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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Morning Star

The Morning Star on Christmas

For years they’ve argued about whether the “Star in the East” the magi talked about in Matthew’s gospel actually was a bright celestial event, a supernova, or just some prophesy or what. I suppose the argument will continue but I caught a most interesting new development the other day that may well be the real answer.

In the northern hemisphere our earth’s axis points toward Polarus, or the North Star. And all around it are a sphere of stars. The sphere appears to rotate around the Polarus axis as if one were standing inside a globe imprinted with the stars. All the stars are fixed in orientation to one another as one might expect, except for moon and sun and seven visible planets. Since earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees with respect to the planetary plane of movements, these “wandering stars” move around and slowly progress through a belt that is 47 degrees wide --the same belt where the sun and moon come up and progress across the sky. That is, they come up somewhere in the east and progress across the southern sky and then set in the west. If you go out about 9 o’clock this time of year and look south, you’ll see the constellation Aries. As the night progresses the dome of stars moves from east to west and Pisces, then Aquarius come into that dead south position. As the months go by, the dozen or so constellations, named by ancient astronomers for the star formations, will rotate through the dome of stars so that each month a new constellation will be dead south and so forth. The ancient astronomers named the months, not for the prominent constellations that are straight south in early evening but for the one that is rising in the east as the sun sets. So Leo, the southern constellation in April is the east-rising constellation in July and that is the month designated as Leo. There is a lot of spooky belief about astronomers and astrologers today, but the astrologers were just fledgling scientists. They labored under the mistaken belief that if one could predict the seasons and crops from the movement of the heavens, then surely one could predict more good stuff from really studying the stars. And what interested the astrologers was not the fixed dome of stars but the wanderers—planets and moon. What they really thought significant was the times when the wanderers came very close together or crossed paths in their march across the sky.

A historian was looking at some ancient coins a few years ago. One side of a coin usually has a “head” of an important ruler or god, while the other side is “tails” which often had a commemorated event such as an important victory. On one side of a Syrian-minted coin just a few years after the birth of Christ, was a “head” of the god Zeus, king of the gods, and on the other was a ram looking over his shoulder at a very large star. The Ram is the constellation Aries. Was there a significant event that took place in Aries some time around the birth of Jesus? Well, it turns out that there was a stunning astrological event. During the month of April, 4 BC, the constellation Aries would have been rising just before daybreak. And planet Jupiter (or 'Zeus' as it was known then) was in Aries. The moon, which moves back 50 minutes each night in it’s sky position, would have been very very near the planet Jupiter just before dawn on April 17. In fact the moon, when it comes up just before the sun is a thin sliver (since we face mainly the dark side of the moon). And at about 35 degrees north latitude you would see Jupiter, which looks like a very bright star, just on the edge of the moon as if connected. Just north of 35 degrees you wouldn’t see Jupiter at all since the moon would be eclipsing it. Astrologically this is big stuff. Jupiter was called Zeus by the Greco-Roman world—king of the gods. The moon-star event is seen “in the east” just before daybreak, “the morning star”. And the constellation Aries, the Ram, was identified with the tiny nation of Judea astrologically. So here was born a king among the Jews, king above all gods. Oh, and April 17 was just after Passover of the Jews that year.

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin…” begins the story in Luke 1:26ff. The Jewish calendar starts in March and months are lunar so they are only 29 days long. Since 12 months doesn’t add up to a year, there are some years that begin very early in March and last 13 months. At any rate the sixth month is late July or August. And nine months later is April. “some shepherds were abiding in the field laying watch over their flocks by night” says Luke 2. Those passages are the only two hints about the time of year when Jesus was born. But the only time shepherds and sheep would have been ‘in fields’ rather than out to pasture is in the winter rainy season, Dec. to March—or early April if the ground was wet. Oh, and 4 BC is significant since that is the well-chronicled year Herod the Great died. He’s the paranoid king in the story of the Magi. And it was during this 'abiding in the fields' wintering-over that ewes had lambs and were given shelter under outcrops or caves in the cliffs around Bethlehem and fed supplemental hay in mangers. So most scholars think Jesus was born in or around early April of 4 BC.

But who, among the astrologers would think to travel to Judea and scout for a king that was born? Who, outside of little Judea would have known? The Jews had been conquered by the Babylonians 500 years before and during this time the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold of a coming M’shia (Messiah), or “anointed one”, that is, “a king” expected among the Jews. The Greeks and Romans wouldn’t have heard this. So the magi (that is,the Babylonian word for “astrologers”) came from what we call Iraq today, seeking a king born among the Jews that would become ruler of everyone, king of kings and Lord of Lords. What irony that the former conquerers and oppressors had now come to find a king among the Jews.

And as one Messianic Jew (believers in Jesus Christ) said, “wouldn’t it be just too good, too fitting, if Jesus was born on Passover 4 BC and died on Passover?”

Merry Christmas everyone.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Who killed Jesus?

I watched History Channel's "Who Really Killed Jesus" again last night. Their historical critical study of Passion week sums up well the historical critic views on what really went on during Jesus's trial and execution. They seem to agree that Jesus was a real life character, that he was executed by the Romans, was tried by Pilate. All those things were often held as myths when I was in college years ago. But they concluded that the 4 gospels had embellished these facts with fiction about those involved. In other words, the dialog was made up.

That Jesus was real seems evidenced easily by the fact that so many people were willing to die as martyrs for believing in him, that his disciples spread his message far and wide. And the primary and original belief of these Christians was that Jesus had risen from the dead. People just don't behave that way unless they are inspired. But then the archeologists have found a structure called the Tiberium, some sort of shrine to the Emperor Tiberius at the time, that was built by the Roman Praefect Pontius Pilate. A Praefect is like a military governor. So there went all the arguments that there was no Pontius Pilate. In fact they now concede that he was the guy who ruled Palestine after 26 AD.

Then they argued that whereas Pilate ruled from Caesaria, he also had a residence in Jerusalem which he would occupy to keep order and that he no doubt went there to observe Passover and put his troops on alert. Living "up on the Hill" made him part of the neighborhood of the rich Sadducee Jews who ran the temple so no doubt he was the closest of buddies to them. Indeed they were in charge of bringing in the money and he was in charge of transmitting tribute to Rome. (I find this preposterous. People often live in the same neighborhood or have similar interests but have no affinity for each other.) Moreover, Pilate's name indicates he was from a southern Italian tribe that was a rogue province of Rome. Few from there achieved much authority and they were distrusted. Pilate may have been one of the most promoted of those people. And he got there by his probable service in Germany where the Romans conquered in some of the most brutal battles ever fought by Rome. Josephus writes that Pilate was violent, shrewd, and killed Jews for hardly any reason. But then Josephus was probably making an editorial point that Pilate had abused the Jews. Nonetheless, Palestine was a rebellious place that wouldn't pay the Roman tax, and Romans probably sent a harsh man to govern. Blood meant nothing to this guy.

Thus the assumption that Pilate killed Jesus and that the Jews have been hung with guilt by the Christian writers. And that all the dialog between Jesus and Pilate was probably trumped up. (May I make a point: the first gospels were written in the 60's AD when Christianity was just a sect of Jews, so there was not so much motive to skewer the Jews with guilt in Matthew and Mark at least.) And that Pilate was "not a wishy-washy man as portrayed in the gospels". By this time I'm amused. So where in the gospels is Pilate declared wishy-washy? I do seem to remember a woman who taught my second grade Sunday School class who thought he was that way, but if you closely look at the text, it portrays him as smart and shrewd character who seems to have his eyes squinted in disbelief at the Jewish motives. Those Jewish leaders, whose fathers ran an independent state, and who are prime suspects as hating the Roman presence, have brought a penniless holy man forward and charged him with bogus kingship. Yes, Pilate's first thought was probably "away with him," and his first question was to the point, "Are you the King of the Jews?" But he has to be thinking why the dickens did these powerful Jews feel so threatened by this Jesus guy? What the heck are they up to? As I read the text it seems that Pilate is gaming the Jews, trying to make them tell about their motivations. From his perspective, this is all about the head Jews, not Jesus.

