Friday, October 31, 2008

The Heresy of Formlessness

A frequently prescribed (and proscribed) remedy for problems in the church is further tinkering with the liturgy. (I mean that in the broadest sense: liturgy meaning the liturgy proper, hymns, Bible translations, and church architecture, among many other factors). But a few are asking if the remedy might instead be a return to something that most of us can't imagine. The western idea of progress as an unalloyed good pervades our churches, and it's something most of us don't question. But this is a good review of a book that suggests otherwise.

Republican Smear Ad -- From Elizabeth Dole

I have not seen this ad (the one I referred to in a previous post), but then I don't watch a lot of television. And I suspect I'll watch a lot less in the next couple of days -- the political ads are starting to get to me. And despite the hyperbole of the announcer on this clip, the ad in question is pretty over-the-top.

Dole challenger irate over suggestion she is 'godless'

The US Senate race in North Carolina is leaning to Democrat Kay Hagan, and incumbent Sen. Dole's campaign seems desperate. This story is an example of how rough this race is getting.

"(CNN) -- Kay Hagan erupted in anger Thursday over a television ad from Sen. Elizabeth Dole suggesting Hagan is "godless."

"I think Elizabeth Dole has just gone to the lowest of the lows," Hagan said of the ad during an appearance on a talk show on WPTF-AM in Raleigh, North Carolina. "This is an attack on my Christian faith."

Hagan, who described herself as a Sunday school teacher and an elder at a Presbyterian church in Greensboro, North Carolina, urged Dole to "pull this kind of despicable ad."

ENPR Prediction: Obama Narrow Win, Dems 58 Senate Seats, 254 House Seats

Making predictions about elections is difficult: the voters could always throw a curve and act differently than we imagine they will. But I thought this a good and sensible overview of how the election on Tuesday might go.


1. Sen. Barack Obama is poised to be the nation's first black president, winning by a narrow margin, and enjoying very large Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress--but short of 60 seats in the Senate.

2. House Republicans face another slaughter. Democrats will make double-digit net gains, possibly pushing 30 seats. Many GOP incumbents are in danger, and Democrats are dominating in the open seats."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How to survive an earthquake

This is one of those oddball stories that you will probably never need. But it's also one of those bits of information that you might store in the back of your head, and if the time were to come that it were needed, you just might call it to mind.

It's about earthquake survival. I live in an area that has minimal seismic activity -- and when we do have it, it's so mild that almost no one feels it. (For example, a Richter 2 quake is barely felt: at most those inside might feel a slight shake, which they would likely attribute to a passing truck). However, it's worth remembering that even where I am -- Piedmont North Carolina -- we're only 5 hours away from the site -- Charleston, SC -- of one of the most catastrophic quakes in American history.

"My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake."

Archaeologists report finding oldest Hebrew text

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - "Archaeologists in Israel said Thursday they had unearthed the oldest Hebrew text ever found, while excavating a fortress city overlooking a valley where the Bible says David slew Goliath."

The way to dissolve resentment

"When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free."

Catherine Ponder

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Prehistoric child is discovered buried with 'toy hedgehog' at Stonehenge

I suspect that this child is not really "prehistoric" in a technical sense. But nevertheless, I found this a moving and interesting story.

"This toy hedgehog, found in a child's grave at Stonehenge, is proof of what we have always known - children have always loved to play.

The chalk figurine was probably a favourite possession of the three year old, and placed next to the child when they died in the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age, around 3,000 years ago."

Amazing Idea: Nuclear-powered passenger aircraft 'to transport millions' says expert

"Nuclear-powered aircraft may sound like a concept from Thunderbirds, but they will be transporting millions of passengers around the world later this century, the leader of a Government-funded project to reduce environmental damage from aviation believes."

Left Brain v Right Brain Test

My wife will not be at all surprised to learn that I turn out right brain on this. Having said that, I think the right brain/left brain stuff is often so much nonsense. But this is an entertaining little test to do --

"It's the Great Right Brain vs Left Brain Test ... do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?"

What did Jesus say? or ... deal with the text at hand

Among New Testament scholars, a burning question is "What did Jesus really say?"

Well, the answer's simpler than what those New Testament scholars often want to admit: open your Bible, turn to the gospels, and there you have it. Obviously, He said more than is recorded there (John 21.25: " And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written") but what is recorded there is all you need to know.

But New Testament scholars especially like to ponder the words of institution ("This is My Body, This is My Blood"). Some of them (notably Joachim Jeremias, a man whose work I generally admire and profit from) spent a lot of time wondering what the supposed Aramaic words were behind the Greek text of the words of institution.

My earlier post noted that it's not at all certain that Jesus spoke Aramaic as a first language. But whatever He spoke in day-to-day life, the text we have is Greek. That's what we should deal with. Imagining an Aramaic text that doesn't exist isn't really helpful.

Hope and situations

"There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them."

Clare Boothe Luce
1902-1987, American Diplomat and Writer

The Dead Sea Scrolls and Jesus' first language

I'm currently reading Who Wrote The Dead Sea Scrolls?: The Search For The Secret Of Qumran by Norman Golb. If you haven't thought about the scrolls recently, I commend this book to you: this book changed mine.

A brief thought this morning. Golb (in evaluating the importance of the scrolls) speaks about them as indicating that Hebrew had become a far more prevalent language throughout Palestine in the first century AD, as a consequence of the territorial expansion of the Hasmonean kingdom.

I'm intrigued by this thought. I'd always been taught -- and assumed -- that Jesus probably spoke Aramaic as a first language. Golb has made wonder otherwise. The 2 proofs given that come to mind are Mark 5.41 ("Talitha cumi") which is usually described as Aramaic, and Jesus' use of "Abba" as a term of address. However, my first source I read today indicates that "Talitha cumi" could be either Syriac or Aramaic, and Abba either Syriac or Chaldee. Since Jesus grew up in Nazareth, I wonder if Syriac might have been a household language in that area. (It shouldn't be assumed that a child in northern Palestine might not have grown up speaking more than one language in day to day life).

(Those of us living in the US don't know how lucky we are sometimes, language-wise. In Palestine, I suspect there was the language of the home, then Hebrew for synagogue, Greek for commerce, and Latin for dealing with Roman officials. Whew. I have enough trouble dealing with English, and occasional Spanish, and an even rarer use of my few words of Mandarin or Thai).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The latest newspaper victim: the Christian Science Monitor

"The Christian Science Monitor, which turns 100 years old this year, is announcing on Tuesday, Oct. 28, that it will cease daily publication next April. The newspaper will shift to a weekly print format while increasing its emphasis on its Web site, says its editor, John Yemma."

Debunking 9/11 Debunking

This is a clear, concise, and well thought series on questions of the 9/11 events. Griffin has studied this subject for several years, and presents his findings well.

Daring mighty things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt

Newspapers see sharp circulation drop of 4.6 pct

There's something old and reassuring about newspapers.

