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# Monday, May 16, 2005

Tampa Code Camp is looking for you.  We are currently accepting sessions on virtually any .NET dev related topic.  If you've got great ideas that you want to share with others, please send us your sessions.  The deadline for new session submissions is mid-June.  So show off your knowledge, help others, and just generally have fun by participating in Tampa Code Camp this July 16th!

More information is available at the Tampa Code Camp site.

Monday, May 16, 2005 6:31:05 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, May 14, 2005

I was just surfing around, looking for a decent grammar guide for a friend, when I ran across this site.  The fella there has an impressively long list of common English errors, but what I found most interesting is his list of non-errors.  Non-errors are caused by pedants who are so eager to show off their superior knowledge of the language that they will go too far and actually show their ignorance.

I chuckle inside when I hear someone saying "I feel well" or "between you and I."  I don't fault them for trying to speak proper English; heck, I've often laughed at myself for saying such things, and I immediately correct myself (often under my breath) to remind myself.

You'd be surprised at the number of bad habits I've had to break, things like "coulda went," "less calories," and one that I still have trouble with: "I'm gonna go lay down for a bit."  What can I say?  I was raised in Arkansas and Oklahoma, neither of which are particularly known for proper English. :)

For the record, the proper way to say the above things are:
1. "I feel well" should be "I feel good," unless of course you are talking about your health and not your state of mind.  If you are thinking "I feel good" (like the song), then you should say that and not overcorrect yourself.
2. "Between you and I" should be "between you and me."  This is a case where folks have been told that saying "you and me" is incorrect, usually in the context of using it as the subject (nominative case) in a sentence such as "you and me are going to dinner."  In that case, you should use "you and I" because "I" is the nominative case for the singular, first-person personal pronoun; however, nouns that follow prepositions (which is what "between" is) should be in the accusative or dative case, and that case for the aforementioned personal pronoun is "me."
3. "Coulda went" should be "coulda gone" if you're intending to be colloquial.  Of course, the more proper way would be "could've gone."
4. "Less calories" should be "fewer calories."  This is a toughie, at least for us Americans.  "Less" should be used when referring to a single thing, such as "less water" or "less sand."  "Fewer" should be used when talking about multiple things, such as "fewer items" or "fewer calories."  Even Wal-Mart gets this one wrong, or at least they intentionally use it because it is more common to be incorrect.  Let me know if you find a store whose express lane says "10 or fewer items" rather than "10 or less items."
5. The last one that still causes me trouble is "lay" versus "lie."  The difference is in whether or not the verb takes an object, that is, whether or not it is transitive or intransitive.  If you are putting something down, you would "lay" it down; however, if you are describing what something is doing, you would say it is "lying" down.  So I should say "I'm gonna go lie down for a bit" unless I'm going to go take something and lay it down for a while. 

Anyways, for the time being, these are still shibboleths, but I wouldn't be surprised if in a few decades these become the new non-errors because common usage has made them correct. 

The main thing to keep in mind is that there are plenty of folks who use the way you speak or write as a means to determine your level of education or, worse, intellect.  It's not so much that these little errors really matter in getting your point across (which is, after all, the point of language) but that you don't want to be discounted a priori for what is considered by many others to be incorrect.

Saturday, May 14, 2005 5:32:35 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Thursday, May 12, 2005

I am often and repeatedly reminded that believing in God does not make someone a good person.  I know this, both from experience and reason.  In fact, everyone seems to know this.  Yet somehow people seem to want to ignore this fact and expect that believing in God--heck, let's just throw it out there--believing in Christ should make saints of us all.

I say this because the media perpetually revisit this proven absurdity by constantly mocking believers; they (the media) hedonistically relish the idea of Christians, particularly Christian leaders, not living up to this long-defunct idea that we should somehow be without flaw.  The priest sex abuse scandal is an example of this. 

Despite the facts, during and since, priests as a group have been repeatedly defamed and maligned.  No one in his right mind would defend sexual abuse; it is clearly wrong and should be answered for.  But at the same time, I think we should all keep in mind that 98+% of priests in the U.S. in living memory have not been accused, and of those who have been accused, we should keep in mind that they are accusations that could well not be true.

But for the sake of argument, let's say all ~2% that have been accused are actually guilty.  That leaves that 98% who have been faithful to their calling, selflessly serving God and their parishes.  98%.  In what other areas do we see such commendable "grades"?  That's an A+, summa cum laude.  And yet the media has had a heyday with this, leaving one with the impression that all priests are pedophiles in collars.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

But let's not forget these people who are guilty of this sin.  Consider that roughly the same percentages of pedophiles are seen in society at large.  People in all walks of life.  It is in no way a problem selective to the priesthood, certainly it has nothing to do with the requirement of celibacy.  Psychologists will be the first to tell you that pedophilia is more about power than it is about sex.  But the point is simply that priests are people, too, subject to the same humanity that we all are.

