January 28, 2012

Comic Relief

January 24, 2012

When It's All Been Said And Done,

“Jesus does not change what you do; He changes what you want to do. That is part of the new birth. There are new levels of performance—not because of pride, but because of love.”

Ravi Zacharias

Quoted in Biblestudymagazine

If I did not seek Jesus, would my life look the same?  No, almost certainly I would be flying around the globe seeking the best high that money could buy.  I would be focused on seeing the world through my eyes and experiencing all the thrills that life could offer.  Money, Travel, and Love. 

Yet, I ask myself, would that satisfy me?  Would that fill me up?  Or is there something deeper than these pleasures that can only fill me up?  To that last question, it must be true.  The world and all its vanity, I cannot see myself enjoying it all.  I look around me and see pain, millions of people in pain, hurting people.  My Spirit breaks with a longing for a correction to this injustice.  Almost impulsively, I cry out longing for an answer?  Why? What is the cause? Where is the solution? Why does not anyone seem to care?

My thoughts haunt me at times.  So many living so luxuriously, enjoying life.  So many hurting, barely surviving, and many not. 

Jesus has not changed what I do now--not YET, but he changing what I want to do.  Do I want to live comfortably and reap the reward of an honest day's work?  Yes, but that work must have meaning, deep meaning.  Corporate America, the American dream, Lavish parties, Decadent foods; they confuse me, intoxicate my mind like arsnic.  I would rather die a lonely man in a third world country trying to improve the lives of the unfortunate, than to sit on a beach collecting sea shells while enjoying my 'retirement'---as if God ever intended us to live for only US for the last 30 years of our life.  There is something backward in this thinking. 

If we are all going to die and meet God, should we not do something that will have an impact in the world to come? 

The contradiction that is in you is the contradiction that is in me.  When your inner passion is united with the Spirit of the living God, a life of purpose and an eternal reward begins to take hold. 

This day, every day, we must not give up, not throw in the towel, and most importantly never lose sight of where we want to be.  The shortest route is not always the best route, as it can bypass some of the most precious memories in life.  Get ready though and go at it.  Go after the prize so that at the end of our race on earth we may say as Paul said,

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

January 23, 2012

Solar Flare Eruption Coming to a Theater Near You

 A powerful M9-class solar storm that unleashed a coronal mass ejection toward Earth in the early hours of Jan. 23, 2012 (GMT).CREDIT: NASA/SDO/SOHO

January 23, 2012: Solar Flare the size of the moon erupted on the Sun. Size of M9. 

Solar Flare Sizes:
X:  The strongest type of solar eruption is class X
M: These flares are medium-strength events.
C:  These represent the weakest and class

Didn't we just have a massive solar flare?  Actually we did.  Here's a list of recent big ones:

Dec 2006:  X-9

Feb 2011:   X-2.2

June 7th, 2011:   M Size

August 8th, 2011:   M-2 Size

 Why so Many Flares?  Answer:  An 11 Year Cycle:

This flare is the one of the largest ones yet in the sun's current cycle, which began in 2008 and is expected to last until around 2020. Solar activity waxes and wanes over an 11-year sun weather cycle, with the star currently heading toward a solar maximum in 2013.

One observation on the level of activity we are seeing:

This intense level was last seen in the late 1800's with Northern Lights being observed as far south as Cuba. But the US and Canada was not electrified then. If we see similar levels again, there could be massive power outages and fried communication satellites that would cause many months of outage and disruption. Blame it on the Maxwell equations, or on the aligning of events before the return of the Lord.

For previous posts on Solar Flares:

August 2009:  Solar Flares Heating Up

January 2009:  Scientists Warm of Coming Catastrophe   Huge Solar Flare Eruption

The signs in the stars and the heavens are one the of the most concrete specific prophecies made by Jesus Christ as he foretold that these signs would increase before his return to earth.

Luke 21:

 25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

Planes expected to reroute following massive solar eruption

An immense blast of plasma spewed late Sunday night from the sun led to the strongest radiation storm bombarding our planet since 2005, and a rare warning from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency -- and even a plan to redirect certain high-flying airplanes.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center -- the nation’s official source of warnings about space weather and its impact on Earth -- issued a watch for a geomagnetic storm expected to hit our planet Tuesday morning after a satellite witnessed an ultraviolet flash from the massive solar eruption, according to
There is no risk to people on Earth, Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center told 

But as a rare precaution, polar flights on Earth are expected to be re-routed, Kathy Sullivan, deputy administrator of NOAA, said today at a Meteorological Society meeting in New Orleans, La., according to
Eruptions on the sun shoot tremendous streams of charged particles away from the star -- in this case directly towards us.

"There is little doubt that the cloud is heading in the general direction of Earth," announced in an alert. The blast from the immense solar radiation storm let loose with a so called coronal mass ejection (CME) that will hit the atmosphere Tuesday morning, something NASA and NOAA monitor for as it could cause problems for astronauts, communications satellites, and even rocket launches.

“A preliminary inspection of SOHO/STEREO imagery suggests that the CME will deliver a strong glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 24-25 as it sails mostly north of our planet," SpaceWeather’s bulletin read.
It could also affect navigation and the power grid.

The solar flare spat out late Sunday, Jan. 22, at 10:59 p.m. EST was rated an M9-class eruption -- nearly an X-class flare, the most powerful type of solar storm.

NASA spokeswoman Kelly Humphries told the six spaceflyers currently living and working on the orbiting outpost are not in any danger.
"The flight surgeons have reviewed the space weather forecasts for the flare and determined that there are no expected adverse effects or actions required to protect the on-orbit crew," Humphries told in an email.
The flare led to the largest radiation storm of its kind since 2005 -- one still only described as a three on the scale of one to five, Biesecker told AFP.