I remember as a child them being there, delivered to your door, often by a young man in the neighborhood. (I was one of those young men for a while. I'd get up early, ride my bicycle to a gas station about a mile away, where a wholesaler would deliver wrapped collections of newspapers. I'd in turn fold the newspapers, stuff them into a basket on the bicycle, and deliver them to some 100 homes).

Those who like newspapers tend to be older. And newspapers know this: watch the content, and it's aimed at an older audience, one likely less computer savvy, less technological.

And paradoxically, as I get older, I have less use for newspapers, while my children have been the ones who demanded that we continue a paper subscription (I had suggested a compromise of buying on-line access to the local publication). My son -- our oldest at 26 -- likes the feel of a paper publication. Et de gustibus non disputandum. But newspapers are not so lucky among most of his -- and our daughters' -- generation.

"NEW YORK (AP) - Circulation at the nation's daily newspapers is falling faster than anticipated this year as readers continue their migration to the Internet and papers narrow their distribution to cut costs."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama Bombshell Redistribution Audio Uncovered

From 2001, an interview on WBEZ in Chicago.

Advice for another week of possible financial turmoil ...

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee."

Psalm 56.3

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Visiting a Carthusian monastery

A moving and well-done video, giving a picture of a life we could not otherwise know.

Shameless parental bragging

My daughter Katie's a grad student at UNC-CH. Here's her appearance in a university promo video. She's the girl on the left in blue face paint, at about 35 seconds into the video.

Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says

I've suggested for at least 2 weeks that Gov. Palin has realized that she's unlikely to be elected vice-president next month, so she has a new strategy: it's to set herself as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2012.

Those who cast Palin as stupid or inept may rue the day they underestimated this shrewd and calculating politician. I think this article is evidence of Palin's strategy.

"Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate.
They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan."

WWII And The Theft Of German Intellectual Property

This is a fascinating story I've not yet seen covered.

"Time and time again, one encounters the statement in regards to the German Third Reich, that the German Intellectual Elite had left Germany shortly after the establishment of the National Socialist Government in January 1933 and went into exile. But this appears questionable in the face of the undeniable fact that the Allies just before, and especially after the Capitulation of the German Wehrmacht (Army) in May 1945 abducted thousands of German scientists, skilled tradesmen and intellectuals. And tens of thousands of inventions, discoveries, trades symbols, patents, research findings and other intellectual property was stolen and in the light of this, one wonders if the above statement has any basis and reality of the true situation."

Some analysts see Dems winning filibuster-proof majority of 60

"WASHINGTON — How hostile is the political environment for Senate Republicans this year? In Oregon, embattled GOP incumbent Sen. Gordon Smith has aired commercials praising Barack Obama, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy — everybody, it seems, but Republican standard-bearer John McCain."

Report: North Korea restricting cell phone use

Food agencies in the US like to talk about starvation here, but the reality is that no one is starving here. They may be eating badly, not eating what they should, or whatever, but no one is starving.

Starvation is a political problem, at least in the long term. There are certainly times when a catastrophe hits (crop failure, drought, storms, or such like) and those can have dreadful short term effects. But in order to have long-term starvation, you need a tyrant who's either deliberately (usually seeking to kill a particular group of people) or one who through stupidity seeks to cover up some very bad policies.

Such is the case in North Korea. Here's an example.

"North Korea has been restricting the use of cell phones to prevent its residents from sharing news about a worsening food crisis, according to a report on the The Times of London Web site."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Shrinking government and government spending

Conservatives like to talk about small government. But we lost our way somehow, and somehow the big government, big borrowing and big military cancers of the Bush administration have painted conservatives as being in favor of these monstrosities. Which is why I don't identify myself as a conservative. I have not changed: I am still a constitutionalist pro-life, small government thinker. But conservative no longer means what it did. Rep. Barney Frank is right: the next administration needs to cut military spending drastically. 25% is a good start, and it should go vastly deeper.

"Rep. Frank, D-Mass., also called for a 25 percent cut in military spending, saying the Pentagon has to start choosing from its many weapons programs, and that upper-income taxpayers are going to see an increase in what they are asked to pay."

How cross country went today

Rachel's team (Walter Williams High School) came in 2nd in today's meet, so they qualify for the state meet next Saturday. Next week should be busy: Rachel running on Saturday, and Alex (daughter 2/child 3) will be running the Raleigh Marathon next Sunday. Whew.

In Mongolia, the Music Comes Right to Your Tent

I spent three weeks in Mongolia. In 1995, when it was really primitive. But I'm hoping to go back soon, and it's always good hearing how recent travelers have fared in the land our ancestors (the European ones, anyway) feared.

"WHAT NOT TO EXPECT: Excessive luxury and world-class service. There are some first-class hotels, but we always left time for delays and confusion, part of Mongolian life. Open manholes and steep steps are not always marked, and streets are often unlit at night. Outside the city, Western-style toilets give way to hole-in-the-floor squat latrines. Be prepared."


My daughter Rachel is running cross-country regionals today at Campbell University. We'll be driving over in the light rain in an hour or so. The university's maybe 80 miles away, so my wife sent me to the computer to get directions from Google. Which made me think of Triptiks.

Anyone else remember those? Triptiks were the high tech means of planning a drive. Pre-internet, that is. Actually, even when the net was in its infancy, we still used them. They were available for members from AAA. You called their 800 number, and gave them the start address, and the ending address. They in turn mailed (yes) a packet of material. It was a turn-by-turn set of driving directions, complete with maps and everything. It worked. Only your trip had to be planned out long enough for them to mail the packet from Charlotte to us here in Burlington. And of course, it was only used for longish trips. But it did the job. It's just now that the very thought sounds cumbersome and duddy. But the reality is, it is duddy. And for those internet-averse, there's someone out there still using them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Getting to what you want to do in life

I keep hammering on this: the web is changing the way people learn. It's a revolution that's going on moment by moment, and keeping up with it isn't easy. Benefiting from it is easy. Here's another resource that may help.

Technophilia: Get a free college education online

"Not headed back to school this fall? You could be, minus the exorbitant tuition and without even leaving your chair. The web has made it easier than ever before to get a free education, and you'd join the ranks of great thinkers in history who were also self-taught, like Joseph Conrad, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Paul Allen, Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway. You, too, can be an autodidact; the breadth of free educational materials available online is absolutely astonishing."

The college of the past

As our youngest daughter plans for college, this is a sobering video to contemplate.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cyclists stop in Utica promoting climate change

"UTICA, N.Y. - Student volunteers from colleges around New York State braved freezing cold temperatures on their bikes Wednesday to send a message to state and federal political candidates: pay attention to climate change. The New York Public Interest Research Group helped organize the ride. Environmentalists cheered on the bikers as they stopped in Utica around noon. They want candidates to let voters know what they plan to do about global warming and the energy crisis."

(Emphasis mine; no further comment given or needed).

Secrets for sleeping on a plane

Doing what no one else expects

"Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you."

Henry Ward Beecher
1813-1887, Preacher and Writer

What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?

