Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Fact and Fallacy, and How They Can Change: "Ten Thousand Years Ago, A Lemming"

 The most awesome thing about this story: "Scientists in Russia have grown plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago" (from the BBC, via PopSci.com , via Instapundit),  is that it is one more confirmation of how hardy living things are, how well the Life in our world is protected to assure there will ALWAYS be Life.  Life is abundant and miraculous, and we don't know the half of it.

Caution is warranted, as such finds in past have later shown by carbon dating to have been more modern seeds, buried at Pleistocene levels by modern animals  -  even in burrows that actually did date from the Pleistocene era, and that contained legitimate remains 10,000 years ago!  But we didn't know until 2009 that the oldest viable seeds of proven age are 2000 years old.


40-odd years ago, scientists planted lupine seeds recovered from the permafrost, and they grew.  30-odd years  ago, Nicolas asked a question that led me to write a poem about ancient seeds. 20-odd years ago, it was published in Thistles Magazine. Here it is, in honor of today's version of old, old, news. See if you can spot some other "facts" from when it was written 30 years ago have since been proven inaccurate.*


 Ten thousand years ago, a lemming
hid a hoard of flower seeds
against the arctic dark and rushed
headlong into the sea, or else forgot,
and left his cache of lupine seeds
buried in the permafrost
and time and time and time went by.
Someone dug them up from the cold that never thaws,
found his pantry full of flower seeds,
found the makings of a garden,
from ten thousand years ago
and planted the lemming's hoard again,
in rows like all good lemmings,
lined up against the ocean wall,
spread sunshine on the earth
and sprinkled water.

And the seeds grew.

Blossomed, and made new seeds.

Perhaps ten thousand years ago,
lemmings didn't make the leap
of faith and death into the icy sea,
or the seeking consequence of suicide
chill human consciousness.
Ten thousand years ago we had no Bomb,
no star-hung missles,
no seeping milleniaic poisons.
Little Nicolas says, about the grass,
growing through cracks in the pavement:
"Life is stronger than anything."

Tina Howard



*The truth (based on current knowledge) about a few other fallacies that were believed or theorized 30 years ago (and still to this day are taught):
(1) The "Atomic Bomb", horrific at detonation, has not been the terror we were led to believe, but instead has since been held, wisely, as a deterrent rather than a weapon. To this day, the most devastating effects of war come from sheer brutality and from more conventional weapons;
(2) Concrete bunkers do indeed offer individuals some protection against the effects of nuclear weapons;
(3) The Theory of Nuclear Winter not only did not occur when these weapons were used, but has become highly debatable (and was abandoned for an even sillier theory called Global Warming, now renamed Climate Change)
(4)  Nuclear Power accidents have proven - even as recently as this past year in Japan, as well as long term studies on Chernoble - to be far less dangerous than estimated, with outrageously shorter time periods for natural decontamination than were estimated at the time of the disasters;
(5) Lemmings may or may not dash over the cliffs by the thousands.
(6) We learn much in the course of our lives - and especially, if we are wise, we will learn how to change our minds, and think things through more carefully.
(7) The last sentence is still true, and always will be, because God created Life, and made His lively creations stronger than the inanimate elements around them.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Homemade King Cake for Mardis Gras!


I've made Kings Cake's a couple of times before, but I always used a shortcut, starting with canned cinnamon roll dough. This year, I decided to make one from scratch, with a traditional brioche dough and cream cheese filling.  I took it to a small group gathering yesterday and it was a big hit!  There's still time if you want to make one for Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday).  Here's how:

Place dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl or bread bowl:
4 cups of flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 scant tablespoons of active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated lemon peel)
Optional: 4 teaspoons wheat gluten

Mix together well and set aside.  In a small saucepan, melt
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), then add
1 cup of milk

and warm until just above body temp - 100 to 105 degrees F. Remove from heat and whisk in:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 egg yolks (save the whites - you can freeze egg whites (but not egg yolks) and use them to make merangues later)

Slowly add the warm liquid to the flour mixture, stirring as you go. Mix it together well until all flour is incorporated, and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.  I used our KitchenAid stand mixer with the dough hooks, and it makes short work of it on medium high for 4 minutes. If you are doing it by hand, this will take about 6 to 8 minutes of kneading.

