Archive for May, 2010

One employee’s take on the how the gulf oil spill happened

60 minutes interviews a survivor of the rig that started it all. I find his story a little dramatic, but if what he says is accurate there should be criminal charges against BP. 

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More and more I’m beginning to think society has seriously decayed

I’m not a culture warrior.  I’m not sitting in my chair fretting about how gay marriage is going to undermine society.  I don’t support the rallies or the organizations that are trying to inject Judeo-Christian values in to our government.  I do however see the impact of an ever increasing culture of greed, selfishness, deceit and dishonesty.  I’ve been consuming a steady diet of commentators point out very plainly how corrupt our finance industry is.  Right now I don’t trust the markets at all, that game is rigged hard.

I read something of of a curve ball today.  Apparently there is quite the culture of corruption the American agency charged with regulating the offshore oil industry. 

The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General released a report this morning indicating as much. At one Gulf Coast office of MMS, agency officials attended sporting events on the dime of oil companies, stored porn on company computers, used cocaine and crystal meth, and falsified inspection reports. (The above links go directly to the relevant pages in the report, thanks to our ever-handy document viewer.)

Read whole article here

When I think about this and then I think about the environmental and economic devastation wrought by the the current oil leak I get mad.  The decoupling of our society from traditional morals and ethics has been disastrous.  Dishonesty and corruption siphon off the productivity of our economy and destroy our inheritance of resources. 

I’m not arguing that increasing the influence of the church would fix things.  The church is just as much as this as anything else in society.  We are part of the corruption.  We have taken the values of consumerism and individualism and spiritualized them.  When the hollow shell of all this unsustainable living and ponzi finance collapses it will take  much of churchianity with it. 

We need the golden rule…treat others in the same way you want to be treated.  At the very least we need to stop screwing each other over and lying to ourselves.  Karl Denninger at Market Ticker often makes the point that the math doesn’t lie.  The math is America is broke, and Europe is even more broke.  We have very elaborate systems that convince us that we can get something for nothing but in our great circle of life the only thing free in this world is the energy from the sun.  The adjustment to this reality is going to be very difficult.  We have built up programs, institutions, facilities and systems on the assumption that we will have ever expanding resources of energy, finance and labour.  While math doesn’t lie, neither does geology

The first crunch will likely be economic.  Europe is teetering, and while it is has been a fascinated ride watching our politicians levitate the economy on borrowed money, it will eventually run out.  When it does things are going to get tough.  All borrowing does is pull forward consumer demand.  Everything I borrow now I have to payback later, and because I’m paying it back later I’m not buying anything later.  So the people who produced something for me to buy won’t get any business from me in the future.  What happens when I can’t borrow anymore?  I can’t buy anything now or later, or I declare bankruptcy and someone else eats the loss and can’t buy anything either. 

The next crunch will be in energy.  Increasingly it takes more and more energy to pull energy from the ground.  That means less energy to go around.  No one knows for sure, but by around 2012-2014 no amount of “drill baby drill” will be able to pull out enough energy to meet demand.  At that point the world has to relocalize as our society cleanses itself of SUVs, California strawberries in winter and short term mission trips.  If the economic crunch hasn’t happened yet, it will happen at this point.

Mixed in with that will be the impact of climate change.  Over the last little while we’ve enjoyed a lull in solar irradiance.  That means the heat we get from the sun has dipped for a little bit and muted the impact of all those green house gasses.  Now it looks like the sun has shifted back in to higher gear and El Nino has belched up a mess load of stored heat in the pacific.  It looks like 2010 is going to be the hottest year on record.  So much for the climate skeptics “global cooling theory.”  Our traditional climate patterns will be upset.  Some places will benefit while more will not. 

We live in interesting times.

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The European Debt Crisis Explained

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Saskatoon is the 2nd Smartest City in Canada!

Check it out here.  I’m not sure what I’m more happy about, that we came in second or that we beat Regina…oh and Winnipeg.  Boy did we ever beat Winnipeg.

