Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Some judicial sense...

According to this report, a district judge is offering worship service attendance as a sentencing option, rather than jail or rehab. It's a feasible option, especially with the success of a like-minded organization Prison Fellowship. Of course, the ACLU is all over it, claiming it violates the fictional "separation of church and state" (it's nowhere in the Constitution), but it's no worse than activist judges who can legislate who lives and who dies...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The real Indiana Jones?

The search has been on for centuries trying to locate the Ark of the Covenant that disappeared around Israel's exile to Babylon in 586 BC. As this article states, there are various theories about where it is located. Apparently, however, Dr. Vendyl Jones thinks he knows the location of the Ark, and hopes to reveal it to the world by August 14, 2005 (the Fast of Tisha B'Av). Like in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," we'll see if he does, in fact, discover it like a modern Indiana Jones...after which his friends might start calling him "Indy" instead of Vendyl.

A refreshing turn in the world of art...

A new art museum has opened in the heart of secular New York City. What makes it particularly notable is that it's the Museum of Biblical Art, where religious art is displayed respectfully, rather than sacriligiously in past museums (a couple of notable pieces come time mind...). Here, a revival of religious art is exhibited to give people inspiration as they browse. As Rebecca Hoffberger, director of Baltimore's American Visionary Art Museum (where one of my friends got married, BTW) said "If museums are only repositories to enshrine objects, they're mausoleums. Looking at the source of inspiration is the most valid path." Hopefully, it will bring a breath of fresh air to the world of modern art.

Has fan geekdom come to a close?

Now with the ending of the Star Wars saga, in addition to other finales such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Babylon 5, and Star Trek with the ending of Enterprise this season, as this article asks, "What's a fan to do?" As cultic shows come and go, I would guess the next big sci-fi/fantasy outlet will be through the Narnia movies. Otherwise, I guess we geeks will just have to manage with the reruns and dvds.

Digitally animated particles

Here is a site that a friend emailed to me that I thought was just plain cool. It has some stills as well as movie shorts created digitally, as the creator writes, through a program called "SPORE," which "is an ongoing software/aesthetic development project that has grown out of a proprietary ultra-high speed particle renderer which runs on Irix, Linux, and OSX. All the images on page 1 and 2 are stills from animations, and some of these stills are constructed with over 1 billion particles." Just something fun for everyone to check out...

Thanks to Mianne for the link.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Amazing babies....

There seems to be a lot of stories in the news recently about amazing babies and their mothers who stand by against all hope, as well as some rare multiple births.

One mother delayed her chemotherapy treatment when she was told 4 days after she found out she was pregnant that she was diagnosed with leukemia. She later gave birth to healthy identical twin boys, and is currently in remission.

Another baby was born 3 months premature, weighing only 11 ounces, delivering her early because her mother was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes and the doctors didn't want to pose further risk to Dakota's health or survival.

Here, one mother gave birth to very rare identical female quadruplets, giving them names to correspond with their original designation as babies A, B, C, and D: Adele, Bonnie, Chloe, and Daphne.

Lastly, this family, after already having 2 year old identical twin girls, have a set of naturally conceived identical triplet boys. A 1:15,000,000 chance of having two sets of identical babies, with one set being triplets. Wow!

Congratulations to these courageous mothers and their (multiple) bundles of joy!

P.S. Here is a convention for multiples (triplets and quadruplets) in Washington that some of these families can attend!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The unspoken stem cell solution...

Yesterday, the House voted on a bill to lift the ban on the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research (not the ban on embryonic stem cell research, as the media would have you believe, which is still carried on in the private sector), which President Bush has indicated he will veto. What irks me so much is that the media would again have you believe that the President is hard-hearted and doesn't want possible cures to be found for various diseases. However, what they don't tell you is that embryonic stem cell research done to date has rendered no cures, where as adult stem cell research (as well as from umbilical cord blood) had proven several possibilities thus far, without killing a potential human being or harming anyone in any way.

Here is an excellent article on this particular topic that describes this differentiation in the stem cell research, written by an MD, Dr. Wolfgang Lillge. One comment he mentions that would put a lot of the stem cell argument to rest is the following, addressing the crux of the debate:
"Embryonic stem cells are taken from a developing embryo at the blastocyst
stage, destroying the embryo, a developing human life. Adult stem cells, on the
other hand, are found in all tissues of the growing human being and, according
to latest reports, also have the potential to transform themselves into
practically all other cell types, or revert to being stem cells with greater
reproductive capacity. Embryonic stem cells have not yet been used for even one therapy, while adult stem cells have already been successfully used in numerous patients, including for cardiac infarction (death of some of the heart tissue)...It is remarkable that in the debate–often carried on with little competence–the potential of embryonic stem cells is exaggerated in a one-sided way, while important moral questions and issues of research strategy are passed over in silence."

