Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reduce entropy

Reduce entropy.  Use a paperclip.

Snowmen

Snowmen: finally, absorbing calories enhances weight loss

Loud boiling test tubes!

Over Thanksgiving, my dad's cousin passed away.  He was younger than Dad, and even though he and his wife were trained as nurse anesthesiologists, there was no warning even they could detect before a heart attack took him.  Seeing his wife and daughters mourn for him was very sad, and you could see the strain on his sisters and parents.  Mom had brought some pictures of a roadtrip Dad and Rick took when they were college-age.  Even though I didn't remember this cousin beyond my parents' memories of him, I could see his sense of humor in the pictures on display and the stories of my Dad and his growing-up together.  One photo showed him and his wife posing in farm regalia complete with a pitchfork to model American Gothic.  And Dad told me about their pretending to have bratty kids in the back of the car that they had to swat to keep in line!  It was horrible to think about his being ripped away from this life, but even though he had gone to be with God, his life continued to be an amazing testimony.  Not One of the songs we sang had the verse shown below.  (My mom copied it down and then found it on the Internet):

Earth & all Stars by Herbert F. Brokering

Classrooms and Labs!
Loud Boiling test tubes!
Sing to the Lord a new song!
Athlete and band!
Loud cheering people!
Sing to the Lord a new song!

Chorus:
He has done marvelous things.
I too will praise Him with a new song!

There's two things I really appreciated about this song.  First, it showed that a life lived for God isn't confined to a building with a spire or an altar.  Next, I saw a connection point in the mention of chemistry.  You see, my dad's a chemist.  Even though Dad and his cousin never got to say goodbye, even in the music at his funeral, there was a connection point between Dad and Rick.  God's like that, isn't he?  When we open up our hearts to Him, He has so many ways of ministering to us.  Praise you, God.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Got Manipulated?

When I was little, I remember trying to manipulate Mom into letting me set the table with cups, saucers, salad plates, bowls, the works. While she was wavering, I tried smiling my sweetest smile and saying, "I'll wash 'em!" Yeah right. Even as I said the words I knew I didn't mean them. It was all about getting my way that moment. Later on, I could find some way out of this hasty promise.
Fortunately, I didn't become a master-manipulator, though I've got to admit that there's times when I have manipulated my parents. And lately I've been sorely tempted to try the "it's either her or me" trick.
In case you come across a manipulator (or even one in the works), this article presents some ways to tell. Books have even been written on this subject! (George K. Simon's In Sheep's Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People is one example). One excerpt describes the characteristics of a covert-aggressive personality.
The bottom line? Don't get fleeced. And don't fleece others!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cartoons and the Bible

"[T]he fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas." -- Psalm 8:8 -- Finding Nemo, when the dad fish meets the turtle fleet swimming during rush hour in the main current.
"He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. " -- Psalm 7:15 -- Sleeping Beauty's step-mom (turned hag) who falls into her own trap; graphic violence when I was a youngster, but even then it made me think of this!

Monday, December 21, 2009

David Stevens quits the AMA

http://www.cmda.org/AM/Template.cfm?Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24446

He made this decision after representatives of the AMA met with legislators in a closed-door meeting, and then declared that the AMA was behind the health care debacle.  Dr. Stevens remarked that the AMA no longer represents the majority of physicians, and their membership numbers reflect this: their members' roll has declined from three out of every four physicians in 1960 to about one in five today.

Sixty Four versus Zero

Some Democrats in the House at least put up a fight when it came to abortion funding.  No, their convictions didn't hold to the point of voting against the final bill when the Stupak amendment wasn't in it.  But Democrats in the Senate have voted unanimously in favor of federal abortion funding.  This is just plain sick. 

"Senate Democrats have unanimously placed their party well to the left of public opinion.  Sixty-four House Democrats, on the other hand, voted for Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment to block the federal government from subsidizing abortion.  It is up to them, and especially to the pro-lifers among them, to prove that their party is not a closed club made up of pro-abortion extremists and those they can buy off.  Stupak has his work cut out for him."   Retrieved December 21, 2009 from <http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YjQxNDJkNjA5OTExYjA5YmMwZjVkMGYyOWE0MTg5NzU=>

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blossoms

New favorite movie: Blossoms in the Dust.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Great Verses from Job!

"For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food.  Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good."
(Job 34:3-4)

"..If He hides His face, who can see Him?  Yet He is over man and nation alike, to keep a godless man from ruling, from laying snares for the people."  (Job 34:29-30)

"The godless in heart harbor resentment..." (Job 36:13)

"He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food." (Job 36:16)

"He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark." (Job 36:32)

"He loads the clouds with moisture; He scatters His lightning through them.  At his direction they swirl around the face of the whole earth to do whatever He commands them.  He bring the clouds to punish men, or to water His earth and show His love."  (Job 37:11-13)

"Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's wonders.  Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes His lightning flash?  Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of Him who is perfect in knowledge?"  (Job 37:14-16)

"Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?"  (Job 38:37-38)

"Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane?  Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting?  He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray.  He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword.  The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance.  In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.  At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, 'Aha!'  He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry." (Job 39:19-25)

Yes for Innovation -- My latest to Evan Bayh

Hi, Mr. Bayh
Please vote "no" on Mr. Reid's Healthcare Bill.  Good ideas don't need compulsion as advocates.  I encourage you to take a look at the innovative approach to medicine that Dr. Alan Dappen is taking.  He founded DocTalker, which gives patients 24/7 access to health professionals, helping them through medical dilemmas on an as-needed basis.  (You can read more about his work at www.doctalker.com).  If the Dr. Dappens of this world are allowed to freely innovate, we will continue to see revolutions in patient care.  The answer to the problems of the U.S. healthcare system is not socialized medicine.  It's freedom to innovate.  Please vote "no" on Mr. Reid's healthcare bill, and vote "yes" for innovation.

Sincerely, ______________

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some Awe!

I just can't get over the fact that God knew about a church in this community where the preacher was trained to think about Biblical Worldviews by Dr. Martin.
And that He pointed me to that church.
God is awesome.

Yeah!!!!

My cousin got engaged last night.  Yippee!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Letter

Christmas isn't cutsey. 
It's an act of war. 
Carols may be sentimental, but at their heart they're a battle cry.
He's here.
Our deliverer has come.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

I don't know how many times I've read this verse and never thought about it.  I've seen pieces of this verse written on cards in scripty fonts, and I've paid more attention to how shiny the paper was than how powerful the words were.  What's it all mean?  I know I'm just scratching the surface, but I've got to try to understand something here!

Jesus came for us.  "To us" Jesus was born, "to us" He was given!  We needed Him.  Government on His shoulders -- we needed Him to stabilize us (politics, law, economics), Wonderful Counselor -- we needed Him to counsel us (ethics, philosophy), Mighty God -- we needed Him to define our views of reality (theology, history), Everlasting Father -- we needed Him to define love and show us what family is (biology, sociology, psychology), Prince of Peace -- we needed Him to bring peace to our madness (all of the above!).

I've heard so many times that a Christian should his religious beliefs separate from his political ones.  If God did that, then I would, too.  But as it is, even Jesus' birth announcement touches on all the aspects of a worldview!  In all areas of life, we were fouled up.  Jesus came to deliver us, to shine His piercing light into our clouded, confused, and rebellious minds.

This year has been a rough one for everyone I know.  Friends have had their dads walk out on them, their sisters walk out on them, or their husbands walk out on them. They've been diagnosed with cancer.  They've lost cousins and nephews, they've lost jobs, they've lost assurance, they've lost security.

But you know what?  Jesus is here.

