Sunday, November 30, 2008

Forgiveness begins in Jerusalem

"It was opportune that the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins through the confession of Christ's name should have started from Jerusalem. Where the splendor of His teaching and virtues, where the triumph of His passion, where the joy of His resurrection and ascension were accomplished, there the first root of faith in Him would be brought forth; there the first shoot of the burgeoning church, like that of some great vine, would be planted ... It was opportune that the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins, good news to be proclaimed to idolatrous nations and those defiled by various evil deeds, should take its start from Jerusalem, lest any of those defiled, thoroughly terrified by the magnitude of their offenses, should doubt the possibility of obtaining pardon if they performed fruits worthy of repentance, when it was a fact that pardon had been granted to those at Jerusalem who had blasphemed and crucified the Son of God. "

Venerable Bede, Homilies on the Gospels

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Russian intelligence sees U.S. military buildup on Iran border

We are in a dangerous time. George Bush is still the occupant of the White House, and is still able to do severe damage to our country and the world. Here's the latest.

"MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian military intelligence services are reporting a flurry of activity by U.S. Armed Forces near Iran's borders, a high-ranking security source said Tuesday.

"The latest military intelligence data point to heightened U.S. military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran," the official said, adding that the Pentagon has probably not yet made a final decision as to when an attack will be launched."

Questions about the terror attacks

This is nothing more than a list of questions about the recent Mumbai terrorist attacks -- questions that need to be answered.

Like the 9/11 events and other tragedies, we can count on very simple explanations being proffered to us. We need to reject those very simple explanations, and seek out what actually happened. (A similar list of questions is found here for 9/11).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Martin Mosebach's 'The Heresy of Formlessness': an Amazon review

"If you think of the Latin Mass as a relic propped up by people in love with the past, be prepared to have your mind changed.

I'm an evangelical Christian, a conservative member of a conservative Lutheran church. And while I value and respect the traditions of the church, I thought of the Tridentine Latin Mass as a relic. An interesting relic, perhaps, but hardly of any value to the church in 2008.

I was wrong. And this book changed the way I think about this particular stream of the liturgy. Written originally in German, Martin Mosebach's book is a well-written, engaging series of essays that touches on the nature of liturgy, the relationship of liturgy to culture, the relationship of our bodies to the liturgy and the relationship of the liturgy on earth to worship in Heaven. All this and more in just 209 pages, Mosebach is a novelist whose prose (in English translation) is bright, penetrating, and a joy to read."

Cranberry relish: youtube instructions

Cranberry relish

Here's a seasonal recipe that's different from the usual jelly-like canned cranberry sauces which are way too sweet and usually lack interest -- for want of a better word.

No, this one is good, interesting, and provides a good foil for blander foods -- such as turkey. Plus, it's sort of good for you.

1. Take a bag of fresh cranberries (usually 12 ounces). Wash them, and remove any stray stems that might still be there.

2. Core an apple (make sure you have a good, bright-tasting variety for this!) and cut into inch-size pieces.

3. Juice an orange. Or use orange juice concentrate. You're looking for maybe 1/2 cup of juice, although this isn't an exact science.

4. Put all of the above in a heavy-duty blender and grind until it's a thick mush. "Mush" makes it sound less appetizing than it is, but it's the best word I can think of at the moment. What we're looking for is a thick mixture, with perhaps some tiny pieces of cranberry still intact. If you don't have a heavy-duty blender, I'm afraid you'll have to stick with the canned stuff.

5. Pour the cranberry/apple/orange juice mixture into a serving bowl. Add sugar to taste: I used 3/4 cup for this. What you're aiming at is a balance of tart (unadorned cranberries are very tart) and sweetness. The sweetness should not overtake the tart. If you'd like, add a teaspoon of vanilla, or a dry wine. If you don't like, don't. 1/4 cup of ground pecans adds a nice touch.

I was given a sample of this at Weaver Street Market, in Carrboro, NC. I don't know how they made it, but it gave me an idea, and I checked on some online recipes, and took the ideas and came up with this.

NB Some of the online recipes for this are written by some of our hard-core vegan friends. In addition to animal products, many of this persuasion eschew white sugar, and feel this relish is quite swell without the sugar. De gustibus non disputandum and all that, but be warned: even with sugar, this is a fairly bracing dish. Without sugar, it's intense. You might want to start with 1/4 cup of sugar and move up to taste. I went with a larger amount because I was making it for a family gathering, including nepoti who are not inclined to health foods.

PS: If you run out to the store tomorrow, you can probably catch cranberries on sale. If you buy a bunch, just throw the whole bag in the freezer. They keep well, and thaw quickly, and this way you can ooh and ahh folks at covered dish dinners for months from now.

NASA Mars photo leaked - wood found on mars?

The article I'm linking to here has an exclamation point in the headline. I changed mine to a question mark. Because while I don't doubt that there's a lot more to the whole question of Mars, I'm not certain that this is a wood piece. Although it certainly could be. As usual, there's more to this -- and many -- stories than we're being told.

