Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Babies and Tools 

Katie loves tools. I think they're her favorite thing, except maybe Veggie Tales. Right now she's playing with my brand new Cable Tacker. Don't worry, it's still in the Lucite they encase everything in these days. What's with that stuff? It used to be just little things, like a $15 Walkman, would be put into that molded plastic stuff that you need a blowtorch to remove. Now everything's in it, it seems- larger and larger items all the time. It's very annoying. I hate that stuff. Anti-theft I guess. That means I hate thieves even more for making it necessary to encase all commercial items from $5 to $500 in inconveniently large packages of impenetrable Astronaut-grade polycarbons.

The next question you may be asking is, what do I need a cable tacker for? And the answer, naturally, is that I have cable to tack. Not right now, maybe, but eventually. Everyone needs a cable tacker. What, you say you don't have one? Well I say to you, RUN, don't walk, to your local Lowe's and buy one now. You never know when you're going to be hit with a cable-tacking emergency.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Haier America 

Haier America is the WORST company in the country. NEVER NEVER NEVER buy their products. There, I said it. Haier's actually a Hong Kong company, and I don't know whether they're the worst company in Hong Kong or not. But let's not split hairs. I'm venting.

I was hesitant to say anything for some time, because I thought perhaps they'd do a web search on their company, or my name, or my name plus their company, read this review and my criticism, and be even slower to help me, though I think the only way they could be being less helpful would be by coming by the house and slashing my tires or something. Also, I'm pretty sure that the people I'm dealing with don't know how to use their own phones, so probably using Google's a bit of a stretch for them.

Anyway, I bought a certain Haier appliance, a compact washer-dryer combo unit, which was very cool in theory as it did both washing and drying in one drum. It was slow, and low-capacity, but very easy to use and did a good job cleaning the clothes. And you didn't have to take stuff out of the washer and put it in the drier. It was all one unit. Cool. It's the XQG50-11 unit, which I include so people might find this article in a Google search if they're considering buying this product, and hopefully reconsider.

Except it wasn't cool, actually, because after four months or so it stopped drying. What has followed has been a year of call-center hell. After I don't know how many hours on the phone, three months after it stopped working, they finally just broke down and replaced the unit. After another few months, it did exactly the same thing. Their tech support center also did exactly the same thing, not returning calls, not telling me anything useful when I got them on the phone, and worst of all, not fixing the machine.

I am currently trying to convince them to just give me a refund. Actually, I should say that I am demanding it. That has appeared to increase my bargaining power. They said, as all corporations do, that they never ever give refunds. A tip for dealing with large corporations- they very frequently claim to never give refunds. This is always a lie. All companies give refunds, when faced with the possibility of losing a lawsuit.

The key to success with corporate call centers in general is to get the direct line to someone who cares about doing their job right (rare) or who has power in the organization, and bugging them until they fix your problem just to get you to go away. Relying on the random person who picks up the phone from the queue is spitting into the wind. Just dial into the general line and immediately ask for the name and direct extension of their supervisor. With enough insistence, they'll eventually give it to you.

NEVER NEVER NEVER buy Haier products. They look cool, and are creatively designed, but they don't work, and Haier won't do anything about it.


Haier has agreed to give me an 80% refund. Their logic is, I did get some use out of the machine, and am therefore not eligible to get all my money back.

It worked for three months before it died. So that's 20% of the expected use of the machine in their book? Therefore, they expect their machine to last 15 months before being worthless.

Don't deal with this company. They're crooks.

