While Most of the US is Cold, Israel is Hot!

This is a bit of a follow-up to what I wrote yesterday. First of all, somebody named Paolo referred me to Joel Richardson’s blog, JoelsTrumpet.com, and then posted a link over there to what I wrote about Mr. Richardson’s book (see my October 4 message). Thanks, Paolo!

Then the church I attended in Florida posted a video I found inspiring, where church members and Israelis, including Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, testified about the settlers in Judea & Samaria being men & women of faith. I’ve met some of those folks, and contrary to what CNN would have you believe, they’re not all that different from us. They’re not harassing the Arabs living nearby, and just trying to build homes on the land that God promised to their ancestors. You can check out that video here.

However, there’s also another group of Israelis promoting the country’s image, and while it’s a more positive image than what we’re used to, it’s quite different from the image of faithful homebuilders I mentioned in the previous paragraph. There’s now an advertising campaign called “Hot Israel,” which portrays Israeli women as sexy! I did see pretty girls over there when I visited the Holy Land, but it looks like all the videos were filmed on or near the beaches of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv looks a lot like a city in Southern California; just substitute Jews for W.A.S.P.s, and Palestinians for Mexicans; there are even a few black and Asian guys in the videos. Anyway, if you have a broadband connection and you want to change your perspective on the Middle East, check these out. Here’s a news story about the campaign:

And here’s a website full of those kind of videos:

HolyVirals.org

Well, it was bound to happen. Sexy ads have been used to sell almost anything else . . .

Annapolis Folly

If I was in Washington, DC right now, I’d probably go to the White House, or wherever the Secret Service has its headquarters, and demand, “What have you done with the real George W. Bush?” Can this be the same chief executive who said, “You’re either for us or against us,” when it came to fighting terrorism, or who declared he wouldn’t negotiate with the Palestinians until they got serious about establishing a democratic state? As a former Republican, I never was one of those folks who called the 43rd president dumb, but you have to wonder about him presiding over the summit meeting that began in Annapolis, MD, today.

Over the past fifteen years, we’ve seen peace talks at Oslo, Wye, Camp David, and elsewhere, and all of them failed in the end. In every case, if the talks didn’t break down, the Israelis ended up handing over land or making some other concessions. The Palestinians have given nothing in return; nothing, nada, zilch. They have not honored their agreements to recognize the State of Israel, crack down on terrorism, or stop the teaching of hatred in schools, mosques and the media. Nor is there any sign that a Palestinian state could become anything other than an impoverished, backward, undemocratic bantustan of hate — and an enemy of the United States to boot.

Years ago, the conflict in Northern Ireland looked just as impossible to solve as the one in the Middle East. The reason why peace came there was because leaders like Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley were tired of fighting, and getting too old to keep it up. Well, the current Palestinian leaders aren’t spring chickens. Are they or the next generation of Arabs mellowing out? (sound of crickets in the background) On top of that, Hamas says it has no intention of honoring any agreement signed by Al Fatah, so what’s the use?

Here are some articles that express my point of view, that the summit is a useless dog-and-pony show at best:

It’s Munich in America, by David Horowitz

The Four-State-Solution, by Gamaliel Isaac

Speaking of Munich, Neville Chamberlain was smarter than Ehud Olmert in one way. He signed away somebody else’s country, not his own! Trying to make terrorists peaceful by offering them land is like trying to make a tiger become a vegetarian by offering it more meat.

I have heard that Bush is doing it because he badly wants to have a legacy as a peacemaker, just as Bill Clinton did at Camp David. Well, I hate to break bad news to you, Mr. President, but have you seen who has won the Nobel Peace Prize in recent years? Conservatives don’t qualify anymore. In fact, Jimmy Carter got the prize in 2002 simply because he’s an opponent of the Bush doctrine; a member of the Nobel Committee freely admitted it. Now if there was a Nobel War Prize, on the other hand . . .

Bush has had some embarrassing moments, like Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers, and his ineffective response to illegal immigration and barking mad liberals. However, I think that after he leaves the White House, he’ll be considered a better president than he is now, like Harry Truman was. Especially if the United States wins the war against Islamic terrorism. The picture below was made in November 2004, and it shows fifteen reasons the president had for giving thanks in that year. While the picture itself is old, most of the points made are still valid. Why don’t you claim those, and our current healthy economy, as part of your legacy, Mr. President?