It's easy to think how much better it would be if we had just lived on earth when Jesus did.  But I guarantee you that on the day when Jesus was born, dads had walked out out, sisters had walked out, husbands had walked out...  This world was broken then and it's broken now.  Our sin breaks stuff, and breaks it clumsily, meanly, slyly, desperately, or calculatingly.  But that's not the point.  The point is, Jesus is here.

He's come to deliver us from ourselves, from our sin, from death, and from the evil one. 

He's come to bring us peace, but there's a struggle that comes first.  That struggle is the civil war we fight inside ourselves every day, and the struggle against the unjust claims that Satan tries to lay on us.

What's so crazy to me is that just as we have the struggle over nativity scenes in public areas today, so Satan fought the original nativity scene -- witness Herod and the slaughter of the innocents.  But Jesus' birth was just the beginning: if Satan had known the full story of what Jesus would be doing on earth, boy, I don't know how he could have contained himself!  And today, as Satan continues to fight against nativity scenes and any positive, public mention of Christ, it's so clear that Satan is already defeated.  He's being petty.  He knows he can't take Jesus on head-on, so he's trying to gain token victories that will get the most mileage in order to deceive people into thinking he has a chance to win.  Satan's trying to fight against the One he knows has already defeated him.  Satan's best chance came when Jesus was a defenseless newborn lying in straw while a cow chewed the cud behind Him.  But he couldn't even defeat Him then!  Today, Christ has overcome death and Satan.  Soon, He's going to be coming back as King.

It's clear that Christ has overcome Satan, and soon Satan will be thrown into the pit.  Praise God!  But Satan is viciously struggling in his death throes because he wants to pull as many people down with him that he can.  He's spiteful, vengeful, and even if he realizes he has no chance of defeating Jesus directly, he knows he can still wound his heart by trying to pull away people that Jesus loves -- everyone.

But Jesus is here.  He's going to win.  As we celebrate His birth, let's look forward to His final victory.  Whatever it is that you're struggling with today, Jesus is stronger.  Whatever it is that's keeping you up nights, Jesus is stronger.  Our present sufferings can't even compare with the future glory that's to come.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jesus was born.
It was an act of war.
His call is a battle cry.
Immanuel, Jesus is here.
Our deliverer has come.

Glorious Invader

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

Clearly, if God says that Jesus has a role in government, then Jesus has a role in government.  I don't understand all of what this verse means, but this is what comes to mind:
 
Right now,
Only Jesus is strong enough to bear the burden of man's choices, and only His intervention in our world sustains any form of human life or orderly system.  Jesus told us that He is Truth.  So in this case, can we equate "His shoulders" and "absolute truth"?  Any governmental system that man invents will fail.  It's just that some take longer than others.  Those founded on absolute truth -- Christ's shoulders -- whether or not He's given credit -- are the ones that last longer. When governments try to build on anything beside Christ's shoulders (absolute truth), they quickly disintegrate.

In the future,
As we witness governments removing themselves from Christs' shoulders, we can look forward with even more hope and joy to the day when Jesus will govern us directly, with no intervening manmade structure to mismanage, confuse, destroy, or oppress anyone.

What's so crazy to me is that just as we have the struggle over nativity scenes in public areas today, so Satan fought the original nativity scene -- witness Herod and the slaughter of the innocents.  But Jesus' birth was just the beginning: if Satan had known the full story of what Jesus would be doing on earth, boy, I don't know how he could have contained himself!  And today, as Satan continues to fight against nativity scenes and any mention of Christ in government, it's so clear that Satan is already defeated.  He's being petty.  He knows he can't take Jesus on head-on, so he's trying to gain token victories that will get the most mileage in order to deceive people into thinking he has a chance to win.  Satan's trying to fight against the One he knows has already defeated him.  Satan's best chance came when Jesus was a defenseless newborn lying in straw while a cow chewed the cud behind Him.  But he couldn't even defeat Him then!  Today, Christ has overcome death and Satan.  Soon, He's going to be coming back as King.

It's clear that Christ has overcome Satan, and soon Satan will be thrown into the pit.  Praise God!  But Satan is viciously struggling in his death throes because he wants to pull as many people down with him that he can.  He's spiteful, vengeful, and even if he realizes he has no chance of defeating Jesus directly, he knows he can still wound his heart by trying to pull away people that Jesus loves -- everyone.

That's why we're still fighting.  It's not that Jesus' victory isn't assured, or that Satan's defeat isn't for sure! 
Christmas isn't cutesy -- it's an act of war
That's why Christmas carols are so powerful -- it's singing joyfully about Christ's invasion into a battle that only He could win.  So sing 'em with gusto!

I love you all so much -- just wanted to show you this awesome, awesome verse!!!!
:)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I love surveys and spreadsheets

I absolutely love writing surveys and seeing results filter into spreadsheets.  Love it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Campus Sweet Campus

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chief of Police Barbara O'Connor <dpscomments@illinois.edu>
Date: Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 2:56 PM
Subject: CRIME-ALERT
To: All Faculty & All Academic Professionals & All Civil Service Staff & All Undergrad Students & All Grad Students <everybody@illinois.edu>



I write to inform you of troubling incidents that continue within the
Campus District.

The Champaign Police Department is investigating a robbery that occurred
on December 11, 2009 at approximately 4:00 am near the intersection of
Fifth Street and White Street.  The victim was approached from behind and
punched in the face.  The unconscious victim was later brought home by
friends.  When the victim awoke later in the morning, he realized his
wallet was missing.  This victim could provide no information regarding
the person(s) that committed this crime.  The victim sustained a small
abrasion to his cheek.

Champaign Police are also investigating an attempted robbery and
aggravated battery that occurred on December 13, 2009 at approximately
7:10 p.m. near the intersection of Second Street and Springfield Avenue.
The victim believes she was followed by the persons who committed this
crime from the area of First Street and Springfield Avenue.  The victim
was pulled into an alley by the offenders and thrown to the ground.  The
offenders kicked the victim repeatedly in the face and torso.  The
offenders attempted to remove property from the victim.  The screams
coming from the victim attracted the attention of a resident of a nearby
apartment who observed the victim on the ground.  The offenders are
described as three black males in their early twenties.  One of the
offenders was tall with a long face.  Another offender was described as
approximately 5 foot 7 inches tall and slightly overweight with braided
hair and wearing baggy jeans with chains hanging off of them.  All three
offenders were wearing loose bomber type jackets.  The victim sustained
several scratches to her face.

The Urbana Police Department is investigating a robbery that occurred on
December 13, 2009 at approximately 7:55 p.m. in the 400 block of N.
Gregory Street.  The victim had delivered pizzas and was returning to his
vehicle when he was attacked by two or three persons.  The victim was
struck in the head which knocked him to the ground.  The offenders took
property from the victim and fled the area running to the east on the
Clark Street sidewalk towards Lincoln Avenue.  One of the offenders is a
white male.  The other offender is a black male.  Both offenders were
described as college-age males wearing blue jeans.  Information on the
possible third offender was not available.  The victim sustained a
potential head injury and was transported to a local hospital.

University of Illinois Police responded to a report of a robbery on
December 13, 2009 at approximately 11:30 p.m.  This incident occurred in
a ninth floor hallway of Oglesby Hall at Florida Avenue Residence Halls,
Urbana.  The victim was punched in the face and kneed in the groin area
by the persons committing this crime.  One offender threatened the victim
with an implied knife and removed property from the victim.  UIPD
officers were able to locate two suspects.  One suspect was arrested for
armed robbery.  The other suspect was arrested for armed robbery and
intimidation.  UIPD continues to investigate this case and is seeking to
apprehend the two remaining offenders.  One offender was described as a
black male being heavy set with long braided hair down to his shoulders
wearing a baseball cap, blue jeans and white shoes.  The other offender
was described as a shorter black male wearing a dark-colored hooded
sweatshirt and white batting-style gloves.

