Thursday, April 26, 2007

Not Chess But Poker?

At the end of December, 2002, as Korea began ratcheting up their insane nuclear rhetoric, the politicians did what they do best in this country: They ran in circles pointing fingers at everyone but themselves, seeking to place blame, and trying to avoid putting the onus on themselves. Since that time, North Korea has continued working on its nuclear weaponry, launched missiles over Japan, and blithered its own, patented brand of Insane-o-babble for the world's press to lap up.

But there was at least one thinker who came up with a fairly interesting solution to the problem of North Korean Nukes. This was Jack Wheeler, of the Freedom Research Foundation. Wheeler, in a column he wrote, discussed the playing of games and how they relate to geopolitics. In it he said,
"One of the meta-reasons America won the Cold War is that Russians play chess, while Americans play poker.

Chess demands great skill and intelligence, particularly at developing complex long-range strategies and anticipating your opponent's moves. But it bears little resemblance to life in the real world. It is completely static and open. Nothing is hidden.

Poker is very different. You have to guess what your opponent has and the extent to which he is bluffing. In business, in politics, in life in general, the folks who know how to play poker will almost always fare better than those who know how to play chess.

Ronald Reagan never played chess with Mikhail Gorbachev. He played political poker. At the 1986 Reykjavik summit, Reagan bluntly told Gorbachev he was going to build and deploy a space-based missile defense (SDI). Then came the clincher.

"Mikhail," he said, looking the Soviet leader in the eye, "we both know that America can afford to do this, and the Soviet Union cannot. There is no way you can compete with us in military spending. So you are going to lose."

Gorbachev did not know if the U.S. could actually create a workable missile defense in space. But he did know it could afford to do so, while he could not. So he didn't call for Reagan's cards. He, and thus the Soviet Union, folded their own. In the real world, good poker beats good chess every time.

One of the great geopolitical puzzles of our day is why America has been outplayed at poker by a collection of primitive Stalinists in North Korea. The guys in Pyongyang are the best experts in the world at military bluffing and nuclear blackmail. They easily took Clinton to the cleaners."

That they did, and have since we first learned of their Nuclear Weapons research. Like many others, I'm sure, the idea of North Korea is simply not an option. yet the US government, as well as every other government, has tried to "play poker" with North Korea, seeking "engagement" as a way to talk Kim down from the precipice. But that hasn't worked, nor will it. Kim needs that Nuclear option to retain power. It's as simple as that. So what is the answer?

Well, we could drop enough bombs on the reactors to reduce them to rubble and probably kill most, if not all, of North Korea's nuclear scientists. But this would spread radioactive debris over untold miles, harming a lot of innocent people. And the US would have to deal with the entire world's anger over a unilateral action that is, for all intents and purposes, and act of war. The same applies to dropping nukes, of any size, on the sites. (Neutron bombs might be a different story, but are there any left?)

Economic sanctions? That's a laugh! North Korea has no economy worthy of the name. All sanctions would do would be to force the Army to redirect even more of the country's supplies away from the populace and into the pantries of the NK Army. But is there an option? Jack Wheeler had one, and it's an interesting idea. In that article, he said:
"[...]Far better to destroy it quietly, safely, stealthily and mysteriously.

With a spear. A steel rod 40 feet long and 4 inches in diameter, fin-stabilized, with a needle-sharp tungsten-carbide tip, equipped with a small JDAM guidance package including a GPS. It is non-explosive; there is no warhead.

You've heard of smart bombs. This is a smart spear.

You take a half-dozen of these Smart Spears up in a high-altitude bomber, like a B2 or B52, and drop them over Yongbyon at 50,000 or 60,000 feet. The Smart Spears have such a big sectional density that it will be like a vacuum drop – with no wind resistance, they will be going faster than the speed of sound when they hit their target.

Going so fast and with almost no radar signature, the GPS-guided Smart Spears will punch through the Yongbyon reactor and keep right on going, burying themselves in the earth several hundred feet deep. The North Koreans won't know what happened, and all there will be is some holes in the ground – plus a melted-down reactor."

Read the column Dr. Wheeler wrote. It's fascinating reading and will make you wonder why we're not trying something like this. If we did, and it worked, could we then turn our aim to Iran?

Just a thought.

Another view on this from JustOneMinute, "Accidents Will Happen"

Wheeler's NewsMax column, "Playing Poker With Korea"

Dr. Wheeler's "To The Point"

Cell Phone Tips

"All women become like their mothers.

That is their tragedy.

No man does.

That's his."

~ Oscar Wilde (1895)

Thing you never knew your Cell Phone could do!

Update: Check this Snopes page, then ignore the rest. *sigh*

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Largo Sunrise

"What humbugs we are,

who pretend to live for Beauty,

and never see the Dawn!"

- Logan Pearsall Smith

Here are the first two images from my digital camera. Not quite what I wanted to capture, but I'm learning how to use this thing, so they may get better.

Sunrise: looking east
Looking east over the buildings

Sunrise: looking east by southeast
Looking East by southeast from my balcony

I just like to see the sunrises. Sunsets can be spectacular, but sunsets hold so much promise. And I just enjoy them so much more.

Hope you enjoy them, too!

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 21, 1836

".........waving his hat and shouting 'San Jacinto! San Jacinto! The Mexicans are whipped and Santa Anna a prisoner.' The scene that followed beggars description. People embraced, laughed and wept and prayed, all in one breath. As the moon rose over the vast flower-decked prairie, the soft southern wind carried peace to tired hearts and grateful slumber. As battles go, San Jacinto was but a skirmish; but with what mighty consequences! The lives and the liberty of a few hundred pioneers at stake and an empire won! Look to it, you Texans of today, with happy homes, mid fields of smiling plenty, that the blood of the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto sealed forever. Texas, one and indivisible!"