NOAA measures geomagnetic storms on a five-point scale from 1 to 5. G1 storms are minor, leading to weak power grid fluctuations and having only minor impact on satellites. G5 storms are extreme, leading to widespread voltage control problems, damage to transformers, radio outages and satellite problems.

NOAA warned that of geomagnetic storms on Tuesday as well -- another result of the flare. They may be as strong as G3, causing intermittent navigation issues and problems with low-Earth satellites.
The sun's activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle, reported. Currently, activity in Solar Cycle 24 is expected to ramp up toward a "solar maximum" in 2013.
massive solar blast
This still from a NASA space observatory video shows one view of a powerful, M9-class solar storm that unleashed a coronal mass ejection toward Earth in the early hours of Jan. 23, 2012 (GMT).

January 22, 2012

Deadly Bird Flu Virus Created in Lab

What could go wrong here? 

Perhaps this headline would be better:  "Lab Flu Virus Mutates. Millions Dead."

Remember the H5N1 Bird Flu?  The flu was otherwise known as the Avian Bird Flu.  It surfaced mainly in China about 10 years ago and caused not only massive panic but killed almost 600 people with a 60% mortality rate.  Now, word has leaked out that scientists have been trying to create a formula (ie Test Tube Flu Virus), in an effort to find a cure.  In fact, they already have.  It is so dangerous that researchers have been forced to stop for 60 days to clear their minds and omit key details of their research from the public.

It is almost as if we are trying to invite disaster. 

Perhaps the following conjecture:
There is a conjecture by those who expect in this large universe we should have had contact by now by alien species.  The reason we have not yet perhaps suggests that these alien races developed technologies that eventually accidentally destroyed them. 

Researchers Pause Work on Bird Flu That Could Kill Hundreds of Millions

It is the stuff of science fiction: scientists tamper with a killer bird flu virus and create something much worse. But what has been created in a Rotterdam laboratory is not fiction. It is deadly real.
So deadly that the U.S. government – which funded the Rotterdam research – asked scientists to omit key details of their research when they are published to keep the formula out of the hands of bio-terrorists. And today, researchers announced a self-imposed 60-day "voluntary pause" on any research involving highly transmissible form of bird flu that they have created.

The researchers are responding to the worldwide furor that erupted after word of their work became public. There are serious public health reasons for the research and they want to lower the temperature of the discussion while they explain what they have done and why they have done it.
The lead author of today's announcement is Dr. Ron Fouchier, a respected molecular virologist. He heads at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, that engineered a form of "aerosolized" bird flu that can easily be passed from humans to humans through the air. The genetically-altered flu is thought to be so virulent that if the vials containing it were to get out, the virus would have the potential to spread around the globe and kill hundreds of millions.

Bird flu, also known as H5N1, first surfaced 15 years ago. It has not caused mass panic because it is only transmitted to humans who have direct contact with infected birds. But when humans do contract bird flu, they are likely to die.

According to the World Health Organization of 573 confirmed bird flu cases in humans since 2003, 336 people have died. That's a staggering 60 percent mortality rate. Nothing in history comes close to that.

ABC News was given an exclusive inside look at some of the testing facilities the Rotterdam researchers used. With Fouchier as our guide, we donned protective clothing and face masks and passed through three levels of security to see the ferrets he uses for testing.
Watch Jeffrey Kofman's exclusive report from inside the testing facilities tonight on "World News with Diane Sawyer," at 6:30 p.m. ET
Fouchier explained how his lab assistants exposed the ferrets to the altered virus and placed unexposed ferrets in cages nearby. All 40 ferrets died. Scientists use ferrets because they have a respiratory system much like humans, which is why the researchers believe the consequences of an airborne bird flu would be just as deadly for humans.

No visitors, however, allowed in the high secret lab at Erasmus Medical Centre where the actual experiment took place. He told us that with U.S. and Dutch expertise Erasmus spent eight years and millions of dollars building one of the most secure lab facilities in the world just for studying H5N1. They call it a BSL3 Enhanced lab – that's Bio-Safety Level 3. The vials of enhanced bird flu are kept in a bank vault inside the lab. The lab is designed to keep the deadly virus in and intruders out.
The researchers who engineered this super-virus insist they are far from being "mad scientists" as some have suggested. They are public health specialists.

The man in charge, Fouchier is a tall, lanky molecular biologist who began his career studying HIV in Philadelphia, but switched to bird flu when the mysterious virus first surfaced in 1997.
"What scares me is that this can happen so easily," he says, "it's scary that it might actually happen in the field."

And that's the point behind research that on the surface seems insane to some. Fouchier says what he did in the lab was mutate a few genes. That happens regularly in nature.

Fouchier insists the dangerous part of this virus isn't what he has created in the lab, it is what can happen if nature creates something similar. He says this should be a wakeup call for public health authorities around the world.

In the history of epidemics and pandemics nothing has been as lethal as the bird flu Fouchier has created. The most deadly epidemic of the last century was the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. Virtually everyone in the world was infected. It is estimated that between 50 and 100 million people died -- conservatively that means it killed 3 percent of those infected. In a globalized world of air travel and mass transit, the prospect of an airborne bird flu with a 60 percent death rate is terrifying.

American Divide

The Divide between the Rich and Poor is an earthquake fault line ripping through America's heart.

Below is a good article on the massive gaps in equality that has manifested itself into American culture over the last 50 years.  The article compares what it is like to grow up in two distinct neighborhoods, one rich and another poor.  Specifically, one intriguing phenomenon is that marriage seems to be imploding in the poor neighborhoods while marriage is largely stable within the upper middle class.  A coincidence?  Hardly.

Studies have shown the connection between a stable family and economic output.  Divorce places a huge economic drain on both lives involved as well as the future generations of children that grow up under such circumstances. 

