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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

From Savage to Saved

Fifty years ago, five men landed a plane in a rainforest in Ecuador. They knew exactly what they were doing. They were trying to befriend one of the most hostile civilizations known to man, the Waodani. After a few days and at least one friendly encounter, all five men were speared to death in their camp. It didn’t take long. A mission which all five men had spent much of their young lives preparing for, either directly or indirectly, was over before it even really started. Or at least it seemed that way. In reality, a completely new adventure was about to begin, one that would be unleashed without them, but one which would transorm the entire cultural paradigm of the tribal village.

What was their purpose? Why would those five men knowlingly risk their lives at the hands of savages? Because they had a message which they were conviced the Waodani people needed to know, a message that would bring forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation.

Nate Saint was one of those men. His son, Steve Saint has helped formulate an independent film, produced by Every Tribe Entertainment, depicting the account from the perspective of the Waodani people, particularly Mincayani, one of the savages who speared the five men to death, and more importantly, the one who later became “Grandfather” to young Steve Saint.

End of the Spear is the name of the film. It tells the story of how the martyrdom of the five missionaries opened the door for future dialogue between the tribespeople and their victim’s surviving families. Consequently, a revival, both spiritual and cultural, swept through the tribe, bringing a new undertanding of peace never before experienced by the Waodani, one which even now, fifty years later, still permeates their tribal community.

The End of the Spear is entering its second full week of release in a limited number of theaters. It’s opening weekend grossed 4.3 million. This past weekend’s sales dropped to 2.5 million.

The film has generated controversy in some circles because the main character, Nate Saint, is played by Chad Allen who is openly homosexual. There are those who will refuse to support the film for that reason. I tend to think that that particular reason for not viewing the film is too near sighted, even too the point of being ironic. The message of the film is that evil can be subdued by good. The actor’s personal lifestyle bears no reflection upon the message which the film promotes. It shouldn’t even be an issue.

In Lynchburg, End of the Spear is playing at Carmike 8 - www.mrmovietimes.com/movie-theaters/Carmike-8-Lynchburg.html

www.endofthespear.com/

Imbolg

This next in my series on Pagan and Wiccan beliefs and Holy Days, or Sabbats as they are known brings us to Imbolg, a Celtic word meaning "in the belly". Imbolg is generally celebrated on the 2nd of February. Many people may know it by its Christianized title of "Candlemas". The "belly" being referred to is that of the Great Mother, as Imbolg rites recognize the first hints of spring and feel the new quickening of both life and spirit around us. We become aware of the Earth's first stirrings of her womb as the Sun's light shines upon us to dispel the gloom of winter.

In celebrating Imbolg we also turn to the light of the moon as the moon stands above all for her threefold aspects of Maiden, Mother and Crone ( Enchantment, Ripeness, and Wisdom). Thus, we see Pagan folk and Wiccans celebrating the feast of Brigid (Brid, Bride, Brigante) the radiant triple Muse-Goddess, who is also a fertility-bringer.

In some circles, "Brid's Bed", the union place of the Goddess and the Sun God, is created and placed within the circle, inviting the fertility of life that has begun anew around us. This is done by creating a female figure of straw or a "Brid's Cross", and laying it in a basket at the center of the circle, with a phallic wand across it, to symbolize the impregnation of the Mother.

Another tradition followed is that of lighting a need-fire, a welcoming beacon to show the Lady the way back to us; coveners move in a procession to the fire, placing candles in among the wood to ignite it. Some circles make a ceremony of "charming the plow", where they bless a spade or shovel with oil or wine before using it to dig a hole in the earth and bury an offering to the Mother.

In ancient Rome, February was the cleansing time -- Februarius mensis, "the month of purification", a time when the evergreens of Yule tide were swept up and burnt to prevent hobgoblins from haunting the home. This reflected the new change that begins to flow through the whole world of nature, and people made it a point to be rid of the past and look to the future.

Like Yule, Imbolg has its traditions and symbols that seem to peek out at us from the past. February marks the Roman celebration of Lupercalia or the Feast of Pan, in which the Priests of Faunnus, an ancient god of fertility, went about the streets of Rome dressed in goatskin loincloths, carrying thongs with which they struck women across the palms to promote fertility in them. The day of the 14th was held sacred to the Goddess Juno, Queen of the Heavens and personification of the three aspects of the Goddess. Needless to say, in taking part in the celebrations of our modern Valentine's Day, we pay honor to these rituals from our past.

Of course, we can't forget that cute little guy who is so well known and easily recognized this time of the year, the one with the arrows and bow. His name is Cupid (or Eros to the Greeks), the son of Venus, Roman Goddess of love. Cupid fell in love with Psyche, a girl so beautiful that Venus became jealous of her and through trickery and deceit caused Psyche to descend into the underworld of Hades, Land of the Dead. Cupid, however, discovered her and brought her back to life, and through his love Psyche became immortal. This same concept of life hidden away as if dead, and then brought back is seen in many stories. From the myths of Persephone and Demeter to that of Snow White, we are ever reminded of life that is hidden and then brought forth into the light in its ever turning cycle.

At Imbolg, we, like all of nature, await the coming of spring, the Vernal Equinox, when day and night are equal, which tells us that the light has truly vanquished the dark and a new change is upon the land. And so the Wheel of the Year turns.....

NOTE:
For those interested in honoring the Olde Gods and Goddesses and this time of rebirth and renewal, there will be an Wiccan Ritual for Imbolg at the Unitarian Church's Unitarian House at 818 Court St at Monument Terrace. in Lynchburg VA. Folks will start gathering around 7:00 PM with the Ritual starting at about 7:30PM.


Additional Links with Imbolg Info

Wikipedia


Witchvox.com

BBC

Wicca.com

Celtic Spirit.org





Virginia is for Lovers: But How About Du bist Deutschland?


In 1969 the most popular slogans were: It's the Real Thing," "The Wings of Man," "The Big Mac," "The Silent Majority," "Give Peace a Chance," "One Giant Leap for Mankind," and "Virginia is for Lovers. "

One of the most enduring slogans was Virginia is for lovers. This is how it developed:

The phrase came from a creative team headed by George Woltz of Martin & Woltz Inc., the Richmond advertising agency that won the Virginia State Travel Service account in 1968. According to Martin, a $100-a-week copywriter named Robin McLaughlin came up with an advertising concept that read, “Virginia is for history lovers.” For a beach-oriented ad, the headline would have read, “Virginia is for beach lovers”; for a mountains ad, “Virginia is for mountain lovers,” and so on. Martin thought the approach might be too limiting. Woltz agreed, and the agency dropped the modifier and made it simply “Virginia Is For Lovers.” The first ad mentioning the new slogan ran in the March 1969 issue of "Modern Bride." (from Virginia.org )

It has been an enduring slogan that has been reputed to be know by 3 out of every 4 Americans, and brought a boon to our travel business. In 1969 travel brought in 809 million dollars, now that figure has grown to more than $11.6 billion dollars.

The slogan while having a great deal of impact on our tourist trade, has also been an easy hook to hang satire on. If you care to read some just Google Virginia is for Lovers satire, you will have plenty of reading material.

Even with these attempts at quips at our travel slogan, it is nothing compared to what is happening in Germany. In one of the largest ad campaigns ever tried with the motto, "You are Germany" started out with a bang that led to an explosion, and now have been painting faces red throughout Germany. It has been one of the most sought after stories on the internet, but until recently few, other than German speakers knew what was going on.

