Friday, October 24, 2008

I am looking for Sarah Connor

Before reading this article, please open this you tube link, then minimize it. Make sure your sound is on.

Robots hunting down humans? It's closer than you think. The last I heard about these particular robots, they were planning on using them as pack mules for infantry troops or as medical assist robots in combat zones to pull injured troops out of the line of fire. They are incredibly versatile and can travel over almost any terrain. Now, there are plans proposed by the Pentagon to have squads of robots each controlled by one individual soldier, and to have weapons attached to them.

Check this out:

Truth is stranger than fiction.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Election Thoughts

I have been mulling over the political conditions and implications that are currently going on in this country. As I reflect, several realizations have come to my attention:

1. It seems to me that this election is one which involves the wrong candidates. A better nomination which more truthfully reflects the ideals and substance of the Democratic party would have been Hillary Clinton. Once again, the current Democratic candidate (Obama) is painting himself as much, much more conservative in his policies than his voting record reflects, in order to win the most votes. Similarly, the senatorial maverick, John McCain, is not the best representative for the Republicans. Rather, the better candidate, Newt Gingrich, chose not to run this year. Frankly, I can't blame him. Gingrich would have completely ruled the debates, but such is the way of politics.

2. This election has turned into one which involves communication. Ronald Reagan was called the "great communicator" and for good reason. Mr. Bush essentially has become the anti-communicator, unwilling or unable to effectively speak with the American public due to his spin on Iraq, which we all know has turned into the defining issue of his presidency. McCain, like Bush, also has been unable to communicate effectively, especially during the debates, which has cost him greatly. (see my previous article "John, John, John") I can see that his aides tried to urge him to be positive during the debates, smiling and pumping his fist in a "gung ho" gesture, but style without substance does not cut it. Obama, for all his extremely liberal platforms on various issues, is an effective communicator, and it is this that appeals to the American public. He is able, with his team of PR folks, to express his ideas in such a way as they do not seem to be all that bad. Make no mistake, though, he is essentially a communist. At the very least, he is a socialist, which is why Europe is hoping he will be elected. There used to be a saying here in the US- "better dead than red." If you don't understand that, ask someone older than you.

3. Boortz did a piece on Obama this morning that cuts through a lot of the fluff and gets right to the heart of various issues- it can be found at He stole my thunder on the issue of being a great communicator ( I started writing this article early yesterday morning) but he (Boortz) makes several points that need to be considered to every person that will vote.

4. Once again, it is my opinion that this election is one that involves the lesser of two evils. The economy seems to be the issue that most of the news agencies are pressing. However, the reason this race remains close is because many also feel the issue of national security and Islamic terrorism are the issues that are the most important. Americans seem to vote with short sightedness, with whatever issue seems to affect them the most at that particular time. In this case, that would be the strain on their (our) wallets. Personally, I would think that tough times don't really matter as much if your city is blown into kingdom come in a cloud of nuclear radiation. Last year, right here in our state of Georgia, in Savannah, a group of Islamic militants were detained when it was discovered they had illegally smuggled nuclear material to our shores in a container vessel. Look it up for yourself. You DO realize that Obama wants to make drivers licenses available to any foreign national that wants one, whether they are in the country illegally or not? Yeah, that's what we need.

One thing, one hope is of reassurance to me. God is ultimately in control, regardless of the seemingly powerful forces of politics and power. The true issues are spiritual, not earthly. The disease is not the Romans (as many Jews thought in Jesus' day,) it is within the hearts of men. Thank you, Lord, for Your long suffering towards us. For Your mercy and love. Kirie Elienas. Christae Elienas.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I am a pro football fanatic, following my lovable losers, the Falcons, through thick and thin. I was disappointed to learn that Madden 09 would not be coming out for the PC, however, wanting to play with "Matty Ice" (Matt Ryan, the new Falcons quarterback) leading the team, I went out and purchased a new X Box 360. Here are the results of what I found:

At first, Madden 09 was a wonderful game to play. There were some nice animations, and I enjoyed, for the most part, the challengability and flexibility of the franchise system. Then the crap hit the fan.