~ Ms. Kate Scurry Terrell, describing the scene among refugee families on the Sabine River.

On this date, one hundred and seventy one years ago, the Republic of Texas won its independence from Mexico. They won it while outnumbered by their enemy.

For most Americans, and I'd bet most Texans, too, the Battle of the Alamo was the pivotal battle in the war for Texan Independence. But, of course, it was a loss, and all the defenders of the Alamo were killed in the battle or executed afterward. The Alamo served merely as a diversion, and a way to slow down the march of General Santa Anna while the Texan forces gathered to fight him off.

Shortly after the Alamo came the Goliad Massacre. Santa Anna's right wing, under the command of General Jose Urrea, moved on the Texan forces at Goliad. The dithering of Colonel James Fannin kept his Texas forces from retreating from Goliad before the arrival of General Urrea's forces. He strengthened the defenses of the city of Goliad, but was ordered by Sam Houston to retreat, to save his forces. Fannin waited too long, and upon leaving the city, and burning his excess supplies he found himself surrounded on the prairie six miles from the city. This was the Battle of Coleto Creek.

Fannin's men fought well, killing or wounding nearly 200 of Urrea's forces. But Fannin saw that he was simply badly outnumbered, nearly out of water, and surrendered his 342 men to Urrea. They were marched back to Goliad on the 20th of March.

Wikipedia relates:
"On March 26, 1836, at 7 p.m., Portilla received orders from Santa Anna in triplicate to execute the prisoners. At around 8 a.m. on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Colonel Jose Nicolas de la Portilla, commander at Goliad, had the 342 Texians marched out of Fort Defiance into three columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road and the Victoria Road. Urrea wrote [that he]: '...wished to elude these orders as far as possible without compromising my personal responsibility'.

Once the columns reached their selected location, the Mexican soldados formed into two ranks on one side of the captives. The defenseless and unarmed Texians were then fired upon point-blank a few hundred yards from the fort. The wounded and dying were then clubbed and stabbed. Those who survived the initial volley were run down by the Mexican cavalry. Fannin's men wounded in the Battle of Coleto were shot or bayoneted where they lay. Colonel Fannin was the last to be executed, after seeing his men butchered. Their bodies were stacked into piles and burned. There were twenty-eight Texians who did manage to escape by feigning death and other means."

Sam Houston moved the main Texan Army eastward away from Santa Anna, despite the politicians urging him to turn and fight. Heading southeast Houston eventually halted at the confluence of the San Jacinto River and Buffalo Bayou. Behind his forces, up a low rise, was a wooded area. Ahead beyond the eventual site of Santa Anna's camp was a large marshy area. The Texans numbered around 800+ men, the Mexicans under Santa Anna numbered around 1,400 men. On April 20th, 1836, Santa Anna's army erected 5-foot high barricades of baggage to protect his infantry, placed his cavalry on the left and General Cos's reinforcement force on the right, and settled down to plan his attack. He would rest his army on the 21st and attack the cornered Texans on the 22nd.

The Battlefield of San Jacinto

The morning of the 21st of April was a clear, fine day. Houston's officers argued that they should wait for Santa Anna to attack and defend the high ground. Houston thought that better of that and decided to surprise the Mexicans by attacking them!

Disposing his forces in battle order, Houston began moving them toward the Mexican line at 3:30 in the afternoon. The Mexican lines were quiet as they were enjoying their siesta. Screened by the trees, the Texans advanced quietly as Houston ordered them, "Now hold your fire, men, until you get the order!"

The Battle of San Jacinto says:
"At the command, 'Advance,' the patriots, 910 strong, moved quickly out of the woods and over the rise, deploying. Bearded and ragged from forty days in the field, they were a fierce-looking band. But their long rifles were clean and well oiled. Only one company, Captain William Wood's "Kentucky Rifles," wore uniforms.

Silently and tensely the Texas battle line swept across the prairie and swale that was No Man's land, the men bending low. A soldier's fife piped up with "Will You Come to the Bower,"' a popular tune of the day. That was the only music of the battle. [Several veterans of the battle said the tune played was "Yankee Doodle."] As the, troops advanced, "Deaf" Smith galloped up and told Houston, "Vince's bridge has been cut down." The General announced it to the men. Now both armies were cut off from retreat in all directions but one, by a roughly circular moat formed by Vince's and Buffalo Bayous to the west and north, San Jacinto River to the north and cast, and by the marshes and the bay to the east and southeast.

Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Detail from painting (completed 1898) by Harry Arthur McArdle (1836-1908)

that hangs in the Texas State Capitol building.

At close range, the two little cannon [donated by citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio, and known as the "Twin Sisters"], drawn by rawhide thongs, were wheeled into position and belched their charges of iron slugs into the enemy barricade. Then the whole line, led by Sherman's men, sprang forward on the run, yelling, 'Remember the Alamo!' 'Remember Goliad!' All together they opened fire, blazing away practically point-blank at the surprised and panic-stricken Mexicans. They stormed over the breastworks, seized the enemy's artillery, and joined in hand-to-hand combat, emptying their pistols, swinging their guns as clubs, slashing right and left with their knives. Mexicans fell by the scores under the impact of the savage assault.

General Manuel Fernández Castrillón, a brave Mexican, tried to rally the swarthy Latins, but he was killed and his men became crazed with fright. Many threw down their guns and ran; many wailed, 'Me no Alamo!' 'Me no Goliad!' But their pleas won no mercy. The enraged revolutionists reloaded and chased after the stampeding enemy, shooting them, stabbing them, clubbing them to death. From the moment of the first collision the battle was a slaughter, frightful to behold. The fugitives ran in wild terror over the prairie and into the boggy marshes, but the avengers of the Alamo and Goliad followed and slew them, or drove them into the waters to drown. Men and horses, dead and dying, in the morass in the rear and right of the Mexican camp, formed a bridge for the pursuing Texans. Blood reddened the water. General Houston tried to check the execution but the fury of his men was beyond restraint.

