“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Arab Spring and 550 US generals - How is it going?

Christianity 'close to extinction' in Middle East
Christianity faces being wiped out of the “biblical heartlands” in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of worshippers, according to a new report.

7:20AM GMT 23 Dec 2012

The study warns that Christians suffer greater hostility across the world than any other religious group.

And it claims politicians have been “blind” to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The most common threat to Christians abroad is militant Islam, it says, claiming that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as “racism”.

It warns that converts from Islam face being killed in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Iran and risk severe legal penalties in other countries across the Middle East.

The report, by the think tank Civitas, says: “It is generally accepted that many faith-based groups face discrimination or persecution to some degree.

"A far less widely grasped fact is that Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers.”

It cites estimates that 200 million Christians, or 10 per cent of Christians worldwide, are “socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”

“Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood,” says the author, Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford.

He adds: “The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”

The report, entitled Christianophobia, highlights a fear among oppressive regimes that Christianity is a “Western creed” which can be used to undermine them.

State hostility towards Christianity is particularly rife in China, where more Christians are imprisoned than in any other country in the world, according to the report.

It quotes Ma Hucheng, an advisor to the Chinese government, who claimed in an article last year that the US has backed the growth of the Protestant Church in China as a vehicle for political dissidence.

“Western powers, with America at their head, deliberately export Christianity to China and carry out all kinds of illegal evangelistic activities,” he wrote in the China Social Sciences Press.

“Their basic aim is to use Christianity to change the character of the China and overturn it,” he added.

The “lion’s share” of persecution faced by Christians arises in countries where Islam is the dominant faith, the report says, quoting estimates that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left the region or been killed in the past century.

“There is now a serious risk that Christianity will disappear from its biblical heartlands,” it claims.

The report shows that “Muslim-majority” states make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance by Freedom House, the human rights think tank.

It catalogues hundreds of attacks on Christians by religious fanatics over recent years, focusing on seven countries: Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Burma and China.

It claims George Bush’s use of the word “crusade” after the September 11 attacks on New York created the impression for Muslims in the Middle East of a “Christian assault on the Muslim world”.

“But however the motivation for violence is measured, the early twenty-first century has seen a steady rise in the strife endured by Christians,” the report says.

The 2003 invasion of Iraq left Iraqi Christians “more vulnerable than ever”, highlighted by the 2006 beheading of a kidnapped Orthodox priest, Fr Boulos Iskander, and the kidnapping of 17 further priests and two bishops between 2006 and 2010.

“In most cases, those responsible declared that they wanted all Christians to be expelled from the country,” the report says.

In Pakistan, the murder last year of Shahbaz Bhatti, the country’s Catholic minister for minorities, “vividly reflected” religious intolerance in Pakistan.
Shortly after his death it emerged that Mr Bhatti had recorded a video in which he declared: “I am living for my community and for suffering people and I will die to defend their rights.

"I prefer to die for my principles and for the justice of my community rather than to compromise. I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ, who has given his own life for us.”

The report also warns that Christians in India have faced years of violence from Hindu extremists. In 2010 scores of attacks on Christians and church property were carried out in Karnataka, a state in south west India.

And while many people are aware of the oppression faced in Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi and other pro-democracy activists, targeted abuse of Christians in the country has been given little exposure, the report says.

In some areas of Burma the government has clamped down on Christian protesters by restricting the building of new churches.

“Openly professing Christians employed in government service find it virtually impossible to get promotion,” it adds.



  1. December 24, 2012
    Did Assad use poison gas on a rebel-held neighborhood in Homs?

    Al-Jazeera is reporting that medics treating casualties in a rebel neighborhood in the city of Homs believe that some of the wounded were victims of a poison gas attack.

    Here's the video. (Warning: The video graphically shows a victime struggling to breathe.)


  2. Don't expect any sympathy concerning this post flowing forth from Mississippi this Christmas Eve. Rufus hates all religions, even the Amish, the fuckin' slackers with their stupid buggies.

