Pseudorandom Bits

A backwater in the vast ocean of thought

  • Pseudorandom?

    The Web is made of bits. Here are some of my bits, added to those other bits. Bits of information, bits of my thoughts, bits of others' thoughts. Maybe they seem a bit random, but, who knows?

    "There must be some bits here somewhere."

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  • About blogging

    "If you have a computer and can fog a mirror, you can post anything on the Internet." - Lars Mahinske
  • "You can see by my outfit that I am a blogger. If you buy an outfit, you can be a blogger, too!" (With not many apologies to "The Cowboy's Lament" and The Smothers Brothers.)
  • "We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." - Robert Silensky
  • Link-by date

    Links to sites were good at the time they were posted, but they may have gone stale. If a link is broken, you might try searching the appropriate web site or using a web search engine.
  • Viewer caution

    Since some links are to news, commentary, or other sites, some content may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
  • You should know

    Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 (NASB)
  • But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NASB)
  • "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36

Archive for November, 2007

I Like Mike!

Posted by Mike on November 25, 2007

Mike Huckabee, that is, a presidential candidate who is rapidly gaining ground in Iowa leading up to the Iowa caucuses in January.

He is conservative and would make a much better president than many others who are running, man or woman. He has conservative views that haven’t been acquired just recently. He has been a governor, so he has experience running a government, unlike some other contenders. He is also a man of integrity, which puts him ahead of several others, in my opinion.

Please consider supporting Mike Huckabee.

Go, Mike!

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Witness

Posted by Mike on November 24, 2007

I read the book “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers many months ago, or rather listened to it as an audio book. It is quite interesting to read, even though it is fairly lengthy. I think the audio book helped me make it through some of the less interesting parts, and kept me looking forward to the key sections of the book.

Chambers makes many insightful observations, and the whole book is worth reading.

However, the Forward by itself is well worth taking the time to read, and I’d encourage you to find just that section and read it carefully. There are a few versions on the Internet in various conditions of correctness. (Most seem to have been scanned and converted to text, though not without problems.)

Chambers was involved with Communist spying, etc., in the U.S. in the 1930s through sometime in the 1950s. The Alger Hiss trial had Chambers as a key witness. Another key player in the Hiss case was Richard Nixon, as a lawyer and senator from California. Nixon came to believe that Chambers was telling the truth, and supported Chambers’ claims.

In college, some number of years back, I met Alger Hiss, or at least stood 10 or so feet away and listened to him defend himself. I didn’t know much about Hiss then, and for a naive guy from Wyoming, he presented and carried himself very well, was tall and distinguished looking, spoke well and convincingly, and truly seemed a gentleman who would make a nice neighbor. I wonder whether he had been covering himself for so long that maybe he did believe most of what he claimed.

The physical contrast between the tall and slender Hiss, and the shorter and “stockier” Chambers could be compared with Mutt & Jeff or Abbott &Costello. In that comparison alone, Chambers had the uphill battle for acceptance. Chambers was not as polished as Hiss was outwardly, although he was more than a match otherwise.

Chambers eventually realized that Communism isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and he broke from the party, and became a voice for freedom. His book tells his account of growing up and moving into communism, then discovering what was really going on and breaking from the party. The book’s title should be interpreted in more than one way.

Chambers moved his family to the countryside of Connecticut for safety reasons. He also suffered in various ways because of leaving communism, and trying to convince people personally and legally about what had happened.

Communism sometimes sounds great, but like a lot of other “isms” that try to direct people’s lives, it misses a key point of the human condition. Humans are sinners, and communism is unable to handle that. The people at the top, as well as at the bottom, are sinners. The leaders in communism are well off, and the bulk of society is treated very poorly. It isn’t a matter of how well communism is implemented, it just won’t work without taking our sinful condition into account. No system of government or commerce is perfect, but some have a better foundation and goal than others.

Anyway, please read the Forward. Substitute “Humanism” or “Humanistic Materialism” for “Communism”, and “Christianity” for “democracy” (and similar terms), and you’ll find a terrific commentary about the struggle that non-believers are making against Christianity. Of couse, they’ll lose against Christianity, just as Communists will lose against a free and open society.

The Forward is thought provoking, and I belive you’ll benefit in some way.

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Thanks!

Posted by Mike on November 24, 2007

I would like to thank my family and friends for praying for us during my long season without a job. We’re thankful for the encouragement, support, care, concern, and generosity to us during this time. Many people have been a terrific example to me.

This time has also been humbling as I had to face many shortcomings, and realize that I can’t do much, if anything, on my own. I came to realize better that the Bible is correct when it says that we need to rely on God and not ourselves. I also need to remember some of these lessons when I encounter others going through difficult trials.

Thanks especially to my wife, who has gone through some major trials herself during this time. Unfortunately, we sometimes suffer as a consequence of the actions of others, and my wife has persevered through all of this inspite of me. Thanks also to my daughters who have been very supportive and encouraging.

Thanks for rejoicing with them that do rejoice, and weeping with them that weep (Romans 12:15).

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Giving Thanks

Posted by Mike on November 24, 2007

Thursday was Thanksgiving day. We had a nice dinner at a local church that was having a community dinner for anyone who chose to attend. The food was good, and we were able to visit with a couple of families we knew.

Thanksgiving is supposed to remind us of the blessings we have, and to be a time of reflection on what has happened to us over the past year. We should also be reminded that these blessings come from God, without Whom we would have nothing at all. We don’t deserve anything, so whatever we have comes through the mercy and grace of God.

The Bible reminds us to be grateful and thankful to God. Not only does the Bible remind us, but it commands us to praise God and be thankful to Him, because without Him, we would have, and be, nothing.

I was reminded of the doxology:

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The hymn “Count Your Blessings” is one especially appropriate for this
time of year. Of course, there are many hymns that fit this occasion.

Psalm 95:1-3 says:
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

Psalm 100 is a psalm of praise.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

It is interesting to read George Washington’s Thanksgiving proclamation, or Abraham Lincoln’s. It would be hard to find a national politician today who would be willing, or even able, to give the kind of speech that Washington or Lincoln gave. Too bad for us.

Remembering God’s blessings and bounty is something I need to work on more. I tend to take a lot of things for granted, and not be appreciative enough of God and His people for the things I have, both material and otherwise.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and that you realize Who needs to be thanked.

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Hello, world!

Posted by Mike on November 21, 2007

Welcome to my blog. Everyone else seems to have one, so here’s mine. I almost had one going a few years ago, but I stalled out.

Why “Pseudorandom Bits”? To start, look at the left sidebar.

Of course, TheCookieJar was already in use as our family web site, not a blog. happylittlecookie was already taken. according to mike would have been too derivative. Other great names were already in use.

Since I have a background in math, Pseudorandom Bits seemed appropriate, and is the name I was going to use in my first blog a while back. Algorithmically speaking, computers don’t generate true random numbers, but use procedures to simulate a sequence of numbers with appropriate qualities of randomness. (Here’s something to try: The next time you’re in a group of people, ask them to pick a random integer in the range of 1 to 10, or 1 to 100. Odds are that you won’t get many even numbers picked. Even numbers often don’t seem random enough.) My thoughts aren’t really random, either, but who knows what the next one will be?

Please keep watching this site. I may have something to say another time.

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