As a result of these crimes, the University of Illinois Police Department
continues to work with the Champaign and Urbana Police Departments in
preventing such criminal activity and identifying the offenders.  UIPD
maintains an increased patrol focus surrounding these incidents in
addition to continuing special operation details involving additional
police resources within the Campus District.

Anyone with information about these incidents should call the Champaign
Police Department at 217-351-4545, the Urbana Police Department at 217-
384-2320 or the University of Illinois Police Department at 217-333-
1216.  Information also can be shared anonymously through Crimestoppers
by calling 217-373-TIPS or online at:
http://www.champaigncountycrimestoppers.com/   Crimes in progress,
reporting of suspicious individuals or any event requiring a police
response should be reported to our regional dispatch center by calling 9-
1-1.

Crime prevention information can be found on the University of Illinois
Division of Public Safety website at
http://www.publicsafety.illinois.edu/universitypolice/campussafety.html


Barbara R. O'Connor, J.D.
Executive Director of Public Safety
Chief of Police
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
http://www.publicsafety.illinois.edu


This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chief of Police

--
This Message sent via MASSMAIL.  < http://www.cites.illinois.edu/services/massmail/ >

...and Chemistry Carols

For starters, instead of "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire," it's "Test tubes bubbling in a water bath."
And there's oh, so many more.

Ebenezer and the Elements

"Meanwhile, in a stockroom, poor Rubidium Cratchet, the lab technitium, was washing dishes in ice cold water. Ebenezer only allowed him one piece of carbon paper for all the lab reports and one small candle to aluminum. A graduate of Berkelium College in Californium, Rub was no Einsteinium, but he wasn't so-dium, either. He did tend right to bismuth on time. It was six o'clock on Christmas Eve, and Rub asked to go holmium early.

"'You've got a lot of gallium,' replied Ebenezer. 'I'll be francium, but fermium. Hafnium a day's work, halfnium a day's pay.'

"'That's alright,' Rub replied, 'I'm antimony, anyway.'"

This retelling of the Christmas Carol by Gerald Swenson and Jay Badenhoop is pretty rich.  Check it out!

Friday, December 11, 2009

God, You are Good

God has been sowing so much joy in my heart lately.  He is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so precious!!!!!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Should Atheists Celebrate Christmas?

(Here's part of an email I just sent out to our Chemists for Christ group.  We're studying the book of John right now):

John may not have put the Christmas story into his book, but Luke sure did!  Linus quotes it as he explains the meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown. 
Not that everyone would agree Linus' conclusions.  Evidently one topic of discussion among atheists today is...

Should atheists celebrate Christmas?
In case someone you know is wrestling with this question, here's some pros and cons (I did not come up with these; I am only summarizing what an atheist wrote!):
Cons
It may make Christianity seem more popular than it really is
It may bolster evangelicals' claims that America is a Christian nation
Christmas' pagan roots aren't any more of a connection point than its Christian ones: atheists aren't pagans any more than they're Christians
Telling your child that Santa Claus exists may precondition them to believing in Christianity's myths ("is this worth the risk?")
It could make you or your children feel ostracized ("Being different isn't easy, but who wants to be a hypocrite just to fit in?")

Pros
Atheists can effect changes in Christmas that Christians hate

But, of course, the most important question is, "Should atheists celebrate any holidays?" 
("So-called 'alternative' holidays won't make much progress because in the end, it's clear that they aren't any more "rational" than Christmas."  "Once the question about celebrating Christmas is introduced, the next logical step is to wonder whether atheists should be celebrating many or any of the holidays traditionally observed. Tom Flynn, for example, argues that "a humane holiday should be global and universal, equally relevant to all humans, regardless of their cultural heritage or where they live." Leaving aside problems like separating holidays from the rhythm of our experience of time, this is worth thinking about."
)

I have to admit that until tonight I'd never considered the momentous question this would be -- to celebrate, or not to celebrate?  Many years ago G.K. Chesterton wrote about why Christianity inspires holidays while secular humanism does not: "There has been no rationalist festival, no rationalist ecstasy.  Men are still in black for the death of God.  When Christianity was heavily bombarded in the last century upon no point was it more persistently and brilliantly attached than upon that of its alleged enmity to human joy.  Shelley and Swinburne and all their armies have passed again and again over the ground, but they have not altered it.  They have not set up a single new trophy or ensign for the world's merriment to rally to.  They have not given a name or a new occasion of gaiety.  Mr. Swinburne does not hang up his stocking on the eve of Victor Hugo.  Mr. William Archer does not sing carols descriptive of the infancy of Ibsen outside people's doors in the snow.  In the round of our rational and mournful year one festival remains out of all those ancient gaieties that once covered the whole earth.  Christmas remains to remind us of those ages, whether Pagan or Christan, when the many acted poetry instead of the few writing it...
    "The strange truth about the matter is told in the very word 'holiday.' ...  It is hard to see at first why so human a thing as leisure and larkiness should always have a religious origin.  Rationally there appears no reason why we should not sing and give each other presents in honor anything -- the birth of Michael Angelo or the opening of Euston Station.  But it does not work.  As a fact, men only become greedily and gloriously material about something spiritualistic.  Take away the Nicene Creed and similar things, and you do some strange wrong to the seller of sausages.  Take away the strange beauty of the saints, and what has remained to us is the far stranger ugliness of Wadsworth.  Take away the supernatural, and what remains is the unnatural."  (From the book Heretics, originally published in 1905; this edition published in 2000, pp. 48-49).

Praise be to God, the source of every good thing!

Do You Smell Something?

Twenty years from now, there may be a new classification of mental illness.  A significant population of mental institutions may be composed of those who think their planet is frying when it's really not.  .

The classification has yet to be codified, so these poor delusionals are currently wandering the halls of Congress, pottering about in labs trying to find evidence for what "must be true," giving Peace Prizes to one another, and carrying out political powerplays to defend unethical scientific practices.

If you are one of that number, you can remove the thermometer from the earth's armpit.  No, it doesn't have a fever.  If you feel something heating, it's just the hot air and red-hot tempers in the crowd that's surrounding you.

Though there are those "deniers" -- those Mordecais in the path like me -- at least you have the comfort of other delusionals.  Facing the fact that you're not going to burn up within the next twenty years can be heart-rending if you go it alone.  So always travel with groupies.  Group-think is your deliverance.  Don't allow yourself to watch Fox or listen to Michael Savage.  Even though the world is baking, insulate, insulate, insulate.

And repeat the mantra taught to you by Father Gore: "Ohhhhhhmmmmmm.  Just-as-we-search-you... for-one-of-the-millions-of-missing-links... Mother-Nature...  Ohmmmmm... we-search-for-data-showing-us-that.. .  you-have-a-fever.  Ohmmmmmm... and-when-we-falter... when-we-collapse... when-we-realize-we-have-grounds-for-believing-neither... Darwin-nor-Gore... evolution-nor-climate-change ... we remember-it-doesn't-matter... we-believe-in-the-facts-of-our-faith... though-we-have-only-our-faith-and-no-facts.  Ohmmmmmmm..."

Here's a few analogies that should warm the cockles of your heart:

Darwin:Gore as racism:classism (how many poor people from the "reforms" posited by climate change proponents?  And how many yuppie pockets are already being lined as "green" hysteria hits?)
plaster:fudge as bone:data

And for heaven's sake stop watching those movies about lemmings!  Remind yourself: "big money" is behind the "climate denying" scheme.  Nobody -- especially not Al Gore -- has any money vested in fearmongering over climate change.  It's moneygrubbing versus planetloving, folks.  That's all it is.