Cover with a damp cloth and set in a warm place to rise until doubled. It will take about 2 hours. A good trick is to turn your oven on for one minute, then turn it off and turn the oven light on. Then the oven will hold enough heat to help the bread rise without being too hot or drafty. This will work as long as the light bulb is an incandescent one. A flourescent bulb does not generate heat, so it wouldn't help.

While the dough is rising, make the filling:

1 1/2 packages of cream cheese (about 12 ounces total)
1/2 cup marmalade or preserves
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar (to taste, depending on how sweet your preserves are)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together well and set aside.


When dough has risen, lay it out on a lightly floured board and roll it into a rectangle that is about 30 inches long and only 5 or 6 inches wide.  Spread the filling down the middle along the entire length of it, then fold one long edge over to meet the other and pinch together well.   Roll along it with your hands until it is a cylinder shape with the sealed edge on the bottom, and bring together into a circle, pinching the open edge together.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper and quickly lift the dough from the board onto the baking sheet with the sealed edge down.

Now's the time to tuck the baby, the feve, or the bean into the cake - put it underneath the cake and push it up well into the dough so that it is surrounded by dough and hidden from Herod's soldiers. I used a pecan half for this cake, as I didn't have a plastic feve and was nervous about someone maybe breaking a tooth on a porcelain one (besides, I didn't want to part with any antique feves from my collection!).

Use a sharp, greased knife and make shallow cuts across the top of the wreath about 5 inches apart (at right angles to the cake so that the cut goes from the inside edge of the circle to the outside edge). These will give the cake its "crown" appearance.  I forgot this step when making the cake pictured, so it is not essential.

If you want to give it a Mexican twist, the New Orleans King Cake can become a Rosca de reyes by adding dried fruits to the top: figs, candied orange peel, dried cherries or citron.  Or, do a little research to see which variations were most popular in the countries of your ancestors - this tradition is truly ancient, and was formerly celebrated by Christians all around the world.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the cake rests. Then put the cake in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheet.

Mix icing and make colored sugar while the cake is cooling:

Colored sugar:
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided into 3 separate cups (2 tablespoons for each color).
Food coloring

Work in a place that can be easily cleaned and will not stain, wear and old apron and use vinyl gloves to keep the food color off your hands as it will stain. Use 2 or 3 drops of food color for each cup. Make one cup of golden yellow, one of green and one of purple.  To make green: 1 drop of blue and one or 2 drops of yellow, right into the cup with the sugar. As you mix it together with with sugar, they will blend and make green. To make purple: 1 or 2 drops of blue and one or two drops of red - depending on whether you like a bluer shade of purple or a redder shade.  As you mix it together with the sugar, it will become purple.

Icing:

2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon of milk

Stir together sugar and lemon juice until powdered sugar is thoroughly mixed. If it needs more liquid, add milk a teaspoonful at a time until it is the consistency you like.  Drizzle the icing over the cake, let sit for a few moments to stabilize, and then sprinkle the colored sugars alternately all the way around it.

Pick the cake up carefully, move it to a serving platter, and present to your guests!

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Information is Holy": Musings on the Printing Press, the Internet, and the Church of Kopimism

 In his letterpress printed pamphlet "Saint Gutenberg, Pray For Us",   AAPA member Michael Coughlin (Superior Letterpress) makes a case for the value of printed books over digital in the preservation of original knowledge. He writes "With our frequently shortsighted perspective, we seem to imagine what we are experiencing is unprecedented in history. While the technology is new, it's far from true that human history hasn't before experienced dramatic, sudden, and far-reaching transformations."

