Saturday, January 17, 2009

Slow Blogging and Prayer Time

Apologies to the tens of readers of this blog for the slow blogging this last few days. I took some cub scouts to the USS Lexington last week-end and a few to the Texas State Aquarium. I drove down on Saturday morning and then back on Sunday morning to Austin and then drove to Mason and back (another 100+ miles one way) to finish up the week-end. Then I have drill (military training) this week-end. It makes for a very long week. I'm getting too old for this. Still, it was great fun for my youngest son and that makes it worth while but not any less tiring.

I have a list of New Years resolutions and one of them was to learn to pray/pray more consistently and I am pleased that unlike my exercising resolution, I have managed to be somewhat faithful in the prayer department.

One of the tools I am using is based on a book I am reading called "Soul Revolution." In it is an exercise to stay connected to God by taking a moment out of each hour to refocus on God. I set up an Outlook reminder and hit snooze all day so that it goes off every hour.

I would love to report to you that I have had visions and insights that I could share with you. Instead, I will share my pain and embarrassment at the discovery of the depth of my love for my sin. Its really amazing that I sometimes find myself ignoring the reminder. Not always, but sometimes. Now I must wrestle with the Truth that the life that awaits me is better than the one I've made in my own image and that Christ is here in the blackest parts of my life and offers forgiveness and new life. Mind you I've known most of this for a long time. I am a Believer. Just now I've got to sweep some dark corners out. It's going to be quite a journey.

Text Messages Threatening Israelis Came from Britain

( Warning messages sent by SMS to Israelis not to enter Gaza originated from the United Kingdom, the British daily, The Sun reported. Checks of the code of the sender’s number identified the text message senders as originating from Britain.
It was initially thought that the Hamas sent the SMS messages to Israelis from Gaza as a means of psychological warfare. However, the British Sun states, “British supporters of the Islamic fanatics in the besieged Gaza Strip were assumed to be responsible for the scare tactics last night.”

The Most Basic Duty of Government

A little late in posting but in case you didn't see it in the news (heavy sarcasm) via STR:
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.
The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent. My Administration has been committed to building a culture of life by vigorously promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing Federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs. In 2002, I was honored to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. I signed legislation in 2003 to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion, and that law represents our commitment to building a culture of life in America. Also, I was proud to sign the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which allows authorities to charge a person who causes death or injury to a child in the womb with a separate offense in addition to any charges relating to the mother.
America is a caring Nation, and our values should guide us as we harness the gifts of science. In our zeal for new treatments and cures, we must never abandon our fundamental morals. We can achieve the great breakthroughs we all seek with reverence for the gift of life.
The sanctity of life is written in the hearts of all men and women. On this day and throughout the year, we aspire to build a society in which every child is welcome in life and protected in law. We also encourage more of our fellow Americans to join our just and noble cause. History tells us that with a cause rooted in our deepest principles and appealing to the best instincts of our citizens, we will prevail.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 18, 2009, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being

Seventy Eight Members of US Congress Appeal to Obama to Retain Mexico City Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14, 2009 ( – A letter authored by US Congressman Doug Lamborn (Colorado) and signed by 77 additional Members of Congress ( is urging President-elect Obama not to overturn the Mexico City Policy. It is widely expected that one of Barack Obama’s first actions as President will be to overturn the Reagan-era policy that prohibits American tax dollars from going to abortion-performing organizations in other countries.In the letter the Congressmen state, "Based on a document posted on your transition website, proponents of abortion are calling for you to overturn Mexico City Policy. However, we urge you to retain this significant position. First developed in the Reagan Administration, this policy is important because it establishes a bright line between family planning activities and abortion, therefore ensuring that United States family planning funds are not co-opted by groups who promote abortion as a method of family planning."The letter emphasizes the responsiblity of the United States to respect the sovereignty of other nations on this matter. It states, "We also have a responsibility to respect the laws of many developing countries who have laws prohibiting or restricting abortion. It is an insult to fund organizations that are intent on overturning those laws by promoting the Western ideology of abortion on demand."(more)