The Temples of Dreams

I read two history & geography-related stories in today’s news that I want to share with everyone. I’ll do the easy one first. In my history papers I proposed that the Malayo-Polynesian race left Taiwan around 1000 B.C., migrated first to the Philippines, then to Indonesia & Malaysia, and then sailed across the Indian and Pacific Oceans to settle places like Madagascar, Hawaii, Polynesia and Easter Island. Those who stayed behind on Taiwan were later overwhelmed, when Chinese started coming from the mainland in large numbers, in the 17th century A.D. Today they are usually called Formosans, and make up just 1.5 percent of the island’s population. In 2004 I downloaded a very strange video of a round of chorus singing called the Pasibutbut ritual, from a small Formosan tribe known as the Bunun; maybe I’ll talk about that another time.

Now it turns out the Malayo-Polynesians were sailing as early as 2000 B.C., and Vietnam was a destination for them as well. How do we know that? Well, 4,000-year-old jade earrings have turned up in the Philippines and Vietnam, and Taiwan was the source of the stones. Click on the jade picture below to read more:

Now for the other story. You may have heard of Antonio Gaudi, the eccentric architect who designed some of the world’s strangest-looking buildings in Barcelona, Spain, a hundred years ago. In South Florida there’s an extraordinary monument called the Coral Castle, the life work of another amazing architect, Ed Leedskalnin. Now I’ve just heard of another person like them. In northern Italy are nine underground temples, carved and painted with incredible artwork. With the help of some volunteer workers, an insurance salesman named Oberto Airaudi has spent the last generation creating these glorified grottos.  He claims to have seen them in his dreams, and believes he was in them in an earlier incarnation, in the days of Atlantis or some other civilization that no longer exists.

Myself, I don’t believe in paranormal stuff like that, so I prefer to call the temples meditation centers; while people go there to meditate, the structures are not dedicated to any particular religion or deity. Because they’re not yet open to tourists, few have seen what Airaudi calls the “Temples of Damanhur,” but if I’m ever in Italy again, I’m going to try to see them, if only to admire the art. Click on the picture or the link below; you MUST see the pictures, anyway.

Eighth Wonder of the World?

This morning I saw the latest issue of US News & World Report on a magazine rack, and the cover story was about the world’s sacred places. The hallowed grounds range from famous buildings like the Potala in Tibet, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, to Ayers Rock in Australia and a waterfall in the Philippines. Well, since the “Temples of Damanhur” are not in the magazine (and they did show another meditating place in New Mexico), I’m afraid that article is out of date already.

Now I Approve of This Al Qaeda Video!

In a few previous messages I talked about terrorists like Walid Shoebat and Ramzi Yousef meeting the Lord and becoming Christians.  I also talked about why I think the latest Osama bin Laden video is fake; it didn’t even fool American liberals.  Now here’s a video of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama’s right-hand man, telling us about God’s salvation through the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It was made for last Christmas, but it’s still as good as it was then.

Disclaimer:  All right, it’s satire.  I got it from Scrappleface.com, but Scott Ott is such a good satirist you wish his stories were real.  Rush Limbaugh once said that he wished Scrappleface worked for him!

My “Buy Nothing” Day, and Some More Fall Color

You probably know that the day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday,” the busiest shopping day of the year. It comes from having a rare Friday off for many people, plus a realization that Christmas is coming, now that Thanksgiving is behind us. Some folks protest the commercialization of the holiday season by having a “No Shopping” or “Buy Nothing” day; I’m not sure if it’s today, tomorrow, or some other day. For me, though, today is the day when I avoid the malls and larger stores. It’s not because of some anti-capitalist bias. I stopped worrying about Christmas getting too commercial when I read that there probably was never a time in American history when Christmas was a purely religious holiday; in fact, the Puritans banned it from Massachusetts because it looked too pagan to them. I avoid the malls and larger stores because I have a low tolerance for crowds, and am not too inclined to do something just because “everyone’s doing it.”

Today we had a few snowflakes coming down in the morning. They didn’t last when they touched the ground, though, and the flurries stopped by noon, when Leive and I went out. Aside from that one trip, it was another day spent indoors for us.