"Someone at NASA released a photo that they shouldn’t have, a picture of a piece of timber the size of a railroad tie, a photo that could get someone killed. There is no mistaking that the object in the print below is a piece of wood. NASA claims that Mars is a desert planet with no life at all. NASA lies, repeatedly."

Mumbai Attacks Blamed On Al-Qaeda As Pretext For U.S. Military Response

In response to any event such as yesterday's tragedy in Mumbai, avoiding hasty action is prudent. It's also important to avoid assuming that initial reports are correct (I'm skeptical of some of the initial stories of attackers asking for those with British and American passports; follow-up reports fail to mention this) and to always, always, always ask the Cui bono (in other words, "Who benefits?") question.

"The majority of the corporate media has gleefully seized upon the terror attacks in Mumbai to claim that they are the work of “Al-Qaeda,” despite clear and contradictory evidence suggesting otherwise, as a pretext to increase bombing campaigns in Pakistan and beef support for the ailing war on terror in Afghanistan."

Would eating heavy atoms lengthen our lives?

"My sip of heavy water is the culmination of a long journey trying to get to the bottom of a remarkable claim that Shchepinov first made around 18 months ago. He believes he has discovered an elixir of youth, a way to drink (or more likely eat) your way to a longer life. You may think that makes Shchepinov sound like a snake-oil salesman. I thought so too, but the more I found out about his idea, the more it began to make sense."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give thanks unto the Lord: a Psalm for Thanksgiving Day

1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;
3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.
4 They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.
7 And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
8 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
10 Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:
12 Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.
15 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.
17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.
18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.
19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.
20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end.
28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground;
34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
35 He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings.
36 And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation;
37 And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.
38 He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease.
39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.
40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.
41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.
42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.
43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Psalm 107

'Let The Sunshine In' To Protect Your Heart This Winter

I once had a college student acquaintance say that I was the first adult he'd ever met who defended tanning beds. So be it. He just didn't have the right kind of adult friends. The bottom line is that you need sunshine during the winter. And since for most of us, getting out by the pool isn't an option (it's an unseasonably cold 27 degrees out right now), I go to a tanning bed 3 or 4 times a week. With a tan, you look better, feel better, and guard against all kinds of diseases. That's my kind of health insurance.

Science Daily (Nov. 26, 2008) — The temperature might not be the only thing plummeting this winter. Many people also will experience a decrease in their vitamin D levels, which can play a role in heart disease, according to a new review article in Circulation.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Israel's Slow-Motion Genocide in Occupied Palestine

"According to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, Israel has conducted state-sponsored genocide against the Palestinians for decades and intensively in Gaza. In a September 2006 Electronic Intifada article titled "Genocide in Gaza" he wrote:

"A genocide is taking place in Gaza....An average of eight Palestinians die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. Most of them are children. Hundreds are maimed, wounded and paralyzed. (It's become) a daily business, now reported (only) in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts. The chief culprits are the Israeli pilots who have a field day," like shooting fish in a barrel. Why not, they're only Muslims, so who'll notice or care."

Lucy pulls the football out

It's usually conservatives who get in this fix.

We fall for a candidate. You believe the rhetoric. You imagine that that person is one of you. That there will be real, substantive change.

Until they get elected. Rule of thumb: your friends are your friends until they get to Washington.

I was never a big fan of the Peanuts comics. However, this is a great illustration of what I'm talking about.

Lucy holds the football. Charlie Brown goes in for a kick.

And every time, Lucy pulls the ball up, and Charlie Brown falls flat on his back.

We are Charlie Brown. Lucy is the cynical politician. And every time -- count on it -- the football will be pulled back. We will be given all sorts of promises. Promises of "change." And there will be no change.

Barack Obama is just the latest Lucy. He won't be the last.

Why did we have an election?

I say this with no glee. But we shouldn't have wasted our time.

Over 2 years, millions and millions of dollars spent, countless hours of time, and what do we get?

The third term of the Bush administration, complete with Robert Gates as Defense secretary.

I had hoped that my innate cynicism could wait a while. That we might be able to have a respite of a couple of months until we all realized that all the yipping about change was just so much talk to lure people to vote. That Barack Obama is just like all the rest: a cynical, calculating war-monger. I had hoped we might wait, say, until Easter before the American people found out.

We didn't have to wait until Easter. We didn't even have to wait until Thanksgiving. Heck, we didn't even have to wait until the inauguration.

Four more years of the war crowd. Strap yourselves in, folks: it's going to be a long ride.

Winners and losers

"Winners are losers who got up and gave it one more try."

Dennis DeYoung
Rock Musician and Songwriter

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The prodigal son, and his older brother

The parable of the prodigal son is a fertile arena tells us God, His church, forgiveness and the gospel in ways that don't immediately strike us on reading. Some recent thoughts:

Luke 15.26, "And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant." Echoes (or precursor, more accurately) of Acts 8.30-31, "And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?"

