Sunday, April 27, 2008

---Where's the "Good" News? 

 Galatians 1

8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

[In the Greek, "ἀνάθεμα ἔστω "---"Let him be accursed" or "anathema".  Close enough....]

Another couple of hard weeks of national and international events.  In Texas, we have found yet another cult which thrives on telling bestial lies to helpless children---against which the legal system needs special constitutional dispensation to act   How can we fight an evil that literally lives off the endemic failures of our laws and flourishes in the decay of our cultural ethics?

What is THE Gospel that is God's authoritative Good News, that hasn't been adulterated with idolatry and perversion and exploitation of the helpless, weak, or the ignorant? Because part of the Truth is partly something else, we have to seek out all of it, in its entirety, right now, before there are any more victims of the other stuff:

John 14

6Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

In Jesus, we have the whole Truth, together with the power to put it into effect in our lives, so that we can find our way when people try to deceive and delude us:

John 14

26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in history to make us free:

Galatians 5

1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Whatever else people try to do to you, never be a slave in your spirit to anyone again!

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

---More Soyuz Details 

SPACE.com -- NASA Keeps Close Eye on Russian Spacecraft Investigation

The corrections to the Soyuz production after the ballistic re-entry of last October---extra insulation on a control cable that shorted out and checks on the explosive separation bolts on the propulsion and retro module that apparently didn't separate properly---failed to be made to the latest Soyuz because it was already in orbit.  The crew added insulation to the suspect control cable (duct tape, maybe?), but U.S. and Russian managers determined that the space walk to peel back insulation and check the wiring to the separation bolt pyrotechnics was riskier than just hoping everything would be okay. 

It wasn't, as we now know:
3 problems uncovered on Soyuz capsule | floridatoday.com | FLORIDA TODAY

Current reports indicate that the same two failures that caused the incident last year probably recurred Saturday, plus something in the display light circuits seems to have filled the cabin with smoke during re-entry. 

Both NASA and Russian managers continue to downplay the seriousness of the incident and the news reports of the Soyuz crew's imminent peril has been dismissed by Russian officials. 

As if to justify NASA's steadfast confidence in the Russian investigation, a Russian space agency official offered a more practical explanation for the malfunction:

floridatoday.com |NASA: one to three months for Soyuz answer

Basically, the presence of women on the spacecraft jinxed it....

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Details of Soyuz Re-entry 

FOXNews.com - Korean Astronaut Describes Terrifying Return to Earth - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News

In case you thought visiting Korean Astronaut Yi So-yeon was displaying a lack of personal courage as she described the ordeal of Saturday's return to Earth, don't.  Further details on the re-entry problems suggest that the Soyuz crew module came closer to disaster than previously believed:

FOXNews.com - Report: Soyuz Crew Almost Burned Up During Re-Entry - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News

Further details:

Spaceflight Now | Breaking News | Possible Soyuz separation problem under scrutiny

...and Oberg's analysis and comments, with some additional technical explanations, and implied criticism of the schedule pressures on Soyuz production from the impending Shuttle retirement:

Hard landing raises harder questions- msnbc.com [Oberg]

The capsule apparently failed to completely separate from its aft "service" module after firing its retro-rockets.  On contacting the detectable upper atmosphere, aerodynamic forces on the combined assembly appear to have swung it around into the wrong attitude, with the thin metal hatch of the crew module facing into the extreme heat of the re-entry plume.  The crew survived, probably because whatever was holding the thrust module onto the capsule burned away and allowed the capsule to orient itself by it's inherent aerodynamic properties, with the heat shield first, before the hatch burned through (by some accounts, this hatch-first re-entry happened once before in Soyuz history. ).  There are accounts of "significant damage" to the hatch.  The same inherent properties---if I understand correctly---would have caused the crew module to enter an "emergency" re-entry after it finally separated.  Because the roll control needed to enter with a controlled lift vector wasn't available to moderate the descent angle, the craft fell back to Earth in a "ballistic" re-entry, subjecting the crew to something like 9-10 g's deceleration.   This would have been especially hard on the two crew members who were returning from six months in microgravity.

