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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Catholic Town in Florida?

There is a man with a plan. He plans to build a town in Florida that will be totally governed by religious principles.

First he brought us Domino's Pizza.

The Times online reports:

"Tom Monaghan, the founder of the Domino’s Pizza chain, has stirred protests from civil rights activists by declaring that Ave Maria’s pharmacies will not be allowed to sell condoms or birth control pills. The town’s cable television network will carry no X-rated channels."

Some concerns from civil rights groups put in their two cents with this:

"Yet civil rights activists and other watchdogs concerned about the separation of church and state are threatening lawsuits if Ave Maria attempts to enforce Catholic dogma. Environmentalists have also complained the town will restrict the habitat of the Florida panther, an endangered species. "

Now, I did know that Florida did have alligators but panthers is a new one to me. Makes me think twice of another Florida vacation.

But should rights activists be so upset? Not far from Lynchburg is Yogaville, they also have their own laws based on their principles. And if you don't like them you don't have to live there.

In searching for other religious communities in the United States, there is also an Islamville. Although I am not really sure what this is, but apparently a village in South Carolina.

My opinion if this is how you want to live, it is your exercise of freedom.

By the way, in following this line of surfing I found something very interesting I will post tomorrow.

9th Homeschooling Carnival

And it is a-mus-ing! You definitely don't want to miss this weeks Homeschooling Carnival. The theme alone is fascinating and there are plenty of wonderful bloggers adding to the fun. You'll even find a post by yours truly this time. So grab a cup of coffee or a bag of peanuts and head to the carnival!

Morning Caffeine Charge

Usually each morning I have to wake up to my daily fix, a cup of coffee. I have recently changed that habit to eating two oranges. I think a better alternative.

Here is a short video just over a minute that will tell you how caffeine works in your body.

How stuff works is a great site to find just about how anything works from refigerators to zombies.

Now they tackle coffee, Starbucks beware.

Virginia: Home Invasion and Deadly Force

In considering our question of the week, an article from WSET prompted me to think on these thoughts.

If you are inside your home when someone breaks in, do you have the right to use deadly force?

My first thought was certainly yes, if someone breaks into my home, I am going to send him right to his maker. But this WSET article made me think, why would a Virginia Senate panel reject this bill from becoming law?

It revolves around the issue common and case law as opposed to code, what is the concept of self-defense?

Del. John J. Welch III, R-Virginia Beach, was the promoter of the law that would put the theory of self-defense into law. It would make it a slam dunk that if you killed a home intruder, you will be justified by the code of Virginia.

The panel decided otherwise. Based perhaps from the influence of Robert Bushnell ,who represented the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys, listen to what he said according to WSET:

"The current law is not bright and clear because the world is not bright and clear. This bill is a license to kill."Case law governing self-defense is built on "experience and reason."

His point, is that a decision needs to be made on each and every circumstance when deadly force happens when someone proclaims self-defense.

So you may wonder what constitutes self-defense in Virginia?

Here is a site that will break it down for you.

So what are your thoughts? Does everyone have the right to kill someone who invades their home?

photo by bob

Monday, February 27, 2006

As Clemson student's gun raffle begins, some Tigers up in arms

Students, faculty plan protests of newspaper's AK-47 giveaway

With the date of the Tiger Town Observer's AK-47 drawing approaching, opposition to the event among students and faculty is mounting at Clemson University.

The Observer, Clemson's conservative student newspaper, is holding a drawing for an AK-47 rifle and a .22 Magnum Marlin rifle in celebration of the Second Amendment today through March 2.

Andrew Davis, editor of the Tiger Town Observer, said the paper has spoken to everyone from Clemson University President James Barker to the local police chief for permission to hold the drawing.

Davis said that while Clemson's administration does not voice outright support of the drawing, they have made it clear that it may take place as long as all campus, state and federal laws are obeyed.

The Observer has been informed of a group of faculty members planning to petition President Barker to stop the event. In addition to the faculty petition, a group of students opposed to the idea have also emerged in an attempt to start another petition.

"Students and faculty have a constitutional right to protest, and we encourage and commend them for doing so," Davis said.

However, what began as a petition is beginning to escalate into something that Davis calls "sabotage."

"We want to beat them at their own game," said Aimee McLaughlin, a third-year communications student at Clemson. "At this point, protesting will not accomplish our ultimate goal. We are basically organizing as many people as possible to enter this drawing to try and win the gun. The Observer is making their statement, and now we want to win the gun and make ours."

Davis said a group of faculty members is taking the same approach.

"We welcome a protest, but to sabotage a drawing like this is sick," Davis said. "There is a big difference between sabotage and a protest. A faction of the faculty is out to decide what is best for Clemson, and that is not up to them."

Because of South Carolina's anti-raffle laws, students and members of the community are welcome to enter the drawing with a suggested donation of $5.

"If they enter and win it is fine, as long as that is their intention," Davis said. "If they exploit the archaic anti-lottery laws then they are a fraud and enemies of the Constitution."

Davis said The Observer will publicize any contention from faculty and students.

"We have national media contacts that would love to hear that Clemson faculty are enemies of the Constitution," Davis said. "They are taking away from free speech, democracy in Iran, and from the students who are wanting to participate in this celebration of the Second Amendment."

Proceeds will go toward The Observer and an advocacy group for democracy in Iran.

The drawing begins today and is open to any students and members of the Clemson community. Those entering must be at least 18 years of age, have no criminal record, and must be eligible to own a firearm.

Jeff's Soapbox Opinion and Note to those whose firearm knowledge is limited.

This AK-47 is not an assault rifle. It is not even a true AK-47. It is a semi-automatic copy of the weapon invented by Mikhail Kalashnikov for the Russian Military in 1947.

"Semi-Automatic"means that you get one bang for one pull of the trigger. It does not "spray bullets" everywhere. It is not a "machine gun". It is functionally no different than the tube fed 22 rifles many of us had as kids. It is no more powerful than say, your father's or grandfather's thirty-aught six ( 30-.06) deer rifle.

The protestors kept complaining that the AK is not a suitable weapon for a raffle while the 22 Magnum is. This is ludicrous, because the 22 Magnum is a powerful round, capable of killing just a quickly as the AK. The difference here is that the 22 does not look mean. It looks like what people think a hunting rifle should look like. The AK however looks mean, it looks like a weapon of a gang banger, or a criminal (ironic since the FBI's Uniform Crime Report shows that they are involved in only a very small percentage of violent crime)

My soapbox opinion is that this is a great way for a rural college to raise money. Let them have their raffle, and someone goes home with a nice rifle or two.

Yesterday's Hopes and Katrina's Kloset

I have been selling on Ebay as a way to make extra money off and on for three years now. I love doing it, though I am not getting rich, but it does give me an excuse to browse bookstores. Unfortunately my "to read pile" has about 100 books in it right now...but that's another story;)

Anyway, the name of my store is Yesterday's Hopes, should you ever want to stop by. I am currently running a sale on anything listed under Children's Books or Homeschool books on my website. Buy two, get one free plus reduced shipping on the second two items.

Well, my son and daughter have watched my entreprenurial efforts and they enjoy playing store here in our house. Soooo, last Friday when I was out on a book hunt, Katrina asked if she could spend her allowance and buy some books to sell on Ebay.