"Here is the voice of a longtime representative of the financial aristocracy, voicing his contempt for public opinion—"if decisions are popular, they're probably not sound"—and warning his wealthy audience that the new Obama-Biden administration will have to defy public opinion to carry out its policies. Biden's language suggests that the ferocity of the new administration's response will shock not only public opinion, but even its own supporters."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Confession and absolution in Mark 5

The afflicted woman in Mark 5 (vss. 25-34) shows a plain example of confession and absolution. After being healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment (and interrupting -- and thus making more miraculous -- the healing of the synagogue ruler's daughter), vss. 34-35 read: "But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, 'Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.'"

The woman (who is -- perhaps out of deference to the nature of her affliction -- not identified) falls before Jesus. This is a posture of worship: she's acknowledging Him as God. Her confession involves telling Him "all the truth": which is what should happen in confession. Jesus in turn recognizes that she has told the truth, acknowledges her faith, bids her God's peace, and tells her that her plague -- and her sins -- are made whole. (Remember: our English "health" comes from an Old English word meaning "whole.")

How to help snoring

Don't ask me how this works. I only know that I've come to rely on it, and it keeps my wife sane.

Take a small amount of Vicks Vapor Rub on the tip of your finger. Rub it under your nose, and on the bridge of the nose just before going to sleep.

Of course, another company's generic brand will work about as well. I actually slightly favor WalMart's generic variety of this.

PS This should be applied only after snuggling. Your husband/wife/whomever will appreciate your waiting.

Treasury Blacks Out Key Parts of Private Bailout Contracts

"Remember how Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson promised full transparency in spending the $700 billion bailout money? And remember how bailout opponents predicted that the failure to mandate such transparency would allow all sorts of Halliburton-style shenanigans? From the looks of the first private contracts issued by the Treasury Department, it looks like the bailout opponents were correct."

How far we can go

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

T.S. Eliot
1888-1965, Poet and Critic

Avoid Flu Shots With Vitamin D

Avoid Flu Shots With the One Vitamin that Will Stop Flu in Its Tracks

Another influenza season is beginning, and the U.S. Center for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) will strongly urge Americans to get a flu shot.
In fact, the CDC mounts a well-orchestrated campaign each season to generate
interest and demand for flu shots.

But a recent study published in the October issue of the Archives of
Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children
against the flu appeared to have no impact on flu-related hospitalizations
or doctor visits during two recent flu seasons.

At first glance, the data did suggest that children between the ages of 6
months and 5 years derived some protection from vaccination in these years.
But after adjusting for potentially relevant variables, the researchers
concluded that "significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be
demonstrated for any season, age, or setting" examined.

Additionally, a Group Health study found that flu shots do not protect
elderly people against developing pneumonia -- the primary cause of death
resulting as a complication of the flu. Others have questioned whether there
is any mortality benefit with influenza vaccination. Vaccination coverage
among the elderly increased from 15 percent in 1980 to 65 percent now, but
there has been no decrease in deaths from influenza or pneumonia.

There is some evidence that flu shots cause Alzheimer's disease, most likely
as a result of combining mercury with aluminum and formaldehyde. Mercury in
vaccines has also been implicated as a cause of autism.

Three other serious adverse reactions to the flu vaccine are joint
inflammation and arthritis, anaphylactic shock (and other life-threatening
allergic reactions), and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralytic autoimmune

One credible hypothesis that explains the seasonal nature of flu is that
influenza is a vitamin D deficiency disease.

Vitamin D levels in your blood fall to their lowest point during flu
seasons. Unable to be protected by the body's own antibiotics (antimicrobial
peptides) that are released by vitamin D, a person with a low vitamin D
blood level is more vulnerable to contracting colds, influenza, and other
respiratory infections.

Studies show that children with rickets, a vitamin D-deficient skeletal
disorder, suffer from frequent respiratory infections, and children exposed
to sunlight are less likely to get a cold. The increased number of deaths
that occur in winter, largely from pneumonia and cardiovascular diseases,
are most likely due to vitamin D deficiency.

Unfortunately, now, for the first time, flu vaccination is also being pushed
for virtually all children -- not just those under 5.

This is a huge change. Previously, flu vaccine was recommended only for
youngsters under 5, who can become dangerously ill from influenza. This
year, the government is recommending that children from age 6 months to 18
years be vaccinated, expanding inoculations to 30 million more school-age

The government argues that while older children seldom get as sick as the
younger ones, it's a bigger population that catches flu at higher rates, so
the change should cut missed school, and parents' missed work when they
catch the illness from their children.

Of course, this policy ignores the fact that a systematic review of 51
studies involving 260,000 children age 6 to 23 months found no evidence that
the flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo.

a.. October 3, 2008
a.. EMS Responder September 9, 2008
a.. WebMD October 6, 2008
a.. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine October 2008;

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Back in 2005, The Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
(ACIP) recommended that all children between 6 months and 5 years old
receive flu shots each year. Now they have expanded their guidelines to
include children up to 18 years, which means everyone except those between
the ages of 19-49, who are in good health, are urged to get a flu shot.

It should come as no surprise to find out that a majority of the ACIP
members who came up with these guidelines have financial ties to the vaccine
industry, and stand to gain personally for every additional person getting a
yearly injection. It's actually the only explanation that makes any sense
for recommendations as insane as these.

Three Reasons to Reconsider Flu Shots

There are three major reasons why this government push to vaccinate 84
percent of the U.S. population with a yearly flu vaccine is so

1. The majority of flu shots contain 25 micrograms of mercury; an
amount considered unsafe for anyone weighing less than 550 pounds! And which
groups are most sensitive to the neurological damage that has been
associated with mercury? Infants, children, and the elderly.

2. No studies have conclusively proven that flu shots prevent
flu-related deaths among the elderly, yet this is one of the key groups to
which they're pushed.

3. If you get a flu shot, you can still get the flu (or flu-like
symptoms). This is because it only protects against certain strains, and it's
anyone's guess which flu viruses will be in your area.

So why would you take a flu shot - EVERY YEAR -- that has NEVER been
proven to be effective, that can give you the very illness you're trying to
prevent, and has potential long-term side effects that are far worse than
the flu itself?

The powers that be have done an excellent job of instilling fear into
the population so they believe that they must get a shot to stay healthy,
but the simple reality is it's doing you more harm than good.

And, even if the flu vaccine could effectively prevent the flu, there
have been several examples in past years where government health officials
have chosen the incorrect influenza strains for that year's vaccine. In
2004, the National Vaccine Information Center described how CDC officials
told everyone to line up for a flu shot that didn't even contain the
influenza strain causing most of the flu that year.

Two-Thirds of This Year's Flu Vaccines Contain a Full-Dose of Mercury

According to Dr. Donald Miller, MD, two-thirds of this year's flu
vaccines contain 25 micrograms of thimerosal. Thimerosal is 49 percent
mercury by weight.

Each dose of these flu vaccines contains more than 250 times the
Environmental Protection Agency's safety limit for mercury.

By now, most people are well aware that children and fetuses are most
at risk of damage from this neurotoxin, as their brains are still
developing. Yet the CDC still recommends that children over 6 months, and
pregnant women, receive the flu vaccine each year.

