Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's A Legos and Toy Story Kinda Weekend

THE CUTEST G-KIDS IN THE WORLD HAVE ARRIVED and stolen my heart---again. We're having so much fun slinging spaghetti and meats sauce, playing with legos, fire engines and crayons, and sneaking in some oat meal cookies and milk before cratering in bed. Oh, and what a two-year-old can do on an iPad is amazing---movies, music and learning games---utterly amazing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nashville Fashion Week Just As Pretentious, Pouty and Absurd As Any Other

HOW BOUT A COUPLE OF THESE to dash by Whole Foods to pick up a salad bar or buy some pork tenderloin? Maybe I should have worn it to my accountants' yesterday. Or Sunday to the early service. My kids with their kiddos are coming home Thursday for the long weekend---perhaps I could greet them at the door and scare them all to death. The possibilities are endless. Still, if it's your cup of hemlock, here are a few links to Nashville's so called, grandiose Fashion Week Carnival of the Vanities. Here. And here. Oh! Don't forget the death squad stillettos when you're running to the hardware.

Just the kind of impractical absurdity---and frankly gender violence---the fashionistas seem to think we need to complete us while killing us at the same time. What planet do these designers live on?

Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, 'Fashion Week' and gender violence is shaping up a little differently: From the WSJPhotos, A woman receives treatment for burns in Herat, Afghanistan, Tuesday. Some independent human-rights watchdog groups and other organizations say gender violence has reached an alarming level there. (Jalil Rezayee/European Pressphoto Agency) Here from the same source, these Somalian women hunger for something to eat as they adorn themselves with tin plates and wait in line for anything they can get from non-governmental humanitarian groups.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I CHECKED OUT, STRAPPED MYSELF IN THE CHAIR LEAVING NO MEANS OF ESCAPE until I finished my taxes and delivered them to my accountant late this afternoon. What a relief! Every year, I--like millions of other taxpayers who still pay taxes--- go through anguished contortions before finally doing them. Doing the work is never as bad as the anticipation.

Anyway it's mostly over now.

This is an unusually busy week so I'll be here a little less than usual.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Must See Video, A Stemwinder In Arabic

ANOTHER BUSY, BUSY DAY with not much time for commentary.

However, I just saw this post with video at RedState and I have to agree, it's a must see. Pakistani actress Veena Malik absolutely comes unglued at about minute 3 after listening to accusations by this dreadful Muslim cleric who sounds a lot like a Pharisee. At first Veena is so mad she could bite a nail in two and stands up for herself, giving this man a real piece of her mind. This is a tirade that most women can appreciate. (Of course I've never done anything like that, have you?) But in the end, tears start flowing. She is obviously deeply shaken and hurt and her vulnerability at this point is very touching to me.

I tell you, Judea-Christian culture is the best thing that ever happened to us women of the world and radical Islam is absolutely the worst. Let me say it again, radical Islam is the worst.

This clip was originally posted by MEMRI, Middle East Media Research Institute, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday, Continuing One Woman's Journey From Atheism To Christ


WITHOUT MY REALIZING IT, the Holy Spirit had been preparing my heart for that as yet unimagined and unimaginable moment when I would choose Christ----and putting me in the right place at the right time. When I moved to San Diego I considered myself fortunate to have found an excellent fencing club to train at, with friendly, welcoming people who were also talented fencers.

What I didn't realize was that I'd found the place where I would encounter the Gospel. I swiftly came to respect my fencing coach as an intelligent, well-educated and thoughtful person, as a disciplined athlete and as a gifted teacher. I also saw that Josh, my coach, was a genuinely caring and gentle person---there was something different about him, something I had never seen before. Peace? It is hard to say. I am blessed with many people like that in my life now, but not then. I saw Jesus in him, before I knew who Jesus was.

After almost a year of taking lessons, I found out, almost by accident, that my coach was a Christian. I was surprised to say the least. I had a lot of negative stereotypes about Christians, and Josh didn't fit any of them, By now, I knew he was genuine; I couldn't use my typical explaining-away tricks for dismissing his faith. Nor was he alone in this. By this time I had also gotten to know his wife Heidi, an outstanding competitive fencer and coach; as I fenced and spent time with her at tournaments. I saw that while she was different from Josh in some ways---she was much more outgoing, for instance---there was the same caring, the same underlying joyfulness in her. I like these people. I enjoyed spending time with them. I wanted to be more like them.

And they were Christians!

It didn't fit what I would have expected. Here I was an atheist (which my coach figured out much more speedily than I figured out he was a Christian, yet Josh never reproached me for my unbelief, never tried to foist religious pamphlets on me or have an important conversation to tell me how to be saved. Which is not to say that he wasn't being a witness of Christ. On the contrary. All that year, Josh had preached the Gospel by living it. By being the best fencing coach I had ever had. By caring about me---not as a potential convert, but as me, a unique individual---and treating me always with respect.

----Holly Ordway, Not God's Type, A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith

(Please come back, as I will post a little more later today.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Amazing Video

EARLY THIS MORNING I reviewed several of the viral videos featured at The Daily Beast. All of them left me cold. Then while reviewing the last few days at Tim Challlis' blog, I saw this. It's truly fascinating, almost unbelievable, in my opinion. Stephen Wiltshire, aka The Living Camera, is a savant who lives in London. He has an amazing gift. In this, he's in literally scoping out Rome. Watch the video and see for yourself.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Libya For Dummies


A SIMPLE, BRIEF TUTORIAL which I hope President Obama will watch over the weekend to get up to speed....on Libya, not the mindless nitwits who follow the pro-Obama/anti-Bush soundbites. But I'm not getting my hopes up. Political and moral relativism live and flourish in mindlessness.


15 Facts About Starbucks That Will Blow Your Mind

TIME TO LIGHTEN UP A BIT after a long week of continuing radiation leaks and evacuations in Japan, (I might be wrong about the severity of this) and lackluster leadership on our latest kinetic war on Libya. That doesn't even touch on our non-stop dollar slide towards the economic abyss, but, hey, it's enough for the time being. When I can't take bad news anymore, I go wandering off towards fashion and food for diversion. It won't last, but at least it works for me as a coping mechanism better than drugs, alcohol and many worse things I can think of, especially during the day.

I go for superficial and light, particularly when it's raining and cold.

In that vein, I saw this piece at Business Insider and took the bait thinking nothing about Starbucks would blow my mind. Wrong again. It's rather fascinating, even if you--as I---aren't a big fan of their coffee. It's always been too bitter for me but then I don't go dolling black coffee up like the majority of their customers. Clearly they don't need my business to survive. What an incredible business success story!

Get your double mind blowing latte here.

