I am pleased to welcome you to my personal blog, which I started in March 2009. I first became interested in blogging about five years ago, using old "blogger.com", which was cumbersome to use and I never mastered. About a year ago I discovered that Google had bought "blogger.com" and had revised it considerably, making it fun to use, so much so that I have devised at least 15 blogs on various subjects and frequently add posts and Gadgets to them.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Disposition Decision" -- What to Do With the Embryos?

[This post is from Dr. Albert Mohler's blog.]

The Disposition Decision" -- What to Do With the Embryos?

Posted: Friday, August 28, 2009 at 12:32 pm ET
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For most Americans, the moral status of the human embryo is a question that seems quite remote. Even as hundreds of thousands of "excess" human embryos are now stored in American fertility clinics and laboratories, to most Americans these frozen embryos are out of sight and out of mind. Thus, one of the most important moral challenges of our day remains largely off the screen of our national discourse. The issue cannot remain out of sight or out of mind for long.
Indeed, for hundreds of thousands of couples (and in many cases, just individuals) this crucial moral question grows more difficult to ignore by the day. For those whose progeny are now frozen in fertility clinics, the "disposition decision" will eventually have to be made. The decision about the eventual disposition of these human embryos will reveal what these couples truly believe about human dignity and the sanctity of human life. On the larger landscape, the pattern of these decisions and the policies adopted by medical practitioners will reveal the soul of our culture as well.
Writing in The New Atlantis, Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill contributes an essay on this issue that is both informative and haunting. She begins with an anecdote that establishes the moral sense of urgency we face on this issue:
Noah Markham was born in January 2007 to worldwide media notice. Like his Biblical namesake, this Noah had been saved from a flood. He had been one in a barrel of frozen embryos transported in a flat-bottomed boat from a flooded east New Orleans hospital in the days after Hurricane Katrina by the Louisiana State Police and Illinois Conservation Police. Interviewed at the time of Noah’s birth, his mother, Rebekah Markham, said that she and her husband Glen were uncertain about whether they would use their remaining three frozen embryos to add to their family of Noah and his big brother Witt. Interviewed again on the occasion of Noah’s first birthday, she said, “How can I not? I’m happy with two, but how can you not when you know what the possibility is? We almost lost Noah. I don’t want to lose the others voluntarily.”
Of course, most of these stored human embryos are not in direct danger of a hurricane. Nevertheless, they are all in danger of both neglect and destruction -- a moral context of quicksand that is the inevitable consequence of producing far greater numbers of embryos than are ever intended to be transferred to a mother's womb.
Of course, the moral issues related to advanced reproductive technologies are manifold and complicated. Advances in IVF technology now project the potential that frozen embryos could be successfully transferred into a womb years or even decades after fertilization. For the first time in human history, this allows for a form of generational confusion human beings have never encountered before. Quite literally, an embryo from a genetic ancestor generation could potentially be transferred into a womb and gestate, thus being born after the generation of what would be considered his or her grandchildren. Are we ready for this? A technology that has allowed so many couples to give birth to desperately-wanted children has also brought a host of moral complications.
Clearly, the majority of women whose fertilized eggs are now stored in reproductive health clinics are not even ready to make a decision about the disposition of the embryos that will not be transferred into their wombs. Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill cites two studies indicating that over 70% of such women lack a plan for what to do with these embryos and seem intent to postpone that decision as long as possible.
In the most important part of her essay, Merrill cites a study published in the scientific journal Fertility and Sterility in which patients were asked to rank their estimation of the moral status of the embryo from "minimum moral status" to "maximum moral status." Only 10% of these patients indicated their belief that the human embryo should be considered as having "minimum moral status." But this means that one out of ten patients responded that they consider the human embryo to be of virtually no moral significance whatsoever. Some see these embryos as something akin to excess body parts. Some actually spoke of these embryos as being stored in the event they needed a "replacement" for other children. As Merrill explains, "Presumably the disposition decision is easiest for these few patients who think of embryos as lacking moral worth, free of the weight of morally fraught deliberations at the conclusion of their IVF treatment."
The other nine out of ten patients estimated the moral status of their embryos on a continuum ranging from some moral status to "maximum moral status." As these patients reflected, the decision about what to do with their embryos was understood to be freighted with moral consequence. As Merrill reports, these patients recognized their own “strange feelings about discarding human life."  Nevertheless, "strange feelings" are no substitute for responsible moral decision-making.
As Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill makes clear, the structure of the IVF process allows for hundreds of thousands of frozen human embryos to be created in laboratories without any clear plan for their future. She is undoubtedly correct in suggesting that most patients see these embryos as the promise of fertility at the time of their treatment. But what about these embryos and their future once the childbearing years are over? Some patients indicated a willingness to allow other infertile couples to "adopt" their embryos. Nevertheless, these represent only a fraction of the patients involved in the study. Furthermore, many of these individuals and couples are apparently more theoretically committed to this option then in fact. In the end, very few patients choose to allow the adoption of their embryos -- often seen as akin to "virtual children."
Another small percentage indicated a willingness to allow the embryos to be used in medical research. As Merrill explains, this is often a hypothetical possibility anyway, since most of these embryos are unsuitable for medical research. Of course the greater problem with this option is that it views human embryos as mere material for medical research. The embryos are destroyed in the name of medical science.
A significant number of patients are deciding to "thaw" their embryos and allow their demise. Hauntingly, Merrill writes of some patients and couples who understand clearly enough that these embryos are of some moral significance, and some patients express a desire for some ceremony to accompany the demise of their embryonic progeny.
For the vast majority of patients, the current decision is to make no decision at all. This condition will not last, for the reproductive technology industry faces logistical, moral, financial, and technological limitations to the indefinite storage of what may even now be more than a million human embryos that are never to be transferred into wombs.
The "disposition decision" related to these frozen human embryos represents one of the most significant, if neglected, moral crises of our age. This crisis is entirely the result of our own technologies and we as a society bear responsibility for this moral crisis. As it now stands, we face the specter of untold thousands of frozen human embryos who will meet their demise largely out of sight and out of mind.
Perhaps the most chilling question is this: How long will it be before someone asks about the moral status of all human beings -- embryonic or otherwise --- and proposes that this moral status be estimated on a continuum from "minimal moral status" to "maximum moral status?" We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that this essential question of human dignity will be restricted to frozen embryos in the laboratory.
I am always glad to hear from readers.  Write me at mail@albertmohler.com.  Follow my updates to Twitter during the day at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