Update: (6/23/05) Here is another article supporting the advantage of using adult stem cells vs. embryonic ones, stating that they have discovered they can multiply just as well as the embryonic without destroying life in the process. As the article further states this advantage:
"'Scientists have typically believed that adult or post-natal stem cells
grow old and die much sooner than embryonic stem cells, but this study
demonstrates that is not the case,' said Huard, the senior author of the study.
...The researchers also found that, unlike embryonic stem cells, rejection by
the recipient's immune system is not an issue with adult stem cells."
Unfortunately, this is not oft heard about in the mainstream media...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Another sequel to look out for...

Since I'm on the topic of movies, I came across a short announcement that there is a project in the works by the Henson Company to make a sequel to the 1982 movie "The Dark Crystal." (remember that one?) It will be set years later, after Jen and Kira have become King and Queen, when the Crystal is broken again, forcing them to fight for their kingdom. Its title is "The Power of the Dark Crystal." It features a combination of CGI and live-action animitronics. Hope it's good...

Aslan is coming....

As we went to see the Star Wars "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" this weekend, we were fortunate enough to see the trailer* for the upcoming film "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," from C.S. Lewis' 7-book series "The Chronicles of Narnia," coming out December 9th. Walden Media is producing, who also put out such family-friendly movies as "Holes," "Because of Winn-Dixie," "I Am David," and the upcoming "Charlotte's Web" with Julia Roberts as the voice of Charlotte. I must say I was awed by just the trailer, and can't wait to see the completed product this Christmastime. The Chronicles will be the 7-year replacements for "The Lord of the Rings" Trilogy, IMHO.

*To find the trailer, you must enter the Wardrobe, click "The Movie" under the Lion's head on the gate, and then select "The Production Room." You must then navigate through the menu to find it under "video" (the TV).

Update: It has been announced that there will be 4 different soundtracks released for this movie--a film score soundtrack, a Christian artists album, a rock and pop album, and a children's album--in order to appeal to a larger audience.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

So they're discovering abstinence *does* pay...

According to this study of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, they discovered that being abstinent through high school has its payoffs (besides averting disease, pregnancy, and emotional problems), such as completing an average of one year more of higher education, obtaining 20% higher salaries, and having about half the rate of divorce as those who weren't abstinent before 18. So abstinence may seem "uncool" these days, but there are definitely advantages to waiting until marriage and maturity.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The pro-abortion cover up continues...

It's really amazing how the media and pro-abortion proponents try to cover up the fact that what is being killed is a baby, and call it a "fetus" or just "tissue" in order to dehumanize the whole sordid event. Here is an article showing just that type of cover-up, when a woman delivered her son in an L&D abortion, and decided she wanted to keep him after all, but the clinic claimed he was never born alive and that she just "passed some tissue," never calling for aid after she had changed her mind to keep her son. They wouldn't even let her hold her baby after the fact. This industry is so grotesque, cruel, and inhumane that many have left the business of abortion after they have worked in it for a time...but some still remain who have dehumanized themselves so much that they continue their work and try to depersonalize the job they are doing instead in order to rationalize their actions.

Update: This mother is now suing the clinic for "failing to have a doctor present during the procedure, improperly stating the baby was stillborn, and failing to provide postoperative care." They are hoping that this case will spark "enforcement of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA), a law passed by Congress in 2002." Chuck Colson also commented on this case to exemplify the need for a Culture of Life in our country and in this world.

Have they found the place where Jesus was baptized?

According to this article, archaeologists believe they have found the place where Jesus was baptized, mentioned in the Bible as "Bethany beyond the Jordan," which they estimate is located about 11 kilometers north of the Dead Sea.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Call it what it *really* is...

