Can’t Congress Find Anything MORE Stupid To Do????

2021-03-13 DST AgainWell, it’s that time of the year again.  After a year of pandemics and elections, it is time for the US Congress to address one of the stupidest laws they have ever enacted!  And this is noted with full awareness of the ACA (aka Obamacare – “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”Nancy Pelosi, March 9. 2010).  This presupposes the For The People Act that centralizes elections, disenfranchises states and degrades the integrity of the elections by “the people” it supposedly is FOR.  It assumes you know about the $1,900,000,000.00 ($1.9 trillion) Covid Relief Package that has less than $1,900,000.00 ($1.9 billion) for covid relief, less than 1/10th of the bill.

Even with these boondoggles, the stupidest law the U.S. Congress has ever passed was the Daylight Saving Time Act of 1918!  Because of confusion over when states would adopt DST, it was codified into uniform compliance by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (unless states wanted to opt out, which Arizona, Hawaii and half of Indiana did).  Now Daylight Saving Time begins with “Spring Forward” at 2am on the second Sunday of March every year.  When 2am hits, we are supposed to move our clocks forward to 3am, skipping that hour.  Standard Time resumes with “Fall Back” at 2am on the first Sunday of November.  When 2am hits, we try to reverse the damage by moving the clocks backward to 1am, repeating the 1am hour over again.  Then we do it all again in the spring.

Now, let’s up the absurdity!  This year, again, a group of congresspeople and senators have proposed the Sunshine Protection Act which would make Daylight Saving Time PERMANENT, so that we do not have to change our clocks every other season.  After all, if the government does not protect the Sunshine, who will!?  A reasonable person might ask, WHYYYYY!?  If you are going to get up an hour earlier every day of the year, why not just leave the clocks alone and go with the Greenwich Meridian Time standard that the US adopted in November of 1883 and was standardized to the world in 1884?

Two stories to illustrate the asininity of this idea:2021-03-13 Capital Grille Lounge
One is the apocryphal tale of why DST was ever adopted. 
It seems some congressmen were concerned about getting reelected and felt they needed something to show their constituents that they were not just sitting around the Capitol lounge and gym smoking stogies, drinking martinis and getting tax-payer funded massages, even though that is exactly what they were doing
One suggested, “Why don’t we vote to give everyone an extra hour every day?  You know, to work longer and pay higher taxes, but we could say it was so they could spend more time with their families.” 
Everyone jumped on the bandwagon immediately exclaiming “Capital idea!” until a freshman congressman, who was unschooled in the finer arts of making laws, noted, “But that would wear out in about two weeks when people would be going to bed at sunup and rising at sundown.”
After some substantial grumbling about mouthy young upstarts needing to learn their place, one of the elder statesmen said, “Well we can just subtract the extra hour from the morning and that way everyone will get the extra hour without confusing the clock-makers who would have to make 25 hour clocks. Besides I don’t have that many voting clock-makers in my district.” 
The measure passed with full bi-partisan support and was signed into law by Woodrow Wilson, who was busy planning to catch the Spanish Flu when he attended the League of Nations meeting the next year, and could not get reelected for a third term if he had slowed down the earth’s rotation to actually give everyone an extra hour.

The second story is a true one about a secretary I once knew in an office in which I worked.  Spring was on the horizon and we were discussing the coming change of the clocks.  I noted that, “If it is really so important to have an extra hour of daylight in the evening, why can’t we just start and quit work an hour earlier?” 
The secretary looked aghast!  “Oh, C.A., I have to get up at 6am to get here by 8 as it is.  I could never get up at 5am.”
The befuddlement in my brain was difficult to speak through, but I finally managed to say, “But you ARE getting up at 5am; you’re just calling it 6am for the summer!”

I would like to suggest an alternative proposal that we set our clocks BACK five hours!  That way we could all sleep in until noon and miss the rush hour traffic going to work, right?  This proposal makes the same sense as “permanentizing” DST year-round.

2021-03-13 Congressional GymAnd so the idiocy we call Daylight Saving Time (and that many people mispronounce as Daylight SavingS Time) may not be going away any time soon.  In fact, if our brilliant congresspeople have anything to say about it, DST might not go away ever!  Just think of how much we will protect the sunshine and the time we will save THAT WAY!  Now I wonder what they will do while smoking stogies, sipping martinis and getting massages.

History of Daylight Saving Time

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Science, Politics, and COVID: Will Truth Prevail?

This is a rather lengthy guest blog, over 3000 words, compared to my usual blogs of about 1000, but Dr. Atlas is well worth a little extra time to read.
by Dr. Scott W. Atlas, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on February 18, 2021, at a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar in Phoenix, Arizona.

Corona VirusThe COVID pandemic has been a tragedy, no doubt. But it has exposed profound issues in America that threaten the principles of freedom and order that we Americans often take for granted.