    1. By the way the Christians are doing fine in.....Israel.

    2. yep, even free christmas trees provided by the government of israel...

  3. Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec. 24 /Trend S.Isayev, T. Jafarov

    Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani has sent a letter of congratulation to the heads of the legislatures Christian countries of the world, IRIB News reported.

    Larijani made the remarks in a message to Christians, issued on Christmas Eve, in which he congratulated them on the birth of Jesus.

    "I congratulate all world's Christians and my Christian countrymen," Larijani's message said.

    Iran's parliamentary speaker also noted in his message that the international community should take appropriate legal measures against "extremists who insult the prophets".

    He called on the Christians to pursue peace, friendship, and fighting against oppression.

    “I consider the peaceful coexistence of religious minorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran with each other and with Muslims as a source of pride and note that, fortunately, religious minorities have representatives in the (Iranian) parliament,” he added.

    1. Tell it to the Bahá'í.


      December 24, 2012
      ID Senator Crapo arrested for DUI
      Rick Moran

      Crapo is a Mormon and has said in the past that he abstains from alcohol.

      Apparently, not early Sunday morning:

      The Craps is what we call a jack Mormon.

      Blood alcohol content not yet released.

      This really ticks my wife off, and elates D., who can't stand the guy as being way to 'liberal'.

      Here they are saying it was Five Wives.

    2. Great name,tho, give they guy credit for that.

  4. The Arab Spring started in Iran. It has brought Iran to misery. The same is happening in every country slipping into militant Islam. The US is assisting in this. Why?

    1. Barky is a closet muzzie.

    2. Cause Obama stands with the Moslems... And seeks to install a new sunni/shia empire

      funded by America.

  5. You can’t make this shit up.

    Airmen who took part in air operations against former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi are now eligible for the Air and Space Campaign Medal.

    The Air Force could not say how many airmen are eligible for the award. More than 400 airmen from U.S. Air Forces in Europe meet the award’s requirements, officials said.

  6. Space Campaign Medal? I think we can survive some Pentagon budget reductions.

  7. KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan policewoman on Monday shot and killed a foreign advisor at the police headquarters in Kabul, officials said.

    Kabul’s deputy police chief, Mohammad Daoud Amin, identified the shooter as a member of the force’s gender rights section but said it was not clear whether the shooting was intentional. The woman is in police custody and an investigation is underway, he said.

    Air Force Lt. Col. Les Carroll, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said the victim was a civilian advisor to the Afghan police. Citing ISAF policy, Carroll said he could not provide the victim’s identity or nationality. Amin said the advisor was an American.

  8. Well a Merry Christmas to you all and may the new year be fine and dandy!

    We've now posted our annual holiday cartoon and, as you will see, I'm going to be busy for the next little while.


  9. Thanks Ash, Joy to the World and a Merry Christmas it is indeed I’ll try and get the Space Campaign Medal out of my head. :)

    1. heh heh,

      Air and Space Campaign Medal indeed!


    2. HEY! Maybe I'm gonna be eligible for one given my work tonight with my bud Claus?

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. WTF ?

    N.Y. Firefighter Shooting: Four firefighters reportedly shot, two dead while battling blaze in upstate N.Y.

    WEBSTER, N.Y. - Two firefighters are dead and two more injured after being shot while battling a blaze in upstate New York on Monday morning, reports CBS affiliate WROC.

    Police Chief Gerald Pickering says "one or more shooters" fired at the firefighters when they arrived at the scene of the blaze near the Lake Ontario shore just east of Rochester at around 6 a.m.

    Police have surrounded the neighborhood and are searching for the shooter.

    Officials say the firefighters were at the scene of a fire that started in one home has spread to two others and a car.

    WROC reports that fire officials are currently letting the houses burn because the scene is not secure, and the station's photographer says that one house has collapsed from the fire.

    1. hmmmm, maybe the NRA will recommend armed guards on every fire truck.

  13. Your guesses on who the shooter are welcome.

    Loon, or enraged husband are all I can image.