All I can figure is that the authors of the email below have grown so used to rotten science that they don't notice the smell anymore.  Their innuendo in the email is thick: "Hackers stole," "few," "cherry-picked," etc.  The fact that the back door of the kitchen has finally let out some of the stench of what they've been cooking up isn't enough to bring the truth home yet.

If the climate change community would like to continue its defense of unethical actions, here's a question.  You take exception to quotes being taken from the leaked emails to characterize the whole body of writing.  What in these writings clear the reputation of the authors? 

Also consider that it just takes one whiff to tell you that sauerkraut's on the stove.  Sometimes is just takes one sentence to indicate what's in that certain pot of burbling lawlessness.  Incriminating examples: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."  "Read my lips."  "God damn America."  And it wasn't just one sentence that was leaked in ClimateGate.  These emails expose systematic abuse by high-level scientists who clearly weren't separating laboratory and state.  If anybody needed a textbook example of politically-motivated scientific ethical breaches, look here.

The climate change fearmongerers could have risen from the garbage heaps of their credibility ratings (in my book) if they'd at least admitted the wrongdoing here.  But in characteristic liar fashion, this movement is admitting nothing, and volunteering nothing.  Not only can we wonder at their wanton denial of the implications of emails of evidence, we must also wonder what other information has been suppressed. 

The blind defense of these miscreants is akin to the Soviet Union's opacity when it came to its mistakes.  Transparency, anyone?

And who in the world is a "climate denier"?  Does anyone actually deny that climate exists?  "I deny that raindrops exist."  "The Four Seasons is only a hotel chain."  "Salting roads in 'so-called winter' is a big-business conspiracy headed by the Morton Salt company.  Their mascot, which attempts to make a role model of a young girl, is corrupting our youth."  C'mon, folks.  Your ignorance is glaring.  Will you please at least try to understand the positions of your opponents?

(And will you please get your story straight?  Do "deniers" exist or don't they?  One minute I'm told I don't exist because the debate is over.  Then the next minute I'm being derided as something that really and truly doesn't exist -- a "climate denier"!)

The overwhelming irony is that while one finger wags and the word "denier" flies off the lips, three fingers are digging into their palm, pointing out the true deniers.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ben Wikler - Avaaz.org <avaaz@avaaz.org>
Date: Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 5:23 PM
Subject: Climate science sabotage
...

Dear friends,

Spin by climate deniers about hacked emails between scientists is threatening to drown out the call for a strong climate deal in Copenhagen, but Avaaz is fighting back in media across the planet. Chip in now to stop the deception and help save the climate talks:

Climate deniers and fossil fuel lobbyists are stopping at nothing to kill a Copenhagen deal.

Two weeks ago, hackers stole thousands of emails between a few climate scientists--and then released cherry-picked quotes out of context, absurdly claiming that they question the science behind climate change.

With big money behind it, this misinformation tactic aims to distract the media and the public from the most important conference of our time in Copenhagen -- we have to make sure it doesn't work.

We urgently need to chip in funds to step up our successful protests and ad campaign in Copenhagen and key cities to counter the denial lobby and get our media and politicians back on track. The industry lobbies are scaling up their fight, let's take ours to the next level:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/climate_denial_lets_fight_back

In the last 48 hours, the Avaaz community's voice on climate has been featured in media across the planet, including the Financial Times, the New York Times, the China people's daily and China's cable news station, the Guardian, Associated France Presse and many more. Our voice is successfully competing directly with the industry lobby's scams for attention, now we need to up the volume.

30 years of climate science are being borne out before our eyes, and 2009 closes out the hottest decade in recorded history. One study estimated that climate change already kills 300,000 people every year. Despite these facts, Climate denial -- a movement funded for decades by fossil fuel companies -- is now threatening our chance for a fair, ambitious, and binding global climate treaty.

It's a heartbreaking lack of responsibility for our planet. But we can't let it slow us down. We've already got the infrastructure in place, from 12/12 candlelight vigils around the world to our youth Climate Action Factory in Copenhagen. Funding now can scale up Avaaz's campaigns overnight -- and help keep the pressure on politicians to focus on action, not fall back on false excuses about unsettled science. Chip in below:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/climate_denial_lets_fight_back

With hope and determination,

Ben, Iain, Taren, Luis, Ricken, Sam, Alice, Milena, Paul, Julius, and the whole Avaaz team

Sources:

Financial Times -– "Copenhagen we can't risk failure":
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/28a8a3f4-e29c-11de-b028-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

Nature -- "Climatologists under threat":
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/full/462545a.html

Source Watch – The Heartland Institute:
http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute

Guardian – "The science still points to Copenhagen":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/04/climate-change-uea-email

Desmogblog – "The oily machine behind climate-gate":
http://www.desmogblog.com/oily-echo-machine-behind-climategate

BBC -- "Climate email hack will impact on Copenhagen summit":
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8392611.stm

For more information on the climate denial industry check out the new book "Climate Cover-Up": http://www.desmogblog.com/climate-cover-up

CMDA, A Love Note

(David Noebel from Summit often jokes about writing "love notes" -- notes to representatives, senators, editors, etc. that express your thoughts on some topic.  I've written several of these note to Evan Bayh lately.  What a relief to write one where I actually agreed with the group I was writing to!

"Thank you for standing strong by Christ's power!  Your organization has encouraged me so much by consistently standing on the authority of God's Word as you decide positions on what the world terms "controversial issues."  (They, of course, aren't controversial to God!)  Your informational page on the health care debate is invaluable.  Every contact with CMDA has strengthened my faith, whether it reading is the book Jesus, MD, attending a local meeting of Christian doctors, receiving email updates on upcoming bills in Congress, or browsing the CMDA webage.  Your organization is a bright, bright light in a dark world!  God bless you all!"

Monday, December 07, 2009

Bible Movies

I just came across a really incredible website.
It's www.modernparable.com
Take a look!
It'll blow your socks off!!

In Memory of Those Murdered or Wounded at Pearl Harbor

Today is the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  May God protect those in our armed services today from enemies within and without.

Today's American Minute with Bill Federer:

"DECEMBER 7, 1941- a date which will live in infamy- the United
States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and
air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Thus spoke President Franklin D. Roosevelt following the attack on
Pearl Harbor by over 350 Japanese aircraft.

Five American battleships and three destroyers were sunk, 400 planes
were destroyed and over 4000 were killed or wounded.

President Roosevelt concluded:

"No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated
invasion, the American people in their righteous might, will win
through to absolute victory...

We will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it
very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger
us."

FDR continued:

"Hostilities exist.

There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and
our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding
determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph -
so help us God."

(As a note, of the over 500 words inscribed on the new World War II
Memorial in Washington, D.C., the designers chose not to include
FDR's phrase "So help us God," nor any other mention of God.)

What I Don't Want

I don't want to be an abortionist because I don't want to be a hitman, medical license or no medical license.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Torn

I came across a very sad interview with Ian McKellen from November 14th of this year:

"I increasingly see organized religion as actually my enemy. They treat me as their enemy.  Not all Christians, of course. Not all Jews, not all Muslims. But the leaders. . . . Why should I take the judgment of a declared celibate about my sexual needs? He's basing his judgment on laws that would fit life in the Bronze Age. So if I'm lost to God, organized religion is to blame."

"[W]hen I've been asked what should be on my gravestone, I've said: 'Here lies Gandalf. He came out.' Two big achievements."

