Category Archives: religion

Watchman, How Goes The Night?

There is something especially admirable about one of those turn of phrases that carries both a secular and a deeper philosophical  or religious meaning.  The title is one example of this wisdom and intelligence or luck of the unknown author, and they are always unknown it seems.

On a purely secular level we’ve only had police or cops as we now know them for less than 200 years.  The modern idea of cops comes from the movement of Robert Peel the British Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Thus the term “Bobby” for the English cop on the beat. For most of Mankind’s journey personal security was provided by a handful of constables, sheriff’s or yes watchmen employed by the local King, Baron or other prominent person of the area.  Mostly you were on your own when it came to security after the Sun set.  Going back for centuries if you read the history you will see that those who could afford it had private guards (footmen for example) when out at night or they went about armed.  Gentlemen carried swords not for decoration but to actually defend themselves and more often to discourage the potential robber or criminal from even attempting an assault.

The term Watchman was used for centuries in the cities.  Ben Franklin referred to the Watchman when he was trying to organize a more formal police presence in Philadelphia in the 1730’s.   That was as generic term that covered Constables or others hired by the local governor or mayor to light the street lamps and make a circuit along the major streets.   So the title phrase today is more or less the equivalent of tuning into the 10 o’clock news to see if there is any danger out there.  Two centuries ago you would have asked the Watchman on his rounds if there was anything nefarious afoot.

Of more profound and emotional content is the personal introspection and depth of the inquiry.  Just as the phrase “whither thou goest”?  That is very penetrating.  Many of us much  of the time might not really want to answer that question because an honest response would be adverse to our self-esteem.  That query can apply to the immediacy of today or the panorama of our life path.   It is indeed a good and happy man that can answer that poser with equanimity.   Remember how Adam in the Garden of Eden didn’t want to answer God’s question about his original sin of the fruit and blamed everything on Eve or even God himself since He gave Adam the woman?  Our strivings in life should be such that we can actually answer that question each day of our lives.  Every day that you refuse to answer that query or are reluctant is a day you should try to correct on the morrow.  Thankfully the good Lord allows us to redeem ourselves and that is available for a day or a lifetime.   A good life is not about perfection but about perfection in effort to be noble, honest and decent.

Lead your life so that when you here that voice from within or from real but ethereal origin, calling to you–“Watchman, how goes the night”?  You can reply–all is well.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”  Proverbs 27/6.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Much Ado About Old Inequality

For months the liberal or socialist left has been trumpeting the alleged great cause of eliminating the alleged inequality in American economic life.  Well, blow me over with a feather!  You mean we don’t all make exactly the same amount of income?   The fact that some do exceedingly well and others do much better seems to come as a great shock to our Left and they are determined to eradicate it by any means and all means.

Such disparity is as old as recorded history.  The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments is filled with references to the rich and poor and the discrepancies between them.  Just read Proverbs or Ecclesiastes or Mathew if you want a citation.   Likewise ancient Greece is replete with similar concerns and conflicts to resolve the wealth gap.  Indeed the ire of the middle class and the lower classes in Greece lead the Tyrants who ruled under law and the laws of Draco (our Draconian usage).  You are reminded that the Tyrants, dictators, who came to power in roughly the 6th century did so to protect” and promote the middle classes and what they got was some redistribution and lots of dictatorship.  Nothing has changed over the centuries.  Stalin provided and quite even playing field but he also established all the rules of the game and lo to anyone who wished to  march to a different drummer.

If people are allowed to have freedom to differ one from the other you will always have inequality.  It is a truism that some can’t seem to abide because they want to be in charge of all the rules.  Further there is nothing inconsistent with a society having great income inequality but at the same time being charitable and caring about their fellow man.  The Bible is also filled with commands to aid the poor not only in wealth but in spirit.  The French just before the Revolution had forgotten that part of the duality.  Our goal should never be to eliminate inequality for that leads to a Dante’s inferno of mediocrity and brutal coercion; our goal should be to provide equality of lanes on the path to a better life restricted only by our own ambition and desires.  Some will always choose to live by Walden’s pond and others will want to be a Wall Street Master of the Universe.  Our society should allow and encourage both.  For the slovenly and lazy I refer you to Proverbs and the lazy man who reaps no crops; he doesn’t need or deserve charity but chastisement.

Lastly, it was written that liberty and inequality are not associates but rather enemies.  The former will in direct proportion lead to inequality and the lack of liberty will likewise lead to more equality of mediocrity or outright misery and oppression to maintain the equality balance.  This was observed by Will Durant, American philosopher and anthropologist and certainly not any sort of right-winger.  Read his twelve volumes sometime for your own edification and to agree or disagree with his comments on the civilization of Man.