I've seen the same prejudice against others, not just Christian leaders.  In fact, I've seen this prejudice operating within Christian circles.  Somehow people seem to think, despite the irrefutable plethora of evidence to the contrary, that believing in Christ and sharing that belief system with others should somehow make one a saint.  It is a perpetual absurdity!  Name me one Christian you know personally whom you would call a saint.  I think that most of us would be very hard-pressed to do this, and yet I'm sure all of us know plenty of Christians.

I can only guess at why this absurdity persists.  I think it's because people just have axes to grind.  The Church (and more generally, Christianity) stands for truth; it stands for morality; it stands for a better world, the best and most beautiful philosophy.  Unfortunately, this wondrous philosophy wars against the lower impulses of human nature, in particular, sexual desire and greed.  In short, the Church tells us that we can't do everything that strikes our fancies and we can't have everything we want, and that gets under our skins.

In response to this discomfort, we are only to quick to point out the deficiencies in others, trying to deflect the light of truth that scrutinizes the soul.  The Holy Scriptures speak explicitly of this in two places that come to mind. 

First, in the third chapter of the Gospel of John: "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."  Here we see an understanding, if we don't already have it from experience, as to why people dislike the light of truth. 

Then in the Gospels according to Luke and Matthew: "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?"  Here we see a testament to our human nature, which is to try to hide our own failings by highlighting those of others.  It is our natural response when the light is shone on our darkness.

So when a Christian, that is, someone who stands for the light has a failing, we are all too eager to grab a mirror and put it in front of our own failing, attempting to deflect the Light and hoping, thereby, to hide our own failings.

For Christians, we know the proper response when the light shines on us, though we most certainly do not always do it (which only reinforces what I'm saying).  Jesus tells us in the scripture immediately following: "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."  And again, from our passage in John's Gospel: "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." 

As Christians, we should embrace the light, even when it shows our own evil.  In fact, we should embrace because it illumines our darkness.  Without the light, how would we know how to please God?  Because of it, we can see our failings and, with the help of Grace, work to improve them.

For non-Christians, for those to whom I probably sound like a raving looney, all I can ask is that I hope you see the absurdity in expecting all Christians to be saints.  We're not--we're people just like you, subject to the same human baseness.  When we share what we think is truth with you, it is not in order to show our own glory or holiness (for we are more often than not just as base and sinful as the next person), but it is to share the beauty of truth, the light of Christ and of the saints (yes, they have existed and do exist today!). 

True, it can be uncomfortable, particularly when we feel convinced on a very basic and non-rational level that the Gospel of Christ is indeed truth but do not want to accept it, but I can assure you that you are not alone if you feel that way.  Christians walk the same path and experience the same discomfort.  And we must all recognize this--that we all have darkness in us.  Instead of letting that divide us, why not make it a source of strength and comfort, the strength and comfort that comes from knowing you are not alone--you are not forsaken.  God loves Christians and non-Christians alike; his grace is there for all of us to help us overcome our weakness if we only depend on him instead of our own strength.

Surely we are doomed to fail if we depend on our own strength because our strength comes from our human nature, which is the selfsame source of our own failings.  We should not be discouraged, however, because even though humans, Christian and non-Christian alike, may persist in the perpetual absurdity that believing should make someone perfect, God does not.  He understands our human weakness and offers us the grace of the Cross, which atones for the guilt of our failings, and the help of the Spirit to aid us on our way to holiness.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 11:09:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [3]  | 
# Friday, May 6, 2005
Why pirating music, software, movies, and other seeming victimless crimes are not okay.
Friday, May 6, 2005 2:51:10 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [26]  | 
# Monday, May 2, 2005
Wally, just told me the cover art and basic description for our book are on Amazon.  Go and pre-order copies for all your friends and family!! :)  Well, at least you can sign up to be notified when it'll be available.  Despite what it says (a bit out of date), the target ship date will be close to RTM of Whidbey (so sometime in the Fall).
Monday, May 2, 2005 7:22:15 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Tuesday, April 26, 2005 10:42:13 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Hey y'all!  Check this out!  The Southern California user groups are putting on a show, a show that sounds terribly like Code Camp.  The catch?  They charge $99. Guess how much we charged for the code camp in Ft. Lauderdale?  $0.  Guess how much we'll be charging for the ones in Tampa, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee?  $0!

Kinda makes you wonder where all that money is going in SoCal...  But more importantly, it should make us thankful that we get it for free!