Now I will admit that my first thought was...on no...more competition! But I quickly squelched that and said sure and gave her the children's book section as her area. Well she picked out five very nice books (with a little guidance from me) and then we spent part of Saturday choosing what her auction pages would look like and creating a page for her at my Ebay store. So Katrina's Kloset is now open and ready for business and Katrina is very excited:)

So grab a cup of coffee and take a browse when you have a minute or two. We are always happy to have people stop by:)

Google: Censorship First China Now the U.S.

There are some things you can't see on Google Videos in the United States, but the rest of the world can.

The Register is reporting:

"The internet search giant's video service is blocking US viewers from seeing an innocuous piece of Iraq footage that Google delivers to internet users in the rest of the world without any problems."

If true Google has preformed self-censorship for the U.S. audience. Much like many major media outlets have done in their refusal to print or cover the Danish Cartoon debacle.

Islam: Empire of Faith

I like to learn and with Muslims and Islam so much in the news in recent years, I want to know more about this religion. When I was at the library last week I saw a PBS DVD called Islam: Empire of Faith that I could borrow.

I watched it this morning and I highly recommend it to anyone who knows little to nothing about Islam or to anyone who thinks they know Islam but haven't really researched it, and are just going by what they hear in the news or from other people.

A description: Between the fall of Rome and the European voyages of discovery, few events were more significant than the rise of Islam. Within a few centuries, the Islamic empires blossomed, projecting their power from Africa to the East Indies, and from Spain to India. Inspired by the words of the Prophet Muhammed, and led by caliphs and sultans, this political and religious expansion remains unequaled in speed, geographic speed and endurance. Increasingly, scholars and historians are recognizing the profound impact that Islamic civilization has had on Western culture and the course of world history.

Do Muslims Have a Plan for World Domination?

It could be a story plot from the "Man from U.N.C.L.E." in which the sinister adversary is seeking "World Domination."

Israel National News is reporting:

Sheikh Ismail Nawahda, preaching to Moslem masses on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Friday, has brought it out into the open: the call to restore the Moslem Khalifate, or, "Genuine Islamic Rule."

And further:

"'The Foundation recommends working to restore the Moslem dictatorship using a system of small groups around the world. The purpose is so that the "enemies of Islam" who "will definitely try to stop us" will have a "much harder task, if not impossible, if they are faced with a myriad of small groups of differing locations, ethnicities," etc. This method also "ensures that if one group... is found and cut off, other similar groups will remain undetected."'

This plan, a project from the inocuously named "The Guiding Helper Foundation," has been held as a secret agenda until now.

Westerners often view Islam as a religion of peace, that can coexist with other religions of the world. Revelations from what is being preached from the Mosques point to something else entirely. In this article, Sheikh Ismail Nawahda also infers death to those who insult Islam, such as Danish Cartoon artists.

The size and scope of this agenda should not be ignored.

Debate Over: Saddam Had WMD

It appears that Saddam had been playing a shell game with the UN weapons inspectors. Recently translated tapes from the office of Saddam show his attempt to hide his WMD programs.

He appeared to take pleasure in the fact that he always had the inspectors looking under the wrong shell.

This from Investor's Business Daily:

"We did not reveal all that we have," he says. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct."

The tapes also reveal how Saddam talked about using proxies for terrorist attacks.

Many more hours of tapes still need to be translated. But what the tapes will inspire is a new question. Where did the his WMD weapons go? Perhaps, some of his neighbors know, like Syria.

Candace Update

Candace Joy's surgery had positive results yesterday. The infection appears to be receding and now there is only one open wound where they are still monitoring for infection to appear. Please continue to keep this little girl in your prayers.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Leonardo Da Vinci: Free Online Prints

Here is a remarkable site that offers free downloads of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings. Many of these drawings I have not seen before.

If you would like the picture set on your desktop right click the image after enlarging and choose: set as background.

To read about one of his most famous paintings the Last Supper, Wiki offers an in depth article.

Recently, I went to Natural Bridge Virginia and took a tour through the Wax Museum. The final stop was a presentation of the story of the last supper.

The story captured how Leonardo captured the apostles in different poses and the meaning of each pose. I highly recommend if you have a chance to visit the wax museum at Natural Bridge Virginia. Below is a photo I took during the presentation. It was fascinating to see the story come to life and the care and details they used in the presentation.

Bottom photo by bob at the wax museum at Natural Bridge

Slow Down Lane for the Internet Highway?

If the phone companies have their way, some sites would slow down to a crawl when loading on your browser. While others who pay an internet toll will be zooming along in the right lane. Well, the left lane if you are in Britain.

What this will lead to is a form of online censorship. Who wants to wait for sites to load?

News Channel 3 in the Hampton Roads is reporting:

"'Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success," Vinton Cerf told a Senate committee recently. Cerf, who played a key role in building the Internet, is now the "Chief Internet Evangelist" at Google Inc."

Personally, I dread the day when service providers govern who goes fast or slow. I believe the internet should be as free as possible. When sites are handicapped, it will cripple the creative thrust that now happens on the internet. Its all about how to make a dollar at our expense.

If this does happen expect to see more: pay to see and use content. This may salvage some media giants like the New York Times who offer a price for premium content , but it will be at everyone's expense.

I refuse to pay for premium content, and I hope America refuses to accept the toll lane idea that phone companies are promoting.

photo by bob

The Naked Truth About Art

From the Bradenton Herald Today

Too bad Ginger White, a Bradenton figure artist and director of the Anna Maria Island Art League, found it necessary to go to Sarasota to exhibit her work.

White experienced censorship at the Manatee County Public Library in Holmes Beach last year and had to relocate her work to the Digital 3 Gallery in Sarasota. Chalk drawings, which included bared breasts, were taken from view at the library because they were said to be too near the children's section.

As if children haven't seen breasts since birth. As if children think of nudity in the same way adults do.

Not that there isn't such a thing as indecent art. I don't know why more visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., aren't appalled by the display of Benvenuto Cellini's "Virtue Overcoming Vice," which shows a nude man being whipped by a nude woman.

Then there's the bevy of bared breasts in the Ringling Museum collection, some decidedly sexually loaded. I'm thinking of "Bathsheba at her Bath" by Domenico Gargiulo and "Eros Revealing a Sleeping Venus to a Bashful Satyr" by Guissepe Bartolomeo Chiari.

Skittishness about nudity is not new, of course. Before the 20th century, women who wanted to study art were kept from drawing unclad models for fear it wasn't ladylike. Even as late as the 19th century, students in the women's modeling class at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art modeled from cows.

Yet, the nude has been a main subject of art since pre-history. Through the ages, the human figure rendered in the altogether has stood for many states of mind, including patriotism. Eugene Delacroix's celebrated painting "Liberty Leading the People," which ended up on a French postage stamp, depicts a bare-breasted female raising the tricolor of the French flag in battle. The uncovered breast was intended as a reminder that Liberty is the mother of France.

Nudes have also been used in religious works, like Michelangelo's painted Christ surrounded by nude saints above the Sistine Chapel altar wall. You can see a clear feeding of the infant Jesus in Jusepe de Ribera's "Madonna and Child" at the Ringling Museum.

Nude females in art are part of the collective mind. Who doesn't know the Venus de Milo? Even having lost arms to time, the Greek goddess of love and beauty is considered the ideal woman.

All of which makes the concern about White's figure art silly.

If unclothed figures are OK for a great church, a European government and publicly funded museums, why isn't it OK for a public library?

The answer may lie in the warring of two old ideals that continue to hold us: The Renaissance ideal, which says bodies stand for truth and beauty, and the Medieval ideal, which says bodies stand for shame.