In 1960, just 2% of all white births were nonmarital. When we first started recording the education level of mothers in 1970, 6% of births to white women with no more than a high-school education—women, that is, with a Fishtown education—were out of wedlock. By 2008, 44% were nonmarital. Among the college-educated women of Belmont, less than 6% of all births were out of wedlock as of 2008, up from 1% in 1970.
A good summary of the phenomena that is occurring within American culture.  A larger and larger portion of opportunity and wealth is being concentrated into the hands of a select few. 

The New American Divide

America is coming apart. For most of our nation's history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. "The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. "On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day."

Americans love to see themselves this way. But there's a problem: It's not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.

People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality.

When Americans used to brag about "the American way of life"—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity.
Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America's core cultural institutions.

To illustrate just how wide the gap has grown between the new upper class and the new lower class, let me start with the broader upper-middle and working classes from which they are drawn, using two fictional neighborhoods that I hereby label Belmont (after an archetypal upper-middle-class suburb near Boston) and Fishtown (after a neighborhood in Philadelphia that has been home to the white working class since the Revolution).

To be assigned to Belmont, the people in the statistical nationwide databases on which I am drawing must have at least a bachelor's degree and work as a manager, physician, attorney, engineer, architect, scientist, college professor or content producer in the media. To be assigned to Fishtown, they must have no academic degree higher than a high-school diploma. If they work, it must be in a blue-collar job, a low-skill service job such as cashier, or a low-skill white-collar job such as mail clerk or receptionist.

People who qualify for my Belmont constitute about 20% of the white population of the U.S., ages 30 to 49. People who qualify for my Fishtown constitute about 30% of the white population of the U.S., ages 30 to 49.

I specify white, meaning non-Latino white, as a way of clarifying how broad and deep the cultural divisions in the U.S. have become. Cultural inequality is not grounded in race or ethnicity. I specify ages 30 to 49—what I call prime-age adults—to make it clear that these trends are not explained by changes in the ages of marriage or retirement.

In Belmont and Fishtown, here's what happened to America's common culture between 1960 and 2010.
Marriage: In 1960, extremely high proportions of whites in both Belmont and Fishtown were married—94% in Belmont and 84% in Fishtown. In the 1970s, those percentages declined about equally in both places. Then came the great divergence. In Belmont, marriage stabilized during the mid-1980s, standing at 83% in 2010. In Fishtown, however, marriage continued to slide; as of 2010, a minority (just 48%) were married. The gap in marriage between Belmont and Fishtown grew to 35 percentage points, from just 10.

Single parenthood: Another aspect of marriage—the percentage of children born to unmarried women—showed just as great a divergence. Though politicians and media eminences are too frightened to say so, nonmarital births are problematic. On just about any measure of development you can think of, children who are born to unmarried women fare worse than the children of divorce and far worse than children raised in intact families. This unwelcome reality persists even after controlling for the income and education of the parents.

In 1960, just 2% of all white births were nonmarital. When we first started recording the education level of mothers in 1970, 6% of births to white women with no more than a high-school education—women, that is, with a Fishtown education—were out of wedlock. By 2008, 44% were nonmarital. Among the college-educated women of Belmont, less than 6% of all births were out of wedlock as of 2008, up from 1% in 1970.

Industriousness: The norms for work and women were revolutionized after 1960, but the norm for men putatively has remained the same: Healthy men are supposed to work. In practice, though, that norm has eroded everywhere. In Fishtown, the change has been drastic. (To avoid conflating this phenomenon with the latest recession, I use data collected in March 2008 as the end point for the trends.)

Fishtown, a neighborhood in Philadelphia, stands in as a symbol of America's white working class in Charles Murray's new book.

The primary indicator of the erosion of industriousness in the working class is the increase of prime-age males with no more than a high school education who say they are not available for work—they are "out of the labor force." That percentage went from a low of 3% in 1968 to 12% in 2008. Twelve percent may not sound like much until you think about the men we're talking about: in the prime of their working lives, their 30s and 40s, when, according to hallowed American tradition, every American man is working or looking for work. Almost one out of eight now aren't. Meanwhile, not much has changed among males with college educations. Only 3% were out of the labor force in 2008.

There's also been a notable change in the rates of less-than-full-time work. Of the men in Fishtown who had jobs, 10% worked fewer than 40 hours a week in 1960, a figure that grew to 20% by 2008. In Belmont, the number rose from 9% in 1960 to 12% in 2008.

Crime: The surge in crime that began in the mid-1960s and continued through the 1980s left Belmont almost untouched and ravaged Fishtown. From 1960 to 1995, the violent crime rate in Fishtown more than sextupled while remaining nearly flat in Belmont. The reductions in crime since the mid-1990s that have benefited the nation as a whole have been smaller in Fishtown, leaving it today with a violent crime rate that is still 4.7 times the 1960 rate.

Religiosity: Whatever your personal religious views, you need to realize that about half of American philanthropy, volunteering and associational memberships is directly church-related, and that religious Americans also account for much more nonreligious social capital than their secular neighbors. In that context, it is worrisome for the culture that the U.S. as a whole has become markedly more secular since 1960, and especially worrisome that Fishtown has become much more secular than Belmont. It runs against the prevailing narrative of secular elites versus a working class still clinging to religion, but the evidence from the General Social Survey, the most widely used database on American attitudes and values, does not leave much room for argument.

For example, suppose we define "de facto secular" as someone who either professes no religion at all or who attends a worship service no more than once a year. For the early GSS surveys conducted from 1972 to 1976, 29% of Belmont and 38% of Fishtown fell into that category. Over the next three decades, secularization did indeed grow in Belmont, from 29% in the 1970s to 40% in the GSS surveys taken from 2006 to 2010. But it grew even more in Fishtown, from 38% to 59%.


It can be said without hyperbole that these divergences put Belmont and Fishtown into different cultures. But it's not just the working class that's moved; the upper middle class has pulled away in its own fashion, too.

