Monday, June 27, 2005

High Sierra Vacation

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Daughter #1 & Donner Lake

I'm afraid I will not be posting much of anything in the next three weeks. I am leaving one paradise for another.....heading to the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains to spend time with my extended family at Donner Lake over the Fourth of July.

Later, I will head to Southern California to help daughter #1 find housing for her upcoming move to that area for graduate school.

Then comes a Presbytery meeting in Los Angeles and, finally, a return to the Sierra for one more week; this time hiking and fly fishing with my brother.

If I run across a computer with an internet connection I might (if my wonderful wife is not watching) post a few thoughts or photos so don't abandon me forever!

To those of you who visit me often, thanks. I hope to see you again, soon. To the rest of you, take a look through the archives. There are things there that will make you smile....and a few things that might make you cry!

So, Aloha In Jesus to you all. Be sure to take some time out to enjoy your summer, too!

Just for fun, here are some photos from last year's trip!

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Marriage In Paradise

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I thought some of you might enjoy these two photos of a wedding that took place today between two members of my congregation. I officiated, of course, but also brought my camera along "just in case."

The groom is a good friend and church Deacon. He has served three tours of duty in the Middle East/Persian Gulf and was part of a P-3 crew who miraculously survived a dramatic ditching of their crippled and burning plane....the first time there had ever been survivors of such a crash. He has no doubt that God intervened to save the entire crew. I think that God had plans for him that included his new bride!
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In any case, the ceremony eneded with a traditional U.S. Navy Wedding Sword Arch. As the newly married couple approached each pair of officers, the swords were lowered and they were not permitted to pass to the next pair until they had kissed each other. I took this photo during their third kiss. (It sort of gives new meaning to the phrase, "making a pass," don't you think?)

One Navy Wedding tradition that they skipped was the one where the bride gets a sword-slap on her behind after passing the last two officers. In this case, she got away with it because of her own prior service in the U.S. Navy.

The groom did not get a "swat" either....perhaps because he had his own Navy sword tucked away in my church office. Or perhaps because he out-ranked both of the officers at the end of the arch! (Good planning on his part!)

I am glad to say that the new husband and wife still appeared to be happy three hours later at the wedding reception. By God's grace that happiness will be "forever-after." Or , more precisely, "As long as we both shall live!"

Nude Justice Statue Scores a Touchdown

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWell, well, well...It appears that John Ashcroft's de-nuding of the front hall of the Justice Department Building has been undone. The once-draped figures of the Spirit of Justice and the Majesty of Justice have been, at long last, re-nuded to their former glory.

Seeing the now infamous photo of John Ascroft with the bare-breasted Spirit of Justice in the background reminded me of the (fully-clothed) mosaic of Jesus that hovers above and behind one end of the University of Notre Dame football stadium.

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Both figures have their arms raised as if signalling a touchdown.

So, now we have both a "Touchdown Jesus" and a "Touchdown .....ah.... ...Justice? Spirit? .....ah ........." Can someone come up with a better name for the Justice statue? The winning suggestion will be awarded six points for know....!

While on the subject of Jesus and sports, here is a nifty site where you can puchase these four little beauties:

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Jesus Plays Football

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Jesus Plays Basketball

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Jesus Plays Baseball

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Jesus Plays Soccer

And, last but not least, there is this Jesus in Cincinnati...either signalling another touchdown or suddenly forgetting how to walk on water!

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You can read more about this Jesus here, here and here.

Hat Tip to Michael Homan for discovering those Jesus sports statues. He also has some funny things to say about them. Check him out!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Billy Graham, Billy Clinton & the Last Crusade

Image hosted by Photobucket.comFirst it was President George Bush holding hands with his good friend, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Today it was (former) President Bill Clinton holding hands with his good friend, the venerable Rev. Dr. Billy Graham.

Today's occasion was framed by the setting of a Billy Graham Crusade in New event that may well prove to be Dr. Graham's final crusade appearance in the United States.

Clinton introduced Graham to a crowd estimated to be close to 80,000 people. He shared an anecdote concerning how impressed he was as a young boy when Billy Graham, scheduled to preach at a evangelism crusade in Arkansas, refused to speak because the event was segregated. As Clinton put it today, "I've loved him ever since. God bless you, friend."

I must confess that I am glad to see a senior member of the Democratic Party having something nice to say about an evangelical Christian. Hillary was at the event, too, but I do not believe she spoke on the dais as her husband did. This, I think, is to her credit.

It is also difficult to compare these two men:

One Bill worked his way up the political ladder to attain the highest office in the U.S. Government, serving for 8 years as the most powerful individual in the world.

The other Bill has done nothing much except tell people about Jesus Christ and then inviting them to receive him as their Lord and Savior.

For all his greatness, the first Bill will likely be remembered as only the second President to be impeached by the U.S. Congress...for attempting to cover up a sexual relationship with a White House intern by lying under oath.

For all his humility, the second Bill will likely be remembered as the preeminent American Christian evangelist of the 20th century; a friend of Kings, Queens, Presidents and Pope; a man polled repeatedly as the most respected man in America.

The first Bill, who was great, was made humble.

The second Bill, who was humble, was made great.

As Jesus once put it, "But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first."

All in all a moving witness to the sinner and the saint; the fallen and the redeemed; an example of what we should not be and an example what we should be; two people taken together forming a perfect illustration of the sort of multiple personalities at war within each one of us.

By God's wonderful providence, Billy Graham has lead more than a few Bill Clintons to the "throne of grace" during his 50+ years of personally practicing what he preached.

We are all better for having shared this world with the likes of Billy Graham. Bill Clinton would no doubt agree. It is somewhat ironic that, on that platform in New York today, it was a man who was once the most powerful person in the world who was looking up with admiration at a man who had never really had any power at all, except for a Bible and some Good News.

Aussies Raid Muslim Bookstore In Melbourne

Muslim literature being sold in a bookstore adjacent to the Brunswick mosque near Melbourne, Australia, was the subject of a recent raid by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Herald Sun (Victoria),
Books sold at the store attached to the Brunswick mosque tell Muslims they should "hate and take as enemies" non-Muslims, reject Jews and Christians, and learn to hate in order to properly love Allah.
Although Muslims are encouraged to engender hate towards Christians and other non-believers it appears that the major thrust of much of the literature centers on hatred of Jews. Examples are cited where the killing of Jews is not considered to be displeasing to Allah.

Perhaps the most revealing items in the article was this:
One text says of devotion to Allah: "As regards hatred for His sake this is an essential prerequisite for loving Him."
I suppose that even we Christians are told to share in God's hatred of sin....("I hate divorce," says the Lord God of Israel..." Malachi 2:16).

Yet Jesus tells us that the hatred of others is strictly forbidden ("You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:43-44).

The contrast between these two teachings, the first being the message of hate being blessed and required by Allah, and the second being the love of enemies as commanded by Jesus, is far too great to reconcile them one to the other. The god of Muhammad ("Allah") cannot say these things and still be considered to be the same god as the "Lord God of Israel."

I will stop short of saying that the literature uncovered in that Melbourne mosque's bookstore is representative of "mainstream Islam" (whatever that may be), but the fact that so-called "moderate" Muslim leaders do not condemn such ideas lends them an aura of legitimacy.