First, I have been shocked at the unprecedented exertion of power by the government since last March — issuing unilateral decrees, ordering the closure of businesses, churches, and schools, restricting personal movement, mandating behavior, and suspending indefinitely basic freedoms. Second, I was and remain stunned — almost frightened — at the acquiescence of the American people to such destructive, arbitrary, and wholly unscientific rules, restrictions, and mandates.

The pandemic also brought to the forefront things we have known existed and have tolerated for years: media bias, the decline of academic freedom on campuses, the heavy hand of Big Tech, and — now more obviously than ever — the politicization of science. Ultimately, the freedom of Americans to seek and state what they believe to be the truth is at risk.

Let me say at the outset that I, like all of us, acknowledge that the consequences of the COVID pandemic and its management have been enormous. Over 500,000 American deaths have been attributed to the virus; more will follow. Even after almost a year, the pandemic still paralyzes our country. And despite all efforts, there has been an undeniable failure to stop cases from escalating and to prevent hospitalizations and deaths.

But there is also an unacknowledged reality: almost every state and major city in the U.S., with a handful of exceptions, have implemented severe restrictions for many months, including closures of businesses and in-person schools, mobility restrictions and curfews, quarantines, limits on group gatherings, and mask mandates dating back to at least last summer. And despite any myths to the contrary, social mobility tracking of Americans and data from Gallup, YouGov, the COVID-19 Consortium, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have all shown significant reductions of movement as well as a consistently high percentage of mask-wearing since the late summer, similar to the extent seen in Western Europe and approaching the extent seen in Asia.

With what results?
All legitimate policy scholars today should be reexamining the policies that have severely harmed America’s children and families, while failing to save the elderly. Numerous studies, including one from Stanford University’s infectious disease scientists and epidemiologists Benavid, Oh, Bhattacharya, and Ioannides have shown that the mitigating impact of the extraordinary measures used in almost every state was small at best — and usually harmful. President Biden himself openly admitted the lack of efficacy of these measures in his January 22 speech to the nation: “There is nothing we can do,” he said, “to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.”

Bizarrely, though, many want to blame those who opposed lockdowns and mandates for the failure of the very lockdowns and mandates that were widely implemented.

Besides their limited value in containing the virus, lockdown policies have been extraordinarily harmful. The harms to children of suspending in-person schooling are dramatic, including poor learning, school dropouts, social isolation, and suicidal ideation, most of which are far worse for lower income groups. A recent study confirms that up to 78 percent of cancers were never detected due to missed screening over a three-month period. If one extrapolates to the entire country, 750,000 to over a million new cancer cases over a nine-month period will have gone undetected. That health disaster adds to missed critical surgeries, delayed presentations of pediatric illnesses, heart attack and stroke patients too afraid to go to the hospital, and others — all well documented.

Beyond hospital care, the CDC reported four-fold increases in depression, three-fold increases in anxiety symptoms, and a doubling of suicidal ideation, particularly among young adults after the first few months of lockdowns, echoing American Medical Association reports of drug overdoses and suicides. Domestic and child abuse have been skyrocketing due to the isolation and loss of jobs. Given that many schools have been closed, hundreds of thousands of abuse cases have gone unreported, since schools are commonly where abuse is noticed. Finally, the unemployment shock from lockdowns, according to a recent National Bureau of Economic Research study, will generate a three percent increase in the mortality rate and a 0.5 percent drop in life expectancy over the next 15 years, disproportionately affecting African-Americans and women. That translates into what the study refers to as a “staggering” 890,000 additional U.S. deaths.

We know we have not yet seen the full extent of the damage from the lockdowns, because the effects will continue to be felt for decades. Perhaps that is why lockdowns were not recommended in previous pandemic response analyses, even for diseases with far higher death rates.

To determine the best path forward, shouldn’t policymakers objectively consider the impact both of the virus and of anti-virus policies to date? This points to the importance of health policy, my own particular field, which requires a broader scope than that of epidemiologists and basic scientists. In the case of COVID, it requires taking into account the fact that lockdowns and other significant restrictions on individuals have been extraordinarily harmful — even deadly — especially for the working class and the poor.

“There is a land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am.” — Mad Hatter
Optimistically, we should be seeing the light at the end of the long tunnel with the rollout of vaccines, now being administered at a rate of one million to 1.5 million per day. On the other hand, using logic that would appeal to Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter, in many states the vaccines were initially administered more frequently to healthier and younger people than to those at greatest risk from the virus. The argument was made that children should be among the first to be vaccinated, although children are at extremely low risk from the virus and are proven not to be significant spreaders to adults. Likewise, we heard the Kafka-esque idea promoted that teachers must be vaccinated before teaching in person, when schools are one of the lowest risk environments and the vast majority of teachers are not high risk.

