Saturday, December 25, 2004

English weather; xbox theology


It's sunny! And warm!

I am of course not referring to the weather in Washington. I'm down in Southern California for Christmas. I flew in to John Wayne last night, and stayed with my brother David for the night. Then in the morning, I got some last-minute Christmas shopping done at South Coast Plaza--first time I've been there; it's nice--and then we picked up my other brother, Josh, and drove up to Tehachapi2 where my parents live. They just got a new puppy. She's a chocolate brown Lab, named Cocoa. Very cute. Her leg is broken, so she has a cast on, which makes her puppyish blundring all the cuter.

I have the best family in the world! We can all hang out together and argue about discuss certain passages of scripture without anyone getting offended at one another3. That's not the only reason they're the best, but the ability to disagree, and yet still be able to communicate with a desire to understand4 and not just make your veiw understood is high on my I feel like I can be myself with these people-ometer (which is quite fortunate, considering).

Yes, yes, I can see all the comments now, "Tim, you need to become less argumentative... blah, blah, blah". I acknowledge that most people find me argumentative and I actively try to be more 'nice'. However, I enjoy pointing out subtleties and counterpoints. I think my sense of humor and appreciation is built around nuances and seeming contradictions. This doesn't necessasrily mean that I disagree with whatever I happen to be challenging; it's more like sparring, and it invites retort. I don't think you can truely understand something, especially your own belief, until you have subjected it to a round of attacks. The fact that logical angles of attack exist means nothing; what matters is how well it withstands those attacks. By probing at your argument, I am seeking to understand its intricacies. I am also not afraid to change my position when I see that I have been wrong. I think I'm better at living out the 2nd half of Proverbs 9:8 than following the advice of the 1st half.

I meant to blog earlier; in fact I set aside time to do so, but other things came up. I think one of the reasons I can tolerate my roommate's more annoying attributes is the fact that we can argue and disagree, and neither of us gets upset. I particularly enjoy our theological debates, in which we usually find after the initial barrage, that we fundamentally agree on most points.

Casey's xbox and sound system are also nice to have around. I've gotten into Halo a bit. He used to work at the Redmond Devil, so he got all of his xbox stuff for free (the system and 8 or 9 games, along with several controllers). We had a halo party at my house on Monday evening. There were 8 of us on 3 xboxes. We started with Halo, and then switched to Halo 2. It was the 2nd time I'd played Halo at all, and I finally worked out a control setup that fits me: I'm a Lefty Greenthumb6. The only disadvantage to this setup is that the jump button is on the same side of the controller as the moving controls, so it's hard to run and jump (at the same time).
What made my house ideal for the Halo party is the digital projector. An xbox can output HDTV-quality picture, and my projector has the resolution to handle that beautifully.

I'm reading a book called The Story of English, and enjoying it thoroughly. I've always loved etymologies7, and this is like an etymology of the whole language8. One thing they point out about English is the fact that it has by far the most words of any language in existence. This is partly due the fact that the British isles were repeatedly invaded by attackers who settled in with the natives, merging lexicons, and so there are often several different ways to say the same thing. The variety of options allows for the possibility of subtleties, undertones, and connotations (which are incidentally three ways to say basically the same thing, but convey slightly different shades of thought). English also does not have a protectivist organization to insulate it from outside influences (as does French), which has insured that it remains a living language, useful as a medium of new ideas and cutting-edge technologies. This, as well as centuries of British and American global hegemony, commerce and war have made English the global language.

Certainly at one level I'm rooting for my language, and enjoying its success much like a sports fan, but this book is not at all about how English is inherently better or best. It's more a journalistic report on what has happened, how it happened, the contributing factors, and the consequences.

Quote of the day:
"Everyone should speak English or just shut up, that's what I say!" - Calvin.

1A sigh of contentment, as opposed to 'Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah', a scream of agony.
2Pronounced 'te-ha-cha-pee'
3Anna had gone to bed at this point, and Becky is with her parents.
4And possibly reconcile the two, concede, or reconcile the two points of view by clarification of the understandings behind what is said.
5Which is very fortunate, considering
6For the record: I am right-handed, and have only successfully kept one plant alive in my care.
7The stories of how words came to be as they are.
8Just another instance of my insatiable desire to understand how things work.