If you were an executive living in Belmont in 1960, income inequality would have separated you from the construction worker in Fishtown, but remarkably little cultural inequality. You lived a more expensive life, but not a much different life. Your kitchen was bigger, but you didn't use it to prepare yogurt and muesli for breakfast. Your television screen was bigger, but you and the construction worker watched a lot of the same shows (you didn't have much choice). Your house might have had a den that the construction worker's lacked, but it had no StairMaster or lap pool, nor any gadget to monitor your percentage of body fat. You both drank Bud, Miller, Schlitz or Pabst, and the phrase "boutique beer" never crossed your lips. You probably both smoked. If you didn't, you did not glare contemptuously at people who did.

When you went on vacation, you both probably took the family to the seashore or on a fishing trip, and neither involved hotels with five stars. If you had ever vacationed outside the U.S. (and you probably hadn't), it was a one-time trip to Europe, where you saw eight cities in 14 days—not one of the two or three trips abroad you now take every year for business, conferences or eco-vacations in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.

You both lived in neighborhoods where the majority of people had only high-school diplomas—and that might well have included you. The people around you who did have college degrees had almost invariably gotten them at state universities or small religious colleges mostly peopled by students who were the first generation of their families to attend college. Except in academia, investment banking, a few foundations, the CIA and the State Department, you were unlikely to run into a graduate of Harvard, Princeton or Yale.
Even the income inequality that separated you from the construction worker was likely to be new to your adulthood. The odds are good that your parents had been in the working class or middle class, that their income had not been much different from the construction worker's, that they had lived in communities much like his, and that the texture of the construction worker's life was recognizable to you from your own childhood.

Taken separately, the differences in lifestyle that now separate Belmont from Fishtown are not sinister, but those quirks of the upper-middle class that I mentioned—the yogurt and muesli and the rest—are part of a mosaic of distinctive practices that have developed in Belmont. These have to do with the food Belmonters eat, their drinking habits, the ages at which they marry and have children, the books they read (and their number), the television shows and movies they watch (and the hours spent on them), the humor they enjoy, the way they take care of their bodies, the way they decorate their homes, their leisure activities, their work environments and their child-raising practices. Together, they have engendered cultural separation.

Belmont, an archetypal suburb of Boston, stands in for the white upper middle class.
It gets worse. A subset of Belmont consists of those who have risen to the top of American society. They run the country, meaning that they are responsible for the films and television shows you watch, the news you see and read, the fortunes of the nation's corporations and financial institutions, and the jurisprudence, legislation and regulations produced by government. They are the new upper class, even more detached from the lives of the great majority of Americans than the people of Belmont—not just socially but spatially as well. The members of this elite have increasingly sorted themselves into hyper-wealthy and hyper-elite ZIP Codes that I call the SuperZIPs.

In 1960, America already had the equivalent of SuperZIPs in the form of famously elite neighborhoods—places like the Upper East Side of New York, Philadelphia's Main Line, the North Shore of Chicago and Beverly Hills. But despite their prestige, the people in them weren't uniformly wealthy or even affluent. Across 14 of the most elite places to live in 1960, the median family income wasn't close to affluence. It was just $84,000 (in today's purchasing power). Only one in four adults in those elite communities had a college degree.

By 2000, that diversity had dwindled. Median family income had doubled, to $163,000 in the same elite ZIP Codes. The percentage of adults with B.A.s rose to 67% from 26%. And it's not just that elite neighborhoods became more homogeneously affluent and highly educated—they also formed larger and larger clusters.

If you are invited to a dinner party by one of Washington's power elite, the odds are high that you will be going to a home in Georgetown, the rest of Northwest D.C., Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac or McLean, comprising 13 adjacent ZIP Codes in all. If you rank all the ZIP Codes in the country on an index of education and income and group them by percentiles, you will find that 11 of these 13 D.C.-area ZIP Codes are in the 99th percentile and the other two in the 98th. Ten of them are in the top half of the 99th percentile.

Similarly large clusters of SuperZIPs can be found around New York City, Los Angeles, the San Francisco-San Jose corridor, Boston and a few of the nation's other largest cities. Because running major institutions in this country usually means living near one of these cities, it works out that the nation's power elite does in fact live in a world that is far more culturally rarefied and isolated than the world of the power elite in 1960.

And the isolation is only going to get worse. Increasingly, the people who run the country were born into that world. Unlike the typical member of the elite in 1960, they have never known anything but the new upper-class culture. We are now seeing more and more third-generation members of the elite. Not even their grandparents have been able to give them a window into life in the rest of America.


Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don't withstand scrutiny. It's not that white working class males can no longer make a "family wage" that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It's not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years.

Top 10 SuperZIPs

In 'Coming Apart,' Charles Murray identifies 882 'SuperZIPs,' ZIP Codes where residents score in the 95th through the 99th percentile on a combined measure of income and education, based on the 2000 census. Here are the top-ranked areas:
  • 1. 60043: Kenilworth, Ill. (Chicago's North Shore)
  • 2. 60022: Glencoe, Ill. (Chicago's North Shore)
  • 3. 07078: Short Hills, N.J. (New York metro area)
  • 4. 94027: Atherton, Calif. (San Francisco-San Jose corridor)
  • 5. 10514: Chappaqua, N.Y. (New York metro area)
  • 6. 19035: Gladwyne, Pa. (Philadelphia's Main Line)
  • 7. 94028: Portola Valley, Calif. (S.F.-San Jose corridor)
  • 8. 92067: Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. (San Diego suburbs)
  • 9. 02493: Weston, Mass. (Boston suburbs)
  • 10. 10577: Purchase, N.Y. (New York metro area)
As I've argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of.

But, for practical purposes, understanding why the new lower class got started isn't especially important. Once the deterioration was under way, a self-reinforcing loop took hold as traditionally powerful social norms broke down. Because the process has become self-reinforcing, repealing the reforms of the 1960s (something that's not going to happen) would change the trends slowly at best.
Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody's fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won't make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won't make a difference.