[This post comes from BuzzMachine dated Aug 25, 2009.]


The newspaper industry should be sobered by Martin Langeveld’s calculations, based on the Newspaper Association of America’s misplaced bragging about Nielsen internet data, that only about a half one one percent of time spent online is spent on newspaper sites.
It is clear that if journalists want to be supported – let alone have impact and influence and find their days worthwhile – they need more people to spend more time with news. I believe they should be doing the opposite of what is being suggested in many quarters: clamping down controls to try to fight aggregators and search engines, threatening to build pay walls, consolidating content into destinations they’d have to work harder to get people to visit.
Right now, news organizations should be trying to reach more people and engage with them more deeply. They should seek hyperdistribution.
Since when did it become OK for media people to shrink their audiences? Since they gave up on the ad model, that’s when. But I am not ready to surrender to the idea that advertising, which has supported mass media since its creation, is over. Yes, ad rates are lower; welcome to competition. That’s all the more reason why publishers must attract larger audiences publics – make it up on volume – as well as more targeted and valuable communities.
In my presentation at the Aspen Institute on CUNY’s New Business Models for News Project, I listed some of these opportunities, even though we didn’t build them into our first models because we wanted a conservative base case. Next we are building blow-out models incorporating these means, many built on the principles of the link economy:
* Reverse-syndication. We suggest that the new news organization (NNO) we envision in our ecosystem can create highly targeted content that can be distributed on the sites of other members of the network. So, for example, a new news org could create voting guides for every state assembly member and all the hyperlocal bloggers in the state could offer them to their readers. This content could carry both metro and hyperlocal advertising sold by and benefiting both sites. It is in the NNO’s interest to help these bloggers succeed. Thus they should collaborate on creating and distributing everything from news to calendars to functionality.
In the link economy, value is created by he who creates content and she who delivers audience. So in this networked ecosystem, large players and small will find ways to mutually create and share in more value.
* The embeddable paper. Once you embrace hyperdistribution, then you’ll find new and simple ways to get readers to become distributors. Inthis post I suggested that we should enable any content to be placed in YouTube-like players that carry brand, advertising, states, and links.
Lo and behold, Silicon Alley Insider just made it possible to embed its stories on this blog or anywhere. In fact, you don’t need to follow that link above; you can read the story below (and I imagine it won’t be long before there’s an ad there, along with the Insider’s branding, links, and data collection).
* API The New York Times has an API (application programming interface) enabling developers to incorporate its headlines, driving traffic to NYTimes.com. NPR and the BBC have APIs that enable others to use more content; as public broadcasters, their goal is simply broader distribution. The Guardian’s API offers full content but requires developers to join its ad network. Thus the Guardian wants to get its journalism into the fabric of the web, as they put it, and support it at the same time. Fingers crossed that it works.
* Specialization. One-size-fits-all news was a product of our means of production and distribution and a very small number of topics aside, that just won’t cut it anymore. Whether by geography, interest, or community, news must become far more specialized. In the link economy, this is how content rises in search to be discovered and it is how value is added with advertising.
Specialization sounds like a way to decrease, not increase audience but with the efficiencies specialization enables, many more publics can be served more deeply and each is bound to be more engaged. In our New Business Models for News projections, we ended up – to our surprise – with an equivalent number of journalists working in our hypothetical ecosystem when compared with the legacy newsroom, but these journalists were all covering much more specialized topics in much greater depth, creating more journalism for more communities than before. Specialization becomes a way to grow.
* Social engagement. In our NewBizNews models, we projected 12 page views per user per month because this is in line with existing news sites and thus, a conservative assumption. But it’s also a shameful assumption.
Local news networks that are truly a part of communities – owned and operated by their communities – will surely have much higher engagement. The fact that Facebook – which brings communities elegant organization, just as newspapers endeavor to do – gets hundreds of pageviews per month per user should be a lesson and model for news networks.
If news organizations – pardon me – asked what Google, Facebook, Twitter, and craigslist would do, they would define themselves as platforms more than content creators and controllers. They would act as networks rather than destinations. Once again, this gives them not only distribution and engagement but efficiency.
I have stood in and before no end of conferences when I or someone else recalls what that student said in The New York Times said a year ago: “If the news is that important, it will find me.” Waiting for her to come to our site won’t work – and it especially won’t work if, once a peer links her to our site, she finds a wall. No, we have to take news to her.
At Aspen, Google’s Marissa Mayer told the assembled news machers that they have to find ways to insinuate their content and value into our ownhyperpersonal news streams. In other words: This ain’t about getting people to come to your home pages anymore.
You can bet if Mayer is thinking this way, so is Google and so it will find ways to consolidate information about sources across these new means of distribution. It’s still in Google’s interest to tap the tree for Googlejuice. So I say we cannot waste a moment finding more ways to get more people to distribute and engage with news.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are We a Nation of Hindus?