Imagine you are a conservative and head of the CIA. All the guys who work under you are liberals however, former State Dept. guys who were transferred by Obama. One day the crew brings you a file on some elderly Arab-American grandmother who has lived in the United States for 60 years peacefully. They know that terrorism is a hot button issue with you and they claim she is a terrorist. They begin to describe her with racist vitriol against Arabs that they think might somehow resonate with you, since that is how they see conservatives. Would you be suspect of their motives? Would you wonder why such an unlikely terrorist was brought to your attention? That's how I see Pilate.

In the end, of course, Pilate games the Jewish leaders all the way to the point of washing his hands of the judgment and nailing a flagrant sign over Jesus "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". He's testing them. And the Sadducees practically turn themselves inside out trying to prove their undying loyalty to Rome. (By the way, many Jews read the gospels and conclude that it is sad how people under submission will act toward their fellow man--as in the concentration camps where some snitches tried to curry Nazi favors)

Now here's the interesting thing about the historical critics. These otherwise smart folks hang their entire "disproof" on what they infer as a friendship between Pilate and Jewish leaders. (tenuous)They proudly pronounce that Pilate was portrayed as wishy-washy by the gospels, perhaps more a popular notion with some church-goers than a faithful reading of the text. And the whole theme is to exonerate the Jews.

Well, I have news. Pilate killed him, Romans killed him, Jews killed him, everyone who has ever committed a sin killed him. That's the gospel message. And that's who really killed Jesus.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Joke of the Year

Jim sent me a forward labelled Joke of the Year, but I heard a better one from my uncle.

A little boy wrote a letter to God. He explained that they were poor and needed $100 desperately. The post office saw the letter sent to "God, USA" and so they forwarded it to Obama. He read it and chuckled and thinking that a little boy wouldn't know much about money told his secretary to send the boy $5. When the little boy got it he sat down and immediately wrote a thank you note to God.

Dear God,

I want to thank you so much for sending me the money. But somehow your letter got routed through Washington, DC and those devils took 95% of it! Thanks anyway.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Well, appparently a Huntington Bancshares employee happened to find an old box full of checks. The checks included the last known signature of Abraham Lincoln on a check dated April 13, 1865, the day before he died. There were checks by Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, FDR, and many other famous people. They had been sitting in a vault of a former Union Commerce Bank which had been taken over by Huntington 30 years ago. Not to worry. The checks were put on microfische and we think we can read the copies before the checks were destroyed.

No, I'm kidding. But Huntington was going to sell the old checks off, like so much yard sale garbage. However, the employees put together a display and public outcry led the bank to cancel the sale. I suppose that is because the bank was mystified about the value of the signatures. They never check signatures anymore. Now I'm being sarcastic.

I still am sore about the way the banking industry went paperless. When I got my first set of copied check images, my accountant said, "Where's the backsides? I can't read the checks." There were 18 check images to a page. Was my CPA being picky? He said that in an IRS audit or a court challenge, the first concern is, Is a check available as proof? It must be legible. There is no proof of check-cashing unless the string of endorsers from the backsides are also known and provided as proof. My banker fussed around about how it costs more to put 8 images on a page and would double costs to provide backside images. We persisted. The next month we got a terse letter that said we could have 8 images, front and back for an steep fee. Eventually I wrote a number of letters and the bank compromised to their current 12 images per page.

What happens if you get into a donnybrook with IRS and the courts hold that the bank images are insufficient? I guess you can sue your bank. And the bank will have already concluded that the losses due to such things aren't large enough to sway their policies of destroying and copying checks in small scale. That is exactly what they told me concerning check forgery where they don't check signatures anymore. So it is caveat emptor, buyer beware. Make sure you check your check images. I am happy to report that a more recent check dispute wherein I had to have a better image of my check, the bank had it still stored electronically and could provide an improved copy.

But the attitude reminds me of some of the crazy characters in the oil industry over the years. "Oh heck, just dump that doggone tank battery into the river. It's cheaper to fight the Water Resources Board than to change the way we want to do things." Oh, by the way, FDR only wrote a check for $1.65. That must have been before he got his hands on government. I saw a vehicle that had a license plate on the front that announced, "I got my car from F.D.R." and then in fine print beneath said, "Ford Dealers Ranch". I gather it's a car dealship, but it makes Democrats nostalgic.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Olin and Dusty

One week, two friends died, hard to take this in.

I owe Olin Branstetter a favor. Several years ago I was designing elderhostel classes and noticed that nowhere in the 20,000 classes offered nationwide was there one in petroleum. Now wasn't that interesting. We all have viewpoints on the price of gasoline and heating fuel and all the derivative products from plastics to lipstick, but there were no courses on the subject. (well not surprising that academia doesn't do business) What's more, Graydon Brown and I had researched Marland's fabulous first oil find in the South Ponca field. So here was a chance to offer folks a chance to learn about oil and gas from the ground to the glamour, history and all.

And so with help from Conoco friends, I began to bone up. Brad and Bill Bridwell taught me about refining and safety. I knew the exploration and production side. But I still didn't know the story about independent oil guys who drive around in pickup trucks in our area fixing stripper well lifts (pumps) and drilling stepout wells and re-stimulating (often using pressure fracturing, that much-maligned technique that has been around for about 50 years and no environmentalist worried about it for the first 45) One day I mentioned this to Olin as he and Dusty came in to eat at our restaurant. He practiced the most romantic thing. He would take Dusty out to eat and then read her poetry as she finished her desert. It's the only time I have ever seen waitresses retreat to the kitchen to shed tears of joy over an old couple who were just too precious. Next day Olin came to my front desk and announced, "I need you to come with me and I am going to teach you all about the oil bid-ness." He had a bottle of crude and a core sample he gave me as class props and took me on a whirlwind tour of local production, explaining not only his own projects but that of other guys in the business as well. I came away armed with examples galore of how independents are squeezing the earth for more oil than the majors are interested in.

So we became friends. And I asked Olin if he and Dusty could teach something on aviation. What they produced were three women who, along with Dusty have set records in flight. I was so staggered by their expertise we taught this class in conjunction with the state's Pioneer Woman Museum. It was the untold story since Amelia Earhart. Then one day, Olin, former state senator, gave me a business card of a colonel at Vance Air Force Base. York was her name. I visited with her about doing some sort of a update class on the Air Force and she got excited about it but first we did a dry run on some retirees who were having a reunion a few weeks away. And so WW II vets met a modern base. Amid stories of baracks they lived in during the war, were tours of modern base housing. Discussions of tactics, jet plane mechanicals, all that paled in comparison to the flight simulator. P-38 pilots met the F-22 in that simulator and came out of there with eyes wide and grins they couldn't get off their faces. Clearly, Olin had pointed me to possibly the best senior education class Elderhostel International would ever offer.

But then it never came about. Days later was 9-11. People stopped traveling. Elderhostel, under enormous money scandals and problems, cut back on classes. The Air Force had to institute new policies that will never make bases so accessible for retired civilians. Northern Oklahoma College, under which I organized classes was cut from Elderhostel International. Excuse: No one will travel to Oklahoma. Ho hum. Things always change.

Oh, did I mention, that the day we held the dry run on all those Army Air Corps guys, Olin and Dusty were along for the fun and were the last two to enjoy the F-22 flight simulator?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reformation Day

Congratulations, Steve on a great fundraiser last night and thanks for Refro and Evans and all who hosted the event!

When I was a kid I loved Halloween as much as any of them. But I wish we'd remember the significance of the day. That is, Halloween, "Hallowed Eve" is the night before All Saints Day in which ghosts, goblins and demonic creatures were said to rise as a show of force before the blessed day. And it was on that evening in 1517 that Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg as opinion points--which lit a fire of nationalistic protest and ecclesiastical protest, but also asked people to look personally at what they held dear in their lives of faith. And for that reason it is called Reformation Day.