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More dirt on organic church

One of themes going around the interwebs these days is this article: The dirt on organic.  It is the reflections of someone who started organic churches but ended up going back to being a pastor in a regular church.  Some of his points are:

  • The project wasn’t a smashing success because it didn’t continually multiply disciples and churches
  • It is impossible for someone to to lead a house church without getting paid
  • Smaller churches are often a bigger mess
  • Outreach can get ahead of leadership development, scaling back out reach doesn’t seem organic

Neil Cole has responded here

I have a few thoughts myself. 

Success in church life, even organic church life, isn’t the continual reproduction of new churches.  The call is to make disciples.  There will be an ebb and flow to this.  Sometimes you are spending a lot of your resources on binding the wounded or equipping the immature and less on finding more people to do the same thing with.  The idol of organizational success leads us to think that we are successful when we have lots of numbers to talk about.  Our first church in the SeedLife network went from 5 to around 20 in the first year, but has grown much slower since.  The reason?  We had all we could handle at the time.  I’ve needed time to learn and grow as a leader.  As things grow we have to figure out how to do things with more people involved.

I’m not a big fan of the pie in the sky rapid church multiplication goal.  It is too narrow and it isn’t consistent with even the best examples of sustainable church growth.  The early church and the church in China probably grew about 10% a year. 

Real ministry happens one person at a time, because we don’t have the capacity to love and deeply invest in 10 new people a year.  What really matters is God and His kids.  If have a group of 20 people and 5 of them are in real rough shape you have an opportunity to make a real difference.  If you skip over these people to find more you are skipping love and discipleship for organization success.

It is possible to lead a church a not get paid if you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many people or less effective complicated mediums of ministry.

I doubt smaller churches aren’t a bigger mess, they are often safe enough for people to let their mess show.  I must admit I am surprised at how broken church people can be and how much we are tempted to cover up that brokenness for the sake of appearances.

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Leighton shuts out Habs for second straight game

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A safer way to browse the internet is OpenDNS

If you are looking for a very simple way to speed up your  browsing and avoid some of the garbage online check out OpenDNS.  DNS is the system where by names like graceworks.ca or cbc.ca get mapped in to internet addresses.  Without DNS browsing the web using names would be impossible.  Most of the time your computer will use your ISP’s dns servers but you can opt for another option.  OpenDNS works much like your ISP, except it offers filtering and other features that you can configure.  The basic account is free.

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From "Lay your burdens down"

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Vancouver’s hockey team isn’t the Canucks

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The dirty little secret is the world has no money

The money quote here is "The dirty little secret is the world has no money and the emperor has no clothes." While that statement is a bit of an exaggeration the truth is a lot of the money being spent right now is borrowed or printed out of thin air. Much of it has flowed to the big US investment banks which in turn have bid up the stock market. It is my impression that there is now so much corruption and fraud and games being played that it is impossible to make sense of what is going on. People really don’t understand how much debt the industrialized countries of the world have.

If we look at Greece, the current flash point for financial troubles it owes $400 billion dollars and all the economic activity in the whole country adds up to $350 billion.  The government collects about $110 billion a year in taxes.  To put this all in to perspective let me translate what these numbers would mean for a household.

Say Mr and Mrs Greece earned $65000 a year and they spent $85000 this year.  They on track to add another $20000 on top of the  the $236 000 they owe.   In the last year their employer cut their pay by 2%.   That $236 000 isn’t a mortgage borrowed against a house they can sell.  Loaning out that much money to someone who already has a lot debt is risky business so people naturally want a higher interest rate.  Right now the rate on Greek 10 year bonds is well over 10 percent.  If all that money was paid back over 25 years that would be like making a $2100 monthly payment on $5400 of income. 

Greece isn’t the only problem country, if we were to apply the same analogy to other countries it would like this:

  Revenue Expenses Debt
Portugal  65000 76000 124000
Italy 65000 68000 155000
Spain 65000 82000 96000
Ireland 65000 78000 37000
UK 65000 89000 144000
US 65000 108000 370000
Canada 65000 69000 59000

See any other problem countries in this list?  Any glaring problems with debt spending? 

This analogy doesn’t capture the whole story because some countries like Spain have high levels of privately held debt which isn’t counted here.  The numbers here are government revenue and government debt.  It doesn’t take in to account the total revenue of a nation.  If the United States government made $65000 then the entire revenue of the whole country would be $441000.  There is no way the US Government can pay back their debts without raising taxes. 

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