Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's History and Tradition

Something I enjoy is reading the history of various holidays and the traditions that many people follow. I am providing links so that you can enjoy learning a bit about the New Year's holiday.

At Infoplease, you can read about "A History of the New Year" and "New's Year Traditions". The history article talks about the different dates celebrated through the years and you'll learn a bit about calendars in the process. The traditions article has all the words to "Auld Lang Syne" and a bit of history and explanation about it, as well as some of the other traditions that have come into being over the years.

Another interesting article is at Wikipedia under "New Year" and tells more about calendars and countries and when 1 January became the norm for many in celebrating the new year.

Good reading. Enjoy! And if you know about some additional traditions, please tell us about them in the comments!


Thinking About the New Year

2007 is almost over. Time to make New Year's Resolutions. Or not. I like to make them, but I'm not so great at keeping them. Still, I persist, trying to refine my methods. I haven't chosen any resolutions yet, but I'm thinking about what I'd like to do this coming year.

It's always good to set at least one resolution for physical health and another for spiritual health. Since I have a tendency to be a hermit, a social resolution would be useful, too. I just need to not get carried away and set too many!

This coming year will bring us a presidential election, so a resolve to read up on the candidates and to vote is important. Then there is learning about what is going on in the world and in our country so that I can decide what would be good to do or not do, whether it is in personal choices or in voting for president.

I also want to pick a subject that I would like to study more in-depth this year. Good thing I like to read and write!

Whatever I choose for my resolutions, I want them to guide me to a better life. I want to develop talents and improve knowledge. I also want to improve my health, character, and finances. Spiritual development is first on my list, although the other things are a part of that. So those thoughts will guide me in resolving to improve this year. What are your thoughts about resolutions?


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ten Sensible Questions

At the Human Events website, Pat Sajack (yes, of "Wheel of Fortune" fame) writes an excellent piece in which he asks ten questions about global warming. These are questions that we should insist on answers to before we allow the trashing of the world as we know it by politicians and environmentalist extremists. The article is titled "Manmade Global Warming: 10 Questions".

Here are the ten questions:

1. What is the perfect temperature?

2. Just what is the average temperature of the earth?

3. What factors have led to global warming in the past, and how do we know they aren’t the causes of the current warming trend?

4. Why is there such a strong effort to stifle discussion and dissent?

5. Why are there such dramatically different warnings about the effects of man-made global warming?

6. Are there potential benefits to global warming?

7. Should such drastic changes in public policy be based on a “what if?” proposition?

8. What will be the impact on the people of the world if we change the way we live based on man-made global warming concerns?

9. How will we measure our successes?

10. How has this movement gained such momentum?

Good questions, aren't they? Mr. Sajak offers a few comments on each question. When I was at the site, there were 102 comments by readers, so there is lots of good reading on this topic for you to enjoy.

Thanks to my friend JR for bringing this piece to my attention. I hope all of you will give this some thought!

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

"Islam: Not Just Another Religion"

There is an article at American Thinker titled "Islam: Not Just Another Religion". It is written by Janet Levy. This is a serious article and definitely not a politically correct article, but it should be required reading for every American if we want to hold on to our freedom and our ability to worship as we see fit.

The first paragraph of the article says this:

This campaign season, presidential candidates seem intent on battling each other with a war of words over universal healthcare, tax reform, immigration, the war in Iraq, the economy and Biblical literalism. Yet, they have spent few words on and have literally ignored the greatest threat to America and Western civilization since the Cold War: the global jihad.
We need to talk about global jihad. It is a threat to everyone everywhere. There may be moderate Muslims out there who do not support global jihad, but they are remaining silent. Many people think that it's not polite, or politically correct, to speak out about wrong being done in the name of religion. Unless, of course, it's to speak out against Christians and Jews. They remain fair game.

Back to the article. Ms. Levy makes many good points about just why Islam and the global jihad they are waging is so dangerous. For example:
While this may appear to be benign, election-year activity, it important to note that CAIR's aims are far from that. In 1998, CAIR's founder, Omar Ahmad, stated that "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."
Worldwide, Islamic fundamentalists continue to make inroads into Western culture, political structures and in the economic system, while, at the same time, insisting on severe and outrageous punishments for even minor violations of sharia or Islamic law. It is unprecedented that a minority group that freely immigrated to the United States and Europe of its own accord is now endeavoring to overhaul Western civilization to its Koran-dictated, specifications. The West, particularly America, has a tradition of welcoming people from other cultures and practitioners of different religions. However, immigrants have always assimilated and strengthened American society rather than demand that we adopt their ways at the expense of our own.

Many Westerners, who worship at the altar of multiculturalism and erroneously believe that Islam is just another faith, fail to understand the inherent cultural and political dangers of a religion that is a consummate ideology for the faithful. Unwitting Westerners write off barbaric punishments as mere cultural differences, enthusiastically embrace blatant acts of appeasement and readily respond to demands for special privileges and allowances never before conferred on other groups.

