Thursday, September 18, 2008

Farewell to a staple of Americana

Let me first begin by saying that I am NOT a Yankees fan. I abhor and despise them, their owner, their fans (even the ones I like) and all the wannabes out there who are on the Yankees bandwagon. Having said that, let me say that it will be a sad day this Sunday when Yankees Stadium will be closed forever.

This is the same field which featured such greats as the Babe, sluggers as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and so on. Just the other day, Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's seventy year old record of most hits in Yankees Stadium--a great feat to be sure and one that will never be surpassed. This was more than just the home of America's pasttime. Three popes held masses here for the faithful, it has been the sight of Billy Grahm's revivals and it was the place where the nation centered their attention to remember the horrible events of September 11. Yankees Stadium is part and parcel of who we are. It may not have the charm or nostalgia of Wrigley Field, the beauty of Kaufman, the (excessive) modernity of Bank One Ballpark, the green monster of Fenway, but it was home for the Yankees since 1923. Most people call this move progress. Progress is making something better. What can be better than something that represents the United States at its best and even its worst? What can be better than removing something that represents our very essence? The answer is nothing. Unfortunately, since we, as a nation, are so terrible at dispensing the lessons of history to our children and grandchildren and also because most of them have no respect for it anyway, I think the agony over the loss of this icon of Americana will only be with this generation until we die off in the next 30 or 40 years. Maybe it will take the loss of Fenway, Wrigley and others to really make us appreciate those symbols which we rally around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Set aside Sunday, October 19 from 12:00--6:00 pm

Why? Because St. Mary Orthodox Church is once again holding its Middle Eastern Food Faire. If you were there last year, and you should have been, you'll know that we put on a great dinner featuring a lot of different Mediterranean delights. If you like Greek food, you'll like this because a lot of it is similar, just slightly different emphases.

Come and experience the flavors, the smells of tuboli, couscous, baklava, lubneh, zata, kibi, fatayah, etc.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for kids. Take-out is available.

See Palo for tickets.

Again, it's on Sunday, October 19 at St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church.

10303 Boyd St.
Omaha, NE 68134

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Democrats hate life and themselves and here's the proof

A Simpsons Episode features STampy, Bart's elephant, running rampant through Springfield. He wonders into a Republican headquarters where the people, upon seeing an elephant, erupt into cheers. THe banners hangning from the rafters say "We want what's worst for everyone" and "We're plain evil." As Stampy gets to the Democrat headquarters, the place erupts into boos. The banners hanging from the rafters say "We hate life and ourselves" and "We can't govern."

Anyways, if you needed proof that the Democrats to hate life and themselves, ask yourself why the Democrats insist on having Barbara Streisand perform at their events. Considering how much better and less painful-to-hear and witness entertainment exists out there, this proves that the writers of the Simpsons were on to something. Just a thought.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sharia Law comes to Britain

Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courtsAbul Taher
ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.

Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.

Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.

Under the act, the sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals. The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case.

Siddiqi said: “We realised that under the Arbitration Act we can make rulings which can be enforced by county and high courts. The act allows disputes to be resolved using alternatives like tribunals. This method is called alternative dispute resolution, which for Muslims is what the sharia courts are.”

Wow! This is absolute absurdity. Is it any wonder why Europe is so close to being destroyed. They are not only being out-bred, but now they are being out-traditioned. Now Britain's own historic tradition of law, order, trial by a jury of peers and individual rights are now being modified (i.e. dumped) for Sharia Law. Now, a Muslim who commits a crime is no longer answerable to the laws of Britain, but to the whims of a council of religious leaders.

Would we dare in the United States set up different tribunals for red state voters who commit a crime in a blue state and vice versa? Of course not! The law is the law for everyone. Granted, it may not always be enforced the same way and justice may not come about. But when it happens that the law actually means one thing for one person and another for another then it is no longer law; it is anarchy! And this is done, of course, in the name of toleration for other viewpoints.

If these Muslims want sharia law, move to a country that has it! Why are they in Britain? Living in Britain, expensive as it is, does afford many people a haven to have a better life than from where they came. But, the tradeoff is the acceptance of British Law. Forgive me for stereotyping, but why is it that Muslims expect us to honor all their traditions, but they won't honour ours? Why is there no religiious freedom in Saudi Arabia, but they expect the rest of the world to have their governments support and establish mosques for their expatriates?