“he that oppreseth the poor reproacheth his Maker, but he that horoureth him hath mercy on the poor”. Prvbs 14/31

http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

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Christmas Memory Album

Only a week to go til Christmas morn and the weather here is about what you would expect for the time of the year.   The stockings are hung, the trees, yes plural, are decorated and the house sprouts Christmas trinkets and artifacts galore.  It is a lot of work and there of course is always the battle of trying to stay within some budget; even unlimited budgets can be busted I have learned over the years.   I, for one, do relish the nostalgia, the cloying sentimentality and the sights and sounds of the Season.  It is impossible at the end of a year to not have some reflection on not only the past year but some of the years from much farther back.   When you close your eyes you might remember the smells from the kitchen as your mom or wife prepared home-made double chocolate fudge with extra walnuts or pecans or recall the thrill of that special present under the tree when you were under 4 feet tall.   Rather than resist some of those memories I suggest your throw open the memory gate and let them flow in and surround you.  Satisfaction with life after all is but the memories we make and have.

We had trees when I was young but they varied from year to year.  The first I can actually recollect was a flocked tree with that white goo all over it.  My mom just loved those trees but the rest of us much preferred the real trees unadorned with the plastic.  They started doing those flocked trees way back because I go way back and w0uld know.  They were hard to decorate because all that goop constantly fell off when you added the lights and decorations.   For a few years when I was under 10 we did get regular green trees.  Once Dad brought home a cedar tree.  I really didn’t like that one.  Didn’t like the smell and it reminded me of hot summer days playing around them.  There are lots of them naturally in our area.  Maybe we were a little tight that year with money and Dad was able to just cut one down.  Kids never think about money they just assume you can get them what they want.  Then for several years Mom ruled the roost again and we had those blasted flocked trees.

She did give in one year  with a Frazier fir and she wanted to do the old-fashioned tree.  I was probably in my early teens about then.  She insisted that we do the popcorn garlands around the tree.  If you haven’t done than then I suggest you give it some real thought.  It ain’t as easy as the movies make it look like.  First of all you have to thread the needle and the thread needs to be really long which is a nuisance.  Then you best have a thimble for your finger.  Pushing that needle through the popcorn is tricky and the kernel can be tough and the back end of the needle will poke your finger quite hard and it doesn’t feel to good.  Lastly, class, I am here to tell you that those darn kernels break or crumble when  you run the needle through about half the time so cook up at least twice as much as you think you will need.   Each string of the popcorn garland will be at best three feet or so, trust me on that so it takes a lot of them to cover your tree.  But heck it you have nothing to do on a Saturday before Christmas go for it.  Oh, the kids might say they want to help but they won’t last more than about 10 minutes so you are on your own.

My mom was really big on Christmas and I enjoyed that.  She made lots of adornments and even made her own stockings for us.  My wife and I still hang a stocking my mom made when we were so young with both our names on it.   Merely looking at it brings those memories of my own children when they were babies or ankle biters and we had lots fo them.

When I had my own family and we were establishing our own traditions and habits for the Christmas season I always looked forward to the Sunday before Christmas at church.  Our choir was really good and they would have a special Christmas program will all the music of the season with an orchestra accompaniment.   We went to that program many years in a row and then would go have a great lunch at the club back when I was rich and famous.   During those years the wife and me would work so hard on Christmas Eve getting everything organized and typically would be up till 2 to 5 in the morning with aiding Santa’s miracle.   Morning came early and for about 10-12 years we would leave on Christmas day for our ski trip.  So the morning was a flurry of activity tearing into gifts and shouts of joy and smiles and laughs and photos for the memory box.  That was  ensued by the frantic effort to get everything loaded on the Suburban for the 13 hour drive to Raton N. M. on our way the next day to Colo and the slopes.  Absolutely exhausting.  The energy was totally drained and then of course a week of skiing ahead and getting all that gear organized.   The drive always produced screams, threats and fights between every combination you can imagination between six brothers and sisters with a 9 year spread among them.  As painful and draining as those Christmas weeks were and they really were, I can assure you I wish I could start all over again, doing it all over again.   To paraphrase someone famous–they might have seemed to worst of time but they indeed were the best of times.

As much as you may enjoy recalling your own Christmas memories it is even more important to bear in mind that life is always about tomorrow.  Enjoy those memories and miss them, that is ok.  But never forget that you have the chance this year and every year to make new memories that are as good or better.  You book isn’t finished yet and you ARE the writer of your tale.  Yes, with God as a guide you will be the master of your destiny.  Go out there and build those incredible memories.

Unto us a Savior is born.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Wonders And Amazements

We have so many wonders around us every day that we don’t notice and it is amazing the current events and historical occurrences that are ignored by our media.  It must be that old adage at work about hiding in plain sight as the best way to remain unnoticed.

Speaking of adages, the next time you are trying to learn the origin of one, start with the Bible.  There is a very good chance you’ll find it there.   Remember Hamlet  “our fate is not in the stars but within ourselves”?   Well, the Bard was paraphrasing Job.  There when facing the common lament that God caused some misfortune Job responded “why persecute Him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?”  How many times have you said something like “you are the apple of my eye”?   Well, take a gander at Psalms 17:8.   There really isn’t much new under the Sun.  Even that comes from Ecclesiastes.