    Loon, strong number 1.

  14. Reminder to Doug:
    Use Preview!

  15. The silence on the Right Wing Media wrt this has sickened me for years - similar to MSM's treatment of all of BHO's serial failures and acts against America.

    How the fuck could they celebrate our military exploits when the outcome is this???

    Saddam is Dead!

    Women, Christians, et-al be Damned!



    Children and citizens there, and the rest of the non Muslim World

  16. Joe Lieberman has changed his mind on term limits. that he is retiring from being a lifetime political hack.

    My Hero.

  17. The future for California, and ultimately Rufie's Socialist US of A Utopia

    San Bernardino Hearing May Decide Calpers Creditor Rank

    Bloomberg-Dec 20, 2012

    San Bernardino, California, may become the first bankrupt city to force the biggest U.S. public pension fund to wait in line with other creditors ...


    Hope I live long enough to see how teachers, et-al react when they learn their pension fund is FUCKED.

    Schadenfreud is best consumed cold.

    Thanks for fucking all those children's futures ASSHOLES!

    Fuckin Union HACKS.

  18. Back in the 1950s three social psychologists joined a cult that was predicting the imminent end of the world. Their purpose was to observe the cultists’ response when the world did not, in fact, end on schedule. What they discovered, and described in their classic book, “When Prophecy Fails,” is that the irrefutable failure of a prophecy does not cause true believers — people who have committed themselves to a belief both emotionally and by their life choices — to reconsider. On the contrary, they become even more fervent, and proselytize even harder.

    When Prophecies Fail

    1. One of the Times what's her name (the lifer) was right:

      You are a steaming pile of Dog Shit!

    2. Mr. Fiat Money Man.

      How'd that work out for Weimar Germany?

    3. How did the Great Depression work out for the USA?

    4. BHO's predecesor, the "great" FDR fucked up the works...
      what else is new?

    5. Capitalism and Freedom work:

      Big Government doesn't.

      NEVER Has.

      NEVER Will.

  19. San Bernadino population - 213,012

    Los Angeles County - 10 Million

    California population - 40 fucking Million!

    ...all of Rufie's denials will be rendered SHIT.

    ...except to Rufie's "brain."

  20. Deuce: No US president has ever had the distinction of serving in office while getting more US citizens slaughtered than Lincoln.

    Which ignores the role of the "minie ball" in Civil War weaponry:

    This crude piece of lead is the primary reason for the unprecedented slaughter in this war.

    For the record only.

  21. Great Contribution, DRR:

    We know of WWI and improved weaponry, Civil War, not so much.


  22. Yule is a time of happiness and joy and to be thankful. We should take a moment and remember the less fortunate.

    I am grateful for that which I have.
    I am not sorrowful for that which I do not.
    I have more than others, less than some,
    but regardless, I am blessed with
    what is mine.

    Merry Christmas to my friends at the EB.

    1. Thanks, Mel, Merry Christmas to you!

      ...I'm sure you'll give me a little slack for the sadness of spending the first Christmas since 1968 w/o my beloved Sally.

      Trying to rejoice in Son's joy with his first really great woman.

    2. Merry Christmas, Melody. Join me in a cup of eggnog, later?

    3. Ethanol, always Fucking Ethanol!

    4. My first Christmas with Sally and friends, in 1965, was liberally doused with Mulled Wine.

      Ever enjoy that treat, Rufus?

      ...I'd try some again now, except for that ulcer thingie.

      Check it out:

      As good or better than 'Nog on a cold Christmas Day.

    5. Mulled wine

      Mulled wine is a beverage usually made with red wine along with various spices and raisins.

      It is served hot or warm and may be alcoholic or non-alcoholic.

      Yeah, we always searched the stores for non-alcoholic wines.

      The Truth:

      "Red Mountain"

      A Buck forty nine a Gallon, I think!

  23. My daughter and grand daughter moved to Fl in June, this will be their first time home. It was a very hard road for me and can't wait until they are sleeping in their rooms for the next 10 days.