By craving the security of the medieval tradition and ignoring that of the Renaissance, we keep alive a belief system best illustrated in a 1473 painting. "The Martydom of Saint Agatha" pictures men mutilating the breasts of a female in the belief that the female is a sexual temptation and must be crushed.

Apparently the crushing goes on.

Steve Spangler Science Experiment videos.

Steve Spangler loves science and shares his love for it both through video and on his blog. This is a great free resource for the science portion of your school day!

'Gospel of Judas' causes worry

Theologians say the ancient account could be misinterpreted

The forthcoming publication of the 'Gospel of Judas' has sparked fears among some Catholic theologians that it could give people wrong ideas about the man who is famous for betraying Jesus Christ .

The second century text, which was believed lost for over a thousand years, reportedly argues that Judas Iscariot was an essential part of God's design and, as such, almost a hero. Without his betrayal, Jesus would not have been crucified and so, the argument goes, God's plan to save mankind from its sins would not have been fulfilled .

This unorthodox account of Christ's life was written by an ancient Gnostic sect called the Cainites, which made a habit of giving a positive value to all the negative figures in Christian scriptures .

The Gospel of Judas, written in Coptic, is one of several accounts of Christ's life which are termed 'apocryphal', meaning they are seen as questionable in some way and so not recognised as part of the Bible .

But, according to several Church experts, this distinction could be lost on many people when the document is published at Easter. "The danger is clearly there, because some people will try to hide the truth and give undue importance to a document written in the 2nd century by people in open opposition to the early Christian Church," said a Rome-based theologian who is an expert on ancient texts .

Although very little is known of the details in the pro-Judas story, news of its coming publication has already led the media to talk about a "rehabilitation" of the hitherto despised disciple. A Vatican official cited in the British press as leading a drive to give Judas a better image was forced to deny last month that this was the case .

Giovanni D'Ercole, an Italian theologian who often appears in the media, stressed that the Gospel of Judas should always be seen in its historical context, otherwise its message could "feed a New Age drift". "We have to avoid creating confusion in the minds of believers with readings and evaluations not formed on the basis of a careful study. The risk is that the truth of the New Testament will be distorted," he said in an interview. After being last heard of in AD180, a manuscript containing the text of the 'gospel' appeared about 30 years ago on the Egyptian antiquities market. It was recently acquired by the Swiss-based Maecenas Foundation for Ancient Art and U.S.-based National Geographic magazine, who are behind the imminent publication. The document might appear to pose a serious challenge to traditional Church thinking on Judas. But in fact it will have no theological impact whatsoever, according to Giovanni Maria Vian, professor of patristic philology at Rome's Sapienza university .

"Reflections on the role and meaning of Judas have been going on for centuries. This has no bearing on Catholic theology because the document reflects the doctrinal requirements of certain Gnostic groups," he told ANSA .

He admitted however that the text does raise interesting questions about the role of Judas in the Christ story. Some of these were discussed recently by Italy's top Catholic writer, Vittorio Messori. Interviewed by the Turin daily La Stampa, he noted that a key difference between the Gospel of Judas and the Bible accounts concerns the question of forgiveness .

In the apocryphal account Judas is forgiven, Messori recalled: "He weeps, Jesus forgives him and in order to purify him he sends Judas into the desert to do spiritual exercises." In the New Testament, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is quoted as saying: "Woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born." After the betrayal, they never meet again and, overcome with remorse, Judas commits suicide. Christ atones for the sins of humanity but never specifically forgives Judas .

Messori said the lack of forgiveness in the Bible account appeared strange in a man who preached forgiveness. He also noted that Jesus's choice of Judas as a disciple in the first place seemed to show a marked lack of perspicacity .

But, as someone who wanted to believe the Gospels were true, he said he was glad of Judas's presence. "If the gospels had been invented, the figure of Judas just wouldn't be there because he's so embarrassing," he said .

For more information, goto

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Jurassic Beaver!

I love interesting animal stories and this is a doozy...leading to the rewriting of the mammal history!

"A well-preserved fossil mammal discovered in northeastern China (map) has pushed the history of aquatic mammals back a hundred million years, a new study says. "

Go to National Geographic for the rest of the article.

Picture credit: National Geographic Website

Ash Wednesday...the beginning of Lent

Wednesday, March 1, will be Ash Wednesday. Many local churches will be having services both during the lunch hour and in the evening to commemorate the beginning of Lent.

Some Christians treat Ash Wednesday as a day for remembering one's mortality. A pastor marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes, traditionally in the shape of a cross, leaving a mark that the worshipper traditionally leaves on his or her forehead until sundown, before washing it off. The minister will say, "Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."

Often these Ash Wednesday ashes are made by burning Palm leaves from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebrations.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten season for Christians. Different denominations celebrate this season differently, but it has the same meaning for all Christians. Lent is figured out by counting backwards from Easter 40 weekdays. Sundays are not included in this count because they are days of celebration and remembering Christ's resurrection. Forty days is often a significant time frame in the bible, but this specifically brings to mind the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling.

Lent is a time of repentance, reflection, and rededication. Many people will choose things to give up for Lent as a way of cleansing, of remembering Jesus' ultimate sacrifice, and as a way of cutting away the unimportant, self-indulgent things in our lives so we can concentrate on the spiritual. I have a friend whose family gives up a lot for Lent. Several years ago, they started by giving up chocolate, then they decided each year to add to what they give up. So now they give up chocolate, television, computers, fast food/dining out, and alcohol. She says this clears their minds and hearts and is a wonderful spiritual experience for her family of 7. Lent is also a time of fasting and prayer, both activities designed to bring individuals closer to God.

Other important events during Lent are: Palm Sunday (remembering Jesus return to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey as people threw palms on the ground in front of him), Holy Thursday (remembering the Last Supper), Good Friday (the crucifixion and the only day of the year when churches display black clothes), and Easter (the ultimate celebration of Christians as we rejoice in the knowledge that our Lord is risen).

In years past, I honestly have not paid much attention to the various events during the Lent season. Having young children, it often did not work for me to attend special services. But this year, I have several events on my calendar as I plan to participate in this season to its fullest. I look forward to growing closer to my Savior during the weeks ahead.

Here are some great articles about Lent if you want more information:

The Season of Lent

Another site The Season of Lent

Don Knotts 1925-2006

Don Knotts won the hearts of millions on the Andy Griffith show as the loveable, clumsy, goofy Barney Fife and later got a lot of laughs as the landlord on Three's Company. I loved his movies, especially The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Incredible Mr. Limpet.

FoxNews is running an article on Don Knotts. Turns out one of his favorite episodes was 'The Pickle Story'. I loved that show...Andy and Barney eating pickle after pickle after pickle...

So take some time, borrow a Don Knotts movie or some Andy Griffith shows, and have a good wholesome laugh and remember the man who was funny and willing to laugh at himself!

Pray for Candace Joy

On February 11th, I posted about a little girl named Candace. This child is still going through a very difficult time and tomorrow is scheduled for her 13th surgery.

Dandelion Seeds has set up a prayer list of times for people to sign up and pray for Candace tomorrow so she will be covered with prayer.

Please take a few moments and sign up to commit a time you will pray for Candace, her family and the surgeons.

Autistic Boy: Four Minutes of Fame Video

In this video, you will see how an autistic boy who was just the manager and a water-boy, surprises all; when put in the last four minutes of a game.

