Moving

September 18, 2011

I have been wanting to start a second blog on technology issues that do not fit within the purpose of this blog. In doing that I have hoped to find a way of displaying the two blogs both separately (for those interested in only one or the other) and aggregated (for those interested in both). I have found blogging software that will do that (b2evolution), which I have installed on my own site.

Consequently, I am in the process of moving this blog to my own site, http://marshall-va.com/. On an ongoing basis Things that Matter can be found at http://marshall-va.com/blog/ttm.php, and everything will be at my new blog home page, http://marshall-va.com/blog/. I have copied existing posts to the new site (unfortunately, comments are not so readily transferred). I hope to meet you there soon!


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

February 15, 2011

Probably you have heard of—if not seen—the ongoing Jeopardy contest in which man once again faces a machine, this time an IBM computer named Watson. Much is being said about the match and its implications. But I was struck with something that I read in the computer trade press today:

Operating on a single CPU, it could take Watson 2 hours to answer a single question. A typical “Jeopardy” contestant can accomplish this feat in less than 3 seconds. For Watson to rival the speed of its human competitors in delivering a single, precise answer to a question requires custom algorithms, terabytes of storage and thousands of Power7 computing cores working in a massively parallel system. (eWeek)

Massive it is! The photographs of Watson are striking. All to match the power of a single human brain.

When I read this, a verse of Scripture came immediately to mind. Addressing the Lord, David writes

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14)

Let’s chew on that.


Medical Advances

July 4, 2009

I found this AP article entitled Los Angeles Hospital Gets Rep for “Raising Dead” to be interesting. Underneath the sensationalism and strange language—for example, what does it mean to be “basically dead” if you are not actually dead?—there seems to be a genuine medical advance. Persons are being resuscitated who formerly would have been deemed to be beyond help. A UCLA expert referred to in the article, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Gerald Buckberg, is quoted as saying,

[T]he window is wide open to new thinking … We can salvage [persons who hearts have quit beating] way beyond the current time frames that are used. We’ve changed the concept of when the heart is dead permanently.

It seems that this could have significant implications for medical ethics, including possibly decisions made regarding organ donations.


Christmas 2008

December 24, 2008

Wexford Carol

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son.
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born.

The night before that happy tide,
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town.
But mark right well what came to pass;
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall.

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep,
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear.
Arise and go, the angels said,
To Bethlehem, be not afraid,
For there you’ll find, this happy morn,
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born.

With thankful heart and joyful mind,
The shepherds went the babe to find;
And as God’s angel had foretold,
They did our Saviour Christ behold.
Within a manger he was laid,
And by his side a virgin maid,
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar,
Directed by a glorious star;
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay.
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay,
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved Son.

This is an old Irish carol that is said to date from about the 12th century. I discovered it only last week, when I heard it on a newly purchased Christmas CD. I commend it to you.

May you have a blessed Christmas and new year.


Thanksgiving

November 27, 2008

A Psalm for Thanksgiving

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

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