The teachings of Jesus lead his followers to build medical clinics and hospitals for Christians and non-Christians alike. We are required to be tolerant of the beliefs of others even thought, at the same time, we may feel compelled to speak against those same beliefs. Truth is to be discerned and then embraced as an act of freee, personal choice and conviction.

The harsher teachings of Muhammad, however, appear tcapable of leading his followers to murder and behead innocent people and to carry explosives under your clothing in order to blow yourself up in an "enemy's" hospital.

For a Christian, "God is love."

For a Muslim of the kind that writes the above-cited books, Allah is the source of both good and evil and permits his followers to do unto others what no Christian would ever tolerate being done to anybody!

Knowing personally two of the leaders of the Honolulu mosque, I very much doubt that they are encourging their brothers and sisters in Islam to read and follow such teachings.

Yet I can only wonder...and worry...over what is being preached, taught and encouraged at the mosques in other folks' neighborhoods.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Great Way to Say "Thank You" To Our Soldiers In Iraq & Afghanistan

"The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler" is promoting a great idea: A one-stop email site for distributing encouraging notes of thanks and appreciation to our troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It appears than some soldiers have been writing home saying that, from what they read in the Main-Stream Media, they are begining to doubt whether Americans are aware of all the good stuff they are doing there or whether anyone is still supporting them in their efforts.

So.....if you would like to write a generic sort of "thank you" to our soldiers in harm's way, or if you would rather write a short note sharing some of the "good stuff" you know they have been doing....send it off to this address (the address is "written out" so that it cannot be used without a little bit of effort, so be sure to "format" it correctly before trying to use it!):


Punchbowl Funeral

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Yesterday I posted a story on today's funeral service at Punchbowl, National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. This morning the service took place as planned with around 20 people attending (not including the Navy Honor Guard).

As always there was a aura of solemn gratitude for those who lay at rest in that place. The photo at the top of this post was taken at the conclusion of the service as Karen was being handed the American Flag, a gift from "a grateful nation." Amen.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Funeral At Punchbowl Cemetery Tomorrow

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Tomorrow morning I will officiate at a brief inurnment service for a member of my congregation. The service will take place at Punchbowl cemetery in Honolulu. The official name for the Punchbowl site is, "The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific." It is always an honor for a airman, seaman, soldier or Marine to be buried there.

Joe Hazard died last Saturday at the age of 83. He had been bedridden and confined to his home with Parkinson's Disease for over 7 years, personally cared for by his loving and devoted wife, Karen.

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Joe served in the U.S. Navy for over 32 years, a span of time covering World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. He worked in the area of aviation maintenance. As a licensed pilot himself, he would never release a plane back into service unless he knew he would be comfortable flying it himself.

In his younger days he had been a Navy boxing champion and weight lifter.

He retired at the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer, the highest non-commissioned rank in the Navy.

When I first met Joe, he was already showing the first signs of Parkinson's. His one hand, in particular, shook uncontrollably....unless he was driving his car...when the shaking would stop as he clutched the steering wheel!

As his health declined I visited Joe and Karen at home each month and served the Sacrament of Communion to them both. Although baptized as a child, Joe had only attended Navy chapels as an adult, both before and after his retirement. Consequently, he had never had an opportunity to "join a church" or to publicly make a personal confession of faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

After many conversations and much prayer, Joe, now confined at home to his bed, made his confession of faith in my presence. His health did not permit other visitors to come into his home at that time. Soon after, Karen did not even allow me to visit as it made him too anxious and upset.

In any case, I reported Joe's confession of faith and desire to be received into the membership of our church to the church Session. They voted to receive him into membership on my recommendation alone, without meeting with Joe or hearing his confession shared publicly. This is the only time in my 26 years of ordained ministry that this has happened.

After receiving news that he had died last Saturday, I drove over to the house. He had passed away less than an hour before I arrived. It had been 5 or 6 years since I had last seen Joe. Karen, on the other hand, had, in the beginning, been able to attend worship on occasional Sundays. Eventually, however, she was unable to leave Joe for even that one hour each week.

At the house I prayed for Joe and Karen as I trusted his soul "to the care and mercy of almighty God." Because of his earnest and sincere affirmation of faith seven years ago, I was able to add those glorious words, "In the sure and certain hope for resurrection to eternal life."

Tomorrow I will share these words at his service. There will be full military honors as well, with the presentation of the American Flag to his wife, Karen.

Karen, born and raised in Japan and living through World War II as a child, has her own amazing story to tell. I hope to post it here soon.


Gonzales To Replace O'Conner On High Court?

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Gonzales & Bush

Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt posted this link: Bill Kristol writes that he hears it will be O'Connor stepping down next week, not the Chief, and that the Attorney General will be her replacement.

Alberto Gonzales is not the most conservative of possible nominees, but he is at least as conservative as O'Conner, who he would be replacing. At only 49 years of age, he would have at least a 15-20 year term of service.

In his favor is the fact that the Senate, without filibuster (although with great delay) confirmed him as Attorney General just this past February. It would be very difficult for the Democrats to justify his appointment to the Supreme Court as an extraordinary circumstance under this circumstance!

As Kristol suggests in his article, when the time comes for Reinquist to retire, the would be the time for Bush to nominate a more conservative judge to the court. That would undoubtedly bring the reality of a full-blown filibuster into the Senate once again.

Then again, as he admits himself, Kristol could be wrong about the entire thing!

And the Poppies Grow......

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This photo will surprise you. It does not show opium poppies growing in northern Afghanistan! It is actually a BBC photo showing the "Flanders Field" type of poppy growing en masse in Hertfordshire, England.

If you want to see what opium poppies look like, this is the picture you should be looking at:
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Was It U.S. Military Policy to Shoot Wounded & Surrendering Japanese Soldiers In WW II?

A friend of mine, now 83 years old, recently told me a story about being in the Marines during WW II. As he was about to be deployed to the South Pacific from a base in Southern California, the officer orienting them for the situations they would be facing stated that they would be required to shoot and kill surrendering or wounded Japanese soldiers they might encounter.

My friend indicated to the officer that he would not be able to comply with that order. He was subsequently written up for insubordination and wound up spending the next two years on an East Coast Marine base doing paper-shuffling word. All personal leaves were cancelled. He described the experience as similar to being under house arrest. Later, he did receive an honorable discharge.

This raised an interesting question in my mind.

Were U.S. Military orders issued during WW II requiring U.S. Marines and/or other soldiers to kill surrendering or wounded Japanese soldiers in the South Pacific?
I am well aware that many surrendering Japanese soldiers did so with the intent of "taking out" a few American GIs before they would be killed. Wounded Japanese frequently would blow themselves up along with Americans who attempted to come to their aid.

In personal accounts such as "My Private War" by Private Chester W. Nycum, I can read graphic accounts as to how U.S. soldiers began to routinely kill wounded and surrendering Japanese simply out of a sense of self-preservation. In this case, the untrustworthy and deceiptive behavior by the Japanese brought this action upon themselves.

But nowhere, whether in Nycum's short reminiscence or in any other place, have I read where soldiers were explicitly ordered to do this as military policy.