"McKellen revealed his sexuality at age 49 on a British radio show during a debate about anti-gay legislation. He says it's the most important thing he's ever done, and when he's not acting, he spends much of his time lobbying for gay rights. He visits schools in England as part of a program to prevent gay bullying. When he finds a Bible in a hotel room, he rips out the passage in Leviticus that condemns homosexuality."

Sir, it's not organized religion you're rebelling against.  It's God Himself.

Imprisoned

     "...I have no desire to be disoriented for six hours. There's also a reason why I am not conking myself on the head with a croquet mallet, but 'The Prisoner' somehow has the same effect."  -- Paige Wiser, columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.

      It's pretty painful, really: watching a remake of a story you enjoyed be reshaped in the hands of incompetents.  AMC has the first episode of their Prisoner remake available online.  It didn't take the 45:52 minutes to decide that the new thing's missing what the old thing had.  It only took about 30 seconds.  The preview alone shows you that this remake is flat, flat, flat.
     I was giving this a chance.  And what did it do?  Stabbed me with a dull knife and turned it slowly, slowly, slowly.  Sure, there's eye-popping sets, big name actors, and forty years to sift through what people have said they loved about the original.  But where's the action?  Where's the depth?  Where's my will to take any more of this drivel?
     The first sign that something might not be right was when interviews with the actors playing Two and Six showed that they didn't know or care much about the original series, and that they were relying on their screenwriters to capture what needed to be expressed.  Great, I thought.  They don't even know what they're getting into!
     I used to think that big, majestic movie lines were the worst thing possible in a script.  Now I know differently.  The worst thing in a script is when even the actors are embarrassed to say what it says!  And will you stop with the dream sequences already?!  Freud was defrocked as the High Priest of Dreamology years ago.  Anyway, enough movies were made about dreams in the 40's to last for the next thousand millennia!
     The pace is a plodding one, with a few chase scenes and many confused flashbacks.  The awkward bits of dialogue throughout the episode slows an already dragging movie like a hot piece of bubble gum on a heavy man's shoe.
     In the preview that accurately portended disaster, Six is wheeled into Two's office to "demand" (AKA whine) to be taken to the American Consulate.  Contrast this scene -- and the new Six's petulant slap of the table -- to the original resign scene that Number Six did.  Six is simply not forceful enough to be believable.  Is this all the emotion he can muster at his perceived wrongs?  Throughout the episode, boo-hooing to his doctor, he seems more like a child to be coddled than a hero to be cheered.
     Sure, the new kid has to make sure it's distinct from the old kid.  But is this just change for change's sake, or was there a reason for the changes?  Take the change from "Number Six" to simply "Six," the addition of dashed numbers, or the over-used address of characters by their numbers.  These may seem like inconsequential changes, but they make an already awkward and embarrassed-seeming cast trip over their dialogue even more!
     And what's this griping by the taxi driver?  Much of the distinctives that McGoohan instilled into the original Village is missing: the festive garb, the cheerful manner between occupants, the glimmers of humor, and the thought that this was the beginning of something very interesting.
     Forget the rest of the cast for a minute.  If Six carried his weight, the rest wouldn't be so glaringly bad.  Maybe.  There's several factors in this: Caviezel as "Six" just doesn't have the intensity or self awareness that McGoohan had.  McGoohan was a man with a plan.  We didn't always know what his plan was, but we knew it existed.  Caviezel?  The man needs a Kleenex.  While McGoohan confronted the world with a wry, vigilant smile, the new Six faces the world with a pouty, confused droop.  Self-possession?  The new Six doesn't have that.  Morals?  McGoohan's Number Six drops curses like cigarette butts and chases women.  Was the original too unique for you, Hollywood?
      The female lead has a pointy mouth that dominates every scene she's present in.  The dialogue stinks.  Take any scene -- minus one (the one where Six talks about an open mind) -- and you'll see what I mean.  These aren't conversations.  These are words spoken in the presence of witnesses, with plenty of pauses for effect.
      Instead of being enigmnatic, this version comes off as pretentious.  It's supposed to be a big deal that Two requires a cake with cherries.  So important it was that the phrase "And bring cake" wasn't even uttered when the taxi driver and his wife read the letter.  So I waited with increasingly cynical anticipation.  Was Six allergic to cherries?  Would some powerstruggle over the cake ensue?  No.  Two just wanted to eat a cake with cherries.  Letdown.  Like the entire episode.  No actual depth, just perceived depth.  Don't dive in and break your neck.

(While I watched only Episode 1 and was mind-numbingly bored, it turns out that boredom is not the worst aspect of this series.  Others have included synopses of the episodes.  The review of Episode 3 alone shows that the producers have trashed this.  Not only is the "hero" compromised, but everything's sordid).

Here's what others have said:

"They didn't remake 1967's The Prisoner; they remade 1966's original Star Trek pilot, "The Cage"! Somebody slipped the hack writer the wrong tape for reference material!"

"Ah. It was an 'Absurdist art,' 'alternative type of narrative.' And here I thought it was a six-hour commercial for the PalmPre with random bits of filmed acting fitted in."

"If viewed by someone with no previous awareness of the original, this version of The Prisoner is beyond cryptic... it's mind numbingly boring."

"From this point on, the remake loses track of many of the elements that made the original so remarkable. The unmistakable streak of individuality, intensity and freedom that ran through the original was dropped somewhere in the past 40 years, only to be replaced to with choppy, schizophrenic editing and vague symbolism."

"Plus, the homosexual son who murders his lover. What the heck was that about? Teenage rebellion against his father? The mother in a constant coma. Way too much side-tracking. Give me the old series any day."

"If this show were given a different title, and all the character names were changed, I would have had absolutely no clue that it was supposed to be a remake of the 1960's The Prisoner."

"But Two embodies, among other things, the drawbacks of capitalism," McKellen says. "Capitalism offers you freedom, but far from giving people freedom, it enslaves them," he says. "That's part of the show's message."  ("McKellen says he saw only enough 'to get a flavor' of the original 'Prisoner' series...)

"Too many scenes of 6 passing out in the sand."

"There are many mistakes that stand out.  The one that irritates me the most for some reason is that they explain why Six resigned."

"Caviezel's Number Six is troubled by unnecessary baggage, including two love interests who also function as psychological guinea pigs. It's a marked divergence from the late, great McGoohan's legendary character, which eschewed any kind of overly romantic attachment in favor of a dogged pursuit of Number One, who turned out to be more familiar than England expected."

"The memory-wipe approach is a writer's cop-out."

"McGoohan's Number Six is an iconic hero because his strength of character is absolutely incorruptible."

"Caviezel CAN'T say why he resigned because he's not entirely sure of it himself. It is the lack of sure-footed self-confidence that is glaringly absent."

"His character is actually somewhat 'emo' - you don't believe in his ability to stand up to whatever is thrown at him...  You endure it, you do not enjoy it."

"I saw something in the credits I've never seen before: 'Acting Coach for James Caviezel'. They had an acting coach for their lead man. And they admitted it. …Must have been the same guy who helped make Hayden Christensen's performance in the Star Wars prequels so successful. He should be executed."

"The entire Village is actually the collective subconcious of all of it's residents, with the primary guiding hand being the wife of Number 2, who is kept in a chemically induced coma in order to hold the world together, at times she can be brought back to full conciousness, during these periods, massive sink holes start to appear in the village, which are really like holes in the fabric of the reality. The purpose of this dream world, is to take people that are not able to integrate into society, take their subconciouses [sic] and place them into a community where everyone can get along, and everyone has a place and purpose.
    "The big surprise at the end, is when Two's wife dies, and Six's love interest opts to take her place, with Six assuming the role of Two, and trying to continue the work of the Village, but in a better way."