As I mentioned earlier, the Britons and, by extension, the Western Europeans are breeding themselves out of existence. Soon Sharia Law will apply to most Britons who are Muslims and then probably will come to be applied to non-Muslims. If only the British had some gift of foresight to know that is precisely what will happen. But they don't need it because history is replete with many examples of the same thing.

The British have produced some of the finest historians of all time. Too bad no one is reading them anymore!

Why do we care what they think?

I suppose we should blame Ronald Reagan. After all he was a movie-star, maybe even a bad one, who successfully made the transition from HOllywood to politics which indicates that it is possible. But why do we continually want to know the political opinions of people who are in the movie and music business? Granted, they have a right to an opinion as everyone else.

Lindsay Lohan has announced her distaste for Sarah Palin. fine. She said so on her myspace blog. Good for her. She has every right to do so. But why do the media insist that such grace the pages of major newspapers?

Her comments are really not that insightful. Most of Hollywood's darlings are not insightful. Matt Damon, George Clooney Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, Leondardo DiC(r)apio all have opinions but not anywhere near the wherewithal to actually put anything into action. But the media gives them the attention to sound off. Yet at he same time, I can't remember the last time I had a debate with someone who disagrees with me reference any of the above people as "authorities" on anything. The only people who seem to do that are the media and idiot Senators such as Ted Kennedy who invited Jessica Lange to testify before a Senate Committee on poverty because she played a "poor person." I know actors and actresses are supposed to get into their roles, but that hardly qualifies one to suddenly become an expert. That would be like asking Charlton Heston (memory eternal) to fill in the bits and pieces of Moses' life that we don't know from the Scriptures because he played him in a movie. Or that Alec Baldwin is now an expert on SONAR because he played Dr. Jack Ryan in "Hunt for Red October" which featured a silent sub using a caterpillar drive. Get real.

Again, everyone has a right to their opinion. But the media and people who lead boring lives insist that they need to know the beliefs of celebrities because that gives their life meaning. Is it any wonder why this country is in such dire straits?

Lindsay Lohan Lashes Out at Sarah Palin
September 14 2008
Lindsay Lohan isn't happy with Republican vice presidential candidate John McCain's choice of running mate, Sarah Palin.

"I really cannot bite my tongue anymore when it comes to Sarah Palin," the actress, 22, wrote on her MySpace blog Sunday.

"I couldn't be more supportive of a woman in office, but let's face it, it comes down to the person, and their beliefs, male or female," Lohan said.

"I would have liked to have remained impartial, however I am afraid that the 'lipstick on a pig' comments will overshadow the issues and the fact that I believe Barack Obama is the best choice, in this election, for president," she added.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Latin and Greek are too difficult. Thus, get rid of them.

Having taught both Latin and Greek, I can say, with authority, that neither is an easy langauge, especially Greek. They both have rules and regulations which baffle speakers of modern language who believe that as long as someone "gets the jist of it" whatever they have said is thus a valid expression of the langauge. Perhaps. Now a University of Cambridge "specialist" (I'm not sure what she specializes in) believes that the jargon of Latin and Greek should be thrown out because it complicates understanding for patients and even doctors. Let's assume she is correct. Do we then come up with a new universal system? Will there be a committee to evaluate this? Will this be in some new made up language so that a doctor in Singapore and the UK diagnose the same way? Then will patients have to become fluent in that new terminology? The logistics against it just go on and on.I'll bet good money two to one that this "specialist" flunked Latin and/or Greek sometime in her life and is now trying to get revenge against it. I've had any number of students who have failed Latin and Greek go on to decry it because the languages weren't fair to them and weren't easy enough. Oh, cry me a river! Not everything in this life is easy. If you can't do it, fine. Do what you do well but don't discourage others and insult them by saying the Latin and Greek terminology should be done away with because of your own shortcomings. This system has been in place for hundreds upon hundreds of years. It's not broke, don't fix it. ANd considering how many of these medical terms also have cognates in our basic vocabulary which we use day to day, this "specialist" is essentially saying that you are too stupid to understand.