The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it. That "something" has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations. Public policy has certainly affected the culture, unfortunately, but unintended consequences have been as grimly inevitable for conservative social engineering as for liberal social engineering.

The "something" that I have in mind has to be defined in terms of individual American families acting in their own interests and the interests of their children. Doing that in Fishtown requires support from outside. There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending "nonjudgmentalism." Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn't hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices.

Changing life in the SuperZIPs requires that members of the new upper class rethink their priorities. Here are some propositions that might guide them: Life sequestered from anybody not like yourself tends to be self-limiting. Places to live in which the people around you have no problems that need cooperative solutions tend to be sterile. America outside the enclaves of the new upper class is still a wonderful place, filled with smart, interesting, entertaining people. If you're not part of that America, you've stripped yourself of much of what makes being American special.

Such priorities can be expressed in any number of familiar decisions: the neighborhood where you buy your next home, the next school that you choose for your children, what you tell them about the value and virtues of physical labor and military service, whether you become an active member of a religious congregation (and what kind you choose) and whether you become involved in the life of your community at a more meaningful level than charity events.

Everyone in the new upper class has the monetary resources to make a wide variety of decisions that determine whether they engage themselves and their children in the rest of America or whether they isolate themselves from it. The only question is which they prefer to do.
That's it? But where's my five-point plan? We're supposed to trust that large numbers of parents will spontaneously, voluntarily make the right choice for the country by making the right choice for themselves and their children?

Yes, we are, but I don't think that's naive. I see too many signs that the trends I've described are already worrying a lot of people. If enough Americans look unblinkingly at the nature of the problem, they'll fix it. One family at a time. For their own sakes. That's the American way.
—Mr. Murray is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His new book, "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010" (Crown Forum) will be published on Jan. 31.

American's Preparing for Civilization Collapse

 Preparing for WWIII and Beyond

Are you ready?  Apparently, a large part of American culture is preparing for the potential doomsday scenario that many prophecies have foretold and people have feared will some day come to pass.  Bunker shelters, food storage, and ammunition are among some the necessities that people are stocking up on.  The main quote from the story is here:

"We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots," he told Reuters. "The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures."

Prophecy, whether the Mayans or the Bible have prophesied that these days will come, it is only a matter of when.     

 Matthew 24:21, "For there will be great tribulation, such as has never been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will  be shortened."

Subculture of Americans prepares for civilization's collapse

Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:44am EST
(Reuters) - When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon.
"In an instant, anything can happen," she told Reuters. "And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared."

Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as "preppers." Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a "survival center," complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.
"I think this economy is about to fall apart," she said.
A wide range of vendors market products to preppers, mainly online. They sell everything from water tanks to guns to survival skills.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers' message when he tells listeners: "It's never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it."
"Unfortunately, given the increasing complexity and fragility of our modern technological society, the chances of a societal collapse are increasing year after year," said author James Wesley Rawles, whose Survival Blog is considered the guiding light of the prepper movement.
A former Army intelligence officer, Rawles has written fiction and non-fiction books on end-of-civilization topics, including "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It," which is also known as the preppers' Bible.

"We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots," he told Reuters. "The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures."

A sense of "suffering and being afraid" is usually at the root of this kind of thinking, according to Cathy Gutierrez, an expert on end-times beliefs at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. Such feelings are not unnatural in a time of economic recession and concerns about a growing national debt, she said.
"With our current dependence on things from the electric grid to the Internet, things that people have absolutely no control over, there is a feeling that a collapse scenario can easily emerge, with a belief that the end is coming, and it is all out of the individual's control," she told Reuters.

She compared the major technological developments of the past decade to the Industrial Revolution of the 1830s and 1840s, which led to the growth of the Millerites, the 19th-Century equivalent of the preppers. Followers of charismatic preacher Joseph Miller, many sold everything and gathered in 1844 for what they believed would be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Many of today's preppers receive inspiration from the Internet, devouring information posted on websites like that run by attorney Michael T. Snider, who writes The Economic Collapse blog out of his home in northern Idaho.

"Modern preppers are much different from the survivalists of the old days," he said. "You could be living next door to a prepper and never even know it. Many suburbanites are turning spare rooms into food pantries and are going for survival training on the weekends."

Like other preppers, Snider is worried about the end of a functioning U.S. economy. He points out that tens of millions of Americans are on food stamps and that many U.S. children are living in poverty.

"Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn't mean that they understand what is happening," he said. "A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it."

So, assuming there is no collapse of society -- which the preppers call "uncivilization" -- what is the future of the preppers?
Gutierrez said that unlike the Millerites -- or followers of radio preacher Harold Camping, who predicted the world would end last year -- preppers are not setting a date for the coming destruction. The Mayan Calendar predicts doom this December.

"The minute you set a date, you are courting disconfirmation," she said.
Tegeler, who recalls being hit by tornadoes and floods in her southwestern Virginia home, said that none of her "survival center" products will go to waste.

"I think it's silly not to be prepared," she said. "After all, anything can happen."
(Reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune)

January 10, 2012

Natural Law: Cicero

Natural Law

The Roman philosopher Cicero, neither a Jew or Christian made many observations on natural law, and was often cited by the founding fathers in their writings.  The fundamental key point he espouses is that reason is unique to human beings and akin to the reasoning power of his Creator.  Animals do not share the same our reasoning capabilities.  Between man and other creatures there is a gigantic gap insofar as mental processes is concerned.

We make laws to inflict punishment and protect the good, but those laws we make are made in order to bring what we see in Nature in harmony with what Nature should be.  If that was not the case, and in fact we make law unto ourselves, why then do we not see laws that ordain what is bad such as rape, murder, stealing, etc?  Yes, we have had periods of time when laws have been passed that made such actions legal (ie Germany in WWII), but when history is taken as a whole, these periods of time are viewed by humans as evil and contrary to 'right reason.'