You have probably heard about the Colorado college professor, Ward Churchill, who teaches in Native American studies and has recently gained attention for his calling the victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns" and for plagiarism in his essays. Yet Colorado University has failed to fire him, and more deceit has come to the forefront, with the Cherokee Nation's asserting that he has no Indian ancestry, as he claims, doing the tribe a further disservice with his dishonesty, especially as "director" of Native American studies, to which he is not even related. I'm probably more Cherokee than he is (3/16), and I haven't claimed Indian ancestry even for scholarships. This man has been a disgrace to both CU and the Cherokee tribe--only one has called him on his lies and his malicious spirit towards his fellow Americans. When will he be identified by his employer what he really is--a fraud?

Update: Well, it appears that the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians has announced that Churchill's ancestry is legitimate enough for his Associate Membership that they had awarded him, since he showed some geneological records indicating he is 1/16 Cherokee. However, since he didn't have a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood), they could not make him a full member. However, even they remain displeased with his writings and comments that have consistently brought him negative attention, stating that "Mr. Churchill mocks the basic fundamental principles of Tribal Sovereignty when he consistently refers to enrollment as a 'pedigree' and compares enrollment to 'dogs' and 'Nazi policies."' Ever heard of biting the hand that feeds you?

Update: (9/10/05) Finally, a panel from the University of Colorado is calling for an investigation of Churchill for "research misconduct," which could lead to his dismissal. He faces charges of "plagiarism, misuse of others' work, and falsification and fabrication." It may not be his asinine comments that are getting him fired, but his unethical antics are finally catching up with him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Christianity to take over the world?

I came across this interesting article, in which the author speculates that if the spread of Christianity continues at its current growth rate of 8% a year, the world's population will be Christian by 2032. Hmmm....

Another typical media double-standard

Many of you, no doubt, have heard about the outrage in accordance with Newsweek's report of the Q'uran being flushed down the toilet at Guantanamo Bay as "incentive" for prisoners to talk, which it has now retracted. However, I came across this article, which discusses that very little--if any--media time was devoted to the desecration of the Bible, being used as toilet paper by the Palestinian terrorists who took over the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem 3 years ago...Yet another glaring imbalance by the media elite. Here is another letter to the editor that also addresses the discrepancy in how the media treats different holy books.

On another note, here is another article that puts this whole incident more in perspective re: the Islamic reaction, as the author states: "I have no interest either in defending Newsweek or in justifying interrogators' methods, but let's be blunt: Those rampaging in Afghanistan didn't need a reason to riot; they needed an excuse."

Here's another fiery commentary by Ann Coulter on the subject, as well as from Hal Lindsey.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Smart move....

Apparently, a parachutist wasn't entirely successful as he jumped from the second level of the Eiffel Tower. Since I visited Paris in February (see above picture), I remember how far up just the second platform was from the ground....and carefully hid out in the gift shop after briefly looking at the panorama from the *center* of the level. Meanwhile, my nearly-as-daredevil-as-the-parachutist husband was practically hanging out over the edge taking pictures from there and at the very top....and he unfortunately had no parachute. Fortunately, however, he did survive the adventure.

Another fast track to sainthood...

It looks like, with much support from Catholics worldwide, that Pope Benedict has set aside the normal 5 year waiting period to consider beatification towards sainthood for Pope John Paul II.

Update: The Vatican has started the secretive process for beatifying Pope John Paul II. After examining his life and his theology, they are waiting to confirm a posthumous miracle in order to beatify him. If a second is confirmed, then he will be declared a saint. (6/28/05)

What some people will do for money...

As many of you have probably already heard, the "finger in the chili at Wendy's" claim was bogus. The accuser has been implicated in the plant of the digit portion herself, which belonged to an associate of her husband. As the police chief said, "The jig is up."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"We are the knights of the Round Table..."

Well, you may never have thought you'd see the day that Monty Python's "Holy Grail" movie would come to stage, albeit loosely adapted, but it's true. Featured on Broadway, it's titled "Spamalot," and it has actually been nominated for 14 Tony awards this season.

Update: According to this report, "Spamalot" won 3 Tonys from its 14 nominations: Best Musical, Best Director (Mike Nicholas), and Best Actress (Sara Ramirez). (6/5/05)

Monday, May 09, 2005

Animals hogging the news...

According to this story, a chicken crossing the street--jaywalking, mind you--was ticketed by a Sheriff's Deputy for impeding traffic.

Here, a dog in Nairobi saved an abandoned newborn girl, bringing her back to the dog's own litter until someone found her and took her to a hospital.

Now, this article says that the dog crossed a busy road and through barbed wire to reach her litter with the baby, but in Kenya, they apparently don't ticket dogs for crossing the street.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Sorry, wrong number...