No one expected what happened next.

Beta Testers Wanted For New Blog Tool

If you haven't noticed we are trying out a new Blog tool. This tool is unique and not offered from any other source, but batBack. And it is free.

The first site this blog tool was deployed was on Lynchburg Virginia.

What is batBack?

batBack is an easy way for your readers to respond to you your posts. At the end of each post a rate me button appears.

Click the rate me button and a drop down scale appears. run your mouse over the scale and with a simple mouse click you have rated the post.

Good, bad, or ugly your story is rated. Click the rate me button again and the scale disappears. Then the results are tallied on a little scale in the title bar of the post.

Their comment is immediately batted back to you. batBack works with all blog hosts.

How is this useful for Bloggers?

Well, we all had an English teacher that told you: "Audience is Everything!" Having your stories rated gives you a good idea of what your readers want. You will know what articles are important, and it will help you decide what to write in the future. Accept it or not blogs are reader driven. To learn more go here.

Now, you will have a way for quick understanding of what your readers want.

Who is the Developer?

Daniel Markham of Bedford Virginia, developed the blog tool. He has been a software designer for years and the developer of a similar commercial program which is used by major corporations and the U. S. government. His "What to fix program" has been credited with saving millions of dollars.

Want to give the program a try?

Get on Daniel's growing list. And be one of the first to try this unique batBack program. We are limiting the number of beta testers so inquire soon. Here is where to get batBack.

This blog tool is being offered free to all bloggers. Installing is easy just one line of code to place on your template.

batBack was developed by Daniel one of the contributors to our site. All of the contributors of the Lynchburg Blog have had a part to play in the beta testing and the product. Cool new features are under development.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Legal bill could halt imitators, Dover cost might make districts rethink ID plans

If Dover's model of a divided community didn't discourage people who want to test the science behind intelligent design, the legal bill might.

Some involved in the Dover Area School District intelligent design debate said the school's $1 million legal bill will deter copycats who want to push the movement into science classes, but others said the movement will continue to thrive.

Nick Matzke, a spokesman for the National Center for Science Education, closely followed the federal civil suit filed against the former school board after it passed a policy to include intelligent design in science classes. His group consulted, at no charge, for the parents who filed the lawsuit.

He said school district attorneys pay close attention to numbers like "$1 million," and would likely advise school boards against fighting for intelligent design in court.

But that might not stop some school boards, he said.

Court records in Dover's case showed that the district's solicitor, Stephen Russell, recommended the board not pursue intelligent design.

"The real issues seem to be fundamentalist religion, and sometimes those people don't pay attention to the deterrents," Matzke said. "You can't always depend on people to be rational."

The school board voted at its Tuesday meeting to pay $1 million in legal fees for attorneys who successfully sued the district for requiring that intelligent design be mentioned as an alternative to evolution in ninth-grade biology classes.

The district -- its taxpayers -- must pay the fees because the judge ruled that the policy to require mentioning intelligent design was religiously motivated and violated the Constitution.

Legal fees for thousands of hours spent preparing the case for federal court totaled more than $2 million, but the Pepper Hamilton law firm, which had some attorneys representing the parents, agreed not to charge for those hours.

The legal fees include costs for attorneys and other workers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and.

For the rest of the story go here

New London Academy to Host Scholastic Book Fair

New London Academy will host a Scholastic Book Fair from February 24 to March 7. The Book Fair will offer specially priced books and educational products, including new releases, award-winning titles, children's classics, interactive software, adult books, and current bestsellers from more than 150 publishers. The community is invited to attend the Fair, which will feature a special camping theme. The fair will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the exception fo Parent-Teacher Conference Day on Thursday, March 2, when it will open from noon to 7 p.m. New London Academy is located at 12400 East Lynchburg-Salem Turnpike, Forest.

Cinderella Comes to Bedford

The timeless enchantment of the magical fairytale is reborn with Little Town Player's production of Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

Cinderella is a breathtaking story of enchanting characters, amgical songs and unforgettable romance. Cinderella (Sarah Fae Hooks) while suffering the torment of her wicked stepmother(Darlene Fedele) and spoiled stepsisters(Rachel Armstrong and Tina Emerick), dreams of the impossible-going to the ball and dancing with the handsome prince(Shaun Ervin) , Godmother (Loretta Whittman) teaches her that with positive thinking and belief in ourself, "impossible things happen every day." The exceptional cast is rounded out with Ingrid Woodford as the Queen and Aaron Turner as the King.

With Maureen Denver and TJ Capone, as Director and Music Director, Kevin Smith as pianist, Judy Jackson as costumer and Rob Jarvis's enchanting set this promises to be a magical experience to remember for years to come.

Production dates are Feb. 24,25 and March 3-4 at 8 p.m. and Feb 26 and March 5 at 2 p.m.

Call the box office at 586-5881 to leave a message or email at Tickets are adults $10, children under 12 $8. Special Group rates are available.

Alpaca and Llama show

Lexington: Virginia Classic Llama & Alpaca Show; March 11 & 12.
Come out to this 12th annual show featuring halter, performance, and futurity classes for llamas and alpacas! The kids will love it! Hosted by the Virginia Horse Center. For more information, call (540) 464-2950 or see Virginia Horse Center and Llama Life.

Williamsburg Homeschool Day at President's Park

Williamsburg: REACH Homeschool Day at Presidents Park; March 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Presidents Park and REACH are teaming up again to offer Homeschool Day on March 28, 2006. The theme for this Homeschool Day will be the War of 1812 and The Constitution. They will have Dolly and James Madison and classes and activities for all ages. This is a fun event and very affordable for everyone. Cost: $5 student or adult - 4 and under - free. Special school materials given away throughout the day. Prize drawings: Morning and afternoon. REACH will be giving out goody bags to all homeschoolers filled with homeschool info. Make sure to stop by the REACH table and pick yours up. All attendees must register with Presidents Park no later than March 15th, 2006. For registration and payment, mail Presidents Park; Attn: Linda Riddle; 211 Water Country Parkway; Williamsburg, VA 23185

Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House

Waynesboro: Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House; Feb. 26, Mar. 5 & 19, Apr. 2 & 23; 12:30-5 p.m.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia, located in Waynesboro, Virginia is the nation's leading hospital for wildlife. You and your family are invited to a behind-the-scenes tour of our facility where you can see live, non-releasable wildlife and learn more about the work we do. The event is free but reservations are necessary. Tours will run at 12:30, 2:00, and 3:30 PM so call the Wildlife Center today at 540-942-9453 to reserve your space. The Wildlife Center is generally not open for public visits, so please take this opportunity to visit this unique hospital. To learn more, check out their website.

Virginia Youth Ballet Presents Snow White!

I WAS JUST INFORMED THIS PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN SOLD OUT! IF YOU WOULD BE INTERESTED IN THE PUBLIC PERFORMANCES ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY, THE COST IS 5.00 PER PERSON AND THE CONTACT NUMBER IS: 540-665-0343. The Academy is located in Winchester as is the performance. I was given wrong information about the location. I apologize.

Lynchburg: The Virginia Youth Ballet Presents “Snow White”; March 10, 11 a.m.
Choreography by Gennadi Vostrikov. After the performance our children will have an opportunity to meet the dancers, ask questions and take pictures. Virginia Youth Ballet Academy 540-665-0343. $1/person. . Money will be collected at the theatre. Exact change appreciated. Please plan to arrive 15 minutes before the performance begins. Performance is approximately 1 hour.