Worse, we hear so-called experts on TV warning that social distancing, masks, and other restrictions will still be necessary after people are vaccinated! All indications are that those in power have no intention of allowing Americans to live normally — which for Americans means to live freely — again.

And sadly, just as in Galileo’s time, the root of our problem lies in “the experts” and vested academic interests. At many universities — which are supposed to be America’s centers for critical thinking — those with views contrary to those of “the experts” currently in power find themselves intimidated. Many have become afraid to speak up.

But the suppression of academic freedom is not the extent of the problem on America’s campuses.

To take Stanford, where I work, as an example, some professors have resorted to toxic smears in opinion pieces and organized rebukes aimed at those of us who criticized the failed health policies of the past year and who dared to serve our country under a president they despised — the latter apparently being the ultimate transgression.

Defamatory attacks with malicious intent based on straw-man arguments and out-of-context distortions are not acceptable in American society, let alone in our universities. There has been an attempt to intimidate and discredit me using falsifications and misrepresentations. This violates Stanford’s Code of Conduct, damages the Stanford name, and abuses the trust that parents and society place in educators.

It is understandable that most Stanford professors are not experts in the field of health policy and are ignorant of the data about the COVID pandemic. But that does not excuse the fact that some called recommendations that I made “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science.” That was a lie, and no matter how often lies are repeated by politically-driven accusers, and regardless of how often those lies are echoed in biased media, lies will never be true.

We all must pray to God that the infamous claim attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels — “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth” — never becomes operative in the United States of America.

All of the policies I recommended to President Trump were designed to reduce both the spread of the virus to the most vulnerable and the economic, health, and social harms of anti-COVID policies for those impacted the most — small businesses, the working class, and the poor. I was one of the first to push for increasing protections for those most at risk, particularly the elderly. At the same time, almost a year ago, I recognized that we must also consider the enormous harms to physical and mental health, as well as the deaths attributable to the draconian policies implemented to contain the infection. That is the goal of public health policy — to minimize all harms, not simply to stop a virus at all costs.

The claim in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) opinion piece by three Stanford professors that “nearly all public health experts were concerned that [Scott Atlas’s] recommendations could lead to tens of thousands (or more) of unnecessary deaths in the U.S. alone” is patently false and absurd on its face. As pointed out by Dr. Joel Zinberg in National Review, the Great Barrington Declaration — a proposal co-authored by medical scientists and epidemiologists from Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford — “is closer to the one condemned in the JAMA article than anything Atlas said.” Yet the Great Barrington Declaration has already been signed by over 50,000 medical and public health practitioners.

When critics display such ignorance about the scope of views held by experts, it exposes their bias and disqualifies their authority on these issues. Indeed, it is almost beyond parody that these same critics wrote that “professionalism demands honesty about what [experts] know and do not know.”

I have explained the fact that younger people have little risk from this infection, and I have explained the biological fact of herd immunity — just like Harvard epidemiologist Katherine Yih did. That is very different from proposing that people be deliberately exposed and infected — which I have never suggested, although I have been accused of doing so.

I have also been accused of “argu[ing] that many public health orders aimed at increasing social distancing could be forgone without ill effects.” To the contrary, I have repeatedly called for mitigation measures, including extra sanitization, social distancing, masks, group limits, testing, and other increased protections to limit the spread and damage from the coronavirus. I explicitly called for augmenting protection of those at risk—in dozens of on-the-record presentations, interviews, and written pieces.

My accusers have ignored my explicit, emphatic public denials about supporting the spread of the infection unchecked to achieve herd immunity — denials quoted widely in the media. Perhaps this is because my views are not the real object of their criticism. Perhaps it is because their true motive is to “cancel” anyone who accepted the call to serve America in the Trump administration.

For many months, I have been vilified after calling for opening in-person schools — in line with Harvard Professors Martin Kulldorf and Katherine Yih and Stanford Professor Jay Bhattacharya — but my policy recommendation has been corroborated repeatedly by the literature. The compelling case to open schools is now admitted even in publications like The Atlantic, which has noted: “Research from around the world has, since the beginning of the pandemic, indicated that people under 18, and especially younger kids, are less susceptible to infection, less likely to experience severe symptoms, and far less likely to be hospitalized or die.” The subhead of the article was even clearer: “We’ve known for months that young children are less susceptible to serious infection and less likely to transmit the coronavirus.”

When the JAMA accusers wrote that I “disputed the need for masks,” they misrepresented my words. My advice on mask usage has been consistent: “Wear a mask when you cannot socially distance.” At the time, this matched the published recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). This past December, the WHO modified its recommendation: “In areas where the virus is circulating, masks should be worn when you’re in crowded settings, where you can’t be at least one meter [roughly three feet] from others, and in rooms with poor or unknown ventilation”—in other words, not at all times by everyone. This also matches the recommendation of the National Institutes of Health document Prevention and Prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 Infection: “When consistent distancing is not possible, face coverings may further reduce the spread of infectious droplets from individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection to others.”