This is what happened, a shortened history:

1. An ad campaign started to improve the self esteem of Germans, that had initial success €30 million was donated and used in a spectacular effort led by Jung von Matt, a prominent German ad firm. Germans were taking pride in the fact they were German. "Du bist Deutschland," had caught the imagination of the people.

2. German intellectuals started to write sour things about the campaign.

3 German Bloggers added to that sourness with their posts.

4. Jung von Matt strikes back telling the bloggers who are you to speak your opinions? (This is strikes a familar chord with me, I have had those exact words said to me, also.)

5. The kicker. A picture comes to the surface from 1935 with Hitler and a banner with "Du bist Deutschland" translated "you are Germany." All heck breaks loose. Even though, the picture may be a fake.


6. And the heat of this has put this as one of the top ranking stories on the internet, and it does not appear to be loosing momentum.

We hope the Germans can work this out. If not we recommend Germany is for lovers, it didn't do too bad for us.

Our shortened history leaves out some important details that can be found in our sources:

Tecnorati Blog

Spiegal

Another Lynchburg Convenience Store Robbery: Answered by Bullets

WSET News is reporting: There was another robbery of a convenience store. This time it was Miles Market. And the saga of an almost weekly robbery continues in Lynchburg.

Garland Miles the 72 year old owner of the store was attacked after leaving the store with the daily deposit. He was pushed against an ice machine by the thief. Mr. Miles had been robbed 4 previous times, but this time he had a surprise for the robber. He shot two times at the robber. Later. the robber was apprehended, James Glen Hall, has been charged with strong armed robbery. He could face five years to life.

According to WSET Mr. Garland Miles said:

"Every time we walk behind this counter our life is put on the line because you never know who will walk through the door."

"When you're being robbed you don't have time to ask the guy whether he's got a knife or gun."

"I am going to protect my business, myself and most of all I'm going to protect my employees."

While the police do not officially condone people who work in convenience stores to carry guns, some will tell you privately, they understand completely why a clerk would have a gun.

This worked well for Mr. Miles, and perhaps will serve as a message to any would be crooks. The next time you rob a convenience store you may be pushing up daisies, which may be more of a deterrent than a long jail sentence.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Lynchburg Liberty University: These Foreheads are Reserved

The bidding on the Foreheads in this eBay auction is suddenly getting tougher. There are fifteen bids and the top bid is now, 282.77 dollars.

But the reserve has not been met. You still have just over an hour to bid on these foreheads. They will wear your ad for a month.

But, will the reserve be met? We will keep you posted tomorrow. And will let you know if any head hunter has pasted the threshold of the reserve.

Good luck guys.

Inquisition was a mistake but legally justified, claims Vatican official

The News Telegraph is reporting that the Vatican is preparing for fresh controversy over the Inquisition after allowing an official to appear in a television documentary to offer a defence of the "Holy Terror".

The Rev Joseph Di Noia, the Under-secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, admits in a television series starting tonight that the use of torture and public burnings were "mistakes".

But the American-born cleric argues that these methods of suppressing heresy were explicable in the context of the times, when people believed passionately in heaven and hell.

Fr Di Noia's gloss on history is significant because the Congregation is the successor body to the Inquisition and, until last year, it was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

The late Pope John Paul II apologised for the Inquisition in 2002.

He said the Church should show penitence for "accepting methods of intolerance or even violence in the service of truth".

The four-part documentary on the UKTV History channel draws on research gleaned from Vatican files only opened to scrutiny in 1998.

It highlights periods of the persecution that began in the 13th century and ended only in the late 1800s.

The Inquisition was established by Pope Gregory in 1233 as a special court to help curb the influence of beliefs deemed to deviate from official Church doctrine.

Interviewed in the documentary, The Secret Files of the Inquisition, Fr Di Noia says:




[And this is the really good part] "It was a mistake to torture people. However, torture was regarded as a perfectly justified, legitimate way of producing evidence and it was therefore legally justified."



Question of the Week Topic: Breastfeeding in Public

Here at Lynchburg Virginia Blog, we are interested in your comments, thoughts, ideas and concerns. We thought it would be good to start a question of the week column. Each Monday one of us will pose a question in the hopes to generate conversation. If appropriate, we will do a sum up piece at the end of the week on the response we received.

So to start this off, our question is this:

What are your thoughts about breastfeeding in public places?

Astronauts throw Space Suit Overboard

One of the strangest satellites in the history of the space age is about to go into orbit. Launch date: Feb. 3rd. That's when astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will hurl an empty spacesuit overboard.

The spacesuit is the satellite -- "SuitSat" for short.
"SuitSat is a Russian brainstorm," explains Frank Bauer of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Some of our Russian partners in the ISS program, mainly a group led by Sergey Samburov, had an idea: Maybe we can turn old spacesuits into useful satellites." SuitSat is a first test of that idea.

"We've equipped a Russian Orlan spacesuit with three batteries, a radio transmitter, and internal sensors to measure temperature and battery power," says Bauer. "As SuitSat circles Earth, it will transmit its condition to the ground."

Unlike a normal spacewalk, with a human inside the suit, SuitSat's temperature controls will be turned off to conserve power. The suit, arms and legs akimbo, possibly spinning, will be exposed to the fierce rays of the sun with no way to regulate its internal temperature.
"Will the suit overheat? How long will the batteries last? Can we get a clear transmission if the suit tumbles?" wonders Bauer. These are some of the questions SuitSat will answer, laying the groundwork for SuitSats of the future.

SuitSat can be heard by anyone on the ground. "All you need is an antenna (the bigger the better) and a radio receiver that you can tune to 145.990 MHz FM," says Bauer. "A police band scanner or a hand-talkie ham radio would work just fine." He encourages students, scouts, teachers and ham radio operators to tune in.

Read more here:

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Congressional Staffers Re-writing Bosses' Wikipedia Entries

Wikipedia's Online 'encyclopedia' allows anyone to edit entries, and congressional staffers have been caught doing just that to their bosses' bios.

The Lowell Sun is reporting that the staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the "world's largest encyclopedia," The Sun has learned.

The Meehan alterations on Wikipedia.com represent just two of more than 1,000 changes made by congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives in the past six month. Wikipedia is a global reference that relies on its Internet users to add credible information to entries on millions of topics.

Matt Vogel, Meehan's chief of staff, said he authorized an intern in July to replace existing Wikipedia content with a staff-written biography of the lawmaker.

The change deleted a reference to Meehan's campaign promise to surrender his seat after serving eight years, a pledge Meehan later eschewed. It also deleted a reference to the size of Meehan's campaign account, the largest of any House member at $4.8 million, according to the latest data available from the Federal Election Commission.

"Meehan first ran for Congress in 1992 on a platform of reform," the pre-edited entry said. "As part of that platform Meehan made a pledge to not serve more than four terms, a central part of his campaign. This breaking of the pledge has been a controversial issue in the 5th Congressional District of Massachusetts."

The new entry reads in part: "Meehan was elected to Congress in 1992 on a plan to eliminate the deficit. His fiscally responsible voting record since then has earned him praise from citizen watchdog groups. He was re-elected by a large margin in 2004."

Vogel said, "It makes sense to me the biography we submit would be the biography we write."

The change doubled the length of the entry on Meehan, corrected errors and replaced "sloppy" writing, Vogel said. "Let the outside world edit it. It seemed right to start with greater depth than a paragraph with incorrect data from the '80s."