Stanley Frankel's on-line book, "Frankel-y Speaking About World War II In the Pacific," suggests that in his unit, at least, the exact opposite was the order of the day:

Lieutenant Jones explained there was one infallible method of convincing a reluctant Japanese prisoner to tell all he knows: to tell him, via interpreters, that they will send his name and picture back to Japan. At that, the Japanese falls to his knees, begs forgiveness, and proceeds to spill enough beans to send a few squads of his brothers- in- arms to honorable ancestors. We might note that few Japanese ever attempt to hold anything back. Being taken prisoner is not in their handbooks. No Japanese is ever taken alive. Thus, they are not drilled in the "Name- Rank- Serial No- nothing more" routine. They usually reveal everything easily without any persuasion

For this reason, our men have been repeatedly warned that though all dead Japanese are good Japanese, a live Japanese prisoner is worth ten times his weight in American lives. The bravado with which some American soldiers cold- bloodedly shoot quivering, defenseless, even wounded Japanese, in this context, can be equated to treason. The moral aspect of the situation is secondary; the significant point is that taking Japanese prisoners can save American lives.
Can anyone help clear this up? Does it really matter?

An old posting on Free Republic, entitled "Film Exposes Allies' Pacific War Atrocities" presents an "expose" of WW II movie footage showing the sort of killings described by Private Nycum.

The article ends with these words:

One US marine, Steve Judd, based on the island of Saipan during some of the fiercest combat of the war, blamed repeated exposure to horrors for some of the Allied excesses.

Judd described how he was ordered to clear some caves. Aware of the Japanese tactic of pretending to surrender before blowing themselves and their captors up with a hidden grenade, he and his team decided to be indiscriminate. 'We just blew it all up. We don't know if there were women and children or whatever, we just blew them up,' he said.

'Some people today will tell you it was cruel and inhumane, but you weren't there - we were.'

This article generated some fascinating comments, including this one from someone named, Hobey Baker:

My Dad was in the infantry in New Guinea in World War II. He said neither side took prisoners, and the U.S. troops were TOLD not to take Japanese prisoners because they were just too dangerous. The level of brutality on both sides was unimaginable.(My Dad said the Australians were the toughest troops on our side, because they'd been in the jungle the longest, hated the Japanese the most and were half-crazy from drinking quinine to keep the malaria symptomsdown.)

My Dad made it clear that no one in combat in the Pacific was in anything like a normal frame of mind. Everybody was terrified, brutalized and just prayed that they'd live long enough to go home and try to forget all the s**t they'd done and seen.
This comment seems, at last, to corroborate my friend's story and even offers a partexplanationtion for why the order (if it was, indeed, an official order) was given. Even so, asanecdotalodal comment it does not actually "prove" that such orders were given.

I suspect that this particular question has more than a little relevance to our current national "discussion" over the treatment of "prisoners of war," "terrorist detainees" and "enemy combatants." The issue is always context, context, context.

This is chillingly captured by another comment on the Free Republic post, this one by someone named Ron C.:

"Pacific war atrocities" began with the Japanese.. as in the Philippines with the Bataan Death march, gang rapes of women and children and indiscriminate and frequent murder and robbery of tens of thousands of captives. The Japs did not hold with any of the "conventions" of war, and made that quite apparent to the allied troops who swore a "tit for tat" policy on the ground. Such "crimes" did not happen in the US war between the states, because the participants weren't savages - but in most wars savage things happen, and revenge became all to common in the Pacific, far worse than the European theater.

I've known about, and seen footage of WWII war that few have ever or will ever see - some of it the most brutal imaginable, committed by all sides in the war. But, the last line of the post tells it like is really is, "Some people today will tell you it was cruel and inhumane, but you weren't there - we were." My uncles were there, and what they brought home were tales of horror so far beyond common knowledge today that I doubt the public has any ability to comprehend what they had to face - they had to kill quickly in any way possible - or be killed. Did they kill unnecessarily and brutally? You bet they did, but their fiendish enemies did far more of it - many of their victims being non-combatant civilians.
At this point I have sort of run out of things to say. Perhaps it doesn't matter whether official orders to kill wounded and surrendering Japanese soldiers were given or not. In point of fact, it would appear that context even generated conflicting and mutually exclusive policies in this regard.

I suppose that, given the reality of the history of war, the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere should count themselves lucky that they are still alive to defecate, sweat, tremble when cold and, yes, even to be interrogated under the watchful eyes of the FBI, the U.S. military, the CIA, the ICRC, Amnesty International and Senator Dick Durbin.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Durbin Apologizes On Floor of Senate & Newt Offers a Brilliant Resolution To the Controversy

Senator Dick Durbin, who infamously compared the American treatment of terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay with the tactics used by the Nazi SS, Soviet KGB and Pol Pot's murderous thugs has now, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, publically apologized to those who were offended by his words.

Unfortunately, he did not clarify whether he did or did not mean to make that comparison in the first place. So, until he says something more definitive, we are left to wonder whether Durbin is simply sorry that some folks didn't like what he said.

I suppose that, for the mixed up and incoherent "Senate traditions," this apology will probably suffice.

Even former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, speaking on Hugh Hewitt's radio show this afternoon, admitted that he is now recalling his demand for Durbin's censure by the Senate. Instead, he is urging the Senate to debate and vote on a resolution that would simply declare that the Senate rejects any proposition that equates the American treatment of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay with Nazi death camps, the Soviet gulag or Pol Pot's "killing fields."

This would, of course, give Durbin the opportunity to simply vote "yes" or "no," therefore clearing up the controversy once and for all.

The question now becomes, what Republican Senator will have the courage to sponsor such a resolution? Whoever does may provide evidence that they have the "right stuff" to be considered as part of the 2008 Republican nation ticket.

On the other hand, why hasn't there been a single Democrat who has stepped forward and said something like,
While Dick Durbin's comments may have been twisted and falsely criticized by the more unhinged fringes of the Republican Right Wing, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I would never agree with nor offer support of consolation to anyone....and I mean anyone....who would intentionally or by innuendo, compare American policies and practices towards even the most despicable terrorist detainee with even the most innocuous actions of the German Nazis, the Soviet Communists or the Cambodian Khmer Rouge. I hope I have made my personal opinion on the matter clear. Thank you.
The silence is not only is damning.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Palestinians and Reuters News Service In Need of a Qualified PR Coordinator

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs has graphic and amusing evidence of what happens when too many people try to use the same props. Be sure to look carefully at the photos containing the "key" evidence!

A Palestinian's Response to Compassion--"I Believe In Death"

Captain Ed's post and personal comments on this story cannot be improved upon. Accordingly, I am reproducing them in full. (Read it....and weep...)

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Palestinian Edition

"The title of this post is a proverb that keeps proving its wisdom over and over again, in large things and small, but in this particular case it has taken on a despicable hue. The Israelis agreed to admit a Palestinian woman to its country in order to treat her for severe burns after a kitchen explosion left her scarred and in great pain. What did they get for their compassion and generosity? A suicide bomber -- but fortunately, an incompetent one:

A badly burned Palestinian woman was alternately defiant and tearful Monday after Israeli soldiers caught her trying to enter Israel with 22 pounds of explosives hidden on her body.

The woman, who suffered serious burns on her hands, feet and neck in a kitchen explosion five months ago, had been granted permission to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip for medical treatment when she raised the suspicion of soldiers at the Erez checkpoint. ...