The Vague War

ROGER KIMBALL: CALLING THINGS BY THEIR RIGHT NAMESAS THE CONCEPT OF WAR BECOMES FEMINIZED, EUPHEMIZED, LEADERLESS-IZED AND INCLUSIVIZED, we have only ourselves to blame. This kind of silliness has been coming on us for decades as many of our most basic words---with clear cut meanings--underpinning civilization have been whacked and confused by the elite thought-police almost beyond recognition. Take for instance mother, father, husband, wife for starters. Now it's just partner. Don't get me started.

Then there's printing money with abandon. Today it's quantitative easing. Almost sounds like a day at the beach in a comfortable swim suit, doesn't it?

Now we've come to the word war which is now being redefined by the liberal elite, including our feckless president, as one-world kinetic military action. A 4th of July sparkler immediately comes to mind.

Say what?

Such a concept leaves great leeway for obfuscation, confused goals and generally an undertaking in leaderless disarray that can go nowhere fast. It will grind on against an enemy with one and only one goal in mind: to stay in power and hold on to the money and oil whatever the cost.

So is it any wonder that in such a time of android-making, we have a professorial buddy-in-chief who is the king of obfuscation and kinetic militarism? He's so good at it, he can even chew gum at the same time.

Two great pieces online today add depth and breadth to what I'm thinking:

Peggy Noonan @ WSJ writes about The speech that Obama hasn't given.

Keith Koffler at Politico writes Chicago Law Professor Attacks Libya.

Interesting to see how this kinetic vagary unfolds.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And A Good (Work)Man Is Hard to Find

FOR THE PAST TWO DAYS, and again today, I've been on a roll and barely looked at the computer. Please don't misunderstand. This rolling, roiling whirlwind of activity is also called spring cleaning/repairs which comes with one of the best carpenter/fix-it men in the city.

This talented, hard-working man can repair and build anything. He does dry wall, carpentry, electrical, painting, plumbing and best of all---he puts up with me, often underfoot and changing my mind. Because he's so in-demand, when he's here on my dime I drop everything to supervise, run errands or just get out of his way. Together we go over a long laundry list of things that need doing. Yesterday he found a 220 plug for the stove that had been mis-wired years ago and should have electrocuted me or someone else. Thank God it was found and now repaired. Still the entire kitchen---my favorite place to blog---was in disarray before it was put back together early last night.

Not to be laborious, but I'm convinced one day good construction men like this who know how to fix and repair anything and car mechanics will inherit the earth---from the robber baron bansters! And a good (work) man is hard to find. As things shape up here in my abode---ahead of my kids and g-kid's visit from Manhattan soon---I consider myself a very fortunate woman indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Growing Up Watching Elizabeth Taylor

WHEN I WAS A VERY LITTLE GIRL, I remember the first time I saw Hollywood's Queen Elizabeth. I thought her the most beautiful woman in the world, far more gorgeous than Marilyn Monroe. Like so many other girls of my time, I grew up watching her and learning vicariously what life was and wasn't about. My childish perception hoped, fantasized that anyone as beautiful as she would have an exceptionally happy, wealthy and comfortable life---like in so many of the Cinderella fairy tales I read endlessly. Wasn't that the way life was supposed to be?

Her prince charmings would come with great fanfare of glamor and expectation. Then they would go.I projected my fantasies of life and romance on hers. My childish, small-town mind couldn't comprehend why anyone so beautiful wouldn't, couldn't live happily ever after with just one prince, let alone eight!, as her off-screen love stories had one after another unhappy endings. She was in love with love.

I began to wonder if beauty and fame were all they were cracked up to be, and learned from watching this gorgeous movie star there are no guarantees in life--- against broken homelife, divorce, alcohol abuse, weight gain, aging and loneliness. Yet Queen Elizabeth reigned in Hollywood for decades as a true movie star/goddess who taught us both on screen and off that life is not always what it seems.

May Hollywood's Queen Elizabeth rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Divorce, An App and Natural Help for Depression


GUATEMALA'S FIRST LADY Sandra Torres de Colom wants to succeed her husband as president so much---but can't because a law prohibit family members from running----she's started proceedings to divorce him. Word has it, she'll be legally split in about a month and can go on her merry political way. Wow, it's not just a divorce, it's a quickie. I assume he's in agreement with this scheme though details are sketchy. However, one can only shudder to think what would happen if, say, Michelle Obama or Carla Bruni wanted to follow Ms. Torres de Colom's lead in divorcing their husbands and running for president. Does not seem set a good precedent to set---to put it mildly. Even Hillary didn't try right away as Bill was stepping down though she sure wanted to. The possibilities are scary to say the least.


A CLEAR CASE OF ATTEMPTED MURDER of First Amendment rights for a hellbent political/cultural agenda is unfolding again before our very eyes. It's the gay rights coalition which wants to cram it down everyone's throats that once gay, always gay. Is that clear? No questions allowed.

World without end. Case closed---forever.

Even if you even think you might want to explore leaving your gay lifestyle behind, then you're considered deluded, crazy, hateful, disloyal to the cause by the rainbow coaltion nazis. Anyone offering to assist and support you in your exploration of possibilities, is to be drummed out of business, denied free speech and tattooed and badgered as the dregs of society. These people take any and every diverging opinion personally. It's all about them, all the time. Total narcissism.

So it is with an Apple app that purports to help gays explore and change the direction of their lives and lifestyles as 100,000 People Pressure Apple to Shut Down Gay Cure App.
Really? 100,000 people? Are you convinced yet? In their childish understanding of the First Amendment, he who screams loudest, longest with the most shrill voices---wins. To hell with constitutional principles.

I hope Apple is smart and savvy enough to stand firm and not be bullied into taking this app down. I'm also sure there are hundreds of apps out there I would disagree with, even hate, but know have the right to exist and compete in the marketplace of ideas.

If this childish band of tantrum throwers wins, what's next? Taking down apps for avoiding trans-fats? Alternative cures for cancer? Apps that call couples in heterosexual marriage husband and wife, rather than partner? It would be setting an even worse precedent than divorcing your husband to succeed him as president. Bottom line: This is not a gay rights issue whatever your position. It's a First Amendment issue that's been hijacked and disguised.


NOW THIS SHOULD BE AN APP: The 6 R's For Depression. From routine, rest and repentance, this guide covers suggestions both for the depressed and not-depressed. Just good lifestyle habits that never go out of style and deals on every aspect of depression---mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. Can't see enough of this in a world awash in tranquilizers, anti-depressants and many other kinds of quick-fix/superficial coping mechanisms that rarely work.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Whatever Happened To The Nuclear Meltdown Monster?

TUESDAY UPDATE JUST WHEN WE WERE ALL READY TO HEAD FOR THE HILLS AND CAVES dragging mega doses of Potassium Iodide tablets for the last hurrah before nuclear meltdown and Armageddon, a funny thing happened: Nothing much.

