Monday, March 26, 2007

Love of Our Money

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann (1824-1912)

My, oh my, to be the Giberts.

Ben and Chariesse Gibert, to be exact, pastor and co-pastor of the 4,000 member Detroit World Outreach Church in the township of Redford, MI. The elders of this "church" - apostles of 'health and wealth' theology - have seen fit to purchase a 11,000 square foot, $3.65 million mansion, complete with 12 acres overlooking Maybury State Park, for the sermonizers. Removing the humble abode from the assessment rolls will cost the Township $40,000 annually in taxes. This in addition to the Gibert's $50,000 Cadillac Escalade, purchased earlier for the couple and their four little Giberts. So much for rendering unto Caesar...

Elder Marvin Wilder, a lawyer and general counsel for the church says,
In this country we value rock stars, movie stars and athletes. They can have a lavish lifestyle, and a pastor who restores lives that were broken shouldn’t? When our value system elevates a man who can put a ball in a hole and not a man who does God’s work, something is wrong.
What's wrong is that rock stars, movie stars, athletes, and people like you and me all pay taxes. Unlike this cult.

A suggestion for next Sunday's sermon: 1 Timothy 6:3-10.

Katie Couric: Bottom Feeder

Using the time-honored ploy of desperate journalists, Katie Couric CBS anchor and 60 Minutes reporter interviewed herself in a grilling of the Edwards' decision to stay in the 2008 Presidential sweepstakes despite the recent return of Elizabeth Edwards cancer. Throwing editorial comments willy-nilly, like a poor-man's radio shock jock, she peppered her comments with the tell-tale catch-all, "Some people..." Listen for yourself. Only 19 more months of this to go.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Flyover Animation

High-resolution images from NASA's MRO have been combined to provide this animated hypothetical flyover of Victoria Crater in Mars' Meridiani Planum region where the Mars Rover Opportunity has been exploring since September 2006. Opportunity has been examining the crater rim in a clockwise direction.

Victoria is about 800 meters (one-half mile) in diameter. This flyover approaches from the south, moving counterclockwise around part of the rim. Look for an enhanced glimpse of Opportunity where the rover was seen by the HRISE camera orbiting overhead.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Child Abuse: When adults do bad things to good children

Deuteronomy 5:8 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Somehow bible-thumpers find the most convoluted ways to ignore the most basic admonitions in their sacred text.

In a scene out of today's North Korea, or the Stalinist years, or '38 Munich - gaze upon and gasp at Jesus Camp:

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Leave Well Enough Alone

I've wanted George W. Bush impeached by the House and convicted by trial in the Senate since shortly after 9/11, and especially since our invasion of Iraq. But now in our seventh year of George The Lesser, I've changed my mind. The time for such an undertaking has past us by. After the mid-term elections, the dirty snow left on the Nation's shoulders from the Bush blizzard is rapidly melting away, and those craven democrats who sniveled their opposition to and enabled Gulf War II need to resist now the partisan urge to poke a stick into the wasp's nest of impeachment.

Sen. Chuck Hagel, (R. Neb.) in the current issue of Esquire:

The president says, 'I don't care.' He's not accountable anymore, he's not accountable anymore, which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes.

Surprising words from a Reagan Republican in a safe seat. So why is impeachment a bad strategy? Again, Sen. Hagel:

[Unlike Vietnam] You don't have the draft, so you don't have that many people touched. This is a more sophisticated political divisiveness. It divides people from their government....You can't do anything about the president. He's gone. But you can do something about your congressman. That's why all these Republicans are so nervous.

Exactly. Impeaching this Chief Executive - let alone enduring the Senate trial to convict him - would be folly. It will hand the GOP exactly the ammunition they need to reload the Rovian Spin Cycle and shore up their coming vulnerability at the polls in 2008. Flushing away this excrement will be difficult enough if the democrats nominate Sen. Clinton as their standard bearer next year.

Leave well enough alone.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Welcome to the National ID Card

Ronald Reagan famously campaigned with the joke about the "10 most frightening words in the English language: I'm from the federal government and I'm here to help." Conservatives demonized the Federal Government for decades as inefficient, incompetent, even evil - but once in power and controlling both the executive and legislative branches of the same, they've given us the REAL ID Act of 2005. Homeland Security is attempting to pre-empt state-issued driver's licenses (and non-driver's identification cards) with a new, national standard. Like Russia under the Czar, we're about to create our own version of the internal passport. As a citizen of the United States of America (or as a non-citizen working here) you'll soon need a federally approved ID to board an aircraft, open a bank account, collect S.S. payments, access or use most government services. These electronically readable ID cards will be issued through our state motor vehicle agencies and most likely replace our driver's licenses. In addition to our new national ID number, Homeland Security is permitted to add additional identification and security requirements, such as a fingerprint or retinal scan. This is not sitting well in many corners. Check out the clip above for a protest in the Granite State, to prevent New Hampshire from participating in the plot. The new ID's are scheduled to be required by May 2008.

Conservative Hootenanny

Observe closely as The Nation's Max Blumenthal ("a goodlookin' fella") takes us on a trip through the Looking Glass with a tour of the Conservative Political Action Conference. Featuring Michelle Malkin, Grover Norquist, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Ann Coulter, and many more. Watch and listen to the corrosive remnants of the Conservative movement.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Alien World; So Familiar

Upstaged by this week's beauty shots of its parent, Saturn, the largest moon of the same, Titan, continues to reveal wonders truly all its own.

Larger than our own Moon, larger than the first planet, Mercury, this moon of Saturn with its dense atmosphere of Nitrogen - so thick that if you could stand on Titan's surface it would feel like standing on the bottom of a swimming pool - has the only open bodies of liquid, besides Earth, yet discovered. Lakes and lakes of methane. Which means that Titan is also far, far colder than Antarctica. The island in the radar image above is roughly the size of the Big Island of Hawaii. These are some very large bodies of liquid methane.

Drainage streams, valleys, mile-high mountains, volcanoes - cryo-volcanoes, spewing ices - rocks made not of silicates, like here at home, but of water ice, and dunes, dunes, dunes, for thousands of miles.

What a world.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Cronos, Father of Zeus

After more than a year of study, the Cassini spacecraft has been climbing higher and higher (not to mention lower and lower) in its orbital plane with respect to the glorious sixth planet. With each orbit of Saturn, Cassini speeds past the ring plane and the cameras are able to look down (and up) providing images and perspectives high above - about 40 degrees - and below the same.

“Finally, here are the views that we've waited years for,” said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. “Sailing high above Saturn and seeing the rings spread out beneath us like a giant, copper medallion is like exploring an alien world we've never seen before. It just doesn't look like the same place. It's so utterly breath-taking, it almost gives you vertigo.”

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO.