Now It Feels Like Summer

Today it got up to 90 degrees today, both inside and outside of the house.  It was 90 on the top floor, anyway; on the main floor it was 85, and 74 in the basement, so this time the ladies of our church went downstairs, when they came over this evening.

Hot and dry weather like that may not be normal for Kentucky in May, but it is quite normal for the old country (Florida).  Therefore if it feels strange, it is only because winter lasted so long; you may remember we had cold snaps earlier this month.

Three weeks ago I found a plant nursery that had purslane and bought two plants, a yellow one and an orange one.  Knowing that they like full sun, I found a place in the backyard that gets sun for at least half the day, and put them there.  Here is the yellow one; the orange one hasn’t produced any flowers yet.

IMG_2652

Now I think I know why I haven’t seen purslane since leaving Florida, except in a few hanging pots.  Apparently they’re not well suited for this climate, because they like it hot and dry; after I planted them, they didn’t grow much until this week.

Leive and I got acquainted with purslane during the drought of 2000, when it took over our front yard in Florida.  To comply with government requests to conserve water, we didn’t water our plants, meaning that some died and left empty spots in the yard for the purslane to fill.  By contrast, purslane stores water in its fat leaves, so it never needs watering.  Well, this was one weed we were glad to meet.  The yellow flowers cheered me up on a bad day, the plants are edible (Leive cooked some in stews), and they attract lots of bees, which hopefully will pollenate the other flowers while they are in the neighborhood.  What’s not to like about a plant like that?  I didn’t see as much of them in the following years, so I suspect doves ate the seeds they dropped.

When not writing here, I am still getting ready for the upcoming move to Connecticut.  Today I went to the local blood center and gave a pint, because (1) I hadn’t done it since a blood drive at work last summer, and (2) with the out-of-state trip coming up, I figured it would be a good idea to leave part of me behind.  They told me that because of today’s donation, I’m a one gallon donor; how about that!

Oh, in case I forgot to tell the readers last week, Leive finished her jury duty assignment without ever getting called in after the orientation day.  Evidently May was a slow month for the courts around here.

Hit Terrorism Where It Really Hurts

I just saw this video where an American who calls himself Wild Bill describes the real difference between Israelis and Palestinians.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

And I believe the incident he described is this one:

 

It has been nearly ten years since 9/11.  We defeated the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, making it possible to set up democracies in two countries that never had them before.  Most recently, our Navy SEALs bagged Osama bin Laden.

In a conventional war, those would be clear signs that the enemy is losing.  Our government and our allies have more resources than the terrorists.  We have superior technology.  It’s a safe bet we’re smarter; how many Americans are willing to blow themselves up to go to Paradise?  We even have a better sense of humor, as Martin Bodek pointed out in this 2002 column.

So why hasn’t the other side surrendered yet?  Because they have won the war of words so far.  The terrorists have succeeded in portraying themselves as tough guys who do not fear death, and are morally upright compared with us.  They have also covered up some of their mistakes.  Finally, our government has played into their hands in its response to unsuccessful terror attacks like the “underwear bomber.”  As Saul Alinsky, the favorite author of radicals and “community organizers” put it:   “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”

Therefore we are going to have to try some new strategies, besides brute force.  One that hasn’t been tried as much as it should is making fun of them.  Again I’ll quote Alinsky to explain why:  “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.  It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule.  Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”  After all, liberals have been using ridicule against conservatives for the past few years; it is time we on the right tried it against our enemies.  Consider these shortcomings the terrorists don’t want you to know:

1.  Their leaders may be scary, but most are stupid and incompetent to the point that they fail more often than they succeed.  In Afghanistan, for example, one out of every two suicide bombers only kills himself.  There have even been incidents where the suicide bombers engaged in a “group hug” before going on a mission, and they hugged each other hard enough to set off the explosives!

2.  They aren’t really holy warriors, but perverts.  Videos have been shot in Afghanistan of Taliban members having sex with cows and donkeys.  The 9/11 hijackers spent their last night in the strip clubs of south Florida.  Osama’s compound in Pakistan was loaded with marijuana plants and pornography; if Osama wasn’t using them, somebody close to him was.

For more about all this, read The Case For Calling Them Nitwits.

It is also possible to strike terrorist organizations in the wallet, using the modern world’s legal system to tie up their finances.  An Israeli attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, is having a lot of success doing just that.  I for one am amused that the Middle East gets the credit for inventing the law code, because of ancient kings like Hammurabi in Iraq, but when it comes to lawyers, we are light-years ahead of them.  Nowadays, If you can’t beat ‘em, sue them.