Yes, there had been radiation leakage into the environment. Bad steam rising. There have been some evacuations and people in Tokyo have holed up inside on and off for a week. But hey, Nashville's mayor went there for spring vacation, even after he knew of the earthquake!

For all the chatter online and off, the hysteria came to mostly naught. Sure there'll be some long term problems with the Fukushima reactors and surrounding environs.And sure, something bad could still happen. I surely wouldn't eat the spinach from the gardens around Fukushima. But no one has died I know of, and so far, the repurcussions have been much less than predicted. Much will be learned and used to improve nuclear designs and locations in the future.

Even some of the smartest guys on the Web (I'm not naming names or linking links) overblew this thing out of proportion, ending up scaring themselves to death along with of their readers. Probably because their generation is still young and has lived its entire life in great prosperity with little adversity and too many sci-fi horror films. So the threat of a nuclear disaster, plays into their worst fears and projections. Nothing ever turns out to be as bad or as good as it's predicted to be. At least so far.

Anyway, saw this little piece in The Telegraph and thought it worth a look:

Amazing, isn’t it, what a little light military intervention can do to a nuclear crisis?

One minute, the world is facing nuclear meltdown armageddon to rank with – ooh, Three Mile Island at the very least, and quite possibly Chernobyl. A few (shockingly expensive) missile strikes over Benghazi and Tripoli later, though, and the Japanese nuclear crisis has all but vanished from the face of the earth.

Maybe we should start small wars more often. Or maybe – even better – the MSM could learn to start reporting on nuclear incidents like journalists instead of activists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

Of course the dwindling Japanese nuclear crisis---in the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake and gargantuan tsunami---isn't just because allied forces bombed Libya
and diverted our attention to the other side of the globe.

No. It became a shrinking story when the MSM----try as it might---just couldn't get those reactors to act like the ones at Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. That's because the core material is different so the Fukushima reactors didn't misbehave as hoped by many in the nervous media. In fact, in light of it all, they perfomed much better than might have been expected.

Be careful what you read and believe, even when it's by very smart, but stressed out guys. Meanwhile, has anyone seen Japan's overdue nuclear disaster?

Wake me when the meltdown starts.

Needless to say, the fact that there's been no massive nuclear meltdown does in no way diminish our need to open our hearts, pocketbooks and continuing prayers without ceasing for the Japanese people.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday, Continuing One Woman's Journey From Atheism To Faith


Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.
---W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

HOW COULD I EVER HEAR THE GOOD NEWS? The Word was necessary, but so too was a heart disposed to hear it. Without a preliminary groundbreaking, the seed would have fallen on hard soil, unable to take root---and my life had been hard and rocky ground indeed for many years....

I was not looking for God. Make no mistake. I did not believe that He existed. But by the spring of my 31st year, something had changed: I was drawn against my conscious will and against my inclination, to be interested in matters of faith. I had an incoherent and inchoate desire to push into territory that I vaguely feared and yet found compelling. Even at this time, I recognized that my interest was extraordinary. What was going on?

In the preceding year, something strange had happened in my interior life. The hardened ground of my heart was being broken up in preparation for the work ahead.

I had started to read poetry again.

I had my degrees in English literature, but I had become seriously burned out on literature while getting my doctorate. For several years after I had finished my degree, I worked in jobs outside my field, unsuccessfully casting around for some sense of purpose, some meaningful way to use the skills I knew I had...I tried my hand at creative writing, ending up with reams of half-finished stories shoved into my desk drawers and a vague frustration with my own lack of direction. I watched a lot---and I do mean a lot---of television. I was not reading the literature I had fallen in love with as an undergraduate.

But now I was in California, with an unexpected fresh start, and I started teaching part-time at the college where I would be hired full-time the following year. I was excited to be back in the college classroom for the first time since I was a graduate student---and teaching literature and not freshman composition.....I dusted off my beloved Norton Anthology of Literature, and turned to the canonical poets whom I had encountered as an undergraduate and now knew I needed to teach.

The greatest works of English literature sprung from Christian roots.

And so, atheist though I was, when I turned to literature I found myself rereading poems of explicit and profound Christian faith.

Consciously, I dismissed their faith as antiquated, or personal, or irrelevant; condescendingly, I viewed it as literature to teach in spite of this irritating fascination with God.

But God works even (especially?) where we least expect to find Him. In order to teach a poem you must know it inside and out....Knowing a poem is experiential, like knowing a person. You must not just read it, but reread it, and a great poem speaks more fully and deeply upon each reading of it. I didn't recognize that God was the source of and reason for the beauty in the poems I was reading; I just saw that they were beautiful, and so I read and reread them.

And something happened.

John Keats, in Ode to a Grecian Urn, closes with these words: Beauty is truth, truth beauty,---that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Beauty: I had admired it, appreciated it, responded to it, but until now, only on the surface. Something had changed. Now I sensed something deeper in the poems I was reading. I could feel power thrumming in the lines of the poems, an electricity of meaning, drawing from some source beyond my reach...

I read John Donne's Holy Sonnet 14---and was drawn into it. For the first time, I was responding with the heart, not just with the head. I was deeply moved without knowing why. Donne speaks directly to God, offering a confession of weakness, pleading for Him to break down the barriers of sin and pride:

Batter my heart, three person God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.

Break, blow, burn, and make me new: Those words rang my heart like a bell. I did not believe as Donne believed; yet I felt moved in a way that I had never been moved before. The felt alive and powerful.

I turned to Gerard Manley Hopkins, that poet-priest virtuoso of language whom I had coolly admired in college. In this strange new state of mind, his poetry was bread to me, feeling a hunger I ever knew I had until that moment....

To hear his voice of hope wrestling with despair cut me to the heart. I had so carefully constructed my defenses of denial, of unconcern, of rebellion, and yet here was Hopkins relentlessly finding the chinks in my armor:

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist---slack they may be---these last strands of man
In me or, most weary, cry I can no more, I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

Hadn't I been feasting on Despair for years? And I was starving....Hopkins spoke what I had never shared with anyone, what I had scarcely dared to admit---he had been where I was---and yet, and yet, he had not stayed there. Hope, wish day come......Was there such a thing as day for me to hope for?

Hopkins was passionately, unashamedly Christian---and yet he did not blunt sharp edges. Here was no call to a comforting and trivial faith, no bland assurance that if I would come to Jesus I would feel better....

It was the winter of my soul. I had no conscious desire to find God; I thought I knew that He did not exist. And yet something was at work in me, just as Hopkins wrote in The Windhover:....My heart in hiding/Stirred.... Stirred for I knew not what----but for something beyond my experience.

Poetry had done its work. The ground was broken up, ready for the Word. And the person who would speak that Word to me would not be a poet, or a professor, but rather, my fencing coach. Who would have thought?

----Holly Ordway, Not God's Type, A Rational Academic Finds a Radical Faith

Saturday, March 19, 2011

See Helen Thomas Bare It All In ... Playboy?