"Saint Gutenberg, Pray For Us" helped me sort several threads that have been getting tangled together in my thoughts for a while: in particular, the likelihood that uncensored data and accumulated knowledge can or will be preserved if they exist only in digital or continuously-editable form.

~~~~~~

"Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness."  Isaiah 30:8

In Buddhism, the passion for making large numbers of copies of prayers and charms led to the early use of blocks for printing. The prayer wheel and prayer flags stem from the idea of making copies or spreading the word by keeping the prayers in motion, to create a virtual "Copy" with each turn of the wheel, with each flap in the wind.

In this world of wonders, who is to say the actual information is not tossed onto the breeze with each turn?

But the knowledge expressed in the prayer is not made accessable to human beings in these repetitions. Somewhere along the way, the form, the act, of copying and motion took precidence over the essential result: the sharing of information itself. Thus, while Buddhism teaches that enlightenment can be achieved, that rational thought and personal acquisition of knowledge are religious activities, ultimately the Buddha did not see information as holy in its own right.

But the Kopimist does.

~~~~~


 "After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah:  “Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up."  Jeremiah 36:27-28

In Sweden, the Missionary Church of Kopimism has been recognized as a legitimate religion. The Kopimi believe that "kopyacting" - file sharing - is a sacred action that deserves the protection granted other religions. The new Church grew out of the tension between draconian copyright demands by governments at the beck and call of powerful media companies, and the freedom internet technologies hold for people eager to preserve, share, and disseminate information.

According to Business Week:
[Kopimists'] "central commandment, “Copy and seed,” is a call to download files and make them available for sharing. Life itself, the newly declared believers observed, depends on the replication of cells and the endless duplication of DNA."

"“In the beginning, it was a joke,” says Gustav Nipe, the church’s chairman. “But maybe we’ve stepped on something greater than we thought.” "

"The church’s chief missionary is Isak Gerson, a 20-year-old student of philosophy. ...In addition to being the country’s top Kopimist, Gerson is a committed Lutheran who attends mass about twice a month. “Information is holy,” he says. One important distinction between religious values and other values is that you can’t explain them rationally.
"Information is holy. "

~~~~~


"Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it..."  Exodus 17:14 (written down circa 1450 BC)

After the Roman Empire descended into chaos and barbarism in the 5th Century AD, the nations of the world confronted centuries of apocolyptic conditions of social upheaval, plague, famine, extreme weather, and war. Societies broke down, pavement crumbled, trade dissipated. Technologies and learning were lost - or would have been, had it not been for the culture of education within the Christian monasteries scattered throughout the Empire.

For a thousand years, until the invention of moveable type in the 14th Century, the scriptorum of Europe served to fill the libraries of the Christian world with books - in every place the Roman roads had gone, and farther still. From Italy to Ireland, from Switzerland to Denmark, from France to Greenland. Christian brothers made it their sacred duty to faithfully copy the accumulated knowledge of the known universe and the classical world: not only religious tomes and the Holy Bible, but works of mathmatics and science, of medicine and history.

And they not only copied, but translated and collected and sought new sources. All of the world's accumulated knowledge base was painstakingly and lovingly reproduced and disseminated, conveyed into the vernacular of the local monastics, shared to create local libraries that all could use.


The Abbey library of Saint Gall in Switzerland, founded circa 800 AD, is one of the oldest in the world, and remains in operation as a library today.

From this preservation, translation, commentary and actual copying of works, learning was reestablished and began gathering the momentum that has propelled the world throughout all the centuries since, because the Christian,Western world believed "Information is holy."

~~~~

"When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law..." Deuteronomy 17:18

When Charlemagne took the throne of France in 751 AD, he actively pursued the preservation of Rome's literature. Almost without exception, Roman authors are available to us today only from copies produced under the Carolingian government. They would be lost forever otherwise.

In the interest of educating the public, Charlemagne established free local schools to teach full literacy and mathmatics, proclaiming in the "Capitulary of 787", sometimes known as the "Charter of Modern Thought",
that the Christian work of the Church must include "the study of letters, each to teach and learn them according to his ability and the Divine Assistance."