Art of lawfare:  the woman who fights terror

The Year of Tornadoes

I had an unusually long case of writer’s block, meaning that for the last three days I could not think of anything to write.  Now I’m prompted to say something, inasmuch as we’re having a record-breaking year for tornadoes.  You’ve probably heard about the huge one in Joplin, Missouri, that killed at least 117 people.  I went past Joplin last month, on my way to Oklahoma; now I’m wondering how much will be left, the next time I’m in the area.  Is the movie “Twister” coming true, or what?

Now I’m hearing about more killer tornadoes in other states, like this one from Oklahoma:

 

Of course there’s all kinds of speculation as to why so many tornadoes are popping up now.  Recently we also heard President call for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders.  Is this just a coincidence, or is God mad at us for turning against His chosen people?  I do know that God is easily offended by those who talk about dividing the Holy Land and its people.  If we divide Israel, the Lord may very well divide us:

“I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.  There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” – Joel 3:2.

Anyone familiar with the Middle East situation ought to realize such a proposal is impractical.  First, it takes two to make peace, and whatever the PA agrees to won’t matter, because Hamas doesn’t want peace, nor does it recognize the authority of any other Palestinian group.  Second, the 1949-67 borders are indefensible in today’s world.  Not only would it leave one part of Israel only nine miles wide, but all of the country’s major highways, most of the people, and Ben-Gurion Airport would be in easy reach of weapons like short-range artillery.  Third, Israel made an offer like that in 2000, but the late Yasser Arafat turned it down; why would things be any different today?  Fourth, there’s the idea of rewarding terrorists, when they have done nothing to earn that reward.  Offering the Palestinians land to renounce terrorism is like trying to make a tiger become a vegetarian by offering it more meat.

Yesterday I saw this picture of how two world leaders, Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, looked when they were young men in their 20s.  Which one looks like he has more leadership experience?

YoungNetanyahuObama

If You Can Read This, You Were Left Behind

You’ve probably heard how a pastor named Harold Camping predicted that the Biblical end times would begin today, with the Rapture happening at 6 PM, Eastern Time.  That was four and a half hours ago, so if he was right, we missed it.  It looks like my brother had the right idea; yesterday he joined a group on Facebook called the “After Rapture Looting Club!”

There was a departure from earth in my neighborhood, but it was more conventional.  My next-door-neighbor died last Sunday, at the age of 83, and today I went to his funeral.  That was a bit of a shock; the funeral home gave him two services instead of one, and the first one was a Masonic service!  Two years ago I attended a Zoroastrian funeral service (see my message from March 8, 2008), but at least there I knew I was going to see something different.

There Is A Light At the End of the Tunnel, And It’s Not a Train

Over the past two days it has started looking more like May around here.  The temperature warmed up to the 60s yesterday, and the 70s today.  It also dried out, so I was finally able to mow the lawn, and Leive did some garden work today.

My unemployment insurance ran out a week ago, and I didn’t find out about it until yesterday.  So this morning I was in the local unemployment office, applying for an extension and trying to recover the money I missed (I got one week’s worth, not two).  In the office I saw a lady I recognized from human resources at my old job; she, more than anybody else, is responsible for pulling me out of Florida in the first place.  I was right, hardly any of my old co-workers are left at the old office.  Well, here’s one that’s working for the state now.

Today marked exactly five years since I moved out of Florida; tomorrow will mark the fifth anniversary of my arrival in Kentucky.  Therefore it’s a good time to announce some big news.  Seven months after being laid off, I have been offered a job!  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it’s a six-month contract, not something permanent or with benefits, though they offer plenty of overtime.  Also, it’s not in Kentucky, but in Danbury, Connecticut.  Therefore I’ll be going up there alone in two weeks (I start on June 6), while Leive stays here to mind the house and the parrot.

In one way I have come full circle.  Before my Florida days, my family lived in Connecticut, from September 1964 to April 1966.  I am just old enough to remember the street address where we lived, so just for fun, I looked it up on Google Earth.  Forty-five years later, the house is still there; the only part I could see clearly was the driveway, but except for an SUV parked on it, it’s just as I remember it!  I never thought I’d be going back to that state again, until now.

You may note I have created a new category for this blog, called “Yankeeland.”  There I will be chronicling my adventures in the hostile lands north of the Mason & Dixon Line.  Stay tuned!

Another Successful Test

For the past few years I have been following the development of civilian spacecraft with considerable interest.  For me the builders of those rockets are the 21st century’s version of the Wright Brothers; these days, NASA is so bogged down in bureaucracy and (dare I say it?) political correctness, that I expect the little guys will be in space before NASA can build and launch a replacement for the Space Shuttle.  Among the private corporations working on the spacecraft, the most promising has been Sir Richard Branson’s baby, Virgin Galactic.  Now they have successfully completed an important test for their second craft, Space Ship 2.