The Reformation was sort of a perfect storm. Had it not been for a troubled monk who finally realized that his salvation came only by God's grace, had he not been a prolific writer (30 books published in 36 months), a German nobility that wanted to throw off the Italian papal dominance of the Holy Roman Empire, and a population that wrestled with life's meaning amid bubonic plague and newfound prosperity, the entire event would have taken a much different shape. When I look around at the melange of churches today, at how they cross-fertilize in ideas, Reformation Day makes me smile. My own church has significantly improved its mission because of this diversity of faith. And yet there is a tremendous unity in what is called orthodox Christianity that makes it easy for us to worship together. Luther's "Grace alone,Faith alone, Scripture alone" motto has in a rough way been affirmed by all of Christianity. His notion that there is a Natural Law of how God created men to be equal and free, yet hungering for a relationship with the Almighty and a responsible life, spawned Locke and Jefferson to re-write governance in what we now call 'republican democracy.' Luther's common sense writing begat a host of others to examine how faith could be reconciled with reasoning, science, art, business, and all the rest of life without capitulating to humanism, the creed that elevates egotism into making each person a little god with little regard for others. His vernacular church and Two Kingdoms humbled Europe's monarchs and set about forces that redrew the map of Europe into nations of common people. A few years ago, a very politically liberal group of historians voted on the Man of the Millenium. Jefferson narrowly defeated Luther but British Catholic historian Paul Johnson laughed and pointed out that outside the West, little European history is studied and only America is noted.

In some ways Reformation Day itself is a misnomer. Luther and Pope Leo exchanged letters and made amends from 1517 to 1518. It was only after the Dominicans skewered Reform ideas in 1519 that the real controversy began. After Luther's death in 1546 and that of Henry VIII of England, Charles V pounced on the Northern German principalities and defeated them. Then in a queer twist, having completely defeated Protestantism at a great cost of war, he inexplicably decided to grant universal freedom of faith. For 400 years historians could not understand what had happened--the reason for war had been overturned in the conquest. Then a few years ago, a lost series of letters was found. Charles' sister, married to a German prince at the time, was writing him almost daily, telling him the joys of her Christian faith. She was the biggest Protestant of them all. It seems that Charles reconsidered his victory on the battlefield and and laid down his arms in the battlefield of faith. Reformation Day still makes me smile.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cardinal Math

Like Math? Here's a number sequence and you tell me the next number. 26,30,31,34,42,43,44,46,64,67,68,81,82,85,87,4,6,?
Answer: 11. These are the years that the Cardinals have won the pennant.
We were sitting and watching the game last night when the fifth inning ended with the Cards ahead by 5 runs. Now the way I figure it, teams score an average of 4.5 runs per game or .5 runs per inning. So the probability of scoring a run in any given inning is 0.5. The probability of 2 runs is 0.25, etc. This approximately jives with my sense that if you go into the ninth with a 1 run lead, you have at least a 50% chance of winning --or better if your closer has an ERA much less than 4.50. So then you calculate what is the probability of the Brewers scoring 5 runs in 4 innings? It's over one in thirty. But of course, this isn't dynamic. It assumes the Redbirds won't score again. It assumes that in such a crucial game the Birds won't put in an outstanding pitcher or two with an ERA of about 2.
So I turned to her and said, "I think we got 'em." As it turned out, the Cardinals scored again and the Brewers chances got even worse. Redbirds win. Pennant #18.
I once read about the life of Branch Rickey, the genius general manager of the Cardinals in 1918 who put together the beginning of this very successful baseball team. He was listening-in as the manager dismissed a young man from spring training tryouts. He told the kid to get some muscle on his bones, because despite his fielding prowess, he just didn't have much power in his hitting. The following fall, the kid showed up at the team offices asking if he could try out in spring training again. He was 40 pounds heavier and all rock solid muscle. The manager remember him, young guy by the name of Roger Hornsby. "What have you been doing!!" Rog just shrugged and said he was working on the farm. Rickey was given pause. He thought about how fortunate the team was to run into this kid again. What if they would spend a little money to buy some small town minor league teams and have scouts fan out across the countryside to locate talent, offer a contract to play ball on the minor league outfit and put the young men through training. Call it the 'farm system', ala Hornsby. Since you could buy a minor league team for about $6-8000, about what you'd pay a very good player per year, Rickey thought that if each of about 4 teams could produce a good player from the hinterlands, the purchase would pay for itself in a year. And the rest, as they say is history.
Next, Rickey gave some thought to how to promote his team. St. Louis has another major league team and was somewhat distant to the other teams being the westernmost club. There was a new thing called radio but in 1918 no one understood very well how it could make money. One idea was to get people to listen so that a company could sell more radios. A better idea was to get programming from civic activities and have advertizing sponsors. So radio stations would play, say, an opera that was performing locally. Rickey thought the stuff being done was pitiful and thought baseball would be much better if you could locate a good person to tell the 'game story' as it was being played. And what a perfect way to get the word out, way out West, about the Cards. So while many teams signed-on 2 or 3 radio stations in the town where they played, Rickey assembled an empire of 108 stations throughout the West and South. The cost was so minor it provided a return of almost 200%. Pretty good math, eh? The rise of Cardinal baseball caused the early success of many radio stations beyond the eastern seaboard, made fans in Tennessee lust to go to St. Louis for a game, and made every kid in America seem to want to play for the Redbirds. And started a grand tradition of radio play-by-play announcers--Dizzy Dean, Harry Carey, Jack Buck, Mike Shannon. Oh, and then there was that aggressive beer company in St. Louis who delivered fresh beer quickly by teamsters who saw a perfect match for Anheiser-Busch and a baseball team.
As Rickey's math grew successful, so did the Cardinal's math. In 1903, the team had the lowest winning percentage, .314 in their history, but 1906 was even worse with the team finishing 63 games behind the pennant winners. But from '26 to '46, the Cards won 8 times.
My grandfather said it was a great escape when the country needed an escape. You could come home dehydrated and dirty, having watched the grasshoppers eat your crop. The kids could be fighting , your wife could chew you out and the dog could bite you--but if the Cards won, it was a net positive day. Good math.
Note from Oct. 28--tonight at end of inning 7 Cards were ahead by 4. So with two innings to play the probability is 1/2times1/2 times 1/2 times 1/2 =1/16 but then there are two innings so it is 2/16 or one chance in 8. Result was Cards won as predicted. Dotel and Motte pitched and each had an ERA for the Series of slightly over 1. Hence the Rangers were really cooked! The squirrel was spotted crawling around on the scoreboard getting ready to celebrate. Congratulations, Redbirds!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Athletic Supporter Vents

I guess I am bummed out by what is happening to the Big XII, or Big 5 or whatever we are down to at this point. Love football. Hate the way the NCAA does it. As if it weren't bad enough that colleges exploit young talented athletes who are largely minorities (I thought Lincoln freed the slaves), rarely graduates 'em (tell me, what is the goal of a college?), and makes millions without paying them a dime, now they have to abandon the league just because they are greedy for more money. The University of Oklahoma makes $30 million profit from athletics. They have roughly 30,000 students whose tuition is about double that. But of course the college only breaks even on education. Why don't we apply truth in advertizing law. You know, when a company sells sausage with gravy, if the gravy exceeds the sausage, they have to say, "gravy with sausage"--principal item must be listed first. So the colleges could be "Athletic Program with Incidental Education".

Heck, half the rooters have never darkened the door of the college in the first place. And only about 30% of NCAA football and basketball players ever graduate from college. Why don't we call them unpaid pros instead of students? And then there are the unfortunate professors who will have a hard time associating with other profs of the conference. Last I heard the remainder of the Big XII was thinking about merging with the Big East which has schools like Rutgers (New Jersey) and Connecticut. So then Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Oklahoma U. have strong programs in tornadic research. Do you think U-Conn Job and Rootgers have the slightest interest in tornados? Aren't they researching recipes for seaweed? Just try jumping in a university car and driving to a conference in Hoboken. Maybe the Big East has someone hot on the trail of irrigated corn varieties.