Medical terms all Greek to patients

Written by Lautaro Vargas Friday, 12 September 2008

The abundance of ancient Greek and Latin terms in medicine should be abandoned because it could be harming patients according to a University of Cambridge specialist.Dr Melinda Lyons of the Department of Engineering’s Engineering Design Centre (EDC) said the “dead language” terminology that underpins the medical jargon that makes up the exclusive language of doctors, dates as far back as the 5th century BC and spreads confusion that could potentially put patients at risk.Unlike previous research, the paper identified the prefixes that pose the greatest risk and Dr Lyons wants to see the language of medicine brought up to date and simplified by removing “archaic risk-prone terms.”Writing in The Lancet medical journal, Dr Lyons listed a wide range of ‘lookalike and soundalike’ prefixes commonly used by doctors which look or sound alike but have completely different meanings. Examples included, “inter” (between) versus “intra” (within), “super” or “supra” (above) versus “sub” or “sur” (below), and “hypo” (low) versus “hyper” (high).The field of healthcare typically manages problems of lookalike/soundalike terms through quick fixes such as coloured packaging and handwriting assessments, as well as encouraging ‘readback’ of terms though radical reforms of the language would rarely be seen as a solution.Dr Lyons said that In many ways the challenge arising from the lookalike/soundalike terms is similar to that addressed by the EDC’s inclusive design team, which seeks to educate designers to consider those with impairments or disabilities in order to ensure products are manufactured with their needs in mind.She said that the definition of an “inclusive language of healthcare” would ensure that the safety of staff and patients alike is not compromised through misreading or mishearing terms.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never forget

9/11 has brought out the best and the worst in many people. It brought out the best in people by their desire to sacrifice themselves for others. It has brought out the worst by those who would take a tragic event and exploit it to either cover for their anti-Americanism or to suggest that the USA is to blame for such an event or to score political points because they are more patriotic than others. Unfortunately, we will see all three of the worst in full display today across the nation from politicians to the ordinary joe on the street.

What should we remember about today? Let's keep it simple. Let's keep it straight and honest. Let us remember and honour the 3000 souls who perished today because of 19 thugs. Let us remember that despite all the evil in this world, there is still some good worth fighting for (I am speaking metaphorically and am not speaking of the "war on terror"). Let us remember that peace is not simply the absence of war, but the presence of justice and the ability to bring wrongdoers to their just rewards. Let us remember...never forget.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Is he Muslim or not?

With less than two months before the next presidential election, I hereby declare presidential mud slinging season open! I know we all claim we want the candidates to discuss the vital issues of our country, but, let's face it--we are a nation always watching the likes of Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones, Montel, Ricky Lake, etc. We love the smear, we love the scandal. In a real sense, we very much need it.

One of the attacks against Obama--whom, I will confess, I will not and never for--has been that he is really a closet Muslim and only uses Christianity as a guise to fly underneath the religious radar screen. After all, all our other presidents were Christian so this one should be too. Of course, this kind of attack is not limited to Obama. When Mitt Romney was running for the Republican nomination, much was made about his Mormonism and how detrimental it is to Americans. My question is--so what?

On George Stephanapolous' show, this exchange took place:

In a television interview today discussing his religion, Sen. Barack Obama stated, "My Muslim faith." Obama, speaking to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," was talking about what he described as "smears" that were claiming he was a Muslim when he maintains he is a practicing Christian. "Let's not play games," Obama stated. "What I was suggesting – you're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith. And you're absolutely right that that has not come." Stephanopoulos immediately interrupted Obama, stating, "Christian faith." "My Christian faith," Obama quickly said.

Now, was this a slip of the tongue or was it a momentary lapse in self-control which allowed the truth to come out? Frankly, I don't care. That's not the issue.

When we elect an official, we are not electing the pope. Don't get me wrong, I want to vote for someone who shares common beliefs and ideals especially when it comes to the governance of this country, but I know that I am not going to ever get an Orthodox Christian who believes in limited government. Michael Dukakis won the nomination back in 88, who was Orthodox, but was he a loser in governing.

Martin Luther once wrote something along the lines that he would prefer a virtuous pagan than a corrupt Christian as a ruler. Such should be the rule today. At the same time, if Obama is really a Muslim, then just say it. With the threat of Islamic Fascism and the numerous ways Muslims across the Middle East use deception, subterfuge and lies to gain positions of power and to get their way, people in this country would have a serious grievance if he made a 180 degree turn after election day, supposing he wins.

A Muslim was recently elected by the people of Detroit, MI to represent them in the U.S. Congress so it isn't completely unheard of that a Muslim would reach high office.