Last Wednesday, while driving around, I took some pictures of the trees in my neighborhood, so the folks in Florida can see our fall colors at their peak. I’ll finish by showing those:

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I don’t know what that cherry-red hedge is, except that it’s not forsythia, the shrub that was covered with yellow flowers eight months ago. It’s a common sight around Man o’ War Blvd.

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And this one shows how one tree can show more than one fall color in its leaves.

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Here’s a nice combination of yellow and red.

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One of the entrances to my subdivision.

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After the show we have to clean up. However, it’s a losing battle if you try to rake before the leaves are done falling. Anyway, here’s where I lived from July to December of last year. My apartment is on the lower left, with the door under the stairs. I’m showing this because last November the leaves were piled up to a foot deep on my doorstep, prompting me to buy a broom and rake before Leive arrived. They’re not that high now, so maybe a load of leaves was picked up already.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, considering that we didn’t have any guests, Leive outdid herself again. It was just her, Brin-Brin and I. At first we thought Gene & Rezia would join us, but they went to Gene’s family in western Kentucky instead. Leive spent last evening and this morning fixing a full seven-course meal, reasoning that now she won’t have to cook again for a week, maybe two (her leftovers stay good for a long time). And with all that has happened in our lives since last November, we certainly have much to be thankful for.

As at past Thanksgivings, she combined the traditional fare with some Philippine specialties. Here’s some pictures we took of the spread at our house.

First, a picture of everything. Don’t worry, we covered Brin-Brin’s cage while Leive cooked the turkey; we didn’t want to traumatize the parrot.

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Pancit sotanghon soup, with ribs added to make things more interesting.

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The turkey, of course.

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Cranberry sauce and gravy, not counted as separate courses.

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Lumpia Shanghai, with pancit Canton in the back.

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Leive ran out of lumpia stuffing before she ran out of skins, so she tried wrapping banana slices in the remaining skins and frying them. They turned out better than expected, so now she’s talking about doing it again some time.

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A big dish of chicken fried rice.

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Green beans, with mushrooms and fried onions.

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And last but not least, Leive’s trademark fruit salad. That served as dessert, instead of the usual pumpkin pie.

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I showed the dining table we bought last spring in previous photos. Now we’re finally using it for a fancy meal. Here it is set up, before the food arrived.

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We pulled Brin-Brin’s cage over so he could see us while we’re eating. He ate, too, but since none of these courses are appropriate for parrots, he went for the pellets in his dish. The pellets come in rainbow colors, but for some reason he sorts out the green ones and eats the rest. Maybe he thinks they come from his feathers. He’s probably also relieved that contrary to what my pastor said, the Pilgrims didn’t eat parrot on the first Thanksgiving after all (LOL).

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We didn’t go outside today, because few places are open and because of the weather. It rained most of last night, and a cold front came through in the morning, so now we’re expecting it to go down to 25 degrees tonight. Still, I think we made up for last year, when we couldn’t properly celebrate because I was in Kentucky and Leive was in Florida. Care to join us next year?

Good Press for My Latest Commentary, and an Update on the Textbook.

The essay I posted 5 days ago, Doomsday in 2012?, got two responses almost immediately.  And do you remember me mentioning that my pastor used it as a reference, for his own sermon on the subject?  He was kind enough to put a link back to the page from where he posts his sermon notes.

A week and a half ago, I got another letter asking when my history textbook will be available.  I tried three times to respond, only to get blocked by a spam filter.  Don’t you hate it when that happens?  Anyway, I figured it was time to put an update about the book on my FAQ page.  Hopefully the author of that letter will see it.  In case he checks here, my response is as follows:

When is your book coming out?

This is a reference to my history text, “A Biblical Interpretation of World History.” I wrote it between 1997 and 2000, to go with a history class I was teaching at the time. For some samples (the table of contents, Chapter 1, and the three appendices), click here.

Unfortunately I put it on the back burner after I got done writing the original manuscript, due to distractions from the real world. Let me apologize to everyone for sitting on it so long. I did not find a publisher with acceptable terms until late 2005, and then after I got the manuscript back from them for a second proofread, more things got in the way to keep me busy for all of 2006: three deaths in the family, my daughter’s wedding, and my move to Kentucky, after forty years in Florida. Then in 2007 we had another wedding and a funeral, and most recently (September 2007) a computer crash that erased everything on my hard drive, including the most recent changes to the manuscript. Now I am moving on it at last, with the goal of getting the manuscript back to the publisher by the end of this year, for a release in the first half of 2008. When it is available, I will announce it in my newsletter (see question #6 above), and on my blog.