Best argument I have heard for the break-up is that it may force the BCS to come up with a truly national championship tournament for football. Good deal. I suggest a 64 team single elimination tournament which ends about April and least bloody team probably wins. And then all the paint sniffers and derelicts around here can wear their proud athletic apparel covered with tatters and stains. Really makes you want to send your kid there to get an education, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Augustines Day

August 24. Happy St. Augustine's Day. (well I hope that's today and I didn't mess this up like Bachmann did Elvis What's his name)

Steve and I were listening to a very Christian-on-his-sleeves Republican the other day. He leaned over to me and said, "You know if God's not a Republican, we are in deep trouble OR we only get in by grace." But then after a pause, he noted, " But then God said, 'by the sweat of your brow, you shall work all the days of your life,' didn't he? That's not a very Democrat thing to say." Maybe God is an Independent that leans Republican most of the time.

That said, here are some of my favorite Augustine quotes. These are 1600+ years old. As fresh today as in 385 AD. And a bit of comment on government and God by yours truly.
There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future. And from this we deduce that no government should stand in the way of an individual's future with his God; yet there is no favoritism of rulers to live above the law. And in humility we elect our leaders.
If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself. (which I think defines humanism) Because the central message of the Gospel is God's salvation and grace, He turns out to be the boss, even if you can't figure out his mystery or don't like his words.
Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee. Which says that our society, our careers, our mission in life is about a lot more than making money. A lot of the dissatisfaction of those who have no faith is due to the fact that they try to fill up their lives with $$$.
Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all. And thus our government is under, not over, the Supreme Being and those He claims as His Children. Rights come from the Higher Power and are inalienable.
In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love. So if your secular liberal friend scoffs at Life and Liberty...
Love God and do what you like. We are called to a special purpose by God. If we value Him above all, we can be truly free. Government doesn't grant freedom, He does.
In my deepest wound I saw Your Glory and it dazzled me. Only once we see our inadequacy and desperation, can we see the stunning surprize of His undeserved kindness. And what does He consider His greatest glory? That he sought us out and saved us. Is. 43:1-11. And He does that for nations too.
If you understood Him, it would not be God. Those who consider science or politics their god have a really small god.
It is not that we keep His commandments first and that then He loves but that He loves us and then we keep His commandments. This that grace which is revealed to the humble but hidden from the proud. And maybe why the secularists hate the mere display of the 10 commandments.
Better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Everybody thinks this comes from Shakespeare, but he was quoting Augustine. Since our real home is not of this world, we can plunge into life, risking considerably working with gusto. Try to top that, ye dictators and leftists.
Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you. Because it does depend on God who works through us. Eph. 2:10
For no one should consider anything his own, except perhaps a lie, since all truth is from Him who said, "I am the Truth." So much for the lousy modernist thinking of relative truth.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


With temperatures from 104-112, we have been sweating our way through two remodelings and needed a break. So I suggested we take the back roads to Coffeyville just to see the country. We found the most amazing antique shop/restaurant/western clothing/ junk shop on the outskirts of Tyro. Coffeyville looks really tired these days. It was discouraging. They had a downtown renewal going with high hopes 25 years ago but now that is in struggling condition. But mostly we love seeing the country.

While at Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago, I noticed that they are still selling copies of Frank's "What's The Matter With Kansas?". It is a political book and I like to read both conservative and liberal ideas. This one won rave reviews by the New York Times and I decided on that basis to get a copy. The guy is a native Kansas Citian who, unlike most Dems around this area, is not the least bit moderate. He begins with a chapter on Emporia. He said the town has gone downhill and all the businesses are boarded up and it has lost population. It was so alarming, that I was reading excerpts to Miss Shirley who was also expressing her shocked alarm at the text. It made us jump in the car and head to Emporia by the back roads to see what had happened. You see, I grew up 35 miles from Emporia and went shopping there every two weeks for the first 30 years of my life. And she got her master's degree in library science there.

What we found was Not Much Had Changed. The town wasn't doing any big growth like Manhattan or Stillwater or Edmond. But it was hanging in there. Downtown wasn't dying. Businesses hadn't been boarded up. We laughed all the way home about how this ninny had hoodwinked us in his book. So I began to read farther and he covered other cities, the booming Garden City whose meat packing industry has fueled growth, Kansas City, KS which has become the distribution center for the center of America and is booming as well. The Johnson county suburb of Olathe has gone from about 10,000 when I was in high school to 217,000 today.

Frank hates it vicerally. Garden City exploits hispanics. Hey! I said, my best Mex workers in our hotel were all from Garden City. One woman told about their sad life in Chihuahua, got the opportunity to legally emigrate through Catholic Church and her dad is now supervisor at a plant. Frank Really hates KC. His dad owned a humble ranch house in Overland Park, one of the richest suburbs in USA. The mansions went up around poor old papa Frank and he loathed them all. Finally he sold out at a king's ransom and the ranch house was torn down the day they signed the papers. Frank calls KC 'cupcakeland' because so many malls and chain stores have established themselves. Hunh? Doesn't that happen in all urban areas? Not by Frank's utopian vision. He wants the inner city to move out from downtown complete with graffitti artists and night life. And as for small town Americans, he wants them storm the Bastille, that is the local bankers house and come out with heads carried on pikes. At the least he doesn't understand why rural USA doesn't join the gravy train of government programs and is ticked because farmers no longer vote for the party of FDR. Whatever happened to Eugene Debs and his socialists? Whatever happened to radical farmers and Mary Yellin' of the Grange?

What amazes me more than the fibs he tells about Kansas is that he gets away with telling this to a gullible secular progressive Eastern media. The Times ate it up, thinking his book profound and captivating. It made me laugh and shake my head in wonder. And by the way, Bluestem farm and ranch supply is still there in Emporia. So is Kansas State Teachers College.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


In the past few years, there has been so much cross-fertilization of Christian churches and that really warms my heart. Our Young Families class has lots of stories about friends and family who have been part of this. Many young people today marry someone from another background and have to find a Christian home at some new church. This week we were discussing Catholicism and it jogged my memory of a most amazing pastor and his congregation.

About 1983 (?) my Protestant denomination began a bi-annual event called the Great Commission Convocation and I was one of the attendees at the original convocation in St.Louis. The speaker who stole the show wasn't one of the leaders. It was a 20-something pastor from Corpus Christi. He was a Minnesota Swede who got assigned to Corpus Christi because he had taken high school Spanish. His church had about 20 members. It was a run-down building and when he got there, a hurricane had blown half the roof off. Church members were talking about closing down the whole enchilada. He told about how hard he prayed for that church. Sitting in his motel room he said he learned what G. K. Chesterton had said about how the army of God is a strange army which advances on it's knees.

By and by he found a group of Mexican guys who would do the roof cheap. As work progressed, he visited with them and discovered they were not regular church guys, Christmas and Easter attendees of the Catholic parish. What excuse? They hated the English services which they couldn't understand. As a lark, he told them he would do his service in both English and Spanish, thereby teaching them English if they would come. At the promise of learning better English, they thought this was a can't-lose proposition. Nobody in those days had given much thought to Hispanic ministeries.

So the Mex guys came and they loved it. And they began to tell friends. In three years the tiny church had grown to 1000 people, almost entirely Hispanics. He had 3 services now, Spanish, Spanglish and English. And he talked about some unorthodox ways he did things. When he told about how they had a rule that anyone who held office in this church had to attend a Bible Study that met minimum once a week, the crowd of convocation-goers was shocked. An elderly pastor held up his hand, "How do you get 'em to do that?" The MN Swede said, "I just tell them, if you didn't want to study the Bible, you could have just stayed Catholic." Did they have dissension? Not much, he noted. To which a Hispanic person in the crowd who knew Latin tempers asked disbelievingly, "How can you say that?"

Well, he noted, when they started, they had Catholic traditions in mind. So they would come to him with questions, "Do women need to wear chapel scarves? Do we need to fast on some days?" But he knew that a successful Christian, a successful church, needs to keep it's focus on Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him. But he didn't know the Spanish word for "It doesn't matter." So he taught them the Greek word "adiaphora" which loosely translated means "free choice". And it is really funny, he added, to see a bunch of Mex guys going around saying Adiaphora all the time. It has replaced "munyana" as the favorite word. An argument will erupt and then some guy throws up his hands and says, "Adiaphora!" Everyone grins and all is well, grace is in action.