"It's an interesting idea for a sci-fi show, but the problem is in the politics. One cannot but see the political dimension to the original series (the triumph of the individual in a society that seeks to repress such tendancies). While the remake seems to have no political ideology (despite Ian McKellen claiming it is about the "flaws of capitalism"), one cannot but look for the politics. And if you do so, the result is scary. For it seems that 6's pursuit of individualism, of his inability to accept the routine of the Village and search for more, is what actually makes him the secret antagonist of the series, his actions damaging the psyche of those around him (the real-life 313 is actually mentally disturbed)."  (Read the rest of the review this is from: it is heartily worth it!).

"The first two episodes were rather dull and I thought to myself: 'Well, they're just setting the scene, it'll get better.' The second two episodes were also rather dull and I said to myself: 'They're saving all the action for the end.' The final two episodes were also rather dull and then I had nothing left to say to myself."

Friday, December 04, 2009

This Week's Conversations

Folks, I'm not makin' this stuff up.  Is it just me, or is my life weird?

(Two people eating lunch)
Dude: "So what are you taking to the party?"
Dame: "Beef shishkabobs."
Dude: "Sounds boring."
Dame: [Laughs]
[Pause].
Dude: "What's a shishkabob?"

(Two people talking at a coffeeshop)
Dude: "And I was exclusively invited to a service."
Dame: "That's just because he wanted you to become Mormon."
Dude: [Pause].  "Really?  Oh..."

(Three kids talking while waiting for a guitar concert to start)
Boy: "How many chapters are in your book?"
Girl 1: "Nine."
Boy: "A nine-chapter?  I've got a twenty-chapter.  I'm in Goosebumps now.  It's all this green skin, a little head..."
Girl 2: "Is it How I Got My Shrunken Head?"
Boy: "Yeah.  That one."

(Two people looking at a billboard).
Dude: [Gesturing at a Holiday Party poster] "Who designed this?  It's terrible."
Dame: "I did."
Dude: "I mean, it's really good!  I like it!"

(Woman at the nursing home wearing a white plastic helmet with stickers and writing on it.)
"I'm going to have an operation next week.  I already had one -- that's why I'm wearing this helmet.  You see, the first operation, they took some of my skull and [patting belly] put it in my stomach."  [Pause, purses lips and looks up at the ceiling, then back to listeners].  "Now they're going to take it out of my stomach and put it back."



Please Defend Freedom -- Letter to Evan Bayh

Mr. Bayh,

As I write this to you, I am at the university where I study medicine.  I have been closely following the healthcare debate, and I ask you to stand boldly against the bill currently being debate[d] in the Senate.

The question at the heart of this issue is: What is the proper balance of power between the federal government and the individual?  

This question is settled by our Constitution, the contract between the government and the people who have given it limited authority over them.  The Constitution has not been amended to allow the Congress to make laws defining insurance or to establish confiscatory taxation to redistribute wealth.  Please uphold the Constitution, and vote against this bill which arrogantly strides over property that does not belong to it.

Many of the supporters of this bill describe it as protecting Americans.  But our great country was not founded by people who said "Give me healthcare insurance protection or give me death."  Freedom is what you, I, and every other person in this world have as a gift from God.  I do not ask that you fight to give me freedom, because God has already given me that.  I ask only that you work in the Senate to affirm this gift, acknowledge the Constitution, and defend the freedom of each and every citizen.

Yours sincerely,
__________

(Note: the letter in brackets was a typo I found after sending this).

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Random Rubbish Generator

I submit the following for your perusal.  Another student forwarded it to a listserv I'm on.  Yike-o-janet-reno.

 ______________________________________________

I just wanted to share this information which changed the way I perceived the world. I hope you find it interesting if you read it.

 

article: http://www.redorbit.com/news/display/?id=126649 

scientific research paper: http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_21_2_mason.pdf 

A humble-looking black box known was a Random Event Generator (REG) uses computer technology to generate one of two numbers - a one or a zero - in a totally random sequence, rather like an electronic coin-flipper. The pattern of ones and zeros - 'heads' and 'tails' as it were - could then be printed out as a graph. The laws of chance dictate that the generators should churn out equal numbers of ones and zeros - which would be represented by a nearly flat line on the graph. Any deviation from this equal number shows up as a gently rising curve. 

During the late 1970s, Prof Jahn decided to investigate whether the power of human thought alone could interfere in some way with the machine's usual readings. He hauled strangers off the street and asked them to concentrate their minds on his number generator. In effect, he was asking them to try to make it flip more heads than tails. 

Again and again, entirely ordinary people proved that their minds could influence the machine and produce significant fluctuations on the graph, 'forcing it' to produce unequal numbers of 'heads' or 'tails. 

In 1998, scientists from all over the world gathered to analyse these findings. They, too, were stumped and resolved to extend and deepen the work of Professor Jahn and Dr. Nelson, and thus, The Global Consciousness Project was born.
 

 

[name suppressed]

M1 Medical Student

B.S. Biology / Neurobiology
 
Mindoutpsyde - A Nonprofit Organization


Sunday, November 29, 2009

AmeriCorps update

As an addendum to the previous post about AmeriCorps, the March 2009 House bill to massively increase the size of AmeriCorps (HR 1388) sought to restrict members from many basic aspects of religious activity:

(Sec. 125 Prohibited Activities and Ineligible Organizations)

'(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:
...

(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, or engaging in any form of religious proselytization.

...
(b) Ineligible Organizations- No assistance provided under this subtitle may be provided to the following types of organizations (including the participation of a participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle in activities conducted by such organizations) or to organizations that are co-located on the same premises as the following organizations:

'(1) Organizations that provide or promote abortion services, including referral for such services.

'(2) For-profit organizations, political parties, labor organizations, or organizations engaged in political or legislative advocacy.

'(3) Organizations that have been indicted for voter fraud.
This wording was not present in the original bill, but was added in an amendment sponsored by ____ and supported in a __ to __ vote. 

Here are the proceedings that led up to its adoption:

3/18/2009 4:32pm:
H.AMDT.49 Amendment (A012) offered by Mr. Miller, George. (consideration: CR H3607; text: CR H3607)
See item 237 for explanation.
3/18/2009 4:32pm:
H.AMDT.49 On agreeing to the Miller, George amendment (A012) Agreed to by voice vote.
3/18/2009 4:39pm:
On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 321 - 105 (Roll no. 140).
3/18/2009 4:39pm:
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection.
3/18/2009 4:40pm:
The Clerk was authorized to correct section numbers, punctuation, and cross references, and to make other necessary technical and conforming corrections in the engrossment of H.R. 1388.
3/19/2009:
Received in the Senate. Read twice. Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 35.
There was no discussion of the amendment.  Had the legislators even read it?  The same minute that he advanced his amendment, it passed.  Within seven minutes of his putting forward the amendment, it was added to the bill and the bill passed.  Sick.


(Note that www.opencongress.org, www.govtracker.us and thomas.loc.us do not list the full text of this amendment).  This prohibition passed the House, but mercifully was not included in the Senate version.  The final version of the bill, which became law reads:

"(Sec. 1310) Prohibits the use of AmeriCorps positions for specified activities, including:
(1) attempting to influence legislation;
(2) engaging in protests, partisan political activities, or religious instruction;
(3) assisting or deterring union organizing;
(4) providing abortion services or referrals; or
(5) conducting voter registration drives. Prohibits the provision of AmeriCorps assistance to any organization that has violated a federal criminal statute. Prohibits participants in approved national service positions from displacing employed workers or other volunteers."