At the Shikma Prison in Israel's Negev Desert, where the Shin Bet security service allowed Israeli TV reporters to interview her, al-Biss said she was determined to carry out a suicide attack against Israel because of its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

"My dream was to be a martyr," she said, adding that she was recruited by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a violent offshoot of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement. "I believe in death."

"Biss later changed her story, claiming that she had no idea that she carried 22 pounds of explosives until she was asked to undress for a security inspection at the border. Perhaps she thought she had put on weight, or maybe she likes to lift weights 22 pounds at a time. Either through her incompetence or that of her dressmaker, the Israelis discovered and dismantled the explosives before she could detonate them, sparing the lives of the people who had opened their arms to her to relieve her pain.

"In its twisted way, it provides a perfect microcosm of the entire Palestinian conflict. No matter what happens, no matter how much the Israelis and the West work to get the Palestinians what they need to heal and live peacefully, the Palestinians only appear interested in killing everyone involved, including themselves. They have sold themselves on death instead of life, and reason and compassion hold no attraction for them. (via the Corner, and Power Line also addresses this story)."
Update: Powerline's Scott Johnson also has a take on this story...and more details, too. And, of course, LGF weighs in as well.

Man's Best Friend?

Don't ask me why, but I came across this interesting item this evening.

A tombstone in Hoddom Cross Cemetary in Dumbriesshire, Scotland, reads as follows:
In memory of Jamesy Geddes, spouse of Andrew Black, who died at Ecclefechan, 13th June 1834, age 32yrs..Also their daug who died in infancy..
I never knew that the Scots (and I am one of them) spelled the word "dog" this way! lol

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Anti-Syria Coalition Wins Majority In Lebanon's New Parliament

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSaad Hariri waves to supporters during a recent political rally in Lebanon

The votes are more-or-less in from Northern Lebanon, the last national region to vote in the first Parliamentary elections since Syria's withdrawl two months ago. According to BBC and ABC it appears certain that the alliance led by Saad Hariri (whose father's assissination triggered the street demonstrations in February that eventually toppled Syrian occupation) will have an absolute parliamentary majority in the new government. After today's vote the totals between the various parties and factions stand as follows:
Hariri-led alliance- 72
Aoun-led alliance - 21
Aman and Hezbollah - 35

Full parliament - 128
Given the deep, sectarian divisions between the armed and radical Hezbollah in the south, the Christian-dominated Aoun in the center and Hariri's Sunni and Druze supporters in the north, it will be interesting to see if Hezbollah, in particular, will be willing to allow someone in Beirut to tell them what they should or should not be doing in their tightly-controlled domain.

For Lebanon to ever return to peace, stability and unity, and for Beirut to ever return to its former reputation as the Paris of the Middle East, Hezbollah must either be willing to exist as a cooperative minority party or else precipitate another civil war....fighting to the death to maintain its stranglehold on the south.

Personally, I do not anticipate Hezbollah giving up any of its "sovereignty" without a very physical and bloody fight. I pray that I am wrong.

In any case, the new government in Lebanon will serve to isolate Syria even further from its few remaining "friends." It would be a good sign, indeed, if these new political realities led Syria to have a change of heart concerning its tacit, if not active, support of the Iraqi "insurgency."


Evangelical Outpost Has Hints & Tips To Make Your Life More Fun

Joe Carter, aka as Evangelical Outpost, has spent the past three months sharing his collection of hints & tips on odds and ends. He calls these "sort-of-bi-monthly" installments, "Yak Shaving Razor." Last week he added installment #8 to his collection. Consider the following:

#69 Dowload of the Week -- Want to create PDF documents but can’t afford Adobe Acrobat? Try CutePDF Writer, a free version of commercial PDF creation software.

#38 Dead Pixel Test -- Is that spot on your monitor a speck of dirt, a scratch, or a dead pixel? Find out by using this simple test.
#37 Lost and Found -- Lost your keys again? Professor Solomon has an intresting method for finding lost objects. (HT: Lifehack)

Go ahead. Check it out. Who knows, you might even find a way to impress your date with some faux knowledge of fine wines! (Hint: See #48)

Oh, and by the way....this is what Joe has to say about "Yak Shaving Razor":

Yak Shaving -- [MIT AI Lab, after 2000: orig. probably from a Ren & Stimpy episode.] Any seemingly pointless activity which is actually necessary to solve a problem which solves a problem which, several levels of recursion later, solves the real problem you're working on. (From the on-line hacker Jargon File)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Last Word On Senator Durbin and "Torture"

Captain Ed posts an excerpt from Sunday's New York Times regarding what American and Iraqi troops discovered in Western Iraq along the Syrian border today. The NYTs graphically headlined the article with these words,

Iraqis Found in Torture House Tell of Brutality of Insurgents
The excerpt reads as follows:
Marines on an operation to eliminate insurgents that began Friday broke through the outside wall of a building in this small rural village to find a torture center equipped with electric wires, a noose, handcuffs, a 574-page jihad manual - and four beaten and shackled Iraqis.

The American military has found torture houses after invading towns heavily populated by insurgents - like Falluja, where the
anti-insurgent assault last fall uncovered almost 20 such sites. But rarely have they come across victims who have lived to tell the tale

The men said they told the marines, from Company K, Third Marines, Second Division, that they had been tortured with shocks and flogged with a strip of rubber for more than two weeks, unseen behind the windows of black glass. One of them, Ahmed Isa Fathil, 19, a former member of the new Iraqi Army, said he had been held and tortured there for 22 days. All the while, he said, his face was almost entirely taped over and his hands were cuffed.
Captain Ed add comments of his own addressed, in part, to Senator Dick Durbin:

If Senator Durbin wants to get up on the Senate floor and rail against torture, perhaps he could start with these torture houses, where real cruelty took place, not the humiliation tactics at Gitmo that tried to save American lives.....

The Gitmo detainees are the genocidal, sadistic, bloodthirsty freaks, Senator, not their jailers or the interrogators who try to protect the United States by getting them to talk. If you can't recognize that -- and so far, it appears that you lack the ability or the will to do so -- then you have no place in the Senate, especially during a time of war. Time for you to offer your resignation and salvage what's left of your honor.

Senator Durbin....are you listening?

Three Days of Paradise In Paradise

Well, I'm back from my mid-week weekend to Oahu's North Shore. I'll tell you is never matter how much of it there is I never get tired of it. Consider these two photos. The first shows Thursday evening's sunset from the beach in front of our bungalow. The second shows Friday evening's sunset from the beach in front of our bungalow. Both are beautiful. Each is the same but different. Neither of them are boring!

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What more can I say? Except that I did some more snorkling and found a rich variety of tropical fish including both varieties of humuhumu'nukunuku'apua'a swimming together in abundance along with tangs, unicorn fish, trunkfish, and a number of other varieties I have not yet been able to identify.

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Two Humuhumunukunukuapua'as:
Lagoon Triggerfish (top) Reef Triggerfish (bottom)

Always fun is running into a green sea turtle and joining it as it "flies" through the water like a gentle giant, pausing from time to time to nibble on an appetizing piece of algae. (Note: No matter how tempting it may be, the urge to touch such a turtle must be resisted. Touching it can spread disease which can kill them. And I must say that I have seen many diseased and disfigured turtles over the years....I also wish these last three photos were mine...alas they aren't!)