We worry about global warming and all manner of natural disasters but are ignorant or choose not to face facts that the laws of physics and astronomical facts harbor  enormous changes in relatively short order.  The global warming debate is primarily forecasting conditions roughly a century from now.  A long time compared to a human life but a blink in the grand scheme.  You want to worry about something then try to understand the implications of precession.   That is a term that describes the wobble of the earth as it rotates on its  axis.  You know that the earth tilts at a 23 degree angle that gives us our seasons.  And as it does it also wobbles just like a top slowing down.   For several centuries and for a few more we have had our North Star found using the far end of the pot of the Big Dipper and taking an imaginary line four times that length to find it.  It has been very reliable for a long time.  But, but, but as the earth moves on its wobble the North Star is moving and a few short centuries down the road it will not be the “north” star any longer.  The complete precession takes 23,000 years but not that long to move quiet some distance.  What does that portend for our climate down the road?  No one knows for sure, but perhaps another ice age.   Neanderthals and Cro-magnons made it and hopefully homo sapiens will also.

These modern punters have such big averages per punt.   Not all that impressed with them.  Those punters back when had it much rougher to get a forty yard average for punts.  They changes the rule a few decades ago to make it easier.  The rule used to be that the kicking team could not down the ball inside the opponents ten yard line.  The punter had to be much more accurate to kick it out-of-bounds to achieve those really good numbers.  It was a penalty if the ball was touched or d0wned by the kicking team inside the ten and the receiving team got the ball out on the 20 yard line.  Not like now where the kick team can have guys run down quickly and down the ball near the goal line.  That change immediately pumped up the numbers for the modern kickers.  So when you see the averages from some old punter back in the ’40’s, ’50’s or ’60’s remember the rule he had to work under.

We notice that Apple  and Google and others are using new encryption methods to protect users’ privacy from government surveillance.    A great idea.  The Feds already have too much access to our everyday lives as it is.  I recognize the occasional need to track down a missing child or elderly person or similar emergency.   Fine, let those and other extraordinary circumstances be exceptions.  Require the Feds to go to a judge and lay out those facts and then get access, otherwise leave us alone.

I don’t recall any big feasts for Thanksgiving when I was small after the War.   We had very modest circumstances.  But we had as roof over our head and food on the table.  I guess we had a turkey or maybe a big chicken.  I do know we had pies and cakes.  Mostly even then I knew I had a remarkable Dad and Mom and I never doubted that Dad would take care of us.  I do remember when I was about 5 and we lived in a rented house with an ice box.  Yes, a real ice box where Dad brought home a block of ice every few days to put in the special drawer and my job was to empty out the drip pan every day.  Those were modest days but abundantly lived.   May each of you be so blessed.

“Barbarism is like the jungle; it never admits its defeat; it waits patiently for centuries to recover the territory it has lost”  Will Durant, American historian.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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Syria, St. Paul And Of Mice And Men

Damascus is a really old city.  It has been there since recorded time from the Biblical ages.  Christians are familiar with the story of St. Paul.  He was on his way to Damascus to punish Christians as he had been doing in his role of Roman bureaucrat and a true Jew who viewed them as heretics.   Then came the epiphany on the road to Damascus when he literally saw the light and heard the voice of God and his life was transformed.  He bought a word of hope and peace as the Gospel to the world that is followed today by billions.   Can we expect such good news (no pun intended) from the US’s tortured and perhaps militant (?)  journey to Damascus today?

One major factor we overlook in our current slap stick foreign policy efforts is that from the Syrian and Assad perspective this is a fight to the death.  The loser will be at the mercy of the winner.  It is winner take all and one can see the way Muslims treat one another in their internecine wars.    The Shia, Alawites and Christians will be killed or enslaved at best if they lose this battle.  Such dreadful outcomes focuses the mind and stiffens the spine even in the face of difficult odds.  We can’t credibly promise love, peace and prosperity for them if they lose this battle and they know it.

Its geography is diverse as is its people.  From desert lands to the mighty Euphrates to the north and the mountainous regions in its southwest.  The entire land like Damascus is filled with nooks and crannies to hide WMD.  Because of the way we have handled the situation they have already had three weeks to disperse and re-arrange their armaments including those WMD.  You can assume that only the  most trusted troops would be involved in such a process.   Damascus alone would provide endless small buildings off alley ways to stash the WMD.   They have been doing that.  Never assume your enemy is a fool; what they are capable of doing they will likely do.   But for the mental exercise let’s assume that somehow there is an agreement to get the WMD and have it destroyed.

First there will be the interminable delays.  They news today is already that the Syrians supported by the Russkies wants at least 30 days to merely hand over an inventory of the WMD on hand.   But assume we get the deal for real people to come and look and locate in a reasonable time.  How many will it take?  If there are 20 locations you have to assume at least 3/4 inspectors per location.   They can fly in fairly safely and even get transport to a school or hotel or wherever there is relative security.  Speaking of which who is going to provide the actual, day-to-day security for those inspectors.  No doubt they will want some outside force and not be dependent on Syrian troops for that job.   How many foreign security troops will Syria allow into their country during the Civil War?  They could rightfully suspect they might be spies transmitting data back to the CIA or similar organization.   But assume we get by that hurdle also and some limited number of foreign troops are allowed as escorts to protect the inspectors.