Suddenly, I was no longer able to simulate games. The system would crash and freeze up every time I tried. I was also unable to complete any mini-challenges to increase the stats of my players. Finally, I was unable to save any games at all after narrowly winning against tough opponents. Great job, EA Sports! My Madden 09 which I plunked down good money for is now good for being a coaster on a table, and it does not even do THAT job very well.

Why has this occurred? How has Madden gone from being the pre-eminent game in sports to a useless hunk of junk? The answer, dear friend, is found in the economics of the situation.

EA Sports signed a lucrative deal with the NFL several years ago to become the sole provider of video games for the sport. Yes, the players got money for the use of their names in the product, but this eliminated competition completely. No competition= no incentive. Before, ESPN 2K5 gave Madden a run for their money, as people realized there was an alternative and spent their dollars elsewhere. There was a reason to make a game that worked properly, and not just the eye candy we have recently been treated with.

To add insult to injury, EA Sports also released a new version of Head Coach, the 06 version which I wrote about recently. Guess what? THAT game is also so filled with bugs that it is virtually unplayable. Yes, it looks nicer, has better music, animations and screen shots, but again, it does not matter if you can't play the game. EA should change it's motto to IF ITS IN THE GAME, ITS GOTTA BE LAME. Thankfully I did not waste my money there and am content to wait and see if they fix THOSE problems before I purchase another unplayable product.

Consequently, I am disappointed. I would like for Commissioner Goodell to either end the NFL's current contract with EA Sports or allow it to lapse, returning parity, accountability, and competition to the simulation of the NFL experience. If it's good enough for the players and coaches to have competition and be held accountable for their performance and actions, it's good enough for the products that represent the NFL.

armchair coach
amateur historian

PS Thanks to TennVol for the following review, which comes from the EBGames website

Review by TennVol

I purchased the CE edition of Madden 09 so I could get Head Coach with it. Let me just say I was really excited to get my hands on this product cause it seemed to have a lot of promise from the stuff I had seen on it.

And then the other shoe dropped!

This game could be sooo fun and challenging if it were not for the over abundance of bugs and AI glitches.

Bug 1) If u use the play creator, it will permanently keeps players who are injured .... well.. injured. IF u have someone who says they will be back in 1 - 3 weeks, they will never come back. U have to end up trading them or cutting them.

Bug 2) The game sounds won't come on in the game till during the 2 minute warning. That's something they should have found during the testing phase I mean, come on!

Bug 3) If u save on certain days of the week, a contract bug will appear where scrub players will ask for HUGE contracts when u sign/re-sign them. I had a 65 overall cornerback asking for over 2 million a year at age 31!

Bug 4) Well, sort of a bug.. more like a game flaw. The AI of the game is in one word.... HORRIBLE! Running Backs who will run into defenders instead of going through huge holes that were opened by the offensive line. Wide receivers who will juke out of bounds for no reason at all. Quarterbacks that will throw the ball low on long routes and then lob it on a short route? I mean, this is a big issue in my book. The AI sliders in the game are even messed up. They have a Player AI and a CPU AI but the player AI does nothing at all! And trying to figure out what CPU AI settings to use so players don't act like they are out of a Ernest Goes to Football Camp movie is a nightmare

Bug 5) The Officiating is way too lopsided. They will call Face Mask Penalties on players taken down at the knees! They will over turn any good review for you but the CPU team will never have anything over turned and if one of the opposing teams players catches a ball out of bounds, it will be ruled a complete pass even though when u watch the instant replay, he feet are clearly in the white when he catches it. Poor programming in my opinion.

Bug 6) Two Minute Drills u can't stop in game WITHOUT calling a time out. Players won't spike the ball or attempt to kick a field goal on your team... they will just keep running the same play over and over and over till u get an incomplete pass or call a time out. No way to make real adjustments at all.