Some of the Mexican cavalry tried to escape over Vince's bridge, only to find that the bridge was gone. In desperation, some of the flying horsemen spurred their mounts down the steep bank; some dismounted and plunged into the swollen stream. The Texans came up and poured a deadly fire into the welter of Mexicans struggling with the flood. Escape was virtually impossible. General Houston rode slowly from the field of victory, his ankle shattered by a rifle ball. At the foot of the oak where he bad slept the previous night be fainted and slid from his horse into the arms of Major Hockley, his chief of staff."

Santa Anna escaped, but the Texans had won. The eighteen minute battle saw 9 Texans killed, 26 wounded. The Mexicans had 630 killed, 208 wounded, and 730 captured.

Again, from Wikipedia:"During the battle, Santa Anna disappeared and a search party consisting of James A. Sylvester, Washington H. Secrest, Sion R. Bostick, and a Mr. Cole was sent out the next morning. When discovered, he had shed his ornate general's uniform, and when surrounded and compelled to surrender, he was initially thought to be a common soldier. However, when grouped with other captured soldiers, he was enthusiastically saluted as "El Presidente," revealing his true identity to the Texans. Houston spared his life, preferring to negotiate an end to the overall hostilities and the withdrawal from Texas of Santa Anna's remaining columns.

On May 14, Santa Anna signed the Treaties of Velasco, in which he agreed to withdraw his troops from Texan soil and, in exchange for safe conduct back to Mexico, lobby there for recognition of the new republic. However, the safe passage never materialized; Santa Anna was held for six months as a prisoner of war (during which time his government disowned him and any agreement he might enter into) and finally taken to Washington, D.C. There he met with President Andrew Jackson, before finally returning in disgrace to Mexico in early 1837. By then, however, Texan independence was a fait accompli, although Mexico did not officially recognize it until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848."

Some legends say that Santa Anna was found, dressed in women's clothing, but that is simply the silly propoganda of the time. What is true is that the dictator of Mexico had been defeated by his outnumbered enemy, and forced to order his armies out of Texas. What is true is that the Battle of San Jacinto made Sam Houston a hero and a household name throughout the United States. Texan Independence was won by Texans, not by Americans. Texan Independence was sought by Texans, not by Americans. That may explain some of the swelled-chest braggadocio of Texans. Their forefathers earned it!

One hundred and seventy one years ago.

Inspired by Patrick's post, "The shot heard around the world". Thanks, man!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


"Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together."
~ Pearl S. Buck

I woke up with a cold this morning. Sinuses stuffed, lungs filled and coughing, a tad achy. What fun, eh? Been a bit of a crappy week, actually. Yesterday I cleaned up the computer and lost the Internet Connectivity. Could not get it back to save my life! Sheesh!

So I did the System Restore - which has saved my butt more than once - and LOOKY THERE! the Internet Connectivity was back! Whoop.

I pulled out the old Digital Camera my folks gave me, after they bought a very nice new one, and thought to take a nice picture of the sunrise. The clouds were absolutely spectacular, with the edges rimmed in scarlet and gold, the blue sky behind, the breeze nudging me as I stood on my small balcony, sniffling. Got two pictures, complete with roofs, downspout and telephone lines. But I know I can crop that out. And guess what? The only cable I have for this camera is one to hook it up to a television! Sheesh!

Alright, so I headed online to search for the right cable. Took an hour, but I did finally find it, and ordered it, too! So maybe in a week I can download the picture and post it ala Patrick, or Victoria.

Tuesday, at lunch, my eyes started acting up. One started focusing funny. Now, I wondered why I was seeing things as if I was way past my bedtime, but it went on and on, with me blinking my eyes and rubbing them. I finally got up and headed to the restroom to look in the mirror. Heck, I could feel something going on with my left eye! So I looked. Right pupil larger than the left! Sheesh!

I popped a few aspirins and went back to sit down. In a few minutes I was back to normal, but a bit shaken. This was a new one on me! I left work early, worried that it might happen again, but it didn't. I napped and felt better. Then I went online to do a search for those eyeball symptoms. Two finds out of all the links I came across. One is for an oncoming Migraine Headache. And the other is for second stage syphillis! Sheesh!

No help there, so I shrugged and said, "Eat smarter, fat boy. That'll fix ya up."

And so far I've been fine since. Except for this %#>*!`!! cold popping up! And a lack of desire to go shop for food. So I'll eat canned fruit, sugar-free Jello-o, and maybe some salad. Sheesh!

I did change the header image above, 'cause I get bored with the same picture, as you may have noticed. Maybe I'll go do some research on an artist. I dunno. *sigh*

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Remember Them; Miss Them; Thank Them

"You never realize how much your mother loves you
till you explore the attic - and find every letter you ever sent her,
every finger painting, clay pot, bead necklace, Easter chicken,
cardboard Santa Claus, paperlace Mother's Day card
and school report since day one."
~ Pam Brown

At Defiant Infidel, a blog I don't visit as often as I should, I found the following YouTube video. It consists of music, images, and some poignant words. Watch it. It is only five and a half minutes long. Do it for the men and women in Harm's Way. Go tell DI that you saw it, and send it on, if you can.

We do miss them, don't we?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

55 Years & Billions served

"One of the very few reasons I had any respect for my mother

when I was thirteen was because she would reach into the sink

with her bare hands - bare hands - and pick up that lethal gunk

and drop it into the garbage.

To top that, I saw her reach into the wet garbage bag

and fish around in there looking for a lost teaspoon.

Bare hands - a kind of mad courage."