Are We a Nation of Hindus?

[Albert Mohler's blog]
Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 5:38 am ET
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Those who argue that all religions are essentially the same reveal the fact that they know little about these very different belief systems. The worldview of Christianity is, for example, radically different from the belief structure of Buddhism (some forms of which may actually claim to resist the very idea of beliefs).
These differences in belief systems are apparent in Lisa Miller's recent article for Newsweek. As she explains, "A million-plus Hindus live in the United States, a fraction of the billion who live on Earth. But recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity."
Many Christians will flinch when reading this. Does this mean that Hindu temples are appearing across the American landscape? Not hardly. What Miller describes is the transformation of the belief system in ways that resemble Hinduism. Her argument deserves a fair hearing.
She begins by quoting a Hindu writing, the Rig Veda: "
Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names." The idea of one truth known by many names is not new. Indeed, it is central to polytheism and the syncretistic beliefs of several historic and current worldviews. Hinduism is radically polytheistic and syncretistic. According to Hindu belief, the many gods and goddesses of their veneration all represent one fundamental divine reality. The idea of a singular and exclusive truth is antithetical to classical Hinduism.
So what is Lisa Miller's point? She suggests that contemporary Americans, including many who consider themselves Christians, are abandoning the exclusive truth claims of Christianity for a form of theological pluralism or relativism.
A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur'an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal," she asserts. Christianity, on the other hand, has affirmed that Jesus Christ is the only Savior, and that the only way of salvation is through faith in Him.
Americans are no longer buying it," she insists, and by this she means many American Christians. She cites a 2008 Pew Forum survey that indicated major slippage in terms of Christian conviction. According to the Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of Americans believe that "many religions can lead to eternal life." More tellingly, 37 percent of those identified as white evangelicals shared this belief.
Miller cites Stephen Prothero, a leading researcher on American religion, who defined this "
divine-deli-cafeteria religion" as "very much in the spirit of Hinduism." As he added, "You're not picking and choosing from different religions, because they're all the same." This is not exactly like traditional Hinduism, of course, but it works in much the same way. As he explains, "It isn't about orthodoxy. It's about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great—and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that's great, too."
There is every reason to believe that Lisa Miller and Stephen Prothero are correct in these assessments. Without doubt, Americans have been growing more and more accepting of plural and relative understandings of truth. A tragically large number of those who identify as Christians have been drinking from the same wells of thought.
The exclusivity of the Gospel is not merely a facet of the church's message. Indeed, a Gospel that does not affirm that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone is not the Gospel of Christ, but a false gospel. As Lisa Miller correctly recites, Jesus did say, "
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." [John 14:6]
Another aspect of the story is this: Many Americans have such a doctrineless understanding of Christianity that they do not even know what the Gospel is -- not even remotely. A greater tragedy is that so many who consider themselves Christians seem to share in this confusion.
Many observers who trace these trends see this doctrinal shift among Christians as a good development. After all, if you hold to nothing more than a functional view of religion, this might seem to promise less conflict among religious believers. But, if you believe that truth is essential to Christian faith, there is every reason to see these trends as nothing less than catastrophic. Nothing less than our witness to the Gospel of Christ is at stake.
Are we becoming a nation of Hindus? Well, in this sense it appears perhaps we are. The really urgent question is whether the Church will regain its theological sanity and evangelistic courage to resist this trend. If not, being described as a nation of Hindus will be the least of our problems.
I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler for regular updates throughout the day.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I am finally scared of a White House administration

August 19, 2009 / 29 Menachem-Av 5769
I am finally scared of a White House administration
By Nat Hentoff

I was not intimidated during J. Edgar Hoover's FBI hunt for reporters like me who criticized him. I railed against the Bush-Cheney war on the Bill of Rights without blinking. But now I am finally scared of a White House administration. President Obama's desired health care reform intends that a federal board (similar to the British model) — as in the Center for Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation in a current Democratic bill — decides whether your quality of life, regardless of your political party, merits government-controlled funds to keep you alive. Watch for that life-decider in the final bill. It's already in the stimulus bill signed into law.