In places like Saudi Arabia, the epicenter and primary global financier and promoter of Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam that interprets the Koran literally, social rules are severe, extensive and often brutal. Gender apartheid is enforced with separate libraries for men and women. Starbucks coffeehouses are divided into "male" and "family-only" sections, and hotels are completely devoid of a female presence, as all personnel, including maids, are male. A rape victim was recently sentenced to 200 lashes, a punishment that was increased when her lawyer complained of its injustice. At the same time that the Saudi government is sponsoring 32,000 students on visas to the United States, the standard Saudi elementary and high school curriculum teaches hatred for Christians and Jews.

Meanwhile, six years after 9/11, most Americans remain ignorant about the history, nature and intent of Islamic jihad. They know little about the worldwide presence of Islamist groups, the hateful rhetoric directed toward non-Muslims spewing from mosques and madrassas, the use of the Internet by Muslim radicals to spread their propaganda and connect with each other, the extent of weapons arsenals and nuclear proliferation, and the geopolitical interconnections between countries in the Middle East, Europe, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South America, North Korea, Southeast Asia and Africa.
Ms. Levy's final paragraph says this:
An ideology that endeavors to supplant our laws, culture and religious beliefs poses a dangerous threat and is not a candidate for coexistence. We had better face the reality of true, Islamic doctrine and forcefully fight its encroachment into our society. It is a peril to our way of life if we wish to preserve the liberal and enlightened democracy that is America.
I think we have allowed political correctness to run amok if we can't even warn our country about a very serious danger that it faces.

As we consider presidential candidates, it would be a good idea to check and see what kind of courage they have.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Bali Conference on Global Warming/Climate Change

The United Nations has been holding a climate conference in Bali, Indonesia. A huge number of people winged their way to the island resort for this meeting. It boggles my mind that so many still think that global warming as a disaster waiting to happen is a done deal. I want to present some information to you from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works: Minority Page. The minority members of the committee, led by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), have a blog here and that is where I'm getting this information. The December 11 and 13 posts are of particular interest.

On December 11, a post by Marc Morano (who posted all 3 articles I'm going to link to) titled "Skeptical Scientists Urge World To ‘Have the Courage to Do Nothing' At UN Conference" that illustrates how far from a scientific consensus the global warming 'beliefs' are. There are links in the article to other material. Some quotes:

Lord Christopher Monckton, a UK climate researcher, had a blunt message for UN climate conference participants on Monday.

"Climate change is a non-problem. The right answer to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing," Monckton told participants.

"The UN conference is a complete waste of our time and your money and we should no longer pay the slightest attention to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,)" Monckton added. (LINK)

Monckton also noted that the UN has not been overly welcoming to the group of skeptical scientists.

"UN organizers refused my credentials and appeared desperate that I should not come to this conference. They have also made several attempts to interfere with our public meetings," Monckton explained.

UN IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr. Vincent Gray of New Zealand, an expert reviewer on every single draft of the IPCC reports since its inception going back to 1990, had a clear message to UN participants.

"There is no evidence that carbon dioxide increases are having any effect whatsoever on the climate," Gray, who shares in the Nobel Prize awarded to the UN IPCC, explained. (LINK)

"All the science of the IPCC is unsound. I have come to this conclusion after a very long time. If you examine every single proposition of the IPCC thoroughly, you find that the science somewhere fails," Gray, who wrote the book "The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of "Climate Change 2001," said.

"It fails not only from the data, but it fails in the statistics, and the mathematics," he added.
Note that Dr. Gray is a member of the UN IPCC and shares in the Nobel Prize awarded to that group.

The two December 13 posts are titled "Over 100 Prominent Scientists Warn UN Against 'Futile' Climate Control Efforts" and "Global Carbon Tax Urged at UN Climate Conference". The first post is about an open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. It contains a copy of the letter and a list of those who signed it. The second post tells of advocacy for a global carbon tax which would, in effect, be an attempt to redistribute wealth and would diminish future prosperity. A couple of quotes from that piece:
However, ideas like a global tax and the overall UN climate agenda met strong opposition Thursday from a team of over 100 prominent international scientists who warned the UN that attempting to control the Earth's climate was "ultimately futile."

The scientists wrote, “The IPCC's conclusions are quite inadequate as justification for implementing policies that will markedly diminish future prosperity. In particular, it is not established that it is possible to significantly alter global climate through cuts in human greenhouse gas emissions." The scientists, many of whom are current or former members of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sent the December 13 letter to the UN Secretary-General. (See: Over 100 Prominent Scientists Warn UN Against 'Futile' Climate Control Efforts – LINK)

The environmental group Friends of the Earth, in attendance in Bali, also advocated the transfer of money from rich to poor nations on Wednesday.