~ Robert Fulghum

In 1955 a milkshake machine salesman, impressed with the "fast food" concept of the McDonald's Restaurants originated by the McDonald brothers (Dick and Mac), bought a franchise in DesPlaines, Illinois (the 9th McDonald's Restaurant). Frustrated by the bothers' slow pace at expanding this concept, and believing that others would copy the system and reap the success (which they did), Ray Kroc bought the business from the McDonald's brothers in 1961. He turned it into a multi-billion dollar, International icon. Not to mention a target for the stupid, anti-business, anti-success Lefties.

The old McDonald's employee's paper hat,

featuring "Speedee".

The original mascot was called "Speedee" and featured a winking little chef with a hamburger face. He was replaced in 1962 with Ronald McDonald, the clown we know today, who was based on Bozo the Clown. I remember when Speedee graced the wrappers of hamburgers served at McDonald's. The official symbol of MacDonald's then became the famous arches, which used to grace each restaurant, which could also be read as an "M". The Kansas State Historical Society states:
"It's also been suggested that the business wanted to avoid a connection to another advertising character with a similar name-Speedy Alka-Seltzer-associated with indigestion. Speedy Alka-Seltzer was only a year older than the McDonald's Speedee, though, and the two had managed to co-exist for nine years."

I can also remember the small tiled buildings, with all the windows and the big arches at either side. As a kid, the aroma of french fries inside was like being in heaven! Only Arby's french fries, where I grew up, were better, and they were actually more like thick mashed potatoes extruded (Play-Doh anybody?) and dropped into the fryers. Yum!

Replica of Kroc's first McDonald's franchise,

now a museum.

What was this "fast food" system that Kroc found so promising, along with many other restaurant chains to come? Wikipedia reports:
"The [McDonald] brothers' first food venture was a hot-dog stand in Monrovia, California called the Airdrome, opened in 1937. Using the profits generated, they closed it and opened their first restaurant, a barbecue drive-in in San Bernardino, California, in 1940.

Inspired by the assembly line of Henry Ford, in 1948 they closed their restaurant for several months, and pared service back to the essentials, offering a simple menu of hamburgers, french fries, and milkshakes, produced on a continuous basis (rather than made to order, as all restaurants had done) and with no substitutions offered. Food could thus be served nearly instantaneously -- a new idea that Dick called "fast food." The carhops were fired; customers walked to a single window to place and receive their orders. They made the food preparation area visible to the customers, to exhibit its standards of cleanliness, and they eliminated all china and cutlery, serving only in paper bags. The system worked so well because parents would drive up and send their children up to the window to place the orders, still in full sight of the parents. The employees were instructed to "Treat Every Customer with Respect" and so children were made to feel special when they ordered.

The result was the "Speedee Service System." The brothers can arguably be said to have invented the modern fast-food restaurant, although similar ideas had already been implemented at White Castle and the similar Krystal. The food was not only served quickly, to a consistent standard; it was also cheap. A McDonald's hamburger cost only 15 cents, less than half of what it might cost at a typical diner."

My favorite is the Filet-O-Fish Sandwich. For awhile I preferred the Burger King version - The Whaler - but McDonalds' Fish Sandwich is consistently better nowadays. All it is is a fried, breaded filet of fish, with a slice of processed American cheese, a dollop of tartar sauce, and a steamed bun. Can't beat that! Add a large fries and yer good t' go! Wikipedia says, about the Filet-O-Fish:
"The Filet-O-Fish is a fish sandwich sold by McDonald's since 1963. It was introduced by a McDonald's franchise in Cincinnati, in response to declining sales at restaurants on Fridays, due to the Catholic practice of not eating meat on Fridays at the time, and now mostly during Lent. It contains a breaded fish patty made from Pollock and/or Hoki, half a slice of processed cheese and tartar sauce, on a steamed bun. It has become popular with people who cannot eat the other meaty burgers on offer, particularly Muslims who cannot eat non-Halal meat. The fish patty size was increased 50% in 1996 during the Arch Deluxe marketing. However in 2000, in an effort to increase profitability, the fish patty was reduced in size by approximately 10%. A Double Filet-O-Fish sandwich is available in with a combo meal and as a stand alone sandwich. It contains two fish patties stacked in the same bun."

Recently it's become fashionable to denounce McDonald's, as well as all other large successful businesses, for corporate greed, and for forcing the "American Way of Life" on other nations and cultures. Attacks on the content of McDonald's food is, of course, the province of the ignorant and the stupid. Granted, if you eat nothing but Big Macs, fries, and milkshakes, you will probably become rather fat. But that is not the fault of McDonald's or any other restaurant. It's the fault of the slob shoving fattening food into his/her gaping maw. If you have troubles with trans fats, then you should probably not eat french fries, or Big Macs. Or Filet-O-Fish sandwiches either. But that's up to you!

Today marks the day that Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald's franchise way back in 1955, and took the first real step on his way to greatness. So why not celebrate with a burger and fries, eh?

Or maybe a Filet-O-Fish? It's yummy!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Omigod! Snow!

The real religion of the world comes

from women much more than from men

- from mothers most of all, who carry

the key of our souls in their bosoms.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

As we get closer to the real close of winter, and edge into Spring - those of us in West Central Florida are looking at high temperatures and humidity very soon - we can look back at the winter season and see how the startling snowfalls and icy temperatures have led many eco-noodles to declare that it is all symptomatic of Global Warming. I heard a co-worker today declaring that she couldn't recall a snowfall in her northern home-town this late, and described her father telling her about it. She hadn't been there in many years, but by golly it never snowed that late! As for me I cannot recall how late the snows fell in suburban Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

But I do remember some hellacious winters there. One Christmas morning found the snowdrifts at the five-foot mark around our house. We had to go out the back-door, where we had a covered porch, to go around the house and shovel out the walk and the driveway. I recall snowfalls so high that the snowplows took a few days to get around to our neighborhood and left huge piles that we kids made tunnels from. We had big snow forts and great sledding in my own youth - the 60s!