The members of that ultimate federal board will themselves not have examined or seen the patient in question. For another example of the growing, tumultuous resistance to "Dr. Obama," particularly among seniors, there is a July 29 Washington Times editorial citing a line from a report written by a key adviser to Obama on cost-efficient health care, prominent bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).

Emanuel writes about rationing health care for older Americans that "allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination." (The Lancet, January 2009) He calls this form of rationing — which is fundamental to Obamacare goals — "the complete lives system." You see, at 65 or older, you've had more life years than a 25-year-old. As such, the latter can be more deserving of cost-efficient health care than older folks.

No matter what Congress does when it returns from its recess, rationing is a basic part of Obama's eventual master health care plan. Here is what Obama said in an April 28 New York Times interview (quoted in Washington Times July 9 editorial) in which he describes a government end-of-life services guide for the citizenry as we get to a certain age, or are in a certain grave condition. Our government will undertake, he says, a "very difficult democratic conversation" about how "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care" costs.

This end-of-life consultation has been stripped from the Senate Finance Committee bill because of democracy-in-action town-hall outcries but remains in three House bills.

A specific end-of-life proposal is in draft Section 1233 of H.R. 3200, a House Democratic health care bill that is echoed in two others that also call for versions of "advance care planning consultation" every five years — or sooner if the patient is diagnosed with a progressive or terminal illness.

As the Washington Post's Charles Lane penetratingly explains (Undue influence," Aug. 8): the government would pay doctors to discuss with Medicare patients explanations of "living wills and durable powers of attorney … and (provide) a list of national and state-specific resources to assist consumers and their families" on making advance-care planning (read end-of-life) decisions.

Significantly, Lane adds that, "The doctor 'shall' (that's an order) explain that Medicare pays for hospice care (hint, hint)."

But the Obama administration claims these fateful consultations are "purely voluntary." In response, Lane — who learned a lot about reading between the lines while the Washington Post's Supreme Court reporter — advises us:

"To me, 'purely voluntary' means 'not unless the patient requests one.'"

But Obamas' doctors will initiate these chats. "Patients," notes Lane, "may refuse without penalty, but many will bow to white-coated authority."

And who will these doctors be? What criteria will such Obama advisers as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel set for conductors of end-of-life services?

I was alerted to Lanes' crucial cautionary advice — for those of use who may be influenced to attend the Obamacare twilight consultations — by Wesley J. Smith, a continually invaluable reporter and analyst of, as he calls his most recent book, the "Culture of Death: The Assault on Medical Ethics in America" (Encounter Books).

As more Americans became increasingly troubled by this and other fearful elements of Dr. Obama's cost-efficient health care regimen, Smith adds this vital advice, no matter what legislation Obama finally signs into law:

"Remember that legislation itself is only half the problem with Obamacare. Whatever bill passes, hundreds of bureaucrats in the federal agencies will have years to promulgate scores of regulations to govern the details of the law.

"This is where the real mischief could be done because most regulatory actions are effectuated beneath the public radar. It is thus essential, as just one example, that any end-of-life counseling provision in the final bill be specified to be purely voluntary … and that the counseling be required by law to be neutral as to outcome. Otherwise, even if the legislation doesn't push in a specific direction — for instance, THE GOVERNMENT REFUSING TREATMENT — the regulations could." (Emphasis added.)

Who'll let us know what's really being decided about our lives — and what is set into law? To begin with, Charles Lane, Wesley Smith and others whom I'll cite and add to as this chilling climax of the Obama presidency comes closer.

Condemning the furor at town-hall meetings around the country as "un-American," Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are blind to truly participatory democracy — as many individual Americans believe they are fighting, quite literally, for their lives.

I wonder whether Obama would be so willing to promote such health care initiatives if, say, it were 60 years from now, when his children will — as some of the current bills seem to imply — have lived their fill of life years, and the health care resources will then be going to the younger Americans? <

Monday, August 17, 2009

This is A Time For Courage

At the TEA PARTY in Lubbock, a black man, Dr. Donald May, delivered this message from the courthouse steps in Lubbock .

This is A Time For Courage

April 15, 2009 - 11:49 pm

Ladies and gentlemen, This is a Time For Courage.

We are gathered here today on the Plains of West Texas in common purpose. We are here to remind our government that this is our country. We the People are still in charge, and our government is still our servant and not our master.

Our Nation's founding document is The Declaration of Independence .. It tells us that our rights come from God and not from a small group of Elite men and women.

Our Constitution starts with the words "We the People." Our Constitution was written for ordinary Americans like you and me. Our Constitution protects us from our government and from the politicians.

Our President has complained that our Constitution gives ordinary people too much protection. He has ridiculed us for the high value we place on our Bibles, our guns, our personal property, and our Liberty .. He tells us we do not deserve to keep the money we have earned.

We are told freedom has not worked. Personal responsibility, free enterprise, and Liberty have not been effective. Our government will now make more of our decisions for us.

Other than our military, I can think of not one government agency I have ever found to be helpful.

And speaking of our military, how about those Navy Seals blowing the heads off those three terrorist pirates? Don't you just wish our entire government would function with such efficiency, professionalism, and courage?

We watch in disbelief as our beloved United States is weakened economically, militarily, and morally by a Radical President and his eager accomplices.