This sounds like great fun and you can't beat the price! Hope to see you there!

CATS: A Night to Remember...Thanks to E. C. Glass Theater!

For Valentine's Day this year, my mom offered to get tickets for my children (and my husband and I) to go see Cats at E. C. Glass Highschool. I saw Cats once at the National Theater in D.C., but confess I was in the 'nosebleed' section. And we own the video which my children, especially my daughter, love! I was thrilled with the opportunity to go see it and to be included in the Valentine Gift for the children. Much better than chocolate, by the way:)

Glass Theater students teamed up with Virginia School of the Arts Students to put on the FIRST ever amateur production of Cats! What a neat way for us to be part of history!

The students did a really good job. Don't get me wrong, there were some gliches, the sound wasn't always on target was probably the biggest problem they had, but I felt the production was incredible and I was awed by the performers and how talented they were. Cats doesn't just require singing, it requires gymnastics, ballet, choreography...and all while you are dressed like a cat!

We all enjoyed the show (it was my husband's first time seeing Cats), but watching the delight and absorption on my children's faces was priceless! I love live theater and really believe nothing else compares. Here in Lynchburg, we are blessed to have such treasures as the Glass Theater and Virginia School of the Arts.

There are still three more shows, so if you haven't been yet, include it in your weekend plans! Tickets are 10.00 for adults and 8.00 for students. I would advise getting there an hour early. It means standing outside the theater for 30 minutes, but it also means you get good seats! We were in the fourth row and had a terrific view (could have been in the second row, but were concerned that it would be too close to the orchestra.)

Speaking of the orchestra, they also did a terrific job with the very technical pieces.

All in all an outstanding evening and they deserved the standing ovation they received!

NeWeigh and Melissa have Continued Success

Well, yesterday I weighed in and have lost 3 more pounds! I have now lost a total of 37 p ounds! And I am feeling pretty excited about the whole thing:)

Even though I still have a long way to go, I am feeling so much better already! I had hurt my knee last summer and was still having problems with it until about 6 weeks ago and now it is much better. I am careful with it as I would prefer not to reinjure it, but the pains and instability are gone. I have so much ENERGY! I actually feel like I can keep up with my kids...well, almost;) And it is fun fitting into some clothes that have been in the back of my closet for almost a decade! And I am looking forward to having to go shopping because I am now wearing the last of my stockpiled 'skinny' clothes and will have to be searching out new duds to wear;)

If anyone is interested in knowing more about the program, let me know. Also, until the end of the month, they are running the pay what you lose special (so if you need to lose 10 pounds, that is your 'membership fee' plus buying weekly supplements.) And they have the best protein supplements I have ever tried!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Google Develops a Research Blog

Want to know the inside skinny of what Google is up to? Now, with the launch of their Research Blog you can see who the hamsters are that is making the Google wheel spin.

So far their first post is an introduction, with a promise. A promise to unfold the mysteries of Google Research.

We are looking forward to some very interesting reading.

Ben Fawley: Defence Asks For Help

Ben Fawley who has been charged with the murder of Behl Taylor will be getting some help in his defence. He has confessed that Behl Taylor died at his hands, but claims this was an accident. His confession came only after the evidence pointed to him. Previous stories from Ben Fawley showed a woven web of untruths.

WSET is reporting:

"Attorneys for an amateur photographer charged with killing a Virginia Commonwealth University student were given permission Wednesday to hire a computer expert and private investigator."

Interestingly, the defence already has a computer expert, Mr. Ben Fawley himself. He designed web pages, message boards et. al. He also knows all of what the state has from his computer as evidence, except what he intentionally removed.

This is how I suspect his attorney will offer for a defence:

Behl Taylor died because of experimental rough sex, a complete accident.
Behl Taylor agreed to the rough sex.
Behl Taylor had a reputation and an inclination to participate in such acts.
We are sorry but this was nothing but an accident.

This is what the prosecution will most likely present.

Ben Fawley should have known that when Behl Tayor went unconscious he should have stopped strangling then.
The idea that the rough sex was not consensual.
Behl Taylor was an underage person and she died at Fawley's hands who was twice her age.
Ben Fawley by his actions shows no real remorse.
New and unknown evidence that points to Behl Taylor's death.

How this will pan out to a jury will be anyone's guess. One thing that we are sure of Behl Taylor died a death that no one should have to experience. In our previous posts you will find information from Fawley's websites. Ben Fawley should be considered innocent until proved guilty. It is a shame that Behl Taylor is the innocent victim, and we hope our justice system will prevail.

Photo is a picture of Taylor Behl suspected to be taken by Ben Fawley.

To read all our post on Taylor Behl go here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What's New

By now most of you have noticed that there is a gray bar beside each article title and another bar underneath each article. So what's up with that?

I've written a "blogger's helper" for all of us out here in the blogosphere. I call it batBack, since many times after I've finished reading an article I'd like to "bat back" my opinion to the author and other readers. Maybe do some other stuff -- all as quickly as possible. One second you're done reading and the next, badda bing, you've given your two cents and can move on to the next article.

I thought I'd tell you a little bit about it.

Article Ratings - Beside each title is a bar with a little bar graph inside of it. If you hover your mouse over it, it will tell you how many people voted and what they thought of the article. If you see an article with greens beside the title, it might be something to check out. Likewise, if it has a bunch of reds, it was rated poorly by the other readers.

Rating the articles - Under each article is a voting button. If you click on it you can add your opinion, bat back your two cents to the world.

More like this - Ever read a blog article and want to find more information? You have to go to google, and then poke around trying to find the right words to learn more about the topic. With bat back, if you click on the "more like this" text, up will pop Google already loaded with matching articles.

Tell my friends - If you like an article, just click on this box, you can send a link to your friends. You can also include a short note. No need to copy and click around for your email program while you're reading!

Action Bar - There's a bunch of stuff you can do here, depending on how it's set up. This is where all of the custom extensions are added. Look for some cool stuff appearing on the action bar in the near future.

Skins - You can fully configure batBack with skins. Right now I've got my Battlestar Galactica skin up. Very neat!

Common Experience - If you set batBack up one way on a blog, it will look and act the same way on ALL blogs that use batBack. It's like having a little bit of your personality as part of all the blogs you visit.

Compatible - It works with most all of the blogging software out there today. It takes a novice about a minute to put on their blog. It also works with most all of the major web browsers.

It's All Free - That's right. For some of this stuff you'll have to register (by clicking the "Join" or "Preferences" text) but other than that there is no charge.

I hope you like it. If you know a blog that might benefit from something like this, please have them take a look. Comments are always appreciated! BTW -- my lawyer tells me I have to notify you that parts of this invention are covered under patent pending status. You can contact me for further details.

High Court backs church in dispute over hallucinogenic tea

The First Amendment Center is reporting that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that a small congregation in New Mexico may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God.

Justices, in their first religious-freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, moved decisively to keep the government out of a church's religious practice. Federal drug agents should have been barred from confiscating the hoasca tea of the Brazil-based church, Roberts wrote in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal.

The tea, which contains an illegal drug known as DMT, is considered sacred to members of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, which has a blend of Christian beliefs and South American traditions. Members believe they can understand God only by drinking the tea, which is consumed twice a month at four-hour ceremonies.

New Justice Samuel Alito did not take part in the case, which was argued last fall before Justice Sandra Day O'Connor before her retirement. Alito was on the bench for the first time today.

