December 24, 2011

On Donner! On Dasher! On Prancer! Oh Fenton!

Santa will be using Fed Ex tonight.

Merry Christmas!

If The World Hates You, You Know That It Hated Me Before It Hated You

As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, we should bear in mind that this occasion is a time both of joy and potential deadly unrest for millions of Christians throughout the world. Christians in Asia and Africa are under enormous pressure as other religions and governments persecute the Church of Christ.

Radical Muslims in Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and other nations have murdered thousands of Christians. Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are in danger of disappearing completely. Much if not most of this is completed ignored by the media.
SYRIA - (pop. 22,500,000) - 2 million Syrian Christians have also come under pressure to join anti-government protests or face death. Several churches have been burned.

IRAQ - (pop. 30,400,000) - now that there a minimal American military presence in  Iraq, persecution of Christians is increasing. Somewhat protected under Saddam Hussein's ruthless dictatorship, over half of Iraq's Christians have fled the country since 1991. Under pressure from assassinations and bombings, less than a half million Christians remain. The new Iraqi constitution specifies that no other religion can contravene Islam - this does not bode well for Iraqi Christian communities, many of which predate Islam by centuries.

IRAN - (pop. 77,980,000) - there are approximately one million Christians in Iran and they are under fearful pressure from the Shi'a government. Muslim converts to Christ may be sentenced to death by Islamic courts. Conversely, this has had an unanticipated effect, conversions to Christianity are increasing. Pastors are routinely sent to prison for this offense.

EGYPT - (pop. 82,080,000) - Christians have not benefited from the Arab Spring. The Egyptian Constitution gives lip service to freedom of religion, but in practice it is very repressive. If you are born a Muslim you are not allowed to convert or marry a non-Muslim. This year scores of Coptic churches have been destroyed and Christians murdered while government security forces stood by and watched - even aiding the attackers in many instances. Egypt has the Middle East's largest Christian population, about 10% of 82 million Egyptians profess Jesus as Lord.

NIGERIA - (pop. 155,200,00) - Even though Christians comprise 40% of Nigeria's population and Nigeria has a secular constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion, many of Nigeria's northern states have imposed Sharia Law and in the process have destroyed hundreds of churches and killed thousands of Christians.  The violence directed against the Nigerian Christian community is even worse than in the Middle East.

INDONESIA - (pop. 245,600,000) - With over 85% of it's population professing Islam, Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population. A growing Christian population, now estimated at over 19 million, has prompted jihad. Thousands of churches have been attacked or destroyed.

Of course there are moderate Muslims who are appalled by this. In Cairo, some Muslims participate in Coptic services in order to forestall attacks and express solidarity with their countrymen. Others have ringed churches to defend them from radicals. But many Muslims are intimidated by the ferociousness and unrelenting cruelty of the radicals and by the government's apparent compliance.

But Muslims are not the only ones...
INDIA - (pop. 1,189,000,000) - Hindu extremists have murdered scores of Christians in the past few years and displaced tens of thousands through threats and intimidation. Several states have passed laws forbidding conversion to any religion other than Hindu. Experts see this as a way to maintain the forbidden caste system as many Christian converts are from the lowest castes. Christians comprise approximately 2.3% of the population giving an estimated Christian population of over 27 million.

CHINA - (pop. 1,337,000,000) - Since Chairman Mao's communist revolution, Chinese Christians have persevered in their faith under the most appalling conditions. The Chinese government continues to imprison more Christians than any other country. This is under the guise of enforcing the government's recognition of only one Christian denomination, the Catholic Church, and cracking down on evangelical home churches.
The Chinese maintain that there are about 28 million Catholics but experts estimate that there are between 80 and 130 million Christians in China and it is rapidly growing. All officially approved churches must submit to government control and officials see the underground home churches as a challenge to authority; they can be incredibly brutal in closing these small places. Many Chinese who wish to worship Christ in a non-Catholic/non-governmental setting are severely beaten and imprisoned.
Do we see a foreshadow of what may come here, in America? And if so, why are we surprised? The world is at war with Christ, always has been and we are now witnessing America's post-Christian era. Our so-called modern churches have diluted the Gospel into a social statement. Politicians no longer fear the Christian political base because, quite frankly, it is not nearly as strong as it was two generations ago. And it wasn't just Christians; there was a strong moral consensus even amoung non-believers that certain actions were reprehensible and not to be tolerated. That cultural consensus no longer exists.

Can we see the same persecution here in America that now exists in China? Who knows...

December 22, 2011

I *Heart* Purple Hearts

HOLLAND, Mich. -- Pawn shops are big business this time of year, thanks to the holidays and tough economic times. However, one particular West Michigan store is generating buzz over a small treasure many consider priceless.