The good news is that the changes I have made in the proofreading are minor; correcting a typo, removing an extra space, deleting a footnote that’s no longer relevant, and so on. How often can you say that about a ten-year-old manuscript that discusses current events, among other things?

About Florida Hot Sauces

I mentioned previously that I don’t miss too many things about Florida, and that moving to Kentucky was the right thing to do. However, one of the things I missed was a good torrid hot sauce, like the kind made from datil peppers in St. Augustine, FL. There are hot sauces available here, but Kentuckians don’t like to “pile it on,” so most sauces are from out of state.

Let me make it clear; Floridians by and large aren’t crazy about food with an afterburn. However, we can take it when we get it, and I’ll venture to say that when we set our minds to making condiments, our datil and habanero-based products are stronger than even the cayenne sauces from Louisiana and Texas. That’s why when I’m in a supermarket, don’t be surprised if I pick up a bottle of the Louisiana stuff, read the label, mutter “wimpy,” and put it back. And if they color-code salsa jars with green, yellow and red labels to let you know if the contents are mild, medium or hot, I look for the jar with a black label!

There is a chain of Mexican restaurants based in Orlando called Tijuana Flats, that specializes in evil hot sauces. The kind where the labels on the bottles feature devils, skulls, cartoon characters screaming while sitting on the toilet, etc. Unfortunately I never got to try out Tijuana Flats, because they’re always crowded. My family went to one back in 2005, but they were so busy that after they seated us at a table, we waited for half an hour, and nobody came to take our orders. Eventually we said “To heck with it!” and went to the Chinese restaurant across the street. Judging by the number of customers, they must be doing something right, though I still don’t know what it is.

Anyway, I’m mentioning all this because last December, in my local Wal-Mart, I saw a gift package of hot sauce bottles from Dat’l Do-It, the company that makes the St. Augustine sauces. I didn’t buy it, and kicked myself afterwards, because I didn’t see it again–until last Monday. This time I didn’t miss the opportunity, and bought a package. Only one of the five bottles in the package uses datils; the others use garlic, habanero, jalapeno and cayenne. Still, it will keep me stoked up for a while, at least through the winter, and hopefully until they sell it again next year. I was back in the Wal-Mart today, and the packages were gone already. Evidently it’s a hot item (no pun intended). Maybe next time I’ll order their other products online, like the Hellish Relish and the Datil Pepper Jelly.

Want some?

3CP1

I believe at some point I told readers that my favorite political humor site is The People’s Cube. The participants on that site are conservatives who out-liberal the liberals by pretending to be communists! Since I majored in Russian history in college, these kind of jokes are right up my alley.

Anyway, now they have posted a YouTube video from an old episode of the 1980s comedy, SCTV. In this one the SCTV signal has been jammed, and a Soviet TV station, CCCP1 (3CP1 for short) has taken its place. The programs shown are:

  1. Today Is Moscow: Ivan and Valeri welcome new viewers in Melonville. Valeri has new shoes. Irena has the G.U.M. Report: the home dentistry drill. The minicam motor burns out.
  2. Uposcrabblenyk: The most popular Soviet game show. The prize: qualifying for an earlier delivery date for a Russian automobile.
  3. What Fits Into Russia: Felix Dzerzhinsky puts Argentina, Australia, and Texas into Russia, laughing at how tiny they appear against the glorious vastness of the Motherland.
  4. Hey Giorgy Promo: Giorgy helps the good people of Russia.
  5. Strelnokoff Vodka Commercial: Strelnokoff, when work is done (to an old Miller Beer jingle.)
  6. Tibor’s Tractor Promo: Tibor’s Tractor that helped him receive an award for farming the most wheat turns out to be Khrushchev reincarnated.


If you’ve got broadband, this one’s a hoot! Just one thing: why did they keep picking on the Uzbeks, showing them as if they never got civilized? They’re my favorite USSR minority. Borat picks on Uzbekistan, too; was he a scriptwriter here?