Roberts said that the Bush administration had not met its burden under a federal religious-freedom law to show that it could ban "the sect's sincere religious practice."

Read the rest of the story here

Dubai Port Deal: Follow the Money

In the news we have been reading about the six ports in the United States that will be given over to a Dubai firm for control. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from Dubai, and some have questioned Dubai's alledged backing of terrorists. I have been following the news closely with a particular ear to hear the jingle of the money trail.

The New York Daily Times alleged that some in the Bush administration have ties to the firm. They isolate two ties:

"One is Treasury Secretary John Snow, whose agency heads the federal panel that signed off on the $6.8 billion sale of an English company to government-owned Dubai Ports World - giving it control of Manhattan's cruise ship terminal and Newark's container port."

"The other connection is David Sanborn, who runs DP World's European and Latin American operations and was tapped by Bush last month to head the U.S. Maritime Administration."

In the blog Voteswagon which supports the Bush Administration I left this comment yesterday:

"Interestingly, if you look that the Bush family has in previous business relationships with countries in the Mid East, his stance is not surprising. I am not pointing this out as a criticism but just an observation. Explore the money trail and you will understand."

Is this an act by a lame duck president to secure his financial destiny? You decide.

Yahoo Versus Allah and Dirty Harry

What do Allah and Dirty Harry have in common? They are both banned by Yahoo as name handles for Yahoo mail.

Now there is a case in Britain where someones legitimate last name is Allah. And they are being banned for using that name. They have submitted the name through Verizon which apparently has a partnership with Yahoo.

Names not banned according to The Register include:

"... it will accept god, messiah, jesus, jehova, buddah, satan and both priest and pedophile."

We wonder why Dirty Harry was banned. Perhaps Yahoo is wondering if Dirty Harry has another bullet:

I know what you're thinking: "Did he fire six shots, or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But, being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya punk?

Yahoo may just be shaking in their boots.

Quote by Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) aka Dirty Harry

Same Sex Marriage Amendment: Will Face Virginia Vote

In November Virginia voters will be deciding a key issue: Should there are should there not be same sex marriage?

This has progressed through the Virginia Assembly by this process as reported by the Washington Times:

"To amend the state constitution, the General Assembly must pass a resolution in two separate years separated by a legislative election with no change in the legislation, then offer it for statewide voter approval in a fall general election. This is the second year that the House and Senate have overwhelmingly passed identical resolutions calling for a constitutional ban on homosexual "marriage."

Now the question is how it will appear on the ballot. Will there be a short summary of the law? Or will the whole amendment be presented?

This decision itself is fomenting much discussion. The answer may ultimately come from Tim Kane. The amendment also comes under fire, because the wording may compromise some contracts between between individuals that are unrelated to marriage.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Blob Attacks L.A.

There is something attacking a 120 foot square area of Los Angeles. A big black blob is oozing from under the streets. Evacuations are occurring and the Red Cross has been sent into action.

They think the blob is related to petroleum drilling near by, but they are uncertain. One thing they do know this big blog is hot and shifting houses off their foundations by nearly a foot.

The LA Daily News reports:

"About 200 residents were forced to flee as a hazardous materials team and dozens of firefighters worked throughout the day to identify what was first deemed "a black tarry substance" and later morphed into a "watery mud."'

"A 120-foot stretch of Olive buckled 1 1/2 feet, he said. The pre-1933 unreinforced masonry apartment building shifted one foot from its foundation. Sidewalks were as hot as Jacuzzis. "

In the 60 degree weather that L.A. is experiencing the blob for some reason is hot, near 120F.

No word yet if their will be a new science fiction movie "Blob 2", I remember seeing the first one.

Lynchburg Virginia Page Remains the Same

In our poll, how do you like our new page. We asked the question do you prefer white letters on a black background or black letters on a light background.

The voting was tight, and we are going with the majority to keep our page the same.

52 percent preferred our page now.

48 percent would like a change.

We had predetermined how many votes we would consider and that threshold has been met.

Pointy-Edged Leaves Versus Flat-Edged Leaves!

I grew up spending a lot of time hiking in the woods with my Dad and taking Sunday rides with my folks through the Blue Ridge Mountains. My Dad was an outdoor enthusiast and had a lot of knowledge about plants and animals and passed on his knowledge and love of the outdoors to me.

When I was in 7th grade, we were assigned a science project to collect and identify leaves. We were told to find around 20 if I remember correctly. I found over 40! I really had fun with this assignment and learned a lot! I used a photo album to house my finds and got a great grade to boot.

So it was with great interest that I read an article on the Discovery Channel about pointy-edged leaves versus flat-edged leaves. It turns out that leaves with pointy edges lose water more quickly through these 'teeth', which makes the sap run faster in the tree and starts the photosynthesis process in the leaf more quickly (a great trait to have if you are a tree growing in a colder climate). A bad trait to have if you are living in an arid area and there you tend to find more flat edged leaves. We seem to have a pretty even mix here in the foothills of Virigina. What do you have in your neck of the woods? Inquiring minds want to know!

Rare Kiwi Bird Hatches at National Zoo

Photo of Kiwi Bird

Wow! What a cutie! And an unusual bird at that! It is from New Zealand, and this is only the second successful hatching at the National Zoo in 116 years! Check out National Geographic for more information. Also, above photo is credited to National Geographic.

Belated Happy President's Day Video

Here is a great video of fascinating Presidential facts from the National Geographic channel!

So if you want to know which president grazed sheep on the White House lawn? Better yet, who made a habit of swimming the Potomac River in the nude? Explore the hidden history of the U.S. presidency by clicking on the link above.

Coming to Lynchburg Virginia: This is What to Expect

Here is a short tourist propaganda film that will give you a quick introduction to Lynchburg Virginia.

The video runs just over a minute, but will give you a snapshot of what Lynchburg Virginia is like.

Need more here is a second one minute video.

Three Year Sentence Handed Out to Holocaust Denier

In Austria, in the town where Hitler was born, Right-wing British historian David Irving was sentenced to three years in jail.

His crime denial that the holocaust existed.

According to Yahoo News , Irving before sentencing said:

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving testified, at one point expressing sorrow "for all the innocent people who died during the Second World War."

We would like to suggest that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, consider a vacation in scenic Austria. He also discounts the myth of the holocaust. Perhaps, he could spend some prison time with David Irving and they could work on their myth together.

Wishful thinking would hope that their prison cell window would overlook Auschwitz concentration camp, and they could contemplate what were those gas chambers really used for.

Virginia Scallop Fishermen Facing Huge Fines

103.5 FM (WTOP) in Washington is reporting on how Scallop fishermen are facing huge fines for exceeding the weight limits allowed by law. Most of these violators are from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

WTOP further states:

"The largest fine sought by the government is $500,000 from Andrew J. Willey Jr. of Hallwood, a town on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Willey's Gold Nugget II allegedly violated a 400-pound-per-trip limit more than 20 times in 2004."

Now the reason I am bringing this to your attention is because I have lived on the Eastern Shore. Most of the families that run fishing industries have done it from generations. They are a very tight knit group that can trace their roots back to some of the first English settlers.

Even many of the locals have a hard understanding the fishermen, because of their decidedly cockney accent, and rough life style. On the Eastern shore, there is a cultural break between them and the farmers.

Now let me get back to the scallops, they are known to also fake scallops. It was not uncommon to see a hole saw used in shark meat to immediately get a higher price. There is little taste difference, but the profit return is greatly enhanced.