STOP THE PRESSES! THERE MUST BE SOME MISTAKE. Surely the erstwhile, former doyen of the White House press coven can't be featured in the latest issue of Playboy. Lord help us all. Is that what happens when an aging, raging anti-semite--- putting it mildly--- tumbles from grace (small g)? Is her reward a interview 'centerfold' in the over-the-hill magazine?

Apparently so.

If you're thinking she's calmed down or softened her stance on Zionism---her euphemism for Jews are to blame for all the ills in the world--- then you got another think coming. Nope, she's back with a vengenance which could only be described as gone nuclear meltdown.

I won't bother to reproduce some of the more illustrious quotes from her tirade. If you're intersted, I'm sure you can dig them up. Till then, I consider Helen Thomas a sad dying relic of the archaic, elite MSM. Ms. Thomas is a dinosaur journalist amidst the Jurrasic Park media.

Perhaps she should apply for a job at NPR as a fund raiser to help fill in the gaps when us taxpayers stop picking up the tab. Or perhaps she will buy a summer home in Gaza. Come to think of it, she kinda looks like Yasser. Supposed they're kissing cousins?


Friday, March 18, 2011

FedEx's CEO On Japan

IN A CONFERENCE CALL YESTERDAY FOR STOCKHOLDERS, FEDEX Chairman Fred Smith spoke on the effects of Japan's triple catastrophes on its business, and global business in general. I like Smith---he's savvy, smart and successful in a way that's stood the test of time and countless trials--and think what he says is worth a read. Of course so much is happening in Japan, the situation is so fluid, that none of us really know where this whole thing is going. Add to that, events in the Middle East, Libya, Bahrain and all points in between, and we have an even greater concoction of unknowns.

Anyway, here's what Smith said yesterday on Japan via conference call transcript:

Frederick Smith

Well, this is Fred Smith. I’ll ask Dave to comment further. It’s very difficult to ascertain what the effect is going to be. I don’t think in the scheme of things, with a company the size of FedEx, at about $10 billion a quarter, that the net effect of Japan is going to be significant. Now that doesn’t mean that there couldn’t be a lot of money in human terms, but in relative terms to FedEx’s operation. And secondarily, while this thing has been horrific and one of the worst things we’ve seen in a long, long time, the reality is it’s fairly localized. And assuming that there’s no great effect from the nuclear power plant issues, the Japanese are very resourceful people and we’re carrying a lot of traffic out of Japan as we speak. And the trade balance from Japan and to Japan was always much more export oriented there. So there will be more traffic going into Japan from reconstruction purposes than would otherwise have been the case. And of course, there will also be humanitarian relief, and as I mentioned in my remarks, we try to stand up and help people do that because we have a unique capability to do it, and other people in the industry also do that. So I don’t think that Japan will be significant overall. There may be some pinch points in various supply chains and have some effect on automotive or high-tech production. But the Japanese are very able folks, and I think the way ‘they’ve handle this thing is also very admirable. I might add, and on our board, we have Doctor Shirley Jackson, and Doctor Jackson’s the head of the Rensselaer Polytech. And she was also the head of the nuclear regulatory commission, and we coincidentally had our quarterly board meeting on Monday. So one of the most interesting things we’ve had in a long time was to listen to her educate us with about the situation in Japan. And I think the likelihood is that the effects of the nuclear situation there are more probably less rather than more, unless there’s some drastic, unfortunate convergence of events takes place. Read More.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breaking Out In Dance At the Sydney Train Station


Confession: In some future chapter in my life, I'd love to learn to do this well and spend lots of time at it. What great fun!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean's Controversial Trip To Japan On Day of the Earthquake

IN ONE DAY, U.S. DEBT JUMPED $72 BILLON AS CONGRESS CUT $6 BILLION (One step forward, ten steps backwards)


MAYOR KARL DEAN---hail fellow well met---has been quite the talk of the town around city water coolers this week after leaving on a part-business/part-pleasure trip to Japan only hours after the massive earthquake/ tsunami hit that country. After hearing the news, Dean continued on with his trip when he received assurances from Japanese trade contacts he was still welcome and wouldn't be in the way. And Dean took them at their word. He's has been severely criticized here for this.

An article on Dean's now infamous trip appeared in The Nashville City Paper today giving a few more details:

Dean....flew to Chicago from Nashville en route to Japan at about 5 a.m., Friday, March 11.

“I had gotten maybe one or two emails from colleagues saying that something had happened in Japan, but no details,” Dean said of his morning departure. “When I got to the airport in Nashville there was no other information. I went on to Chicago. At that point, I got a call from Consul General [Hiroshi] Sato, who basically said there [had] been a severe earthquake, but that I should go on with the trip.

“My only concern at that point was that I didn’t want to be in the way if there were some people taking actions that they normally would not take,” he said. “I didn’t want them to have to entertain me. He assured me that I wouldn’t be in the way and that I should feel free to come ahead.

Dean, who called the Japanese “incredibly stoic and dignified,” said this is his first trip to Japan. He said Tokyo right now is “extremely quiet” given the recent events.

“I’m in a hotel in the central business district that is probably less than half full,” he said. “Just going out for dinner, going into a restaurant, we’re generally one of two parties in a restaurant. It’s so empty. The traffic is much, much reduced. There are periodic blackouts. When I was in Kamakura yesterday meeting with the mayor there, there were blackouts. People are staying indoors more I think because of the radiation issue and because they’re just overwhelmed. A lot of things are closed. Stores closing, restaurants closing, a lot of the museums we wanted to go to were closed for the entire week.



On top of all those closings and blackouts, I understand many ATM machines in Tokyo and Japan are not working.

Whether Dean---who is still holed up in Tokyo with his family---should or shouldn't have continued on to Japan as scheduled after the the massive catastrophe continues to be open to debate. I question his judgment, but who knows and frankly who really cares.

Nevertheless, one thing seems certain after his week of rolling blackouts, aftershocks, threats of nuclear fallout, and massive business and restaurant closings: It's highly doubtful he'll ever make such a crazy, goof-ball decision again to go forward with such a schmooze-fest. I mean, would Dean have stopped everything last May to party and entertain trade officials from Japan during the massive, historic floods of Nashville? The biggest flood in history here? I certainly doubt it. And even more so, I hope not.

One last thing, over the past several years, Dean has literally rammed through a new downtown convention center the same way he rammed through his trip to Japan. It is one of the most ill-begotten boondoggles of all time. It will never, NEVER, pay for itself and is conceived of a by-gone era of unlimited business-friendly expansion with unlimited credit. There's nothing progressive in Dean's Convention Center Debacle. His are monumental delusions of grandeur and bad timing.

On second thought, maybe it's just as well if Dean is stranded in Japan a little longer.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Uncovering Fukushima's Flawed Reactor Design, Obama's Trival Pursuits and Making the Nissan Leaf


A COUPLE OF THINGS WORTH MENTIONING before hitting the sack early tonight.

