Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Slippery Slopes and the Letter "P"

I am pretty sure that this post will win me no support among those who willingly go along with every nuance of “popular culture” in its ever-spiraling descent into immorality.  It seems that those who would poke their finger into the eye of their Creator are never satisfied with the present atrocity, but are forever desperately reaching for the next and even more abominable one.  Some will say that the subject matter here is just the old “slippery slope” fallacy, but I would suggest that when one views the terrain above and behind you and then considers that the hill continues down immediately below, it becomes less than a fallacy to predict the trajectory which one finds society to be on.  Certainly, there remains that oh-so-narrow ledge that we are approaching at breakneck speed, upon which we might hope to gain sufficient traction to stop, but the momentum of the slide certainly does not favor halting at any point on the slope.

With that, I would like to claim for myself the honor of at least partially providing the inspiration for an article from one of my favorite writers.  A short time ago, on his blog, Douglas Wilson embedded a boring but provocative video provided by an organization called TEDx, who describes its mission as sharing “ideas worth spreading.”  The video in question is one featuring Mirjam Heine speaking at the University of Würzburg, Germany, wherein she makes the controversial (at least for now) claim that “"pedophilia is a natural sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality."  Doug had correctly titled the video as “Nah, No Slippery Slope Here” but provided no further commentary.  

After viewing the video, I sent the following to him, which he published in his weekly “letters to the editor” post:

“As to the video under the title “Nah, No Slippery Slope Here” in Thursday’s Content Cluster Muster, I suddenly feel like a prophet. Just earlier in the day, I had vocalized to my wife a thought that had been fermenting in my mind for a few days. That thought? If, as the sexual deviants and their cheerleaders on the left keep telling us, people cannot help their sexual preferences and it is hateful to suggest there is anything wrong with them living out their perversions, then how long will it be until pedophiles are the newest darlings of the Democrats? Of course to keep this all “above board” the pedophiles will only be able to officially molest those children who give their consent. As luck would have it, the groundwork for such consent is already being laid, with leftist’s heartily agreeing that 5-year-olds are perfectly capable of deciding they need a sex change. If they are mature enough to make that decision, then the decision to have sex with men in trench coats can hardly be a big deal. LGBTP anyone? And, even more disturbing, how long before apostate Christianity follows suite?”

Doug’s only comment to my letter was, “Yes, slippery slopes are slippery.”  That’s it; no high praise for my insightful comments; no sincere thanks for getting him thinking; not even a “high five” for being a fellow outcast from politically correct society.  Nothing.

So, imagine my delight a couple of weeks later when Doug posted a full-blown article titled “This Cavalcade of Concupiscence” reinforcing my thoughts as well as expanding upon them. Now in reality, I cannot pretend that Doug Wilson took his inspiration from my letter.  Doug has his finger on the pulse of popular immorality more so than a great number of so called Christian leaders of our day, so its quite likely that the seeds of this post were germinating in his mind well before even the video surfaced.  Still, I can wonder if my input played a part, can I not?

With that, I highly recommend that you follow this link to This Cavalcade of Concupiscence” and read Doug Wilson’s treatment of the issue.  Doug’s wordsmithing ability is a thing to behold, and coupled with his firm grasp of biblical principles, most Christians will love his writing with the same fervor that most non-Christians hate it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Under Pressure

[Wow, how time flies when you are busy living life and working for a living.  There have been an untold number of things I have had the urge to write about over the last several months, but could not seem to justify taking the time.  Some of those topics I consider very important, some interesting but not very important, and some perhaps just somewhere in between. This post is definitely not important (in the grand scheme of things), and probably only interesting to a limited audience, but you know what?  I am going to go ahead and write it anyway, if for no other reason than to see if anyone is still paying attention.]

A few weeks ago I had Billy's Iron Head vintage flat track bike here for a little maintenance.  It had been smoking pretty good the last couple times out, and that coupled with the fact that one of the recent races featured extended time spent at 8500 RPM meant it might be due for more than just checking the valve adjustment.  As it turned out everything was in pretty decent shape with only a fresh set of rings required.

Given that I would not have to spend very much time freshening things up, I took the opportunity to fabricate a custom breather system for the bike, something that has been on my "to do" list for some time.

As with most early Sportster engined flat track bikes, Billy's has a magneto and runs without a generator.  Now, having my "druthers" I would love to see the mag mounted in the generator position so it would be out of the way of the pushrods and carb, but that's probably not going to happen any time soon.  So with the generator gone, a gaping hole is left at the front of the motor; easy enough to seal off with a flat plate, but of course that leaves the breather system in a state of chaos.  In stock form, the large diameter washer which resides on the inboard end of the generator serves as as an oil separator allowing excess crankcase pressure to be relieved by way of a tube attached to the cam cover. Without the washer, the breather tube would tend to do a credible impression of the Exxon Valdez (if you youngsters are scratching your head, click on the link for a little history).  Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but without the washer you will get at least some oil out of the breather tube, something most tracks take a dim view of.