The sadness of vss. 27-28 is that the older son is angry at the gospel. The prodigal is home, forgiven, and -- with music and dancing -- an echo of 15.10, "joy in the presence of the angels of God." But the older son is so angry at the joy of the gospel that he himself will not even go in to the celebration. Obviously, the older son is angry at his brother: he cannot bring himself to even refer to the prodigal as his brother, but spits out this referent, "this thy son." (vs. 30) But his anger is at the free forgiveness and kindness of his father, and ultimately at the very nature of his father, which delights in mercy. (cf. Micah 7.18)

Vs. 29 seems likewise a precursor of 19.21, with the stinging accusations against God, "For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow."

But I think that vs. 30 is the most amazing. In the light of this gall and bitterness on the older son's part, the father responds, " Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." The gospel is freely given, not only to the repentant son, but to the older son, who has bragged about his good works while judging and condemning his sinful brother.

Is Resveratrol the Fountain of Youth?

"Interest in resveratrol research took off when it was identified as a component in red wine that may be partly responsible for the “French Paradox,” the ability to eat a higher fat diet with less heart disease than Americans. Research shows that resveratrol helps your liver metabolize fat and helps break down stored fat contained in your white adipose tissue."

Enjoying your life

"Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don't wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it's at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored."

Earl Nightingale
1921-1989, Radio Announcer, Author and Speaker

Constitutional lawyer says electors have duty to investigate citizenship

A one-time vice presidential candidate who is considered an expert on the U.S. Constitution says it is up the electors from the 50 states to make certain President-elect Barack Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen before they cast votes for him in the Electoral College Dec. 15. "If they do their duty, they would make sure that if they cast a vote for Mr. Obama, that Mr. Obama is a natural-born citizen," Herb Titus, the Constitution Party's running mate to Howard Phillips in 1996, told WND today.

Obama and slavery

Obama has called for a term of mandatory, compulsory "civilian service" for all Americans, and his chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel reinforces that idea. Such compulsory service is unconstitutional -- as I argue that so is a military draft -- and the Obama campaign -- and now transition team -- has danced around this issue, calling for it, and then removing sections dealing with it from their website. Let's call this plan for what it is: compulsory enslavement of a huge section of the population. Their crime? Nothing more than being between 18 and 25 years old.

"But now there is new evidence that the critics are right. He does favor mandatory service and it might be worse than we thought. He has chosen Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Rahm Emanuel wrote a book called The Plan in 2006. On page 60-65 of the book Rahm calls for universal conscription of 18-24 year olds for civilian service in order to prepare for a potential terrorist attack."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Your thought for Monday

"I was worthless, until I decided to be worth more."

Kim Jeffery
Career Woman

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An image too cute to ignore

Turkey pardon, Alaska style: Gov. Palin picks an unfortunate place to have an interview

Enzyme takes us a step closer to eternal youth (Linda Geddes in New Scientist)

"Could artificially raising levels of a key enzyme hold back the
effects of aging? It has long been a hope but now two lab experiments
- one with human cells and one in animals - are providing the first
evidence that this may actually be possible. The enzyme in question is telomerase, which is present naturally in some mammalian cells. Its function is to maintain the protective caps called telomeres at the ends of our chromosomes, which unravel with each cell division as we get older. It has been suggested that this shortening triggers some of the negative effects of ageing at a cellular level. As a
result, telomerase has been hailed by some as a potential elixir of life.
One of the latest studies confirms that at least one type of human cell can
indeed be restored to a youthful state by boosting telomerase levels.
The other suggests that boosting telomerase can result in longer life
in animals. While an elixir of life in people remains a very long way
off, the prospect of boosting telomerase to fight disease, including
age-related diseases, may be much closer.

With the aim of fighting HIV, immunologist Rita Effros at the University of California, Los Angeles, previously inserted part
of the telomerase gene into immune cells called killer T-cells. While
this did indeed boost their ability to fight viral infections, such
gene therapy is considered too dangerous to be used in practice.
So in her latest experiments, Effros has turned to a drug called TAT2, developed by Geron of Menlo Park, California, that boosts telomerase production without
altering anyone's DNA.. When killer T-cells from people with HIV were
exposed to TAT2, it enhanced the cells' ability to fight the virus,
suggesting that TAT2 might be used to supplement existing
anti-retroviral drugs by boosting the immune systems of people with HIV
(The Journal of Immunology, vol 181, p 7400).

This idea is supported by a previous study which indicated that some people
with HIV who go for years without developing AIDS have killer T-cells
with high telomerase activity and longer telomeres. Since T-cells fight
many viruses, TAT2 might eventually be deployed to boost resistance to
a whole range of diseases.

TAT2 also increased the cells' ability to divide and stopped their telomeres
from shortening, which raises the possibility that it might be used to
wind back the clock of other ageing cells and provide more general
treatments for aging.