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I'll leave the images of salad topped with fresh mango and chopped macadamia nuts; chicken, pineapple chunks, onions and sweet peppers wrapped together in aluminum foil and BBQed on a grill; eaten under the swaying fronds of coconut palms framing the white sand and the blue, blue ocean......well, I'll leave these images to your imagination! Aloha!

Belated Thoughts On Senator Dick Durbin

For three days I have been blissfully unaware of anything except the gentle sound of waves lapping the beach on North Shore Oahu. Ignorance is indeed bliss....especially when my ignorance consists of being completely unaware of Senator Dick Durbin's existence.

Upon my return home this afternoon, imagine my dismay in learning that, not only does a Senator Dick Durbin actually exist, but that, like John Dean, he cannot seem to say what he "really means!"

What he actually did say on the Senate floor last Tuesday night was clearly designed to slam the Bush administration. Unfortunately, his aim was wide of the mark and he wound up beating up on the United States in general and the United States military in particular. By far, the best commentary on the matter I have read today is a letter written to the US Senate by former Senator Newt Gingrich, quoted in full at Powerline. (Homerun quote: Moreover, Senator Durbin equates the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo with the millions of innocent men, women, and children exterminated by the order of evil dictators. The fact that he did so as a high ranking member of the Senate on the Senate floor makes his comparison all the more shocking.)

While I believe that Durbin's misspoken words deserve every bit of criticism he has thus far received I cannot bring myself to agree with those who are calling for a vote of censure from his Senate colleagues. On the other hand, those who have failed to criticize his words deserve to be criticized as severely as he has been.

Although I do not find anything to laugh about in Senator Durbin's comparing US military interrogators with the Nazi SS, the Soviet KGB or Pol Pot's brutal, genocidal thugs, I do find one bit of related trivia to be at least mildly amusing.

According to Hugh Hewitt's quote from an article in the Chicago Tribune, since he became Senate Minority Whip, "(Durbin's) office budget has grown by almost $1.5 million, enabling him to hire a full-time speechwriter, two floor assistants and a third press secretary."

Let me see....Durbin gets a speechwriter and then delivers a speech which embarrasses both himself and his party, enrages the Republican opposition, slanders members of the US military during a time of war and is then happily and affirmingly quoted by Al Jazeera.

I'd hate to be Senator Dick Durbin's speechwriter.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

See You On Saturday

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWaiamea Bay

I'm taking a three night, two day midweek "weekend" with my family beginning today. We're driving up to a beach cabin on Oahu's North Shore, between Waiamea Bay and Sunset Beach. Pastors never get the real weekend off so it's kinda nice to squeeze one in somewhere else once in awhile! Aloha. Don't eat your hearts out or anything! Bird of Paradise

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"Christer" & "Christers"--Emerging Vocabulary to Demean Christians

(Welcome Hugh Hewitt fans. Feel free to browse around the site and maybe find a few things to smile about. Aloha, Bird of Paradise)

The word "Christer" (and "Christers") is used repeatedly in today's article in the LA Weekly entitled, "The New Blacklist," written by Doug Ireland. The word is not used in a complimentary fashion.

For me this is a new word. From the context of the article it appears that Ireland is using it as a synomym for "anti-gay Christian groups," a phrase that appears in the article's sub-title.

Elsewhere in the article he associates the word with "the Christian Right," specific organizations such as the "Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association," the "Illinois Family Institute," "Focus on the Family," the "Family Research Council" and "similar national groups," "far right and theocratic fundamentalism," "local pressure campaigns and boycott threats," and initiators of "censorship and pressure campaigns" and individuals such as "Ken Hutcherson — a conservative National Football League linebacker turned preacher."

Martin Kaplan (director of the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC), is quoted as identifying Christers as those who wish to move toward “theocratic oligopoly. The drumbeat of religious fascism..." (see Hugh Hewitt's reaction to this quote here).

Chip Berlet (senior analyst at the labor-funded Political Research Associates... and co-author of "Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort") identifies Christers as having

"an incredible dread, completely irrational, of a hodgepodge of sexual subversion and social chaos...motivated by fundamentalist Christian doctrines like Triumphalism and Dominionism, which order Christians to take over the secular state and secular institutions."
Berlet further describes Christers as "fundamentalist religious primitives," who see Bush's reelection "as a mandate from God" and who "see that the leadership of America is within their grasp."

Ireland also speaks of those who read and believe in the Bible as though they were from another planet. Here is one example:

The key to those doctrines is what fundamentalist religious primitives call the Great Commission, which is basically an injunction to convert everyone to Christianity. In the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20), it says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . .” The fundamentalist interpretations of these and other texts.....have incredible motivating power for the religious right, and help explain the vehemence of the Christers’ intolerance of the freedom of others to think or act differently."
Wow. I had no idea that one word could mean so much!

A Google-search showed the earliest internet useage of this word to be in a beastiality story posted on June 14, 2004. The first time the word appears with the sense used by Ireland, however, seems to have been November 16, 2004 in a posting at Unknown News entitled, "Slouching Towards Gilead, where we find,
Fascists don't do elections.
Christers determined to set up a Christer Nation don't do elections.
Next, dated March 25, 2005, during the Terry Schiavo vigil there is a headline at the blogsite Direland that reads, "SCHIAVO: NADER ALLIES HIMSELF WITH THE CHRISTERS."

The word also appears in an undated article that quotes the word as used by a member of the Church of Christ in a self-reflective manner--"Church of Christer."

It also shows up as the name of a fictitious "Christian Band" in the recently released "spoof" movie, "Never Been Thawed." In a review of the movie we find,

In the film, the Christers - made up of Anders and three local musicians - were created when a punk band called the Reach Arounds switched to contemporary Christian music purely for financial reasons, billing themselves as "the bad boyz of Christian rock.

"Their performances mix religion with profanity-laced banter by Anders' character, a frozen-food collector named Shawn, who's more interested in hooking up with "really hot Christian chicks" than finding salvation."

It would appear that the words "Christer" and "Christers" have been recently resurrected and re-constructed by liberal secularists so as to be used to lable and demean conservative Christians.

Curiously, neither of the words appear on any of the on-line encyclopedias (including Wikipedia, which is always ahead of the game on most things), dictionaries or thesauri. A few sites devoted to idioms and slang did produce the following citations:

The word appears as an idiom from Carleton County, New Brunswick, Canada,

christer \'kryz-tur\ n - Also: christler; Term of disapprobrium generally applied to minors and (ironically) equivalent to "li'l' devil"; "C'm'ere you little christer, and stop makin' such a racket." Etymology is obvious, and typical of the indiscriminately iconoclastic County dialect.
Also, according to Bartleby,

The word Christer has two meanings in England. It is used by printers to designate an exclamation point, and by other people in a sense which I can best explain by illustration. A Harvard professor, an Englishman, was discussing a certain English journalist then in this country, and he said to me: ‘Oh, he’s a simply fearful Christer; preaches in chapel every Sunday, and all that.”’
American poet, Allen Tate (1899-1976), used the word in his poem, "The Swimmers," as follows,

the horsemen came
Again, all but the leader: it was night
Momently and I feared: eleven same
Jesus-Christers unmembered and unmade,
Whose Corpse had died again in dirty shame.