Regarding universal masks, 38 states have implemented mask mandates, most of them since at least the summer, with almost all the rest having mandates in their major cities. Widespread, general population mask usage has shown little empirical utility in terms of preventing cases, even though citing or describing evidence against their utility has been censored. Denmark also performed a randomized controlled study that showed that widespread mask usage had only minimal impact.

This is the reality.
Those who insist that universal mask usage has absolutely proven effective at controlling the spread of the COVID virus and is universally recommended according to “the science” are deliberately ignoring the evidence to the contrary. It is they who are propagating false and misleading information.

Those who say it is unethical, even dangerous, to question broad population mask mandates must also explain why many top infectious disease scientists and public health organizations question the efficacy of general population masking. Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, for instance, wrote that “despite two decades of pandemic preparedness, there is considerable uncertainty as to the value of wearing masks.” Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta says there is no need for masks unless one is elderly or high risk. Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya has said that “mask mandates are not supported by the scientific data. . . . There is no scientific evidence that mask mandates work to slow the spread of the disease.”

Throughout this pandemic, the WHO’s “Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19” has included the following statement: “At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” The CDC, in a review of influenza pandemics in May 2020, “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.” And until the WHO removed it on October 21, 2020 — soon after Twitter censored a tweet of mine highlighting the quote — the WHO had published the fact that “the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider.”

My advice on masks all along has been based on scientific data and matched the advice of many of the top scientists and public health organizations throughout the world.

The Politicization of the Search For Truth
At this point, one could make a reasonable case that those who continue to push societal restrictions without acknowledging their failures and the serious harms they caused are themselves putting forth dangerous misinformation. Despite that, I will not call for their official rebuke or punishment. I will not try to cancel them. I will not try to extinguish their opinions. And I will not lie to distort their words and defame them. To do so would repeat the shameful stifling of discourse that is critical to educating the public and arriving at the scientific truths we desperately need.

If this shameful behavior continues, university mottos like Harvard’s “Truth, Stanford’s “The Winds of Freedom Blow,” and Yale’s “Light and Truth” will need major revision.

Big Tech has piled on with its own heavy hand to help eliminate discussion of conflicting evidence. Without permitting open debate and admission of errors, we might never be able to respond effectively to any future crisis. Indeed, open debate should be more than permitted — it should be encouraged.

As a health policy scholar for over 15 years and as a professor at elite universities for 30 years, I am shocked and dismayed that so many faculty members at these universities are now dangerously intolerant of opinions contrary to their favored narrative. Some even go further, distorting and misrepresenting words to delegitimize and even punish those of us willing to serve the country in the administration of a president they loathe. It is their own behavior, to quote the Stanford professors who have attacked me, that “violates the core values of [Stanford] faculty and the expectations under the Stanford Code of Conduct, which states that we all ‘are responsible for sustaining the high ethical standards of this institution.’” In addition to violating standards of ethical behavior among colleagues, this behavior falls short of simple human decency.

If academic leaders fail to renounce such unethical conduct, increasing numbers of academics will be unwilling to serve their country in contentious times. As educators, as parents, as fellow citizens, that would be the worst possible legacy to leave to our children.

I also fear that the idea of science as a search for truth — a search utilizing the empirical scientific method — has been seriously damaged. Even the world’s leading scientific journals — The Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, Science, and Nature — have been contaminated by politics. What is more concerning, many in the public and in the scientific community have become fatigued by the arguments — and fatigue will allow fallacy to triumph over truth.

With social media acting as the arbiter of allowable discussion, and with continued censorship and cancellation of those with views challenging the “accepted narrative,” the United States is on the verge of losing its cherished freedoms. It is not at all clear whether our democratic republic will survive — but it is clear it will not survive unless more people begin to step up in defense of freedom of thought and speech.
____________________________

2021-03-09 Dr. Scott AtlasScott W. Atlas is the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He previously served for 14 years as professor and chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University Medical Center. He earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and his M.D. from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. An ad hoc member of the Nominating Committee for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology, he was a senior health care advisor to a number of presidential candidates in 2008, 2012, and 2016. From July to December 2020, he served as Special Advisor to President Trump and as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. He is the editor of Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain and Spine, now in its fifth edition, and is the author of several books, including Restoring Quality Health Care.

CCP Virus Vaccines

2021-03-06 CCP VaccineI had a good blog planned for today and was writing it in my head a couple nights earlier in the week.  Then came Thursday. 