We constantly appeal to nature's law when we write our own laws, that is what Cicero is getting at.  Cicero further makes the point that Justice can never be achieved through laws that are passed in violation of standards set up under the laws of Nature. 

I would also say in concurrence with Cicero's observations that the conscience bears witness to that truth, that their is a natural law that governs the universe, which is why we feel guilt or shame when we do commit certain acts of violence. 

Cicero Quotes:
  • No un-just laws are passed:
“But if the principles of justice were founded on the decrees of peoples, the edicts of princes, or the decisions of judges, then Justice would sanction robbery and adultery and forgery of wills, in case these acts were approved by the votes or decrees of the populace. But if so great a power belongs to the decisions and decrees of fools that the laws of Nature can be changed by their votes, then why do they not ordain that what is bad and baneful shall be considered good and salutary? Or, if a law can make justice out of injustice, can it not also make good out of bad? 
  • Natural Law defined by Cicero:
    “The animal which we call man, endowed with foresight and quick intelligence, complex, keen, possessing memory, full of reason and prudence, has been given a certain distinguished status by the Supreme God who created him; for he is the only one among so many different kinds and varieties of living beings who has a share in reason and thought while all the rest are deprived of it. But what is more divine, I will not say in man only, but in all heaven and earth, than reason? And reason, when it is full grown and perfected, is rightly called wisdom. Therefore, since there is nothing better than reason, and since it exists both in man and God, the first common possession of man and God is reason. But those who have reason in common must also have right reason in common. And since right reason is Law, we must believe that men have Law also in common with the gods. Further, those who share Law must also share Justice; and those who share these are to be regarded as members of the same commonwealth. If indeed they obey the same authorities and powers, this is true in a far greater degree; but as a matter of fact they do obey this celestial system, the divine mind, and of the God of transcendent power. Hence we must now conceive of this whole universe as one commonwealth of which both gods and men are members.”
  • Cicero: True law=Natural Law
    "True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, though neither have any effect on the wicked. It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly considered punishment."
    More Cicero quotes can be found at OurRepublic.
    Other Notions of Natural Law:
    Secular Humanistic Law
    Two significant assumptions undergird Humanistic legal theory. First, God does not exist therefore there is no transcendent, fixed moral standard or absolute source of rights. The basis of traditional theistic morality is an illusion and therefore harmful. Some humanists argue theistic based law is immoral because traditionally it represses man’s need to freely express himself.

    The second humanistic assumption is man is a perfectible, evolving, self-transforming animal. Because man is good, evil is the result of bad social constructs. Law is a tool whereby man can shape society and further man’s evolutionary progress. Man is perfectly capable of making up laws to regulate his civil relationships without reference to God.

    This legal philosophy was most clearly articulated by view jurist Oliver Wendell Holms, (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He writes, “I see no reason for attributing to man a significance different from that which belongs to a baboon or a grain of sand.”

    So, if we are merely evolved animals from whence do we get our rights? Humanists appeal to an evolutionary version of natural law theory. They assert there is one true morality that binds all mankind. Societal evolution can account for natural law, but it is an ever-evolving law. So, “common sense” must determine what constitutes natural law based on their results. This is called pragmatism.
    If men aren’t endowed with unalienable rights by the Creator whose “common sense” get’s to determine what are man’s rights and duties? Who gets to decide what works and doesn’t? Answer: The man/men with the power to back up their opinions with the barrel of a gun.

    Humanists argue legal theory is based entirely on human reason. This is called legal positivism. The authority for law and rights resides in the state. Thus the state becomes de facto God. Legal reality and truth are what the state decrees. Combine legal positivism with evolution and you get capricious, arbitrary laws. There is no authority above the state to which citizens can appeal when the state becomes tyrannical.

    New Age Humanism
    While New Age mystical humanists are more focused on inner subjective enlightenment, it has legal implications. Because all of reality is divine, man becomes the epicenter of all authority. There can be no outside imposition of law or restraint as that might inhibit man’s self-actualization as god. Each man is in effect his own god and source of his own self-law.

    As your inner awareness and enlightenment grows, any rules that you may have previously agreed to abide by may not be agreeable to you any more. To obey rules you disagree with is to deny your godhood. Man must do what feels right to him at the moment. Eventually, a sufficiently enlightened society will no longer need law. Reliance on God’s law is considered unenlightened. Because man is essentially good, outside laws restrict the full expression of man’s goodness and godhood.

    Islam has a very comprehensive, complex and detailed legal tradition that covers all of a Muslim’s life. Their system of law is called Sharia. Of forty-eight nations considered not free, twenty-five of them are Muslim. The world’s freest nations with the highest regard for human rights are those that have been impacted by Christianity. Islam denies non-Muslims equality and freedom. Muslim men enjoy special status over non-Muslim men and all women. Religious minorities are subjected to a special tax, if they are even allowed to exist. They deny original sin, so all men are capable of saving themselves by complying with Allah’s law.

    For more please see these summaries on law.

    January 7, 2012

    2011: The Year of the Tornado

    2011: The year in extreme weather

    546 Tornado fatalities, the most in almost a decade. A good video on the amount of tornadic activity in the US in 2011, unable to watch outside, can be found at the following link:   

    12 disasters in 2011 each caused more than $1 billion in damage

    Extreme weather came in fast and furious in 2011, with unwavering intensity for all twelve months of the year.

    From snowstorms to drought, hurricanes to wildfires, epic floods to heat waves -- 2011 shattered records with “a total of twelve weather and climate disasters,” according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with "each causing $1 billion or more in damages -- and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property.”

    The New Year started off with a bang as an unusually intense -- and poorly timed -- January 2011 snowstorm in the Washington DC area left some motorists stranded in their cars for more than 10 hours during an evening commute.