Then he leaned back reflectingly and said, "You know, I think the reason they like adiaphora so much is because that is what it is like being American." Well put. Dinesh D'Sousa says the thing that is so compelling about America is that you are free to be your own person. You don't have to have an arranged marriage or do what your dad did. You are free to start an enterprise or try a new thing without government interference. To have freedom to choose within the context of a walk with God is the Christian sense of the word. To have freedom to choose within the context of being a responsible citizen is the American meaning. That's different than the European meaning of freedom. To many Europeans, freedom means being about to wear a shirt with an obscene gesture on it. That irresponsible free choice is crucially different than the responsible one. Irresponsible freedom storms an old prison and beheads innocent people, then celebrates the whole thing as Bastille Day every July 14. I gag when I read about the French Revolution. It is as if we had a day to celebrate the Newark and LA riots. But the American version of freedom means free choice to pursue what really matters. That's powerful stuff.

Knowing what really matters and what is "free choice" is most important for all of us.

Tea Party, Lexington & Concord

This is August 2, the date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That is the day that John Hancock put his big John Hancock on the Declaration. It had already been published far and wide and given official sanction. And it was a couple weeks after the British drove George Washington out of Brooklyn, then Manhattan. I suppose if someone from the Lame Stream Media reads this he will howl like the dickens and claim that I don't know anything about history since he learned that the Declaration was adopted on July 4 and signed. (Wrong again. It was adopted on July 3 but not officially sent to the press until July 4.

Picky, picky, you say. Well, I always find myself hoping that people will consult the true historic record whenever some controversy arises, but I am often disappointed. The journalists, those jokers on campus we always made fun of because they barely passed any other subject than journalism classes, simply aren't interested in what's true, they incite readership with passions and then tomorrow they are on the next controversy. Drive-by media, Rush calls them.

This spring, Sarah Palin visited Washington for a Rolling Thunder parade and then went to Lexington, MA, making a statement to the media about how Paul Revere and the patriots had summoned the Minutemen with guns and church bells and warned the Brits they'd be opposed. The media pounced, saying that Palin didn't know her history. Why it was lights in the North Church and Revere warned patriots, not the Brits and, silly woman, she didn't know history (because after all, they had read the poem by Longfellow!). Palin didn't back down which surely proved that she was obstinately stupid.

She was right. I could remember only half the facts but found hers so exactly correct that I believe she may have actually read the plaques in the museum, unlike other travelers. Briefly, the story was that the Resistance leaders were Samuel Adams and John Hancock. The British were set to go to arrest them at Lexington. Joseph Warren, an underground patriot leader arranged for two horsemen to ride to warn the men when the soldiers were dispatched, so they could flee. One of the horsemen was William Dawes, the other unknown although some historians say he was a black free man. But Warren worried that neither runner would make it past the guards who ringed the city and across the Charles River. So Warren arranged for the sexton of North Church, to signal Revere across the river with one lantern hung from the steeple window if the Brits were going by land and two if by sea--which would make a difference in direction of approach to Lexington. Revere took off, met Dawes, and they met Prescott a Lexington local who knew the land and had a horse with superior night vision. The militia were summoned with church bells, cannons, and musket fire. Upon discussion, the Resistance patriots realized that the Brits had sent an alarmingly large dispatch of soldiers. And concluded correctly that this is because they intended to confiscate all the guns they could find. And so Dawes, Prescott and Revere rode for Concord to beg assistance. Dawes and Revere were caught by the British, and Revere boldly told the Brits that should they try to take the Lexington arms, 500 men would resist them. The Redcoats laughed. Revere was wrong. There were 314. The 1700 British soldiers easily defeated them. But Prescott made it to Concord. Again, church bells and guns summoned farmers far and wide who had trained extensively for just such a contingency. When the British regulars marched on Concord, they met a much better organized militia of 2000 Americans who repulsed them at Concord Bridge. As the Redcoats retreated to Boston, Americans armed with long-barreled muskets accurate for hunting deer, inflicted severe casualties in guerilla tactics. Brits lost 100 men, mainly officers, and had at least that many wounded, against far fewer American casualties.

I'll let the reader consider whether Palin or her critics were right.

Now here comes the recent demonism of the Tea Party movement and my old false hope that we will again get historic facts straight. Media says the original Tea Party was a 'mob' just like today.

The Tea Party was 3 years before the war and was organized meticulously, not by a mob, but by those who opposed taxation. Taxes, in those days were a rare form of government fee. Only nobles were taxed and then in time of war as a national emergency. But following the expensive French and Indian War (Europe--7 Years War), Parliament decided that the American colonies should pay for it, all people, not just nobility. That's why our ancestors were angry over 1/2 percent Stamp tax--which upon protests was repealed. But the Tea tax was passed as a replacement. And with no recourse except to protest this, Bostonians organized to board a British East India vessel and dump the tea overboard. They were particularly careful about damaging the ship and stopped to repair a few parts they had damaged in the process. Leaders shook down participants to make sure they weren't pocketing some tea for personal use.

George Washington thought the Tea Party was a disgrace. So did Ben Franklin. They demanded the Partiers re-imburse the hapless East India Company and it was agreed they would do it. Just like the Tea Party today,the movement consisted of thoughtful individuals who weren't about to act against moral principles. Just like the well-planned resistance at Lexington and Concord, they thought it through and acted responsibly. The Tea Party today asks the government to live within its means. While that seems like the most mundane and uncontestable of assertions, that guy who is one heartbeat away from the Presidency called them Terrorists and Hostage-Takers. The MSM has piled-on, repeating the derision of Hobbits and Mob Rioters. Hunh?

This tells you more about the Democrats and Media allies than about the Tea Party. It shows that the Dems have spiraled down into leftist vitriol. I long for the old days when the Democrats were just normal people who wanted more of a safety net. Today, the Dems scream obscenities as they take our nation's economy and currency down. The Wisconsin capital reminded me more of the LA riots than democracy. The debt ceiling agreement asks for 2.5% cuts annually as the baseline of federal spending increases 8% leaving a net 5.5% increase atop an already horrendous deficit. They intend to double the size of the IRS which has already doubled audits from 2 years ago.

This seems the time for ordinary citizens to organize like Lexington and Concord. As we have a say at the ballot box, we must work to save our country there in Nov. 2012. Start polishing your weapons.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

chicken feed

Okay, you are good at math. Try this one. If the Boehner bill becomes law it promises to raise the debt ceiling $900 billion (.9 trillion). If the current debt ceiling is $14.3 T, what will be the new debt ceiling? Answer: $16.3T. That is because of automatic baselining. Each year the fed gov't assumes that the next year's budget will grow by some percentage. It is now around 10% per year. So if you do that for 10 years, you accumulate $1.1T of extra spending needed automatically. 14.3T+.9T+1.1T=16.3T. Welcome to government math. So Boehner's $915 billion in accumulated 10 year spending is nicely counteracted by the increase of baseline. Looks like Washington has snookered us again. We need to elect someone who institutes Zero Baseline Budgeting in 2012.

A chicken has the ability to survive on most any seeds or grains for a diet. For that reason the traditional farming of chickens simply consists of letting them out of the chicken house to roam the farmstead and clean up spilled grain and eat weeds and seeds. But if inclement weather keeps the chicken couped, the farmer can scoop up the grain in the driveway of the granary or barn, dirt, gravel and all and toss it to the chickens. They will pick it clean. For that reason, when something is of little value or meager, the expression, "chicken feed" is used to describe it. We are going to get chicken feed budget cuts from Washington. When the government runs an annual $1.6T budget deficit and the best deal the House can get is about $90 billion in annual cuts, it will be almost imperceptible-- 2% of the entire budget. Chicken feed.