What has taken generations to build is systematically destroyed and replaced with the same Socialist Evil that brought poverty, destruction, and despair to untold hundreds of millions.

The problems we face today have occurred because we have not defended our Nation from Socialism. For too long we have allowed the wrong people to make the worst possible decisions.

The Bible warns us of class hatred. The Radical leadership of our government daily fans the evil flames of class envy.

Our European and Canadian friends beg us to not make the same Socialist mistakes they did.

The President of the European Union warned our President that his Socialist economic plans are taking the World down the "road to Hell."

The path to power for Socialists includes taking God and guns from the citizens. Without spiritual and physical protection, people cannot defend themselves and their Liberty . They soon become slaves.

We are angered that our President apologizes for the exceptionalism and heroism of the United States of America . We are deeply troubled that he told others the United States is not a Christian nation.

We are angered that we have been called cowards and racists because we oppose Socialism. Socialism is not racial. Socialism is an equal opportunity destroyer.

We are angered that a recent Department of Homeland Security report has singled out our military men and women who are returning home as being radical threats.

The report also characterizes you and me as right-wing extremists and radicals because we favor smaller government and lower taxes.

You and I are average citizens who believe just like most of our fellow Americans. We want our government to leave us alone and to keep its hands off our money, our religion, or guns, our private property, and our lives.

We demand that our government stop spending money it does not have.

Stop confiscating our money and private property.

Stop printing money.

Stop subsidizing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the other failed financial institutions and companies.

Mr. President, stop appointing tax cheats to positions of power and influence.

Mr. President, secure our borders.

Mr. President, do not divert money from our missile defense, F-22 Raptors, and other vital military equipment. This gives encouragement, aid, and comfort to our enemies. Protecting us is your number one job.

Mr. President, do not give voting rights to millions of illegal aliens and felons. You have no more right to create new voters for your benefit than you do to use our money to buy the 2010 and 2012 Elections.

We gather peacefully here today because there is a growing concern for what our government is doing to us and to our future. We fear for the very survival of our Republic.

Yet there is much to make us hopeful and to fill our hearts with optimism and courage. This is still our country!

The Constitution of the Unites States belongs to We the People. Our Constitution still protects us from our government.

Call every possible elected official, including our President, Vice President, and the Speaker of the House.

Demand that they stop stealing our money and giving it to ACORN and their other political supporters in order to buy votes.

Call Senators Cornyn and Hutchison, and Representative Neugebauer. Thank them. Urge them to do much more. Remind them now is a time for action and not for campaigning.

Volunteer to work on our 2010 Census. Confront ACORN. Keep our Census honest. We must not allow our President to take control of our Census for his political advantage.

We must replace as much of our Far Left Congress as possible in 2010. Get involved. Do not let the ACORN control our 2010 Election.

Talk with someone every day who does not understand our nation's history and our great heritage. Tell them why the United States is a good and prosperous nation. It still remains that brightly lit city on the hill. It still is the best hope for all mankind.

Talk with all of the young people you can find. They are our future. Many do not understand what they have and that their future is being destroyed.

Encourage your elected State officials to pass legislation that will protect us from our Federal government. This is a time for strong peaceful action. Let us pray that We the People can quickly return our government to its Constitutional responsibilities.

Our President and Congress were elected to be our servants and not our masters.

May God help our President and Congress to quickly realize the error of their ways and stop their reckless and unwarranted spending, cut our taxes, and reduce the size of our Federal bureaucracy.

If they do not, may God grant us the courage and determination to vote them out of power next year.

May God richly bless and protect each of you, and our Constitution, as together we pursue Liberty !

Delivered at the Lubbock , Texas , TEA Party by Dr. Donald May

This should be on the front page of every newspaper in the USA instead of being swept under the rug and kept off the news broadcasts. Our news media sucks, plain and simple. They are not "reporting the news,"-- they are telling us what THEY want us to hear and that is not reporting the news. One more step toward Socialism. Let's keep this going so everyone will know the truth.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Polyamory -- The Perfectly Plural PostmodernCondition

Polyamory -- The Perfectly Plural Postmodern Condition

Posted: Monday, August 10, 2009 at 4:10 am ET
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This blog post was written by Albert Mohler.

Once a sexual revolution is set loose, it inevitably runs its course through the culture.  While the current flashpoints of cultural conflict are focused on same-sex marriage and gender issues, others are biding their time.  AsNewsweek magazine makes clear, some new flashpoints are getting restless.

Polyamory, reports Newsweek, is having a "coming-out-party."  Polyamory is the current "term of art" applied to "families" or "clusters" comprised of multiple sexual partners. As Newsweek explains, this is not exactly polygamy, because marriage is not the issue. Advocates of polyamory argue that their lifestyle is not "open marriage." Indeed, they define their movement in terms of the moral principle of "ethical nonmonogamy," defined as "engaging in loving, intimate relationships with more than one person -- based upon the knowledge and consent of everyone involved."

Legal theorists and opponents of same-sex marriage routinely (and rightly) make the argument that the legalization of homosexual marriage will, inevitably, lead to the legalization of polygamy. Once marriage is redefined to allow for same-sex unions, any determination to maintain legal prohibitions against polygamy will be seen as merely arbitrary. At the same time, once strictures against adultery were eliminated in the culture and in the law, something essentially like polygamy was inevitable.