But of course you can't then plug off the breather tube unless you're willing to give up a bunch of horsepower and initiate oil leaks from every conceivable joint.  Okay, you got me.  Another slight exaggeration, but only concerning leaks from every joint; that plugging the breather will result in loss of horsepower is a given.  The temporary bandaid that went onto Billy's bike when he showed up with an rebuilt stock replacement engine last year was as simple as it was marginal.  An elbow in the generator block off plate with about  18 inches of 3/8" hose pointing up, along with an in-line PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) type valve topped with a generic plastic automotive fuel filter. In retrospect, perhaps the filter should have been put in place between the fitting and the one way PCV which would have allowed the oil seperated by the filter to drain back into the engine, but its a moot point now.

The actual breather that I came up with was to a large extent  dictated by the scrap aluminum material that I had on hand (keeping in mind mine is an engine shop, not a fabrication shop). What I came up with is shown below.  Keep in mind that I stressed the part about material on hand.  With more to work with, I probably would have built it with the oil separating baffle before the umbrella valves to keep more of the oil in the cam cover rather than transferring to the catch can.  But, ...oh well, the first prototype of anything is seldom the best or final version.There is a drain plug on the bottom of the canister for easy draining, so it shouldn't be a problem anyway.

1st piece -machined a flat plate for a recess and drilled holes for umbrella valves

Umbrella valves installed in plate

Engine side of plate - center hole of each group mounts umbrella valve - other 4 holes for air transfer

The umbrella valves are from a late 80" Evo engine, which uses only two.  I calculated the cross sectional area of the transfer holes to insure that added together they exceed the area of the new breather outlet. Consider this: due to the common crankpin design of the 45 degree V-Twin engine there will be 90 degrees of crankshaft rotation where both pistons are descending in their bores at the same time.  That means that without a "breather" to alleviate the potential pressure, the air/oil mist in the crankcase will need to be compressed, at the price of the horsepower it takes to do the compressing.  As mentioned earlier, pressure will also tend to seek a way out, usually at whatever gasket has the least resistance.

Now, if one is willing to take the time, they might calculate the amount of air displaced by the downward motion of the pistons that needs to be moved through the breather system, and then factor in the amount of time available to do that at, say 7500 RPM and apply that to estimate the needed cross sectional area of the choke point (smallest orifice) in the breather system.  No, I'm not going to do it either, but barring that, it is at least a good idea to increase the size over stock.  The I.D. of a standard 1/8" pipe x 3/8" hose barb fitting is only .265" which calculates to only .055 square inches. That seems awfully small.  The outlet pipe on my completed breather assembly has a 1/2" O.D. (to take a breather filter) with a .380" I.D. for a cross section of .113 square inches, or double the stock size.  Still seems a bit marginal when just looking at the cross section, but it has to be an improvement.  Oh, and by the way, I did calculate the cumulative area of both the baffle(oil separator) holes and the holes at the umbrella valves to be sure they would not be a "choke" point.

Finished assembly

Orientation of umbrella valve plate when assembled

Tack welded in place oil separator inside canister

Installed on bike - breather filter not installed.

Before I go, one other think to consider.  Some of the breather fittings that go onto a Twin Cam motor are ridiculously small.  First of all, the heads are only tapped for a 3/8" - 16 tpi (thread per inch) bolt so there is little to work with (even the smaller cubic inch Evo motors were tapped 1/2" - 13 tpi) but some of the breather fitting that go into those holes have a through diameter of only .145" which works out to a cross sectional area of only .017 square inches per head or .034 for what are often 103 cubic inch or larger engines.  Its a testament to how well all the gaskets and o-ring in the engine work to keep (what I assume to be) all that excess crankcase pressure on the inside.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Goliath Controversy

So there is a controversy concerning Goliath?  Who knew?  And no, this is not about the famous double engine Harley drag bike of the same name...
Some time ago I took the liberty of leaving a comment on Cross Examined, a Christian apologetic blog that I sometimes peruse during lunch.  This site seems to attract an abnormally persistent brand of alleged atheists who seem to have far more spare time than I can dream of, and they use that time to attack everything posted there. 

In the course of a little back and forth in the comments section, I pointed out to a fellow commenter named David that he was named after a man who is known as “a man after God’s own heart.” That seemed to set David (who, for clarity, I will refer to as Dave for the remainder of this post) off into a tirade.  Anyone who has spent time listening to debates between Christians and the “apostles of atheism” (as I like to call them) will be familiar with the common plan of attack: a verbal barrage of every Old Testament action which violates their personal morality.  This form of attack can best be translated as: “God is just a figment of your imagination and I HATE him!”   In fact, this scatter gun approach to argumentation is one that serves them well, both in formal debate settings and comment sections, in that it becomes impossible to answer every charge in the time available (even the self-employed need to limit their lunch break). 