Back on March 9, 2008, I posted an animated video of what a flight on Space Ship 2 would look like.  It even showed the trick that was tried in the latest test, “feathering” the spacecraft.  In a nutshell, the idea is to fold the fins of the vehicle so that it comes down belly first, not nose first.  Then when the vehicle is in the lower atmosphere, the fins straighten out again, and the vehicle glides to a runway like the Space Shuttle does.  The idea here is to increase drag, so that the vehicle decelerates more quickly; by coming into the atmosphere more slowly than all other spacecraft have done, Space Ship 2 won’t get so hot that it needs a heat shield to keep from burning up.  Also, a belly-first glide is more stable than you’d think, to the point that the pilot doesn’t need to be constantly steering the craft.

Anyway, instead of going into space this time, Space Ship 2 was simply dropped from the airplane that gets it off the ground, and the feathering maneuver was tried.  As you can see in the video, everything worked perfectly.  I do believe Sir Richard is going to meet his goal of building a working spacecraft, in time to give his father a ride on it while he’s still alive.  So, is a suborbital flight going to be the next test?

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #18

The Xenophile Historian Newsletter, #18
( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/ )

Greetings once again to all my loyal readers!  Charles Kimball is here, to give you the latest news on my world history website.  It has been thirteen months since the last newsletter, a longer gap between issues than I ever permitted before.  Therefore, the first purpose of this newletter is to let everyone know I am alive and well.  In October 2010 I was laid off from the job that brought me to Kentucky, four years earlier, so for much of the past seven months, I have been searching for a new job to replace it.  I have also been pursuing my Pre-Paid Legal business, because if I want to stay in Kentucky, I have more hope in that than I have in finding another job in the high-tech industry (Kentucky is known mainly for horses and coal, after all).  Finally, I have been traveling out of town quite a bit since the last newsletter:  Two trips to Oklahoma, one trip to Texas, one to Indianapolis, one to Florida, and two to Georgia.  Most recently I have just been offered a job, but it’s in Danbury, Connecticut, so it looks like a new adventure is about to begin.

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To begin on website updates, do you remember how last time, I went north to cover the history of Canada?  Now I am "south of the border," working on a complete history of Latin America and the Caribbean.  Last week, Chapter 1 of that new series went up.  Called Ancient America, it covers the ancient civilizations that ruled parts of North and South America before 1492 A.D.:  the Maya, Aztecs, Incas, and much, much more.  I started working on this paper six months ago, and it took a lot of research, because all my books on the subject were out of date:  archaeologists are making exciting discoveries about these civilizations every year.

This is not my longest history paper (Chapter 5 in my series on the USA was twice as long), but it may be the longest one I do for Latin America.  After all, we are covering thousands of years here, from the ice age to the beginning of the Age of Exploration.  Consequently, I divided it into three parts.  The chapter is organized with the following subheadings:

Part I ( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/la01a.html )

Introduction
The First Americans
Before the First Horizon
The Mysterious Olmecs
The Chavin Culture: Peru’s Great Leap Forward
The Paracas: Dream Weavers
The Zapotecs
Rise of the Maya
Teotihuacan, the City That History Forgot

Part II ( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/la01b.html )

The Moche: Masters of Clay
The Nazca: Lines In the Desert
The Magnificent Maya: The Early Classic Era
The Magnificent Maya: The Late Classic Era (includes subsections on Palenque, Copán, Tikal and Calakmul)
The Collapse of the Teotihuacan and Maya Civilizations
Tribes of the Caribbean
The People of El Dorado
Tiahuanaco, the City of the Altiplano
The Huari Empire

Part III ( http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/la01c.html )

The Toltec Middlemen
Yucatan: The Maya Epilogue
The Mixtecs
Forerunners of the Incas
The Tepanecs and the Rise of the Aztecs
The Bloody Splendor of the Aztecs
The Inca Conquests
Tahuantinsuyu
On the Threshold

I hope you like what you see.  At the same time as I researched this, I also researched and composed a rough draft for the next paper (from 1492 to 1650), so I don’t think it will take as long to finish Chapter 2.

Two samples of Chapter 2 are also online already.  One covers the career of Christopher Columbus, and the other discusses the so-called "Columbian Exchange."