    Doug, I have faith that you have the strength and good family to help you through this difficult time, on this holiday. Peace to you and your family. my thoughts are with you.

    Rufus...Salute. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, every time I get in the hot tub and gaze at the stars, I raise my glass to you. Really I do. Peace. p.s. My daughter is dating one of your kind...half anyway.

    1. :)

      Jesus, sweet, now Melody's trouble reallybegins. Daughter dating one of your kind, Rufus?

      I wonder what it's like to date a brain stem with a beer can in its hand?

      Merry Christmas Ruf, you old scoundrel.

      Lord, watch over Melody and especially her daughter.

    2. All I can say is, "keep a close eye on the likker cabnit." :)

  24. off to the airport. hee haw...ya hoo...yippee ki yay...

  25. In mid-2006, then-Secy of DoD, Donald Rumsfield, formed a planning team to advise on requirements for establishing a new Unified Command for the African continent. Robert Gates, announced to the Senate Armed Services Committee that then-POTUS G.W. Bush had given authority to create the new African Command and Adm Robert Moeller, the director of the AFRICOM transition team, arrived in Stuttgart, Germany to begin creating the logistical framework for the command.

    8 years later and here we go again another command to put our troops in harms way and we don’t have any leadership in the Army, Pentagon, or from the Sec of Defense to object, just following orders.

  26. Merry Christmas to everyone.

    The cat is demanding to be let in. She/he whateveritis doesn't ask anymore. The final stage of dominance.

    ho ho ho

    This creature reminds me of the tiger in "The Life of Pi" which you all really must see.

  27. Christmas gift for Rufus -

    December 24, 2012
    The Madness of Keynesian Economics
    By Jonathon Moseley

    "Keynesian Economics" is the insane belief that the economy can be stimulated by government spending. It provides the excuse to depart from common sense that allows politicians to ignore the alarm bells. It is ludicrous mainly because our government doesn't have any money to spend.....

    .....Now, the tea party cannot save the country without slaying the Keynesian dragon once and for all. The tea party is fighting against out-of-control government spending as its most important priority. Ordinary Americans were driven out of their living rooms and into the streets to form the tea party by the fiscal madness in Washington. But the tea party cannot bring a stop to deficit spending without confronting the demon at its core.

    1. The thing about "Keynesian Economics" is, it's been proven to work. Just as "Austerity during times of recession" has been proven to bring on Depression.

      The tea party was a cry of anguish, and pain brought on by the failure of their heros, the pubs, and the resulting ascendancy to the Oval Office of a Democrat, who, salt upon salt upon wounds, was Black.

    2. "The thing about "Keynesian Economics" is, it's been proven to work."

      Work, as in -

      History has repeatedly proven that this is nonsense. Yet Democrats will not let go of the Keynesian Myth. The government is the center of society, America's modern Democrats want to believe. So they cannot shake the dogma that our entire economy depends upon government spending.

      The New Deal was the largest real-world test of the Keynesian Myth in recent history. Franklin Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau confessed that the "New Deal" was a failure in sworn testimony before Congress on May 9, 1939.

      "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work."

      And FDR's Treasury Secretary also told Congress:

      "I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. ... And an enormous debt to boot!" (See: Human Events and The Heritage Foundation

      What's more, Morgenthau was a friend and ally of FDR's, not just the Treasury Secretary responsible for the finances of the New Deal.

      Morgenthau made this "startling confession," says historian Burton W. Folsom Jr., in the New Deal's seventh year. "In these words, Morgenthau summarized a decade of disaster, especially during the years Roosevelt was in power. Indeed average unemployment for the whole year in 1939 would be higher than that in 1931, the year before Roosevelt captured the presidency from Herbert Hoover," Folsom's book is "New Deal or Raw Deal?: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America."

    3. Bob,

      Give up on the American Thinker blog. It really is bad.