Anita and I had bypassed our opportunity for the Pfizer vaccines as I am one of “those skeptics.”  Using a new process for vaccination (mRNA) would suggest prudence in waiting for the dust to settle and see that there are no long-term effects in others more willing to venture into the unknown.  Add that the government pushed so hard and so fast . . . I am still of Ronald Reagan’s mind: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” (August 12, 1986)  I can just wear a mask and stay six feet away from anyone without one.

However, when we discovered an Ensemble 2 Clinical Trial for the Janssen (J&J) vaccine to be conducted at UK (University of Kentucky, not the real UK under the Queen’s domain 😉), I immediately wanted to be one of the 200 recruited here to participate. 
One: The Ensemble 1 Phase 3 CT had over 45,000 participants with not one life-threatening adverse event, and only two minor adverse events, which were quickly resolved.  This follows that the Janssen vaccine employs tried-and-true old technology of vaccine preparation, utilizing an adenovirus that causes common colds, modified to produce the coronavirus “spikes” without the coronavirus.
Two: There is no special sub-freezing temperature required.  I have seen too many mistakes in simple lab procedures to trust the huge roll-out of -80⁰C (-112⁰F) storage and shipment of vaccines.  Now, they claim Pfizer does not need those extremes for short terms, but that was not the story a week ago.  A vaccine that requires only normal refrigeration just looks safer to me.
Three: The protection, while lower than the Pfizer and Moderna double-dose vaccines, is close enough to single-dosages of those.  And the Ensemble 2 CT is going to test the idea that may bring the Janssen vaccine in line with the double-dosed results of Pfizer and Moderna.  We will be given two injections several weeks apart.

So Thursday, March 4, Anita and I went through all the paperwork and consent forms to participate and were given double-blinded injections. (Blind participation means the participant does not know if they are getting a treatment or placebo, but the researcher knows; double-blind means neither the participant nor the researcher knows if they are receiving the treatment or placebo.)  We both received injections and went to bed fine that night.  But on Friday I could feel every muscle in my body and some I did not even know I had!  Every joint was painful to move, not severely, but enough that we figured I either got the “real McCoy” in the trial, or was having a reeeealy significant “placebo effect” reaction.  Very slight elevation of temperature (for me: 98.3⁰F; usually 97⁰ or lower) and a mild headache.  My wife says I am a really cool guy, and usually give headaches rather than get them. 😏

Fatigue plagued me quite a bit yesterday when I usually work up this blog, and I spent a lot of time in bed, as I would usually do if I had a cold.  So today, no philosophy, no theology, no living advice and no recipes.  Just a brief report on why I am posting a boring blog instead of my usual brilliance. 🙄

Did Anita get the vaccine or placebo?  She usually handles colds much better than me, and Dr. Greenberg, the excellent primary investigator at UK, says 25% of people so far who received the Ensemble 1 vaccine did not have any reactions.  If the decision is made by Janssen to ‘unblind’ the study, and she finds out that she only received the placebo, she can go back for the Emergency Use Authorized vaccine.

If you want to know more about the Janssen vaccine, try this website here for information without lots of “medical technologese.”  And just for the record, I do not have any affiliate connections to anything I ever recommend in my blogs.

Stay safe, stay warm and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Intermezzo: Ode to Dr. Seuss on Dr. Seuss Day

I am certainly not the brilliant versifier that Dr. Seuss was, but here is my small and feeble attempt to pay homage to a man now being canceled for his crimes against the “woke.”

2021-03-02 Ode to Dr, Seuss

It must be a very very sad day
When people say that you cannot say
The very kind things in your mind today.
It must be a very sad sad day.

Poems so innocent and sweet
Intended for people to use to greet
Each other whenever their faces meet,
Instead are accused of a terrible deed.

Using words one should not teach
To children as they are beyond their reach
To understand what old folks preach
That some words should not be in your speech.

Maybe Babar boosts the Taliban.
Should Jack and Jill from our schools be banned?
Mother Goose may be a madam
And Father Christmas too much a man.

I guess the woke will get their say
To shut down any other way
Than what they allow in your essay,
But I say it is a sad sad day.

Cancel Culture in the USACancel Culture in the USA

An Aboriginal Mental Challenge: Can You Read Without Preconceptions?

2021-02-27 G.K.ChestertonG.K Chesterton is the source for today’s blog: a challenge to do some mental gymnastics to discover something we may have been missing.  In his 1925 philosophical tome, The Everlasting Man, the “prince of paradox” presents an interesting challenge: to read a Bible story from an aboriginal mindset.  You see, we have Christmas and Easter, jewelry and architecture, names of streets, cities and buildings and so many myriad additional references in our world to that unique man, Jesus, that it is difficult to imagine anyone anywhere in our global community that does not know something about Jesus.  And depending on the source of that something, our views of Jesus have been significantly shaped by the introductions we have been given, whether from a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, friend, enemy, or Christian/anti-Christian teaching.  And Chesterton contends that much of our view, even in the “Christian west” is significantly distorted.