In addition to mercury, flu vaccines also contain other toxic or
hazardous ingredients like:

a.. Formaldehyde -- a known cancer-causing agent
b.. Aluminum -- a neurotoxin that has been linked to Alzheimer's
c.. Triton X-100 -- a detergent
d.. Phenol (carbolic acid)
e.. Ethylene glycol (antifreeze)
f.. Various antibiotics: neomycin, streptomycin, gentamicin - which
can cause allergic reactions in some people
The Evidence Against Flu Vaccines

For those of you who are still unconvinced, know that there's plenty
of scientific evidence available to back up the recommendation to avoid flu
vaccines - if nothing else, then for the simple reason that they don't work,
and don't offer any real benefit to offset their inherent health risks. For

a.. A brand new study published in the October issue of the Archives
of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine found that vaccinating young children
against the flu had no impact on flu-related hospitalizations or doctor
visits during two recent flu seasons. The researchers concluded that
"significant influenza vaccine effectiveness could not be demonstrated for
any season, age, or setting" examined.

b.. A study published in the Lancet just two months ago found that
influenza vaccination was NOT associated with a reduced risk of pneumonia in
older people. This supports a study done five years ago, published in The
New England Journal of Medicine.

c.. Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and
Critical Care Medicine last month also confirms that there has been no
decrease in deaths from influenza and pneumonia, despite the fact that
vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15 percent in 1980
to 65 percent now.

d.. Last year, researchers with the National Institute of Allergy
and Infectious Diseases, and the National Institutes of Health published
this conclusion in the Lancet Infectious Diseases: "We conclude that frailty
selection bias and use of non-specific endpoints such as all-cause mortality
have led cohort studies to greatly exaggerate vaccine benefits."

e.. A large-scale, systematic review of 51 studies, published in the
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2006, found no evidence that the
flu vaccine is any more effective than a placebo in children. The studies
involved 260,000 children, age 6 to 23 months.
Might Influenza be Little More Than a Symptom of Vitamin D Deficiency?

Vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," may very well be one of the most
beneficial vitamins there is for disease prevention. Unfortunately it's also
one of the vitamins that a vast majority of people across the world are
deficient in due to lack of regular exposure to sunshine.

Published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection in 2006, the
hypothesis presented by Dr. John Cannell and colleagues in the paper
Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D actually makes a lot of sense.

They raise the possibility that influenza is a symptom of vitamin D

The vitamin D formed when your skin is exposed to sunlight regulates
the expression of more than 2,000 genes throughout your body, including ones
that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and
viruses. Hence, being overwhelmed by the "flu bug" could signal that your
vitamin D levels are too low, allowing the flu virus to overtake your immune

How to Prepare For Flu Season Without Getting a Flu Shot

I often find that some of the simplest explanations are the truest,
and this sounds about as simple as it gets. And, getting appropriate amounts
of sunshine (or taking a vitamin D supplement when you can't get healthy
amounts of sun exposure) is one of my KEY preventive strategies against the
cold and flu, as it has such a strengthening effect on your immune system.

Interestingly, last week the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled
its recommended dose of vitamin D. Unfortunately this is still a woefully
inadequate recommendation as the dose should be TEN times larger. Rather
than going from 200 to 400 units per day, it should have increased to about
2,000 units per day.

For most of you reading this it is "vitamin D winter," which means
there simply isn't enough sunshine to make significant amounts of vitamin D,
so you will need to use a tanning bed or take oral supplements.

Although supplements are clearly inferior to sunlight or safe tanning
beds, I am becoming more convinced of the value of vitamin D supplements as
they are less potentially toxic than my initial impression, and they are
certainly more convenient and less expensive than a tanning bed.

For those in the winter with no or very limited exposure to sunshine,
4,000-5,000 units per day would seem appropriate for most adults. If you are
very heavy you may need to double that dose, and for children the dose can
be half that.

The key though is to make sure you monitor your vitamin D levels by
blood testing, to make sure your levels are therapeutic and not toxic.

I advocate getting your vitamin D levels tested regularly, but as I
reported recently, you now need to beware of where you're getting your test
done. For an in-depth explanation of what you MUST know before you get
tested, please read my updated article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin
D Deficiency.

You can also use vitamin D therapeutically to TREAT the flu. But
please understand that if you are taking the above doses of vitamin D the
odds of you getting the flu are VERY remote. The dose of vitamin D you can
use would be 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight (one pound is 0.45 kg).
The dose would be taken once a day for three days.

This could be a very large dose if you were very heavy (2-300,000
units per day) This is the dose that Dr. John Cannell, founder of the
Vitamin D Council, has been using very successfully for a number of years.

I have not received a flu shot nor had the flu in over 20 years. Here
are the other "secrets" I use to keep the flu (and other illnesses) at bay:

a.. Eat right for your nutritional type, including avoiding sugar
b.. Eliminate sugar from your diet
c.. Eat garlic regularly
d.. Consume a high-quality krill oil daily
e.. Exercise
f.. Get adequate sleep
g.. Address emotional stress
h.. Wash your hands regularly (but not excessively)
Another useful supplement you could try, should you come down with a
case of the flu, is olive leaf extract, which you can find in most any
health food store.

Olive leaf extract has been found to be a potent broad-spectrum
antiviral agent, active against all viruses tested, including numerous
strains of influenza and para-influenza viruses.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to find solutions

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."

Albert Einstein
1879-1955, Physicist

Monday, October 20, 2008

Christians of Orissa attacked: houses and churches burned on Christmas Day

Christians protest over Hindu violence in New Delhi

More Hindu on Christian violence in India

"Tens of thousands of Christians have been made homeless after an orgy of violence by Hindu hardliners in the east Indian state of Orissa."

The Cure for All Diseases

I had a discussion with a friend on Saturday about socialized medicine.

Such a policy is bad.

Not just because it will stifle innovation, which it will.

Not just because it will cost even more than the present system, which it will.

Not just because it will lead to a huge and overweening bureaucracy, which, again, it will.

All of these things are bad. But to me the worst practical part of the system (which is coming regardless of who wins next month: so-called conservatives will leap to build an ever-larger bureaucracy in the same way the so-called liberals will) is that it will lock America into a particular treatment modality, that of allopathic medicine.

Allopathy is the all-too-familiar system used by 99% of practitioners in America. While more and more Americans are using so-called alternative treatments (mega-vitamin doses, dietary changes, and exercise regimens, among others) the medical establishment is firmly locked into the poison, cut, and burn methods of treating diseases.

A national health insurance plan will use allopathy -- and only allopathy. You may count on it. Some cynical minds would even argue that that's the whole purpose of installing such a system.

Which is all the more reason why internet health information is so important. Your friendly neighborhood MD is not going to tell you about information such as this. Which is the reason you need to know about it.

Dr. Clark (the author of the book) is not infallible. She should be listened to with skepticism. Which is how you should listen to anyone who is treating you. But such information may save your life one day. The coming federal health bureaucrats will not tell you about this.