Those who profess to love God, but back abortion, are liars

From the Sentinel:
...The reason for the increased awareness and even concern on the part of the pro-life community is the specter of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) which is highly rumored to be in the works at the federal level. It is this act which has stimulated the bishops of the United States to launch a massive postcard campaign calling upon the House and Senate to abandon FOCA. While further details about the dramatic impact of FOCA on our American culture can be found in many places, I will simply say that it would establish abortion as a federally protected right and, as I understand it, preclude state limitation or regulation of abortion. Further, since abortion would be a federally protected right, it is very possible that even Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Physicians would be mandated to provide this heinous service.
Thus I strongly urge all who have a glimmer of concern for the lives of pre-born children to engage themselves in this postcard campaign. This is not an action which would limit or alter present permissive abortion laws, which some so-called Catholic pro-choice persons might object to, it would simply preclude a dramatic expansion of that permissiveness. Thus it would be very difficult for any Catholic, no matter how much in favor of abortion itself, to find a reason to refuse to participate in this campaign. At the same time, I do not see how any Catholic senator or representative could vote for the passage of FOCA without recognizing that such a vote would constitute a direct and intentional declaration of their disdain for Catholic teaching. Such a vote would be tantamount to a public declaration of their intention to abandon the Catholic faith...(more)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dueling Java- Dueling Science

Some good news about coffee....on the other hand....

Coffee Strong Enough to Ward Off Dementia?
Moderate Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s by 65% in Study
Those who drank three to five cups of coffee per day in midlife were much less likely to have developed dementia or Alzheimer's in follow-up checks two decades or more later, the researchers say in the January issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease...

Coffee-induced hallucinations? Caffeinated co-eds hear voices, study says
But the Durham University researchers acknowledge that their study of 219 coeds doesn’t prove that caffeine, a stimulant in coffee, actually caused them to hallucinate. For instance, the students who reported hearing voices may have had psychological disorders and been chuggingcups of, in this case, instant coffee to help them cope with symptoms, write study co-authors Charles Fernyhough, a developmental psychologist, and grad student Simon Jones.
Some previous research has found that reducing or eliminating caffeinated coffee from the diets of schizophrenics reduces their hallucinations, but other studies haven’t replicated those findings, they note.

And then we have this bit of, well, I'm not sure what you'd call it, from the BBC News:
Personally I think the Tea Association has something to do with all this but I have no proof. Think I'll go brew a cupa Earl:

Cut caffeine, pregnant women told

Caffeine 'could help prevent MS'

Decaf coffee cuts diabetes risk

Decaf coffee linked to heart risk

One cup of coffee a day 'risky'

Coffee 'protects female memory'

Coffee 'raises miscarriage risk'

Coffee and exercise 'save skin'

One cup of coffee a day 'risky'

Coffee may help relieve gym pain

Coffee knocks out women's pain

Coffee 'boosts female sex drive'

'Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

NO room on the bookshelf (thanks JM) but interesting for it's take on our present economics...
From the WSJ:

...For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

In the book, these relentless wealth redistributionists and their programs are disparaged as "the looters and their laws." Every new act of government futility and stupidity carries with it a benevolent-sounding title. These include the "Anti-Greed Act" to redistribute income (sounds like Charlie Rangel's promises soak-the-rich tax bill) and the "Equalization of Opportunity Act" to prevent people from starting more than one business (to give other people a chance). My personal favorite, the "Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Act," aims to restrict cut-throat competition between firms and thus slow the wave of business bankruptcies. Why didn't Hank Paulson think of that?

These acts and edicts sound farcical, yes, but no more so than the actual events in Washington, circa 2008. We already have been served up the $700 billion "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and the "Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act."

Now that Barack Obama is in town, he will soon sign into law with great urgency the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." This latest Hail Mary pass will increase the federal budget (which has already expanded by $1.5 trillion in eight years under George Bush) by an additional $1 trillion -- in roughly his first 100 days in office.

The current economic strategy is right out of "Atlas Shrugged": The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That's the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies -- while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to "calm the markets," another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as "Atlas" grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate "windfalls

Got to keep the loonies on the path-Latest global warming "news"

You remember the line above from Pink Floyd, right? OK, I'm old, but here we see real life examples of global warming loonies...
All from the Telegraph:

Paint cities white to tackle global warming, scientist says
Roads and buildings should be painted white in order to tackle global warming, according to a scientist.

Ice age atmosphere was 'warm', claim scientists
A warm atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide may have surrounded the Earth in an ancient ice age, new research has suggested.