He continued: "Let every monastery and every abbey have its school, in which boys may be taught the Psalms, the system of musical notation, singing, arithmetic and grammar.", followed 10 years later by an even stronger edict: "that the priests establish schools in every town and village....and let them exact no price from the children for their teaching nor receive anything from them save what their parents may offer voluntarily..."

By 1200, Europe had universities and seats of learning in all major cities and many minor ones. The still extant University of Padua in Italy, where the great priest-scientist Albertus Magnus studied, was one of the first true "universities" in the world.  Colleges and Libraries proliferated on the continent, and the thirst for learning that generated this activity has never slowed in the West.

All because the Christian Emperor Charlemagne believed that "Information is holy."

~~~~~


"...it will be like a sealed scroll. If you take it to someone who knows how to read and ask him to read it to you, he will say he can't because it is sealed. If you give it to someone who can't read and ask him to read it to you, he will answer that he doesn't know how." Isaiah 29:11-12

Imagine a world in which the Holy Bible itself had never been copied or translated into our own language, because a rights owner refused to license it. Without it, the ever-brightening lamp of learning that fueled the West's unending knowledge revolution would never have happened.

In contrast, that is precisely what did happen to the Koran, and all doors to the future were closed deliberately by its guardians, the very men who taught and led Islam.


 "The House of Wisdom", an Islamic library founded in Baghdad in 762 continued until the Mongols burned it in 1258, but in reality it began to decline aound 850, due to the increasing fundamentalism and insularity of the leaders of the young Islamic culture, nervous about any knowledge that did not originate within the Arab lands.

So great was the distrust of learning even at an early stage that Caliph Uthman ibn Affan burned all copies and fragments of the Koran except for the version known as the "Hafsah codex". He destroyed all religious writings that did not issue from his prescribed version. Even variations in the text due to regional dialects were prohibited.


Upon Gutenberg's invention of moveable type and the printing press in 1436, printing spread like wildfire throughout the West, and was even carried into the New World on the earliest voyages. Spain, newly freed from the yoke of Moslem rule in 1492, sent the first printing press to Mexico in the company of missionaries in 1539, and published extensively in various indigenous Native American languages.

But not in Islamic lands. There, Moslem scholars prevailed against progress, and in 1483 Sultan Bayezid II forbade, on penalty of death, any printing in Arab script in the Ottoman Empire.

The West struggled to reach out, and Pope Julius II commissioned printed texts in Arabic script from 1503 through 1512 for Christians in those areas. Even the oldest printed Koran was printed in 1537, not in Baghdad, but in Venice. But the leaders and clerics were rigid in enforcement, and stamped out attempts by the populace at modernization.

Thus, Arabic printing was expressly illegal and a capital offense until 1727 - even then, only non-religious works were allowed, and these were carefully watched. These belated attempts to establish presses were unsuccessful, and were closed by 1780.  In the intervening centuries, Jews and Christians within these territories produced a smattering of works for their own use in Hebrew, Armenian, Greek and Latin, but for all intents and purposes, according to Wikipedia, there was no genuine printing industry in the Moslem world until late in the 19th century.

Similarly, despite continual attempts by Christian Missionaries to install printing presses in the far East beginning as early as 1590, here too the agents of stagnation prevailed, terrified of the change fostered by making information freely available, and printing technology was not adopted in China, India, or Korea until late in the 19th century.

As recently as last year,  the ancient Institut d’Egypte , founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 in Cairo, which had survived for 200 years during the West's intense patronage of Egypt's archeological history, was burned by rioting Egyptians in the media-dubbed "Arab Spring".

Progress cannot come to cultures that do not believe "Information is holy."

~~~~~


"But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” Daniel 12:4

The advent of the electronic age and the upheaval of the Technological Revolution have once again turned things topsy turvy when it comes to information dispersal. In "The Gutenberg Galaxy",  Marshall McLuhan had these things to say, a decade before the internet was invented, about our current situation:

"Instead of tending toward a vast Alexandrian library, the world has instead become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existance.....

[T]error is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time. ....