Colin Powell, redux

"WASHINGTON DC -- Colin Powell, who five years ago deliberately lied to the UN Security Council about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, now craves public attention for his endorsement of the totalitarian demagogue Obama."

The only true security

"When you know that you're capable of dealing with whatever comes, you have the only security the world has to offer."

Harry Browne
Financial Advisor and Writer

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In his hundred years, Jacques Barzun has learned a thing or two

Jacques Barzun turns 101 this year. He still works. Go thou, and do likewise. Working -- and not retiring -- is the only sure fire thing I know of for men to not die young. Women can handle retirement. Men can't.

"Barzun is usually out of bed by 6 A.M. He brews coffee, reads the San Antonio Express-News, exercises for forty minutes, and heads down the hall to his study. After lunch, he dips into the manuscripts and books that people send him, answers letters, and takes calls from family members and friends. In the afternoon, he likes to read in the sunroom, whose white brick walls and black-and-white tiled floor accommodate without protest a mélange of armchairs and end tables of no particular style. But then all the furnishings in the house—including the art: Piranesi fortifications, Daumier scenes of Parisian life, Expressionist studies by Cleve Gray, and bright watercolors of flowers and plants by Marguerite—have an aesthetic compatibility that seems to issue more from accident than from design. Cocktails are at six-thirty (Barzun favors Manhattans); a light dinner follows, then a session with the New York Times. Barzun doesn’t watch TV and is usually in bed by nine-thirty."

The Sandra Bernhard monstrosity

"I suppose we could all just write off Sandra Bernhard as a nut case and leave it at that. But the thing is that her rant against Christianity and her threatened gang-rape of Sarah Palin occurred at Theater J — J as in Jewish."

A Hate with No Name

"In a recent editorial on this site, 'The Sandra Bernhard Monstrosity,' the editors addressed the vicious attack on Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, a practicing Christian mother of five. In essence, Ms. Bernhard, who is Jewish, called Palin a goy whore — certainly not an affectionate label.

Quoting evolutionary psychologist Kevin MacDonald, the editorial zeroed in on the font of such hostility: “Indeed, hatred toward the peoples and cultures of non-Jews ... has been the Jewish norm throughout history . . . this sort of hostility to whites and to Christianity is a mainstream Jewish phenomenon.”

When the nights get cold

Fall comes tenderly to North Carolina. It arrived this week.

Technically, Autumn comes on September 21. But September 21st is usually still warm here, warm to hot days, and with evenings that are still relatively warm.

But this week was the end of that. The days are crisp and bright. The air is cool, though pleasant. And the nights are cold. Not cold compared to January, but cold enough to be bracing, and the stark contrast with the pleasant daytime temperatures is almost harsh.

The seasons arrive gently. And finally here it looks like Autumn. Autumn has an earthy beauty, with browns and yellows and oranges. Spring is a beauty of bright greens, blues, and the colors of flowers, while Summer is awash in the stark beauty of sunshine. Winter is its own beauty, the plain beauty of stripped down landscapes, bleak skies, and white.

But fall is here. The leaves are coming down, and I'm heading to the State Fair with my children on Friday. Amy may go -- she's ambivalent about State Fairs. But for me and my kids, the Fair is something you don't miss, with too much food, and bad exhibits and the smell of animals, and somehow it's a rite of passage for the year. The State Fair says that summer is over. It says that cold weather is on the way, and that we're transitioning to the Halloween/Thanksgiving/Advent/Christmas stretch.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why does Heathrow need to scan my shoes three times?

"What constitutes a sensible level of security? I only ask because I was passing through Heathrow recently and had my shoes scanned. Not once, not twice but three times."

NB: Don't miss the comment section. Especially this: "Thank heaven Richard Reid wasn't the underwear bomber."

What the bailout means

No comment. For those of you young enough to not get it, think Dallas, 1963, John Kennedy.

New Testament Greek on youtube

I just posted about Stanford's youtube site. Here's another one, covering an area that's difficult to get in your average college: New Testament Greek.

Changes in higher education on youtube

One of the most exciting developments in learning in 2008 has been the explosion of colleges and universities posting courses and lectures on youtube. This one -- from Stanford University -- is such a site. These aren't easy, mundane mini-lectures, but courses such as chemical engineering, as well as a plethora of other topics.

Education is changing -- in exciting ways. We don't know where this road will take us, but it's going to be interesting to go along for the ride.

Plastics Chemical Linked to Disease in Adults

"Bisphenol A or BPA, a chemical found in plastics, has been linked to
some of the most deadly and rapidly increasing medical conditions in
American adults.

A research team from the University of Iowa, the Peninsula Medical
School, the University of Exeter, and the University of Plymouth found
evidence that links BPA to heart disease and diabetes in adults. BPA, which
is used in polycarbonate plastic products such as refillable water bottles,
some plastic eating utensils, compact disks and many other everyday
products, is one of the world's most widely-used chemicals.

Earlier studies in mice and rats shown that exposure to BPA could lead
to diabetes, liver damage, obesity, and insulin resistance. Earlier this
year, experts raised the concern that BPA could leach into plastic baby
bottles and cause developmental and reproduction problems.

The current research, which examined a representative group of 1455
adults between the ages of 18 and 74, found that the 25 percent with the
highest concentration of BPA in their urine were more than twice as likely
to have heart disease and diabetes as the 25 percent with the lowest BPA

"Our study has revealed, for the first time, an association between
raised BPA loads and two common diseases in adults," said Professor David
Melzer, professor of Epidemiology and Public health at the Peninsula Medical
School who lead the team. At the moment, we can't be absolutely sure that
BPA is the direct cause of the extra cases of heart disease and diabetes. If
it is, some cases of these serous conditions could be prevented by reducing
BPA exposure."

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ice Storm

"Icelanders have woken up in a new novel by Franz Kafka, where everybody is guilty by default. One by one, the mighty banks have been seized by the government, and Icelanders, aghast, have been told that each and every one of us owes millions of dollars — to whom, we don’t know. The earnest faces of the politicians, of bankers and tycoons almost crying, give us the final touch of the surreal. The situation is comparable only with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the 9/11 attacks — something final and yet beyond one’s individual grasp has happened."

Free cigarettes, door to door

One of those little tidbits of history that now seem almost unbelievable.

I had an interview this morning with an older woman, who related how she began smoking.

She matriculated at Salem College in 1951. Just inside the dorm door was a series of cubbyholes where students received their mail. And once a week, someone from the marketing department at nearby R. J. Reynolds Tobacco put a pack of free cigarettes in each slot. And you thought marketing didn't work.

Pessimism: Its Mistaken Perspective

"I've heard there are people with such sunny dispositions that they never give way to sadness. The rumor is that they always make lemonade from their lemons. And the boast is that they can always win at cards - no matter the hand they get dealt. They always come out of tough times on the winning side, always cure their own illnesses with positive thinking, and are always loved by all who know them. Maybe there are such people. I doubt it.