So I wish to challenge you, as Chesterton has challenged me, to do some mental exercising.  Set your mind as though you have never heard of Jesus, a Christian church, or anything “christian.”  Pretend for this exercise that your only exposure to the divine has been the thunderous clouds that bring rain and frightening lightning; a starry sky at night and the warm and sometimes burning heat of the sun at day; the long graceful hop of a wallaby or neck of a giraffe; the worrisome growl of a bear or roar of a lion; a baby’s sweet coo and cry and the caress of your beloved.

Begin by beguiling your brain into thinking you have never received a Christmas gift or hunted an Easter egg or walked on Christchurch Avenue or stood in front of the spires of Notre Dame Cathedral.  You have never heard of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, David, Paul or John.  Equally, you have never heard of Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammad, Rama or Krishna or Zoroaster.   Add to that, you have never been concerned with politics, social structure or economics; no Communists, Conservatives, Democrats, Greens, Liberals, Republicans, Socialists, Tories or any other ideology for guidance of a nation.

This is a difficult mental exercise, but I encourage you, that it is not impossible.  Settle in your mind that you have never been taught anything about any god or history of creation, whether theism or atheistic evolution.  You have never worried about issues of government or society.  Your mind has been focused all these years on eating and drinking to stay alive and whatever day-to-day activities were required to survive, be at peace, avoid enemies and enjoy your time on earth.

Now, with this mindset, approach a new short book someone has brought you.  Its title is very short, just four letters, L-u-k-e.  If you can find it in its original formatting, without chapter and verse numbers, all the better.  (Chapters and verses were added centuries later to make research and memorization easier.)

However, it is available at a website where you can look up your language in which to read it.  If English is your native language, I encourage you to use the ESV noted in the website connection.  If another language is your “heart language,” feel free to try to find it under the ALL tab when you pull down the languages from the little arrow by the default version that opened.
So sorry, Mongolian is not on the list . . . yet.  But Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Tagalog and LOTS of others are there.
Any Gujariti readers here? 😉

2021-02-27 Biblegateway

Now that you have emptied your mind of any preconceptions about this little story, begin with Luke’s introduction to his narrative for his friend, Theophilus.  Read the short biography at a single sitting if you can; in your heart language it should not take much more than 90 to 120 minutes .  Remember, you have never heard of these people, Luke, Herod, Elizabeth, Martha or Jesus before.  Your entire impression of these people will come from your reading this for the first time!

You may want to have a pencil and paper handy, and note what you discover about some of the characters introduced to you for the first time.  Questions are sure to come up, as we begin with no information on the culture or history of these people and events; Why did He say THAT!?  Why did she do that!?  Why was He so rude?  Why did that confuse them?  Isn’t Jesus supposed to be meek and mild? Aha, you’ve slipped from the aboriginal mindset and are remembering something you’ve heard.  Try again! 😁

If you want to dialog about your questions, email me (capost3k@gmail.com) or comment here.  No guarantees I have any answers for you.  Either Tim Keller or Rick Warren wrote (but I cannot find the referemce), “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, you have to wonder if he knows all the questions.”   (Similar to a Confucius quote.)

Here’s to hoping you have a good week and discover who Jesus really is.
Enjoy Peter Hollen’s and Home Free’s a-capella performance of Amazing Grace.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”  C.S.Lewis

The End of the Deep Freeze and a Warm Supper of Cauliflower Rice and Salmon

Today I am going to share a recipe I “stole” from BeautyBeyondBones, a favorite blog by a wonderful young woman following Jesus.  However, while she does it in 20 minutes, it took me closer to 45, but this cooking thing is new for me; maybe in a few years? 🤠  This recipe is my variation on it as we do not care for garlic and I am still learning.  Lots of customizable options according to your tastes, but it IS delicious and easy enough even I could do it.

2021-02-20 Traffic CamFirst, a long, longing goodbye to the wonderful Deep Freeze we have enjoyed in Kentucky.  This is not to be unconcerned about those who have suffered so badly in states further south, completely unprepared for such a stunning chill in the weather (proof of global warming, right? 🙄).  But in our neck of the woods, we seemed to adapt to it pretty well.  The CCP (Communist Chinese Party) virus already had most of us oldsters home-bound, and food delivery services were able to navigate the icy roads for those that needed it.  Main roads were cleared pretty promptly, thanx to a competent city council, mayor and dedicated road crews, and the clouds kept the sun from the melting/refreezing cycle that warmer climes experienced, only coming out a few minutes in these weeks.