So how do you tell a fake scallop from a real scallop? Well, hole sawed scallops don't have the little flap of meat that connects real scallops to the shell. You might want to look carefully before you make that next scallop purchase.

The Rules of Acquistition - A Ferengi Business Model

Normally, I would post this to the Star Trek page, but with Bob's post below about the gas prices going back up, I could not help but thing about the Rules of Acquisition. In the Star trek world, there is a species known as the Ferengi, pronounced Fuh-ring-gee ,with a hard G (as in give).The Ferengi are the consummate businessmen. In fact, their whole culture is set up around the acquisition of profit. Their culture is one of money and greed. They have, over the course of their existence, developed a set of guidelines called the Rules of Acquisition. These Rules have in reality become law, regulating every aspect of there life. There are some 300 odd rules, but I have selected a few that seem appropriate for our current state of affairs...especially with the oil companies.

Rule 001 Once you have their money, you never give it back.
Rule 002 The best deal is the one that brings the most profit.
Rule 006 Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.
Rule 009 Opportunity plus instinct equals profit.
Rule 010 Greed is eternal.
Rule 020 Only give money to people you know you can steal from.
Rule 021 Never place friendship before profit.

Rule 029 What's in it for me?
Rule 033 It never hurts to suck up to the boss.
Rule 034 War is good for business.
Rule 035 Peace is good for business.
Rule 060 Keep your lies consistent.
Rule 072 Never trust your customers.
Rule 073 If it gets you profit, sell your own mother.

Rule 087 A friend in need means three times the profit.
Rule 097 Enough... is never enough.
Rule 098 Every man has his price.
Rule 099 Trust is the biggest liability of all.
Rule 100 If they take your first offer, you either asked too little or offered too much.
Rule 101 The only value of a collectible is what you can get somebody else to pay for it.
Rule 104 Faith moves mountains... (of inventory).

Rule 107 A warranty is valid only if they can find you.
Rule 109 Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.
Rule 111 Treat people in your debt like family, exploit them [ruthlessly].
Rule 115 The best contract always has a lot of fine print.
Rule 116 There's always a catch.
Rule 117 Everything is for sale, including friendship.\
Rule 127 Stay neutral in conflict so that you can sell supplies to both sides.

Rule 142 There's no such thing as an unfair advantage.
Rule 177 Know your enemies... but do business with them always.
Rule 181 Not even dishonesty can tarnish the shine of profit.
Rule 188 A fool and his money is the best customer.
Rule 189 Let others keep their reputation. You keep their money.
Rule 217 You can't free a fish from water.
Rule 231 There's a sucker born every minute; be sure you're the first to find each one.

Rule 239 Never be afraid to mislabel a product.
Rule 241 Never trust a hardworking employee.
Rule 242 More is good... all is better.
Rule 260 Life's not fair. How else would you turn a profit?
Rule 299 Whenever you exploit someone, it never hurts to thank them. That way, it's easier to exploit then the next time.

You know..I do believe that some of our nation’s big business execs must be ardent Star Trek fans, either that, or the Star trek writers are keenly observant of our nations big business execs.

For the complete list go here

To learn more about the Ferengi, go here

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gas Prices Soon to Rise

News Channel 3 in the Hampton Roads is reporting:

Gas prices are going up, because of new terrorist attacks in Nigeria:

"The country is the top crude-oil producer in Africa. The attacks have sent crude oil prices higher in international markets. April Brent crude futures rose a dollar and a-half in London. "

We can expect the prices to be reflected at the pump soon. Nine hostages have also been taken including 3 Americans.

My Space: Social Network or Demon in Disguise?

There has been many who have reported on the dangers of My Space and of lurking sexual predators. (Such a the likes of Ben Fawley)

Here is a video of a satirical argument by Demetri who has 9,000 online friends. His message: We are taking things way too seriously. In this video that runs about six minutes the sharp edge of hilarious wit disarms My Space detractors.

Mapping the Cartoon Violence

Who would ever imagine that a little cartoon, could have so much impact? On the map, if you click it will show how this tragic effect was caused by what is really a very innocuous cartoon.

In comparison the cartoon is drab compared to some of the antisemitic cartoons that have been published for years in the Islamic press. (see the comparison here)

But if you are a Dane and subscribe to the notion that turn about is fair play, expect an 11.5 million dollar reward placed on your head. Preferably your beheaded head, which is now offered by a
Indian Minister.

Million dollar bounties have also come from Islam clerics for the death of Dane cartoonists. Is that any way to promote your religion as a religion of peace?

Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the map and the other sources that she had found it from.

Question of the Week: Gender Trouble in MotherGooseLand

A modern Mother Goose rhyme goes something like this;

Sugar and spice and everything nice
That's what little BOYS are made of

Snips and snails and puppy dog's tails
That's what little GIRLS are made of

The question of the week is: are gender based stereotypes valid for society? And if so, how do you feel about the reversal of traditional gender roles as taught in the modern Mother Goose, for example?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tricia S. Vaughan: Your Child Needs To Be In School

I like news that comes to me. I don't get a lot of time to surf the internet and when I try, unless I am in search of specific information, I get overwhelmed. So I take advantage of new standards that allow me to have news I am interested in come to me. Things like RSS feeds and News alerts.

I have a Google alert set up for Homeschooling Virginia. A lot of the stories I get have to do with activities in Northern Virginia, but today, I got an awesome article written by Tricia S. Vaughan. This is an opinion piece written for The American Daily.

I don't know Tricia, nor have I ever visited The American Daily before, but the article is awesome. A great response to those who believe children need to be heavily schooled in order to learn.

No Hablo Trash in Lynchburg

In today's News & Advance, an article was printed regarding a supposed trash-tag violation problem in Lynchburg City. Apparantly, "Since Oct. 1, 445 residents put trash out without the proper tags." According to the article, three of those residents were brought to court. Two of them were fined $50. One of them was dismissed without penalty. The reason? "...She only spoke Spanish and could not read the violations, which were only printed in English." Furthermore, "...the violation notices are now printed in both English and Spanish."

I must admit, I was a bit taken aback by this. Two people who are educated at least well enough to read the notice were penalized for failing to comply to a city regulation. One person who isn't educated in the native language of the people amongst whom she lives is rewarded because she's uneducated. She can't read English? In Virginia? For a moment I had flashbacks to California before I regained my senses. They now print the violation notices in Spanish? In Virginia? Would they also be willing to excuse illiterate people, or do just the Spanish speaking get the privilege? What did she do, receive the notice in the mail and throw it away because she couldn't read it? Does she pay her electric bill? Her water bill?

The city may just gloss over the incident and chalk it up as an oversight on their part, which is evident by the fact that they now print the notice in Spanish. But this is no technicality. It seems from the article that the city has just wrongly discriminated against people who can read English. Is this not a problem? Is this the direction in which the city is headed? The waste management department doesn't seem to have a problem with it. I suppose next time you get that city bill in the mail, plead ignorance. They'll understand.

Question of the week Summation

My Question of the week was this:

Should we continue to funnel billions of dollars into space related things when that money could be possibly be used elsewhere?

Now, before you make your decision, consider the benefits we have reaped from the space program. The computer on which you read this blog, digital imaging for breast tissue analysis, storm warning devices (like Doppler RADAR) and on and on. There are many benefits to the space program, which has like all the wars we have had to fight, caused our technology to grow exponentialy.