However, Dave ended one of his tirades with this:
“… One additional bit of data Lee, the story of David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17) was not in the original text. It’s just one more piece of propaganda in favor of David and his line. It is demonstrably a later interpolation in the text and contradicts 2 Sam. 21:19. Thankfully, 500 years after the fact, similar to how Fox News shills for Trump, the chronicler shows up to spin David into Goliath’s killer and Elhanan into the killer of Goliath’s brother Lahmi. That’s right, Goliath the Philistine giant with a good Philistine name just like the other Philistine giants had a giant brother with a Jewish name that means “my bread”. LOL!”  - from a comment on the blog post What Christian Parents Should Learn from theNormalize Atheism Movement

Everything else contained in Dave’s comments were standard, run of the mill arguments about the immorality of the Bible which have been answered over and over by better men than me and easily found if one really wants an answer. But I don’t believe that I had ever seen this particular argument before, so wanted to look into it and give an answer (1Peter 3:15).    So, it’s been a long time coming, but I finally took the time to reply to this accusation.

The texts in question, along with 1 Samuel 17, are 2 Samuel 21:15-22 and 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. The claim that 1 Samuel 17 was not in the original text of the Hebrew Tanakh (what we as Christians call the Old Testament), is at best a spurious one, and at worst libelous.  Since the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel were very likely penned by at least several authors (“holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” - 2 Peter 1:21) at the very least one would need to verify at what point the words were gathered into one book before claiming any one part of it to be a later addition.  Nowhere does the Bible make the claim that Samuel himself was the author of the two books which bear his name. A reading of 1 Chronicles 29:29 suggests that the books of 1st & 2nd Samuel were compiled using documents written by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad, which in no way makes it any less inspired sacred scripture.

But of course, the claims of later additions, redactions, or changes nearly always are the opining of self -styled experts who have one thing in common: unbelief. All of their “scholarship” is built upon the presupposition that there is no God, and that the Bible is a collection of fables.  Keywords that reflect the pedigree of their findings include “generally agreed”, “the consensus is”, “scholars agree”, and my personal favorite “according to modern scholarship”.  In fact, Dave’s statement that the description of the battle between David and Goliath as recorded in 1 Samuel 17 “is demonstrably a later interpolation in the text and contradicts 2 Samuel 21:19” is, in itself, a fine example of an interpolation based on a presupposition (if we follow the definition of interpolate as being “to alter or corrupt by inserting new or foreign matter”).  Namely the presupposition that the Bible is not true.  For those of us who side with Jesus Christ in affirming the Old Testament narrative as truth, there is nothing here to suggest a real contradiction, let alone a 2500 year old conspiracy to beef up David’s “street cred.” 
To drill down a little deeper into Dave’s claims, let’s look at the verses which do appear to contain a contradiction.  Keep in mind that I am no scholar and have no training in the original languages, so I am open to honest correction.

Samuel 21:19  And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. 
1Chronicles 20:5  And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.

It is very possible that two simple and understandable transcription errors explain any confusion.  One is that since the Hebrew word for Bethlehem actually contain the word Lahmi, it is easy to see how part of the word Bethlehem could have either been inadvertently left off while being transcribed or not even an error at all but only a shortened version of the word for the town. For example, if a biker tells you they are riding to Daytona in March would you need them to clarify that they mean Daytona Beach Florida or would the context give you enough information to know where he meant?

The Hebrew words in consideration are:
 בֵּית הַלַּחְמִי

And are written in English like this:
lachmiy or Lahmi
beyth hallachmiy or Bethlehem (bold added)
I believe a close look at the first characters of the Hebrew, even when transferred into English letters sheds a lot of light.  Remember, Hebrew reads from right to left unlike English text.

Note that “Bethlehemite” is included in the description of Elhanon in 2 Samuel, but missing from 1 Chronicles.  The description “brother of” is included in 1 Chronicles, but missing from 2 Samuel. It would seem (to me at least) that the best explanation is that 1 Chronicles 20:5 is correct that is was the unnamed brother of Goliath who was slain by Elhanan, but a part of the word Bethlehem was lost in transcription, causing Lahmi to be assumed to be a name rather than a short version of Bethlehem which should have been applied to the description of Elhanon who was from Bethlehem.
As for the missing “brother of” in 2 Samuel 21:19, in Hebrew characters it would look like this:  אָח

A modern example might go something like this; suppose I copied a letter from my great grandfather written to my mother which contained this sentence: “I decided to pay to have my dog bred.”  But, in copying it, I inadvertently copied it as “I decided to pay to have my dog red.”  Oops.  Small mistake, but it changes the meaning.  In fact, the way I actually copied it might lead anyone reading it to assume my great grandfather was going to buy a dog was named Red.  How important was the copying mistake?  Not very.  In fact my copying mistake would have had about the same impact on the Gospel of Jesus Christ as does the possible mistake in copying that might have been made in these two Old Testament texts.
Now, unless your standard of accuracy for the copying of texts which were first written down over 3000 years ago is that of a photocopy, these minor discrepancies occurring at some time during the long ages of copying and re-copying are pretty insignificant.  After all, what would you have had God do: strike a scribe dead just before he made a mistake? That may have decreased the number of textual variants, but it would have also greatly decreased the number of scribes willing to reproduce scripture. In short, I find myself in agreement with the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, which says in part:

“Article X. WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy.”


“Article XI WE AFFIRM that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses. WE DENY that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.”

One thing is quite sure, when a person stands before God Almighty and says he could not be sure whether or not Goliath had a brother named Lahmi, it will probably not be accepted as a good excuse for rejecting the entirety of His word.