    The following month, an even larger, monster winter storm brought Chicago to an utter standstill. The Groundhog Day Blizzard brought two feet of snow to the area, while wind gusts as high as 60 mph piled snow drifts in some spots 10 feet high! Cars were left abandoned on major thoroughfares like Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue. This wallop of a storm didn’t just impact Illinois, but many central, eastern, and northeastern states. According to the National Climatic Data Center, it brought insured losses greater than $1 billion and total losses greater than $1.8 billion and unfortunately 36 deaths.

    Record-shattering tornadoes
    The spring thaw that followed did not evoke calmer conditions to the U.S. In both April and May, devastating record-shattering tornado outbreaks slammed the South, Midwest and other regions. In late April, an outbreak of 343 tornadoes in central and southern states caused 321 deaths. Of those fatalities, 240 occurred in Alabama alone. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak, an EF-5, hit northern Alabama on April 27, killing 78 people.
    On May 22, an EF-5 (winds over 200 mph+) tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. It was one mile wide and traveled for 22 miles on the ground. According to NOAA, the Joplin tornado was the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado record-keeping began in 1950. 158 people lost their lives in this weather event.

    Scorching summer
    Hot and dry would be two good words to describe the summer of 2011: It was a season plagued by drought and extreme heat. Temperatures not only soared, but stayed unbearably scorching for weeks! Dallas, Texas saw 71 total days of 100+ plus temperatures. That’s the highest total number of 100 degree + days the city has ever seen. The Northeast wasn't spared from triple digit temps either. Newark, New Jersey set a new all-time record high of 108 on July 22, shattering the old record of 105 degrees, set on August 9, 2001.
    The combination of hot temperatures and lack of rainfall caused Texas to see “its most severe one-year drought on record,” according to John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas State Climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. “Twelve month rainfall was the driest on record across much of Western, Central and Southern Texas,” he concluded. Many areas saw less than 25% of their annual precipitation.

    Raging wildfires and rainfalls
    The heat and drought led to a record wildfire season in many states. This occurred in the summer of 2011 and into the fall. Fires that ignited in states like Arizona and Texas were not only enormous in size, but also incredibly destructive. For example, the Bastrop Fire in Texas destroyed more than 1,500 homes and in Arizona. The Wallow Fire consumed more than 500,000 acres, making it the largest on record in the state.

    While some areas didn’t receive enough water, others were inundated. In the Ohio Valley, rainfall totals increased by around 300%. This, combined with melting snowpack, caused catastrophic flooding along the Mississippi River. Further north, according to the National Climatic Data Center, “an estimated 11,000 people were forced to evacuate Minot, North Dakota due to the record high water level of the Souris River, where 4,000 homes were flooded.”

    Mandatory evacuation for New Yorkers
    Fast forward to the start of the Atlantic hurricane season on June 1. An “above average” season was predicted by forecasters at Colorado State University, and it lived up to that prediction. There were 19 tropical storms in the Atlantic this year, making 2011 the 3rd busiest season since record keeping began in 1851. One hurricane that developed in August grabbed the headlines with ferocity. That’s because this hurricane’s forecast track was headed directly towards a major metropolitan city that hadn’t seen a hurricane make landfall since 1985: New York City. For several days in late August, Hurricane Irene had the entire east coast on alert.

    On August 26, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made this memorable announcement from City Hall:
    “The sun is shining, but don't be misled. There is a very dangerous storm headed in our direction, and it could go slightly to the east or slightly to the west. It could speed up, it could close down, it could grow or diminish in intensity, but there is no question that we are going to get hit with some wind and high water that is very dangerous ... We are today issuing a mandatory -- I repeat the word mandatory -- evacuation order for all New Yorkers who live in the low-lying Zone A coastal areas in all five boroughs that are at greatest risk of damage relating to Irene.”
    It was the first mandatory evacuation the city had ever seen. It was also the first time the New York City transit system was ever shut down in advance of a storm.

    Hurricane Irene initially struck the U.S. as a Category 1 hurricane in eastern North Carolina on Saturday, August 26, and then moved northward along the Mid-Atlantic Coast. According to NOAA, “wind damage in coastal North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland was moderate, with considerable damage resulting from falling trees and power lines.” Luckily, the worst case scenario did not occur when Irene made its final landfall as a tropical storm in the New York City area. However, Irene did dump excessive rainfall in the Northeast that caused widespread flooding.

    More than 7 million homes and businesses lost power during the storm, and Irene caused at least 45 deaths and more than $7.3 billion in damages.
    And winter begins...
    Finally, the last month of the 2011 brought a life-threatening early start to winter for residents of the Plains states. In the week before Christmas, a paralyzing blizzard struck the region. White-out conditions caused road closures of highways in Kansas, New Mexico, and Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado on December 19th and 20th. That’s two days before the official start of winter on December 22.
    How did this year’s extreme weather impact you?

    From HLN Reports


    2012, Tipping Point

    How much time do we have left and what will 2012 bring?  The uproar in the middle east has great potential to bring a massive Tsunami of turmoil all over the globe. Meanwhile, the EU continues to deal with major economic uncertainty and it is only a matter of time before Greece or Italy files for bankruptcy. 

    From the UK Telegraph:

    The dawn of a new year is usually a time of hope and ambition, of dreams for the future and thoughts of a better life. But it is a long time since many of us looked forward to the new year with such anxiety, even dread.

    Here in Britain, many economists believe that by the end of 2012 we could well have slipped into a second devastating recession. The Coalition remains delicately poised; it would take only one or two resignations to provoke a wider schism and a general election.

    For the most chilling parallel, though, we should look back exactly 80 years, to the cold wintry days when 1931 gave way to 1932.