Wikipedia's online honor system has made it ripe for abuse by vandals. Recently, a user wrote in a Wikipedia bio that Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor "smells of cow dung." Another wrote that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is "ineffective." These statements were traced to the House Internet-protocol (IP) address.

To see the rest of this Congressionally typical, but disturbing story, go here

Iran: Turning the Table on Their Nuclear Threat


"We have to keep the military option as the last option but not take it off the table," said U.S. Senator John McCain, a leading Republican presidential contender for the 2008 election.

In this statement reported by Reuters news service, echos a common statement that has been heard before about Iran. Iran should be paying attention, not so much for what is on the table but what is underneath, the contingency plans to knock their nuclear ambitions back to the stone age.

Oddly, and as usual, there is always the diplomatic dance. It follows a cadence of concern, then demands and possible sanctions. And that is followed by international cheating, bribery, and deceit. It doesn't work. It never has, but it is a respected ritual before pulling out the big stick.

And the planning of using that big stick has been in the works for years. There is a plan, and one morning we are going to be waking up to news reports with blistering video of strikes on Iran's nuclear infrastructure. The day is coming sooner, than later.

Public predictions of when Iran will develop a bomb are around the year 2009. Personally, I consider that date overly optimistic. It would not surprise me at all if Iran tested its first bomb by this September. They are enterprising and determined. When Iran took over the U.S. embassy after disposal of the Shaw, they proved their ingenuity by pasting together our shredded secret documents.

("Shredded documents can be reassembled even manually. After the Iranian Revolution and the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, Iranians enlisted local carpet weavers, who, with patience developed in generations of tying 400 knots per inch, reconstructed the pieces by hand.") Wiki

Now, how a possible strike on Iran will unfold is up for speculation. Countries that may be directly or indirectly involved could be the United States, Israel, Great Britain, and France. In the past, the U S has shied away from accepting Israel as a co-partner in a military action. And, the U S may only provide a supporting role.

Still, this will not be an easy project if it is going to be effective. There are at least 50 targets that need to be destroyed and these targets are hardened. Necessity may dictate more that one player take an active role.

There will be repercussions. Iran will certainly take some action and lead the course to an unpredictable endgame. Iran does not have a straw military force.

But after all the diplomatic dancing is done, the music is sure to end with a crescendo of bombs tapping on Iran's nuclear infrastructure.

To see a propaganda video of Iranian military strength go here.

To read all of our posts on Iran go here.

Google.cn: The Filtered Formula for Freedom


When you read the negative responses to Google.cn that are now even coming from Congress, many wonder how Google could make such a terrible decision to offer a search that is filtered by political sensitivities.

But is this such a terrible decision? A fifth of the world's population resides in China and if they only get a selective search that is better than no search.

In Google's response to the criticism that has come from all quarters, they make mention that they are in this for the long haul. And in offering a search, an abet filtered search, will put Google in a good position to gain a significant market share of China's internet users.

Now for a moment, lets take a look through a telescope into the future. You will have millions of Chinese users of the internet who will be becoming increasingly aware of the fact that their news is censored. In fact with each search, they will be told some content has been withheld. A quest for knowledge is a human attribute that in the long run cannot be held back.

And the result of this is so predictable, even if left unsaid by Google. There will be a backlash in China. People will want and demand unfiltered news. And like the Berlin Wall being torn down, the people will tear down the wall censorship. And if the Government gets in their way, the Government will be torn down also.

Now, imagine for a moment you are in China and using the internet and you see your search being censored. I do not put it past the Chinese user that they will find a backdoor that will show them the results they are missing. And what a great way to inform the average Chinese Joe that he lives under repression.

To see an example of how Google.cn will filter results go here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Tax Preparing is Easy and Free Using E File

Its that time again, and many dread doing their taxes. If you try Efile you will be surprised how easy and quick it can be. And one of the best advantages is that preparation does not cost at all. If you made under 50,000 last year as an individual or a business Efile will work great for you.

The IRS lists free recommended software that is a breeze to fill out, and it is accurate and error proof. Its easier than you think and they suggest the best free software to complete the job. Want to give it a try go here. Below are some of the reasons to give it a try:


The Electronic IRS for Taxpayers: File, Pay... and More.

In 2005, IRS web site was updated to make it more user-friendly and accessible to tax professionals, taxpayers, and other IRS customers. IRS worked with a variety of user groups to
improve the site's usability.

Improvements include a robust search engine and new features on the home page to help visitors more easily navigate the site to find information, services, and products they are seeking.

Now, IRS is introducing the Electronic IRS, a link on the home page that takes visitors directly to an overview of all the electronic services available from the IRS listed according to who might use the services.

The concept of the Electronic IRS is to provide a central source for all the many online
transactions that can be accomplished electronically with the IRS.

Beyond filing electronically (e-file), the Electronic IRS is a gateway to all the IRS electronic options available for taxpayers. On the irs.gov web site taxpayers can…

- Check on their refund with "Where’s My Refund?"
- Find an Authorized e-file Provider
- Obtain Copies of Tax Returns
- Calculate the appropriate withholding
- Obtain or complete online Forms and Publications
- Sign up for paying electronically
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online
- And more.

In 2005, more taxpayers than ever used electronic means to conduct
business with the IRS. For example:
• For the first time, a majority (52%) of individual taxpayers
(68.5 million) filed their tax returns electronically.
• More than 8 million business returns were filed electronically.
• More than 1 million taxpayers enrolled in the IRS’ Electronic
Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) in 2005, bringing the total
number of taxpayers enrolled to pay their federal taxes online or
by phone to 6+ million.
• 1.4 million payments were made by credit card.
• 1.2 million tax payments were made via electronic funds withdrawal.

e-file: The Most Popular IRS Electronic Service
IRS e-file has quickly become the most used option for filing individual
and business tax returns. Why? Because e-file offers many benefits
to users:

• e-file is more accurate.
• e-file is secure.
• e-file offers users the option of Direct Deposit so they can get
their refund in half the time.
• e-file offers the convenience of filing their tax return early and
delaying payment up until the due date.
• In most states, taxpayers can also file federal and state returns
at the same time.

How does e-file work?

Computer Prepared Returns
Taxpayers prepare their tax return on a personal computer using
a commercial software package, Free File, or an online service
and transmit the information via modem to an electronic return
transmitter.

In Praise of Crying Babies

Crying babies are annoying, aren’t they? How many times have you been to a restaurant with the anticipation of enjoying a quiet evening away from the house when, just as you start slicing into that slab of savory steak sitting so perfectly on your plate, your serenity is molested by a blood curling shriek comparable to that of panther. Startled, you look around only to find sitting not more than two tables away is a family with a baby - a baby so pitifully discontent that it yells, wails, and cries, ruining, in effect, your dining experience.

How about movie theaters? Isn’t that even worse? A baby wailing away while you’re trying desperately to figure out who killed the man who was having an affair with the drug lord’s daughter? Or how about church services? “Shut up little tyke, can’t you see I’m trying to focus on God?” Or grocery stores? It takes a lot of concentration to find an apple without any bruises. No matter where we go, we just can’t seem to escape the mouths of babes. They’re everywhere.

But they may not be as everywhere as they once were. People aren’t having as many of them. And people are aborting a lot of them.

It’s not the babies who have changed. Babies have been crying long before slabs of beef were ever served on a plate. Babies cry for a myriad of reasons. They could be hungry. Or uncomfortable. Or in pain. Or cold. Or hot. Or lonely. Or tired. It doesn’t make it right. But that’s what babies do. They complain. It’s really no different than you or me. We’re just more experienced in making our complaints a little less bothersome that the average infant.