Plan to investigate using giant mirrors to reverse global warming

Falling sea level upsets theory of global warming

Acid seas 'will kill off coral within 70 years' -Which is fine excepat that reports from Australia say the reefs are doing just fine thank-you...

And then the real scary part:

Blue sky tinkering
Scientists fighting global warming are now considering wacky ways of deliberately manipulating the environment to control the world's climate. Philip Sherwell in New York reports on the schemes that were once dismissed as the work of crackpots
Trillions of tiny sunshades orbiting in space; a mirror 150 miles high stationed between Earth and the sun; clouds sprayed with seawater; planes pumping sulphates into the stratosphere. They may sound to a layman like the weird and wacky fantasies of an eccentric bunch of boffins, but such ambitious plans for cooling the planet are now rapidly gaining credibility in the querulous world of climate science.

and these:

James Lovelock's plan to pump ocean water to stop climate change
Global warming fix could damage ozone layer
Global warming 'cure' found by scientists

Our Commander-in-Chief, Too

From NRO:

Conservative vets will give Obama the chance Democrats denied Bush
...The slow erosion of a “country first” ethos—prominent in the politicization of some Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at home—comes at a high cost for the military, most significantly and consequentially in the eyes of the general public. When politicized, the military becomes a predictable messenger for a partisan camp rather than a personal and passionate messenger for the best tactical and strategic national-security policy. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are ambassadors for the military and those still serving—and our actions shape public perceptions of our profession.As the famous military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once observed, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” For our generation, the inverse of that statement—politics a continuation of war by other means—is also true. Some veterans, and others invested in America’s conflicts, have turned the policies of war overseas into a zero-sum political battlefield for public opinion at home.As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, any semblance of dispassionate advocacy on the war evaporated. Anti-war veterans' groups seized on the situation and Iraq became “George Bush’s war,” rather than our war. And when conditions worsened considerably, prospects for battlefield success became linked to disdain for President Bush. For many veterans, defiance of the commander-in-chief started to look like a duty.
I, too, was frustrated by the conduct of the war when I returned from Iraq in mid-2006, and advocated a new strategy. Had America continued a fundamentally flawed policy—at the cost of even more lives—I would have constructively opposed those who decided upon such a continuation. But with the new surge strategy, the opposite occurred. America changed course in Iraq, and the war turned around. The test of intellectual honesty was thrust into the laps of those veterans who, nonetheless, continued to call the war a failure. Too many failed the test. Success on the ground in Iraq was politically damaging to their cause, and those veterans—aligned with many Democrats—ceaselessly took shots at President Bush, willing to sink the chances for their comrades in arms in order to sully a Republican president....(more)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thin Spots, Windows, and Undeceptions

From RZIM:

The well-read collection of essays written by C.S. Lewis and compiled posthumously in the book God in the Dock was originally published in England under a different title. The book was titled Undeceptions.
“Undeception” was the word Lewis used to describe a startling experience of awareness--moments when deception is uncovered and the cause is seen clearly from within, moments when blind spots are replaced with reality. He was taken with these awakenings or undeceptions in many of the characters of Jane Austen. In much of Austen's work, he observes, “[T]he the very pivot or watershed of the story.”(1)
Lewis would unquestionably state the same of our own stories. “Undeception” was no doubt a word that fittingly described his startling experience of being brought into the kingdom kicking and screaming, the most reluctant convert in all England. It was that experience through which he saw himself, the world, and its Creator for the rest of his life. Encountering God, we start to recognize our own blind spots. “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it” woke Jacob to his own deception (Gen. 28:16). He didn't wake up declaring that the God who was once absent had now appeared. He said, “God was here all along and I was the one who didn’t see it.” A friend of mine refers to pivotal encounters like Jacob’s dream as “thin spots”--moments in life where the nearness of God is nearly palpable. Other theologians describe such encounters as openings or baptisms, windows or transcendence. Still others give testimonies similar to the man born blind in ancient Jerusalem. Forced to explain to the Pharisees the unexplainable moment he had with Jesus, he mustered the only words he could think to describe it: “Only one thing I do know. I was blind but now I see” (John 9:25).
In his book Grace Abounding, John Bunyan describes a day when he was inexplicably released from doubt and despair. While passing through a field, troubled in conscience and fearing that all was not right, the sentence fell upon his soul: “Thy righteousness is in heaven.” (See Psalm 85:11b). Writes Bunyan, “I thought I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God’s right hand. There was my righteousness. Wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me that I lacked his righteousness, for that was ever before Him. Moreover, I saw that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor my bad frame that made it worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself.”(2)
Not surprisingly, Bunyan's encounter is one described in a small book recommended by Dallas Willard called Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by James Lawson. In the book that was for him an experience of undeception, Willard notes the quality that moved him in each account of unmistakable, life-changing clarity. Lawson’s “famous Christians” were not seeking experiences of self-awareness or even experiences with God. They were seeking the Lord, his kingdom, and his holiness, and in seeking found it all.
This is not to be overlooked or seen as easy or even painless. A person that is willing to put even his or her vision of life into God’s hands, watching as He prepares a fearful concoction of spit and mud, is a soul that seeks Him with courage. Self-deception is a difficult thing to own up to, and far too often it is easier to see the deception in others than it is to see in ourselves. The blinders we walk with through life, God in his mercy must remove. Opening our reluctant eyes, the Father shows us with his radiance the darkness we’ve been squinting in, even as He prepares us to see.
In Bunyan and in Lewis, in the lives of Christians throughout history, the defining characteristic of their encounters with God was their willingness (even reluctant willingness) to see the deceptions within themselves and to bring these deceptions back to the feet of the one who made them visible. His love and mercy are to our lives the shining undeceptions that unwearyingly move us to see.