Will the Syrians blindfold them en route to locations?  I mean what if the deal falls apart only a few days after the process is started.  You think the Syrians will allow those inspectors to take back home the exact locations of their WMD?  They sure won’t allow them to wear Google glass hardware or Zillow cams.

After they locate the WMD it has to be secured.  Locked under seal.  It is inconceivable that it could be destroyed in place.   How will it be transported?  Who supplies those trucks and workers to load all that bad stuff?   I doubt the Syrians will donate trucks during the civil war when they need them to move troops, ammo and logistics to their own troops.  In all likelihood if the US estimates are remotely close you are talking about lots of trucks.  Who will provide the security for the convoys to move those trucks and exactly where will they be taken?  You ever thought about one of those trucks being taken out with an RPG?  Either side could have a lone wolf who decides that would be just a dandy idea.   One assumes the neighboring countries will not touch this transportation and storage situation with a ten foot pole.  Israel would probably help out but, but, but, try selling that idea in a Muslim country.

Of course there is the obvious advantage to Assad of having those inspectors in-country during the Civil War.   First, those facilities and nearby areas will never be targeted by the US for fear of collateral damage.  Secondly, he has some built-in hostages that he can disperse where he likes and again protect those areas from any US military strike.   If he delays, hides stuff even without trying to conceal the effort, the fact is that there will never be any military strike against him as long as they are there.   History is replete with “guests” being in fact nothing but hostages to their hosts.  Read any history and you see.

Yeah, we have satellites and drones and all that sophisticated gear to detect and attempt to locate the WMD and keep up with the inspectors.  But Assad will not let the inspectors wear tracking devices unless it suits his purposes.  And all that sophisticated gear is not full proof.  It can’t see everything and night vision and all that heat sensitive sensors still have limitations.   We simply can’t keep up with all the Assad troops in Syria 24/7.   It will be impossible to verify we got it all.  Maybe we get 90% but is that really making us safe?  That ten per cent with the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston is not a vision we should welcome.

The only way this would work effectively is to destroy the opponent militarily so that you can work your will without interference.  But getting it that war is a terrible idea.  The US interest are not threatened and those Muslims should solve their own problems by the sword since that is their choice.  We aren’t making them fight and kill each other.  The solution is for them to find.  Indecision and vacillation are the marks of the tepid and weak and seen as so by the world.

“Fish or cut bait”  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Let’s Count The Ways To God

Many men over the ages have wanted proof that God exist.   They seek tangible, measurable scientifically based answers to their quest for belief.   One may disagree with their skepticism but it is understandable since God is silent and remote doesn’t make daily appearances on TMZ of SNL.   They see they problems Man has caused for one another and question how any God can exist that condones and causes such misery.   In the current very secular world there is a new round of non belief because many adopt the simplistic notion that there is no evidence of a God.   I for one came to God not only as a matter of desire to have that faith in something bigger than Man but through a rational examination of our universe.

All atheists or agnostics would concur that the laws of physics, rules of chemistry, laws of mathematics and Gaia or Mother Nature have no soul, heart or concern for the outcomes of the interaction of these fundamental laws of the universe.   Mother Nature has no purpose.  It simply exist.   She doesn’t care if a bit of matter is a solid rock or a vapor of gas or whether it explodes or merely fades away.   Gravity doesn’t care a hoot if Earth is here much less whether we inhabit it.  With that purposely and random interaction of matter, time and energy let’s take a look at a few matters that allow Man to exist at all.   We’ll start from the inside and work our way outward to the far reaches of our universe.  To be an atheist you have to believe all the following is mere chance.

The Earth has a molten core.  Many heavenly bodies do not; they are merely giant rocks (a la the Moon).

Not only is it molten but it is iron and rotates and swirls.   That motion is not essential to the existence of the earth.  That motion creates our electromagnetic field.  Without it to protect us from radiation we would not be here.

We have our poles because of the electromagnetic field and they haven’t reversed during the last eons which has allowed us to come into existence.  Poles at the equator would have eliminated prospects for life on Earth because of radiation flows from the Sun.

We have water on our surface.  We haven’t so far found another object in space with that.  Without that we would not be here.

Our water likely came from outer space by comets crashing into earth.  But earth just happened to be in the right orbit to collect those collisions.

We have lots of water.  There is nothing written in the law of physics or chemistry that we have this much.   It could have been that we only had water equal to the Great Lakes for the entire globe and that could have been at the South Pole.

We are blessed with both salt and fresh water, both of which are necessary for the diversity of life on Earth and thus us.

We have an atmosphere.  Most bodies in the universe do not or have one toxic or too thin for life of any kind.   We live only because of it and its protection.

Our surface water has tides because of the Moon.   The tides give us life.  Without tides to cleanse and renew the seas we wouldn’t be here.

The Moon is just the right distance to give us favorable tides.  Closer and they would destroy everything, farther away and the tides would  too weak to be effective.