Also, at the Canadian Webzine "Barbed Wire," in their final on-line issue described as "The Death Issue," a submission entitled, "Lady Dead Freshness versus the Greatest Race Driver Who Ever Lived," by William Harper, uses the word in this context (edited for obscenity),

WALLING: What kind of Celine f***g Dion fans do you take us for? Get out of here, Holy Man. Get out of my sight this instant or I'll f***g hammer you!
MONK: Good God!
WALLING: No. Angry f***g vengeful god. Now split, you stupid Christer!
The on-line Urban Dictionary does, in fact, have a definition of the word, "christer,"

1. Christer
1. When you use the position in other words known as "doggystyle" (as in) "God i just christer'd that girl"
(Do you suppose this is in contrast to the "Missionary Position?")

A visit to the local library this afternoon took me to the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary where I found this listing:
Christer--U.S. slang; a term applied disparingingly to anoverzealous, over-pious, or sanctimonious person.
The OED lists the earliest known citation for the use of this word as, "1924 W. Fabian, Sailors' Wives vii 90 'You never were a Christer in college.'" Subsequent citations are listed for John dos Passos, Henry Miller and Ezra Pound.

I find it curious that this venerable tome finds the word to be of recent U.S. origin whereas Bartleby's offers two English usages for the word and none for North America! I suppose that more research is needed to determine the full etymology of this word.

In any case, it is clear that those who desire to demean and discredit conservative, evangelical Christians have now discovered a new set of words to work their verbal mischief. I fully expect the words "Christer" and "Christers" to rapidly become common usage in both the print and online media. Television will also soon be using these terms, first in cable shows but, not too far behind, network sit-coms as well.

In the New Testament we can read in Acts 11:26 that it was in Antioch (Syria) that Jesus' disciples were first called "Christians." I expect that the term, which means, more or less, "little Christs," was coined by local Jews or pagans to mock and deride those who had commited themselves to following the risen Jesus as Lord and Savior. In any case, the name stuck and was quickly worn by these disciples as a mark of honor.

Perhaps those of us who are Christians today should take the descriptive word "Christer" and wear it proudly, too! By embracing it and annointing it with the grace and power of the Spirit of Christ we will soon empty it of whatever imaginary power it may have to insult or demean us in the eyes of the world.

Maybe I shall wear a button reading, "I am a Christer! And I am not ashamed!"

I don't believe that Mr. Ireland has any idea what he has gotten himself into!

Phil Jackson Returning as Lakers' Coach

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWe can expect a "centering calm" and the gentle murmur of "ohm" when the Los Angeles Lakers start suiting up in preparation for next year's season. Yes, indeed, that can only mean that Phil Jackson, the "Dr. Phil" of the NBA, has agreed to return as the "Shaq-less" Lakers' "Head Guru."

Rumors have it that Jackson's contract requires that he stand up, wave his arms in the air and scream at least once each game (as a preventive measure to keep courtside paramedics from mistaking the aura of his "inner child" for his having fallen into a coma).

Quote of the Day--Innocence In Aruba

Antonius "Mickey" John, one of two hotel security guards released yesterday in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway:
"I knew from day one that I was innocent."
The second guard, Abraham Jones, was not quoted as saying:
"I knew from day two that I was innocent."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Michael Jackson Found "Not Guilty" On All Counts

Image hosted by Photobucket.comIs it just me or does Michael Jackson look like he is stoned out of his mind? Could it be the "pain killers?"

Whether innocent or guilty of the abuse charges, Jackson looks like one of the "living dead."

One can only wonder if he is in any way, shape or form in control of his life at this point in time and, if he isn't, who is?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI will not be surprised if his life ends in the not-too-distant future in a manner reminscent of Elvis Presley. Two great talents, each destroyed from the inside out.

Time Magazine Features Radical Muslim School in Illinois As a "Model"

In the same Time magazine issue that turns Christina Aguilera CDs into instruments of illegal torture, a second article and photo essay presents the Bridgeview, Illinois, Universal (Muslim) School as a model for other Muslims to follow.
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Girls' "uniforms" are worn 6th grade & up

What "Time" forgets to tell us is that the Bridgeview Mosque, which runs the school, has been, in recent years, increasingly influenced by the radical Wahabbi sect and funded with $125,000 from the Saudi government, $369,000 from the government of Kuwait and $135,000 from the United Arab Emirates. The Saudi monarchy also pays $2,000 of the Imam's salary each month. Hundreds of other American mosques have also been built, "staffed" and funded by the same sources.
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Students gather prayer once each day

The Bridgeview mosque, which has been critically featured in numerous articles and blog postings (such as here, here, here, here and here) over the past several years, has also raised money "in memory of" Palestinian suicide bombers. According to one source, "Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden's spiritual advisor, visited Bridgeview in the 1980s and brought at least three Bridgeview men to fight in Afghanistan."

According to Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh, Americans have been suckered by the MSM to believe that burkas, veils and complete separation of men from women is somehow normative in Muslim communities. Not so, he says.

Frankly speaking, I shouldn't be laughing really. I should be weeping because the Western mainstream media is telling the world that the only true faithful Muslims are those who wear the stupid cloth on their head (that was nonexistent 30 years ago) and separate boys and girls in schools. I should be weeping because Time magazine is showing us that only girls clad in black with no makeup on are the true Muslims who are struggling between their Islamic and their American identities. Meanwhile, those Muslims who disagree with the head veil, who think that Islam needs reform a la all major faiths, and who believe that we cannot live like our Muslim brethren did 1400 years ago are the "lesser Muslims" or the Muslims that are "out of the mainstream."
The wealthy, conservative and, yes, radical Muslims in the world, supported with money from Arab Muslim governments, are financing the spread of their version of Islam throughout Europe and the United States. Not every European or American Muslim is affiliated with these mosques and schools, of course, but many of them are. These are not folks who have any interest in pursuing the "American Dream." They have no interest in assimilating into American culture or society. Their interest is to set up Muslim communities/colonies which can operate autonomously under their own versions of sharia law, untouched and untainted by the "law of the land."

The Big Pharoah draws attention to the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in this expansion, entrenchment and consolidationon of conservative Islamic faith communities around the world. This "Brotherhood," founded in Egypt in 1926, has spawned Ayman Zawahiri (bin Laden's second-in-command), the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (who was convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up New York landmarks), the radical Palestinian group Hamas, and has been a close collaborator with both the Saudi Wahabbis and bin Laden's Al Qaeda.

Today there is a battle taking place for the soul of Islam...not only in the Middle East, Indonesia, South-East Asia and the Philippines....but also in Europe and North America. The brutality and single-mindedness of the financially powerful, radical Islamists have given them the upper hand in this conflict. Moderates are cowering in fear, even in the United States.

Somehow, in spite of this, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan must be won so that the rise of successful democracies in the the Arab Muslim world will encourage other moderate, democratically-inclined Muslims to boldly reclaim their faith from the radical proponentsts of death and devastation within the Muslim world.

The central hallmark of Islam since its founding by Muhammad has been its sense of unity. It is not easy for Muslims to view their faith as being rent by schism. Even Shiites and Sunnis make their respective hadj to Mecca where they offer praise to Allah with one voice.