A soldier would just say "nuts", and tell the Democrats "I ain't voting for anything." Retreat, regroup, launch a later offensive. Indeed it might seem better to simply let Obluffer go on spending and ruining our credit rating since we are so powerless to stop the spending. But of course that might damage our nation's economy for years to come with high interest rates and runaway entitlements. This truly is a time of a silent national crisis.

More worrisome than the debt however is what Obluster told La Raza recently. Beck had this on his website He said he was very tempted to take matters into his own hands, i.e., operate dictatorially. La Raza, the socialist outfit of Mexican Nationalists who want USA to hand over everything from Texas and Colorado to California over to Mexico, wildly cheered and applauded the Prez.

You know I really don't fear Obama and his dictatorship daydreams so much. Who I fear is the real dictator who is serious about taking over this country and uses Obama's precedents of taking over auto companies and controlling banks. Of using the peronistas--those who pay no taxes--to riot in the streets. Of his methods of hooking so many people on government assistance, medicine, pensions, and jobs, that they look to the government for all that matters. Of his use of the EPA and agencies to hyper-regulate and make businessmen criminals for trying to do business. And I fear those who will stand and applaud and cheer wildly as this takes place.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Painting your house

I'm going to send a shortened version of this to the newspaper for an editorial.
Some folks have told me that EPA overreach will not be an issue in the next election. I disagree and though it won't be the main thrust, I think it should be highlighted as an example of the dictatorial bureaucracy that is being set up to snuff dissent in the future.

So you want to paint your old house? Not your residence but perhaps your rental house, your cabin by the lake or your business is what you have in mind. Well, you can't unless it is post 1978 in construction and won't have children more than 6 hours per week. For example, a day care or school obviously falls in this category. Maybe your little shop on mainstreet can argue its way clear of this regulation. It takes a pro who has Lead-Safe Certification. He will have correct equipment (Hazmat suit, disposable headgear and shoe covers, and P100 respirator), training (all day EPA course), license, testing equipment, and know-how to set up containment and abatement procedures.

This "act" went into effect over a year ago, but until recently was not enforced and no fines were given. But since the first of the year, draconian fines have been handed out to many contractors and individuals. What? You say you must have missed the Congressional vote on this new law? No, you didn't. There was no vote. It is simply done by executive fiat--EPA wrote regulations that required Lead-Safe. Homeowners can still paint their primary residence. Cleverly the bureaucrats have also exempted work done by charities where volunteers do work and receive no remuneration. Think about the tornados in Tuscaloosa or Joplin. If Lead Safe practices were required, the costs would be astronomical and vols could never do any relief work. Politically, that would be hard to defend. But what about folks like the Laborers For Christ who built much of a recent church project for my church? They ask for minimum wages in order to buy accident insurance for the volunteers who otherwise go to great personal expense to help with these projects. No, they have to get certified and follow EPA rules. They are paid. Bottom line: if you are an evil businessman, you have to follow the rules.

Suppose you simply disregard the Lead-Safe rules and get caught painting your wife's day care in your pre-1978 home (doesn't matter if the day care is in the new addition. It depends on when property was first built.) ? Fines are levied up to $32,500 PER JOB and $3750 PER DAY out of compliance. The days when dad handed his son a paintbrush and taught him to paint are fading. But say you just shrug and hire a pro? Costs are headed up dramatically to reflect the added procedures. And this doesn't affect painters only. It affects ANYONE who disturbs more than 6 square feet of lead painted surface doing a job. (2 s.f. if a HUD project) This applies especially to window installers who remove trim boards in order to install a new window. I am not certain about this but the EPA class instructor seemed to indicate that window jobs are covered no matter how small the square footage. It also pertains to heat and air, plumbing, carpenters, electricians and anyone doing construction. Weirdest of all is roofers. How, you might wonder, would a roofer disturb lead paint? If he puts on drip edge, he might flake off paint and then the entire facia board is counted as 'disturbed'. The ground under eves must be draped with plastic or tarps out 20 feet from the house--and cannot be reused. (Plus vertical drapes if there is wind. Is there ever 'no wind' in Oklahoma?) I asked the instructor what happens when there are shrubs around the house? He noted that those have to be draped well enough to be sealed. Don't think your roofer will do this for free. Once repairs are made, the certified Lead Safe technician must keep a log of the entire project including proof of cleaning (pictures) and cannot clear more than 40 s.f. of surface with an appliance before discarding.

As a conscientious landlord, I've acquired the training ($275 class) and license ($300). Lead poisoning is a bad hazard. But I disagree with EPA in many ways. Their pamphlet, which I am to distribute to all renters, "The Truth About Lead Paint Poisoning" says, "Once poisoned, it's for life and can never be reversed." That's a baldfaced lie. Lead Chelation Therapy has been used by physicians for years to cleanse people of lead. I have a friend who got a dire, near-death case of lead poisoning 30 years ago. And after chelation, is doing quite well, arguing spiritedly with me at nearly age 80. So I asked the EPA communications director for USA Southwest Region about that statement. He vacillated with what to say and told me that if I looked at other EPA literature, they state, "the effects of lead poisoning can never be reversed." Which is to say that the psychological trauma will always be remembered even after chelation. I would say that their pamphlet is a scare tactic. Now think, if lead poisoning was a common and pernicious hazard, why didn't the federal government declare that all old houses had to be tested and stripped accordingly? This would have provided the ultimate shovel ready stimulus plan, providing jobs in the moribund construction industry for several years! In fact the National Assoc. of Home Builders alleges exactly that logic in a lawsuit over EPA rules.

Most contractors who have been forced to comply saythe reg is just a means of shaking down the tradesmen for high fees. I asked, who enforces this? EPA answer: We are asking people to turn others in. This has caused much consternation and back-stabbing on the part of competitors in large metro areas. It will surely spred to small towns like ours. But when you hear about "neighbors turning in neighbors" does this remind you of Soviets or Nazis? I refuse to turn in other landlords or contractors. Heck, if they don't know how to do the Lead-Safe stuff, I would volunteer for that part of their job. Around here, we are all doing our best to just make a living! So talking to the contractors who took the course with me, I have discovered that the 3 main snitches are some neighbor or another contractor who doesn't like the guy who got the job, or some neighbor who doesn't like the construction next door, or disgruntled employees. It's a great way to enforce something important!

So what if a renter scrapes and paints without approval? He is held harmless but the landlord is held responsible if the rug rat ingests paint flakes. (But that is because we are evil businessmen) What I am going to do to combat the EPA is start a revolution among my renters. As I hand out my brochures, it will be accompanied with estimates of how much of their rents are due to the EPA, and if they want cheaper rents they need to vote the party of Big Government Control out. It won't change anything in OK, already a red state, but I would love to see this become a nationwide campaign.

If we don't get EPA under control, it will certainly illuminate a precedent for how some future socialist can gain control by using the bureaucracy. Because tyranny doesn't stop. No tyrant wakes up one morning and says, "Well, that's enough tyranny. I won't do that anymore." Already our Mayor Nicholson tells about how EPA is standing by with a regulation that would require every incorporated town in America to catch all storm water and then treat it before releasing it into rivers. He calls such regulation "crazy" as does Representative Frank Lucas. How could such a rule be done? Have they not seen our inability to control storm water like Katrina or Minot? Farmers will soon face fines for creating dust (and counties with dirt/gravel roads too). Insecticide spraying must not have more than 1 foot of drift. Good-bye crop dusting industry! Many of these regulations are scheduled for Jan. 2013.

All these EPA rules have one common thread. They all hit hard at small town America or rural America. Now think. Farmers vote 85% Republican. Small towns are lopsided bastions of non-Democrat voters. Looks like a political vendetta to me. What do we need? Someone to pull the plug on EPA would be a good start. Congressional hearings would be lesser but good for those who have less fortitude to stand up to bureaucrats run amuck. Americans need to be educated to what is happening to their freedom.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

EPA regulations

Obama is going to lose in 2012. A week ago, I wrote he would lose because of economic problems. But even if he magically gets past that, the Republican candidate should skewer him on his EPA policies which go beyond absurd and target rural areas and farming. These edicts are so stunningly looney, that I believe even someone in an urban area would choke on the overreach, especially if it is pointed out that the real poor in America are those who live in rural areas. It's Obamacare Reaction all over again. Go after Obama for abusing the rural poor the way Dems have so often gone after Republicans for hurting the poor. So here's a little quicky speech I would write for a candidate.