Don't get me wrong! There is certainly value to looking for silver linings over getting lost in the dense fog of a dark cloud. In fact, if I had to choose between being a naive optimist and marching to the beat of the pessimist's drum, I would hope to be confused with Forrest Gump over Eeyore.

There is lots of pessimism in the air these days. There's pessimism over the Middle East and the economy. There is Eeyore-like melancholy over the state of world and national leadership. You name it. Somebody is there to tell us why things are worse than they've ever been - and destined soon to get worse still.

Maybe the pessimist lives under the delusion of Golden Age Syndrome. For most of my life, I have had to endure the lament of older people wishing for "the good old days" and "things as they used to be." I've always been skeptical of those people and have been inclined to suspect they have selective memory.

Now that I have lived a while, I'm trying to keep from using those phrases myself. Economics, politics, human relationships, religion - I seriously doubt there has ever been a time when all these things were just right.

Professor Walter Jackson Bate quotes a dejected Egyptian scribe who lived more than 2,000 years before Christ. The scribe commented on the limitations of language and wrote dejectedly of the fact that there were no fresh, new ways of saying things. On his view, "men of old" had created all the phrases that were possible for human language and had exhausted them by his time. Therefore all human expression had grown stale. Language was bankrupt.

As Professor Bate points out, this pessimistic requiem was sung over civilization before any of what we now take to be the world's greatest works of literature had been composed. Maybe the scribe was premature!

If all the pessimists across time had been correct in speaking of their generation going to the dogs, exhausting every creative option, or being abandoned by God, you and I would not be here to reflect on it.

Without either being naive or embracing Gump-ism, there is more value in facing the coming week with a positive, forward-looking spirit than wallowing in sadness over our loss of a perfection that never was."

Rubel Shelly

Rubel Shelly is a Preacher and Professor of Religion and Philosophy located in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Health Truth May Take Up to a Century to be Accepted

Turning your health care completely over to someone else is insane. We have to take responsibility for our lives and our health. I've found the site this is taken from -- -- to offer sane, reasonable alternatives, and I commend it to your consideration.

"In 1878, 86 years before the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report confirming the dangers of smoking tobacco, a letter from English physician Charles R. Drysdale condemning its use appeared in The Times of London.

Drysdale had been on an anti-smoking crusade since at least 1864, the year he published a study documenting the effects of tobacco on young men. That study reported cases of jaundice, and at least one subject having "most distressing palpitations of the heart."

Drysdale wrote a book pinpointing nicotine as having ill effects on the lungs, circulation system, and even the skin. He also warned against exposure to second-hand smoke. But despite Drysdale's warnings, little was done to curb smoking anywhere in the world until 1957, when then-Surgeon General Leroy Burney reported a causal link between smoking and lung cancer.

Burney's successor, Luther Terry, commissioned a special committee that produced Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General. Released in 1964, this report began a massive change in people's attitudes toward smoking -- and to think it only took 86 years.

Sources: a.. Wired September 25, 2008

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Frankly, this kind of willful ignorance on the part of the medical establishment is not particularly surprising. Some of medicine's most glaring mistakes and deliberately ignored problems include:

. Bloodletting as a cure-all
. Promotion of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics
. Lobotomy
. Thalidomide, a morning sickness drug called the "drug of
choice to help pregnant women," which caused severe birth defects
. DES, synthetic estrogen promoted to prevent miscarriages,
which caused reproductive problems in the women's children
. HRT: The menopause "cure"
. H. pylori, which is the true cause of ulcers
. The Vioxx disaster that killed 60,000
. Disregarding Dr. Semmelweis and his hand-washing

The last example is instructive. In 1846, a young Austrian-Hungarian doctor named Igaz Semmelweis investigated a notorious maternity ward in which nearly all of the inpatients contracted a fatal case of "childbed fever." What he noticed was that women who came into the ward after giving birth were not likely to become ill.

When a professor who cut his finger in the middle of an autopsy died of symptoms identical to those of the unfortunate mothers, Semmelweis reasoned that the students doing the autopsies were somehow transferring the fever to the women in the maternity ward. Semmelweis began making his students disinfect their hands before delivering babies, and the number of childbed fever cases dropped.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. Semmelweis was labeled "insane" by his colleagues for having the audacity to suggest that they should wash their hands between deliveries, and they fired him. He tried to continue his research but was ostracized by the medical community. His own mental health eventually deteriorated, leading to his death in an insane asylum.

Are There Glaring Medical Errors Being Ignored Right Now?

The closest modern-day analogy for a number of reasons is clearly the cell phone. They both were initially thought to be harmless and the industry strongly defended them. Similarly it took many years for their damage to be recognized in the population.

Evidence is emerging that radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers and other wireless technologies is a real health risk. Health officials in France, Germany, Canada and India have already issued recommendations to limit your exposure to these electromagnetic fields and have children and teens limit their use of cell phones to avoid potential health risks. Some experts are even comparing the cell phone fiasco to cigarettes.

"It was 15, 20 years after people began smoking that we saw concerns associated with it," says Michael Kelsh, principle scientist and epidemiologist for Exponent, a scientific consulting firm. "Down the road, the same could happen with phones."

Here in the United States, however, cell phones have been given the all-clear, and they are growing more popular by the minute.

Our culture is engaging in a massive human experiment with cell phones. Over 75% of the cell phones in the world today have only been here for less than three years. It will take 10-20 years for a large portion of the harm to become obvious.

Are you willing to risk the relative inconvenience of using your cell phone's speaker or using a safe headset to drastically increasing your risk of cancer?

Deaths By Prescription Drugs

Americans spend an average of $7,600 per person, per year on health care, for a grand total of $2.3 trillion in 2007. This is more money spent than any other country. You would think that this would secure a healthy future for most of us, no?

Well, not really.

The U.S. ranks 42nd in the world for life expectancy and 37th for infant mortality. These low scores are, in large part, directly related to the flawed medical system that allowed cigarettes to be widely promoted despite known health risks, the same medical system that still exists today.

One-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that drug overdoses killed 33,000 people in 2005 -- second only to car accidents in the category of accidental deaths -- up from 20,000 in 1999, and 10,000 in 1990. Contrary to popular belief, this major increase in drug overdoses is not due to a heroin or crack epidemic.

These deaths are largely due to prescription drugs.

Meanwhile, all too often health truths are uncovered only to be quickly swept under the rug. This is not just something that happened 50 years ago. It is still going on right now.

For instance, Merck, the maker of the painkiller Vioxx that killed 139,000 people, ignored research that reflected unfavorably on their drug, and they concealed heart attacks suffered by three patients during a clinical trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. They also deleted other relevant data before submitting their article for publication. This was discovered during the preparations for Vioxx trial depositions when the printed copy of the study did not match the original version stored on a disk!

Consider also chemotherapy, the standard treatment for cancer. How effective is chemotherapy?