There are some families who are still having more than 1.5 children. Some even have (gasp) more than five. There are still many couples who are actually letting their children be born. But there are also many who aren’t. Usually those who aren’t don’t look too kindly upon those who are. Maybe it’s just that babies cry to loud. I don’t know. But common sense tells us that after awhile, those who are still having children will outnumber those who aren’t. Those who don’t want children in the world are killing themselves off. They’re a dying breed.

So next time your pleasures and comforts are interrupted by a fussing babe, remember that it’s because of that fussing babe that life goes on. See the joy in the larger picture. The cry of an infant is the forging of a legacy for those who see it. For those who don’t, it’s the death of them.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas and Al-Qaida: Find Colombia Backdoor to the U.S.

According to this web site, Hamas and Al-Qaida members have found a Colombia backdoor for entry to the United States.

An Associated Press writer for Breitbart.com is reporting:

"The gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever stepping foot in the country, the attorney general's office said in a written statement."

A series of raids in Colombia have been conducted with an untold number of arrests (19 were arrested Thursday). Some of those arrested may be (or have been) extradited to the United States.

Apparently, there have been earlier arrests and some of this activity has been monitored for years to establish all the links in the terrorist network.

To read more go to Breitbart.com

Radar Detector Bill Killed

WSET13 is reporting that radar detectors will remain illegal in Virginia. A move to change that, and bring the Commonwealth in line with the rest of the country, is dead. As we've reported this week, supporters of the bill say the state's ban on detectors is inhospitable to drivers from other states, just passing through.

They also say there's no evidence that banning detectors improves highway safety. Still, the transportation committee voted to keep them illegal here. The Virginia Sheriff's Association argued the only purpose of a detector is to break the law.

Jeff's Statement from the Soapbox:

I tend to agree with the Sheriff's Assoc. There is NO legitimate reason for possessing a RADAR detector. It is solely for the evasion of speed control laws. And since the leading cause of highway fatalities is directly related to speed, I think it is GREAT that they are still unlawful. As for the idea that we are somehow being inhospitable? Come on, give me a break. At all the entry points into our Glorious Commonwealth, there are 6 foot by 8 foot black and white signs with 10 inch Scotchlite glow letters that say "RADAR DETECTORS ILLEGAL" , if visitors to the Commonwealth of Virginia are unable comprehend that or unwilling to comply, they should stay home. Thus sayeth Jeff

Cute Pet Blog

If you love emails with cute pet pictures you are going to love this blog! Prepare for a happy grin! And I especially like the fact that they have RSS feed!

Still Shrinking....

Well, I weighed in this morning and there is 3 pounds less of me this week than last week, so now I am down a total of 31 pounds! Yippee!!!!

For a couple of other posts about my weight loss journey, see the link's below.

My most recent post....Shrinking the NeWeigh Way.

My first post...New Year's Resolution Early.

Austria Celebrates Mozart at 250

Celebrations marking the 250th birthday of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are being held around the world on Friday.

Many of the events will be centerd on his birthplace in Salzburg, and Vienna, where he made his home and died at the age of 35.

New productions of Idomeneo and The Magic Flute will be performed at opera houses in Vienna.

A giant birthday cake measuring more than two meters (6.5 feet) high will be unveiled during a street party in Salzburg.

Both Austrian cities will be offering visitors tours highlighting places the composer visited, including his favorite restaurants and the homes of his friends and enemies.

And in Vienna a new museum has opened in the building where Mozart lived from 1784 to 1787 and where he composed The Impresario and The Marriage of Figaro.

Salzburg will also see the Vienna Philharmonic perform Mozart's Piano Concert No 18, before renowned conductor Riccardo Muti leads a musical tribute.

Dedicated concerts will also be staged in Moscow, Prague, London, Tokyo, Havana and New York among many other cities.

In the US many classical radio stations are sweeping away their usual playlists in favour of playing back-to-back Mozart.

Even in country music-obsessed Nashville there will be a concert of his Piano Concerto No 21.

Mozart, who has long been hailed a genius, was a child prodigy having composed his first symphony before the age of 10 and his first successful opera by the age of 12.

Before his early death he had created hundreds of solo and orchestral pieces, inspiring the likes of Beethoven and Wagner.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates gives $600 million more to stop TB

The BBC and Microsoft are reporting that Bill Gates has teamed up with the British and Nigerian governments

The Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis has received a $600 million (£337m) boost from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

The campaign, backed by more than 400 organizations worldwide, aims to treat 50 million people in the next 10 years.

Launching the plan with UK Chancellor Gordon Brown and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Mr Gates said it was a "chance to save 14 million lives".

Mr Gates has already committed $300 million to the program, but the total cost of the plan will be $56 billion over 10 years.

On Thursday, Mr Brown had told parliament that the UK would contribute $75 million (£41.7m) to tackle tuberculosis in India, as part of the new plan to fight the disease.

The program was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"Every 15 seconds somebody dies of TB, avoidably, preventably," said Mr Brown.

Innovations in finding treatments for diseases like TB had to be assisted by finance ministers around the world providing innovative ways of financing such programs, he said.

Mr Brown and Mr Obasanjo pledged to push for making the fight against TB a priority for the G8 group of industrialized countries and the African Union respectively.

"The Global Plan is fundamental for Africa, where tuberculosis was declared an emergency by 46 countries in 2005," Mr Obasanjo said.

Marcus Espinal, in charge of the TB programme of the World Health Organization, predicted that "we will break the back of the global TB epidemic".

With 15 diagnostic tests and 28 new medicines in development, it should be possible to revolutionize the treatment of tuberculosis, shrink treatment time and beat drug resistance, he said.

A tuberculosis vaccine could be developed by 2012, he predicted.

Mr Espinal said it was poignant that the program was launched in Davos, once famous around the world for its TB sanatorium and setting for Thomas Mann's book The Magic Mountain.

The plan aims to implement one of the United Nations' Millennium Goals, which called for a halt in the spread of TB and progress in reducing incidences of the disease by 2015.

The Global Fund hopes to spend about $47 billion on TB treatment and control, and $9 billion on research and development.

China's Google: What Happens When the Internet is Censored

One of the largest growing internet community is found in China. It was not surprising when Google agreed to allow censorship on their search engine for use in China. A popular web blog, Little Green Footballs, shows the effect of this censorship by showing what is seen here and in China on a Google image search of Tienanmen Square.

If you wonder about the effects of a censorship take a gander here.

Breakthrough Made in Avian Flu Vaccine


Just when the doomsayers were predicting that the Avian Flu could decimate a third of the world population, a breakthrough has been made in developing a vaccine.

The new vaccine developed at the University of Pittsburgh, is claimed to be 100 percent effective in preventing the bird flu. So far only animal trials have been made. A listed advantage of this vaccine is that it is much easier to produce than previous flu vaccines.

If it will be will be acceptable for human use is yet to be determined.

Image is from an offer on the internet showing a supposedly effective device to prevent you from getting the Avian Flu.

Update more information on this new vaccine and the technically new method of how it was developed can now be found on News@nature.

US Marshals in Roanoke Wanted: Curtis Michael Keith




Curtis Michael Keith, also known as Barlow Keith is wanted for 104 counts of child rape and other felony charges. He is currently traveling with Rhodena Kay Boots Sevey who is also wanted for child endangerment. They are traveling with a thirteen year old victim, daughter of Sevey.