Look here and then come back and give an answer to the Question of the week.

We had twhgree Comments:

Melissa O. Markham said...


You forgot freeze dried ice cream and shampoo that can be used without water!

I think absolutely that we should spend more money on space exploration. However, I am not sure NASA and the government are the best ones to handle the funding though. I believe it is time for privatization of this important field. The government could help with incentives and cash prizes (decent ones) for inventors.

B O B said...

I think the rewards of space exploration is well worth the expense. If nothing else to know when that meteor is going to strike us.

DL said....

Medical advances attributed to the space program, if for no other reason, shows how far space exploration has advanced us technologically. We should be pouring more money into it! I’m sorry Melissa, but I have to disagree with your thoughts on turning the space program over to private corporations…I don’t think that their interest would be a scientific one as much as a moneymaking one; Like taking rich people on joy rides.

It seems that even with the limited response this question got, the consensus of most people, both on and off line is that yes, we should continue to fund this Space Program. I definitely concur with this. In fact, not only should we continue to fund the Space Program, I feel we should actually increase funding and increase productivity and enthusiasm. We need to get back into the mindset of the 50's and 60's. We need to go to the Moon again. We need to finish the International Space Station. We need to develop new shuttle technology.

We must get back into space. I believe it is imperative for our long term survival. We must stop considering short term interests and political party squabbles and get busy saving the Earth...and ultimately, ourselves.

So say we all.

In defense of the right to offend

The First Amendment Center is reporting that as protests continue, the debate begins.

Many difficult issues have been raised by the publication of cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad by a Danish newspaper — as well as by the violent reactions to it. But for all who worry about how fallout from the controversy will affect free speech, one question stands out:

Does freedom of expression include the right to offend deeply held religious convictions?

This question is, of course, the subject of a long-simmering debate in Europe and the United States between those who advocate full-throated freedom of speech and those who push for bans on “hate speech” that offends racial, ethnic or religious sensibilities. When a crisis hits — especially one that precipitates violence — the free-speech argument often loses ground.

Consider the statement from the Vatican last week deploring the violent reactions to the cartoons, but going on to declare that “freedom of thought or expression … cannot imply a right to offend the religious sentiments of believers” no matter what the religion. According to the Catholic News Service, the Vatican believes that where free speech crosses the line and becomes offensive to religion, national authorities “can and should” intervene.

The Vatican is not alone. Although European governments have been careful to couple statements criticizing the cartoons with noble pronouncements about support for freedom of expression, their track record on protecting those freedoms is decidedly mixed. Long before the cartoon controversy, the pattern in much of Europe has been to invoke “hate speech” laws to prosecute “offensive” speech.

Denmark, ground zero for the cartoon conflict, has a blasphemy statute that calls for a fine and up to four months in prison for demeaning a “recognized religious community.” Writing on, Jytte Klausen describes the case of Mogens Glistrup, “a tax protester turned xenophobe” who was “imprisoned for 20 days last year for a racist speech. He compared Turks to rabbits.”

It remains to be seen if the Muhammad cartoons will be prosecuted as “racist speech” in Denmark, but other verbal and written attacks on Muslims have triggered legal action in a number of European nations. According to the Christian Science Monitor, British prosecutors are preparing a case against leaders of the right-wing British National Party based on speeches in which one called Islam a “wicked” faith. And in Italy, author Oriana Fallaci faces trial later this year on charges that she slandered Muslims in her book The Strength of Reason.

In the United States, thanks to the First Amendment, the government can’t restrict speech because it is sacrilegious, blasphemous or just plain offensive. But that doesn’t stop people from trying. From the left, we get “speech codes” on college campuses banning speech that might offend racial, ethnic or religious groups. And from the right, we have efforts to yank government funding from museums displaying art that religious groups find demeaning.

Censoring speech offensive to religion, it turns out, is a popular idea in the land of the free. In a poll taken by the First Amendment Center in 2004, nearly half of Americans don’t think people “should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups.”

But before traditionalist believers in Europe or the U.S. get too excited about the prospect of banning blasphemy, they should keep in mind that government censorship of speech they don’t like will likely mean censorship of speech they support. A Swedish pastor was recently taken to court for preaching against homosexuality. Although he was acquitted, his trial won’t be the last in Sweden or in other nations where governments are given the power to define the “hate” in hate speech.

With all due respect to the Vatican, freedom of religion does not mean freedom from offense. On the contrary, full religious liberty is only possible in a society committed to freedom of expression. Throughout history, much of what has been said and written in the name of one religion offends people of other faiths — or of no faith. If offending “religious sentiments of believers” became the standard, we could no longer publish the writings of Martin Luther, Voltaire or countless other authors whose works take sides in matters of religion. What is truth to some is blasphemy to others.

The right to offend is, in fact, at the heart of religious freedom in America. The landmark case defining the free exercise of religion in the United States, Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940), was all about the right of one faith to offend another. Jesse Cantwell, a Jehovah’s Witness, was convicted of a crime because he played a phonograph record on the street that offended two Catholic men (the record had some especially nasty things to say about the Roman Catholic Church).

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Cantwell’s conviction, ruling that religious liberty and free speech protect the right to offend. Writing for the Court, Justice Owen J. Roberts put the issue this way:

“In the realm of religious faith, and in that of political belief, sharp differences arise. In both fields the tenets of one man may seem the rankest error to his neighbor. To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification … . But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of citizens of a democracy.”

Justice Roberts had it right. It is always messy and often painful, but only a society that protects the right of all voices to be heard — however offensive or unpopular — can call itself a free nation.

For more information on this and similar topics, visit the First Amendment Center Online

Central Virginia Schools 10, The Washington Post 0

Middle school students in central Virginia have proved one thing, they are smarter than Richard Cohen of the Washington Post.

Now, you would think that someone, who writes for the Washington Post would be part of the cream on the top, insightful, intelligent, able to parse facts, and have the logic of a giant.

Well, that giant tumbles to the ground when he writes that math is not important, and our area students who are engaged in a "Math Counts" contest rise to the top.

Richard Cohen says:

"I can do my basic arithmetic all right (although not percentages) but I flunked algebra (once)..."

"Gabriela, sooner or later someone's going to tell you that algebra teaches reasoning. This is a lie propagated by, among others, algebra teachers. Writing is the highest form of reasoning. This is a fact. Algebra is not. The proof of this, Gabriela, is all the people in my high school who were whizzes at math but did not know a thing about history and could not write a readable English sentence."

Kudos to the students in the "Math Counts" contest, and shame on Richard Cohen of the Washington Post who proves his ignorance. May he be short changed at his local convience store.

Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description

Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.

The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words "Homeland Security." The bizarre scene unfolded Feb. 9, leaving some residents confused and forcing county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography.

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user's choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library's work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

They were officers of the security division of Montgomery County's Homeland Security Department, an unarmed force that patrols about 300 county buildings -- but is not responsible for enforcing obscenity laws.

In the post-9/11 era, even suburban counties have homeland security departments. Montgomery County will not specify how many officers are in the department's security division, citing security reasons. Its annual budget, including salaries, is $3.6 million.

Later that afternoon, Montgomery County's chief administrative officer, Bruce Romer, issued a statement calling the incident "unfortunate" and "regrettable" -- two words that bureaucrats often deploy when things have gone awry. He said the officers had been reassigned to other duties.

Read the rest of this tale of authority gone to people's heads here