FIRST, an interesting article about how the design of the Fukushima nuclear reactors---by GE over 35 years ago--- seemed so flawed at the time that a GE scientist resigned in protest. The article goes on to say:

Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing -- the Mark 1 -- was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release."

Read the article for more. Interesting how whistle blowers are often ignored for a long time until the chickens finally come home to roost, isn't it? And brother, are they roosting now.

SECOND: Keith Koffler at The White House Dossier---an independent, unauthorized White House blog---writes a great piece on President Obama's Trivial Pursuits:

A teaser,

The Middle East is afire with rebellion, Japan is imploding from an earthquake, and the battle of the budget is on in the United States, but none of this seems to be deterring President Obama from a heavy schedule of childish distractions.

The newly installed tandem of White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Senior Adviser David Plouffe were supposed to impart a new sense of discipline and purpose to the White House. Instead, they are permitting him to showcase himself as a poorly focused leader who has his priorities backward.

This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.

Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.With various urgencies swirling about him, Saturday’s weekly videotaped presidential address focusing on “Women’s History Month” seemed bizarrely out of touch.

Obama Friday took time out to honor the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Thursday was a White House conference on bullying – not a bad idea perhaps, but not quite Leader of the Free World stuff either.

There's more where that came from on Koffler's site. Well worth a read.

THIRD: I subscribe to a daily email investment service of The Mad Hedge Fund Trader who is very high on the Nissan Leaf and has ordered one for himself. While I don't share his enthusiasm for the overly, now even more delayed vehicle at this point, I can appreciate the fascinating YouTube link of its production process he sent his readers tonight.

Take a look and see if you don't too. Great music! BTW, the new Leaf plant in the U.S. is scheduled to open next year outside Nashville in Symrna, TN.--far away from fault lines and the chance of tsunamis. But we do have great floods and an occasional tornado to contend with.

Fukushima Nuclear Problems For Dummies


HERE ARE THE PROBLEMS. There are no easy answers.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Prepares For The Worst As Panic Sets In


@ ZERO HEDGE: All hell is currently breaking loose following an explosion at reactor #2 and another hydrogen explosion at reactor #4 per Kyodo, leading to a 16% drop in Nikkei futures as blind panic grips Japan. Kyodo essentially confirms there was a reactor meltdown as radiation levels at Fukushima 3 are now 400 times legal levels. Topping it all Japan's warning that all people within 30 kilometers from Fukushima should stay indoors and that the radioactive winds may reach Tokyo in as little as 8-10 hours.
HOW DO MILLIONS PREPARE FOR SUCH BACK-TO-BACK CATASTROPHE? May God have mercy on this land and its people. May we come to their aid and be in continuous prayer for them.

What Is A Nuclear Meltdown?

UPDATE: EMERGENCY COOLING ATTEMPTS WITH SEAWATER FAILINGI TOOK A NUCLEAR ENGINEERING COURSE IN COLLEGE and remember almost nothing except very big mathmatical equations. Nevertheless, during the course of my exposure to it--no pun intended--I became less fearful of nuclear technology and still am to some extent. What we're seeing unfold in Japan is no doubt a worst---or near worst---case scenario. God only knows where it will all end. On top of everything else, there is so much misinformation and just plain confusion as to what is really happening. Only time will tell, but it certainly doesn't look good.

Anyway, I saw this article and diagram tonight and thought it was a simple premier/review of what is most likely going on and well-worth a read:

THREE DAYS AFTER after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex has turned into the biggest uncertainty of the crisis. Recovering from the seismic event will take tens of billions of dollars and years of work — but if the nuclear situation goes the wrong way, that would add dramatically to the disaster's cost.

How did all this happen, and how could it end?

Different folks have different answers, depending on how they feel about nuclear power. Here's a roundup of the best answers I've been able to put together — accompanied by an invitation to add your own sources and perspectives as comments below:

Has there been a nuclear meltdown?

Authorities say partial meltdowns have probably occurred at three of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plants. But that doesn't mean we're in a "China Syndrome" situation.

To understand what a "partial meltdown" means, we need to discuss how the reactors are constructed. Under normal conditions, the plants produce power by sustaining a controlled nuclear reaction inside a pressure vessel. Chain reactions in the nuclear core's uranium-filled fuel rods heat up water, generating steam that turns turbines to generate electricity. That steam is circulated through a cooling system and returned to the pressure vessel as water to keep the cycle going. The uranium oxide fuel is contained inside sheaths of zirconium metal that can withstand temperatures of 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius).

Control rods can be inserted between the fuel rods to shut down the main chain reaction in the uranium. But the water-circulating cooling system is needed as well to bring the temperature down while the radioactive decay subsides. The problem is that the power for the cooling system was cut off when the earthquake hit. Then the backup diesel generators were knocked out of commission by the tsunami. Backup batteries could keep the cooling system going for only about eight hours more. The plant's operator tried to bring in mobile generators to restore power, but the connections reportedly didn't match up.

Meanwhile, residual heat from radioactive decay continued to build up, and water continued to turn to steam. Eventually, the fuel rods became exposed. The temperatures apparently reached the melting point for the fuel rods' zirconium sheaths. That can result in uranium oxide fuel falling to the bottom of the pressure vessel — which is what some experts mean when they talk about a partial meltdown. Other experts, however, would reserve that term for a situation in which the nuclear fuel makes its way out of the pressure vessel but stays within a steel-and-concrete containment shell that surrounds the reactor.

Is that why radioactive material escaped?

At each of the three Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in trouble, the nuclear fuel is still contained within the pressure vessel. The radioactive material is not coming from the core itself, but from steam that's being released from the vessels. Plant operators opened the steam valves to reduce the risk of a high-pressure explosion inside the vessels — in effect, letting off steam to keep the lid from blowing off a pressure cooker. The steam contains radioactive cesium-137 and iodine-131, which are byproducts of the uranium reaction. The authorities said the radioactivity in that steam is still below regulatory limits and should not pose any health risk.

Despite those reassurances, authorities have ordered an evacuation of the area within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and have distributed stable iodine to evacuation centers as a precaution. If people are exposed to significant amounts of radioactive debris, taking doses of iodine can prevent the uptake of radioactive iodine and reduce the risk of thyroid cancer.

Right now the radioactive plume is blowing out to sea, which means it's not wafting over Japanese population centers. It is wafting over the Pacific, however, and the U.S. Navy found that air crew members from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan were exposed to low-level contamination. The Navy says the crew members were decontaminated with soap and water, and all U.S. ships have been moved out of the downwind direction. Apparently, no harm was done.

Nevertheless, the contamination incident was worrisome to nuclear physicist Frank von Hippel, a former Clinton administration official who is now co-director of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security.

