8 Jan 2009

More borrowing??

Submitted by Paul Brown

Although the current economic downturn has been largely caused by years of excessive consumer and corporate borrowing, our government, with Barack Obama already leading the way, appears ready to attempt to mitigate the crisis by borrowing yet more money. The Congressional Budget Office predicts budget deficits of upwards of a trillion dollars next year, and Obama seems to be angling for a massive "economic stimulus package" that will borrow yet more mountains of money to hand out amongst ourselves.

At the consumer level, I think we are starting to see people realize that borrowing is not a long-term solution to financial woes; instead we are turning to sound financial principles like budgeting and saving. Why is the Federal government going the other way? Do they think that they can keep borrowing forever, propping the economy up on foreign money? Sooner or later the piper will come to be paid, and there will be no one to bail us out.

6 Jan 2009

Reading the Bible in 2009

Submitted by Paul Brown

At the start of 2009, I decided that it would be a good idea to follow a Bible-reading plan this year. Since I was busy last Fall teaching at Regeneration and at youth small group, most of my study and meditation on Scripture ended up being related to whatever teaching assignment I had next. While I'm not sure that this is necessarily wrong, I think it does tend to limit the parts of Scripture that I look at and tends to make my reflection more focused on getting what I need out of the text rather than simply reflecting on it and letting it speak into my life for itself.

The reading plan that I decided to use is the M'Cheyne plan as modified by D.A. Carson. I found a PDF that I was able to print two-sided on a single sheet of paper to fold and stick in my study Bible. It will actually work out to be a two-year plan that will take me through the New Testament twice and once through the Old Testament.

For other Bible-reading plans, see Justin Taylor's roundup. When I went through a plan before, several years ago, I used the Discipleship Journal plan, which, interestingly enough, John Piper has decided to use this year.

31 Dec 2008

I came across an interesting article this morning about the challenges of installing increasing amounts of wind and solar power in the electrical grid. From my vantage point in the power industry, I agree with most of the information in the article. Wind developers are ready to build wind farms all over the place if only they had transmission system access and capacity to be able to deliver the power to consumers. The biggest difficulty with building new transmission lines is siting. No one wants a high voltage transmission line running through their back yard, and because dozens or even hundreds of landowners must acquiesce to the route of a transmission line for it to be built, the process of siting a new line can be quite difficult, and the many zig-zags that can result from going around obstinate land-owners increase the cost and construction time of building a new line.

The article also talks about a "smart grid" that allows demand to be responsive to market prices or system conditions. The technology is definitely there for such an application, but I think it will be difficult to convince distribution companies to change out all the meters that would need to be upgraded to be able to implement the smart grid. Even a small town can easily have thousands of meters, and at costs of hundreds of dollars per meter and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars for the home-base and substation communication equipment, there has to be some substantial financial incentive for them to do so.

One final issue that the article does not mention but which is significant is that the power engineering workforce is limited. My office is as busy as we could be and still hiring aggressively. At a recent seminar that I attended at which there were representatives from a competitor, the joke was that we didn't need to steal work from one another—we needed to steal employees. The power engineering workforce is aging and shrinking, and there are few engineering schools that still have strong power engineering curriculum. Though this may be a detriment to the massive investment in renewable energy that some are calling for, it bodes well for me personally as I am likely to good job prospects even through tough economic times.

24 Dec 2008

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Submitted by Paul Brown

By Charles Wesley

Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

(Listen to samples from Indelible Grace's McCracken/Webb version of this and other Christmas hymns, or view the traditional version in the RUF Hymnbook.)

P.S. Just to clear the air, I do not hate Christmas. I just think it is a mixed bag that is worth sorting through.

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