Have any of you ever had one of these "thin spots, windows or undeceptions"? And would you care to share them with us?

$3.7 Million for Virginity...How Much for One's Soul?

To raise money for college, a young woman is auctioning her virginity. The current bid is $3.7 million.

Story here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Time Clock Has Run Out: Israel Ready to Strike Iran

I find it difficult to believe that Israel would launch an attack on Iran while cleaning up Gaza, still...
From NewsMax:

Informed sources in Washington tell Newsmax that Israel indeed will launch a strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities soon – possibly in just days as President George W. Bush prepares to leave office.
The reason: The time clock has begun to run out. Iran is close to acquiring a nuclear device under the control of its radical president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in June that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in as little as six months.
That six-month period has passed. (more)

"always winter but never Christmas"-the bigotry of the press toward Christianity

From American Spect:
...Fans of C.S. Lewis' "Narnia" series will immediately recognize that phrase -- "always winter but never Christmas" -- as the situation that prevailed in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (henceforth LWW) before the return to the land of Narnia of Aslan, the great lion-Christ. But consider the phrase more broadly and metaphorically. The establishment media continues to give copious evidence of ignorance of, and often outright hostility to, Western religion and to the moral values shaped by it. Their ignorance and hostility is unprofessional, and it is despicable. A reader could be excused for often getting the impression that, like the White Witch, the establishment media would love to turn all believers to stone and keep us from ever celebrating Christmas -- or Easter, or (for that matter) any Jewish observance, either, unless treated as merely a cultural observance rather than a true religious celebration. ...

...NINE DAYS AFTER the Post's one-two punch, the Wall Street Journal ran a book review by Vincent Carroll of the Rocky Mountain News of a book called Blind Spot, a collection of essays well described by the book's subtitle: "When Journalists Don't Get Religion." Carroll cites a number of the book's examples of journalists treating faith and religion with about the same level of understanding as an ordinary American would show for Egyptian hieroglyphics. When jihadist terrorists, for example, target Jewish centers or kill Christian hostages while sparing Muslim ones, news outlets such as the New York Times or CNN International proclaim that the terrorists' motives were unclear.
As an example of missing the obvious, that's akin to reporting that it is unclear why Red Sox fans boo when a Yankee star steps to the plate. But for the establishment media, it's a common occurrence. The media not only fails to understand basic things about religions and the motives of various religiously driven newsmakers, but doesn't even appear to want to understand.
As Carroll concludes in his review, the result isn't merely a snubbing of the faithful, but a failure of basic standards of journalistic competence. Failure at least to understand religion and to take it seriously means, Carroll writes, that "the news media will continue to miss a vast dimension of mankind's story." ...

Proof at last ... aliens in UFOs are far more intelligent than we are

On windmills and lightbulbs from Peter Hitchens at the Mail Online:

If visitors from another galaxy really are going round destroying wind turbines, then it is the proof we have been waiting for that aliens are more intelligent than we are.