Aubrey de Grey of the Virginia-based Methuselah Foundation,
which promotes research into extending lifespan, certainly sees the
study as a big step in that direction. "It is what we would have
hoped," he says. He is particularly interested in the fact that the
cells seemed to be "fully functional" in their new role as youthful
immune cells, raising hopes that telomerase might wind back the
cellular clock more generally.

Some safety concerns remain, however, not least because cancer cells produce telomerase at higher than normal rates. "With anything that boosts telomerase, you may have unwanted cell growth like in cancers," says Arne Akbar, an immunologist at University College London. However, when TAT2 was added to tumor cells it did not affect the amount of telomerase they produced. Nor did it change the growth characteristics of immune cells that were cultured with a virus that can trigger
cancer. "We are fairly confident at this point that TAT2 won't enhance
cancer development," says Effros, although further trials are needed to
confirm this.

Telomerase is extracted from the Astragalus plant, which is used in Chinese medicine without any obvious adverse effects. While this may help pave the way to pilot studies in humans in the near future, Effros warns against taking large doses of Astragalus to try and mimic the TAT2 effect. "Uncontrolled use of any herbal drug is not wise and I would not advocate it," she says.

Even if telomerase proves successful at holding back some of the effects of
ageing at a cellular level, it is still a big jump from there to
something that stops a person as a whole from ageing. Yet this prospect
too has been brought a step closer with an announcement last week from
Maria Blasco at the Spanish National Cancer Centre in Madrid and her colleagues.

Telomerase has previously been shown capable of turning "a normal, mortal cell
into an immortal cell", as Blasco puts it. But whether this translates
into delaying aging in live mammals has previously been difficult to
test, as high levels of telomerase tend to promote cancer, which
shortens their lives.

So Blasco's team bred mice engineered to be resistant to cancer with mice
engineered to produce 10 times the normal levels of telomerase in
epithelial tissue, which lines the cavities and surfaces of the body.
These animals lived up to 50 per cent longer than normal mice (Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2008..09.034). "You can delay the aging of mice and increase their lifespan," says Blasco.

Blasco's mice also had less subcutaneous fat, healthier epithelial tissue and
improved neuromuscular coordination and glucose tolerance, which are
all signs of youth. Boosting telomerase also seemed to have beneficial
effects on the animals' brains and muscles, even though the enzyme was
not expressed in these tissues.

Effros warns against concluding that this means we can prevent aging in
humans. "I think it is very hard to extrapolate data from mouse aging
to human aging," she says. In particular, she points out that all mice
have longer telomeres than humans, and the lab mice are bred in sterile

Blasco, however, is optimistic that a similar approach may eventually extend
human lifespans. She suggests that the treatment could be combined with
cancer drugs to offset any enhanced cancer risk.

"We're learning to control cell division in a manner that gets the best of
both worlds," says de Grey, "allowing it to happen when we need it, and
not to happen when we don't."

We're getting the best of both worlds - allowing cell division to happen when we need it but not to happen when we don't."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lily Tomlin addresses our current political situation

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up."

Lily Tomlin

Obama on board with China's 'forced abortion' plan

"Taxpayer-funded abortion will likely increase through president-elect Barack Obama's pledged support of the United Nations Population Fund.

President-elect Obama is expected to issue a stack of executive orders on his first day in office. Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute (PRI) defines, in his own words, what that means. "If character is what you do when no one is looking, executive orders are what a president does without the consent of the public or even needing the consent of the Congress," he says. "He can do these things on his own authority."

Are Vaccinations Causing Early Alzheimer’s Disease?

"Clearly, there are many inflammatory factors in a person's life and gene-related weaknesses are involved. However, theoretical data on the inflammatory nature of vaccines, especially in the large numbers given to children at an early age while their nerves are developing response patterns for future life, means that they cannot be ruled out as one main factor that primes the Alzheimer's pump."

Tofu May Increase Risk of Dementia in the Elderly

(NaturalNews) Regularly eating high levels of tofu may increase the risk of
the memory loss associated with dementia
, according to a new study conducted
by researchers from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, and
published in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.

About taxes: "it's not your money"

Here's one of those "you have to hear it yourself" moments. A Republican says -- regarding tax money -- "it's not your money." And this bozo is probably wondering why he lost -- 52% to 43% -- in the 2008 election. He was there for the pork. This is a perfect example of why our government isn't working.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Packing tips for the fashion-impaired

There are 2 types of luggage on the airlines: carry-on. And lost.

So when I travel (not as often as I'd like) I'm ruthless about carrying as little as I can. This means minimal extra clothes. Obviously, I'm not a woman.

So when I was digging through some travel books here at home last night, feeling yucky from the cold and the short hours of daylight, and needing thoughts of summertime, I found this book: Trekking in Russia and Central Asia, by Frith Maier.