Now, EA claims to be working on a patch to fix this stuff but it is still a minimum of 2 weeks away and we have been dealing with this stuff for a month now.

In my opinion... don't buy now. Wait a month or two to see if they have truly completed this Beta Release of a game cause as it stands, it is a bad bad product.

Even with the release of numerous updates that EA have sent out via Xbox Live, this game is still buggy; even franchise mode is almost impossible to complete. I'd recommend NCAA 09 before this. Since we really don't have a choice in the matter of who makes our football games anymore, we are kinda left with this garbage. As a long time Madden fan, I sincerely will not recommend this game to anyone, unless you're desperate. Despite many new cool features it still lacks consistency for a football game. EA's developers are falling off and quick they need to do something and scrap this game and work super hard on next year's. And I really hope it's nowhere near this bad. If you did buy this game trade it in because no matter what, you just have a steamy pile of dump.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Holy Temple of Jerusalem, 1 of 5

[Click above for larger picture]

I recently visited a recreation of the Holy Temple of Solomon in Second Life. It was recreated to scale, using Old Testament measurements and specifications. It was completely awe-inspiring. In this scene, I am hovering above the temple in a panoramic view, looking down from above. The Romans placed symbols of Caesar on these buildings, and eventually destroyed this place, not wanting for their own works to be upstaged.

Note: the crenelations and outer wall proceed around the outside and left of the temple- they were extended so far away they were outside the draw distance allowed by my specifications in 2nd Life.

The Outer Courtyard, 2 of 5

[Click on above for larger image]

This is the outer courtyard of the Temple of Solomon. It was here that Jesus, as a young 12 year old boy, was found by his parents teaching men of the truths of Scripture with authority after he was left behind. It was here that young Jewish boys would come to say their prayers upon their bar mitzvah, and their recognition as an adult in Jewish society. It was here that Jesus drove the money changers from the temple with a whip. "Then Jesus went into the temple, threw out everyone who was selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the moneychangers' tables and the chairs of those who sold doves. And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." Matthew 21:12-13 (NIV and KJ)

What thoughts and emotions are drawn up from within me as I visited this place. Can you see these scenes as I do?

Holy Temple, Scale, 3 of 5

[Click on above for larger image]

To get a better idea of the size of this place, I took a snapshot of the entrance to the inner courtyard. It was here that only men were allowed to proceed (and, if I am not mistaken, only men of the priesthood, perhaps only Levites.) I am standing with my feet spread before the massive double doors. The signs which you see are for visitors, and when you click on them you are given a note card with lots of history and interesting facts about the different parts of the temple and their functions.


The Lost Ark of the Covenant, 4 of 5

[Click on above for larger picture]

According to Jewish legend, before the Temple of Solomon was destroyed by the Romans, the Ark was taken and buried in a chamber vault below the oil storage room, which was used to store oil for lamps. I felt very humbled as I viewed this recreation of the Ark, complete with the cherubim with outstretched wings and the Shekhinah glory which glowed from between them.

The Altar of Sacrifice, 5 of 5

[Click on above for larger picture]

This is the inner courtyard where only men were allowed. You can see the altar where families would make sacrifices to the Lord. To the left is a ceremonial washing urn that would be lowered into the well, then raised, the water pouring out through open spigots. Behind me through the double doors is the Holy of Holies. Once a year the high priest would make a sacrifice for the sins of the people. He had to be dressed in blessed ceremonial clothes, and a rope was tied to him lest he should die inside this place, where no one else was allowed.

Consequently, this recreation helped me to visualize what life was like in Jerusalem during Jesus' time. I am thankful for having the opportunity to have visited here.

I am also extremely thankful to Rabbi Writer ( a Jewish Rabbi who lives in Europe) of 2nd Life, who assembled this place prim by prim (piece by piece,) then colored each separate piece with a texture, in an incredibly massive work of reproduction, so that the love of God may be known. Thank you Rabbi Writer, and thank you Lord!