Curtis Keith is 5'10" tall, about 165 lbs, 46 years old and could be traveling in our general area. He may be armed and should be considered dangerous.

If seen contact your local police or call 1-877-WANTED2

Lynchburg Liberty Students: Forge Ahead With Foreheads


With nearly 3 and a half days left for the eBay auction for their foreheads. They have had nearly 2,000 visitors to their eBay site, twelve people have bid so far and the bidding is up to 102.50, but there is a catch.

The hidden reserve has not been met.

What this means is that they have set a threshold that must be passed before they will give up their heads.

And perhaps, they should be cautious. Looking at the terms of the auction they could be up to some serious consequences. Here are the terms:

ONE month of advertising space on our foreheads
We will wear any clothing that you supply
We will be exposed in the public for at least 7 hours a day
We will keep a daily log of the hours that we spent in public and where we spent those hours
Instead of the other "forehead advertiser" auctions where you only get one person to advertise, in this auction you will get four people to advertise.

Imagine the possibilities:

Well, I will not even venture a guess what some person may want to put on their foreheads at Liberty University. Conservative Liberty University could be in for a shock.

They will wear any clothing you supply. Hmm dresses, bikinis, clown suits, or anything that some mischievous person may conjure up.

And they are also willing travel to the following cities.
Lynchburg, Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Raleigh, North Carolina
Washington D.C.

Just imagine for a moment they could end up on the steps of the capital dressed to the T's as transvestites with an abortion message on their foreheads. The contract they offer would not exclude this. We wish them good fortune, and hope their scheme does not backfire on them.

Update: Apparently we overlooked a disclaimer that they have the right to disallow lewd or indecent advertisement, we wish them luck with their auction.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Left Brain Right Brain Politics: Lighting the Circuit Board


In a report first published by MSNBC News, there seems to be a correlation just how those on the left and the right of the political spectrum think. Its all in how their mental circuit board lights.

In MIR tests sections of the brain that are responsible for logic and emotions can be isolated. Brain activity can measured by just what part lights up.

Interestingly, those on the left side of the political spectrum and those on the right had similar results. But were completely opposite.

If the right thinking brain was confronted with issues that were of value to them their logic circuitry would light up like a Christmas tree. Otherwise, if they were confronted with left leaning political issues, logic was overcome by the electrical impulses in the area of the brain that controlled emotion.

It was just the opposite for those on the left side of political thought. They could logically analyze positions that they were attuned with, but when considering right wing issues they were lost in the emotionally controlled part of their brain.

"The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making. " (MSNBC)

For those interested in clear thinking, we hope all will strive to recognize when they are thinking with their brain or their heart. Of course people don't really think with their heart, so try to understand you are not thinking with emotions either.

Off the Chain Comments on Lynchburg Virginia


About the comments on Lynchburg Virginia Blog. If you haven't noticed we are now moderating comments here. At first we tried a word verification system that allowed comments if you could prove you were actually a human being. There are robot spam depositors that have found blogs as a great place to deposit their trash. Here is an example of what these robots do:



Charming blog. Your site was off the chain and I
will return! When I get the time I look for blog like
this one.
I hope you can look through my gsis cash advance blog.

Publish this comment.

Reject this comment.

Well of course this reached our trash bin and was dully rejected.

Then, there is the case of those that just troll blogs and their main objective is to throw out some personal insults. We really don't mind personal insults, but they can get rather boring. How many times can one person call you stupid is like an echo that resonates through a barren cavern, with little substance or no substance we just reject these comments. So if the best you can do is some name calling, we are not listening at the other end.

Then, there are those that offer a counter point of view to what we have posted. Their thoughts are insightful and offer a different but enlightening idea from ours. You're chances are great that we will publish your comment. If you point out a mistake or a problem with our facts we will also publish that. We are not perfect and at times have made mistakes. A tribute that we can recognize, we are sometimes stupid, although we strive to be otherwise.

We want to thank all who contribute to this blog from the writers (who all have different points of views) to the readers. And hope that all will continue to keep us on our toes.

Lynchburg Area Bank Robbery: The Three Stooges are Caught



It is refreshing to know that thieves in our area specialize in how to be stupid. Plus they watch a lot of TV. Take our recent case of a bank robbery that occurred at the corner of Timberlake road and Waterlick road. These thieves had a plan.

The plan was based on a stale plot format that is often found on TV. This is pretty much how it went.

Three Stooges Rob a Bank

The Planning Stage:

Moe (Randall Scott Mason): There must be money in that Sun Trust. Darn Convenience Stores only give us walking around money.

Curly (Jeffrey McCormick): Yeah, lets rob that bank but I am not going in.

Shep (David Frank Sprinkle): Just think of all the shinny things we could buy, lets rob it, I'll hide in the truck.

Moe: You guys are so chicken, if you want a job done right (wrong), I will do it myself.

Curly: What if they see the truck?

Moe: Well, lets swap to the van. Rob the bank with the truck and drive to the van.

Shep: That works, just like on TV they will be looking for the truck we will be in a van.

Moe: Its the big time now.

The Robbery:

From the News and Daily Advance:

"The teller gave the man a small amount of money and the man ran away, Gaddy said. Witnesses told police the robber got into a teal green Nissan pickup and headed west on Timberlake Road; police lost him in the Turkey Foot Road area, near New London, which is near the Bedford County line."

Other reports have said they dropped cash all over the place after the robbery. (reminder to crooks don't sew those holes in your pockets and never carry a bag for the money).

So good so far. The crooks dropped off the truck and were now using a van, who would be the wiser.

The Get Away:

Although, Turkey Foot Road is out in the sticks (according to city slicker standards) when the three stooges swapped the vehicles it did not go unnoticed by witnesses. Soon the crooks were motoring away in what they thought was their safe get away van.

The first time they were pulled over by the police it was for an expired inspection sticker. Some how they managed to resume their get away. Shortly afterwards they were pulled over again, this time the police suspected the van (from witness reports), but they were let go because of a lack of evidence. The third time was the charm and they were arrested for the bank robbery.

The Incarceration:

The News and Daily Advance further reports:

Randall Scott Mason has confessed to robbing the Zip Store on Lakeside Drive.

"Investigators are also looking into whether Mason and the two other men charged in connection with the bank robbery - Jeffrey McCormick of Evington and David Frank Sprinkle of Lynchburg - are connected to the string of Lynchburg convenience store robberies that have occurred during the past month. "

The Moral of the Story

You're worst enemy is your own stupidity. If you think you can rob a bank you failed the first question on test to become a Mensa member.

And remember, all suspects are considered innocent until proved guilty in a court of law, unless their own stupidity intercedes.

Sources:

The News and Advance This story and others on their website.

WSET both broadcast and written reports.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bill would require priests to divulge confessions

The Concord Monitor is reporting that for the second time in three years, lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require religious leaders to report suspected cases of child abuse, even if they learn about that abuse in the privacy of a religious confession.

The Diocese of Manchester opposes the bill, saying it would interfere with religious freedom without making children safer.

The Child Protection Act, enacted in 1979, requires any person in the state who suspects abuse or neglect to report those suspicions to law enforcement. That law specifically includes religious officials. But another state law exempts clergy from having to testify in court about anything said in confession or in a similar spiritual-advice setting.

That ambiguity led Rep. Mary Stuart Gile, a Concord Democrat, to introduce a clarifying bill three years ago. Lawmakers killed that bill in 2004.

Church officials spoke out against the legislation yesterday.