The Earth rotates.  Many heavenly bodies rotate only barely or so rapidly to thwart life.

Our 24 hour rotation is perfect for life.  Imagine if the rotation was much slower–so slow a summer “day” lasted for a month.  That would be a hard August or January.  Life would not exist without exactly the rotation we have.

That rotation also gives us our currents throughout the oceans which in turn gives us our climate and weather.  We complain about it but fact is that our weather and climate is just right for Man.

The Earth is tilted at a 23 degree angle.  That gives us our seasons.  Again, without that we would not have the flora and fauna we do and we certainly wouldn’t be here to argue about anything.

We are the Goldie Locks distance from the Sun.  Closer and we would be Venus and farther away and we would be a frozen Neptune.   You may not like 100 degrees or 30 degrees but it beats 600 degrees or minus 300.

Our Sun is even the right age for our existence.  When it was young it was feeble compared to now and could not have supported us and in its old age it will eat us up as it expands.

There are more but that is a pretty good list of facts and events that worked out remarkably well for Man.   Literally if any of those had not occurred or happened in a different way it is a scientific fact Man would not be moving upon the Earth.   Maybe some cockroaches or moss would have developed under some other scenario but for Man to walk the Earth all the above and more had to be exactly the way they evolved for us.  Yes, some might say out of a vast universe that all those matters finally just came to hand by happenstance.   Really?   Now who is taking a leap of faith?    Someone knowledgeable in the laws of probabilities could go figure the odds.  I assure you the odds would make one of those thousand number long iteration of Pi look positively huge by comparison.

You have to walk your own path toward or away from a belief in God.  My brain and yes, my heart lead me to Him.   I posit that takes less faith that a belief that Gaia favored us by a mathematically inconceivable convergence of coincidence.

“Truth will out”  Anon.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Hopefully you are still in communication with the outside world there in your bomb shelter hiding from those N. Korean missiles….if so then here are some thoughts to mull while passing the time.

We recently wrote a blog about the Tesla story with those tax rebates and rigged batteries to limit range capacity and the Global warming cabal.  A footnote, just a couple of days later Hansen of the Goddard Institute announced his resignation from his government job.  He of the religious convictions regarding global warming.  To give you a hint of his perspective during all the time of his pontificating on the subject you might be interested to know that his new life is one of litigation.   He intends to join in a number of lawsuits by the Greenies to fight carbon and promote a carbon tax.   Those who have blindly followed him for the past decade have had a leader that is about as much scientist as L. Ron Hubbard.

We are all familiar with the three configurations of water on Earth, a solid (ice), liquid and a vapor.  But that is just on Earth.  In space in morphs into a another stage.  The ice in the comets whizzing by us when it gets close enough to our Sun will not melt as on Earth and become a liquid then vapor.  It sublimates directly into a gaseous form of the components.

One doesn’t know whether to cringe in fear or laugh out loud at the recent bloviating from N. Korea.  They do have lots of cannons and tanks and of course a few nukes lying around.   An attack would be horrible no doubt but the outcome would result in mass destruction in their own backyard.   Even if we didn’t want to do much you can rest assured the South Koreans and Japanese would respond with vigor because they would see such a conflict as a threat to their very existence.   It is harder to know how to respond because of the looks of that kid they have allegedly running the country.  Looks do matter and he looks like a cartoonish Saturday morning character on a kid’s show.  It is hard to see any redeeming physical feature in that guy.   And his best buddy is Dennis Rodman!   Hard to take someone like that seriously but I suppose we should.   He sure doesn’t have the looks or demeanor of someone with gravitas like a Churchill or a Reagan.

In case you haven’t seen the latest about the Obamacare coming soon to a hospital or doctor’s office near you, the Navigators that are supposed to aid everyone in learning how to read the 61 pages of instructions to sign up for the new pr0gram and help you move through the online version will come from the same background as the guy in the White House–they are going to be your local community organizer.  That is not a joke, check it out for yourself.  The guidelines for their selection state specifically that they should represent specific demographics in the community and speak the language of the people there.  If you live in a majority minority neighborhood and you are white then no need to apply; you don’t meet the specs.  The act says they should come from community organizations, like ACORN type folks.  Well, for one I thought everyone eligible would already be proficient in English.  It is still a requirement for naturalization.  Illegals are not supposed to be eligible.   It will pay over 20 bucks an hour and they plan on over 20,000 of these Democratic recruiters, er, Navigators.   I am sure they will do a great job of registering new voters but have some doubts about the quality of advice about which insurance is best for the people wanting help.

The unemployment rate and jobs numbers for March are out.  Both numbers are so fuzzy.  The participation rate is the lowest it has been in 35 years and that is probably the most significant number of all.  That is the number of people actually working versus those in the total workforce.  There is a better way to gauge how well or awful the economy is doing. All those numbers are based on surveys on only a few companies and households around the country and the rest is “modelling” to project the final numbers.  Each month the States send in real numbers, not estimates or survey analysis to the Commerce department that gives the total for all income taxes withheld from employees and sales tax revenues.  Yes, the self-employed aren’t in those numbers but it still covers the large majority of our population.  Those totals will go up or down depending on the health of the economy.   At least they are real numbers, not subject to manipulation or guesswork.   That total number each month would give a much more accurate picture of how we are doing than the current estimates we get.  This is not an original idea with me but it is a good one.   I like anything that is based on raw data rather than numbers that are the result of bureaucratic massaging.