A study published in the journal Clinical Oncology in December 2004 showed that chemotherapy has an average 5-year survival success rate of just over 2 percent for all cancers! The researchers concluded that chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival, yet it remains the status quo for cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, other cancer treatments that have none of the dangerous side effects of chemotherapy and which have shown much greater effectiveness -- treatments like Dr. Geerd Hamer's German New Medicine and Dr. Simoncini's baking soda treatments -- are being completely ignored and even ostracized by "modern medicine."

Listen to Your Instincts and Look Out for Your Own Health

So if you're counting on the medical profession or a public health agency to protect you from what's harmful, you could wait yourself right into the grave.

As history has shown, doctors can be wrong. Well-accepted health "truths" can be wrong. And ideas that have seemed completely crazy have later on turned out to be true.

So how can you know who to believe?

You can't.

And that's why it is unwise to blindly trust any information you receive related to your health, even me, but be particularly careful if it came from the flawed system known as conventional medicine. Please take this not as a warning but as an empowerment: take all medical advice with a grain of salt, and always do research on your own to confirm or refute the recommendations."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The first papal assassination attempt

The news of the stabbing of Pope John Paul II brings back memories of the first assassination attempt, on May 13, 1981.

Pope John Paul injured in 1982 knife attack, says aide

"The late Pope John Paul II was wounded in a 1982 knife attack a year after an assassination attempt, but kept the injury secret, a top aide to the pontiff has revealed in a new documentary film."

Getting your second wind

"Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you."

William James
1842-1910, Psychologist, Professor and Author

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Self-Determination And Its Value

This is an intriguing discussion. One of the difficulties in America today is that we imagine that we are a nation with a robust exchange of ideas. We are not. These are ideas seldom spoken here. We would be better if they were.

(A Talk given at Rhodes World Public Forum of Dialogue of Civilisations, 12 October 2008.

"We gather in fateful, wonderful times. The great financial crisis is leading to a collapse of hegemony; the nets they made to catch us are being undone.

We are like prisoners who notice that their jailers are in terrible commotion and confusion. Our first response is fear: maybe they will not deliver soup for our lunch, maybe our small privileges we slowly accumulated will be gone. But have no regrets, no doubts, no fears -- we are on the way to freedom: The walls will fall, the jailers will run away, and we shall be set free!"

What passed for sex appeal in 1952

OK, there's no "fairness doctrine" [sic ...] any more. But I aim to be fair. And since I'm aiming to be fair, and since I posted a terrible ad for Eisenhower from the 1952 campaign, here's one the Democrats ran that same year: a Stevenson babe warbles out a tribute to the big intellectual himself.

I Like Ike

Tired of political ads? Me, too.

But count your blessings. You could be hearing this one. Vintage from 1952. The tune has a kind of Chinese water torture quality. (Or lack of quality).

Is this the way to Amarillo?

This video became widely popular (in the UK) after some British soldiers in Iraq lip-synched it. The song itself has been popular there for decades. Even though the town mentioned is in the States, most people here have never heard it. (Amarillo, Texas got placed in the song because it was the one town the songwriters could think of that rhymed with "pillow.") There are numerous versions on youtube. Be warned: the song is mildly addictive, though not necessarily in a bad way.

Bid to canonize girl draws mixed reaction

"Jeanie Scott had been to Linda Santo's house many times to talk or pray over the inert body of her friend's young daughter, kept alive by machines and unable to speak or move since nearly drowning at age 3. One day in 1993, Santo handed her a painting of the Virgin Mary to admire, and Scott stared at it, awestruck."

Davey and Goliath: a true blast from the past

Here's your daily dose of nostalgia. An episode of the 1960s era claymation show Davey and Goliath.

Balancing confidence

"Part of being a champ is acting like a champ. You have to learn how to win and not run away when you lose. Everyone has bad stretches and real successes. Either way, you have to be careful not to lose your confidence or get too confident."

Nancy Kerrigan
Olympic Figure Skater

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Icelandic Shoppers Splurge as Currency Woes Reduce Food Imports

Tiny Iceland -- I've described it as a country with the population of Greensboro -- may be getting ready to go through some horrific times. Those living in insular countries face a daunting prospect in these times: there's no place to go. What's more a country the size of Iceland has far less rabbits to pull out of the hat than do larger countries such as the US or Britain.

"After a four-year spending spree, Icelanders are flooding the supermarkets one last time, stocking up on food as the collapse of the banking system threatens to cut the island off from imports."

How we react to misfortune

"Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them."

Washington Irving
1783-1859, Author

Monday, October 13, 2008

How to get things done

There is a very simple formula to help you prevent work overload
and be more productive every day of your life.

Every time you are faced with a new task to perform, (an email
request, new project at work or at home,phone calls, etc.) apply
the 4 D's as listed below. You will find that your workload will be
reduced and your productivity will go up as you apply this
screening and decision making tool to each task. Decide on the most
appropriate choice - and take action.

#1 Do It Now - take immediate action, do the task right away, don't

#2 Dump It Now - make a quick decision and dump the task.

#3 Delegate It - give the task to someone else. This is a very
critical aspect of time management. Your time is valuable; make
it a habit to work on tasks that you do best and delegate the tasks
that can be performed by someone else.

#4 Defer the Task - make an immediate decision to postpone the task
to a later time. Make sure to schedule a time to complete it.

Make this a habit and you will be more productive every day.


In an online discussion group, there's currently a controversy about a church official. The man clearly made a mistake several years ago. After so many years, he's offered a back-handed apology -- one that's neither clear nor helpful.

If he'd said -- years ago -- "I was wrong, please forgive me," no one would be thinking about this now. But his seeming inability to admit error, ask for, and receive forgiveness has kept this sad episode alive for far longer than it ever should have.

Admitting our mistakes is not easy. Confessing to sins is even harder. But the one consolation is that it gets easier with practice. Keeping a short account with God is a good idea. Likewise keeping a short account with our neighbor. When I find that I can't admit my sin, it's often because I really deep down don't believe that God can forgive that sin. Admitting, confessing, and receiving absolution are what's needed here. It's really no more complicated than that.

When reading political news

3 weeks out from the election, I have a bit of advice:

Remember -- in any election -- if it happens, it's not accidental.

Nothing -- repeat, nothing -- in politics outside of a local school board race happens unexpectedly, or accidentally.

If it seems accidental, you were intended to think it was accidental.

If it was a surprise, it was engineered so you'd think it a surprise.

If the news was released at 3 a.m., it was done with the intention that you would ignore it.

Remember this in the next 3 weeks. I don't begrudge politicians lying. It's a big part of their job. But it doesn't mean you have to believe the lies.

Candidates differ on female draft: who's the war-monger?

"Even as the U.S. confronts two long wars, neither Sen. John McCain nor Sen. Barack Obama believes the country should take the politically perilous step of reviving the military draft.

But the two presidential candidates disagree on a key foundation of any future draft: Mr. Obama supports a requirement for both men and women to register with the Selective Service, while Mr. McCain doesn't think women should have to register."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Report on the Palin "Troopergate" issue: media misstatements?