Then the climate changed, as it always does, always has, and always will. And winter snows came later, stayed for a shorter time, and we had far fewer "snow days" at school. Yes, I loved "snow days"! No School! Sledding! Snowball fights! What's not to like?

When I was very young, in the first house I remember as a child, our neighborhood had hurricane fencing along every yard's back. The huge land behind it was slated to become an athletic field for the future school that was going to be built nearby. A combination grade school/junior high school would be built fairly quickly (Carl Sandburg would come to speak at the dedication of the Junior High School named for him). Why do I remember the hurricane fencing? And why in a suburban area northeast of Philadelphia?

In 1960, when I was not yet five-years-old, Hurricane Donna stormed up the east coast of the United States from her birth in the area around the Cape Verde Islands of Africa, Donna swarmed across the atlantic Ocean, coming ashore in the US at Marathon in the Florida Keys, as a Category 4 hurricane, and swept into the Gulf of Mexico. She swirled up the west coast of Florida then swung inland again between Naples and Fort Myers, again as a Category 4 hurricane. She moved out into the Atlantic near Daytona Beach and headed up the Eastern Seaboard. She would land again in North Carolina and in New England.

A Navy reconnaissance plane radar clearly locates Hurricane Donna's perfectly circular eye at 10pm (ET) September 9, 1960, just prior to landfall over the central Florida Keys.

From September 2nd of 1960 until September 11, Donna maintained winds of 115 mph or better, setting a record for the longest sustained Category 3 hurricane in history. As Wikipedia reports:
"Hurricane Donna was a very destructive storm giving that it affected the most land areas in history, a record held until Hurricane Wilma in 2005. About 364 people were killed by the hurricane, 148 direct and 216 indirect; of the 148 directly killed by the storm, fifty of them were Americans."

As far west as we were in Bucks county, I do remember the howling winds and driving rain that we experienced as she passed well to the east of us.

Donna's Rainfall in the United States. Notice the south-eastern corner of Pennsylvania, under New Jersey's chin? Lotsa rain!

Again from Wikipedia:
"Florida suffered profound losses from Donna, more than any other state. Damage in the Keys at the original point of landfall was most severe, where Donna's winds and storm surge destroyed many buildings and vessels. 35% of the state's grapefruit crop was lost, 10% of the orange and tangerine crop was lost, and the avocado crop was almost completely wiped out. The day after the storm hit, President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared a disaster area from the Keys up to Central Florida.

Although weaker, it caused considerable and widespread damage in North Carolina and New York. Donna was one of the few hurricanes to affect every state along the East Coast; it is one of few storms to produce hurricane-force winds along the east coast from South Carolina to Maine."

Nobody blamed Ike for the hurricane, nobody whined that it was Global Warming. It was the weather and we were grateful that science had afforded the tools to forecast Donna's approach. And that forecasting has gotten better. Not by being beholden to the PC idiots, or to the eco-noodles. It got better because real science discounts nonsense and wishful thinking, political considerations and professional victims.

Global Warming, just like Global Cooling (which excited the eco-noodles in the 1970s), is nonsense. What is possibly happening now is called climatic change, something that has always happened. Cycles run from minutes to weeks to centuries in extent. The successful colony of Vikings in Greenland was destroyed by a mini-Ice Age. It ended eventually and the earth warmed up. Snowfall that was normal in England, long ago, nearly disappeared for a long time. By the time it returned in full fury, the Industrial Age was in full swing and pollution was endemic in the Industrial world. No warming. Cold!

Pollution is something we must always fight against and strive to ameliorate. But it is less than it was. The air and water of North America are cleaner than they have been since the Industrial Age began. The Oceans of the world are cleaner and Nature is doing what she does by cleaning things up, too.

Don't think so? Don't believe that the Earth restores things? Then ask your self where all the oil that was spilled in the oceans during two World Wars went to? Nobody put up booms or washed the beaches after tankers and ships were sunk. They had no time or thought to do so. They were at war! So where is all that oil?

The earth's oceans absorbed it, mediated it, used it up. GOD made the earth with amazing, infinite capabilities. As long as we do our part, we avoid such nonsense as burning rivers and sooty skies. But we don't need a new Gestapo of eco-noodles passing laws, imprisoning smokers, and we certainly don't need a new Inquisition of Eco-Cardinals to punish the Global Warming disbelievers.

As we head into another hot summer in a few months, remember that it was hot last summer, too! And your grandparents can tell you of hot summers when they were kids. Thier grandparents could tell them of steaming summers of their own. And the Year Without Summer. Read about that if you think it was a tad chilly this winter.

Global Warming? A load of crap for the silly, weak-minded, and the eco-fascists who would rule over us. Have a Mint Julep and relax. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Why Do I Blog? Yeah, It's A Meme!

Blandly Urbane tagged me with the latest blogger meme, "Why Do I Blog?". While backtracking to see how far back this goes, and maybe give credit to the first blogger to post this, I found a place that actually tracks these memes, as long as those who are tagged back-link to that site. Thus the "Big Meme Tracker: Why Do You Blog?" shows a long list - incomplete - of bloggers who have responded to the tagging.

Check out B.U's entry - it's fun! Now lemme think ...
How to play: First, you have to get tagged. Second, you should use a list form and name 5 reasons why you blog. Third, tag 5 others (no more than 7 tagged will show, to prevent spamming).