Just goes to show that Florida ROCKS!! :)


Wednesday, April 20, 2005 12:50:55 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [5]  | 

Another thing that struck me while reading the new Pope's homily was his comment about "fruit that abides."  True, he was speaking to the cardinals at the time, but I think we are all called to bear such fruit.  This reminded me of what has long been an inner dialogue of mine--whether it is more worthy to give money to the poor, for the support of the Church, or for religious artifacts (such as buildings, paintings, liturgical items, etc.).

My upbringing (evangelical Protestant) definitely tended toward the first two--money spent on surroundings such as church buildings and the like should only be pragmatic.  Yet as I explored other Protestant communions and, ultimately, the Catholic Church, I found myself drawn to the beauty of the buildings, the vestments, the art, and other religious artifacts.  I found myself amazed, imagining just how much money must have gone into these things.  And of course, those who have visited the Vatican and other great artistic and architectural treasures of the Church can only be dumbfounded by the thought of it.

In fact, not long ago I was attending a Jesuit church here in Tampa, and they were in the midst of renovating.  During that time, they were offering people the opportunity to sponsor a stained glass window in the upper portion of the nave.  These things couldn't have been more than 5'x7', and when I asked into it, the going rate was $50,000.  I was stunned.  Looking around at the much larger windows that adorn the sides of the nave, I can only imagine their cost.  Of course, they were long-since paid for, a few generations ago, so I asked about it.  I was told that some folks would mortgage their land to pay for a window in the church.  Again, I was amazed. 

Yet I could not shake my upbringing, thinking how "that money could be better used elsewhere."  So I didn't act.  Since then, I have become even more interested in the plight of the poor and convinced of my obligation to help, and the inner dialogue on this point stopped for some time. 

But now I find myself thinking about it again.  I find myself wondering about it.  True, buildings, windows, paintings, chalices, and such do not remain--they may last for many generations, but they are not eternal.  But neither does suffering remain.  Both are temporal--what is eternal, as the Holy Father points out, is the human soul.  So while it may seem more worthy, on a purely humanistic level, to give money to the poor than to invest in supporting the Church or even financing religious artifacts, I wonder which has more potential to produce fruit that abides.

Surely supporting the Church--one's parish, diocese, or the Church at large--has a much greater potential to produce fruit that abides, i.e., positive impact on human souls.  And I can say from experience that religious artifacts have a profound ability to positively affect the soul, even many souls over many generations.  So perhaps it is not so clear cut as it may seem.

Now, I'm not suggesting the cessation of support for the poor by any stretch of the imagination--Christians have a clear mandate from Christ to do so.  I am, however, suggesting that we should not be so quick to belittle, impugn, or dismiss the value of these other contributions, contributions that have a very high potential to produce fruit that abides.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005 12:44:09 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, April 19, 2005

For those of you who haven't heard, the cardinals have elected a new pope--Benedict XVI, a.k.a., Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, another great theologian and strong Church leader.  He was previously the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Dean of the College of Cardinals, so it seems like a natural choice.  Anyways, it'll be good to see where we go from here with him at the helm.

[Edited 24 April 2005]

It seems that there is some press coverage trying (not surprisingly) to paint a negative picture of the new pope.  I thought I'd pass along some positive coverage to balance it out: The Real Benedict XVI.

[Edited 21 April 2005]

Since I've been getting search engine hits on "habemus" and "papam," I figure I should go ahead and provide a translation (I'm assuming these folks are searching to find the meaning).  This a Latin phrase, and it means "we have a/the pope," with "habemus" meaning "we have" and "papam" meaning "pope." 

[Micro Latin Lesson]In Latin, there are no articles (a, an, or the), so you have to pick what makes sense in context when translating from Latin.  I'd say that "a" makes the most sense with the phrase above. 

Also note that "papam" is a declined form of papa, which is actually derived from the Greek "papas," meaning "father."  The pope, bishops, and priests are our spiritual fathers; hence, the pope is often called the "Holy Father," and we often call priests "father." 

In Latin, nouns have different endings (a.k.a., inflections and declensions) that signify what role the noun plays in the sentence.  "Papam" is the accusative, which more or less correlates to the direct object in English.

[Edited 20 April 2005]

I was just reading the homily given by Benedict XVI prior to the conclave.  These lines struck me so that I wanted to stick them here for a reminder and reference.

"Truth and charity coincide in Christ. In the measure that we come close to Christ, also in our life, truth and charity are fused.  Charity without truth would be blind; truth without charity would be like 'a clanging cymbal' (1 Corinthians 13:1)."

Early on in my philosophical journey, I thought that truth was the only thing that mattered--that it trumped everything, and that it should be given even if it hurts or offends.  However, as the Holy Scriptures attest (that HH Benedict reminds us above), without charity, truth is nothing.  I have found this to be profoundly true, which is why I always endeavor now to fuse charity with truth, giving charity precedence.  It is a better way to live.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 12:50:10 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

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