The swivel-eyed, intolerant cult, which endlessly shrieks – without proof – that global warming is man-made, has produced many sad effects. The collapse of proper education has made two whole generations vulnerable to rubbishy fads.

But the disfiguring of the country with useless windmills, and the insane plan to ban proper light bulbs, are supreme triumphs of this dimwit pseudo-religion.

Both schemes override facts and logic. During the current cold spell, observant persons will have noticed that there has been very little wind, a rather common combination. Thus, at a time of great need for power, wind turbines would be almost entirely useless for producing electricity.

They’re pretty feeble anyway. Even when they are working, sensible power stations have to be kept spinning, so that they can be flung into gear at short notice if the wind drops.

Yet, over the objections of reasonable protesters fearing for the ruined landscape, or dreading the annoying whine and whirr, the authorities have marched over the once-lovely hills and moors of Britain, planting grotesque and futile engines.

In intervals between erecting these daft objects, the Government (influenced by the awful EU) has also colluded in a plan to stop the sale of traditional light bulbs.

This is even though the supposed replacements are expensive, don’t reduce electricity use anything like as much as claimed, won’t fit many existing lamps, won’t work with dimmers, in many cases give off a light as cheery and bright as the baleful glow emitted by a decomposing dingo, won’t work in fridges, don’t last as long as claimed, and when they do go phut, must be disposed of with tongs because they contain deadly mercury vapour.

This is the price we pay for fanaticism, and for a low-grade political class without the courage to stand up against it. True, it takes a little nerve to oppose this lobby. But if you don’t have that sort of nerve, you shouldn’t be in politics in the first place.

Obama Crticism A Downer

From WND/Coulter: NBC insider told The Drudge Report: "We are just not interested in anyone so highly critical of President-elect Obama, right now," explaining that "it's such a downer. It's just not the time, and it's not what our audience wants, either."
In point of fact, I'm not particularly critical of Obama in my new book. I'm critical of the media for behaving like a protection racket for Obama rather than the constitutionally protected guardians of our liberty that they claim to be. So I think what the NBC insider meant to say is that NBC is not interested in anyone so highly critical of NBC right now. It's such a downer, it's just not the time, and it's not what their audience wants right now, either. ...

...When the Obama family materialized, the media were seized by a mass psychosis that hadn't been witnessed since Beatlemania. OK! magazine raved that the Obamas "are such an all-American family that they almost make the Brady Bunch look dysfunctional." Yes, who can forget the madcap episode when the Bradys' wacky preacher tells them the government created AIDS to kill blacks! ...

...Months before network anchors were interrogating vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the intricacies of foreign policy, here is how NBC's Brian Williams mercilessly grilled presidential candidate Barack Obama: "What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?"
Twisting the knife he had just plunged into Obama, Williams followed up with what has come to be known as a "gotcha" question: "And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father." Sarah Palin was memorizing the last six kings of Swaziland for her media interviews, but Obama only needed to say something nice about his parents to be considered presidential material.
The media's fawning over Obama knew no bounds, and yet, in the midst of the most incredible media conspiracy to turn this jug-eared clodhopper into some combination of Winston Churchill and a young Elvis, you were being a bore if you mentioned the liberal media. Oh surely we've exploded that old chestnut. ... Look! Look, Obama just lit up another Marlboro! Geez, does smoking make you look cool, or what! Yeah, Obama!
The claim that there's no such thing as a left-wing press is a patent lie said to enrage conservatives. Newspapers read like the press under Kim Jong-il, which, outside of a police state, looks foolish. The prose is straight out of The Daily Worker, full of triumphal rhetoric with implicit exclamation points. Still, their chanted slogans fill your brain, like one of those bad songs you can't stop humming. ...(more)

What Obama Could Learn From Cheney

"With just one week before Barack Obama moves into the Oval Office, he probably isn't thinking "Dick Cheney" when it comes to advice. That may be a missed opportunity. Because in some interesting ways, the outgoing vice president could prove to be the best friend the incoming president has."

Obama has been calming his rhetoric the closer he gets to taking office. I think the daily intelligence briefs have started to open his eyes to what is really going on in the world. It's simple to be an arm chair quarterback. I pray for Obama's success where terrorist are concerned, our lives depend upon it.

Anybody can be a politician; it's the tough, sometimes unpopular choices, which make you a leader.