[In] our striving to recover for the Western World a unity of sensibility and of thought and feeling we have no more been prepared to accept the tribal consequences of such unity than we were ready for the fragmentation of the human psyche by print culture."

Thus, rather than sit back and give rational thought to a decision, organizations, companies, and even governments react to "virtual" riots as though they were real - as though a million automated anti-tweets in 48 hours has any basis in reality, or reflects the actual customer base itself.

This is why we see absurdities like the Susan G Komen Foundation's capitulation to funding Planned Parenthood, the founder issuing an appeasement to the abortionist in order to quiet down the server traffic.  Or companies like Carbonite and Sleep Number hysterically responding to Twitter-bullying by rejecting their long-proven, lucrative advertising with Rush Limbaugh, only to watch their sales and stock fall the next day as their legitimate customers and investors countered with concrete action to support the radio personality's right to free speech.

The forces for the status quo used the  internet to amplify hysterical voices, generating a sense of terror far beyond their actual numbers, and by this means bullied their way into control over private companies' previously freewill spending decisions. CEOs hired to front companies in easy times discover they lack courage and wisdom when faced with new informational dangers. Those like Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy and Hobby Lobby's Steve Green,  whose decisions are based on uncompromised principle rather than  trendy focus groups, find themselves and their businesses supported and admired when they stand up to the liberal bullies.

Our science has been compromised. Scientists with political ambitions have abandoned the scientific method, refusing to make public the details of their work, instead trying to convince policy makers and the public  - and legitimate scientists - to "take their word for it", claiming that some ill-defined ideological "consensus" should trump legitimate analysis, data and methodology.

Most visible in so-called "climate science", other fields are under attack as well. All scientific disciplines that have  been politicized: statistics, biology, anthropology, genetics, sociology, psychiatry, dietetics, law, education, medicine, history, linguistics, even obstetrics - are suffering as the principles of their fields are being trampled by unhealthy pseudoscientific attempts to skew results toward desired political ends.

Only the free flow of genuine information - a belief that "information is holy" - can keep true, unadulterated science moving forward in ethical, human-friendly directions.

~~~~


"Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him." Psalm 102:18

Imagine a world in which the writings of Descartes, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, C.S, Lewis, JRR Tolkien, or the Apostle Paul couldn't be shared, because a rights owner refused to license them for publication.

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 promotes the control of information through a concept called "intellectual property". SOPA/PIPA is the latest in these efforts to manhandle the internet and restict information flow on behalf of political darlings and moneyed schemers. Other modern copyright, trademark and patent laws enable corporations to gather and control information to an almost unlimited degree, conceivably extending monopolies for centuries.

A 2001 court case, Worldwide Church of God v. Philadelphia Church of God, centered on this. A minister wrote a book that some followers (the WCoG) later came to believe to be unscriptural. The minister died, the WCoG pulled it from publication, destroying all extra copies. Other followers (the PCoG) believe the book is actual scripture, and the foundation for their faith. They issued a new edition, claiming "fair use", and the copyright battle was joined. The court actually found for the WCoG, who refuse to publish the work, despite the acknowledged intent of the author for the work to be disseminated, and despite the express need of the PCoG for copies in order to practice their religion.

The decision stands, but it was not unanimous. In his dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Brunetti sided with the original verdict of the lower court, and had this to say:
"The prohibition of PCG's noncommercial, religious use "would merely inhibit access to ideas without any countervailing benefit." Accordingly, the fourth statutory factor also supports a finding of fair use.


"In this lawsuit, WCG appears less interested in protecting its rights to exploit [the book Mystery of the Ages] than in suppressing Armstrong's ideas which now run counter to church doctrine. Although the Supreme Court has recognized that "freedom of thought and expression 'includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all,'" it does not "suggest that this right not to speak would sanction an abuse of the copyright owner's monopoly as an instrument to suppress facts."


"In light of this principle and the statutory factors discussed above, I conclude that the district court ... properly found that PCG's distribution of MOA constitutes fair use. "

Judge Brunetti's opinion did not affect the outcome, which prevented the  believers from legally copying and sharing what they believe to be a holy text. But his dissent shows a foundation within United States law and precedent to deny legal protection to the suppression of facts, and to accept the belief that "information is holy".