Fragment from Book of Revelation mentions 616 in the third line – chi, iota, sigma (courtesy Egypt Exploration Society)

Well, according to this article, scholars have found an early fragment of the Book of Revelation in which the Greek translation of the Beast equals 616, rather than the famed 666.

I guess a lot of heavy metal albums will have to be reprinted...

Addition: I found this quote on a site today (6/22/05), related to this issue:

"The most reliable manuscripts have the number as 666. There's no reason to change the text of the New Testament, and there's no reason to change the tattoos."

Georgetown University theology professor Alan Mitchell, on a newly readable fourth-century manuscript fragment of the Book of Revelation, which says the number of the Beast is 616.

Jesus can't get a license in West Virginia...

According to this article, a man who has changed his name to Jesus Christ can't get a legal driver's license in West Virginia, even though he holds a passport, a DC license, and a Social Security Card in that name. Guess that's not proof enough for West Virginia...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Happy Anti-Mother's Day

This "marketing" ploy has about as much good taste as PETA's use of the Holocaust to deter animal slaughter. NOW (National Organization for Women) is selling bracelets--for Mother's Day--with the logo "Keep Abortion Legal."

Talk about a hypocritical, slap-in-the-face insult to mothers (and those who want to be moms) worldwide....just about as effective as their Christmas cards with the wish "Choice on Earth" as the world celebrates the birth of the Savior.

There never is any good time to endorse abortion, but they picked an ironically inappropriate holiday this weekend to sell their "view." They seem to work overtime in promoting their cause while at the same time they are essentially degrading the very holidays they are attempting to "celebrate." I hope people can see NOW for what they're worth...

Here is another commentary on the matter.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Now you can use the name you've always wanted...

Again, a listing was brought to my attention on eBay, a bastion of amusement in addition to being the world's garage sale. Anyhow, here is an auction where, as the winning bidder, you are allowed to choose the name for their third daughter, who was miraculously conceived after the mother had undergone tubal ligation after her second baby. If there's ever a name you wanted to use, but never had the opportunity, then here's your chance!

Update: After 2 relistings (eBay pulled it off twice?), it finally sold for $127.50 with 14 bids. However, we don't know the name that was submitted. I will update again if I find out.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The news you never hear...

Most of you would agree that practically all the news about Iraq you hear in the media is negative, focusing on who died that day, what things went wrong, etc. Rarely do you hear about the heroism that goes on daily, even for people not their own. Here is a great story about some Marines who went above and beyond the call of duty to save a premature Iraqi baby only 5 days old from a Fallujah hospital after an explosion had hit it.

Verrrrry Interrresting....

The UK Paper Guardian interviewed one of only 2 surviving members of Hitler's bunker--his nurse, Erna Flegal, who is currently 93 years old. It was interesting to hear her recollections of what happened during the last days of WWII as the Russians closed in on Berlin. A particularly notable impression she spoke of was that of Hitler: "His authority was extraordinary. He was always polite and charming. There was really nothing to object to." Interesting...isn't that how most sociopaths are described?

Update: Thanks to the tip of an anonymous commenter, I discovered that contrary to this article stating his silence, the other survivor, 87 year old Rochus Misch, indeed has talked. Here is his version of the last days of the Third Reich.

Monday, May 02, 2005

You, too, can own a Popemobile

Well, I thought I'd seen a lot of things on eBay. However, I haven't checked all the things available on German eBay, which was brought to my attention by this article. Apparently, a gentleman is selling a Volkswagen Golf that was once owned by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. It has had over 4.2 million hits, and there are currently 137 bids. If you're interested, the bidding is still open until 5/5/05, so you can purchase it here for the current low bid of 62,700.00 Euros.

I particularly like this question posed by one potential bidder: "Kommt aus dem Auspuff schwarzer oder weißer Rauch raus?" (Does black or white smoke come out of the exhaust pipe?)

Update: The auction ended today, 5/5/05, and the car sold to Golden Palace Casino, who also paid the $28,000 for the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich (see also "Latest eBay Culinary Projective" entry). After 227 bids, they purchased the former Cardinal's car for 188,938.88 Euros ($243,731.15). Looks like they're after the modern day religious "relics."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

It's time to "Hitchhike...."

I don't know if any of you has read "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," but the movie of the series came out this weekend. I saw a showing this afternoon, and found it quite hilarious. If you like comedic science fiction, kind of like Monty Python meets Star Trek, you're in for a great ride.