"First of all, there's no question that child abuse is a terrible crime," said Diane Quinlan, chancellor of the diocese. Since 2001, the church has trained thousands of priests, deacons, employees and volunteers on the need to comply with the law that requires them to report abuse they learn about in all settings -with the exception of the priest-penitent confessional, she said.


Allowing a "limited exception" for confession is crucial to the free practice of Catholicism, said Quinlan, the highest-ranking lay official in the diocese. For the sacrament of penance - commonly known as "sacramental confession"- to be valid within the church, it needs to be strictly confidential. Any priest who violates that confidence would be excommunicated, she said. "That's how serious this is in our belief," Quinlan said.

Lobbyists from Child and Family Services - a nonprofit that advocates for the well-being of children - and the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic both spoke in favor of the bill, as did representatives of the Hillsborough County Attorney's office, which prosecuted the Jehovah's Witness case and provided victim advocacy services.

Northfield Police Chief Scott Hilliard, representing the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, also spoke, identifying himself as a practicing Catholic and eucharistic minister - and a former child-abuse investigator. "(We) feel it's important that there be no exemptions from the mandatory reporting statute," he said, supporting the bill.

The attorney general's office has not taken a position on the bill, but in a statement the office said the measure would conclusively resolve possible conflict in existing laws.

The subcommittee members expressed unanimity for the idea behind the bill - to protect children - but seemed mixed on whether it would be constitutional, practical, or both.

"How can we protect children without setting up an inherent constitutional conflict?" said Rep. Mary Beth Walz, a Bow Democrat. "Because I fear that's where we're going with this."

Getting Catholic priests to comply could be a major issue, said Rep. D.J. Bettencourt, the chairman of the subcommittee, whether or not the bill would be challenged legally. Bettencourt, a Catholic, said he consulted his own priest about the bill. His priest would rather go to prison than divulge something learned in confession, he said.

"I certainly don't want priests to go to prison," said Bettencourt, a Salem Republican.

Advocates for both sides yesterday cited U.S. Supreme Court cases that they said supported their positions about whether or not the bill would be constitutional. The subcommittee will meet again tomorrow morning to continue discussing the matter, with hopes of hearing from a constitutional lawyer.

"I feel that civil law supercedes canon law. But I'm not a Catholic, and I know that the doctrine of the confessional is very, very important to people who are Catholics,"Gile said afterward, adding that the bill is not about trying to single out one religion. "We have to protect our children."

An earlier bill that tried to compel religious figures to report abuse was sidelined because of a legal case that lawmakers hoped would resolve the issue.

Paul Berry, who belonged to a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Wilton, was convicted of abuse in 2000 and sentenced to 56 to 112 years in state prison. His daughter and stepdaughter sued the church in 2001, alleging that church elders repeatedly ignored their mother's complaints in the 1980s that Berry was abusing the girls. (The police later learned of the abuse through a teacher.)

According to the mother, the church elders said the matter should be handled by the church, not by secular authorities, and advised the mother to be silent about the abuse, pray and "be a better wife."

A superior court judge recognized the church's obligation to report abuse but dismissed the civil claims on the grounds that state law exempted church elders from revealing anything disclosed in confession. The sisters appealed to the state Supreme Court, which heard the case in late 2004.

Gile said she and others who supported the bill thought the high court would clarify the matter. "I just assumed that they would see the problem that was inherent in the two statutes," she said.

But the court issued a split decision in July that affirmed the trial court's dismissal without addressing the two laws.

"So I figured, let's try again,"said Gile, who sponsored both the previous bill and the new one, along with Rep. Don Brueggemann, a fellow Concord Democrat. The House Children and Family Law Committee held a hearing on the current bill earlier this month and referred it to a subcommittee, which held its first work session yesterday.

Jeff's View from the Soapbox : I feel that this law should not pass. Not unless that is, that priests would be required to divulge ALL illegal activity, or at least those which rise to the level of felonies. To say it's ok to hide a murderer, but not a child abuser is ridiculous. All or nothing.

Google: Define This


I have to admit that I like using Google. Sometimes I stray away. There are other search engines out there and some I use for specialized searches.

But sometimes, I am just in awe of what Google has done. In a previous article I had pointed you to some of the special features that Google offers in the search box.

Well one of those features I have been playing with: The define function of Google.

Type define and follow it with a space and then the word or phrase you are interested in, and then click web definitions. Now, what you get are not static dictionary definitions. You get a more fluid idea of the word or phrase, with the latest uses and in the context in which it was used. Much like a dictionary on the fly.

Ok lets look at the last web result of "on the fly" :

In relation to computer technology, on the fly describes activities that develop or occur dynamically rather than as the result of something that is statically predefined. (Then they give the web reference for the use, in this case it was Wikipedia).

Now I want to encourage you to have fun and try some words or phrases on your own. Here are some of the results for some of mine.

Redneck (yep I am one): In modern usage, redneck predominantly refers to a particular stereotype of whites from the Southern United States. The word can be used either as a pejorative or as a matter of pride, depending on context. See also Hillbilly

Preppies (my membership here was denied): This style of dressing first emerged in the financially prosperous 1950s, when students went for the Ivy League look. According to Yesterdayland.com, "Madras plaid dress shirts with button-down collars, v-neck sweaters and slimmed-legged chino pants marked the college boy, while slim sweater sets, pleated skirts and saddle shoes all but guaranteed a good girl entrance to the university." Three decades later, the Ivy League look became the preppy look.

Mixed bag (Reason for my membership denial): assortment: a collection containing a variety of sorts of things; "a great assortment of cars was on display"; "he had a variety of disorders"; "a veritable smorgasbord of religions"

Opposite of competition : No definitions were found for the opposite of competition. (My suggestion would be cooperation).

Have fun defining.

Lynchburg City Council: Have You Considered eBay?



Yesterday, Lynchburg City Council met and considered removing the passenger car that is behind this engine on display at Riverside park.

The car is corroded beyond repair, according to a report found on WSET. The cost of removal is reported to be estimated at 18,000 dollars and the Parks and Recreation Department plans to apply for a Federal Grant for the removal.

When I read this my first thought was eBay. Odder things have been sold there, and could this be something that could be income for Lynchburg rather than cost?

Of course, this may be a totally off the wall idea.



Maybe like selling your foreheads for advertising space, which is being done by some Lynchburg Liberty University Students. (Bidding is up to 50 dollars now)

But nothing ventured is nothing gained, and they could use any profit they make for a worthwhile cause, for instance the Lynchburg Food Bank.

Well, never mind, if the grant money is there why not soak the Federal Government, and let the tax payers bear that small burden.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Dear GOD: Questions from Children

In seeing many of the questions, arguments and logic surrounding beliefs and religious ideologies on our blog, I thought I would add some new questions into the mix. These are all questions by children. Perhaps, I am trying to lighten the friction, when so many of us get carried away. Or perhaps, I am just suggesting we should understand just all questions and positions just can't be answered.

Dear GOD,
In school they told us what You do. Who does it when You are on vacation?
* Jane

Dear GOD,
Are you really invisible or is that just a trick?
* Lucy

Dear GOD,
Is it true my father won't get in Heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?
* Anita

Dear GOD,
Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?
* Norma

Dear GOD,
Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don't You just keep the ones You have now?
* Julie

Dear GOD,
Who draws the lines around the countries?
* Nan

And to read more of these questions posed by kids, you can go here.
And that giraffe question has me really stumped, was it a mistake God?

Christians Aren't Perfect!