"Barack Obama didn't get Cap and Trade. So he decided to implement his version of environmentalism by executive dictate. For example, cities will now have to capture all their runoff storm water and treat it. Imagine how difficult this will be, even for an urban city. How is New Orleans supposed to catch all the hurricane storm water? I catch myself wondering who would write such an outlandish regulation. Someone with no sense of reality? Now think about those small towns and tiny hamlets in our countryside. Is a town of 50 people supposed to catch their rainwater and install a treatment plant that they can't even afford for their drinking water? The poorest people in America live in rural America. Why are we picking on them?"

"The EPA has new rules to curb dust. They don't like farmers plowing fields and they don't like dusty roads. Kick up a cloud and you get fined. Never mind that dust is heavy particulates and non-toxic. It's just dirt! How can you farm and not have dust? They have a new ban on burning in agriculture. This will not only make farming prohibitive and drive up the cost of food as never before. It is unsound ecology. Good stewardship of grasslands and forests requires burning to control brush and diseased tree stands. It's safer than pesticides. Elect Obama again and you'll see these natural landscapes die. Farmers and foresters make a living on these resources and they are already maintaining them far better than a foolish federal government."

"There is a now a regulation for sprayer drift. If you spray crops, the sprayer drift cannot exceed one foot. In practice it is impossible to limit drift to these dimensions. Ever watch a crop duster? Another rule re-classifies milk as an oil substance. A farmer who spills milk had better cry. He must now go through the same kind of rigorous environmental clean-up that a big oil company does."

"Maybe we need to stop asking what kind of an ivory tower nitwit wrote and approved these rules and ask, Why? All these jaw-dropping regulations are aimed at rural America. Rural areas don't vote for Obama and this is Chicago-style hardball payback politics. You and I, we never voted for these regulations. Congress never voted for them. They are done by executive order. And rural America constitutes the poorest people in our country, the least able to pay the EPA's extortion. I call on Obama to call off the dogs. Stop this vindictive campaign against rural folks. They don't ask for much. They work hard. They are still the backbone of America. This kind of partisan tit-for-tat is the last thing our country needs. It is old style political payback that we are tired of. Rural America needs jobs, Mr. President , not worn out politics and rules enforced by fiat. We need a new approach and a new leader."

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


One of my favorite songs never made the charts. Twila Paris sang the haunting "1944" on her Where I stand album.

"He was 21 in 1944
Unknown and thrown upon a distant shore.
Sent there by his mother
With love behind her tears.
Just a young American,
Who chose to rise above his fears.
And as I watche him struggle up that hill
With no thought of turning back
I cannot help but wonder
What did he die for..."

Stop there and think. Did he fight just so you could have a cushy life and security? Was it so you could demand more benefits from politicians? Did he fight so that our country could be like others hwo take over or controll the most inmportant industries--health, finance, autos, energy and the banks (optional to throw all the Jew bankers in concentration camps). Did he fight to create a vast underclass of peronistas who pay no taxes but always hsow up at election to demand the taxpayers take care of them. Did he fight for separation of church and state where the State has all power inthe public square? All these things are the hallmarks of fascism so maybe we can presume that the young man in 1944 fought against such things. What did he fight for? The song continues

"What did he die for when he died for you and me?
Made the sacrifice so that we could all be free?
I believe we shall answer each to Heaven
For the way we spend a priceless liberty.
Look inside and ask the question,
What did he die for, when he died for me?"

Maybe we should go back farther to the Revolutionary War and ask what those who risked everything, what did they fight for? No family had as much invested in the Revolution as the Adams family, John and Samuel, wives, and children. John Adams, co-author of the subsequent Constitution was about as plainspoken as you can get. "The great glory of the American Revolution was that it bound together in one indissolvable bond, the principles of Christianity and civil government." Now that doesn't mean that our government is a substitute for faith or a stand-in for Christianity. But I take it to mean that the Constitution was designed to reflect, as bes tthe authors could, those principles of their Christian faith. (By the way, why do people say the founders were all dieists?) I guess I agree with John. And so Memorial Day is more profound than just honoring the dead. It means to me that I need to join the fight for what my country is all about--freedom put together by Christian belief and the freest government possible.

Paris's song has a second verse that tells where that freedom to be all you can be came from.

"Came the darkest days of AD 33
Struggle 'tween the depths of hell and Heav'n's eternity
Sent there by His Father,
With Love behind His tears.
Only Son, Beloved One, upon whom Hope of all the years.
And as I watched Him struggle up that hill
With no thought of turning back
I cannopt help but wonder
What did He die for when He died for you and me?
Made the sacrifice so that we could all be free?
I believe we shall answer each to Heaven
For the way we spend a priceless Liberty.
Look inside and ask the question,
What did He die for when He died for me?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I must say that I have noticed things on History Channel which are quite at variance with such noted historians as Will Durant and Paul Johnson. Today I was watching "States" which is an hour program with about 5 states taken one at a time and each is given a history/geographical/cultural tour.

And there was Kansas. I about choked over some of their facts. Now of course in a 10 minute span you have to be brief and that means a quick statement or two. Now of course I could understand if a mistake was made in saying that North Carolina's chief cash crop was, say, cotton instead of tobacco. After all, it isn't the geography channel. But to make a bozo on history!

Ach! Examples. It was stated that Kansas had a rich history in the cattle trail drives when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad shipped cattle from Dodge City. And that the cattle could just as well have been shipped from New Orleans. Hmm. Seems like I remember the Union Pacific and Abilene using the Chisholm Trail was what spawned the cattle drives from Texas. And the reason they weren't shipped out of Ft. Worth or New Orleans was that the rails after the civil war were hideously destroyed. Ever try to drive cattle through LA swamps? Abilene was the first because of a myterious disease in Texas cattle, "Texas Fever" didn't affect the Texas cattle but it killed the settlers' cattle in the North. So KS passed laws forbidding Texas cattle east of certain defined boundaries. Abilene was on the boundary and had the rails completed to that point in 1867. And an Illinois livestock broker who was quite honest offered a fair deal to the Texans. Later the drives shifted up the Texas trail to Dodge City.

Eventually the drives stopped in 1886, the History Channel asserts, because the state of KS passed a law that didn't allow TX cattle. Well, yes the state did extend the boundary to be the entire state in 1887. But trail drives had been in decline after 1880 because the southern railroads were rebuilt. What really ended the drives abruptly was the epic winter of 1886. That was the winter that killed 90% of the cattle in Montana, bankrupted Teddy Roosevelt in N. Dakota and sent him back to NY politics. It had suddenly become apparent to everybody in the livestock business that you had to have barns and hay and fences to raise cattle in winter. After the fact, in 1887, KS passed the ban on TX cattle. We now know that cattle from TX had developed immunity to the ticks that caused Texas Fever. Just dip 'em.

"States" went on to declare that Wichita was the primary hub for early aviation development. There were 11 airports there in 1929. And they said that Kansas was perfect for aviation because it had strong winds. Uh, whoa! So does just about every state from Texas to Montana. What was unique about southern KS was that KS has almost 250 days of fair weather each year, in which a good test flight could be made over flat land around Wichita. Secondly, the best oils, lubricants and high octane aviation fuel was being refined in the crude methods of the day from Kansas and Oklahoma crudes. And finally Kansas at the turn of the century had a very strong reputation for entrepreneurship--Kansas Spirit. Don't tell me to fly a kite, I'll build a plane!

I guess I won't pick at the show just because they point out that the signature crop is wheat but don't explain why. Wheat grows well in dry climates and winter wheat, the original middle Turkish strain does best in a climate zone like Kansas. And was brought to Kansas by German Mennonite immigrants who got run out of Russia in the 1880s. By becoming a state early (1861) Kansas is full of immigrant communities.