In the section on packing for such trips, the author suggests the following for clothing:

"You don't need more than two shirts: wear one while you're washing the other. Pants, too: ... take one pair that looks good enough to wear in town and make sure they're comfortable. This does work. I spent 6 weeks in Siberia with one T-shirt, one long-sleeved shirt, and one pair of pants. When my luggage was lost for 2 weeks, I discovered the second pair was redundant -- I got along fine with the clothes I had on."

I thought I had discovered a kindred spirit: a guy who doesn't worry about clothes and had this travel thing down to a science.

But when I flipped to the back, I was shocked to discover that Frith Maier is a woman! (Again, obviously, I am not a woman).

We went to Germany once and I washed clothes in the sink every night. Our son appreciated my sentiments, but my wife and daughters thought I was crazy. But I was relieved to know that it's not just men who feel like I do.

Mile-thick glaciers found on Mars

"Huge glaciers up to half a mile thick have been discovered close to the equator of Mars and are thought to be the remnants of an ice age on the planet.

The glaciers are thought to have been formed up to 100 million years ago and are the “most dramatic” evidence yet of climate change on Mars.

Hundreds of glaciers have been identified by researchers using ground-penetrating radar that allows them to see through a rocky layer of debris covering the ice.

The biggest of the glaciers are up to 13 miles long and more than 60 miles wide and represent a potential source of water for astronauts on missions to Mars. When they formed, the climate on Mars was much colder because the tilt of the axis on which the planet spins was much greater than it is now. This allowed ice sheets to extend far beyond the polar regions and towards, possibly even reaching, the Equator."

Scientists take a step closer to an elixir of youth

"Researchers believe boosting the amount of a naturally forming enzyme in the body could prevent cells dying and so lead to extended, healthier, lifespans..

The protein telomerase helps maintain the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes which act like the ends of shoelaces and stop them unravelling.

As we age, and our cells divide, these caps become frayed and shorter and eventually are so damaged that the cell dies. Scientists believe boosting our natural levels of telomerase could rejuvenate them."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why the hare beats the tortoise

This is a great comment. We all know the reality, but the constipated fable of the tortoise and the hare seems to tell us a deeper reality. It doesn't.

"In real life, of course, it is the hare who wins. Every time. Look around you. ... The propaganda goes all the other way, but only because it is the tortoise who is in need of consolation."

Hotel du Lac, Anita Brookner

More stasis from the Obama administration: where's the change?

WASHINGTON - Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to be secretary of the Department Health and Human Services, NBC News confirmed Wednesday.

Making progress

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions."

Jim Rohn
Author and Speaker

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mitt Romney: Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

"IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check."

Al-Qaida No. 2 insults Obama

Does anyone else find this story just a bit odd? The concept of "house negro" is a fairly nuanced American insult, and I find it interesting that this purported message not only used the term (in Arabic, no less) but managed to make the make the alleged insult specific in "English subtitles." Americans are mistaken if we assume that messages from Al-Qaida are necessarily what they are said to be. Always, always, always be suspicious about the origin and meaning of these videos. We should ask several questions: what is the origin of the message? Where did it first surface? How do we know that the speaker is who it is claimed to be? Who translated the message? And for this message -- which is claimed to be an audio -- how is it that the report then claims that there are "English subtitles"?

Misinformation is a big part of the intelligence community business. Never assume that such messages are what they are claimed or are from whom they're claimed. While it's always possible that these are from Al-Qaida, it's also possible that someone put them together in Langley, VA, Tel Aviv, Moscow or a dozen other places.

"CAIRO,Egypt (AP) - Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri insulted Barack Obama in the terror group's first reaction to his election, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites. The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader. Al-Zawahri also called Obama—along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice—"house negroes."

What belief is

"If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won't, you most assuredly won't. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad."

Denis Waitley
Author, Speaker and Trainer

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Last-minute Bush abortion ruling causes furor

WASHINGTON: A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job-discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

Half of primary-care doctors in survey would leave medicine

"(CNN) -- Nearly half the respondents in a survey of U.S. primary care physicians said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative."

Luther foresees the bailout in his last words: "Wir sein bettler" (translation: "We are beggars")

WASHINGTON (AP) - Detroit's Big Three automakers pleaded with Congress on Tuesday for a $25 billion lifeline to save their once-proud companies from collapse, warning of broader peril for the national economy as well.

"Our industry ... needs a bridge to span the financial chasm that has opened up before us," General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee in prepared testimony. He blamed the industry's predicament not on failures by management but on the deepening global financial crisis.

Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things

"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

Luke 12.22-32

Sen. James Inhofe: Cancel the 'blank check'

For anyone naive enough to believe that the bailout of big banks was for the good of the economy, here's another opinion. Far be it from me to favorably quote a U. S. Senator, but here's one who spoke the truth yesterday:

"WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Saturday that Congress was not told the truth about the bailout of the nation's financial system and should take back what is left of the $700 billion "blank check'' it gave the Bush administration.

"It is just outrageous that the American people don't know that Congress doesn't know how much money he (Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson) has given away to anyone,'' the Oklahoma Republican told the Tulsa World.