The article in Newsweek, written by Jessica Bennett, presents polyamory as a growing movement that now involves persons in the cultural mainstream. As the magazine reports: "Researchers are just beginning to study the phenomenon, but the few who do estimate that openly polyamorous families in the United States number more than half a million, with thriving contingents in nearly every major city."

The movement now claims a number of recognized books, logs, podcasts, and even an online magazine entitled "Loving More." According to Newsweek, actress Tilda Swinton and Carla Bruni, the First Lady of France, have emerged as prominent spokespersons for nonmonogamy. As should be expected, the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University now features a "polyamory library."

Jessica Bennett suggests that the contemporary polyamory movement has roots in utopian movements of the 19th century:

The notion of multiple-partner relationships is as old as the human race itself. But polyamorists trace the foundation of their movement to the utopian Oneida commune of upstate New York, founded in 1848 by Yale theologian John Humphrey Noyes. Noyes believed in a kind of communalism he hoped would fix relations between men and women; both genders had equal voice in community governance, and every man was considered to be married to every woman. But it wasn't until the late-1960s and 1970s "free love" movement that polyamory truly came into vogue; when books like Open Marriagetopped best-seller lists and groups like the North American Swingers Club began experimenting with the concept. The term "polyamory," coined in the 1990s, popped up in both the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries in 2006.

In one sense, the polyamorous defy easy categorization. The movement includes couples who openly and with full knowledge of each other engage in sexual relationships with others. Some are involved in group sex and others experimented with bisexuality. The Newsweek article introduces readers to a new vocabulary. The most revealing word is "polyfidelitous" --  which means that the multiple partners keep sexual activity within their own self-identified cluster.

Interestingly, Bennett observes that the movement "has a decidedly feminist bent." If men can have multiple wives or female partners, then, the logic goes, women must have the same in order to achieve "gender equality." Bennett quotes Allena Gabosch, director of an organization known as the "Center for Sex Positive Culture," suggesting that polyamory sounds scary to people because "it shakes up their worldview." But, she insists, polyamory might well be "more natural than we think."

Perhaps the best way to understand this new movement is to understand it as a natural consequence of subverting marriage. We have largely normalized adultery, serialized marriage, separated marriage from reproduction and childbearing, and accepted divorce as a mechanism for liberation. Once this happens, boundary after boundary falls as sexual regulation virtually disappears among those defined as "consenting adults."

The ultimate sign of our moral confusion becomes evident when virtually no one appears ready to condemn polyamory asimmoral. The only arguments mustered against this new movement focus on matters of practicality. Polyamory is certainly not new, but this new movement is yet another reminder that virtually all the fences are now down when it comes to sex and sexual relationships.  What comes next?


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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Russia's Heavy Bomber of 1933

In the 1930s the Russian army was obsessed with the idea of creating huge planes. At that time, they were proposed to have as many propellers as possible
to help carry those huge flying fortresses into the air. Jet propulsion has not been implemented yet.

Not many photos were saved from that time, because of the high secrecy levels of such projects and because a lot of time had passed already. Still, on the photo above you can see one of such planes -a heavy K.7 bomber .

Saturday, August 8, 2009

St. Augustine,Florida

This is supposedly a KOA Campground in St. Augustine, but it does not resemble the place I went in 1971 and 1980.

I made two memorable trips to St. Augustine, Florida.  Both of them were church-sponsored youth-camping trips. The first was in the summer of 1971 and I have never been allowed to forget it. I had a 1970 Ford (without air conditioning) at the time and provided transportation for myself; my wife Louise Callaway Johnson; her great-niece, Katherine Louise Callaway; her friend and my friend, Jacquelyn Johnson (no relation); and Karen Swann.  I thought the trip down was uneventful compared to the time at the beach, but little did I know. At every opportunity, Jacquelyn likes to point out that I drove them to Florida in a car WITHOUT air conditioning and that they had to "ride with their heads out the window LIKE DOGS".  My own memory of  the trip involves a rainstorm while we were camping in a KOA camp ground near the beach. All our tents were primitive affairs that offered little protection from the wind and rain, but we all survived and eventually got our stuff dried out.

The second trip was in 1980 when I drove a borrowed van for hauling tents and luggage. I followed the church bus as best I could for fifteen miles,  or so, until the van refused to go at much more than a walking pace. I managed to make it to the Chevrolet dealer in Thomson, from where I called the State Patrol in Louisville, GA.  I requested that they stop the church bus and tell them of my predicament. I then notified the owner of the van and got him to bring the church van in which to finish the trip. Both of these requests were complied with, and I was able to catch up with the bus in an hour or so. The camp was in the same spot as in 1971, but I don't remember a storm like we  had before.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Penn center to help Army with stress