    The ultimate warning from history: If our political leaders fail to provide adequate direction the results, as demonstrated 80 years ago, could be catastrophic  
    The ultimate warning from history: If our political leaders fail to provide adequate direction the results, as demonstrated 80 years ago, could be catastrophic 

    Then as now, few people saw much to mourn in the passing of the old year. It was in 1931 that the Great Depression really took hold in Europe, bringing governments to their knees and plunging tens of millions of people out of work.

    Then as now, the crisis had taken years to gather momentum. After the Wall Street Crash in 1929 — just as after the banking crisis of 2008 — some observers even thought that the worst was over.

    But in the summer of 1931, a wave of banking panics swept across central Europe. As the German and Austrian financial houses tottered, Britain’s Labour government came under fierce market pressure to slash spending and cut benefits.

    Bitterly divided, the Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald decided to resign from office — only to return immediately as the leader of an all-party Coalition known as the National Government, dominated by Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives.

    Like today’s Coalition, the National Government was an uneasy marriage. Sunk in self-pity and spending much of his time flirting with aristocratic hostesses, MacDonald cut a miserable and semi-detached figure. By comparison, even Nick Clegg looks a model of strong, decisive leadership.

    As for the Tory leader Stanley Baldwin, he had more in common with David Cameron than we might think. A laid-back Old Harrovian, tolerant, liberal-minded and ostentatiously relaxed, Baldwin spent as much time as possible on holiday in the South of France, preferring to enjoy the Mediterranean sunshine rather than get his hands dirty with the nuts and bolts of policy.

    Meanwhile, far from offering a strong and coherent Opposition, the rump Labour Party seemed doomed to irrelevance. At least its leader, the pacifist Arthur Henderson, could claim to be a man of the people, having hauled himself up by his bootstraps from his early days as a Newcastle metal worker.

    Not even his greatest admirers could possibly say the same of today’s adenoidal, stammering Opposition leader, the toothless Ed Miliband.

    And in the last days of 1932, after the technocrats and generals had failed to restore order, President Paul von Hindenburg began to contemplate the unthinkable — the prospect of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.

    We all know what happened next. Indeed, by the end of 1932 the world was about to slide towards a new dark age, an age of barbarism and bloodshed on a scale that history had never known.

    Eighty years on, it would be easy to sit back and reassure ourselves that the worst could never happen again. But that, of course, was what people told each other in 1932, too.

    The lesson of history is that tough times often reward the desperate and dangerous, from angry demagogues to anarchists and nationalists, from seething mobs to expansionist empires.

    Our world is poised on the edge of perhaps the most important 12 months for more than half a century. If our leaders provide the right leadership, then we may, perhaps, muddle through towards slow growth and gradual recovery.

    But if the European elite continue to inflict needless hardship on their people; if the markets continue to erode faith in the euro; and if Western politicians waste their time in petty bickering, then we could easily slip further towards discontent and disaster.

    The experience of 1932 provides a desperately valuable lesson. As a result of the decisions taken in those 12 short months, millions of people later lost their lives.

    Today, on the brink of a new year that could well prove the most frightening in living memory, we can only pray that our history takes a very different path.

    Pleasure Culture: Lust, Greed, Pride. A House Built on Sand.

    But we know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, without self-control, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
                 2 Timothy 3:  1-4

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to hteir own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

                 2 Timothy 4: 3-4

    “Jersey Shore” is less a reality show than a cartoonlike comedy that magnifies the vulgarity and bravado of a particularly colorful ethnic stereotype. The new location doesn’t provide the cast with a change of scenery; it gives the gang a fresh spot for “Big Brother” isolation in which to hook up, squabble, fight and drink, in slightly different configurations. Florence does provide plenty of material for gaffes. In a taxi one of the guys wants to know how to tell the driver to go fast. Another suggests he say, “Ciao.”
    ---NY Times

    Deena drops a major bomb on JWoww at the club when she reveals she had unprotected sex right before the trip.
     --Hollywood Life

    Culture of Pleasure

    It's everywhere you go anymore. Lust, greed, pride.  American culture that once surrounded the TV, as a family, to watch Leave it To Beaver or the Andy Griffith Show has been all but buried in its grave.  Sex is worshiped, selfishness treated as virtue, and wealth treated as success on the TV show Jersey Shore, a tale of a dozen teenagers engaging in adultery and lavish living while serving as models of living for 10 million nightly teenage viewers.  Does anyone even know of C.S. Lewis or heard of the four cardinal virtues; prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude?  Or even the greatest three theological virtues, faith, hope, and love?  

    The clock is ticking on humanity, with God preparing his two edged sword to come against all those who do evil and by doing so, cleanse mankind of sin and suffering.  We live in a fallen world, but how much difficult does it seem to remain pure, focused, or holy these days?  Our culture seeks to be entertained.  It's not that entertainment in itself is evil.  It is just that entertainment, like the gladiator shows in the days of the Romans, has become perverted and narcissistic.  A good illustration could be found in the meaning of love which has changed from;

    Old Love: What one is willing to give up for it
    New Love: The most exciting state of the ego.

    Entertainment, like Love, is being changed.  We love to receive, we no longer love to give.  We are infatuated with pleasure.  Like the reality show we love to watch, we seek to maximize our time spent in front of the television instead in front of each other.  Is it any wonder that only 50% of adults are married? and of those marriage, almost 50% end in divorce?

    We have lost many battles in our culture, from the days of love, sex, and rock and roll of the 70's onward.  We still stand though as the last bastion of hope in a world full of decadence and decay.  When America's salt loses its flavor it will be 

    "good for nothing and thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."
    ---Matthew 5:13

    Stand Firm, those who remain, and be of good cheer for the Lord who has promised is faithful and will come back to redeem those who held their ground.  Do not be memorized with the wealth and vanity of pleasure that is found in this world, but memorize God's Truth and seek to live a life worthy of the calling of which you are called.

    "Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the Elder ship.  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all."

                  1 Timothy 4: 14-15