"It could be to his friends. It could be to anybody else. We don't know. There is no way of knowing.'"

Cancer Drugs Make Tumors Grow

"(NaturalNews) Drugs like Avastin that are used to treat some cancers are supposed to work by blocking a vessel growth-promoting protein called vascular endothelial growth factor, or VEGF. With VEGF held in check, researchers have assumed tumors wouldn't generate blood vessels and that should keep malignancies from growing. In a sense, the cancerous growths would be "starved". But new research just published in the journal Nature shows this isn't true. Instead of weakening blood vessels so they won't "feed" malignant tumors, these cancer treatments, known as anti-angiogenesis drugs, actually normalize and strengthen blood vessels -- and that means they can spur tumors to grow larger."

Being grateful

"Let's choose today to quench our thirst for the 'good life' we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts."

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Monday, November 17, 2008

Grammar humor

From Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct, p.133:

"In Boston there is an old joke about a woman who landed at Logan Airport and asked the taxi driver, 'Can you take me someplace where I can get scrod?' He replied, 'Gee, that's the first time I've heard it in the pluperfect subjunctive.'"

Great achievers and vision

"All of the great achievers of the past have been visionary figures; they were men and women who projected into the future. They thought of what could be, rather than what already was, and then they moved themselves into action, to bring these things into fruition."

Bob Proctor

North Korea founder opposed nuclear weapons

I find North Korea (the DPRK) interesting. Not because I'm sympathetic with their ideology: to cite St. Paul in Gal. 1.13, they have "persecuted the church of God," as well as my loathing for totalitarians.

But when a country is branded as an official enemy of the US, my radar goes up. So should yours. Because the reality is that the US will allow virtually any atrocity from a country that proclaims their nominal alliance with the US. Since North Korea refuses to do this, they are stamped as our enemy, as is any country or regime that refuses to concede American hegemony.

This is an interesting take on North Korea. The country's government -- however evil -- is not monolithic.

"SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea's late founder Kim Il Sung swore to Beijing in the 1960s that he opposed the development of nuclear weapons, a report said Monday, citing a newly declassified Chinese document.

In a letter Kim wrote to then-Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai in late October 1964, Kim — father of current leader Kim Jong Il — said North Korea supports banning nuclear weapons and would "unite with the peace-loving people around the world" to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency."

In 'Eisenhower’s Death Camps': A U.S. Prison Guard Remembers

This is a piece about one of those very sad moments in American history. As a country, we tend to be self-righteous about our treatments of others. Sometimes we have been kindly to sufferers around the world. This is a report about a time when we were not. This history about the end of World War II is never treated in conventional histories. Instead, we glory in allied victories, neglecting to ponder our wholesale destruction of civilian populations in Japan and Germany, and aftermaths such as this.

"In Andernach about 50,000 prisoners of all ages were held in an open field surrounded by barbed wire. The women were kept in a separate enclosure that I did not see until later. The men I guarded had no shelter and no blankets. Many had no coats. They slept in the mud, wet and cold, with inadequate slit trenches for excrement. It was a cold, wet spring, and their misery from exposure alone was evident."

Further information about this subject is here:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blackouts mark North Korea's real power struggle

PYONGYANG (Reuters) - While the world wonders if North Korea is in the throes of a leadership crisis over Kim Jong-il's suspected stroke, the real power struggle for ordinary people in the hermit state is coping with electricity shortages.

Blackouts frequently interrupted a four-day stay in Pyongyang for South Koreans attending a rare joint seminar between the Cold War rivals, with the North's showcase city often plunged into pitch darkness by power outages.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The dangers of dual allegiances to America

As Americans continue to kill and be killed in Iraq (and Afghanistan), whose agenda does this serve? Who benefits from such wars in the Gulf? Who are the cheerleaders? Dahlia Wasfi, M.D., provides answers to these questions.

'Constitutional crisis' looming over Obama's birth location

"The California secretary of state should refuse to allow the state's 55 Electoral College votes to be cast in the 2008 presidential election until President-elect Barack Obama verifies his eligibility to hold the office, alleges a California court petition filed on behalf of former presidential candidate Alan Keyes and others."

Great Elephant Soccer

This video isn't about politics (I thought it was a joke about Republicans -- get it: "elephants"?) or church or anything else serious. Just a bunch of real, live elephants playing soccer. Enjoy.

B Vitamins Protect Seniors From Cancer

"While headlines this week blared that a study conducted at Brigham and Women�s Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that B vitamins did not protect against cancer, the media virtually ignored the fact that the study found substantial protection in those over 65.

The study followed over 5,400 women who had high blood pressure or high cholesterol and were at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The women, whose average age was 63, were followed for seven and a half years."

Vitamin C lowers levels of inflammation biomarker considered predictor of heart disease

"A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, adds to the evidence that vitamin C supplements can lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP), a central biomarker of inflammation that has been shown to be a powerful predictor of heart disease and diabetes. The same study found no benefit from daily doses of vitamin E, another antioxidant."