      This line from your original post should set alarm bells off right away:

      "It is ludicrous mainly because our government doesn't have any money to spend"

      Of course it has money to spend. Not only that, it is in cahoots with the FED, the money printer, which spins money out of thin air. As much as one hates the thought of money from nothing one need deal with the concept if one wants to be at all intellectually honest when dealing with economics.

    4. Rufus, really, you have something of the shaman in you. If the facts don't meet the needs of the narrative, by all means change the facts. A really good story is an energy releasing, life affirming mechanism. You've got that.

    5. money out of thin air


    6. You will be for minting Trillion Dollar Platinums one of these fine days, Ash.

      By the way, Merry Christmas to you, atheist.


    7. The spending was too small, and the problem was HUGE! At one time, there were areas in the Midwest (not the desert) where the closest bank was over a hundred miles away.

      Being hampered by the Gold Standard, they could never spend enough to make "break-through velocity."

      Also, then, as now, there were serious Trade Issues (also exacerbated by the Gold Standard,) and a paradigm shift was underway in mechanical farming, and assembly line equipment.

      The countries that, in essence, ditched the gold standard the quickest, and, unfortunately started gearing up for war, recovered the quickest.

    8. .

      Good heavens, another Krugmanite.


  28. Yuppers, the spending was too small. There was the mistake.

    (and it was all Bush's fault)


    1. If Bush had just spent more.....Barky wouldn't have needed to spend 10 times as much, to no effect, and we'd all be driving Cadillacs.

    2. And potato chips wouldn't cost $4.00/ bag.

    3. Mercedes, maybe. If Obammie hadn't spent some money there wouldn't be any "Cadillacs."

    4. What we call "money" is, in reality, simply a system of "Credits."

      The value of the money is merely the world's perception of the "credit-worthiness" of the issuing country, divided by "supply."

      Note that value doesn't necessarily decrease as supply increases, if the increase in supply is perceived to increase the credit-worthiness of the issuer.

    5. For instance, in a world of constrained oil supplies, money (credit) created to advance the production of biofuels might be considered a credit-worthiness Enhancing enterprise, and thus, be neutral, or even positive, for the overall value of the currency.

    6. You could represent this as

      V = CW/S

      if CW was 50, and S was 10, then V would equal 5

      if you increased the supply (S) by 1 to build ethanol stills, but by becoming less dependent on ME Oil, increased you CW (creditworthiness by 10, you would now have a value of 60/11 or 5.45

      You would have Increased the Value of your currency, by, actually, printing More of it.


      Shaman, your ass. :)

      I graduated beyond "Shaman" a loooong time ago.

    7. I'm off the topic Rufus, you're impossible.

      I'm writing a letter to my Congressmen asking them to make sure we don't disarm all American blacks, as you suggested we do.

    8. Just the "Gangbangers," Bob. Just the Criminals, and the Insane.

    9. bob wrote:

      "If Bush had just spent more"

      How the money is spent important. Blowing a load of money making rubble dance isn't as effective as, say, domestic infrastructure spending.

    10. .

      Shaman, your ass. :)


      Based on that analysis, it appears the rat has begun sharing his toads.


  29. Police said Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, registered a blood alcohol level of .11 percent. The legal limit in Virginia, which has strict drunken driving laws, is .08 percent.

    1. Expect your letter to arrive a little late. I hear "Jail Delivery" gets a little spotty around the holidays. :)

  30. Science, and Technology, Baby; Science, and Technology - If Anything is going to Save us, it is Science and Technology.

    Peel and Stick Solar Cells

  31. from The Bah Humbug Department -

    James D. Tabor

    Author, 'Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity'
    GET UPDATES FROM James D. Tabor

    Did Paul Invent the Virgin Birth?
    Posted: 12/23/2012

    Christians regulary affirm that Jesus was "conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary." This faith is embedded as a cornerstone of all the major Christian creeds and is central to the Christmas story, read and re-told countless times at this season in both word and song. Surprisingly, the gospel of Mark has no account of the birth of Jesus. It opens with Jesus as an adult, traveling from Nazareth down to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. Since Mark is our earliest gospel the question arises--what is the origin of the idea of Jesus' virgin birth? When and where did it originate?