As owner of A-Z Outlet in Holland, Bryan Vandenbosch has purchased a lot of electronics, jewelry, and tools, but after almost 19 years in business, he bought something he never expected -- a Purple Heart, a medal awarded to U.S. troops wounded in battle. This one was earned in Afghanistan in May 2010.

"[The Soldier had] been in here the week [before Thanksgiving]," says Vandenbosch. "He brought it in the following week, I purchased it from him, and put it on display."

Vandenbosch says the active-duty Soldier, on leave from Afghanistan, was reluctant to sell the medal at first, but like a lot of people, he needed a little extra cash for the holiday season. So, the Soldier gave up one of his two Purple Hearts -- something he almost gave his life to get.

As word began to spread about the medal, Vandenbosch says the phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to help.

"I have people that have walked in already this morning that have asked me 'Hey, how much did you pay for it? I'll pay for it so he can get it back,' " he says.
Vandenbosch says that he refuses to sell the Purple Heart to anyone but the prior owner. He will not disclose how much he paid for it.

Prior to the creation of the Badge of Military Merit in 1782, it was common practice to honor only generals for their victories, not the common soldiers. The Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington writes:
The General ever desirous to cherish virtuous ambition in his soldiers, as well as to foster and encourage every species of Military merit, directs that whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings over the left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth, or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding. Not only instances of unusual gallantry, but also of extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way shall meet with a due reward. Before this favour can be conferred on any man, the particular fact, or facts, on which it is to be grounded must be set forth to the Commander in chief accompanied with certificates from the Commanding officers of the regiment and brigade to which the Candadate for reward belonged, or other incontestable proofs, and upon granting it, the name and regiment of the person with the action so certified are to be enrolled in the book of merit which will be kept at the orderly office. Men who have merited this last distinction to be suffered to pass all guards and sentinals which officers are permitted to do. The road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all. This order is also to have retrospect to the earliest stages of the war, and to be considered as a permanent one.

The original Purple Heart, the Military Badge of Merit.

Today's Purple Heart was designed by John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint in 1931 and is awarded to those who have been wounded or killed while serving in the US military on or after April 5, 1917. By Executive Order of the President, the Purple Heart was instituted on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birthday, 22 February 1932.

Evolving Options

Iran has been a burr under America's saddle since 1979. Through their support and instigation of Islamic jihad they are responsible for the deaths of thousands and thousands of people including many Americans. In Lebanon, Kenya and Tanzania their support was behind the bombings of our embassies. In Iraq and Afghanistan the Irani governemnt has supplied IED's and other weapons used against American soldiers. Iran is also a major supporter of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

Iran has been active in this cowardly "slaughter by proxy" for over thirty years and, if various sources can be believed, they are close to developing nuclear weapons. I say it's long overdue that we put an end to this bullshit. Apparently the Pentagon agrees.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, said that the US military had reached a point where they were ready to execute force against Iran if necessary.

In an interview with US media in Afghanistan he said: "We are examining a range of options. I'm satisfied that the options that we are developing are evolving to a point that they would be executable if necessary."

[...]Leon Panetta, the secretary of defence, said this week that the US was prepared to step in to prevent Tehran realising its nuclear ambitions. He estimated that the country was only a year away from reaching its goal.

"The United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," he said. "That is a red line for us and that is a red line for the Israelis. If we have to do it we will do it. If they proceed and we get intelligence that they are proceeding in developing a nuclear weapon then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop them. There are no options that are off the table."
It's about time.

One thing does bother me and it bothers me a lot. The *spit* President *spit* has allowed the JCS Chairman to say this while in full campaign mode and his popularity in in the crapper. Wag the dog time? Is this just another misdirection play while he trashes America once again?

December 21, 2011

Searching For The God Particle

This is an ATLAS particle detector. It is huge and there are six of these detectors located throughout the large Hadron collider at the CERN facility in Switzerland. The six ATLAS devices will hopefully be used to detect the Higgs boson, AKA the God Particle.

Silly me, I always thought a boson was some kind of Navy guy. They're pretty easy to find, especially late at night when they've been drinking.

In any event,scientists think they are finally getting close to grabbing one. What they'll do with it is anyone's guess. Hopefully the boson will be in a good mood and not knock them on their ass.

December 20, 2011

To Boldly Go Where No One Has Taxed Before

In a dramatic statement, scientists has announced that they have discovered new Earth-sized planets only 950 light years away.

Two planets orbiting a star 950 light-years from Earth are the smallest, most Earth-size alien worlds known, astronomers announced Tues., Dec. 20. One of the planets is actually smaller than Earth, scientists say.