Friday, March 26, 2004

The Richard Clarke Testimony 

Still wondering what to think of Richard Clarke? Check out Lileks, or Powerline. Between the two of them, it should be pretty obvious.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I'm Back 

I'm back from Classis, and I am licensed to preach. I sustained my examinations. One more hurdle finished. Thanks for all your prayers.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Traveling again 

Well I'm off again, this time to Lincoln, Nebraska. It's our Classis meeting for my denomination, the RCUS. I am going to be examined for licensure at that meeting. I've been working hard preparing for that for a long time now, so it'll be a big weight off when it's done. I'll be back Thursday or so, and I'll let you know how it went.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Dick Cheney on the war, Bush and Kerry 

I think one of the best things about Bush is the great men with which he has surrounded himself. Cheney's got a great speech here. An excerpt:
Sen. Kerry speaks often about the need for international cooperation, and has vowed to usher in a "golden age of American diplomacy." He is fond of mentioning that some countries did not support America's actions in Iraq. Yet of the many nations that have joined our coalition--allies and friends of the United States--Sen. Kerry speaks with open contempt. Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland and more than 20 other nations have contributed and sacrificed for the freedom of the Iraqi people. Sen. Kerry calls these countries, quote, "window dressing." They are, in his words, "a coalition of the coerced and the bribed."

Many questions come to mind, but the first is this: How would Sen. Kerry describe Great Britain--coerced, or bribed? Or Italy--which recently lost 19 citizens, killed by terrorists in Najaf--was Italy's contribution just window dressing? If such dismissive terms are the vernacular of the golden age of diplomacy Sen. Kerry promises, we are left to wonder which nations would care to join any future coalition. He speaks as if only those who openly oppose America's objectives have a chance of earning his respect. Sen. Kerry's characterization of our good allies is ungrateful to nations that have withstood danger, hardship, and insult for standing with America in the cause of freedom.

I like that- If Kerry's so pro-diplomacy, why does he go around insulting our best allies?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Bill Whittle is a Genius 

Read his latest.

Richard Brookhiser on Terrorism in Europe 

Great article. Thanks to The Corner for the link.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Hugh Hewitt on Kerry's foreign leaders 

Hugh Hewitt has a good analysis on the situation with Kerry's claim to have the support of foreign leaders, whom he will not name, and whom he apparently could only have met via astral projection or something.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The Spanish Election 

The news is in- Spain has overwhelmingly voted against Jose Marie Aznar, one of our staunchest allies in the war on terror, in favor of a socialist government. The reports say that they did this over anger at Aznar for getting them involved in the Iraq war, and thus making them the targets of this recent attack that killed nearly 200 of their citizens. If this is true, it means that the terrorists have succeeded in influencing an election, which is a very bad thing. Instapundit has lots of different reactions from the blogosphere- take a look.

The polls said that Aznar's party was running a little bit behind even before the attacks, but after the attacks, he lost huge, by a wide margin. Some say this was a backlash against Aznar's apparent attempt to bolster his political position by blaming the attack on the ETA, the Basque terrorist group, rather than Al-Qaeda, even after evidence started to come in blaming Al-Qaeda. But it's hard to think that such a thing could have swung the electorate so much against him.

It appears very much as if the Spanish population, that was against Spain's involvement in the war, has responded to the attack against them in a cowardly fashion- running away from the fight. It also appears very much, that as Volokh is saying, this is all the more reason that we shouldn't allow other countries to determine our foreign policy. The terrorists could then stop us just by cowing a weak link like Spain has turned out to be.

If Spain thinks that their bargain with the devil will save them, they are mistaken. If the terrorists actually succeed in destroying America, which they never will, they will come for all the weaklings and cowards next. The Islamists and fascists will not rest until the world is theirs, or they are dead. There were many who thought that enough of them could be persuaded by force that their fight was futile, that they would never win. The Spanish people just made that case even harder to make. They made it harder for us to win this war any other way than the unilateral use of overwhelming force.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Saddleback Church 

So, as I said, I went to Saddleback Church over the weekend. I'll probably make some people mad right now, like the 25,000 people that go there. Yes, all those zeros are there on purpose. Twenty five thousand. Like I said, I'll probably make a lot of people mad. But oh well, it's never stopped me before.