Army sergeants may have a tough-guy image, but University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman thinks they're in a perfect position to teach their fellow soldiers how to better handle emotions.
That is why sergeants - the line teachers of the Army - will be the first to receive resiliency training when a new project designed to revamp the Army's approach to mental health rolls out next month. Fifty noncommissioned officers will go to Penn's campus for a week of training by staff of the Positive Psychology Center, which Seligman directs. After that, 300 will arrive in November and December. They will take what they've learned about preventing psychological problems and living more fulfilling lives back to their troops, Seligman said.
Worried about rising suicide rates and thousands of soldiers with posttraumatic stress disorder, the Army is launching the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program to help 1.1 million soldiers and their families cope more effectively with the stress of military life and combat.
"They're not coming into the service with the coping skills they need," said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff. "That's how the resilience program was born."
The goal is to reduce problems and increase the number of people who improve and grow personally after surviving trauma, undergoing what psychologists call posttraumatic growth. Seligman has long argued that psychologists should think not only about what makes people miserable but also about what makes them happy and successful.
"Having an Army that's just as psychologically fit as physically fit will make for a much more effective Army of the future," he said.
Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, a doctor who has a Ph.D. in nutrition and biochemistry, will direct the initiative. She knows something about stress. During the Persian Gulf War, she was in a helicopter that was shot down in late February 1991. Iraqi forces held her captive for more than a week before repatriating her in early March.
Cornum said yesterday that she never questioned her ability to survive. "I had absolute confidence that I would do well and that I would be emotionally fine when I got back," she said. And, she said, the experience even made her a better person. But she realizes that not everyone was "brought up to look at things that were difficult as challenges. . . . The time to teach that is not when they're in a prison in Baghdad."
The Army, she said, historically has done a much better job of teaching physical fitness and technical skills than of addressing emotions. Now that soldiers face repeated conflict, they need more help.
"We decided it wasn't a good idea to just wait until people had a problem and then try to solve it," Cornum said. She likened mental problems to heart attacks. You can give a patient a bypass afterward, but it's better to head off the attack with healthy food and exercise.
The initiative will cost $100 million over three years. Seligman said Penn would receive about $1 million for its work this year. Contracts have not yet been completed for training in 2010 and beyond. The program will also include periodic assessments of soldiers' mental fitness in four areas: emotional, social, family, and spiritual. Soldiers will fill out a 150-item questionnaire in October and will take it every two years. They will be told confidentially how they did and will be offered classes developed by experts in the four key areas. Classes will also be made available to their family members.
Seligman said he was impressed by the Army's approach. "They are calling on the best civilian science here," he said. "This is a very classy operation they've mounted."
Penn will teach soldiers to think differently about what happens to them. The program, originally developed to teach schoolchildren, will help the noncommissioned officers avoid "catastrophizing," a tendency to imagine and fret about worst-case scenarios. It will also help them play to their strengths and virtues and build better relationships.
For example, Seligman said, they will be taught "active, constructive responding," a technique that helps people draw out detail in a conversation that allows the other speaker to "relive good events."
Cornum said 35 soldiers tried the program in May and gave it rave reviews. They said they had used its lessons immediately at work and at home. "Every single one of them said that," Cornum said of six graduates she questioned at Fort Jackson yesterday. "I was happily amazed."
She said the Army was working with Penn to "militarize the curriculum" so it is better suited to soldiers. "It probably wasn't Braveheart and Band of Brothers," she said of the original curriculum.
Seligman said he was especially pleased that the Army decided to take the program out of its medicine department and put it under education and training.
"Ever since being APA president," he said, referring to the American Psychological Association, "I've been arguing that psychology wants to move out of this pathology model that it's painted itself into."

New on-line counseling option for Soldiers

A special blog post from Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli…

Since taking on suicide prevention in January, I and many other Army leaders have worked very hard to remove any perception of stigma as a barrier to care. I think we have made progress on this front, but we still have a long way to go.

I am pleased to inform you of two new initiatives launched on 1 August by Department of Defense Health Affairs and the Defense Center of Excellence.

The first program provides Web-Based Behavioral Health Care Services through the TRICARE Assistance Program (TRIAP). This program is open to active duty service members, members eligible for the Transition Assistance Management Program (TAMP) for six months after demobilization, members enrolled in TRICARE Reserve Select, as well as spouses and family members 18 years of age or older.

Through this new program, Soldiers and family members can access unlimited short-term, problem solving counseling 24/7 with a licensed counselor from home or any other location of choice that has a computer, Internet and Webcam. These counseling sessions can assist in dealing with personal problems impacting work performance, health and well-being. Through assessments and the counseling process, if a more specialized medical care is necessary, there are mechanisms in place for immediate referral to a provider.

This is just the first step. In conjunction with TRIAP, the second program seeks to eventually expand services through TRICARE by also building a network of locations and online providers for telemental health services, using medically-supervised, secure audio-visual conferencing to link beneficiaries with offsite providers. This network will be able to provide the full range of behavioral health care services, including psychotherapy and medication management, and is another step toward enhancing access to care.

I am very excited that our Soldiers can now access care from the comfort and privacy of their own home if necessary and that processes are in motion to move us through a phased approach to eventually get to where Soldiers and family members can truly access comprehensive behavioral health care at home. I will keep you updated as we move through this process toward our ultimate goal. For information or to link into your regional TRIAP web site for care, go to http://www.tricare.mil/TRIAP. For information about the more comprehensive telemental services, go to the getting care link at http://tricare.mil/mybenefit/home/MentalHealthAndBehavior.