"After hearing on the Obama Infomercial Network (MSNBC) that a bipartisan legislative committee in Alaska found Sarah Palin guilty of abuse of power, I thought I would check it out for myself. I have some expertise in this area of unlawful behavior by government officials concerning public employees.

Well, as far as I can tell, and this is breaking fast, there is no legislative finding whatsoever! In fact, the report itself recommends only some legislative changes and no penalties or sanctions that I can find."

Terje's First Descent: a lesson in conquering fear

Amy (my wife) and I were discussing fear and the markets last night, and I keep reminding myself and anyone who will listen: fear is counter-productive.

I mean, we see scary things and it's quite natural to fear them, but indulging in that fear, wallowing in it, allowing it to dominate our thoughts, our conversations, our mental space: it's useless.

Here's a video to start your week off. It's truly awesome and a good antidote to those -- like me -- who get sweaty palms in high places.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

McCain tussles with Palin over whipping up a mob mentality

"Palin, 44, has led the character attacks on Obama in the belief that McCain may be throwing away the election and her chance of becoming vice-president. Her supporters think that if the Republican ticket loses on November 4, she should run for president in 2012."

Palin criticizes Obama on abortion at Pa. rally

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin attacked Barack Obama on abortion on Saturday, saying the Democratic presidential candidate has "left behind even the middle ground on the issue of life."

Golden Gate Bridge to get suicide net to catch would-be jumpers

I wrote a few days back about physical barriers to suicide. This is about such an attempt at one of America's premier suicide destinations, the Golden Gate Bridge:

"About 2,000 people have jumped from the storied bridge since it opened in 1937. So far this year, 19 have made the leap, which is almost always fatal. Whether public funds should be used to prevent additional suicides has been passionately debated.

Writing to the board last summer, San Francisco resident Paul J. Miller expressed a view that many others had raised: "Attention should be given to mental health assistance," he wrote, "not paying tens of millions of dollars to contractors who are just trying to milk money from citizens."

On the other hand, the Psychiatric Foundation of Northern California has supported the idea, contending that the effectiveness of barriers has been "dramatic" at such landmarks as the Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower.

The group also cites a study of 515 people who were stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. It concluded that 94% of them were alive or had died naturally long after their thwarted attempts."

Friday, October 10, 2008

If you are worried about cancer

I'm not impressed by conventional cancer treatments. While there are always those who are improved or cured by conventional treatments, most of those who suffer from cancer -- and are treated conventionally -- eventually succumb to it. I don't like those odds.

If you -- or someone you care about -- is diagnosed with cancer, I'd encourage some level-headed thinking about the treatment alternatives. Most physicians will not recommend an alternative, and many of them will mock or deride the alternatives.

But we have to take control of our own lives. The internet -- by allowing a vastly improved flow of information -- has strengthened our ability to know and take control.

This is one such site.
I like this because the author dispassionately discusses alternatives. He is not romantic about them, but he is honest and realistic. A conventional physician is going to suggest conventional treatments: the triad of burning (radiation), poisoning (chemotherapy) and cutting (surgery).

Those are not necessarily bad, but there are other choices. And those other choices provide a vastly higher success rate for treatments. It's your life. No one can make you take one treatment or another. You have to decide what seems to make sense to you. Trust your own instincts. This site helps to inform you.

America's independent press

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history [1880], in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.

If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his [human] race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

John Swinton (1829-1901) pre-eminent New York journalist & head of the editorial staff at the New York Tribune.

'The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture': an Amazon review

"This is a good and concise overview of what it means to be Japanese, and to think as the Japanese do. (With appropriate caution, of course: the book is over 50 years old). Such a book is important because since Japan is a modern industrialized world power, Americans can tend to forget that there are still cultural and social chasms between our way of thinking and interacting and that of the Japanese.

Understanding various concepts of obligation, debt, face-saving, and the influences of historical events (such as the Meiji reform)are covered here. Benedict is also an engaging writer who makes ample use of stories, anecdotes, and illustrations to make her point."

Chapels vs. churches

Some churches don't like calling their buildings "churches."

Notably, the "Churches of Christ" which crankily announces on their signs that "the church of Christ meets here."

It's a very American idea: the church is not a church. Only the people are the church.

Some of our brethren seek to circumvent this by calling their meeting place a "chapel." Such as this congregation.

Which only begs the question: the English "chapel" is from Middle English, borrowed from Old French and medieval Latin. In those languages, it meant basically what we mean when we say "church."

Emphasizing the people of God as the church is not a bad thing. But a church building is indeed the House of God. Here Christ has promised to be in our midst, and here we receive His Body and Blood. The Patriarch, St. Jacob reminds us of this (Gen. 28.10-22) when he spoke of the place where God appeared to him in a dream: "How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

We set aside space to be the house of God. That space has and retains a holiness. Even when the people of God are temporarily gone.

The reasons for failure

"There are 6,000,000 reasons for failure, but
not a single excuse."

Rudyard Kipling.

The Vital Role of Cholesterol in Health

Byron Richards, CCN

"A significant new discovery about the importance of cholesterol to nerve and
muscle health has just been made.
The researchers discovered that
cholesterol is vital to the structure of key proteins involved with nerve
transmission. The finding is groundbreaking, its implications in the
context of widespread high doses of statin drugs in the general population
is alarming.

We have known for a very long time that small fragments of cholesterol (not
HDL or LDL, which are large transport vehicles) are required for every cell
in your body to have a three dimensional structure. Scientists estimate
that you have around 6-8 ounces of this structural cholesterol in your
cells, and without it you would be flat as a pancake on the floor.

Nerve cells are known to have higher amounts of this type of cholesterol, as
nerve cells do not split and divide like other cells and so need the extra
cholesterol to liver longer. One of the very adverse side effects of statin
drugs to lower LDL cholesterol, especially when given in the now commonly
used high doses, is that the important cholesterol in cell membranes is
lowered. In the case of nerves this results in early onset nerve death,
poor function, depression, nerve symptoms, and suicide. Such nerve symptoms
will be progressive and worsen as time goes along, especially when the dose
of a statin is raised.

In the case of muscles, various mechanisms of statin toxicity have now been
identified. These factors reduce energy, muscle health, fitness, and
generally make it harder to be healthy.

The new study adds a brand new explanation for nerve and muscle related
problems from taking statins. Researchers studied the structure of a common
and important neurotransmitter receptor called the nicotinic acetylcholine
receptor. Problems with this receptor's function drastically alter nerve
transmission. Such difficulties are found in chronic inflammation,
Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and
addiction issues (alcohol, nicotine and cocaine).

The new discovery is that cholesterol fragments are absolutely vital to this
receptor working correctly and are part of the protein structure of this
receptor. This is a sweeping scientific discovery. It immediately offers a
new explanation as to why statins have so many devastating nerve and muscle
side effects. It also adds clarity to the issue as to why low cholestereol
causes cancer and early risk for death.

Cholesterol is vital to the healthy function of your body, actually core to
survival. You want good levels of HDL and LDL because you are healthy, not
because you have drugged them to look better on paper. The idea of
cholesterol fitness, like physical fitness, is a proper way to look at this