"I was surprised how high the radiation levels are," von Hippel told me.

So what's being done?

Plant operators have been pumping cool seawater into the pressure vessels to replace the water that's being lost as steam, in an effort to keep the fuel rods from heating up further. They've added boric acid to the seawater, because boron suppresses the nuclear reaction and could accelerate the cooldown. Authorities were reluctant to turn to this strategy because the seawater is so corrosive that it ruins the reactors for future power generation. But that's better than having the meltdown progress to an even worse stage.

What about these hydrogen explosions?

When the seawater hits the hot zirconium rods and uranium fuel, some of it is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Venting the steam allowed that hydrogen and oxygen to escape and build up between the pressure vessel and an outer structure that protects the reactor from the elements. At reactors No. 1 and No. 3, the hydrogen ignited, blowing the roof off the outer structure in each case. However, the pressure vessel and the steel containment shell remained intact. It's important to note that the hydrogen blast was not the result of any sort of atomic or "H-bomb" explosion, but was a purely chemical reaction.

And now there's a third explosion?

Yes, authorities reported that a blast was heard at unit No. 2, the other reactor that's in trouble at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Details are sketchy, but the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the explosion occurred near the reactor's suppression pool, a water reservoir that's part of the cooling system. A government spokesman said the pool was damaged. Reuters quoted Tokyo Electric as saying that radiation levels in the air around the plant rose after the blast.

What about the nuclear fuel stored at the site?

The spent fuel rods at the Fukushima facility are stored in pools of water above the reactor. Plant operators have signaled that water levels were falling at reactor No. 1's storage pool, suggesting that the cooling system is failing. "It's on a slower fuse," von Hippel said, "but on the order of a week or so, it could boil down to the level of fuel."

What's the best-case scenario?
The seawater gambit keeps temperatures inside the pressure vessels under control for the next few days. During that time, the residual heat of radioactive decay dissipates, and operators no longer need to release steam from the vessels. Eventually, electrical power is restored to the cooling system, and each vessel's core can be removed.

What's the worst-case scenario?

Authorities can't cool down the cores, and temperatures rise to the point that the uranium fuel melts into a mess on the bottom of the pressure vessel. The concrete-and-steel containment floor beneath the vessel has been built to contain a full core meltdown — but experts can't completely rule out the possibility of a breach that causes the highly radioactive material to escape into the environment.

Right now, the situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi is analogous to the Three Mile Island incident of 1979, which involved a partial core meltdown and a release of radioactive gases — but no breach in the reactor vessel. "It's at least as bad as Three Mile Island," von Hippel said. But if the nuclear fuel breaks out of the vessel, the situation could turn into something more like the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine, which sparked fatal cases of radiation sickness and spread contamination across a wide swath of Europe.

How long will this go on?

Even under the best-case scenario, it will take years to clean up the mess. "When you're dealing with spent fuel,you don't put it in cool, dry casks until three years after the reaction has stopped," von Hippel said.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Caring For a Grandchild In Japan

VIDEO: NIKKEI PLUNGES OVER 6% ON HUGE VOLUMEPICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. What more to say, except after all this trauma, how sweet to be cared for by a watchful, loving grandmother and wrapped in a pink flowered blanket.

Pastor Rice Broocks: Biblical Perspective Of Earthquakes, Natural Disasters And Bible Prophecy

HEARD THIS SERMON IN PERSON TODAY AT BETHEL. Pastor Rice is just back from several weeks South Africa. He's a gifted speaker and powerful evangelist who gives a Biblical perspective on natural disasters, earthquakes, upheavals of natural systems and The Only Kingdom That Can Never Be Shaken.

Sunday, One Woman's Journey From Despairing Atheism to Faith


MINE WAS A DESPAIRING PRIDE, a lonely pride and ultimately an alienating pride. But it provided a dark kind of solace. Feeling like an insider is terribly seductive. Once you're there it's hard to back down. To retreat from the precipice of despair would mean would mean 'those people' you whom you've taken pride at sneering at...really did know more than you.

It would mean giving up the lonely, terrible sense of being special by virtue of everyone else being a fool.

Yet I was troubled by what I knew of myself. I sense the pride that sustained me was not really healthy; it connected me too easily to contempt and predisposed me to isolation. I knew I was prone to vindictive and intense anger, perhaps all the more terrible because I almost never let it show. I knew I was capable of physical as well as verbal rage. I once lost my temper at a fencing tournament and in a split-second vented my anger by hitting my opponent so hard on the mask that my sabre broke. I was frightened by my own loss of control, so I pretended it was an accident, but I knew it had been deliberate. Whenever I glanced into the deep well of anger in my heart, I knew all was not well.

My atheism was eating into my heart like acid.

On 9/11 I was at first genuinely shocked by that vicious destruction of innocent life, until I began to rationalize myself out of my emotional reaction. What did these people matter to me? Why should I grieve for strangers? It worked; I stopped caring....In a transitory moment of insight, I recognized my condition as numbness, not superior rationality.

However satisfied I declared myself intellectually, however impregnable this intellectual fortress of atheism seemed to me, it was a terrible place to live. It's foundations were not on solid rock as I thought, but on shifting sand. Even as I grew more intellectually enamored of atheism, I found myself having a harder time living in light of its conclusions.

My worldview was entirely negative. I could not have explained the source of my own rationality, nor of my conviction that there were such things as truth, beauty and goodness. My worldview remained satisfying to me only insofar as I refrained from asking the really tough questions.

So I didn't ask those questions.

What I didn't realize at the time was how inconsistent I was. I used the language of morality, even as I argued that the Source of all morality did not exist....but I was sure that the words 'good' and 'evil' referred to real things and I ought to strive for the good, even if it didn't benefit me personally.

Although my creed held that there was no ultimate meaning, I did, stubbornly believe there was such a thing as truth---and I valued truth as an absolute good. That is why I so firmly rejected what I thought faith was: making yourself believe something comforting but untrue.

And I wanted to know and live by that truth---no matter what.

----Holly Ordway, Not God's Type, A Rational Academic Finds A Radical Faith

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan After the Deluge

PEOPLE, isolated and stranded at an elementary school, head for safety in Sendai, northern Japan on Saturday. (Associated Press)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Watch Around Pacific Rim After Massive 8.9 Japanese Earthquake


AN OMG CATASTROPHE THAT CALLS US TO MASSIVE, NON-STOP PRAYER FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.The scope of this is incomprehansible. How quickly our lives and plans as we know them can forever change in ways we couldn't have imagined only moments before.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My To-Do List Won Today

THE LAST TWO DAYS have been non-stop busy. I got to the computer last night to watch a webinar with The MadHedgeFundTrader over an early dinner, only to fall sound asleep looking at commodity charts while sitting up in a comfy chair.