1 Foot Deep IceAn elderly neighbor’s garage roof slants toward his drive, so when icy rain/sleet came down on Monday, February 15, it rolled into a mound in front of his garage to make a 12 inch deep mogul that his daughter could not drive over!  Neighbors cleared his drive while I attacked a handicapped neighbor’s drive.  When I checked on their work, they had cleared the drive but said the mound was beyond their scope or energy; we HAD cleared all our own drives so we were all pretty tuckered from our labors and called it a night.

The next morning, though, being the only retiree on our cul de sac, I pulled out my 15 pound wrecking bar and a 10 pound sledge, and went to work.  The 20⁰F (-6⁰C) meant I wore long johns under my jeans, used the hand warmers described before, and had on my Mongolian hat and Canadian coat.  However, after a few minutes of hammering and chipping at the pile of ice, I had to loosen my scarf and open my coat that eventually had to come off completely.  I told a passing neighbor walking his dog, “If I die of a heart attack shoveling ice and snow, grab my phone and text all my contacts that I died happy!” 😇

But it all worked out as I kept a slow pace, took breaks and kept my fingers and toes warm.  The next day, I hit the walks between the neighbors as we still had a couple days of subfreezing temps until Sunday.  Another neighbor built a fort for his children from the ice blocks he had taken off his neighbor’s driveway, with the same orientation and pitch of the garage roof sloping toward the drive.  One of the neighbors “rewarded” me with unbelievably delicious homemade milk chocolate balls! (Gotta get her recipe! 😉)

It will finally “warm up” to  45⁰F (+7⁰C) on Sunday, but still hover below or near freezing at night for a few nights while everything begins melting in the daytime.  Tuesday finally hits the 50s (10-13⁰C) and stays above freezing at night.  So today is probably the last day with diamonds on the trees and skating rinks beneath the 3 inches of snow we got last Wednesday.  The diamond studded trees take a better photographer than me to capture on my phone, but the icicles and sparkling trees look amazing.  A strange phenomenon I have never seen before, the ice on our deck table kind of melted, but somehow stayed together as it dropped through the holes of the metal grate.  I won’t even try to understand the physics of how this happened!  And the last pic is of the gentle white miracle falling on February 16 that made the scenery look so pure.  So now it’s goodbye to the Deep Freeze Winter Wonderland of the last two weeks.

IMG_1733For the delicious and simple Cauliflower Rice and Salmon, as usual, I recommend gathering all your ingredients before beginning:
Two Fillets of Salmon (halibut or other fish, or even chicken or steak!)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 lemon, Rosemary leaves, Ground clove, Salt & Pepper

Cauliflower Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 onion (or less)
Salt and Pepper
Baby bella mushrooms
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Avocado
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil on which to place the fillets.  Drizzle them with the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Top it with the rosemary, a sprinkle of clove, and a slice of lemon.  Bake fish fillets for 20 minutes, until they begin to flake when pricked with a toothpick.  (Obviously, adjust the temperature/bake time for chicken or steak.)

While it’s baking, make the cauliflower rice.  Caralyn used her food processor, but I prefer the Royal Cutter from Prestige Cookware for more control.  Break the cauliflower into florets and use a coarse cone so the “rice” will not be too fine.  There may be a couple larger pieces of cauliflower – that’s okay!  (I save the cauliflower greens for a side dish, but some people find them too bitter.)  Grind the onion in the same way or dice it smaller if you prefer.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the cauliflower and onion, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Cook for about three to four minutes.  Do not overcook or the cauliflower rice will become too soft.  Then add the mushrooms and green beans and cook for another 3 minutes.  Finally, add the soy sauce and sesame oil and spinach, and stir it until it wilts, about 2 minutes.

Slice the avocado and place on top of the rice mixture on the plate.  Add the fish and eat like you’re at a five star restaurant in NYC!  Thanx, Caralyn, for a great meal!

 

Intermezzo Blog: Three Minutes and 33 Seconds That May Change Your Life

2021-02-16 Lent Fast from Social MediaRare indeed is more than one intermezzo blog between my usual Saturday’s.  But with the CCP virus still keeping us homebound and with beautiful snow again layering on the ice outside, and with a friend’s blog (Communion Table) hitting me in the head, I had to share this with all y’all.  (Just for the record, “y’all” in Kentuckian is singular; “all y’all” is the plural. 😉)  Whatever your liturgical history or viewpoint I had to share this today! 

Lent is not usually on evangelicals’ calendars.  It is the season before Easter starting with “Ash Wednesday” and commemorates Jesus’ 40 day fast in Matthew 1, Mark 1, and Luke 1, usually celebrated in “high church” traditions such as Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran gatherings.  Details about Lent, e.g. the reason for the name, its relation to Resurrection Sunday, etc., can be found here at this link if you are interested.

 Social media is probably one of the most evil devices the devil has ever foisted on humanity (close second and third go to computers and automobiles, but those are for other blogs 😂).  So here is a suggestion, whether you practice Lent in a religious tradition or if you just want a break from the constancy of tweets, Likes and defrienders. 