But still, let's get off of it and get to some real issues, shall we? Nah........

Friday, September 5, 2008

Romans now accused of causing susceptibility to AIDS

In the 1960s and 1970s during the cultural revolution our nation was going through with the civil rights movement, the hippie movement, etc. it became commonplace for the foundations of western civilization, i.e. the Greeks and the Romans, to be blamed for all of the current problems in the United States. We have racism, thus blame the Romans. We have sexism, thus blame the Greeks. In other words, had we founded our country on other philosophies than that of Greece and Rome, such horrible -isms would never have happened. Such an argument is absolute bunk! If anything the philosophy underlying the civilizations of Greece and Rome gave us the means to get rid of sexism, racism and slavery. Other systems were inherently totatlitarian, based on the whims of individual rulers rather than on the rule of the law, a great gift of the Romans. But it is still fashionable to blame the Romans and Greeks for bad things. Now, apparently, a researcher believes that the AIDS epidemic was caused by the Romans' DNA killing off the DNA of native tribes and thus allowed it to be more susceptible to HIV which causes AIDS. Here is the article. Judge for yourself.

Britons may be more vulnerable to Aids due to Roman invasion

Britons may be more vulnerable to Aids due to the Roman invasion, new findings suggest.

Dr Faure believes the Romans introduced a disease which killed off people with a variant gene that now protects against HIV Photo: TELEVISION STILLSResearchers found that people who live in lands conquered by the Roman army have less protection against HIV than those in countries they never reachedThey say a gene which helps make people less susceptible to HIV occurs in greater frequency in areas of Europe that the Roman Empire did not stretch to.The gene lacks certain DNA elements, which means HIV cannot bind to it as easily and is less able to infect cells.People with the mutation have some resistance to HIV infection and also take longer to develop AIDS, reports New Scientist.A study of almost 19,000 DNA samples from across Europe showed the gene variant seemed to dwindle in regions conquered by the Romans.Generally only people in Europe and western Asia carry the gene and it becomes much less frequent as you move south.More than 15 per cent of people in some areas of northern Europe carry it compared with fewer than four per cent of Greeks.It is not clear why this is so since the spread of HIV - which began in the early 1980s - is too recent to have influenced the distribution of the variant.The difference in frequency of the key gene mutation reflects the changing boundary of the Roman Empire between 500 BC and AD 500.But study leader Dr Eric Faure, of Provence University in France, does not believe the Romans spread the regular version of the gene into their colonies by breeding with indigenous people.Dr Faure, whose findings are published in Infection, Genetics and Evolution, said: "Gene flow between the two was extremely low."Instead he believes the Romans introduced a disease to which people carrying the gene variant were particularly susceptible. As the Romans moved north this disease killed off people with the variant gene that now protects against HIV.

Monday, September 1, 2008

what's been going on

My dear readers,

Many of you have commented to me, personally and via email, that you have missed my writings. I'm very grateful that you find my musings to be worth at least a little something to you . My thanks. I'm sorry but lately, I have had neither the time nor the inclination to write much. Every great writer goes through writers block, so why not as miserable wanna-bes as well?

The time issue is obviously the most signficant hurdle right now. School is back in full swing, my responsibililties to the church are very high right now and even my social calendar has become a little bit more booked than I am accustomed.

But what should I write about? I could comment on the election, but pretty much all of you know my views on both Obama and McCain and how I like neither of them and think that they are both elitists centering their campaigns on the plight of the common man while they themselves are such insiders that no change will ever take place. That's why I vote Libertarian, if just maybe Washington would be shaken up a little. I could also write about just random things in this world, like things I put up in my poll, but for that to work, people have to make a choice. I could comment about my students and how far too many of them will not live up to their potential and would rather give themselves over to the rap/hip-hop culture to make it rich quick without any contributions to the society which helped procure that for them. All of these are great topics. I could comment on the Georgia-Russia conflice, the situation in the Orthodox Church of America, all of these things. But, for one reason or another, I will stay silent now.

However, know that I shall return. I often liken myself (with perhaps a little too much arrogance) to a modern Diogenes with his lamp, but for right now, I've decided to put away my lamp and retire to simply let knowledge find me than let myself find it.

Inspriation happens when we least expect it. Expect a new post when you see it.