I have read some comments today about how Christians that follow the teachings of Jesus are few and far between. I have lots of times heard about how Christians are under a microscope as to their behavior. And if a Christian commits adultery or curses or breaks some law, everyone else points their finger and says....'look at that person! See, this is how Christians act...good in church on Sunday and sinning the rest of the week.'

I would say that is such a false statement. Christians often can't even be 'good' in church on Sunday. We lie, curse, steal, hurt people we love, don't give enough of ourselves, don't spend enough time with our God...we fail in dozens of ways every day. If you were to go and ask a Christian (a person who has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and believe that by doing that they will be forgiven and gain admittance to Heaven) if they are perfect, they would laugh and say 'heck no!'

But we try. We try to better ourselves not just for ourself but for our God and for our fellow human beings. We try to squash petty thoughts we have, we try to follow the rules and laws of the land and of God, but we are miserable failures. It says in the bible if we even think something wrong we have sinned...it is a hard thing to do to control your every thought. Thank God, he forgives us for being the Human Beings he created.

I am curious how Christians came to be under this microscope. Perhaps it was our own fault...there are people in the past and currently who give off the impression we are somehow better than others. And for that I am deeply sorry because nothing could be further from the truth. But there is definitely something going on here, because I don't hear people talking about Islamic or Jewish or other beliefs in the same way. So if anyone has some ideas about this, I would like to hear them.

And while I am open to hearing about others beliefs, I want that to be reciprocal. I want others to be willing to hear what I have to say too. This can't be a one way street or nothing is gained.

Personally I have been in a long journey with God. I went from complete belief without reason when I was a child, then I went to church and went through the motions because that is what I was supposed to do and wanted to keep up appearances and keep in good with the Big Guy. I still believed, but it was an empty faith. Then I read through the bible for the first time in my late 20s...front to back and I was taken aback. There were things that didn't make sense to me. Things that I had questions about and I wondered...how can I be a Christian if I am asking questions? Won't God be mad with me? And worse, I am not a believer because all of this doesn't make sense. Where does that leave me?

But then I came through that period and realized that I didn't have to have answers to all of my questions. I don't accept everything in the Bible at face value. But I do find good lessons there and comfort. I am especially comforted that David, who was a murderer, adulterer and a complainer, was still one of God's favorites. What I found was a true faith after I came through this period. A faith that there is a higher being than myself and I call him God. A faith that he loved me so much that he sacrificed his only Son for my benefit. I try to read the Bible within the context of the time it was written and realize that the world we live in is different today but there are basic truths there that I can and want to live by. My moral compass. I have been through some devastating times in my life and God's love that was shown to me through other Christians were all that kept me from losing my mind. The tragedies I have lived through have made me a stronger person and maybe someday I can in turn help someone else.

I added the last couple of paragraphs in as I believe there are those readers who really have no idea of what Christianity is about. They have been on the outside looking in and judging. It is not a straight line, it is not an easy walk. Christians don't always get everything they desire, they are not better than anyone else. We don't miraculously become better people when we accept Jesus as our Savior. I have noticed changes in myself that have taken years to really come to my attention, but I am a different person than I was 10 years ago, and I hope to be a different person 10 years from now...a stronger person who is more of an asset to humanity.

Thanks for listening. God Bless!

Arrest Made in Convenience Store Robberies


WSET is reporting that John Albright has been arrested for the robbery at the Expresslane at Timberlake Road.

"Police believe Albright is the person who walked into the Express Lane, showed the clerk a knife and took money from the register. And they're looking for clues that could possibly connect Albright to other robberies."

John Albright, who could conceal his identity from the clerk and and the video cameras, could not keep his mouth shut and bragged that he committed the robbery. Kudos to those he bragged to who reported this to police. And thanks to John Albright, for illustrating just how idiotic thieves can be. And we encourage all thieves to follow John Albright's example. Thieves should always use their bragging rights.

The Faith of our Founding Fathers

In response to several posts for and against religion in government, I thought I would reprint this article by Dean Worbis. I guess it is easy to find quotes by people long dead to support your position so here is my submission.

No one disputes the faith of our Founding Fathers. To speak of "unalienable Rights being endowed by a Creator" certainly shows a sensitivity to our non-denominational spiritual selves. What is surprising is when modern Protestants think the Founding Father's faith had anything to do with the Bible. Without exception, the faith of our Founding Fathers was Deist, not Theist. Deism is the acknowledgement and belief in a higher, Divine creative and sustaining power, apart and removed from the confines of conventional organized religions. It was best expressed earlier in the Declaration of Independence, when they spoke of "the Laws of Nature" and of "Nature's God." "God" has been used throughout the history of the English language as a noun - synonymous with "Deity" and only recently has been usurped as only implying the name of the primary Deity of the Protestant faiths.

In a sermon of October 1831, Episcopalian minister Bird Wilson said, "Among all of our Presidents, from Washington downward, not one was an adherent of religion, at least not of more than Unitarianism."

The Bible? Here is what our Founding Fathers wrote about Bible-based Christianity:

"The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
Article 11 states: "The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion."
-- Treaty of Tripoli (1797) signed by President John Adams

John Adams:
" I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of humankind has preserved - the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!"

"Where do we find a precept in the Bible for Creeds, Confessions, Doctrines and Oaths, and whole cartloads of other trumpery that we find religion encumbered with in these days?"

"The doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

Thomas Paine:
"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize humankind."

"Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system."

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law."

"The Christian church has set up a religion of pomp and revenue in pretend imitation of a person, Jesus, who lived a life of poverty."

"Among the most detestable villains in history, you could not find one worse than Moses. Here is an order, attributed to 'God' to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and to debauch and rape the daughters. I would not dare to so dishonor my Creator's name by attaching it to this filthy book - the Bible."

"It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible."

"Accustom a people to believe that priests and clergy can forgive sins...and you will have sins in abundance."

Benjamin Franklin:
"When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one."

Ulysses S. Grant:
"Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private schools, supported entirely by private
contributions. Keep the church and the state forever separated."
James Madison:
"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

"What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy."

Madison objected to state-supported chaplains in Congress and to the exemption of churches from taxation. He wrote: "Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

These Founding Fathers were a reflection of the American population. Having escaped from the state-established religions of Europe, only 7% of the people in the 13 colonies belonged to a church when the Declaration of
Independence was signed.

Among those who confuse Christianity with the founding of America, the rise of conservative Baptists is one of the more interesting developments. The Baptists believed God's authority came from the people, not the priesthood,
and they had been persecuted for this belief. It was they - the Baptists - who were instrumental in securing the separation of church and state. They knew you can not have a "one-way-wall" that lets religion into government
but that does not let it out. They knew no religion is capable of handling political power without becoming corrupted by it. And, perhaps, they knew it was Christ himself who first proposed the separation of church and state; "Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and unto the Lord that which is the Lord's."

In the last few years Christianity, and Baptists in particular, have been taken over by a fundamentalist faction that insists authority comes from the Bible and that the individual must accept the interpretation of the Bible from a higher authority. These usurpers of the Christian faith are those who insist they should meddle in the affairs of the government and it is they who insist the government should meddle in the affairs of individuals.

WWJD: What Would Jefferson Do?

April 13, 2003 marked Thomas Jefferson's 260th birthday. In honor of this occasion, Americans United has pulled together some of Jefferson's best statements on church and state. Jefferson, along with James Madison, was a
key architect of the religious liberty guarantees we enjoy today. What better way to honor the memory of this visionary founder than spending a few moments reading and reflecting on his timeless wisdom? With issues such as voucher aid to religious schools and government-sponsored prayer in public schools pending in Congress and the state legislatures, Jefferson's comments are just as relevant today as they were then.