Get a .com if you can

Here's a hint for your internet publishing: if you are registering a domain, get a .com address if you possibly can.

Yes, all of the one word sites are gone. Long ago. But if you have a choice of a relatively short address with a .tv or .mobi (to give 2 examples; there are others) and a longer one with a .com, go for the .com: people still default to .com.

I saw a very good new video site. I went to it, and typed in the address, and didn't get it. The problem, of course, is that their catchy name was .tv and I defaulted to what almost everyone does: .com.

Don't let your site lose out on visitors. This is especially true for churches.

Chris Matthews plays softball

The poodles line up to get treats from the Obama administration. Here's the first. He won't be the last.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex

President Eisenhower's warning to the nation in 1961 remains sadly pertinent over 40 years later.

SC priest: No communion for Obama supporters

"COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him 'constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.'

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote."

If this is change, what does stasis look like?

First, the trial balloons about keeping Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. Now this. As I've said earlier, the Obama administration is not about change -- it's about keeping in power those who are already in power. This is merely the 3rd term of the Bush administration.

"WASHINGTON - We may soon be calling Hillary Rodham Clinton "Madame Secretary." President-elect Barack Obama is considering the New York senator and former first lady for secretary of state - an appointment that would go a long way toward healing the wounds left by their bruising Democratic primary."

A prayer for healing

"O Christ, who knows our sorrows: comfort our brethren who are lonely and heavy with griefs. Give courage to those who are assailed by vehement temptations; give strength to them who have no might, and when they are tried, grant them the victory. Remember the sick and afflicted, especially such as are dear to us whom we name in our hearts ... and if so it seems good to you, give health again, in body and soul, for your tender mercies' sake. Amen."

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

Bishop Andrew Elisa Hospitalized

"The Holy Spirit has worked mightily through Rev. Elisa to establish the ELCS [Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sudan]. Fifteen years ago, the Lutheran Heritage Foundation sent Andrew Elisa five copies of Luther's Small Catechism and a Book of Concord. Excited by what he read, Andrew eagerly shared this good Lutheran doctrine with everyone he met. Today, there are more than 80 Lutheran churches, five Lutheran elementary schools and two kindergartens located throughout Sudan, attended by more than 15,000 baptized Lutherans. More than a dozen men attend the seminary in Baguga, studying to become the faithful shepherds of these people.

After working tirelessly for the ELCS, today Rev. Elisa needs your help.

Early in October, Rev. Elisa began experiencing difficulties in his balance. After meeting with doctors at St. Paul Lutheran Hospital in Khartoum, he received treatment and returned to Yambio in southern Sudan.

Over the next two weeks, the imbalance continued and an MRI revealed a growing inflammation in the brain. Rev. Elisa and his wife, Linda, traveled to Jordan on Nov. 5 in hopes of better diagnosis and treatment. Physicians there are continuing his treatment and have started physical therapy. Unfortunately, Rev. Elisa's symptoms do not appear to be improving at this time, and the inflammation has started to affect his speech."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The faces of National Public Radio

Radio's a funny thing. Though we don't see those speaking, still our minds develop mental images based on what they sound like. And if you're a nerd like me, you listen to NPR. Sometimes they're infuriating, and often (contrary to the popular stereotype) painfully conservative. (I use "conservative" and "liberal" in the classic senses of the words rather than with the meaningless political definitions of our time). But NPR is usually good, seldom really bad, and occasionally it rises to greatness. And here are the faces with the voices. Check them out and be prepared to be surprised.

John Melcher for senate ad: 1982: the talking cows

This is supposed to be funny, and it is -- but not necessarily for the reasons it was intended. The talking cows look horribly done now, but hey, this was from 1982. It was what passed for a funny ad that year.

Some light for darkness: St. Sophia's cathedral in Kiev

Patience, action, and what to do

"Patience is also a form of action."

Francois Auguste Rene Rodin
1840-1917, Artist

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Chemotherapy can do more harm than good, study suggests

"Doctors have been urged to be more cautious in offering cancer treatment to terminally-ill patients as chemotherapy can often do more harm than good, a study suggests.

Patients with incurable cancers were promised much greater access to the latest drugs which could offer them extra months or years of life by a Department of Health review last week.

Such medicines are often taken or injected as part of a “cocktail” of chemotherapy drugs.

But the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) found that more than four in ten patients who received chemotherapy towards the end of life suffered potentially fatal effects from the drugs, and treatment was “inappropriate” in nearly a fifth of cases."

Change we can't believe in

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."

Emma Goldman

The interregnum

I heard it on the radio yesterday. Someone spoke of the "interregnum" between the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration.

No, no, no. "Interregnum" derives from the Latin meaning "between 2 reigns" (or kings).

The US president -- despite the pretensions of the venal politicians who inhabit this post -- is not a king. Having an "inauguration" complete with parades only reinforces political vanity, but we can't do anything about that).

