And then there was Nepal

As some of you who read my blogs may know, I was hoping to ride my bike from India through Nepal and into Tibet.  So I have been planning and studying the region for some time.

About a year ago, I was introduced to a young man in Nepal with a dream to take the Good News of Jesus to his fellow Nepali people.  Unfortunately, as an orphan, he lacked the funds.  Could I help him?  So, my plans to go to Nepal gained impetus, and the focus changed from tourism to what I might do to help him and others.   Somehow, over the last year or so, I have fallen in love with the people of Nepal more than the scenery.

Now comes the events of the last few weeks.  Suddenly, everyone is thinking about Nepal.  Well-intentioned people are rushing with food, medical and other kinds of aid.  Donations are pouring in. Everyone wants to help.

I have two questions.  Besides the tourists, who came for the view, who cared a hang for Nepal before the earthquake?  And how long will it take for all of this caring to move on to the next disaster and leave the Nepali people to their fate?

I know there are a lot of people, by which I mean hundreds, that really care about Nepal in a personal way.  And there are many thousands more who simply are compassionate people and want to help people out in desperate times.  And thank God for all of them.  But, ten dollars is easy to spare, or even a hundred, when it’s nothing to drop $500 a month on the new SUV.  I’m sure most of the Doctors Without Borders could pony up substantially more than that.   Instead, they give something a lot more precious.  They give themselves.  They don’t just write a check toward a problem.  They go and FIX the problem.

What is my point?  Why does it take a disaster before we care?  Why are we so selfish that we scream through life on our agendas and don’t bother to look at the people we pass, the very people whose existence defines life?  Perhaps that is our training in the modern world where money and pleasure have become our most sought after commodities.

I have a commitment to help the people of Nepal.  I can’t fling them a check right now.  But I give them myself.  I will pray for them, laugh and cry with them, seek to do business with them.  Mostly, I will find a way to come to them and help them fix their problems.  Commitment isn’t about checks, and it isn’t about today.  It’s about tomorrow and every day after that.   Good that so many offer help to Nepal.  Don’t forget them tomorrow.

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Lessons on the Middle East: Introduction

I have been, in my hiatus from blogging, studying the Middle East.  There  are no end of choices about our current problems with the the region.  Yet few newer offers really get to the historical context of modern events.  Two excellent exceptions are All The Shah’s Men, by Stephen Kinzer (2005, not all that modern anymore), and Islamic Imperialism, by Efraim Karsh (2007)

As  way of introduction, and in order illuminate a source of vaste knowledge about the true nature of Islam,  I give this link

Dr. Bill Warner details quite quickly just what is the overwhelming truth of Islamic conquest and why the world is the way it is today.  I urge anyone to have look at this video and his other offerings.

One of the things I like about All the Shah’s Men is that it explains well that, when it comes to dealing with the Middle East, there are facts, there is propaganda, and there are facts skewed in importance by propaganda.  This is really no different from any other place.  What causes the Middle East to be under the microscope is that has been the historic battle ground of empires.  From the earliest days of the Persians battling the Greco-Roman empires to the modern clashes between the Russian and British empires, it has been the battle ground of East against West.  And, from the dawn of Islam, which has sought to destroy Christiany by force, and which has indeed succeed in wiping out half of the Christian world, it has been a battleground in the death struggle of spiritual forces as well.

To the casual observer, especially those residing in America, far-removed from the constant conflict, our glimpses of the Middle East are few and seen through our own prism of 9/11.  It is looked upon by most, I think, as an isolated incident.  Our fears have been aswaged by an all-out assault of “religion of peace” propagandists to make it seem as if the most famous terrorist act in our history was a one-off by “radicals”.  As Dr. Warner points out, though, there have been 19000 jihadist attacks just since 9/11.  And, if one goes back to the beginning, the death toll of the “religion of peace” is staggering, as are the hundreds of millions of people in once-Christian nations who were forced to assimilate.

Certainly, Islam doesn’t equate with Middle East.  But, for the last 1400 years, the overlap has been enormous.  To treat the subject politically without considering Islam is utterly impossible.  And, while many of the Muslim nations have had a go at secular and separatist power grabs over the centuries, that fact remains that there is one overall driving force in the region.

I have friends living in Tehran.  Most of them are Muslim.   Most of them are Persian, too.  Persians are not Arabs, and they would be the first to point that out to you.  While religious ties seek to unite the region, ethnic ties seek the opposite.  One of the greatest battles that Middle Eastern countries have waged are battles with themselves.  We certainly see this with ISIS at present.  It does seem very confusing to outsiders, but it all make perfect sense to insiders.  Hopefully a little focus on the region will help it to make sense to us as well.

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Memrise

I’ve been using the Menrise site for about a week.  I started using it as part of a pragram to learn Korean in order to learn vocabulary.  Overall, I think it’s pretty good.  However, there are some drawbacks, as you can find with any system.