Religious Right activists claim the framers never intended to separate church and state. Christian Coalition president Pat Robertson says separation is a "lie of the left." TV preacher Jerry Falwell calls it "a modern fabrication."

Here are Jefferson's own words on the subject.

Separation of Church and State:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
--Letter to the Danbury (Conn.) Baptist Association, January 1, 1802

Taxation for Religion:
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing of him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would
make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness....Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." -- Excerpts from Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1786

Government-Sponsored Prayer and Other Religious Worship:
"I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and the right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it." -- Letter to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808

Other views on the Bible and Christianity:
"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear."

"It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

"I have examined all the known superstitions of the world and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology. Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the earth."

"Christianity... has become the most perverted system that ever shone on man... Rogueries, absurdities and untruths were perpetrated upon the teachings of Jesus by a large band of dupes and imposters led by Paul, the first great corrupter of the teachings of Jesus."

"The clergy converted the simple teachings of Jesus into an engine for enslaving mankind and adulterated by artificial constructions into a contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves...these clergy in fact, constitute the real Anti-Christ."

Jefferson's word for the Bible? "Dunghill."

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References: The writings of Thomas Jefferson exist in 25 volumes. Much of the quotes of Jefferson came from "THE MEMOIRS, CORRESPONDENCE AND MISCELLANIES FROM THE PAPERS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON," 4 volumes. Edited by Thomas Jefferson Randolph (the grandson of Thomas Jefferson).

References for this article were also found in the book, SIX HISTORIC AMERICANS, by John E. Remsburg
(who interviewed many of Lincoln's associates).


So there you go...flame away. Tell me I am going to Hell (something in which I do not believe anyway). But the words of our Forefathers can not be disputed.

My belief is simple. No matter what your religion, it DOES NOT BELONG IN GOV''T. This is a simple concept which some can not grasp for some reason. When we have religion in gov't, people get hurt and oppressed. It is an historical fact. The Christian Bible foretells this very things in Revelations, with the one world gov't and the number of the beast and so on. Subscribe to the party line, or you can not be a member of society. Our history (even recent history) is rife with abuses of power ,and subsequently of people. When religion and gov't mix we get Crusades, Inquisitions, Jihads, Fatwahs. We have a nation that is far too diverse in culture and heritage and varied religions to pick just one to be the Official Religion. So no, as I stated before. God...which ever one you choose...does not belong, nor have an Official place in goverment.

Peace and Light
Jeff

Monday, January 23, 2006

Google Earth Captures A Flying Car?


Deep in the land of OZ (Australia), something has popped up on Google earth. You have to click to enlarge this picture to see what some claim is a flying car.

Are the Aussies deeply involved in a skunk works project of their own? Is this proof of an anti gravity machine puttering along at 80 knots? Or could it be that OZ is on the other side of the world where things fall up?

To find the answer to these questions go here.

Warning you might find more questions than answers.

Italy court asks: Did Jesus exist?

Lawyers for a small-town parish priest have been ordered to appear in court next week after the Roman Catholic cleric was accused of unlawfully asserting what many people take for granted: that Jesus Christ existed.

The Rev. Enrico Righi was named in a 2002 complaint filed by Luigi Cascioli after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli, a lifelong atheist, claims that Righi violated two Italian laws by making the assertion: so-called "abuse of popular belief" in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation" in which someone gains by attributing a false name to someone.

Cascioli says that for 2,000 years the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people by furthering the fable that Christ existed, and says the church has been gaining financially by "impersonating" as Christ someone by the name of John of Gamala, the son of Judas from Gamala.

He also asserts that the Gospels -- the most frequently cited testimony of Jesus' existence -- are inconsistent, full of errors and biased, and that other written evidence from the time is scant and doesn't hold up to scholarly analysis.

Prosecutors, who in Italy are obliged to investigate such complaints, initially tried to have the case dismissed, saying no crime could be verified.

But Cascioli challenged them, and Judge Gaetano Mautone set a hearing for next Friday in Viterbo, north of Rome, to discuss preliminary motions in Cascioli's bid to have the court appoint technical experts to review the historical data and determine if Jesus really did exist.

Cascioli, 72, said in a recent interview that he decided to pursue the case against Righi, a priest in the village of Bagnoregio, near Viterbo, because the cleric had written in the parish bulletin that Jesus existed.

Asked why he went after Righi -- a schoolmate when he and Cascioli were boys -- and not any number of bishops, cardinals or even the pope who have asserted the very same thing, Cascioli said it didn't really matter who he named in his complaint.

"When one demonstrates that Christ didn't exist, attacking a simple priest is the same thing as attacking a bishop or cardinal," Cascioli said.

Cascioli is quick to stress that he has no problem with Christians freely professing their faith. Rather, he says in his complaint, he wants to "denounce the abuse that the Catholic Church commits by availing itself of its prestige in order to inculcate -- as if being real and historical -- facts that are really just inventions."

Righi, who has been a priest for 50 years, declined to be interviewed on the advice of his lawyers before the pending court date. But he set out his rebuke of Cascioli in a recent issue of his parish bulletin "Risveglio," or "Awaken," and said by telephone that the article encapsulated his position.

Righi argues that the existence of Christ is "unmistakable" because of the substantial historical evidence -- both pagan and religious -- testifying that he indeed lived.

"Cascioli maintains that Christ never existed. If he doesn't see the sun at midday, he can't denounce me just because I do. He should denounce all believers!" Righi wrote.

To read the rest of this interesting story go here

My Daughter Begins to Understand Commercials

Yesterday as my husband watch some news shows, my daughter pipes up..."they just want your money."?" I was working on some Ebay listings and asked her what she meant.

She referred to the commercial that was playing. It was DirecTV running their new promotion about giving gifts to its customers. She talked about the fact that they were saying if you used DirecTV you would have a chance at getting gifts.

To hear this from my daughter who has pen and paper in hand while watching the Cartoon Network and writing down every neat toy they show her was delightful. She really does listen to me when I try to explain the purpose of commercials. And she is only 5...what a great lesson to learn early on.

National Resources Defense Council

For a long time I heard other mom's talking about their children and self-directed learning. I would hear stories about a son being interested in Egypt and not being able to read enough about it or a daugher being interested in sword making and looking for every book she could on the subject.

I wondered if my son would ever do this. I tried a couple of times to suggest topics and for awhile he was interested in planets and stars and astronomy. But now we are studying endangered species at both of my children's request.

So yesterday, Jack says, "Come here please, I want to show you something." And as I walked toward the computer, he assured me it wasn't something on Ebay. He had gotten $10 from his great grandmother for his birthday and was itching to spend it and had been looking at Pokemon and Yugi-Oh cards on Ebay.

I took a look at the screen and it was the National Resources Defense Council website looking back at me. Before I could figure out what I was really looking at, Jack said he wanted to donate his $10 to save animals. I cannot tell you how proud I was of him that he had put aside his consumerism, that he wanted to do something about the state of things on our planet.

We signed up right away and he was pleased as punch to be a member. He also got a cool screen saver and could have gotten a tote bag (but decided to pass on that so that they could use all of his donation for the animals) and he will receive a newsletter.

WOW...add to that that he was researching endangered animals on the computer, on his own ,on a Sunday:) It just doesn't get any better than this.