Saddleback Church is located in Irvine, CA. It is pastored by Rick Warren, the author of Purpose Driven Life, which I reviewed here. The campus on which it is located is gorgeous. There are probably 15 or 20 buildings on the campus, some of which are quite large and none of which resemble a church. The landscaping is immaculate and the parking is well laid out. The buildings are tasteful, mostly in a kind of modern Spanish architecture, I suppose. I don't know much about architecture, though, so I could be wrong. There was also a cafe at which I was charged a dollar for a smallish cup of average-tasting coffee.

Saddleback Church is a seeker-sensitive church. One of the things that this means is that the church service should be as unintimidating as possible. Saddleback accomplishes this by making the church service bear little resemblance to a church service. As such, there is no benediction, no salutation, no liturgy. There is, in fact, no prayer. That's right, no prayer. In an hour and a half, Pastor Rick never once addressed the Lord. He said "let's pray" at the end of his message, but he then addressed us, telling us things we should remember and telling us to pray a certain prayer, but he himself never actually led us in prayer. Perhaps people find corporate prayer intimidating?

Likewise, in the hour-long message, there was no mention of sin, forgiveness of sin, the holiness of God, the law of God or any such thing. There was Scripture reading, and a text for the sermon, but I'm afraid the text was rather badly abused. Rick ignored elements of the text that would be inconvenient for the point he was trying to make, and I'm sure nobody noticed because I didn't see a Bible in the place. The Bible verses were all on the handout we got, and were also flashed on one of the five humongous screens at the front of the worship center. There wasn't much attempt to actually help us understand what the text said; rather, the text was used as a prop for Rick to make the points he wanted to make- rather like the Purpose Driven Life. Rick was dressed comfortably in slacks and a Hawaiian shirt, not drawing attention to his office as pastor at all.

What he did draw attention to, on the other hand, was himself and his spirituality. There were three references in the sermon to his personal high level of spirituality. There was also a few references to Saddleback's ongoing programs and its size. One of the assistant pastors (I think that's who it was), said "Saddleback is the best church in America!" So, quite a lot of self-promotion. Apparently people don't find that intimidating.

It was thoroughly Arminian, as well. All about us, our choice, we have to do it, God's not in control, just REALLY REALLY hoping that we'll listen. He took one of the best texts for understanding God's sovereignty in salvation, the parable of the sower and the soils (Luke 8), and said that it taught about different attitudes that we could have that would prevent us from hearing the voice of God. You might think that the part where Jesus says that the parable teaches that some are able to hear his teachings because it is given to them, but to some it is not given (Luke 8:10) might be awkward for his message, but no matter- he just skipped that verse. Never read it. You might wonder how bad soil is supposed to change itself to good soil, when the result of being bad soil is an inability to respond meaningfully to the message of truth, but don't worry. Rick's got the answer. Bad soil turns itself into good soil by turning off the cell phone, scheduling a date with God, and getting involved in programs at Saddleback.

Scheduling a date with God, huh? Actually, my big takeaway from the message was that Rick thinks God's like a woman. If you don't talk to God, God won't talk to you. And it's no good just giving God the scraps of your time. If God's not important enough to you to really make time for her him, then he just won't think that he's important to you, and he'll just clam up. Make time for God. Show him you care. During the service, I could just envision God stamping his foot, and saying, "you don't really care!" You could have replaced God with Your Significant Other, and it would have been pretty decent relationship advice.

But Rick might want to read Amos 4, just to name the first one that popped into my head. He might discover that God will indeed talk to you even if you don't listen, though you might not much like what He's got to say.

I'm sure Rick would tell me that all of the serious teaching goes on in small groups. That's the typical seeker-sensitive church growth kind of model. But Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and they follow me." We shouldn't be afraid of scaring people away from church with the truth. The truth of the gospel will not scare away God's sheep. Anyone looking for Jesus' voice in that particular service wouldn't have heard much of Jesus (though they would have seen him, or James Caviezel anyway, on the big screen). Mostly, the voice I heard there was that of Rick Warren.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Los Angeles 

LA is huge. Way too big.