These planets, while roughly the size of our planet Earth, are circling very close to their star, giving them fiery temperatures that are most likely too hot to support life, researchers said. The discovery, however, brings scientists one step closer to finding a true twin of Earth that may be habitable.
In a prepared statement, Senator Nancy Pelosi (D-Bankrupt) stated that once a truly Earth-type planet is found, Congress will, "tax those Trekkie sonsabitches so bad, they'll think a cosmic black hole is actually our Social Security plan."

December 19, 2011

A Dirt Nap For Our Buddy Kim

Reprising his most famous role, North Korean Dictator for Life Kim Jong-Il has now assumed the same ambient temperature as his famous look-alike puppet. Unfortunately for Kim, the puppet will fare much better physically over the next few months than Dear Departed Leader.

Things You Wanted To Know About Kim Jong-Il But Were Afraid To Ask.
  1. He wanted to breed giant rabbits to feed the people of NorK.
  2. Claimed to have invented the hamburger.
  3. Had the unofficial title of the "Central Brain."
  4. Wrote six dreadful operas.
  5. Had over 20,000 movies in his personal library; his favorites were "Rambo" and "Friday The 13th"
  6. Loved to roller blade.
  7. Was very partial to roast donkey.
  8. NorK propaganda states that when Kim was born, a double rainbow came out and Spring simultaneously arrived.
  9. He built an entire city, Kijong-Dong, for PR purposes. No one has ever resided there.
  10. Kidnapped a South Korean film director and forced him to make a Godzilla movie.
But perhaps Kim Jong-Il is best known for the dramatic reduction in North Korea's light pollution. North Korea is one of the world's best nations in which to view the night sky and myriads of stars due to the fact that there little or no electricity in much of the country as seen in the following satellite photo. Of course the nation is outlined in white else you could not see it at all.

Thank you, thank you Dear Departed Leader!

December 18, 2011

Egyptian Police Foreplay

You can tell which cop is the intern.
He's the one stomping the woman with his Air Allah sneakers instead of combat boots.

Protesters and security forces fought in Cairo on Sunday, the third day of clashes that have killed 10 people and exposed rifts over the army's role as it manages Egypt's promised transition from military to civilian rule.

Soldiers and police manned barriers on some streets around Tahrir Square, the hub of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak and again convulsed by violence as protesters demand the generals who took charge in February quit power.

Police in riot gear made brief forays beyond their barriers and were met by a surge of protesters pelting them with rocks. Police appeared to have taken over the frontline from soldiers.

Troops in riot gear were filmed on Saturday beating protesters with long sticks even after they had fallen to the ground. A Reuters picture showed two soldiers dragging a woman lying on the ground by her shirt, exposing her underwear.
I'm so glad my daughter left Cairo four years ago. She saw some Egyptian cops in action and they are horribly brutal.

USS Independence

This is the LCS2, USS Independence, the US Navy's latest coastal warcraft. LCS stands for Littoral Combat Ship - it is designed to operate in relatively shallow coastal (littoral) waters. Allegedly it will do sixty knots (almost 70 mph) and has a very large storage area to support a wide variety of missions. The LCS class are made for launching helicopters and lightly-armored vehicles, sweeping mines and launching torpedoes and missiles.

These ships are also relatively inexpensive. The LCS2 was built at a cost of $208 million and the Navy plans to build 55 of them at a total cost of $11.44 billion.

These ships are considerably cheaper to build, maintain and update than the 84 Aegis class cruisers and destroyers currently in service, meets a different service requirement and replaces the smaller Navy corvettes and frigates. The LCS mission:
[...]to counter growing “asymmetric” threats like coastal mines, quiet diesel submarines, global piracy, and terrorists on small fast attack boats. It also requires intelligence gathering and scouting, some ground combat support capabilities, and the ability to act as a local command node, sharing tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.

At the same time, however, the Navy needs ships that can act as low-end gap-fillers in other traditional fleet roles, and operate in the presence of missile-armed enemy vessels and/or aerial threats.
 With a very shallow draft due to it's unique hull design, this ship can also operate in rivers.

The Littoral Combat Ship concept spent some time in the making and does have its detractors.
Naval analyst Raymond Pritchett has pithily described the current compromise as:

”...3000 ton speedboat chasers with the endurance of a Swedish corvette, the weapon payload of a German logistics ship, and the cargo hold of a small North Korean arms smuggler.”
This is the Swedish corvette Helsingborg.

Guess you can't keep everybody happy.

Found a video of the Independence. 
At the 25 sec. mark, look at the left turn this ship  is making. Almost like a car. Simply amazing. Using similar hull /propulsion technology the Swede's can have their ship come to a dead stop from 40 knots in a few hundred feet or less.