The overall basic design of the Soyuz seems to have brought its crew home safely this time, and it probably still has a better statistical safety record than the Shuttle, but ongoing problems with quality assurance of the spacecraft will have to be addressed.  This is the second of these "ballistic" failures of the Soyuz capsules in a row, a significant setback for NASA plans to support the ISS entirely with the Russian spacecraft after the STS retires in 2010.   

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

---Turf Wars at the "Holy Sepulcher" 

FOXNews.com - Armenian, Greek Worshippers Scuffle at Jesus' Tomb - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News

If nothing else, this shows why it's not possible to be "a little bit Christian".  Israeli police had to break up a violent brawl between various "Orthodox" denominations over access rights to the supposed site of Jesus' tomb. 

The fact that these "priests" can place such importance on a mere place on the surface of the planet---when Christians are instructed to separate themselves from the things of the world (e.g. Romans 12:2)---shows how divorced they have become from legitimate faith.

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---Israel Turning 60, the "Surge", Darfur, Zimbabwe, and Other Stories 

My Way News [AP]- Israel at 60: A vibrant nation still in search of itself

With the Pope in America, Carter in Syria, and various other distractions, this seems to have been underreported. May 14, 2008 will be the 60th anniversary of the Israeli declaration of independence.

The resulting war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Arab-Israeli_War [this article is rated as under-cited by the Wiki people]) against all of the surrounding Arab states is known as "War of Independence" by the Israelis, and "The Catastrophe" by the Palestinians. The Israelis managed to arm themselves, in part, through the auspices of Czechoslovakia. This produced such bizarre scenarios as Israelis flying post-war Czech versions of the German Me-109 against Egyptian Spitfires. Unfortunately, the Czechs had to refit the 109's with Jumo bomber engines and propellers, so that the resulting "Avia S-99" was probably almost as dangerous to the Israeli pilots as to the Egyptians. They would get better equipment in later installments of the perennial conflict.

[A previous post about the last Israeli invasion into Lebanon received a "comment" which was filled with links to probable child pornography. While this would be a certifiable demonstration of the mental condition of whatever this opposition was, it obviously couldn't be posted. It was reported as spam, which hopefully caused someone to investigate the source. I'll be looking for more active countermeasures in the future. ]


Let's 'Surge' Some More - WSJ.com

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece from Michael Yon, freelance journalist in Iraq [referred by Matthew]. Of particular interest are his comments on the success of the "Petraeus Doctrine", which got American troops out of their enclaves and into the neighborhoods to work with and support Iraqi civilians against insurgent atrocities.

Of course, there are still way too many ways for the U.S. to "Vietnamize" the conflict. Whatever might have been done differently in past years, as terrible and unacceptable as war is, leaving a vacuum of power against the homicidal lunatics [Oh, the Iranian president said some stuff recently---more on that in a moment] waiting to feed on the carcasses of Iraq and Afghanistan is no longer an option.


"The Devil Came On Horseback"- National Geographic Channel [Next airing on Friday, April 25, 6pm CDT.]

This is a documentary about the systematic destruction of Darfur by the Sudanese government based on photos and video which had to be smuggled out of the country, which aired initially last year. The title comes from the translation of the Arabic name of the government-backed militias which are the principal agents of this "ethnic cleansing". Somehow, when the U.N. calculates the definition of "genocide", the people of Darfur simply don't "count".