Taking a 40 day break from social media could change your life!  Check it out, even if you don’t buy the Christian Audio, you can plug in for 3.33 minutes and get a sample that is enough to get you started.   Forget ice bucket-, exploding watermelon-, trust walk- or makeover-challenges.  Here is an “I dare you to try” that can change your life.

https://christianaudio.com/40-day-social-media-fast-wendy-speake-audiobook-download?

Intermezzo Guest Blog: Dr. Victor Hanson on Biden’s Amerika

2021-02-15 Bidens AmerikaRazor wire and fences still surround the U.S. Capitol at sunrise. (Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

2021-02-15 Victor Davis HansonThe World Goes On While America Sleeps
Victor Davis Hanson /
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Dr. Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.  You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com
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The Democrat-controlled Senate spends thousands of collective hours conducting an impeachment trial against a citizen who is no longer president.  The acquittal is predetermined, as in the first impeachment effort a year ago — and known to be so to the Democratic prosecutors.  The constitutionally mandated presiding judge — the chief justice of the Supreme Court — refused to show up.  Chief Justice John Roberts apparently believes an impeachment trial of a private citizen is either a waste of time or unconstitutional — or both.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is busy ferreting out purportedly extremist Republican House members.  For the first time in memory, one party now removes committee members of the other.  Yet for each Republican outlier, there is a corresponding Democratic firebrand member who has either called for violence or voiced anti-Semitic slurs — and yet will not be removed from House committees.  So the asymmetrical tit-for-tat continues.

The subtext to this madness is that the Democratic Congress, the new administration, the administrative state, and the political left are obsessed with dismembering the presidential corpse of now citizen Donald Trump.  Apparently they fear that one day he will rise from the infernal regions to wreak his revenge.  Meanwhile, life in America goes on.

Yet few of our leaders are very worried about the existential crises left unaddressed by their obsessions with the ghost of Trump.  Take the debt.  It is now nearly $28 trillion, and it is growing by almost $2 trillion a year.  No one in Washington talks about reducing the annual budget deficit.  Nor do officials find ways to balance the budget.  The idea of paying off the monstrous debt remains a fantasy.  Instead, our elected representatives argue over whether to borrow another $1 trillion, or more likely $2 trillion, without worry of where it comes from or how it will be repaid.

But money is not completely a construct.  We will eventually pay for our profligacy either with steeper taxes, higher inflation, 1970s-like stagflation, or permanent zero interest.  Or eventually America will renounce its debt and destroy the credibility of the U.S. government.  Meanwhile, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless hours of once-productive labor are diverted to unproductive ideological censorship, career canceling, and indoctrination.

Our allies, such as democratic France, warn America that it is cannibalizing itself — and becoming dangerous to others.  Our enemies, such as the totalitarian Chinese, are delighted with our suicidal wokeness.  The cost is not just the expense of cleaning up the billions of dollars of destruction from the summer riots, the thousands of memorials and statues destroyed and defaced, and the hundreds of schools and buildings to be renamed.

Far more consequential is the suppression of creative thinking — from humanistic study to scientific research.  The Islamic world, as the historian Bernard Lewis once observed, stagnated in the 19th and 20th centuries once radical Islamists began squelching all free inquiry.  Humanities and science were perverted from 1932 to 1945 in Germany by the pollution of Nazi racial censors.  What was written or advanced in communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union is largely discredited, given that commissar hacks determined the rules of publication and research.  Something similarly frightening is now occurring in the United States.

Scholars, journalists, artists, and educators feel they must mouth politically correct platitudes.  They constantly hedge their public discourse in fear of career cancellation.  They strain to synchronize their research with some approved woke ideology to save their livelihoods.  When professors must write “diversity statements” and hire, promote, and fire on the basis of race, the model is not the U.S. Constitution, but something out of contemporary China.

No one pays much attention that our capital is now weaponized with soldiers in camouflage and barbed wire.  Not since the Civil War has Washington resembled such a vast police state.  Ex-military officers who once warned Trump not to deploy federal troops to ensure the safety of the White House from Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators now are silent about a veritable army deployed in Washington.

President Joe Biden has signaled that all new pipeline construction is over.  Fracking on public lands is taboo.  The border is to become wide open.  Federal immigration law is now effectively nullified.  Americans may soon have to be tested for COVID-19 before flying into or out of the country.  But illegal immigrants will not be COVID-19-certified when — illegally — they cross the border.  Iran is bankrupt, isolated and roundly despised by most of the countries in the Middle East.  Now America is doing its best to resuscitate the most radical and anti-American regime in the world — at the expense of our allies in the Arab world, Israel, and America’s own interests.  While we are busy devouring each other, China is smiling because once-feared American capitalists have become laughable Keystone Cops.

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