Which takes me to :

5 Reasons Why benning Blogs!

  • To sell my book(s): Having a tiny publisher, I knew I'd have to sell my own books. My family helps, and some of my friends have bought and recommended my book to others. But I started blogging to see if it would help me sell my book(s).
  • To play with my writing and stretch my skills. Some of you have complimented my writing, which makes me feel very good! But each time I blog I know that I have to give my very best, which requires me to get better.
  • To voice my opinions on anything and everything. If you've been here before you know that I touch on politics, religion, art, music, writing, and anything that comes to mind. I hope I don't bore my visitors with my subjects, but even if I do, my topics interest me. See the second entry to the list, if I have bored you.
  • To meet like-minded folks, those whose blogs I've visited, and those who suddenly discover my Writing Pad, as well as any who stumble upon my postings and don't agree with me. I've had few nasty comments, so either I have few new visitors, or a lot of my visitors aren't upset with how I lay out my arguments.
  • Because blogging is easier and more immediate than the old web page way of doing things. My old webpages were fun, and gave me some confidence in the use of HTML, but were limited in a way that a blog isn't. Besides, I was curious after visiting a few blogs. I wanted to know if I could do it, too!

Now, having finished this song to myself, I have to tag five others. I won't tag Patrick, as he's not keen on tagging others, so let's see ... Let's start with

Now to go and tag these unsuspecting folks! Heheheheeee!

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Flames of Hell

Patrick links to news of the "Crawford Peace House", that Leftist, anti-war, anti-American gathering in Crawford, Texas, designed to embarrass the President and enshrine such Moonbat luminaries as Cindy "Mother Earth" Sheehan in the Pantheon of Surrender Monkeys.

It seems the peaceniks are falling out over money, among other things.
The Crawford Peace House recently lost its corporate charter with the state, and a former member who now has rights to the name is threatening legal action because the group continues operating.

Sara L. Oliver and others are calling for a state investigation to determine why only $14,700 is in its bank account, saying tens of thousands of dollars donated during Cindy Sheehan's 2005 war protest are unaccounted for.

"There are people who have said, 'Don't say anything because you'll hurt the peace movement,' " Miss Oliver said. "But if the peace movement isn't pure and transparent and holy as it can be at its heart, then it's just like George Bush: lying, thieving, conniving, back stabbing ... ."
Gracious! Even when they are braying about being nice, they cannot help but be vile.

These are the folks who demand we listen to them, emulate them, live like them - as they insist they are paragons of all-that-is-virtuous - and continue to prove they are little more than naughty children, lighting matches and blaming others for the fires they have set. All of this based on raising Sheehan onto a pedestal as a "Mourning Mother", which description she ground into the dust long ago.

There's a special place in Hell, I think, for those who would traffic in their supposed grief for fame, fortune, and power. "Mother Sheehan" will be there to welcome others, I'd bet. I wonder how she'll take the heat then?

Make your own flash image at Flash Gear!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Christ The Lord Is Risen!

I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .
~ E. M. Blaiklock
Professor of Classics
Auckland University

The Resurrection of Christ - his rising from the dead - is the foundation of all Christianity. Without it Christianity is nothing. A pale philosophy descended from Judaism, with no more moral power than the Pacifism of Gandhi or the claimed peacefulness of Hinduism. Either Christ rose from the dead or Christianity is a sham, a hoax, the greatest con ever perpetrated on mankind.

Those who insist that Jesus Christ never existed can be ignored. The evidence is overwhelming. The texts of the Gospels were written within the lifetime of the many witnesses to His life, His ministry, His many miracles, His death. And His resurrection. Had there been any question that He existed, when and where the Gospels say He did, the Christians would have been laughed out of existence. The historical accuracy of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, continues to be proved, textually and archaeologically. Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, lived. Those who say He didn't are fools, ignorant, or liars.

Had He lived and died, with the claims He made for Himself, and not arisen from His grave, then He would have been, not a good man, or a peaceful Philosopher, nor a Holy Prophet. He would have been either a most evil man, or the most foolish and deluded of men ever. Since the things He said cannot fit the bill of a terribly foolish man, then He was either pure evil or the Son of God. There is no other choice.

Curing the sick, feeding the hungry, raising Lazarus from the dead, none of these things fit the definition of evil. Though His statements could seem harsh, to modern, humanistic ears, they were completely in step with Scriptural thoughts. Jesus was therefore not evil.

But did He rise from the dead? That is the problem when we discuss Jesus Christ. The Gospels say that He did. Roman Law was initiated shortly after His resurrection which indicate that a tomb was empty of its body, despite Roman guards and seal placed on it. Thus we have a kind of proof that the Romans thought that Jesus disappeared from His grave. The Jews made many excuses for the empty tomb, none of which held water. Nor do they hold water today. In fact, in conjunction with the behavior of His own Disciples following the crucifixion, they point to a fact which the Jew could not refute: Jesus was not in the tomb after the third day.

The description in the Scriptures of the place where His body had been lain, following His death, showed clearly that his graves clothes were still there. They were not pulled from His body and discarded, but left lying on the spot, as if the body had simply risen through them.

Pat Zukeran, in his essay "The Resurrection: Fact or Fiction? says:
"Three facts must be reckoned with when investigating the Resurrection: the empty tomb, the transformation of the Apostles, and the preaching of the Resurrection originating in Jerusalem.
Let us first examine the case of the empty tomb. Jesus was a well- known figure in Israel. His burial sight was known by many people. In fact Matthew records the exact location of Jesus' tomb. He states, "And Joseph of Arimathea took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb" (Matt. 27:59). Mark asserts that Joseph was "a prominent member of the Council" (Mark 15:43).

It would have been destructive for the writers to invent a man of such prominence, name him specifically, and designate the tomb site, since eyewitnesses would have easily discredited the author's fallacious claims.

Jewish and Roman sources both testify to an empty tomb. Matthew 28:12 13 specifically states that the chief priests invented the story that the disciples stole the body. There would be no need for this fabrication if the tomb had not been empty. Opponents of the Resurrection must account for this. If the tomb had not been empty, the preaching of the Apostles would not have lasted one day. All the Jewish authorities needed to do to put an end to Christianity was to produce the body of Jesus.