But it does make you wonder what else you are hearing on History Channel that is wrong. Maybe they spend too much time looking for Sasquatch and the Abomnible Snowman. I never could see what that had to do with history.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


This is Easter week and this article is what we call Christian apologetics. I was at our home bible study Monday this week. Pastor Tom made note that some skeptics argue that since Mark was the first gospel published and since it doesn't quote Jesus saying he was the Messiah, then maybe the rest of the gospels were Christian propaganda pieces written later by other writers. Ha! I had never heard this argument, but I can imagine it is a favorite with the historical critic skeptics of Christianity. It offers a nice rationalization for their skepticism. Since by nature I am a skeptic, I always enjoyed mixing it up with those guys. And this is for your Easter enjoyment.

Say you accept the Mark account but disbelieve that Jesus is Savior and Lord. My question is, have you read it closely? For example in Mark 1 at the baptism of Jesus, God's voice says, "this is My beloved Son." and then in Mark 12:6 Jesus told a parable about a landlord who finally sent his "beloved Son" and then tennants killed him. (meaning himself and the Jewish people) He finishes with the quote, "the stone which the builders rejected became the chief cornerstone; this came about from the Lord." Meaning that he, the beloved Son was that rejected One who was the chief cornerstone of salvation. And 'Lord' means YHWH, i.e. God's name. YHWH, "I am that I am" was also abbreviated "I am". When before the Sanhedrin, ruling council of Jews, they asked him in Marks account, "Are you the Christ, the Blessed One?" And he said, "I AM. [yikes!! Did you hear that!!] and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven." Son of Man is the guy who appears to God the Father, the Ancient of Days, in Daniel 7 vision of heaven. [Any questions?] And then even if a bonafied skeptic doesn't want to believe this, note what happens to the high priest and council in the next verse, They tore their clothes upon hearing this blasphemy (someone claiming to be God or having His power) and condemned him to death for that reason. Hey, pay no attention to what I say, just notice the behavior of those who were experts in Judaism.

Mark also has those interesting passages about how we are to forgive others so that our Father in Heaven will forgive us. (11:25-26) Who can forgive? Well if Joe and John have a disagreement and Leroy comes along and says, "I forgive you," Joe and John will look at him weirdly. What 3rd party, some Leroy, can come along and forgive my fight? If I hit you, only you can forgive me. Or God who has power over all things, can forgive. So when Jesus claims to be able to forgive sins or says to the woman he healed in Mark 8:34 "Daughter your faith has made you well" how does a mere man, a Leroy, know about someone else's faith? Can he read her mind? Shall we go to Darfur or some other place with horrible strife and say, Leroy says you are forgiven and Leroy knows your faith is good? That's idiocy! Or Jesus really is Who He says He is.

Mark 8 is the best. Jesus asks his disciples and Peter in particular who they said he was and Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ" Christ, Messiah, anointed one was to come to save the people from their sins according the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus took the title Son of Man (of Daniel fame) and explains how he must suffer and rise again(of Isaiah fame). Then Jesus launches into troubling words, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross,and follow Me...whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it." Now that means that Leroy ain't your savior and only Jesus is. And that we have to give ourselves up to trust in Him. Functionally that is God because only God can save according to the Old Testament scriptures. "Jesus" means "God saves" and Is. 43 says, "I, even I AM the Lord [YHWH] and there is no Savior apart from Me." And Jesus says in Mark 16, "in My name you will cast out demons" and in Mark 13:13 "You will be hated by all for My name's sake." Now what would cause people to go into a rage over a silly old name unless the name mean that God incarnate in Jesus Christ is the only savior? That blows all those schemes about getting into heaven because we are going to prove to God that we have been a good person and have been sincere, etc. The gospel, "good news" is that we are saved only by God's mercy and grace that comes through repentance--which is our only hope. That is Jesus's first and central message (Mark 1:15).

And then again, he says "the Son of Man is Lord [God's name again!] of the Sabbath." He tells his followers in Mark 8:38 that He is judge of the world.

But maybe one of the more interesting reasons for believing that the Salvation of the world comes through this Jesus is that Mark spends 6 chapters out of 16 on his death and resurrection. Why would you spend almost half the book talking about how someone died if they were just a teacher? Wouldn't you expound on their teaching? For example, Tycho Brahe, the tremendous Danish astronomer of the 16th century whose careful measurements of the planetary motions allowed Johannas Kepler to postulate his theory of planetary motion, had a most unusual death. Does anybody remember it or do they remember his discoveries instead? Kepler had an interesting death too. Recall it? The point is that no one even considers this important. We study their scientific discoveries and ideas. But Jesus's death was the punch line of the book--the atonement for all of mankind's sin. (And in case you are interested, Brahe died of bladder explosion when he went to a party given by the King of Denmark in his honor and drank too much.)

Okay, so the gospel of Mark has fewer words of Jesus, just tells more about what his actions were. If this is the gospel Least indicative of Jesus's divinity, what must the others testify to!

Anything less than this ain't much "good news" because we would flunk.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gettysburgs biggest hero

So the Democrats and Obama don't think our military are essential personnel? Once again I realize why I work so hard against them. I don't know if many people realize that we are coming up on the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States or Civil War. On April 12, 1861 rebels shelled Ft. Sumpter in Charleston Harbor. It was right after Lincoln was inaugurated (was March Madness days back then, not the current Jan. 20). And the war ended April 9, 1865 at Appromatox Courthouse, Virginia. I have no trouble remembering the day since it is our anniversary. But the days I like to remember is July 1-4, 1863. On July 4 the Union won both Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and arguably turned the tide of the war--forever decimating Lee's army and cutting the South in half by controlling the Mississippi River. If by some weird chance I am ever asked to talk during Black History month, here is what I might say... You hear people trying to score political points all the time with talk of Reparations. It is part of our family's lore that we lost two cousins at the aptly-named Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg, fighting for Chamberlain's Michigan Regiment. I won't ask anybody for reparations. Honor them, not me. I was born 87 years after the battle. It was terribly bloody. On Cemetery Ridge 6000 men died in an hour. That was by single shot rifles and close combat and cannon balls. The War had 600,000 deaths, about 20% of the adult males in the country. You would think a country would never get over something that bad. But I want to tell you how it did. At the end of the battle on the evening of July 3, there were 21,000 men lying wounded on the field. Meade tried to pursue Lee down into Virginia and in those days there weren't sufficient field hospitals to take care of a battle where 150,000 men killed 27,000 and left 21,000 too weak to walk and losing blood, dying as the days drug on. Ironically, the battle had been fought on a farm owned by a freed slave and the neighborhood had many former slaves who farmed. The town of Gettysburg was burned to the ground and the citizens fled. But Lydia Smith did not. Lydia heard the cries of the men left on the battlefield and summoning courage, began to bring them water and food. In fact she spent her life savings over two weeks trying her best to keep men alive. It made no difference to her if they were Confederate or Union. She helped them all. Now here's my question. Why would she do that? The answer I once got from a scholarly Afro-American was that blacks of that time were extremely forgiving followed by a confused shrug. True. Why is that? Lydia grew up in Africa, and learned aminism, the belief that there are hundreds of terrifying nature gods behind every rock and tree and animal. If they aren't placated, the gods would turn on you. They never answered the question of what lies beyond the grave. Or what is the meaning of life. Then, although she was once a slave, Lydia came to America where she heard about a new God, the one who said, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free" and "I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who has brought you out of Egypt, and out of the house of slavery." This God was One who gave meaning to your life, forgave and accepted you no matter your circomstances, and saved your life. This was Savior, Lord and Friend Who would follow after you no matter what you were going through. When the church sang "and before I'll be a slave, I'll be lying in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free!" she knew exactly Who she was talking about. Lydia Smith visited about 10,000 wounded soldiers at Gettysburg. It is estimated that she saved the lives of roughly 4,000 men. Honor her by learning how to forgive and follow your Lord like she did.