Really enjoyed The  Bible shown on the History channel.  Thought it was well done.  They sure couldn’t cover all the stories in the Bible and finished in 5 episodes but wish they had substituted the story of Joseph for Samson.  His was such a great story of the rise and fall of circumstances and ultimately redemption.   So many of the best and worst of Mankind’s attributes are revealed in that story.

They found Richard III’s body recently and confirmed through DNA that it was he indeed.  He has been vilified over the centuries for his alleged murder of his two nephews after he had them held in the Tower of London when he assumed the Crown after his very short reign as regent for one of those nephews who was the son of Edward IV.   Shakespeare of course made that alleged murder famous in his play of that name.  The bodies of the nephews were indeed found about two centuries later in 1674 under a stairwell in the Tower.   There has never been any conclusive proof of the murder.  It was a turbulent time at the end of the War of Roses and many deaths and assassination among the royal contenders.  He may not have ordered their murder it is just as likely that one of his supporters did the deed with his tacit approval.   Much like Solomon condoned the death of his rebel son Absolom, until the deed was done when he was racked with grief.   Richard probably didn’t have much time for regrets though as he had to fight off rebellion from the beginning of his short two-year plus reign and the threats from France and Brittany.   Still a good murder mystery.

At Bosworth field per the Bard spake Richard III,  “A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse.”   Richard III, Act V, scene v.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Popes And Leadership Lessons

There has been understandably been much news print and comment about the new Pope, Francis I, just ordained to that position.   Especially there has been great time and attention devoted to his leadership goals and style.  This first couple of weeks every little nuance has been observed to get a reading on what his goals and methods will be and what kind of leadership traits he will emphasize.   This is certainly to be expected as he is the religious leader for over a billion people.  Any institution as old as the Church will have witnessed many leaders and many different leadership styles and skills or the lack of them over the years.  After all it has been in business for 2000 years.  At different times there have been various demands and needs in the leader of the Church.   There have been wars, famines, religious conflicts, doctrinal disputes and social injustice and governmental oppressions that have challenged the Church and therefore the needed leadership in the Church has varied greatly over the centuries.  Today it seems that making the Church seem relevant in an increasingly secular world  is the great challenge of the Church.  Sometimes the leadership required was much more profound and fundamental–it was a battle for survival.

From the time of Jesus until the conversion of Constantine, the Popes (more accurately bishops in the early days) had to struggle to spread the Gospel and do so without arousing too much animosity of the Roman authorities.  You are familiar with the stories of the early Christians and the lions in the Colosseum and those stories are true.  The Church had to attract new devotees and its mission of course was to expand, grow and convert everyone to the Gospel.  It was devilish balancing act because it wanted and needed to grow but it realized it couldn’t be seen as a threat to the Empire.  Thus the ebb and flow of persecutions in the early centuries.  The Empire finally embraced the Gospel with Constantine and the Church fully emerged into the light and indeed the Popes now starting assuming a power beyond the pulpit.  Now Kings and Emperors wanted and needed their blessings and ordination to their crowns.   By the 9th century AD the Church was firmly established throughout the Western world but the world was still a dangerous place.

During the 7th and 8th century the Muslim world was on the march and making conquests throughout much of the known world.  The reach of Islam under the sword had now stretched from the Indus in the East all the way west across all of the Middle East and to the straits of Gibraltar and beyond.  You will recall that the Muslims had taken Spain in the 600’s and then moved into southern France in the 700’s and were only stopped finally by Charles Martel at the battle of Tours early in the 8th century.  That was only a couple hundred miles from Paris.  In the 8th century the Muslims began expanding their hegemony from the shores of North Africa and Spain into the southern reaches of Italy.  By mid-century Sicily had fallen to the scimitar and the western coast of the Italian mainland was under assault.

In 846 Rome no longer gleamed with the splendor of the ancient days and the true political power now resided in the Constantinople.   But Rome was still a large city and already was filled with millennia of history.  The Muslims pressed their attack onto Rome and the outlying regions.   They looted and carried off some of the treasure of the Vatican and then moved farther inland to subdue the heartland.  But the situation was very fluid as there was resistance up and down the west coast of Italy and the Muslims varied their military objectives and targets of conquests regularly.   It was in the midst of the perilous times that a new Pope was elected.  It was Leo the Fourth.   He immediately began the call for help and aid from allies along the coast not under the dominion of the Muslims and even up the the Carlovingian rulers of the Franks but time and distance prevented effective relief from the quarter.   After Leo performed the usual prayers and formalities of office he immediately followed up with restoring the defenses of the once great city.  The City walls were repaired and expanded and 15 new battle towers were erected around the City in strategic locations.  Two of those were on either side of the Tiber and there was a great iron chain established between to prevent ingress by a hostile fleet.