Note that religious observances are not restricted, and that abortion services or referrals are still prohibited!  Wow!  Does this mean that next year's City Year report won't list Planned Parenthood, and that ties with ACORN will be permanently severed?  It must, if they hold to the law.

My question is, will the people vote out those legislators who support a bill that deliberately and arrogantly shreds the first amendment of the Constitution?

"Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

(For future reference, the website www.OpenCongress.org allows users to track a given bill during its tumultuous life inside congress.  It also allows you to view different versions of the bill, from its first introduction, to its final version, if it makes it that far.  You can highlight changes in green to see what changed between versions.  www.govtrack.us takes it a step further and allows you to see the text of all proposed amendments, along with their sponsors' names.  Another website to check out is thomas.loc.gov.  Finally, here's a link to another article about this bill.).

Connotations

What is up with this?
Some of my favorite characters in fiction have become epithets that distort the original nature of their name-bearer:

Pollyanna -- "The novel's success brought the term 'Pollyanna' (along with the adjective 'pollyannaish' and the noun 'Pollyannaism') into the language to describe someone who seems always to be able to find something to be 'glad' about no matter what circumstances arise. It is sometimes used pejoratively, referring to someone whose optimism is excessive to the point of naïveté or refusing to accept the facts of an unfortunate situation."

Uncle Tom -- "Uncle Tom is a pejorative term for a black person who is perceived by others as behaving in a subservient manner to white authority figures, or as seeking ingratiation with them by way of unnecessary accommodation."

Little Lord Fauntleroy -- ""Little Lord Fauntleroy" is now most often used as a term of derision. It describes a pompous spoiled brat, usually a young male, who takes his wealth and privilege for granted (while this is obviously not consistent with the original character, it is inspired by the perceived self-righteousness of the little lord, and an assumed odiousness in his overweening goodness)."

(All are quotes from wikipedia articles by the same name; retrieved November 29, 2009).

All I can say is, don't let someone else's cynicism color your own usage.  Meet the original characters for yourself, then draw your own conclusions!

AmeriCorps, an American Neoplasm

Maybe you've seen the commercial with a young girl saying "I am change..." as red-jacketed young people do calisthenics.  Even though the young people are forming into militaryesque lines, their stylish hairdos and outlandish red jackets clearly show that they're not in the military. The organization they're recruiting for is City Year, an organization founded in 1998 by two Harvard roommates.  As I found out through a websearch, City Year is part of AmeriCorps.

So aside from the eh, distinctive garb (which, yes, you do get to keep after your year of service) what attractions does City Year offer to new recruits?  According to their current position description, a City Year participant will be awarded a $4,725 education credit, a "modest weekly stipend," and possibly a student loan forbearance.

A gal I know recently mentioned that she's thinking about volunteering with AmeriCorps when she graduates.  Why? I asked her.  She said she wants to "give back."  She heard about the program from a professor while she was an undergrad, and when she finishes her graduate degree she's thinking about joining the organization.  Internally I wondered how well the organization would use her specialized training.  I mean, do they have jobs specific for her science background? 

So what kind of jobs do City Year members actually do?  Their commercial flashed up images of Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and others, but if I join, what can I expect besides doing jumping jacks in my red jumpsuit?  Here's their overall mission statement:

"City Year unites young people of all backgrounds for a year of full-time service, giving them the skills and opportunities to change the world.

"As tutors, mentors and role models, these diverse young leaders make a difference in the lives of children, and transform schools and neighborhoods in 19 U.S. locations and one in Johannesburg, South Africa. Just as important, during their year of service corps members develop civic leadership skills they can use throughout a lifetime of community service.

"Major corporations and businesses participate in our mission by serving as strategic partners, team sponsors, and national leadership sponsors.

"Together we're building a citizen service movement that is larger than our organization, our lifetime, and ourselves."

What's not clarified is the type of change the organization is committed to.  What worldview is this organization committed to?  I mean, handing out toothbrushes, or conversely guns and bombs, would effect change in the world, but what does City Year have in mind?  Their website was high on vague phrases, but provided no specifics.  Fortunately, their 2008 Annual Report actually listed the organizations they've partnered with, by state and by city.  City Year has partnered with such well-known organizations as Habitat for Humanity and many churches and hospitals.  I searched for "Planned Parenthood," and found that while City Year has partnered with PP in Ohio, they have not partnered with a single crisis pregnancy center in any state.  

AmeriCorps itself lists more specific, if carefully selected, job descriptions:

  • Tutor and mentor disadvantaged youth
  • Fight illiteracy
  • Improve health services
  • Build affordable housing
  • Teach computer skills
  • Clean parks and streams
  • Manage or operate after-school programs
  • Help communities respond to disasters
  • Build organizational capacity

What's not described is that AmeriCorps members have been known to buy toy guns from toddlers, and to tackle perceived "anti-gay" prejudice.  ACORN and AmeriCorps have even partnered together.  It's documented that at least as far back as 1997, "AmeriCorps members of AHC [ACORN Housing Corporation] raised funds for ACORN, performed voter registration activities, and gave partisan speeches..."

Here is the vapid pledge that the 540,000 AmeriCorps past and current members have taken:

The AmeriCorps Pledge

I will get things done for America -
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together
to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy,
I will take action.

Faced with conflict,
I will seek common ground.

Faced with adversity,
I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment
with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member,
and I will get things done.


So the goal is "to get things done."  How generic.  How vague.  How open-ended.  How manipulatable.  Some of their efforts are worthy, and many are entirely off-base and illegal.  Without even getting into the question of how much choice an individual City Year or AmeriCorps member has in what they participate in, why do we need such a program, and why is it federally funded?  Reason.com has this to say about AmeriCorps: "If it weren't for AmeriCorps, after all, young people might decide they're perfectly capable of giving back to their communities without the assistance or direction of the federal government. And wouldn't that be a tragedy?"

Good point.  Why does the gal I talked to think that she needs to go through a program in order to "give back"?  After all, I know a guy who donates his time to supplement highschoolers' education with free chemistry instruction.  And I know a gal who gives her time to teach middleschoolers to sew, draw, garden, and cook.  (That guy and gal are my parents, and they're members of a breed of volunteers who actually volunteer.  That is, they do not receive any monetary or in-kind compensation -- including red jumpsuits -- for what they do).

AmeriCorps isn't about volunteerism.  It's about compensated service.  Let's just call it what it is.  That members of our legislative and executive branches do not understand what the word "volunteer" means is abundantly clear.  As as example, take Obama's push to cap tax credits for charitable donations.  Or take the fact that when the U.S. House passed their version of the GIVE/SERVE bill that enormously increased the funding for AmeriCorps, it included a provision for mandatory "volunteer" service.  To be clear, if it's compensated and it's mandatory, it's not volunteerism.

How well has the organization handled its money?  At one point AmeriCorp donated $1.1 million to ACORN (which ACORN had to repay).  But ACORN knows a cash cow when it sees one, and there's been plenty of milking action going on -- though this was curtailed in the GIVE/SERVE act that became law earlier this year.  It's estimated that each member costs $17,500 annually.  Back in June of this year, Gerald Walpin, an inspector general of Corporation for National and Community Service, unearthed widespread fraud in the largest AmeriCorps program in the country.  He recommended that the Teaching Fellows Program pay back $75 million they had misused.  Walpin was summarily fired by Our Dear Leader, and replaced by one of the First Lady's cronies.