Since it requires typing many answers, the site is not ideal for those who don’t have mastery of the keyboard.  Of course, if you want to master the keyboard, you certainly are going to get a lot of practice.  Korean, for me, is certainly helping me familiarize myself with the Korean keyboard again.  I had somewhat learned it a few years ago.  But I definitely have gotten a better mastery of it having to type all the words with Korean script.

I will say that having to type Korean is a definite advantage over romanized methods.   Some people may not think this in the beginning, especially those who have come from Chinese study with pinyin or from romanized Japanese study or study of one of the south Asia languages with ornate scripts.  But, unlike Chinese or Japanese, Korean is alphabetical, so the writing is also the sounding.  Of course, in Korean, you’d be hard-pressed to find two people who pronounce things absolutely the same way, so it does get a little confusing if you listen to the word and then try to write it correctly.  But, romanizing doesn’t really make this any easier.  You pretty much have to learn the spellings by rote anyway.  But, then, you really have to do that with English, given so many origins with different spelling schemes.  (Why isn’t it “skeem, skeme, skeam or skime?)  Since you must learn these spellings anyway, might as well do it in Korean script.  I’m assuming you’re learning it because you want to go there some day and somewhat fit it, or at least you want to follow Kpop and have some clue as to what’s being said.  In any case, you’re going to want to be able to read it anyway, so might as well start from the beginning to make it second nature.

On the other hand, this is one drawback of Memrise for pictographic languages such as Chinese.  You can’t practice writing the characters.  This doesn’t sound like such a big deal, and it isn’t if all you ever hope to do is read a simple news article.  But writing is really the best way to know that you really know something.  Charcters are often quite similar and you can easily confuse them at quick glance if you haven’t drawn them and known them intimately.  Take, for example, 我 and 找.  The difference between them is one small stroke.  The first, “wo”, means “I’ and one of the most common words used.  The second, “zhao”, means “search”.  I have often been reading along and mistaken the second for the first.  Then I look in vain for a verb, since I’ve mistaken the verb for the subject.  I don’t know that one should have to practice writing 10,000 characters.  But it’s a good idea to practice enough to get the idea of how they are formed.

Another problem, of course, it that not all Chinese writing styles are so easy to read.  I think the fact that two different styles are used in the particular Chinese program I am working on in Memrise is a good thing, because it forces me to pay closer attention to the strokes.  Ideally, someone would come up with a way to teach recognition of freehand characters.  All of what I find in learning books amounts to the English equivalent of type-written.  Just as I can’t read some handwriting of English speakers without difficulty, so I am really lost trying to read Chinese scribble.

As I said, I originally went to Memrise to work on Korean vocabulary.  But the site offers a host of language learning programs, plus many other programs from science and mathematics to geography and history.  I haven’t tried many of them yet, but they do look intriguing.  Since one of my stated goals is to learn everything about everything and then go on Jeopardy and win $2.5 million like Ken Jennings, this may be the prefect place for me to train for my goal.

Two things that help on Memrise are the ability to chart your progress and the competitive incentives.  It takes a little getting used to, but, once you understand how a learning program is set up, it’s easy to customize your program to your tastes and track you your progress.  It’s also easy to see your development overall and to measure yourself against others, but in each specific learning program and in Memrise overall.  And, of course, if you are super-competitive like me, you KNOW you have to get up that leader board and show everyone who’s boss.  Yeah!  Take that, Gordon23!  I just owned you!  Ahem, well, I mean, you’re just coming in here for your own growth, not trying to compare yourself to others, right?

I think it’s hard for grownups to find learning fun.  Making it like a game is the way to reach children and to help them want to learn.  It can work for us old people, too.  It’s hard to let go of being an adult.  Even what I learn for pleasure I have to justify as some advancement of my professional life.  Otherwise, it’s hard start anything.   But, maybe, just maybe, I can spend some time in Memrise, learn something just for fun, and feel a little like a kid again.  And, unlike Farmville and Candyland, there is a real payoff at the end in a skill you can use outside the virtual world.  In the meantime, I’m coming for you,  Membassador Gordon23!

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Illinois IARDC : Corrupt jurists, judicial & public officials

rightwingnutsandbolts:

A friend of mine recently told me the sad story of her aunt. Her aunt unwisely gave POA to a neighbor. This neighbor had the aunt declared incompetent and place in the nursing facility, then appropriated her belongings with the help of court orders. Though my friend was able to get a hearing in which her aunt pleaded to have her POA switched to my friend, and though the aunt testified that she was being abused, to date nothing has changed.

There are thousands of cases where the government itself has appointed guardians for “incompetent” people on the flimsiest of evidence and have taken their rights or their property. Several cases like the simple questionnaires given to veterans. One vet had his guns confiscated for incompetence because, when asked about his finances, he replied, “My wife takes care of those.” They will use anything against you, especially if you are old. In the case of my parents, I’m even afraid of the yearly health consultation that is routine now. I tell them never answer yes to any questions such as, “Have you ever been sad over the past year?” Such things have been used as justification for institutionalization.