From Naples and Amalfi among others fleets came to the rescue of Rome and the Pontiff.  A battle was joined off the coast but the Muslims were not savvy sailors and got caught in a bad storm and much of their force was destroyed while the Christians remained in the sheltered bays and coves.  The war raged on for several more years but under the encouragement and blessing of Leo the Christians did extract the Muslim from the Italian mainland and even the outlying regions over time.  The Pope brought in a flood of immigrants from Corsica to to replenish Christians at Ostia Porto, the Roman port at the mouth of the Tiber as a buffer against future attack.   The City of Rome and the Church had managed to survive the Goths, the Lombards, Huns and now the Muslims.    Leo was the man of his times and his martial leadership skills in addition to his religious guidance were necessary at that moment.   It was several more centuries before El Cid finally  extirpated the Muslims from Spain.  But with the battle of Tours and the wars and battles during Leo the Fourth’s reign Europe was saved from the Islamic yoke.

“The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul…”  Proverbs 13. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

We didn’t even  look for things to interest us but the flow of information and misinformation from the media compels further review…..

Wow, Mother Nature revealed again how puny our doings on earth are in the grand scheme of things with that asteroid display over the Urals mountains Friday.   The reports are of hundreds of injuries and some relative severe damage to windows and structures from the sonic boom caused by the explosion of the descending asteroid.  Ironic that the news has also been ripe in the last week with the information about the passage of that large asteroid some 17,000 miles away today which in astronomical terms is whisker close.   Of course what we never remember is that each and every day we are bombarded by thousands of smaller asteroids which in turn shower us with hundreds of tons daily of debris from space. It pollutes our atmosphere and the EPA is doing anything about it!

The blooms on the Bradford Pear trees are going to burst out today or at least by tomorrow; they are on the verge.   At our latitude you can about set your calendar by them; they come out within 48 hours either way of Valentine’s Day each year.

Noticed several news items this year critical of the whole concept of the State of the Union address as a relic that should be radically changed.  It has become pure political pageantry.  I have said it should be eliminated for several decades now.  The President should issue a formal written report to Congress and have a serious working meeting for a day with top Congressional leaders where in fact they question him about the current concerns and issues of the day and the actions he purposes.  We get enough campaign speeches during the election season there is no need for another.  This should become the norm regardless of the party in power in the future.  The Congress can control this if they have the will.  After all it is they who have to invite the President to make the address in such a formal setting.  They can change the rules of the delivery of his report.

Once we got the cell phone it was only a matter of time til we reached the Dick Tracy stage of a communication device like he had.  Yep, the news now is that a couple of outfits in the biz are thinking of a “watch” smartphone.  You can phone with it, send messages, see videos and pictures and receive everything you get on the smartphone your carry in your pocket.  It was bound to happen.

Those people much smarter than me are finally also talking about the problem of our debt/money printing style of economic planning and policy and its effect on the value of the dollar.  A few decades ago well over 70% of all international transactions were denominated in dollars, today the figure is just barely over 60% and declining steadily.  Have a very strong and esteemed currency is good for our US economy even though it makes our exports a bit more expensive.  There are many more off-setting advantages to having the world standard currency.  More and more the yuan, Swiss franc and Japanese yen are used for those international transactions.  Factually, the Chinese have stopped buying our Treasuries already.  For a couple of years now they have bought them but at the same time have sold off other that matured and thus there net holdings have held steady at about 1.1 trillion.   The world markets (think Singapore, Australia, the Middle East, Japan) will one day soon turn on our debt (Treasury bills and notes) and stop buying them because they will fear even more Federal printing to cover our debt and deficits.  The interest we have to pay on those bonds will skyrocket.  You ask what does that have to do with Joe Blow–plenty, all his credit card, car loan and mortgage debt will go up even more and the Feds will likely demand even more taxes at the same time to cover the increased government expenditures.   The ONLY reason our Treasure debts are so low right now is because the Federal Reserve is buying over 80% of all of them with freshly printed made-up money on that money tree they have out in the back yard.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense or Surrender?

Some watch the science or history channel and see those episodes about how the Earth is doomed in the long run because our Sun will someday go nova and literally devour us as it expands.  Yep, that is true.  But we will already by long gone anyway.  The outer core of the Earth is molten iron that rotates around the inner solid core.  That movement of the iron is what gives us our electromagnetic field.  You know, the magnetic north pole and south pole.  Well, it is what also protects us from the Sun’s radiation now, today.  Without that protection we’ll not survive.  Mankind and all other forms of life worth discussing with be fried.   Just as Man doesn’t live forever, Mankind will not last forever.  We would have to leave the Solar System for another world.  That ain’t likely for lots of reason not the least of which is we won’t find another earth-like planet and it would take millions of years to get there unless you can find one of the time warp thingies.

