a stretch, I admit. Romans doesn’t have insults the way some other books do. However, what Paul does all the time in this book is make a statement, ask a question, and then address it. I think the questions he poses are real questions that people ask him in real life when he preaches a sermon. He then has written them down in a letter to the Romans.

    Each time he addresses the questions, but not this time. He says something, someone asks a question, and his response is “God can do what he wants!”

    That’s not really an answer to the question; it’s something you could say to every question. “Who are you – small person – to talk back to God?”

  2. 1 Corinthians 1:12-15

    What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.

    This one is controversial because in the entire book Paul is correcting poor behavior on the part of the Corinthians. But this one is subtle: Paul is saying “You people are so immature that I’m glad I never baptized any of you (except those two) because you’d just use it as an excuse for more divisions!”

    There are plenty of other candidates in 1 Corinthians you could similarly pick.

  3. 2 Corinthians 11:11-12

    And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

    Even in the early church, not everyone agreed with Paul and the things he taught. What’s their side of the story? We don’t know except that they were probably much better speakers than him (verse 5-6).

  4. Galatians 5:11-12

    But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

    Galatians has plenty of insults and criticisms, but Paul felt very strongly about those who preached you had to keep the Jewish law.

  5. Ephesians 5:6

    Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

    I couldn’t find any insults in Ephesians with the possibility of this one – a reference to empty words. I point it out here because of its similarities to the warnings against empty words and vain teaching in 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.

  6. Philippians 1:27-28

    … I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.

    We are not told who the Philippians’ opponents are, but at the time Paul wrote this (late 50’s or early 60’s AD), Christianity had not yet come under persecution from the Roman empire. I speculate that these opponents were within the church (possibly Christians who claimed you had to keep the Jewish law, Philippians 3:2).

  7. Colossians 2:4,8

    I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments… See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition,

    One theme that Paul says throughout his letters is that he did not receive the gospel from any man (or apostle) but from Jesus himself. Other gospels preached by other people could delude its listeners from the truth. They are also of no value (Colossians 2:23).

  8. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6

    For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed–God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.

    The way I read this, Paul is talking about how humble they (he and his fellow workers were), not coming out of greed, or with words that would please men, or seeking glory although they could have.

    As if others had come previously, he heard about it, and was differentiating himself? Paul does that in his other letters (Corinthians).

  9. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a

    Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way.

    This one is very subtle. In 2 Thessalonians, the writer urges the readers not to be too bothered about the time of the end because certain things must occur first.

    Furthermore, they must not be shaken or disturbed even if a letter from us (e.g., Paul) was written to them indicating that it was fairly soon.

    Evidently, the Thessalonians received a letter from Paul (which is why I have underlined it above), or from someone claiming to be Paul, which had caused some alarm amongst them. Here, the writer is rebuking that other forged letter claiming it is false.

  10. 1 Timothy 1:3-4

    …so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

    Here, the writer of Timothy addresses Timothy that some people (his opponents) are teaching followers in the church endless myths and genealogies (and this these people are wrong; see 1 Timothy 4:7). We aren’t sure who these people are, but some thing this may be an anti-Gnostic text since they were known for fantastical origin stories.

    He attacks their teaching again in 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

  11. 2 Timothy 2:16

    But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

    This sounds similar to the opponents from 1 Timothy above.

  12. Titus 1:10

    For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party

    It’s possible that the same historical situation here (or similar) is reflected in the book of Matthew. The “circumcision party” refers to the Jews (Pharisees?), or to Christians who taught that people had to keep the Jewish law. Either way, they were deceivers.

  13. Philemon

    Paul’s shortest letter, there is nothing in here that is insulting or criticizing.

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I was reading through the New Testament books of Jude and 2 Peter the other day when I noticed something: the writers of the New Testament are liberal with insults directed at people they don’t agree with.

This is something I always knew in the back of my head, but it wasn’t until I read Jude and then 2 Peter that I started thinking about it. Those two books have strong language. But what about the rest of them?

I mentally started making a list of all of the New Testament books. I can come up with something insulting to opponents of the writer in almost every one.

The first five books of the New Testament are easy because the insults are overt. They get more creative in many of the other letters.

Here’s my list.

Part 1 – The Gospels and Acts

  1. Matthew 23:33

    You [the Pharisees] serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

    In the book of Matthew, Jesus spends a lot of time insulting the Pharisees. This has led some scholars to speculate that at the time the book of Matthew was written, there was a painful division between Christians and Jewish Pharisees. The book of Matthew contains Jesus’s quotes condemning them.

    One reason why scholars believe the book of Matthew was written around 80-85 AD is because there is little mention of the Sadducees who had most of the political power in Jesus’s time. However, after the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 AD, they lost it and the Pharisees were all that remained.

  2. Mark

    I’m going to skip the book of Mark because it’s similar to the book of Matthew – there are plenty of stories against the Pharisees. However, they are much softer than in Matthew.

  3. Luke 15:2

    And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

    Jesus’s interactions with the Pharisees is a consistent motif over and over again in Matthew, Mark and Luke (but not nearly as overt in Mark and Luke). In this context, the Pharisees are criticized Jesus’s hanging out with the lower classes of society but the tables are turned on them multiple times in that it is their (false) self-righteousness that condemns them.

    There’s a lot of different examples to choose from.

  4. John 8:44

    You [the Pharisees] are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.

    The condemnation of the Pharisees is very strong in the book of John, especially in John 19:15.

  5. Acts 5:17-18

    But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.

    Since Acts is written by the same author as Luke I almost didn’t bother to do one here. But once again it is the Jewish authorities who are responsible for persecuting the early church.

    I quoted this verse because in contrast to the book of Matthew and many stories in Luke, here it is the Sadducees and not the Pharisees who are responsible.

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