Along with the empty tomb is the fact that the corpse of Jesus was never found. Not one historical record from the first or second century is written attacking the factuality of the empty tomb or claiming discovery of the corpse. Tom Anderson, former president of the California Trial Lawyers Association states,

'Let's assume that the written accounts of His appearances to hundreds of people are false. I want to pose a question. With an event so well publicized, don't you think that it's reasonable that one historian, one eye witness, one antagonist would record for all time that he had seen Christ's body? . . . The silence of history is deafening when it comes to the testimony against the resurrection.'"

Indeed! The Tomb was empty. That is not in dispute. Not by anybody.

The Disciples had fled at His arrest, only a few of them venturing forth, John to witness the crucifixion, and Peter to go with him and others to prepare the dead body for burial. They would again venture forth a few days later to finish the burial ceremonies. But they then hurried to the tomb, told by the women that the tomb was empty and the Angels said He had risen.

Again, the disciples hid in a room, fearful that the Romans or the Jewish authorities would come to arrest them soon. This was a group of men who were now in fear for their own lives, hiding in a locked room.

Zukeran continues:
"Second, we have the changed lives of the Apostles. It is recorded in the Gospels that while Jesus was on trial, the Apostles deserted Him in fear. Yet 10 out of the 11 Apostles died as martyrs believing Christ rose from the dead. What accounts for their transformation into men willing to die for their message? It must have been a very compelling event to account for this.

Third, the Apostles began preaching the Resurrection in Jerusalem. This is significant since this is the very city in which Jesus was crucified. This was the most hostile city in which to preach. Furthermore, all the evidence was there for everyone to investigate. Legends take root in foreign lands or centuries after the event. Discrediting such legends is difficult since the facts are hard to verify. However, in this case the preaching occurs in the city of the event immediately after it occurred. Every possible fact could have been investigated thoroughly.

Anyone studying the Resurrection must somehow explain these three facts."

Read the rest of his essay for a very cogent description of excuses raised for His not having been resurrected. His writing is very easy to read and enjoy.

Josh McDowell relates:
"A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. 'Professor McDowell, why can't you refute Christianity?'

'For a very simple reason,' I answered. 'I am not able to explain away an event in history--the resurrection of Jesus Christ.'

How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?"

He continues:
"The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.

The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In advocating their case for the gospel, a word that means 'good news,' the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection.

F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: 'Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective.'"

I highly recommend his essay, "Evidence for the Resurrection", and his book, "Evidence That Demands A Verdict".

As for me I am persuaded that He rose from the dead, that He was the Son of God, that He redeemed all mankind by dying for us at Calvary. I know He was resurrected. There is not a question in my mind. That resurrection by Christ gave every one of us the free pass, if you will, to face God when the time comes. For we have the only advocate we need, Jesus Christ. He stands with us, speaks on our behalf, writes our names in the Book of Life. When God asks how we will pay for our sinful lives, Christ will say, "I have already paid, Father."

Christ the Lord is Risen today! Praise God! We are saved!

Happy Easter!

Believe On/In Him?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1: 1 - 5

For Jews and Christians who believe the Scriptures to be inspired of GOD ('GOD breathed'), the entire thrust of the Bible is to go from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve to atonement by GOD. All else is history, and suggestions - Commandments - on how to live one's life. As the Scriptures say, "The wages of Sin is Death; [...]" There is no other payment that we can make to pay for the Sins we commit. And we commit them all the time!

GOD allowed mankind to atone for his sins, by blood sacrifice, nearly anywhere and anytime, long ago. But then HE began to narrow the rules, bit by bit, over the Ages. Eventually those who wished to atone and seek GOD's forgiveness needed to go to certain places to make sacrifices. This was GOD's way to direct mankind to seek the path to the Messiah. There then came a time when the only place to make sacrifice and seek atonement for Sins was in the Temple in Jerusalem.

No longer would anybody be allowed to simply erect an altar in the wilderness and make a sacrifice to the LORD there. This narrowing parallels GOD's withdrawal from day-to-day communion with Man. You can follow this in the Old Testament Scriptures. You can see GOD pulling away as HIS plan for salvation moves along HIS appointed path. Finally the day arrived when GOD said, "Here's is MY Son, whom I love. He is the Way to Salvation. There is no other Way for you to atone for your Sins than to believe on Him." Within that very generation the last place where sacrifices to the LORD were allowed had been razed to the ground, destroyed forever, replaced with a Human scapegoat.

GOD poured out onto HIS only Son the very Wrath HE reserved for the sinners of this world. He placed on Jesus the cost of our Sins, allowed HIS Son to pay the price for us, in our stead, and allowed HIS only Son to die an agonizing, humiliating, undeserved Death. For us!

The Scripture says it all in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life."

But HE will not accept another Way to atone for our inborn Sins. Jesus was the last chance that anybody would have. The Wages of Sin is Death. Not a second chance, not an, "Oh, well, you've lived a pretty good life." Only through Christ can we atone for our Sins.

Christ's resurrection proved once and for all that Death is not final when GOD intercedes. But while HE offered us this escape from our own earned destruction, HE expects us to accept the gift as HE intended it. HE has rules. HE expects us to follow them. HE knew we could never lead sinless lives, knew that the Ten Commandments were beyond our abilities. For we are imperfect humans. So he gave us One Way Out.

Now some of you may wonder why the phrase is "Believe on Him," and not "Believe in him." Different versions may say "in" but the original text said "on". There is a difference. Satan - Lucifer, if you like, or The Evil One, if you prefer - believes in Christ. Why not? Satan has known Christ all his life. He knows Christ better than anyone save GOD HIMself. He knows the Scriptures better than any human alive. Satan believes in Christ. But he is opposed to Christ, wishes Him to fail, and seeks to defeat GOD the Father. We, on the other hand, if we are 'believers' must believe on Christ. This means we don't simply know that Jesus walked the earth, but accept him as GOD's Son, the Messiah, our Savior and our Deliverer. As one pastor said, "You can believe in an elevator all you like, but it won't get you anywhere until you get on! You have to believe on Jesus Christ!" And that's what the difference is.