Your leaders are committed to ensuring you have access to the best possible care without any stigma. Your health and well-being, and that of your families, is our greatest concern.

Army Strong!

-Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army

Gen. Chiarelli will be joining us for a blogger’s roundtable to discuss the topic tomorrow at 10 AM ET. Listen live at www.blogtalkradio.com/bloggersroundtable.

Posted bylindykyzerunderArmy News, Suicide Prevention

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A House Divided?

A House Divided?

This is a post from Albert Mohler's blog dated today.
Posted: Wednesday, August 05, 2009 at 4:05 am ET
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Less than a month after the Episcopal Church voted to end its commitment to a moratorium on the election of openly homosexual priests as bishops, one of the largest and most liberal dioceses of the Church has nominated two openly homosexual clergy to election as bishop. The stage is now set for the Episcopal Church to break with the larger Anglican Communion and thus fully to normalize homosexuality within their church.
The diocese of Los Angeles announced Sunday the nomination of six priests as candidates for two openings as auxiliary bishop.  Two openly homosexual clergy are on the list, a man and a woman. The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, affirmed "each and every one of these candidates," noting his pleasure in "the wide diversity they offer this diocese."
Acting just prior to the Diocese of Los Angeles, the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota also announced candidates for election as bishop. The three candidates include the Rev. Bonnie Perry, pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rev. Perry has been in a committed homosexual relationship with another female Episcopal priest for 22 years.
All this adds up to a context of extreme volatility. The Episcopal Church now threatens to turn the Anglican Communion into absolute turmoil. Given the circumstances, the Anglican Communion will have no choice but to act. Conservatives, led by archbishops from the "Global South," have long warned the communion that they and their churches will not accommodate themselves to the normalization of homosexual behavior and relationships. As they rightly recognize, such an accommodation is nothing less than a denial of scriptural authority and an act of defiance against the clear teachings of the Bible.
Amazingly, the titular head of the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has responded to the action of the Episcopal Church by suggesting the possibility of a "two-track model" of Anglican relatedness that would recognize "two styles of being Anglican."
In other words, Archbishop Rowan Williams would attempt to avoid a division within his communion of churches by adopting a strategy that creates "a twofold ecclesial reality." In his words:
“There is at least the possibility of a twofold ecclesial reality in view in the middle distance: that is, a ‘covenanted’ Anglican global body, fully sharing certain aspects of a vision of how the Church should be and behave, able to take part as a body in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue; and, related to this body, but in less formal ways with fewer formal expectations, there may be associated local churches in various kinds of mutual partnership and solidarity with one another and with ‘covenanted’ provinces.”
Note carefully what this proposal represents. Dr. William's strategy would produce a communion of churches that includes, on the one hand, a majority of churches that are firm in understanding the sinfulness of all homosexual behavior and, on the other hand, a minority of churches that are firm in believing that homosexuality is not only not a sin, but that it is also morally insignificant. According to Dr. Williams plan, these two groups of churches would continue to exist in some sort of formal communion. As he sees it, this would avoid "apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication."
Without doubt, churches and denominations can remain healthy even as they experience disagreement over any number of non-fundamental issues. Nevertheless, when an issue as fundamental as the sinfulness of homosexuality becomes the fulcrum of division, no church or denomination can maintain a divided mind. Given the Bible's clear statements regarding homosexuality, those who honor the authority of Scripture must see a division on this question as a test of their church's commitment to the Scriptures as the Word of God.
While in this case it is the Episcopal Church that provides the object lesson, similar issues and questions of ecclesial integrity can and will arise within every church and denomination. In this light, these recent developments in the Episcopal Church demand the careful attention of every committed Christian.
Anglicanism has historically taken pride in the commitment to a rather diverse set of traditions -- a project often styled as "comprehensiveness." The Anglican tradition has included both high and low church styles of church life and worship and a diversity of theological traditions ranging from evangelicalism to theological liberalism to Anglo Catholicism. To date, no issue has tested the commitment to comprehensiveness as the question of homosexuality now does.
Rowan Williams's proposal for a "two-track" Anglican Communion is a theological disaster. Beyond this, it is almost certainly unworkable. The reason for this is simple -- both sides in this controversy see the question of homosexuality as both unavoidable and fundamental. Both sides see the question as far too important to remain unsettled. Neither side can accept the permanent disagreement of the other.
At the very least, Anglicans would do well to remember the anguished logic of Abraham Lincoln. In his 1858 speech accepting the Republican nomination for the Illinois race for U.S. Senate, Lincoln addressed the nation's agitation over the issue of slavery:
In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest this further spread and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is on a course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates shall press it forward, until it shall become alike lawful in all of the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.
Citing the words of Jesus, Lincoln reminded his audience that a house cannot survive a division over a question of such fundamental importance as slavery. As Lincoln rightly understood, the real threat of division was not political, but moral. Addressing this reality in his first inaugural address, Lincoln said: "One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."
The current anguish of the Anglican Communion must serve as a tragic wake-up call for every church and denomination that would claim an allegiance to Scripture. No church can accept the coexistence of an affirmation of biblical authority and a denial of the same. A house divided over the issue of biblical authority will surely fall.
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