“A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources,” said Emma Brindal, a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth. (LINK)

Calls for global regulations and taxes are not new at the UN. Former Vice President Al Gore, who arrived Thursday at the Bali conference, reiterated this week his call to place a price on carbon dioxide emissions. (LINK)

In 2000, then French President Jacques Chirac said the UN’s Kyoto Protocol represented "the first component of an authentic global governance." Former EU Environment Minister Margot Wallstrom said, "Kyoto is about the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide." Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once dismissed Kyoto as a “socialist scheme.” (LINK)
I highly recommend reading these blog posts. They will give you information you might not get anywhere else.

You can find out about congressional committees by going to the Federal Legislative Branch page of the US Government official website. You can then click on "Committee Office Websites" for either the House or the Senate and find out what committees there are, clicking on the committee name to find out what said committee is doing. Informative reading.

On a side note, if you have not been able to post comments because you did not have a Google/Blogger account, that is no longer the case. Blogger was making some changes to the comments portion of the program, but you can comment by selecting either "Nickname" or "Anonymous" and post a comment without having to register anywhere.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

World View

I have been thinking about how each person has a world view, or perspective, on life. Where does this come from? How do we know whether our world view is a good one or not?

I think that beginning in childhood, we accumulate various influences that affect how we see life and the world. It begins with being influenced by (or rebelling against) our parents. We see their example in word and deed and form opinions about that. Once we start church attendance and school attendance, we are influenced by the various teachers we have, as well as our peers. This continues through high school and college. We begin to be influenced by media, whether it is newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Particularly persuasive speakers or writers may sway us more than we realize. We end up with a world view created by a hodge-podge of influences, some of which were accepted without any real thought.

Now that we are mature adults, it seems to me a good idea to reconsider our opinions and ideas and try to trace where they came from and if they are any good. This can be difficult, but it is better than drifting along without thought.

In my opinion, God and the scriptures are the best source for learning what life is about and what we should do with the life we've been given. Of course, our world view can influence how we interpret scriptures and what course we follow in choosing a religion or choosing to reject religion.

Other sources for learning are history and literature. If we read widely in these areas, we will get a more accurate picture of what works and what doesn't than we would if we restrict our reading to only those authors we know already agree with our perspective and opinions. Even the most objective of writers will be somewhat biased because of his world view. It's the same with teachers. Anyone who is in a position to select what material is presented and how it is presented allows at least some subconscious decisions to enter into the mix. That is why we should look to more than one source to educate ourselves.

As for choosing what to believe, that becomes an individual choice. The hope would be that we would do our best to choose based on facts rather than persuasive writing/teaching or what sounds good on the surface. We should learn to think things through and consider the consequences of whatever choice we are thinking about. Does it bring good into our lives and the lives of others, or does it bring bad?

Sometimes facts aren't enough. Faith enters into our choices, too. We think of faith as a religious term, but everyone has faith in whatever they choose to believe--evolution, atheism, Marxism, feminism, and other "isms" require faith from their followers. They require faith that the propositions are correct and good, whether they are or not. So it is actually a mix of facts and faith that form our world views.

Different people have different issues that concern them, so they look to different sources for answers. What concerns me is that sometimes people come to see problems where there are none simply because whatever world view they have arrived at conditions them to see things from a narrow perspective--if they are oriented to look for oppression everywhere, they will see oppression everywhere because that is what they have trained their minds to conclude upon viewing just about anything. So then we need to ask ourselves if we are being realistic or if we have bought into one philosophy to such an extent that we no longer see things as they really are. That can be difficult to sort out because we will have a tendancy to think that we are seeing reality, even when we are not.

I don't know the best way to evalute our world view and see whether it is good or not. The only thing I know to do is to consider the sources of our viewpoints and also to think through the consequences of having those viewpoints. It would also help to know what other viewpoints there are out in the world--that's where reading widely comes into play--so that we can consider those as well.

I said I didn't know the best way, but actually I do. It's just that it won't be acceptable to some. My best way is to consider all things in light of the scriptures and to pray about them, and to listen to God's prophets and apostles, found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those who don't turn to religion, well, you can still read widely and think things through and do the best you can to sort out whether your views are reasonable or not.

One reason I have been thinking about all this today is the presidential election coming up in 2008 and all the candidates with all their ideas about how the United States of America should be run. We voters have a responsibility to make the best choice possible when we cast our votes in the primaries and in the general election. Some candidates have ideas that sound good on the surface, but when thought through, one realizes that those ideas will mean very high taxes, government interference, and/or wrecking the economy. They might mean loss of freedoms. So we need to consider things carefully and not cast our votes for reasons that won't lead this country and its people where they should go.

It's complicated, but giving conscious thought to our beliefs and opinions and ideas can make a big difference in how much good can come from our lives. I haven't covered nearly all that can go into this type of thinking and considering and each person will have his own ideas about it, but I hope that I have given you something to ponder.

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Puzzles, Games, etc.

I'm not thinking of anything I want to post about today, but I skipped last week so I will post on puzzles and games to entertain you until my brain wakes up.

If you like crosswords, sudoku, tests, and word games of all kinds, take a trip over to Puzz.Com and you should find your favorite type of puzzle or game to keep you busy and exercise your brain.