    In contrast to Mark both Matthew and Luke give us different versions of the "Christmas story," but they both agree on the source of Mary's pregnancy. In Matthew's account Joseph had a dream shortly after finding out about the pregnancy. In this dream an angel told him that her pregnancy was "by a holy spirit" and that he was to go ahead with the marriage regardless. He was to name her child Jesus. By marrying a pregnant woman who carried a child that was not his, and legally naming that child, he was in effect "adopting" Jesus as his legal son. The phrase "by a holy spirit" implies that the pregnancy came from the agency of God's spirit but falls short of saying, outright, that God was the father of Jesus in the sense that, say, Zeus was said to be the father of Hercules by his seduction of his mother, Alkmene. In that sense the account is different from those miraculous birth stories so common in Greco-Roman mythology.


    1. Nonetheless, scholars who question the literal truth of Matthew and Luke's birth stories have suggested that they are a way of affirming the divine nature of Jesus as "Son of God" by giving him an extraordinary supernatural birth. This idea of humans being fathered by gods is quite common in Greco-Roman culture. There was a whole host of heroes who were said to be the product of a union between their mother and a god--Plato, Empedocles, Hercules, Pythagoras, Alexander the Great and even Caesar Augustus. In text after text we find the idea of the divine man (theios aner) whose supernatural birth, ability to perform miracles, and extraordinary death separate him from the ordinary world of mortals. These heroes are not "eternal" gods, like Zeus or Jupiter. They are mortal human beings who have been exalted to a heavenly state of immortal life. In the time of Jesus their temples and shrines filled every city and province of the Roman Empire. It is easy to imagine that early Christians who believed Jesus was every bit as exalted and heavenly as any of the Greek and Roman heroes and gods would appropriate this way of relating the story of his birth. It was a way of affirming that Jesus was both human and divine. Modern interpreters who view the stories in this way usually maintain that Joseph was likely the father and that these supernatural accounts were invented later by Jesus' followers to honor Jesus and to promote his exalted status in a manner common to that culture.

      These legendary stories from Greco-Roman culture may well have contributed to accounts of Jesus' miraculous birth in Matthew and Luke but I would suggest an alternative. I am convinced that the idea of Jesus' birth from a virgin--without a human father--implicitly goes back to the apostle Paul. Paul's letters date several decades before our New Testament gospels and it is Paul's understanding of Jesus as the pre-existent, divine, Son of God, that lays the conceptual groundwork for our Christmas stories.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Paul never explicitly refers to Jesus' virgin birth nor does he ever name either Mary or Joseph. What he does affirm is that Jesus pre-existed before his human birth and subsequently gave up his divine glory through his birth as a human being. He writes that Jesus "though existing in the form of God" emptied himself and took on human form, "being made in the likeness of humankind" (Philippians 2:6-7). He says further "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). He has to be referring here, metaphorically, to the "riches" of Jesus' pre-existence with God, since all our sources have Jesus born of a poor peasant family. Paul also writes "In the fullness of time God sent forth his Son, made of a woman . . ." (Galatians 4:4). The implication of these texts is that Jesus' mother was merely the human receptacle for bringing Jesus into the world. It is not a far step from these ideas about Jesus' pre-existence to the notion of Jesus as the first-begotten Son of God--eliminating any necessity for a human father. Paul's entire message centers on a divine not a human Jesus--both before his birth and after his death. For Paul he is the pre-existent Son of God, crucified, but now raised to sit at the right hand of God. Like the Christian creeds that jump from Jesus' birth to his death and resurrection in single phrase, entirely skipping over his life, Paul paves the way for a confessional understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