The reality, however, is that in recent years the radical Islamists have been killing their so-called "brothers" in the faith without any hesitation or restraint. Sooner or later this will force the hand of the more moderate Muslim individuals and nations to face up to the danger and declare war on those who consider them to be no better than infidels themselves.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States has already kick-started the coming Muslim world-wide civil war. Slowly but surely, the radicals and moderates are separating like an amoeba dividing into two nearly identical halves. One group will not tolerate the other and, sooner or later, the other half will be forced to respond.

The United States should not be so naive as to doubt that this civil war will, in part at least, take place on our own soil. Whether mosques and Muslim schools such as those in Bridgeview, Illinois, will be part of the problem or part of the solution has yet to be seen. Accordingly, at this point in "Time," it is both foolish and irresponsible to elevate any one mosque or school to the status of being a "model" for other Muslims in the United States to follow.

At the same time, however, it should be considered to be prudent for our government and our own citizenry (both Muslim and non-Muslim) to keep a very close and vigilantnt eye on who is funding what and what is being preached and taught in the mosques and Muslim schools in America.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel Interrogates Mohammed al-Qahtani At Gitmo (excerpts)

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Alleged photo showing Sen. Hagel w/al-Qahtani

Background: Today's Time magazine article on U.S. interrogation techniques used against suspected terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay has produced both outrage and yawns from its readers. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska weighed in on this subject the other night:

"It's not appropriate," Hagel said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition.

"It's not at all within the standards of who we are as a civilized people, what our laws are. If in fact we are treating prisoners this way, it's not only wrong, it's dangerous and very dumb and very shortsighted. This is not how you win the people of the world over to our side, especially the Muslim world."

Rumors and unconfirmed anonymous sources have speculated on whether Hagel made a clandestine visit to Guantanamo Bay in recent days. One high-ranking government official, who did not wish either his ranking or his government to be revealed, has handed us apocryphal, verbatim notes taken during Hagel's personal interrogation of detainee, Mohammed al-Qahtani, who is suspected of being the 20th member of the terror group that launched the September 11, 2001 airline attacks on New York and Washington D.C.

Selected Excerpts

Hagel: Hi, there....I mean, salaam (or is it shalom? D**m all these Arab words sound alike!). I'm sorry to interrupt your evening that "duck a l'orange?" Mmmmm......(D**m, all I got at the officer's club was chick peas and gravy!). Oh, where was I.....yes....have you got a few minutes? I mean, you're not too busy right now? Can I talk with you, please? You're not going anywhere tonight, are you? Hah, hah! That's a joke, son! Did you get it? ....."going somewhere?" That's funny isn't it?

al-Qahtani: Huh? What the....? Who are you? What do you want? Answer me right now or I'll slit your throat with this plastic spork!

Hagel: I am Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska and, within the appropriate standards of our civilized society I would like to try and win you over to our side.....You are Muslim, aren't you? You are? Good! That's even better!

al-Qahtani: Well? "Say it or slay it." That's what I always say. So get on with it. I don't have all day, you know. Oprah comes on at 7:00 pm.

Hagel: Ah, well, you see, yesterday, wearing my rubber gloves and using both hands I was reading my personal copy of the Koran......oops.......I mean, Qu'ran......and I became convinced that Islam is the "religion of peace." Am I right? I mean, you're more of an expert on this than I am.....

al-Qahtani: Peace? Peace will come when every camel-nosed infidel like yourself is either rotting in hell or converted, by the free exercise of personal faith and reason, to Islam. It will be your choice. Either way, peace will come. So, sure.....I guess in that sense Islam is a "religion of peace."

Hagel: Oh, really? Good! That's good! Really! You know, some of my best friends have been Muslims. Not that every Muslim is a terrorist, mind you, but some.....a few.....not very many of the terrorists I've heard about have allegedly been Muslims. Which is what you are, right? An alleged Muslim? No, I mean a terrorist? Be honest with me, please. If you are, you can have the strudel for dessert! Hah hah! Got you again! I wouldn't withhold your strudel! That wouldn't be.....well.....civilized, would it! No, of course you can have your strudel! But.....uh.....where was I.......?

al-Qahtani: Look, who are you, really? CIA? Special OPs? One of those American infidel goons from Abu Ghraib? What are you going to do? Shave my beard? Bring an attractive woman into my cell? Play another Christina Aguilera CD? Hah! You'll never break me!

Hagel: Heavens, no! That would be in violation of the Geneva Convention which I have never read in my life and actually have no idea what the h*ll the Geneva Convention is anyway but that doesn't matter because you have every right to be treated with respect and dignity while being held under illegal detention in this shameful gulag!

al-Qahtani: Are you for real? Guards! Guards! Get me out of here! This guy's nuts! He's talking like a madman!

Hagel:'s one's going to hurt can trust me!

al-Qahtani: Trust you? You really are nuts! You know, if I could get my hands on a 747 right now I'd fly it right up your........

Hagel: Hold it.....stop right there......don't say anything that might incriminate you.....see.....I've got my fingers in my have the right to remain silent.....

al-Qahtani: Stop it! Stop it! You're crazy! You're contagious! You're driving me nuts, too! Osama never told me about people like you! Guards! Guards! Get me out of here! I don't even like strudel! Get this psychopath away from me and I'll tell you anything! Really! I even know stuff about OJ Simpson! Just get this guy away from me!.......

Here, unfortunately, the excerpts come to an end. Military spokesmen have refused to confirm or deny whether Senator Hagel has visited Guantanamo or not (which proves, by the way, that President Bush knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq). But I do have it on very good authority that Mohammed al-Qahtani has ordered his lawyer to file a law suit alleging inhumane treatment and emotional suffering after being served blintzes and bagels for breakfast.

Phone calls to OJ Simpson's home in Florida have not been returned.

Update: Captain Ed discusses the same Hagel quotes here.

Update #2: Terrence, in a comment, correctly points out that Sen. Hagel was not quoted in the Time magazine article. I had conflated his quotation from numerous articles about the Time article. I have accordingly, rewritten my opening paragraph so as to be both accurate and fair. Thanks, Terrence

2005 Paris Air Show Unveils Airbus A380

Image hosted by Photobucket.comAirbus A380 (click to enlarge)

The annual Paris Air Show, which begins tomorrow, will feature the first public flyby of the new Airbus A380 Super-Jumbo passenger jet. The new plane dwarfs the current title holder of world's largest passenger jetliner, Boeing's 747 (see comparison here). Production delays have diminished hopes of contracting for 100 of the new airplanes. 50+ have already been claimed by major airlines (Note: They have to be major airlines....who else could operate and maintain them!).
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The elegance and verstility of the A380's full-length double-deck seating areas is expected to lure passengers demanding more comfort and more leg-room in their long-distance air travel.
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Hopefully, the A380 pilot at the airshow will not attempt to wow the crowd with the sort of aerial theatrics that destroyed the Soviet Union's TU-114 SST back in 1973 (see pictures here).

In any case, Germany and France have invested heavily in this behemouth and have bet the house on its commercial success. If it becomes standard fare in the airlines circuit one can only pray that it will prove its worth in both economy and safety.

Sorenstam Wins LPGA--Wie Second

It was another scripted performance for Anika Sorenstam as she ran away with the LPGA title today.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMichelle Wie

For me, however, the big story was that Sorenstam's

only competition came from a 15-year-old who just finished the 10th grade and is learning how to drive (a car).