The good and bad in man, the noble and venal haven’t really changed since recorded time.  The nature of Man is so poignantly revealed in the Bible stories.  The worst of evil, Satan, and lots of heroes but most of them as to be expected have their faults too–David, he slew Goliath, was a hero but he also had Uriah slain just so he could have his wife.  We haven’t and won’t fundamentally change regardless of modern secularist theories and that isn’t all bad because we each still have the choices to make that direct our life.  We have plenty of examples of the choices we should make even when they are the harder ones.   You just don’t go wrong doing the right thing even when you are pummeled by others at the time for doing it.
“Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil”  Proverbs 3, 7.  Good advice then and now.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Sun Of The Son

Let’s have a discussion about science and religion.  Don’t get nervous we won’t be passing the collection plate or having a commitment time for the congregation.   We are going to look at the world and universe we have and the science that makes it tick and see if there is any evidence or reasonable deductions we can draw from that analysis.

We won’t be looking into the far corners of the universe, checking out matters that are light years away.  We can save that for another day.  All we need for today is to examine the relationship between our home, earth, and the Sun.   The Sun after all is our ultimate life-source.  Without it we would simply not exist.  It is also the genesis of all our energy.  Whether you are talking wind, solar or fossil fuels the Sun is the beginning point.  We are about 93 million miles from the Sun which is the life-giving and life-nourishing sweet spot.  Closer and we would be too hot to support life and farther away and we would be too cold.  It is that Goldilocks distance–just right.  Even though we see the Sun crossing across the sky each day we know that it is not what is moving it is the earth rotating.  You can appreciate why ancient man would think it was the Sun that moved because that is what they could see with their eyes.  But long ago many had figured out that indeed it was the earth’s motion that made it appear that the Sun moved.  Earth’s spin is what also gives us life.  If our rotation period was a 100 days, not 24 hours we wouldn’t exist.  Maybe amoebas would but not humans.  Two other critical astronomical factors allow us to exist.  It takes 365 days to orbit the Sun and earth is tilted on its axis.

That tilt is vital to life because it is one of the main facts that gives us seasons and thus life.   As we circle the Sun our planet doesn’t spin exactly straight up and down relative to the Sun.  The tilt is about 23 1/2 degrees.  That tilt and the 365 days is what gives us our seasons which allows both plant and animal life to exist.   The tilt is what makes the days so short in winter and so long it summer in the northern and southern hemispheres.   During the arc from spring to summer that tilt causes the Sun to rise farther in the north each day and the Sun will be directly over head at the Summer Solstice at 23 1/2 degrees north of the equator in the northern hemisphere.  Likewise the Sun on that same day will be 23 1/2 degrees farther north in the southern hemisphere.  That rhythm of the Sun moving up and down the horizon during the seasons makes it possible to grow our crops and all life to rejuvenate itself with the cycles.   If there was no tilt to the earth we would have more or less constant summer most everywhere on earth.  That might be nice for some who enjoy beaches but the unrelenting heat would prevent any but the most primitive life forms.   We’ve known of the position of the Sun for centuries.  We even have  names for those two locations of the Sun’s highest points in the sky in both hemispheres.  North of the equator we call it the Tropic of Cancer which runs through Mexico and over to North Africa and on to the Pacific regions.  In the southern hemisphere is it called the Tropic of Capricorn which crosses through Brazil, on the South Africa and across mid Australia.   You will see them marked on all world maps and globes.

You can use a stick to mark the movement of the Sun yourself by measuring the length of the shadow cast by the stick.  It has a fancy name called a gnomon. As you move from spring to summer the shadow will grow shorter with the passing days until it reaches Summer Solstice and then it will be its slow but steady lengthening until the Winter Solstice when it will be the longest because the Sun will be so low in the southern sky.   It is very similar to marking the time of day with a sundial just extended over a longer period.   Again that tilt is just right.

The laws and actions of physics, chemistry and biology are there and real.  They do what they do every time.   Two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atoms will produce water every time.  That is unless the temperature or pressure will prevent it formation but again that is expected under the rules of physics and chemistry.  It just happens.   Those rules and laws of science do not care, they do not want. They have no purpose.  For short hand we call those laws and rules Mother Nature.   But she is not like any “Mother” you know or have ever heard of.  She is indifferent to any offspring or whether there is any offspring at all.  Things happen–period.

Something blessed earth.  Pure science would dictate that our earth should be just another dead lump floating in space or supporting only basic life forms at best of viruses or single cell organisms.  What if it took 1200 days to orbit the Sun?  What if the tilt was 50 degrees?   What if our rotation was 10 days long not 24?  In all those cases and all the others you can imagine we simply wouldn’t be here.   Just luck?  Guess again.  Of all the literally trillions of options available for a lump circling a Sun what are the odds of that?  My mind leads me to God and my heart is gladdened at the revelation.  That is the greatest discovery that each man must make on his own.  When considering the existence of a divine Providence  I encourage you to never be afraid of scientific inquiry.   It is enticing to want to believe there is no purpose to life because then there is no accountability for our actions.  Something gave us this Eden in the universe and it wasn’t merely Mother Nature.  You figure it out.  I can only say I believe there is a road map to the truth but you have to find the road on your own.

“Quo Vadis” –where are you going?   www. olcranky.wordpress.com

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