~~~~~~



"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He has the key that belonged to David, and when he opens a door, no one can close it, and when he closes it, no one can  open it." Revelation 3:7

You can't unring a bell, and devious organizations like Wikileaks and Anonymous flex their muscle against the bell rope at companies and agencies that fail - or refuse - to lock up the information they don't want made public.The debate about control of information moved from powerful high echelons onto the public world stage as WikiLeaks grew from a site on which disgruntled employees published embarrassing emails from their Silicon Valley bosses to a media outlet whose inputs originate with disgruntled corporate spies working within governments.

And yet.

While some elements of culture run to and fro in terror of each new potential cataclysm, there remain pockets of literate, lawful society who "keep calm, and carry on". Millions of people take individual responsibility for preserving those things important to the future in the format each believes to be is essential.

The Open Directory Project was a vast volunteer effort to organize the internet and open up the information on millions of individual webpages to easy use by anyone. Free and "open sourced", it became Google's original database.

Project Gutenberg was founded by Michael S. Hart, the inventor of ebooks (in 1971!), as a massive volunteer project to digitize and give to the world all the literature and accumulated knowledge therein. Hart wrote: "Learning is its own reward. Nothing I can say is better than that."

Wikipedia, from which I gathered a number of the historical facts cited above, for all its flaws and left-leaning slant, remains a sincere reflection of Western culture's understanding  that "information is holy."

Every day in the world of letterpress printers and private presses, individuals like Mike Coughlin print excerpts, new editions, or entire historical documents into chapbooks and broadsides,  generating small editions of hard copies to cast out as bread upon the water.


Even as the traditional, expert-mediated publishing industry battles against extinction, more writers are writing more books than ever before, as Print-on-Demand technology makes it possible for ordinary souls to publish
the book they always wanted to write.

Thanks to these new technologies, the number of books published in the United States in 2010 topped off in record numbers, especially in the "non-traditional" sector, which, including "print on demand" and self-published books, almost tripled from 1,033,065 titles in 2009 to 2,776,260 in 2010. And buyers are buying these books: nearly 25% of all sales of eBook fiction are now from self-published authors.

This does not represent new demand - the demand was always there - this represents new access, thanks to the internet, which has given any author a nearly cost-free access to markets outside their local area.

Print-on-demand brings all of this within the reach of any individual. And  “within the reach of any individual” is the secret of Western liberty, as well as of modern,Western-driven, civilization.

The ability to "have our own" access to information is a principle element of the Pursuit of Happiness that none willingly give up.

Despite attempts to convince us otherwise, the Western world still stubbornly believes that information is holy, and the Missionary Church of Kopimism is one expression of that deep conviction.

"Copy, and seed."


*Updated 11/17/2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Civic Literacy Quiz

Via The Pitty Pat Pages, an interesting Civic Literacy Quiz from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Click here to take the test.

While I lived through some of the events used to illustrate the questions (Sputnik went up the year I was born), most of it is basic Civics of the kind we used to learn in school, from elementary through high school. The kind of factual definition & simple history that has not been taught in a long time.

Hate to brag but I scored 100% on it. There were questions among the 60 that gave me pause, though, and required a bit of a shuffle through the old filing system in order to choose the correct answer.

There were also a few that might be worth drumming into a few heads in Congress: such as what our inalienable rights actually are, and how they are guaranteed by the Constitution. Especially since one of the findings was that people who've held elective office scored more poorly on the exam than the general public!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rick Perry: Texas Will Be One Tip of the Spear Against the Anti-Religious Contraceptive Mandate

Today's Bible verse, in the "Good News for Modern Man" translation:

"...love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail."
1 Corinthians 13:6-7



From Newsmax, via Gateway Pundit:

"In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Thursday, Gov. Perry was asked which presidential candidate Texans will support in the state’s Republican primary.