FOXNews.com - Olympic Torch is Re-Lit at Beijing Ceremony Amid Tight Security FOXNews.com - Olympic Torch Protesters Scale Golden Gate Bridge S.F. Closing Torch Ceremony Canceled Rogge Says Olympics in 'Crisis'

If the Chinese government was hoping for international recognition for its achievements in domestic tranquility, the chaos resulting from attempts to do the whole "torch passing" thing for the upcoming Olympic games must have come as a rude shock. Gunning down Tibetans was one thing, but San Francisco was a little out of range. Calls for "Olympic spirit" and respect for the "sacred" Olympic venues don't seem to have made much of an impression on the outside world, either. The fact that the IOC and its big event have degenerated into a scandal-ridden farce probably won't help them sell the Chinese Olympics as a showcase of peace and freedom.


My Way News - Zimbabwe Veterans March in Show of Force FOXNews.com - Opposition Blocked From Court to Force Release of Zimbabwe Election Results

Mugabe has apparently determined to override the results of the presidential election in Zimbabwe by simply sitting on the results. Meanwhile, pro-Mugabe government and paramilitary groups are engaged in blatant intimidation of the opposition. There are few things Africa needs less than another civil war. The continent also has a serious surplus of megalomaniacal tyrants.


My Way News - Adult Women in Sect Back at Texas Ranch

The news agencies seem to be relaxing into gentle humor and cordiality amid revelations that Texas government has tolerated the presence of this cult of demon-possessed child molesters, presumably unwilling to interfere in religious expression. There even seems to be some question of whether the raid which removed women and children from the temple-like West Texas compound was justified, since the victim who called to alert law enforcement hasn't been located. Now lawyers are involved, and---as we all know by now---the first casualty of war or the law is....

ACLU weighs in on Texas polygamist custody case - CNN.com
I should have waited. I should have known that the ACLU would be along directly with a statement so utterly preposterous as to be utterly incompatible with human decency---proposing, in essence, that religious pretense---a "spirit marriage" or some hellishness of the sort---confers the "right" to sexually abuse children.
The Texas CPS spokeswoman responded that "This is not about religion -- this is about keeping children safe from abuse." That won't have much effect on the ACLU's deliberations---it is too burdened with ordinary non-legal sanity.

In the stupid stuff file....

Because "stupid" isn't in the Diplomatic glossary....

FOXNews.com - State Department: Carter Meeting With Terrorists 'Not in the Interest of Peace'

Jimmy Carter, the second worst U.S. President---after Clinton---and the second worst U.S. diplomat---after Pelosi----is apparently engaged in some more desperate legacy-building.

The first thing that occurred to me when I read this was, "why do they keep letting this dimwit back in?" Surprisingly, others had similar ideas, albeit---if I understand how this passport thing works---more related to keeping the rotten little twerp from leaving town in the first place:

Myrick (NC09) - Press Release - Rep. Myrick Calls For Former President Jimmy Carter's Passport To Be Revoked

Other members of Congress also looked for ways to express disapproval of the former embarrassment to the U.S. Presidency:

FOXNews.com - Lawmaker Calls for Stripping of Taxpayer Funds to Carter Center

Carter also faced a decidedly cool reception when he stopped by Israel on his way to get all kissy-face with the leader of a terrorist organization devoted to the murder of Israeli civilians:

Israeli Leaders Snub Carter

Hillary gets a breather....

Obama Has Chance at Debate to Mute — or Stoke — Controversy Over ‘Small Town’ Comments

Okay, so trying to out-stupid Hillary Clinton is a difficult job. Barak Obama came pretty close when---in a moment of unintentional open-mike candor---he said out loud that small town Americans are driven by "bitterness" to thump their Bibles and hoard their guns, or something like that. His favorite preacher couldn't have said it better. About now, faced with a choice between another Clinton presidency and a probable undercover racist, even die-hard Democrats must be starting to get a little nervous.

I tried, but....

FOXNews.com - Ahmadinejad Calls Sept. 11 Attacks 'Suspicious Event'

So, finding something appallingly stupid the Iranian president has said recently is like shooting the proverbial "fish in a barrel" (yes, I saw that episode of Myth Busters, too). It's just too much trouble to come up with a snappy comeback for something so un-newsworthy.

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