Today was just as busy with a long to-do list. One of things at the top was getting a huge cluster of sweet gum balls raked and disposed of at one of my rental houses. I manage my own properties, and can tell you they can sop up some major time. While I hire good people to help me when necessary, in the beginning, middle and end, I've got to supervise and ultimately be responsible for getting things done so the cash flow continues.

This time last year, I was having to take one of my renters to court who violated our contract and brought in three---THREE---pit bulls onto the the property. It was a long saga which ultimately took two court appearances, both of which I won, and much emotional energy. My lawyer was a fly fisherman and wouldn't charge me a dime, so I bought him a gift certificate at a local fly shop. (He also said he never planned to go back to General Sessions court ever again and so he hoped I would never have to relive that adventure.)

Before I got these renters-from-hell evicted, I would receive phone calls from people in the neighborhood afraid to walk on their own street for fear these killer dogs would leap through the electronic fence and attack them. Thank God I finally got them out.

Today sweet gum balls seem innocuous in comparison. But have you ever stepped on one of these things barefoot? Not an appealing thought.

The best thing about being so busy was I didn't have time to risk seeing Charlie Sheen go berserk on my computer screen again. It's the little things I can often appreciate most.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

NPR Head Vivian Schiller Follows Ron Schiller---No Kin-- Out the Door


AS AN ERSTWHILE FUND RAISER for a non-profit with a national constituency for far too long, I can tell you NPR will never recover from this scandal.

Sure, they'll go on in some form, keeping a portion of its uber-liberal, anti-Zion, anti-Jew, anti-Christian, anti-Republican, anti-Tea Party, pro-intellectual and pro-Palestinean/Muslim audience. However, NPR as we know it no longer stands for national, nor public. The charade of non-partisanship that we've all known about for so long is over.

The N-P-R is wearing no clothes.

NPR's partisan politcal and cultural stances at taxpayers expense for decades needs to be completely over, for all time. Private funding will and should greatly diminish. Let those privileged elites who fancy themselves smarter than the rest of us Middle America rift-raft, listen and pay for their listening rights. As for me, I'm done with NPR, even the occasional All Things Considered.

PBS will not benefit from this scandal either.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The N-P-R Has No Clothes

ROGER SIMON NAILS NPR DISGRACE: They're stupid. Lost in a delusional world of political correctness, with elders of NPR forfeiting the ability to think critically.


AM JUST GETTING UP TO SPEED ON THIS OUTRAGEOUS STORY. However, suffice it to say, another undercover sting operation---by two reporters posing as potential Muslim donors from a Muslim Brotherhood Front Group---have lunch with two top executives at National Public Radio (NPR)---Ron Schiller and Beth Liley--- with cameras secretly rolling at Cafe Milano in Georgetown.

As many know, Ron Schiller just resigned (was canned) from NPR last week. What happens to Beth Liley remains to be seen. Not to mention what happens to federal funding of NPR to the tune of $90 million/year. As Schiller notes over a glass of chardonnay, NPR gets about 10% of its yearly operating budget (totalling $800 million) from taxpayers.

The most interesting parts of this seance, is what the NPR execs really think of the ignorant anti-intellectual Tea Party, Republicans. Clearly these NPR execs think much more highly of Muslim---the world's worst group for women's right, and that execute gays---than of us ignorant Christians and radical Republicans and Tea Party people. Truly disgraceful and embarrassing to the max.

This is an incredible reporting coup of Biblical proportions.

Monday, March 7, 2011

And The Moral of The Story Is....

EDIE, ONE OF MY BEST GIRLFRIENDS IN JACKSON HOLE, sent me this clever, little email today which I'm passing on as my Monday afternoon post. It's a woman thing.

Barbara Walters did a story on gender roles in Kabul , Afghanistan, several years before our involvement in the Afghan conflict.

She noted that women customarily walked five paces behind their husbands.

She recently returned to Kabul , and observed that women still walk behind their husbands. Despite the overthrow of the oppressive Taliban regime, the women now seem to, and are happy to, maintain the old custom.

Ms. Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, "Why do you now seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?"

The woman looked Ms. Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation said, "Land Mines."

No matter what language you speak or where you go, Moral of this story is BEHIND EVERY MAN, THERE'S A REALLY SMART WOMAN.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday: Continuing One Woman's Journey From Atheism To Faith


LIFE INSIDE THE FORTRESS OF ATHEISM was good. I thought I could make sense of the world just as well, or much better than the people who claimed to have 'faith.' I didn't believe in God, but I had a worldview that felt perfectly satisfactory. It wasn't a particularly cheery worldview, but I preferred truth over comfort any day.

What then did I believe?

In my worldview, I was the product of blind chance working over millions of years, a member of a species that happened to be more intelligent than other mammals but was not unique. I thought I was a good social creature because that was how humans evolved; the language I delighted in using was just a tool that humans had developed along the way. If I had been consistent, I would have embraced the fashionable theories of literary criticism that pronounced language itself to be self-contradictory and meaningless, but I didn't; one of the reasons I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the little regarded genre of fantasy was so that I could avoid that kind of literary theory and stick to a more traditional, meaning-based interpretation of the books. So even as I became more anti-Christian, and even though I was contradicting the principles that undergirded my atheism, I studiously avoided thinking my way through this.

I did not believe that human beings had souls. I thought that when I died, my consciousness would simply turn off, and that the only immortality in store for me was that of my body decaying and returning its component atoms for other living beings to use; sometimes I even thought that was a beautiful and consoling prospect. I vaguely thought of 'personhood' as defined by awareness and intelligence, though I sensed that this position, logically followed through, arrived at disturbing conclusions. If I thought abortion was acceptable, how was that so different from infanticide? If what made a 'person' was a functioning mind and body, were the lives of profoundly disabled people meaningful? Once the mind was gone, did a person have a right to live? What if the mind just didn't work well? I was aware that there was something wrong with this trajectory of thought, but I preferred not to think about it.

Behind all my consciously articulated view was the same premise: there is no God, no ultimate meaning beyond ourselves.

If that were true---if there is no real meaning to our lives---what is the point of living? As early as high school, I had recognized that problem. I remember in my junior-year Latin class reading some of the more philosophical despairing poets, and asking my teacher why, if they felt life was meaningless, didn't they just kill themselves? My teacher replied: A lot of them did.

Yet I felt life had to be worth living. I believed that it was possible and desirable to be a good person (never mind that question of where my standard of 'goodness' came from). I thought life was good. How could it be so and yet have no meaning?

Consistently lived out, atheism leads to despair.

What to do? When the alternative is succumbing to darkness, anything seems worth a try. In his poem 'Dover Beach,' Matthew Arnold confronts a world from which faith, and by extension, any hope or truth beyond himself, has withdrawn, and he cries out, 'Ah love, let us be true/To one another!' To a young would-be romantic, that sounds like a pretty good solution. But without the One who created us to be in relationship with Him, any two souls who try to cling to each other for all their meaning will drown just the same.