G. Houtchens


I watched a documentary this morning about the incident in Mogadishu, commonly known in America as the Blackhawk Down incident. This was not the Hollywood version, but rather a documentary made from interviews and recreations involving the soldiers themselves.

To recap, the US was engaged in a United Nations mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, in an attempt to end a bloody civil war where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed. You can take a wild guess as to whether any Islamic factions were at the core of the fighting. Somalia was the country that earned notoriety years ago for a widespread famine, made famous by the late comedian Sam Kineson, who yelled at audiences that "plants don't grow in sand."

International relief efforts were being stopped by local militias. Food and medicine were being sold to neighboring countries in exchange for weapons. This is what spurred the UN into action.

A meeting was held at a house of tribal leaders in an attempt to broker a truce. The US received bad intelligence (does this sound familiar?) and the house and all its occupants were bombed to kingdom come. A Blackhawk helicopter flying low over the city was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade, then another one was shot down that came in support of a rescue effort for the survivors. The Somalis were, as a city, outraged, with women and children firing weapons at the besieged US Rangers and Delta Force Army units, who had barricaded themselves in four connecting houses in the city center.

A small international force was slowly assembled outside the city, numbering just over 100 troops. They made their way into the hornets nest at night, protected by several armored personnel carriers (tanks without cannons) and waited there for the survivors. Unfortunately, some American forces were being held hostage, and were unable to make their way to the rescue vehicles.

Before dusk, the vehicles pulled out, leaving behind numerous American troops. Some ran along behind the convoy, yelling "Wait! Wait!" as they were fired on from behind. President Clinton gave explicit orders to the Chief of Staff at the Pentagon NOT to remount another rescue mission. 18 brave men lost their lives in this failed mission. The next day videotape was released to the world showing bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets, spat upon, and degraded.

Here is the deal. I have mentioned this before. When you say the word "war," it means total commitment. Not until 18 soldiers die, and not until 4,000 troops die. Those men should not have been left behind. The commander in chief needs to have the wherewithal, the courage, the fortitude, the tenacity, to see a war through to its end, with the only acceptable result as victory. Our next president also needs the wisdom to make choices on when and where to commit our troops.

Freedom is never free. Our freedom comes with a price. We are in a war right now. You and I. Right here. Right now. Every day. But we don't even see or recognize it.

The war I speak of is spiritual. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12 "The believers continued to devote themselves to what the apostles were teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to times of prayer." Acts 2:42

Is the war we are engaged in recognized in your life? You are on the front lines, like it or not.

armchair coach
amateur historian

Friday, October 10, 2008

Morning Prayer

Morning Prayer

Last week I was getting ready for work early one morning. As I was putting on my socks and shoes, Mikey, my 65 pound dog, started crying, because she did not want me to leave. I looked at her with compassion and went over to her and gave her a big hug and pressed my head against hers. She did not understand why I had to go to work, just that I was leaving, once again.

As I drove to work that day, I reflected upon the mornings events. I realized that in one way, I was a little bit like Mikey when it comes to the Lord, in that I do not understand the big picture, and at times, I get morose over events that are beyond my control. So, I cry out to Him and He comforts me through His Holy Spirit, although most of the time I am so blind and filled with tunnel vision of my surroundings I do not see the love that is waiting for me.

As I drove, I continued to pray the following prayer:

Dear Lord,

Please make me like Mikey, and Snoopy, may he rest in peace, that I may be without guile, and do what is right in Your sight.

Help me to rejoice at Your appearance, with love and affection and adoration, with jumping and great shouts of joy.

Help me to follow You and as Mikey follows me.

Help me to long for Your appearance.

Help me to see clearly, that I may not be troubled.

Thank you for these wonderful, beautiful companions, and their example of love towards me.

Most of all, let me be Yours, oh Lord. Let me be Yours.