What we can do is use precise language and hold precise ideas. What we're dealing with is a transition from one administrator of the executive department to another: hence, we call them -- for instance -- "the administration of Jimmy Carter." Or whomever.

But he's not a king (or a queen). Neither the ones we like or the ones we don't. Treating them as if they were only makes things worse.

The function of public libraries

Libraries already seem kind of quaint. In the future, they're going to seem quainter.

I'm not talking about specialized, academic libraries. I'm talking about the public library, Ben Franklin/Andrew Carnegie type libraries.

A nearby town has just approved plans for building a new library. Like most public libraries, it will almost instantly serve 3 primary functions: DVDs for cheap middle class patrons, internet access for those who don't have one at home, and a place for homeless bums to snooze. If you think I'm being harsh, you haven't been in a public library recently.

Those my age (I'm 53) often retain childhood memories of libraries, where nerdish children sought knowledge, and kindly librarians (always women, in this memory) guided the children in their quest.

Now those nerdish kids are doing primarily internet searches. And given the nature of nerds, they'd be doing it at home with high speed access.

Lots of folks -- me included -- don't like to read off a "device." I'm thinking about the Amazon Kindle here, though I've never used one. But what I'm also telling myself is that I need to get over it. "Devices" for reading text are already vastly better than they were, and will get lots better in the years to come.

So let's fast forward 20 years. (We could probably see this in 5 years, but I'll give you 20 for the sake of argument). In this scenario, virtually everyone has a device. We'll probably have a subscription to something like Amazon where we'll be able to download an unlimited amount of reading material for, say, $9.95 a month. Or maybe it'll be $.99 per book. Whatever the cost, it will be cheap. The reader device will be good, easily read, and portable with a huge library of books in memory. And you're telling me people will be going to a physical library, to "check out" books? Come on.

These facilities are already dinosaurs. A child born in 2008 will literally be unable to understand why we ever built them. That's OK: time passes, and things become outdated. The question is why we're building them now.

Even without a Kindle reader, I seldom patronize a library. I can buy many used books (physical books) cheap on Amazon. I often get them for a dollar or 2, and then pay $3.99 for shipping. Why would I drive to a library, check out a book, have to worry about it being overdue when I can own a copy for often less then $6 total? My time is too valuable to deal with schlubbing to a library, and dealing with the aggravation.

And I'm not alone. People like me -- the middle class, middle-aged patrons who used to be the mainstay of public librarianship -- are gone. We won't be coming back. And there's no one to replace us.

But we're still spending millions of tax dollars building these facilities. We could do worse: most politicians waste far more than that. But there's no reason to be building these places. They won't be open in 50 years. And there's no reason to open a new one now.

Gay rights protesters disrupt Sunday service

DELTA TWP. - A radical gay rights group is claiming responsibility for a protest Sunday at Mount Hope Church in Delta Township. Protesters who entered the Creyts Road church along with worshippers surprised the congregation when they stood up during the service, threw fliers at churchgoers and shouted slogans such as "It's OK to be gay," and "Jesus was a homo," according to David Williams, communications director at the church. His father, Dave Williams, is the church's longtime pastor. He was not preaching at the church Sunday.

Sowell on intellectualism in American political life

"How have intellectuals managed to be so wrong, so often? By thinking that because they are knowledgeable— or even expert— within some narrow band out of the vast spectrum of human concerns, that makes them wise guides to the masses and to the rulers of the nation. But the ignorance of Ph.D.s is still ignorance and high-IQ groupthink is still groupthink, which is the antithesis of real thinking."

Where to find happiness

"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it."

William Feather
1889-1981, Writer

Camile Paglia holds forth on Obama and Palin

"I like Sarah Palin, and I've heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is -- and quite frankly, I think the people who don't see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn't speak the King's English -- big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist. I stand on what I said (as a staunch pro-choice advocate) in my last two columns -- that Palin as a pro-life wife, mother and ambitious professional represents the next big shift in feminism. Pro-life women will save feminism by expanding it, particularly into the more traditional Third World."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The difference between Americans and others

"And it is this that makes one compare in its essentials life in the Far East with life in America. Both are pioneer. They are living in the future. They have no past. The present is something that is to be scraped in a few years' time. The Americans do not build motor cars that will last a lifetime. They do not want things that will last a lifetime. In a few years greater knowledge and facilities will have produced better models. We are told that the Americans think about nothing except money, though this criticism does not come too well from a class that spends a third of its time discussing death duties, income tax, the cost of living and servants' wages. But the American only likes money because there is so much for him to buy with it. The American attitude to money is different from the European. When an American is in debt it is because he is living upon a shoe-string; he has bought up shares and real estate because he had the money handy for the first installment, but finds the meeting of the subsequent installments is beyond his means. The American mortgages his future, the Englishman more often mortgages his past. He arranges a reversion. He sells or borrows money on a section of his property. He draws upon his capital. The American in anticipating his income is forced to realize his potentialities."

Alec Waugh, Hot Countries, pps. 200-201