I’ve endorsed Newt, so I hope that has some impact. We’re looking for the most conservative candidate. Texans by and large are a conservative lot,” he says.

But any of our candidates are going to be better than Obama. ...

I think Newt by any measure, from the standpoint of fiscal conservatism, being able to actually operate in that shark tank in Washington, is the most capable individual. He’s balanced a number of budgets before."

Perry went on to give his thoughts about all the other candidates, including Santorum and Ron Paul, and said the contest could easily go "all the way to the convention" before a final nominee is settled on. [side note: Sarah Palin has also made this point: the race is still very, very competitive.]

Then some good news:

"Asked if the states can do anything about the Obama administration’s mandate for religiously-affiliated institutions to pay for employees’ birth control, Perry responds: “I would suggest that the states are going to be filing suit against this administration, probably through Health and Human Services, the issue being that they’re impeding our ability to deliver healthcare because there’s going to be a lot of people losing their jobs because of this.

I’m very comfortable that attorneys general across the country will file suit to try to stop this administration’s war on religion, and [Texas Attorney General] Greg Abbott will be one of the tips of the spear.”

Read more on Newsmax.com:  Perry: Newt Is Best Conservative to Beat Obama
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama's Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Freedom of Religion" Means It's the Religious Who Get To Decide, Not the Bureaucrats

The First Amendment to the Constitution says:
"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."

It's the undisputed law of the land, a primary portion of the primary law on which everything else is based.

I guess our President and his advisors thought that they were the ones who get to decide whether their newly proclaimed laws, such as the one demanding that religious organizations pay for contraceptives, abortifacients and abortions for their employees, are actually lawful or not. [Update: Despite saying otherwise, the Obama administration went ahead and made this rule permanent, on Friday, 2/10/12, without any changes or accommodations. Whatever he or his cronies say otherwise is blatant untruth.]

Those who follow the oxymoronic practice sometimes called "situation ethics" believe the end justifies the means, so they evaluate different situations in order to take the most profitable action in their own favor.

I think they may be unable to comprehend the world view and decision-making process of faithful or law-abiding people, who follow a specific code of moral ethics that requires evaluating our behavior against a stable yardstick, such as the code of law or the tenets of our religion.

To give the benefit of the doubt, maybe some just need for us to explain in simple language exactly what the First Amendment's primary clause "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" means in practice.

To that end:

Someone needs to tell The White House that the 1st Amendment exists to protect religious people from those who want to define "mainstream".

Someone needs to tell President Obama and David Axelrod that the First Amendment exists to protect religious people from those who think opinion polls should have the force of law.

Someone needs to tell President Obama  that the First Amendment exists to protect religious people and organizations from the entire 99%.

Someone needs to tell The White House and its allies that the First Amendment exists to protect religious people of both sexes from elitists who think elitist people should get to make the rules for religious people.

Someone needs to tell President Obama that the Constitution IS THE LAW, and the First Amendment IS THE LAW, and they both exist to protect religious people from politics of any kind.

Someone needs to tell Democrats that the First Amendment exists so that different religious people and churches are the ones that get to define what matters "are about religion",  and so that political parties and politicians are PROHIBITED from defining which matters "are about religion".

Someone needs to tell President Obama and Kathleen Sebelius that the First Amendment exists to protect uncompromised religious freedom and practice, and no amount of deal-making or "balancing" or  deliberate misrepresentation and outright falsehoods by the President can require other religious people to abide by those deals or compromises.

The ugliest side of this is that the Federal Government has no power to enforce these laws other than unlimited confiscation of money. So, in this particular situation, Health and Human Services have gleefully added fines of $2,000 per employee per year that they can just confiscate from any religious organization that doesn't follow their orders. So it is an agenda to obliterate religious organizations: to put them out of business either by corrupting their ethics or bankrupting those that refuse to compromise.

We already know that Planned Parenthood will be the "preferred provider" to fill these newly mandated prescriptions. What do you want to bet that the colluding agencies have already pencilled in Planned Parenthood as the eventual recipient of these confiscated dollars as well, via grant gimmicks?