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/columbus.html

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/latinam/exchange.html

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That is the main addition to the site.  So what else is new?  I have uploaded pictures, footnotes and interesting stories, like I’ve done before.  The stories include one of the nastiest and unluckiest princes who ever lived, a forgotten naval battle fought in Maine during the American Revolution, some Korean soldiers who were captured by the Americans on D-Day, the stupidest battle in history, and two amazing (and funny) things that happened to Haile Selassie, the last king of Ethiopia.  Rather than repost links to all of those stories, I will direct you to a page on the website’s blog called "Odd History," where links to those stories and others exist:

https://xenohistorian.wordpress.com/odd-history/

I added so much new material to Chapters 2 and 4 of the African history series, that I decided to split each of those chapters into two webpages.  I have learned over the years that keeping the pages small is easier on the eyes, browsers, and search engine spiders.  Here is the first part of each of those chapters:

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/africa/egypt1.html

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/africa/af04a.html

For the European history, I added material on Basil I & II, two outstanding Byzantine emperors.  However, Basil II’s reign is evenly divided between the tenth and eleventh centuries, and 1000 A.D. is where I put the break between Chapters 7 and 8, so you will will have to go to both chapters for the entire career of "Basil the Bulgar-Slayer."  I also added a new section to Chapter 8 about the nieces of Basil II, because they were kingmakers in their own right.

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/europe/eu07b.html

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/europe/eu08.html

A lot of controversy surrounds the Biblical story of Moses.  Who was the pharaoh that opposed him?  Who was the "Kushite woman" that he married?  Why is there so little evidence for the journey in the Wilderness?  And where is Mt. Sinai?  I wrote an essay to present my views on those issues, called "Concerning Moses."

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/Moses.html

To show how fast our culture is changing these days, I made a list of 39 things that were common in the year 2000, from ash trees to the Yellow Pages.  All of them are now obsolete, or in danger of disappearing in the near future.  Many of the items on the list, like VCRs, are younger than I am; that makes me feel old!

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/obsolete.html

If you’re like me, you probably find airline travel really annoying these days.  I won’t fly anymore, if I can drive to my destination.  The worst part about air travel is the "gate rape" now done to even the most innocent passengers.  For my thoughts on that, read "Airline Travel Isn’t Fun Anymore."

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/TSA.html

When I wrote the history of the USA and Canada, I said almost nothing about the people who live in the Arctic, called both Eskimos and Inuit.  To make up for that omission, I added a section to Chapter 1 about how they got to Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland, called "The March of the Inuit."

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/northam/na01.html#Inuit

If you read "The Anglo-American Adventure," my series on the USA and Canada, you know it’s politically incorrect.  After all, if you’re reporting the facts, that shouldn’t be changed when your opinions change.  To show the difference between the PC (politically correct) and PIC views of American history, and to have a bit of fun, I posted "A Liberal History of the United States."  Which history do you think is more accurate?

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/Liberalhistory.html

In February I was asked to give a presentation in my church, about the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  The PowerPoint file I made for that may be downloaded from

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/download/TMount.zip .

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And finally, two new webpages that have nothing to do with history.  In December I got my license to sell Pre-Paid Legal memberships in Florida.  I wasn’t given clear instructions on how to do it, so it took me sixty days.  To make sure that other Pre-Paid Legal Associates have an easier time, I wrote an essay entitled "How to Conquer Florida," and posted it on the website:

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/PPL_FL.html

For those seeking success, I also wrote a commentary entitled "Don’t Catch the Wave, Get In Front of It!"

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/holybook/articles/trend.html

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What’s next?  I already promised a second chapter on Latin American history, and I have a few ideas on what will go into the third chapter.  Then I really need to update the older history papers on the website.  After all, history isn’t going to stop in places like Russia and India just because I covered everything that had happened up to the time those papers were written, and I have promised in previous newsletters to bring them up to date with 21st-century events.  And then I plan to eventually compose history papers on Central Asia, and the South Pacific (Oceania).  When I have done that, I can truly claim to have written about the rise and fall of just about everybody!

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And that’s the website-related news from the past year.  If you missed older issues of the newsletter and want to see them, they can be downloaded in a zip file from
http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/download/index.html .  And the links below go to topics I mentioned in previous issues, that are still valid.  Please visit them, if you haven’t already:

The Xenohistorian Weblog, this site’s official blog.

https://xenohistorian.wordpress.com

My world history textbook, "A Biblical Interpretation of World History."

http://www.rosedogbookstore.com/biinofwohi.html

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/worldhis/index.html

My Pre-Paid Legal website:

https://www.prepaidlegal.com/hub/charlesskimball

And my Blastoff Network webpage:

http://ppl.blastoffnetwork.com/charlesleive

 

Take Care and God Bless,

Charles Scott Kimball