While the catchy (or as I see it overworked and conveniently vague) reference to "change" evokes images of Our Dear Leader, give credit where credit is due.  AmeriCorps was begun by the now-impeached Bill Clinton in 1993.  After 9/11, Bush Jr. encouraged all Americans to volunteer, and pushed federal programs like AmeriCorps vigorously.  In 2007, he sponsored a national recognition week for AmeriCorps when it reached the 500,000 current member and alumni mark.  Obama has now adopted AmeriCorps, and Republicans helped him triple the program by means of the $6 billion GIVE/SERVE act that seeks to expand the membership of AmeriCorps by 175,000, bringing its currently employed sum total to 250,000.  This law will increase the federal civilian workforce by 13%, and make AmeriCorps the 14th largest employer in the U.S.

Our Dear Leader describes the role of AmeriCorps this way: "Our government can help to rebuild our economy ... [but] we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families..."

Others disagree:
"AmeriCorps is a wasteful boondoggle" -- Kate O'Beirne, correspondent, National Review.
"[T]he government-run, taxpayer-subsidized 'community service' boondoggle." -- Michelle Malkin, independent blogger.
"AmeriCorps in based on an unconstitutional misconception, and its continuance amounts to the systematic theft of the American people.  It is an example of how rapidly an unchecked government can grow.  Cut its funding and cut back on government metastasis."  -- me, U.S. citizen.

Dhimmitude

True or false:

1. Hillary Clinton, while First Lady and while Secretary of State, has worn a hijab (Muslim headscarf).
T
F

2. Condoleeza Rice, while Secretary of State, wore a hijab.
T
F

2. Laura Bush, while First Lady, wore a hijab.
T
F

The answers?
1. T
2. T
3. T

See more at Daniel Pipes' article.  (And note that he shows a companion page with images of glamorous Muslim women who do not wear the hijab in public).

Sharia law by evolution, not be revolution, is the theme here.  I see the dhimmi attitude, or dhimmitude, written all over these women wearing the garb that is mandated by an oppressive worldview.  (A dhimmi is a "non-Muslim living with limited rights under Muslim rule."  Basically, it's the status what many appeasers in the Western world are seeking as they as confronted by Sharia law.  If Neville Chamberlain was alive today, he'd be a whole-hearted dhimmi.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Healthcare Bill Update

National Review has an article looking at the state of the healthcare bill ("Condition Serious but not Hopeless").  Several points really stuck out to me:

1) Republicans are doing a fine job of airing the despicable nature of this bill, but they must strengthen the alternative they're offering.  They may be afraid to take away what so many of us are used to -- employer-provided insurance -- but it's time to put the choice about insurance back into the hands of the taxpayer.
2) The cop-out by Democrats saying that they simply voted for a bill to bring it to the floor, and that means nothing about voting for the final bill are pretty much saying that they just expect more earmarks inserted before they'll vote for it.  An overwhelming 97.6% of bills that win the motion-to-proceed vote gain final passage.
3) Democrats seem to be living by the slogan "Power is transient, but policy is forever."  Even though many of them have no hope of being reelected because of the unpopularity of this bill (no matter how much they say we're demanding it), if they can just get it passed, they see it as being worth it.
4)
Republicans should highlight the differences Democrats have on the issues covered in this bill.
5) Contact your senator and no one else.  That's Rick Santorum's advice.  Especially if your senator is Lincoln, Landrieu, either Nelsons, Dorgan, Bayh, Lieberman, Webb, Bennett of Colorado, or Snowe, then by all means, contact them!
"What should you do? Call, email,write, organize not just rallies at the senator's state office but 24-hour vigils, attend his/her public meetings, and come to D.C. with as many friends as you can bring. Finally — contact your state's senator and no one else. No senator cares about what people in other states feel or say. In this hectic environment, your call to an out-of-state senator is probably blocking a call from someone in her state. Focus on your senator even if it is just to say thanks to a Republican who voted the right way and to encourage him or her to continue to do so."

From the Office of Senator Evan Bayh


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <noreply@bayh.senate.gov>
Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 10:33 AM
Subject: From the Office of Senator Evan Bayh


 

Dear _________:

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform.  I appreciate hearing your thoughts and understand your concerns.  

 

The rising cost of health care has highlighted the critical need for health care reform.  Many individuals and families are unable to receive vital health services under the structure of the current system.  I receive letters from constituents on a wide range of health care issues, such as prescription drug affordability, out of pocket health care expenses, and lack of coverage based on pre-existing conditions.  Please know that I am aware of these challenges and committed to improving access to affordable health care. 

 

Our current health care system must be improved.  The status quo is unacceptable, but that doesn't mean we should just do anything.  We must do the right thing.  A viable solution must reduce costs to make health care more affordable for the nearly 85 percent of Americans who currently have coverage.  Our reforms should also keep insured people from losing coverage and take steps to offer health care to the 15 percent of Americans currently without health insurance.

 

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962).  The process for approving health care reform in the Senate calls for merging the bills from the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) into a single measure.  HELP passed the Affordable Health Choices Act (S. 1679) on July 15, 2009, and Finance passed the America's Healthy Future Act (S. 1796) on October 13, 2009.  The merged Senate proposal was offered on November 18th, 2009, and referred to as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

 

As the Senate begins to debate health care reform, I will be reviewing the bill and looking for solutions that demonstrate a commitment to reducing the federal deficit, job protection, and affordability for Hoosier families.  I will continue to do my best to achieve solvent, practical solutions that provide high-quality, affordable health care to as many Americans as possible, while maintaining sound fiscal policy.


Throughout this debate, I have called for a process that fosters openness and transparency for the American people.  On October 6, 2009, I co-signed a letter to Senator Harry Reid, along with seven other moderate Democratic senators, that called for the legislative text of the Senate health care bill to be put on the internet for 72 hours before scheduling a vote on the bill.  I believe it is important that people like you have a chance to evaluate these policies and communicate your thoughts before we vote on this legislation. You can access the Senate health bill at http://bayh.senate.gov/healthcare and access the entire text of the bill there.  The bill was posted online and made viewable to the public at large on November 18, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. 

 

Again, thank you for contacting me.  I hope the information I have provided has been helpful.  My website, http://bayh.senate.gov, can provide additional details about my work in the Senate, including legislation and state projects.  You can also sign up for occasional email updates.  I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues that matter to you.

 

 




Office of Senator Evan Bayh
(202) 224-5623
Russell 131
Washington, D.C. 20510

Queer Medical Students Organization

Callout.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Few, Nora J <njfew@illinois.edu>
Date: Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 10:43 AM
Subject: [m1students] Queer Medical Students Organization
To: "m1students@med.illinois.edu" <m1students@med.illinois.edu>, "m234students@med.illinois.edu" <m234students@med.illinois.edu>, "mspstudents@med.illinois.edu" <mspstudents@med.illinois.edu>


QMS will be meeting on Thursday Dec 3 from 6 pm until whenever at V.Picasso, a new tapas restaurant in Urbana.  The main purpose of this meeting is to socialize in a queer-friendly setting.  Everyone is welcome.  (the tapas are really good and they have a full bar as well)

- Nora and Jim

V.Picasso Restaurant and Tapas

214 W Main St
Urbana, IL 61801-2622
(217) 328-0122

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

QMS is open to anyone who is interested in our organization. Queer, Straight, Bi, In, Out, Curious, or just interested. We exist to help address the concerns of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered students in the study of Medicine and related fields. One of our primary functions is to act as a social and support network where medical students can share concerns, or just socialize. We also may have opportunities to help educate medical and academic colleagues regarding GLBT concerns that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to encounter.

Membership in the QMS e-mail list is held in strict confidence.

 

_______________________________

Nora J. Few, Ph.D. 

Executive Assistant Dean

Student Affairs and Medical Scholars Program

University of Illinois College of Medicine

at Urbana-Champaign

 

p (217) 333-8146  f  (217) 333-2640  njfew@illinois.edu