On Easter Christians celbrate the rising from the dead of Jesus Christ. We don't need to venerate some musty old tomb, of questionable provenance, for the Angels themselves told us, "He is not here! He is risen!" We celebrate the Son of GOD's resurrection as the final proof of the very power of GOD above, over the Universe. GOD stands without the Universe; HE does not need to follow the rules of physics or biology, nor those of Space and Time. GOD is eternal, and can choose to condemn or forgive us. All HE demnads is that you follow HIS rule. The only one that Christians, believing Christians, must follow.

Believe on Him!

A Blessed and Happy Easter to all of my fine friends, fellow bloggers, and visitors! Be safe! GOD Bless!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Run, Fred, Run!

Following in Patrick's footsteps, and with good reason, I've removed the "Run, Rudy, Run! blogroll. I'm replacing it with a "Run, Fred, Run!" blogroll. Always a somewhat lukewarm supporter of Rudy Giuliani, I added the Rudy blogroll in support of Patrick and also because Rudy seemed the best of a lot of so-so choices. Patrick kept an eye on Rudy's perambulations and pronouncements, as well as the analysis by commentators of Rudy's history, speeches, and so on.

The more one looks at Rudy Giuliani the more one sees that his approach to government is neither the Classic Liberal - which Patrick can describe far better than I - nor a true Conservative or Libertarian. He is a Statist, which is close to the modern Democratic Party stance on governance. By supporting Public Funding of Abortion, Giuliani not only loses the support of pro-life voters, but endorses yet another theft of taxpayer monies for un-Constitutional activity.

Matters not a whit to me whether or not you support abortion rights or no, or whether you support a "woman's right to choose" or no. To allow the government, indeed to mandate that the government (That's you and I!), pay for abortions as a protection of a right is utter nonsense, and is neither moral, ethical, nor Constitutional. Our government's powers are listed in the Constitution. Paying for any person's choices is not among those powers.

I know some will say ,"Well, what good is a right if you can't pay for it?" You have a right to purchase a Cadillac, if you so desire. That's your right under the Private Property protections afforded you by the Constitution. Nowhere in there will you find a "right" to steal another's money to pay for that Cadillac. Private charities can pay, if they see fit, and private groups may choose to support with thier own money, abortion-on-demand, "free" medical care, and a host of other things.

"Well," you say, "I don't support my money paying for the military!" How did I know that? But, you see, the Constitution specifically granst the government the power to raise taxes to pay for the military. Your support is moot.

I have been pushing for a Fred Thompson Presidential run for awhile now. I like the man, who brings to the table a Law degree, experience as a US Senator, a no-nonsense attitude, a Conservative approach to government, and a presence that not one candidate, Democrat or Republican, can match. As yet, he is not running, but he has put out feelers. Can he win the Republican nomination, should he choose to run? I think so. Can he win the general election? Against Shrillary? Against Obama? Of course! Both are mainstream/left Democrats, more interested in extending the powers of the State and curtailing your Constitutional Rights.

So the "Run, Fred, Run!" blogroll is now open! I hope you'll join me in it. I've made two logos, of differing sizes that you can use on your own blog or website. Just email me at benning76 at verizon dot net, and I'll add you to the roll!

The 150 pixel width logo.

The 250 pixel width logo.

Here's the javascript:
(script language="javascript" type="text/javascript" src="")(/script)
Don't forget to replace the parentheses with carets!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nature's Splendor: God's Paintbrush & DLEnnis

'Spring Delight' by DLEnnis

I just can't get enough of Mr. Ennis' photographs. His eye captures Spring in such a splendid, colorful way that it takes my breath away! Spring Delight is full of the colors of early spring, with some of the trees still waiting to awaken from their winter slumber. His caption reads,
"Last week, spring just exploded on the lower elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. This image was taken on Friday 3/30/2007."

Of course Spring isn't all flowers and singing birds. And Mr. Ennis gives us one that I love with Rainy Day Parkway, which he captions thus:
"A rainy foggy day on the Blue Ridge Parkway…"

'Blue Ridge Parkway' by DLEnnis

I love rainy days, days where the clouds billow and soar, roiling in angry waves across the sky. I suppose that makes me a tad odd, but I have never enjoyed a bright sunny day half so much as I do a stormy day, lashed with rain, grumbling with thunder, lit briefly with slashing lightning. Indeed, my last evening as a resident of Pennsylvania was graced with a huge thunderstorm that for me was a delightful way to say "Goodbye" to my home state.

Of course a quiet scene can be a delight, too, as this last photo will show. Along The Misty Shore captures the quiet nicely, I think.
'Along The Misty Shore' by DLEnnis
"Taken on a lake in Bedford County, Virginia; in the Blue Ridge Mountains… "

Mr. Ennis has a wonderful talent at finding scenes to photograph that are more than a simple picture. He manages to show us some of GOD's handiwork, which we may not have a chance to see in our day-to-day lives. For me there is the sunrise, here in Florida, which exposes GOD's paintbrush as the most wondrous of tools imaginable! The colors of the sky in the morning - champagne's, scarlets, blues and bright whites - take your breath away. To watch the clouds high up to the west, as the light from the east just brushes them ... whew!

DLEnnis exposes so much of that beauty that I knew I had to post again, as we near Easter, to remind you that there is so much absolute beauty out there. Please visit the links to see what other treasures Mr. Ennis has in store for you! Remember that you can buy prints of his work. As I said before, his work is far better art than that which hangs on a lot of walls! And it's GOD's Paintbrush he shows!