As for me, I tried to hold the darkness at bay by seeking meaningful activities that I deemed worthwhile: being a teacher, appreciating literature, winning fencing tournaments, writing a book, saving and investing money. These were things that were good, at least to an extent, in themselves, and there was no obvious down-side to looking for my life's meaning in them.

And yet, no matter what I turned my hand to, I found satisfaction in nothing. I wanted to be a good teacher, but felt my students just wouldn't co-operate. I wanted an immediate return on what I gave them---and they were so very needy. I became frustrated; I shirked my responsibilities to my colleagues; I resented misbehaving students. I recall one moment of terrible clarity. One day I found myself screaming, livid with anger, at a class of freshmen who would not, simply would not, stop talking in class. I felt suddenly horrified at the person I saw myself becoming, but felt powerless to stop it.

Fencing was a saving grace. Even when I was troubled in the rest of my life, fencing took me out of myself at least for a little while. There was something authentic about fencing: in the challenge of sport, there is no room for self-deception, and fencing was the one area of my life where I could acknowledge being something less than I wanted to be---and still feel like it mattered.

Increasingly, however, the view was clear: if life truly has no meaning, then our actions cannot themselves have any meaning either.

And so I came gradually to another way to manage despair: pride.

I began to lean on my sense of my own intellectual strength. 'All right' I said to myself, 'when we die, we die; nothing we can do has any ultimate meaning. So be it!' I could take pride in being able to face facts. Weak and sentimental people might scurry to the cover of some faith that allowed them to pretend to be otherwise, but I would be strong and resolute. I would look into the abyss, and let the abyss look back, and carry on.

In its own way, this was a very satisfying position. I could feel superior to anyone---certainly to Christians, whom I viewed as weak and unable to face the truth. I began to conceive of life as a great tragedy, our little conscious lives like tiny candle flames in the night, with despair constantly hovering in the flickering shadows. There is no meaning! I knew that was what my ideology had at its bedrock. Some fools couldn't face the darkness, but as for me, I savored the idea of standing on my lonely precipice, able to recognize my identity as a meaningless speck in an uncaring universe and carry on with the artificial comforts of religion.

----Holly Ordway, Not God's Type, a Rational Academic Finds A Radical Faith

Saturday, March 5, 2011

15 Most Expensive Divorces Ever

VIA GOSPEL COALITION & CNN: DOES THE BIBLE CONDEMN PRACTICING HOMOSEXUALITY?RAINING CATS AND DOGS HERE so what's a girl to do but wander a little on the Web. Very little of interest unless you want more of the pathetic Charlie Sheen , fighting in Libya or $4-5 gas prices. Frankly I can do without all of it today. This piece is totally superficial but worth a small look if you've got nothing better to do. BTW, there's no one on this list I envy or would change places with for all the money in the world. I'm happy to be me.

15 Most Expensive Divorces Ever

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day of the Asparagus

IT'S ALMOST SPRING AND IF YOU, AS I, LIKE TO EAT SEASONALLY, you know it's getting to look a lot like asparagus season. As the first daffodils start to poke up, so too are asparagus now coming into their own. Right now, this minute, on the double.

So what's a girl who's asked to bring finger food to a grand gathering cocktail supper this evening to do but to think of asparagus. Today, even as I think about the falling dollar, blow-up of the Middle East, ceasing federal funding of abortion---our country's longest running bailout--- and assorted other things, I'm knee deep into cooking asparagus perfectly---3-4 minutes--chilling them quickly, wrapping in mock hollandaise sauce and prosciutto then putting them on a silver platter. Truth be told, I could eat dozens myself, I like them so much. Always try to take food I can eat, since I don't eat sugar or much flour. However, I do love a glass of dry red wine. Below an interesting presentation which is not what I'm doing, but appealing nonetheless.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Oscar Nothwithstanding, Could This Be the World's Happiest, Cutest Couple?


ALWAYS HEARTENING TO SEE COUPLES WHO SEEM HAPPY AS CLAMS in each other's company. That they're both knock-outs is icing on the cake. Living in a world of non-stop nonsense and bust-ups/downs and immodest busts all around--with the likes of the pathetic Charlie Sheen and out-of-control drunk Christina Argulera in our faces--isn't it reassuring to realize there are a few truly in love compatible couples living their lives soberly supportive and crazy about each other after all those years? Mind you, I know nothing about the true inner workings of their lives and marriage (and whether they have children etc), but from the looks of it, it seems to be well. They have certainly withstood the Oscar circus of the past weekend and trans-global flight looking no worse for the wear. I've always thought too much success, fame and fortune is often harder to endure than failure. I still think so. Somehow, though, I'm betting the Firths will take it all in stride and enjoy it for what it is---fleeting.

Little more.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Countries With The Largest Oil Reserves

WITH OIL PRICES THROUGH THE ROOF and gas at the pump possibly heading north of $4 this summer, it might behoove us to review which countries have the largest oil reserves. Remember, the United States is dependent on Middle East oil and in these turbulent times of global unrest, it could mean at least temporary shortages that could bring on much higher prices, long lines at the pumps.

So let's look at where in the world is the most oil. Click here for the slide show.

It's hard to avoid seeing a lot of oil is controlled by some bad government regimes. On the other hand #2 Canada is where we import most of our oil from now. That may only increase as the United States may be forced to wean itself from its dependence on Middle East supplies. It may get painful and very expensive before it gets better.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Robert Spenser Readjusts Our Expectations For Democracy In the Middle East

LATE LAST NIGHT I WAS CHATTING ON THE PHONE WITH A CONSERVATIVE FRIEND in D.C. about recent events in Egypt and heard myself say something like,

'You know, if it's really a young persons-internet revolution in the Middle East, it could possibly doom extreme Islam. Maybe I'm far too optimistic, but what 20-something revolutionary in Egypt doesn't want more computers, cell phones, Levis and lattes from Starbucks, not to mention more economic opportunity...They can't do it if 14th century radicals take over their countries again. That would only bring a greater loss of hoped-for freedoms...

There was a definite pause on the other end of the phone as the voice replied, Well that's certainly what the current administration is hoping for. But is it really realistic? And are we being naive?

Probably, I acknowledged. But I so want to believe some form of economic freedom and liberating democracy is possible beyond military dictatorships and tribal squabbling.

Our conversation ended but stayed with me as I fell asleep. This morning as I made my early morning rounds, I went to Human Events and immediately fixated on this piece by Robert Spenser. He certainly knows how to readjust a girl's hope for change in the ME.

Read the whole thing for a good attitude adjustment above and beyond the silliness of the Obama administration's current stance.


Am having computer problems and my brilliant computer geek is here to help get things right this morning. So I'm signing off for now and hope to be back sooner rather than later.