      An alternative way of thinking about being a Christian is preserved in the gospel of Mark--our earliest narrative account of the career of Jesus. Mark mentions neither Jesus' birth, nor any resurrection appearances on Easter morning (according to our earliest manuscripts that end with chapter 16:8). When a would-be follower addresses Jesus as "Good Teacher," Jesus sharply rebukes him with the retort: "Why do you call me good, there is One who is good, God" (Mark 10:17-18). Mark emphasizes the suffering of Jesus on the cross, but only as a call to others to also "take up a cross" and thus give their lives as servants to others. In Mark Jesus defines true religion as loving God and loving ones neighbor, in contrast to all systems of religion. Mark sees being a Christian as a call to a certain way of life more than an adherence to a set of creedal statements. I am not sure how Mark would have celebrated Christmas but his version of the Jesus story is surely one that should not be forgotten this season.

      But, then really, it is the story that counts,and I submit that these variations are all good stories, with an inner truth.

  32. And, from the repression department, let's not forget China, our good trading buds -

    Halloween decorations carry haunting message of forced labor

    By giving away the location and unit and department of the message she might have gotten some people killed here, the nitwit.

    FalunGong -

    Also on the sad side -

    Kids Want Dads For Christmas

    But, Whitney Houston left us with this -

  33. Replies
    1. Why thanks, Rufus, I do love them.

      Back at ya --

      Christmas Down South

    2. Being a simple farmer, I don't know what 'south of the Mississippi line' might mean.

    3. And I've always wondered what it means when people talk about Santa Claus 'going up the chimney'.

  34. Replies
    1. Watch yourself. One more of those and I hit back with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


    2. jeez, those Celtic Women are really great. I'll be falling asleep to them, letting them influence my dreams.....

  35. Then of course, head on pillow, listening to beautiful music, thinking of a movie, we shouldn't forget to reflect on Pi, an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of two integers (such as 22/7 or other fractions that are commonly used to approximate π); consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be, in a certain sense, random, although no proof of this has yet been discovered. More than just irrational, π is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any nonzero polynomial having rational coefficients. The transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge.

    Since our Hero here, that searcher for a higher state of consciousness, carries the nickname Pi, it is enough to suppose this carries some inner meaning to the writer, especially since Pi is shown writing the value of Pi way way out there on that blackboard.

    an irrational number

    that....cannot be expressed exactly

    (whose) decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern

    (whose) digits appear to be, in a certain sense, random, although no proof of this has yet been discovered

    more than just irrational, π is a transcendental number

    (whose) transcendence....implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge

    of squaring the circle

    This leads to the thought that like life and consciousness the dove flies through the darkness, and the darkness always recedes, and that darkness is the mystery of God.

    Or else I'm dreaming of Celtic Women.

    1. Pi ain't got no bottom -

      I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was… The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream: it shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream,’ because it hath no bottom.

      —A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV, scene 1

      Ain't no end to it.


    2. If Pi did kill his mother's killer, then taming the tiger is coming to terms with his own reptilian brain? Which then goes loping into the jungle as it normally should when he hits the beach in Mexico?

    3. And the whole beastly story is an attempt to come to terms with himself?

    4. Perhaps the two stories are artfully intertwined so that we are urged to do something creative about ourselves?

    5. Would the father then have been wrong when he affirmed the beasts are entirely different from us?

      I report, and speculate, you decide.

    6. And then the idea of an imaginal world, which we create with our thoughts, and our decisions, more real than here, and so all we do is creative, and this world we create we perhaps, or even presumably, go live in when we 'are absent here, present elsewhere' as the old Aramaic word for death is said to have it, so it is important, after all, which story we prefer.

  36. My ass, I'm going back to bed -

    By Zuzu’s petals, this turned out to be a close-run poll — at least in the movie category. Thanks to a larger-than-expected turnout from the Bedford Falls region, the Frank Capra classic It’s a Wonderful Life edged Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story to win the Hot Air poll for best Christmas movie of all time. George Bailey ended up winning by just 45 angels’ wings over Ralphie. As promised, here’s a Christmas Day clip from one of Hollywood’s best:

  37. nice article.good information.