"(Michelle) Wie gave another big crowd at Bulle Rock a glimpse of the future with a 3-under 69 to finish in second place, the highest finish by an amateur in a major since 20-year-old Jenny Chuasiriporn lost in a playoff to Se Ri Pak in the 1998 U.S. Women's Open."

Out here in Hawaii we are all big Michelle Wie fans. It is wonderful that the LPGA has waved restrictions and let her play in the big tournaments as well as lesser ones. Michelle has shown time and again that she is able to play with the "big girls."

Not all the older golfers appreciate this, however. According the the FoxNews report, "some players were riled that qualifications were changed to allow Wie into the field..." I can see why. Michelle cleaned their clocks! How embarrassing for them! On the other hand, as an amateur, Wie did not get to keep her $36,000 winnings which were divided up among those who tied for third.

Wie is out of school for the summer and will be getting in some serious and consistant tournament playing time over the next three months. It might be wise for some of the "older women" to keep their clocks in safe and secure places. Michelle is eager to clean them again.

For the record, Sorenstam finished with a -11 to Wie's -8. Not a bad showing against, perhaps, the greatest woman golfer of all time, playing in her prime!

Bomb Blasts Rock Tehran Today--At Least Nine Dead

A news article just released by Editor & Publisher gives the headline to Sean Penn ("Camera of Sean Penn, Journalist, Confiscated in Iran") but the meat of the story is this: The worst violence in ten years has broken out in Iran as the ruling Mullahs attempt to choreograph the Presidential elections scheduled for this coming Friday.

Numerous bombs have gone off in Tehran and elsewhere killing nine; and a gathering of several hundred women gathered in front of Tehran University demonstrating for a return to pre-revolution rights for women. Police and plainsclothed security forces kept others from joining the women. Cell phone service was also cut off from the area.
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Women in Tehran demanded equal rights today (click to enlarge)

Poor Sean Penn even had his video camera confiscated for a brief time today. Could it be that the Mullahs are worried about all this international exposure to the growing evidence of domestic unrest and dissatisfaction with their iron-fisted, theocratic rule?

As always look to Regime Change Iran for the latest on this and other developing stories (one of which is that, according to US Representative Curt Weldon, Osama bin Laden has been in and out of Iran several times during the past several years.....).

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Berlin Wants Next Year's World Cup Sex To Be "Hygenic"

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According to BBC News, Berlin is anticipating lots of sex and prostitution during next year's World Cup Soccer finals. In order to make life easier for the hundreds of prostitutes who will be arriving from all over Germany, local health officials have prepared a leaflet listing 10 "rules" for the prostitutes' clients to follow.

Among the rules are, "Be polite and respectful towards prostitutes; maintain a high standard of personal hygiene; always use a condom and be clear about what you want."

This last instruction would appear to cover those unfortunate and awkward moments when the prostitute asks the john what he wants and gets that all-too-common response: "Ah.....I don't know......Do you want to play a little footie?"

To help everything go smoother they will also be distributing 100,000 free condoms to those soccer fans who absent-mindedly left theirs at home and spent so much money getting drunk that they can only afford either a condom or a prostitute, but not both.

Oh, by the way, it is rumored that there will also be some soccer being played. The ticket prices for the games, however, may be priced so high that only the prostitutes will be able to afford to attend.

Tyson Quits--Loses to McBride on TK After Six Rounds

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Mike Tyson reaches new low

Mike Tyson "threw in the towel" when he did not come out of his corner for the seventh round of his comeback fight against unranked Irishman Kevin McBride in Washington D.C. tonight. The referee ruled a TK for McBride.

Tyson was either pushed or knocked to the floor as the sixth round come to an end. Two of the three judges had Tyson ahead 57-55 when the fight was called. The third judge had the same score, but for McBride.

After the fight, Tyson said, "I'm not going to fight again. I haven't got the fighting guts or the heart any more......I was just fighting to pay off the bills.... .I'm not an animal anymore."

Tyson did not appear to have improved his boxing skills very much after being warned for a low blow and having points taken away after a sixth-round head-butt opened up a cut under McBride's left eye.

Perhaps Tyson's "inner goodness" will now have an opportunity to emerge.

Terry Schiavo's Autopsy...Where Is It?

Terry Schiavo died on March 31, 2005. Where are the results of her autopsy?

A news release from the following day, April 1, stated that the autopsy had been completed and that the "results of the autopsy may not be released for several weeks," the medical examiner's office said. (emphasis added)

I read somewhere that, according to forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Badin, it takes around 6 weeks of preparation before a brain is able to be examined microscopically. Since the autopsy was performed on April 1st, that would bring us to May 13.

It is now four weeks past that date and still nothing.

Does anybody know what is going on? and why it is taking so long? and why the news media isn't pressing the question?

Oh, and while I'm at it, has there ever been any confirmation that Terry's "husband" ever buried her ashes as he promised he would do "in an undisclosed location near Philadelphia so that her immediate family (could) not attend and turn the moment into a media spectacle"?

Just wondering.......

Friday, June 10, 2005

King Kamehameha Day in Hawaii

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis morning my wife and I drove to Ko Olina and sat on the beach. I snorkled around in the beautiful, clear water checking out the butterfly fish, Moorish Idols, blennies, sea slugs, needle gars, spotted Trunkfish, wrasses, a school of hundreds of Hawaiian Flagtails and, of course, the ubiquitous triggerfish known as Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua'a.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWe then sat some more, read and talked and returned home by 11:30. Since King Kamehameha Day is a state holiday I was free to take a nap this afternoon. Tonight daughter #3 returns home from college in Seattle. Tomorrow we will go as a complete family of 5 to Kailua Beach for a relaxing afternoon ending in a BBQ dinner.

If you want to learn anything about King Kamehameha or King Kamehameha Day you will have to click on the links. I'm not going to tell you anything about them since the only reason I wrote this post today was to make everyone not living in Hawaii a little bit jealous! Aloha!

Sean Penn Visits Tehran

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWith a press pass certifying him as an official news correspondent with the San Francisco Chronicle, actor Sean Penn, an outspoken critic of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, made a visit to Iran this past week Penn, apparently, is looking things over as the Iranian Shiite Mullahs make preparations for their predetermined, "slam dunk" general elections scheduled for June 17.

A photographer caught him standing "inconspicuously" amidst thousands of Muslims at prayer. Other photos of his visit can be found here.

According to Reuters, Penn visited a mosque for Friday prayers and listened to worshipers chanting enthusiastically for, "Death to America!"

Penn was seen scribbling in a notebook. Charles Johnson at LGF, apparently having access to a remote military surveillance drone, recounts some of Penn's scribbles that he thinks he might have maybe deciphered from the high-altitude photos.

Panhala: Where Poetry and Picture Capture Laughter

According to their website,, the word "Panhala is Hindi for 'source of fresh water' (more or less). The purpose of this group is to share poems and prose that make the day a little brighter."

That explaination is followed by the following quote:

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." -- Edith Wharton
The postings on this site are excellent and beautiful "reflections" that will, indeed, make your "day a little brighter."

My favorite is simply entitled, "Laughter" and is illustrated by this very happy photo:
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Take some time to browse around the Panhala site. It is truly one of the gems hidden in the vast tangle of the internet.