It just goes on and on. Traffic is terrible. I don't know how people live there. Unless it's the great beaches, mountains, weather and all the many activities there are there. And great shopping. I understand that's really important to some people.

But the smog, crime, traffic, and America-hating socialist government more than cancel all of that out to me. I could only see enjoying LA if I was really rich. They actually have a freeway called the "Santa Ana Freeway". Is that actually named after the Mexican general who attacked the Alamo? Amazing.

Also they have barbed wire around their freeway signs, to discourage graffiti. That was kind of surreal.

But the MacArthur conference was great. It was really encouraging to be in the presence of three thousand or so Baptist pastors, all committed to the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture and the sovereignty of God. Yes, they're wrong about Baptism (IMHO), but I came to understand their position a good deal better. I also came to understand that the basic issue between Reformed Baptists and Reformed Reformed is the issue of continuity- that is, how much continuity do you see between the Old and New Testaments? We see more continuity, though not absolute continuity. They have a presumption of discontinuity, though not absolute discontinuity. That explains pretty much all of the differences between Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians- Baptism, church government and eschatology.

But like I said, it was great. I got a lot of great counseling resources, they gave away a lot of books and I met a lot of peope. Also, RC Sproul was there, and he's always a hoot. He's recently had a sort of stroke, so he wasn't quite as animated as he used to be. But he was great.

It's not named after the Mexican general. The town that the freeway goes through is called Santa Ana, named after Saint Anne, according to Kevin in the comments.

This Is Very Telling 

Check out this story- apparently some leftists think that the American flag and eagle are linked with President Bush. Patriotism in their minds is a feature of the Right, and not the Left?

I agree.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Kerry's foreign support 

I guess Kerry's been saying that foreign leaders want him to beat Bush in the election. He won't name names.

You know, I'd think that the meaning of that statement depends rather heavily on which foreign leaders. If it were Kim Jong Il or the Iranian Mullahs, or even Jacques Chirac, then I don't think it's something Kerry would be bragging about. If America's enemies want Kerry to win (oops, did I just say France was our enemy?), what should America want?

Back from Sodom and Gommorah 

Hi all!

I'm back from LA. I am still decompressing (decomposing?) from my trip, but soon I'll be coming back at you with lots of bloggy goodness. I have all sorts of devastatingly perceptive insights on John MacArthur (+), Saddleback Church (-), LA traffic (---) and beaches (+++). So check back soon!

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

New sermon 

The first sermon on Acts 2 and Pentecost is uploaded. It's on the subject of the Spirit working unity. Link is on the sidebar. Enjoy!

Dirty Car II 

So now I don't wash my car as often as I used to.

Someone said to Andrea the other day, "you can really tell Matt lives in Limon now. His car used to always be sparkly and clean, and now it's dirty all the time like everyone else's."


From devotions this morning 

Psalm 78:66, in the King James- "And He smote His enemies in the hinder parts: He put them to a perpetual reproach."

Wow. "Hinder parts".

All the other versions translate that "beat them back", instead of "beat them in their backside".

That's why I use the King James.

Well Then 

I will not be around for a bit. Off to California for a conference. So, you'll just have to make your way without me. Who knows, though. Perhaps I'll get an internet connection somewhere and do a little bit. I keep hearing about these things called "hot-spots".

I bought the big Evanescence CD tonight. I forget what it's called, but you know the one, that sounds like Enya doing Metallica covers. If that's your thing, go for it. It's really cool, but kind of exhausting- the emotional range goes from quiet despair to melancholic despair all the way through raging despair. So, you know, after that for awhile, maybe you need to break out Wham or something. I'm not saying me, but maybe you.

Well, have a fun time of it, anyway.

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