This is perhaps a watershed moment. A few years ago, most ordinary people believed our elected representatives would always stand up for our constitutional rights, including our right to practice our religion and follow God according to His leading. We've seen this continually eroded, as government agencies in airports are allowed to put their hands on small children who are too young to understand, as government agencies behave in practice as though unlawful pet liberal causes were codified and undebateable, as Washingon has refused to enforce the laws that do exist in everything from prosecuting criminals to the operations of government itself.  As recently as 6 months ago, the President's own supporters believed they were safe from having their liberties encroached upon. Now, they too have learned that there are no limits to a bully's demands. And this administration is a bully - picking on the kid that's a little overweight, or that goes to church each Sunday, or that is polite to the teacher and tries to follow the rules, or that has to work for their lunch money.

We have freedom to vote, elections are coming, and every politician who supported these actions needs to be sent home for good.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dr Margaret Mead, on Today's Headlines




Anthropologist Margaret Mead is often quoted as saying "I do not believe in using women in combat, because females are too fierce." It's called out with glib bravado, as though it were a Helen Reddy song. But never with thought to why this odd sentence from a champion of feminist mores.

Dr.  Mead's full statement about the danger of allowing women to participate in combat is not often quoted, but it is important - and sobering:

"Women should be permitted to volunteer for non-combat service,… they should not be accepted, voluntarily or through the draft, as combat soldiers…. We know of no comparable ways of training women and girls, and we have no real way of knowing whether the kinds of training that teach men both courage and restraint would be adaptable to women or effective in a crisis. But the evidence of history and comparative studies of other species suggest that women as a fighting body might be far less amenable to the rules that prevent warfare from becoming a massacre and, with the use of modern weapons, that protect the survival of all humanity. This is what I meant by saying that women in combat might be too fierce."
      Margaret Mead, Some Personal Views, ed. Rhoda Metraux, pp. 35, 36 (1979): response when asked her opinion on drafting soldiers for the military, June 1968.


Warfare has changed in the decades since she explained her opposition to "women as a fighting body", a curious stance from one who otherwise championed the idea of "nurture" over "nature" as the primary source of sex roles, but her concerns remain grounded in her lifetime of study and her groundbreaking experience as a clinical observer of human societies.

We are also reminded that Dr Mead opposed eugenics, euthanasia and abortion, and had this to say about attempts to force doctors into these roles:

"This is a precious possession which we cannot afford to tarnish, but society always is attempting to make the physician into a killer — to kill the defective child at birth, to leave the sleeping pills beside the bed of the cancer patient. ... It is the duty of society to protect the physicians from such requests."
      Margaret Mead, Introduction in M.P. Levine, Psychiatry and Ethics (New York, Braziller, 1972), vi-xvi.

I wonder what Dr. Mead's reaction would be if she saw how the language and principles of her field and her politics have been usurped by today's academics and progressives?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pink Ribbons Now Stand For Abortion Support

I guess this means the pink ribbons used by the Susan G. Komen foundation stand for "We support Abortions and Abortionists"?

"Komen drops plans to cut Planned Parenthood grants"
By DAVID CRARY
NEW YORK (AP) - "The Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity on Friday abandoned plans to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood. The startling decision came after three days of virulent criticism that resounded across the Internet, jeopardizing Komen's iconic image.

""We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," a Komen statement said.
"

 The apology is the clincher.  "...saving women's lives". Among the millions of abortions worldwide every year, selective abortion to eliminate girls from being born is leading to crisis-level imbalances in the sexes in countries like India and China, according to The Economist, which rightly labels it gendercide.

Even in the United States, at least 50% of all 1 million abortions every year kill a little girl. 

So be it. If that is what they want. I will no longer purchase any items with the pink ribbons on them, or participate in anything that funds the Susan G. Komen foundation. I'm sure my small purchases and local event contributions won't matter to the organization, but it is my choice.

Update: PjMom has a post about this, with links to several other commentaries, over at Political Junkie Mom: "Pundette: “Planned Parenthood must be obeyed.”

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