Originally posted on The PPJ Gazette:

new logoKen Ditkowsky

www.ditkowskylawoffice.com

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No outrage is too large or too horrible for the corrupt jurists, judicial officials and public officials who participate in the cottage industry of elder cleansing and their war on the elderly and the disabled.

The lawyers who pirate the estates of the elderly and the disabled are given a free pass, but, any lawyer who joins in the complaint is suspended from the practice of law.”

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The interim suspension of the law license of JoAnn Denison, Attorney

America has been very lucky to date. It continues as a viable republic in spite of events that could havedd395-Judge%20(site) destroyed her. For instance, in 1812 a hurricane drove the British out of Washington and saved the Republic. On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The American public reacted with patriotism and love of country. On September 11, 2002 terrorists attacked the Trade Center in…

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Child support enforcement $499 for every $1 for visitation

rightwingnutsandbolts:

This article doesn’t even explain the real depth of this gender-biased fiasco that is child support. Men who cannot get jobs, for whatever reason, are still required to prove that they submitted at least 25 applications each month, or they are jailed for non-payment. I personally know a man who has applied for over 1000 jobs, but, because he is on the sex offender registry (undeservedly), he cannot get work. He has been hauled into court over and over and over by the baby’s mother to try to extract more money, even though she will only let him see the child if he promises to stay overnight. If he does that, she tried to seduce him to sleep with her, even though he is engaged to another woman. The reason he gave up on their relationship is because he found out she slept with dozens of men while they were supposedly exclusive. He even caught her doing it in front of their child. But, because he is poor, no one will help him. I have tried to testify for him, but I am not even allowed in the court room. The woman has ALL the rights, regardless of who the guilty party is. I should also point out that everything we gave the child for gifts was pawned to by liquor, and every time the child was brought for visitation in the beginning, he’d show up with no clothes, no food, no formula, and no diapers. We would buy all those, too, but all that was disallowed when it came to credit for support. Seeing, now, in this article, that the State keeps most of the money, that is starting to make a lot of sense.

Originally posted on The PPJ Gazette:

Corrupt CT
Bringing corruption to a whole new level.

Robert Franklin, Esq.  (Original post, 2012)

Note: This article from 2012 is extremely relevant to day as most states are engaging in a system of “stacking” where child support payments made are held in suspension accounts and then added to the cumulative amount reported to the federal government as “collected child support”.  The result?  A massive overpayment that increases the dollar for dollar matching funding for every dollar collected in child support. 
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“Then there’s the fact that Washington pays states 66 cents for every dollar of €0-administrative costs they incur in squeezing non-custodial parents. That of course means that the more money you spend in administrative costs, the more you get from the feds.

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The United States government spends over $499 for child support enforcement for every $1 it spends to enforce access and visitation by non-custodial parents…

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Open Letter to Eric Holder Regarding the Big Pharma’s Campaign to Get Every Pre-Adolescent Child in America Vaccinated for HPV

rightwingnutsandbolts:

How can people look at this video or read these articles and continue to defend anything having to do with vaccines or the use of fetal cells from aborted babies. Hitler would be so proud of us!

Originally posted on The PPJ Gazette:

new logoBy Gary G. Kohls, MD

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“There is a serious problem with vaccine safety. Vaccine aluminum adjuvant has adverse neurological effects, at dosages that are recommended by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Vaccine critics are supported by the science. Parents refusing to vaccinate according to the recommended CDC schedule are supported by the science. Use aluminum-containing vaccines with great caution, or not at all….In young children, a highly significant correlation exists between the number of pediatric aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines administered and the rate of autism spectrum disorders.” — C. A. Shaw, Neural Dynamics Research Group, University of British Colombia

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I predict that Gardasil will become the greatest medical scandal of all times because at some point in time, the evidence will add up to prove that this vaccine, technical and scientific feat that it may be, has absolutely no effect on cervical cancer and that…

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Christian Millennials Work to Redeem Capitalism – How to Make America Disappear

rightwingnutsandbolts:

While it’s interesting that young Christian Millennials are turning to entrepreneurship, more interesting are the graphs of the explosion of the nanny state and it’s departure from the small (less than 10% of GDP) government that over the first 150 years of our nation’s existence. Because no one is alive now that remembers those days, it has become easier to dupe the unsuspecting youth into believing that big government has always been the American model.

Originally posted on Reclaim Our Republic:

These millennial hipsters have traded protesting the evil profits of Wall Street to make a profit of their own.
work project
April 14, 2015 By Elise Amyx

The media has decided millennials don’t make any sense—for good reason. In September 2011, millennials helped take over New York City’s Zuccotti Park to “Occupy Wall Street,” waving anti-capitalist signs in the air. But just two months later, William Deresiewicz of The New York Times contended that the millennial hero isn’t the hippie, reformer, or scientist, but the entrepreneur. Millennials love socialism one minute and hate big government the next. The generation is confused.

Christian millennials are no exception. Many grew up in conservative, Christian homes. But they’re not as eager to proclaim the same love for capitalism as their Ronald Reagan-adoring parents. Brett McCracken described this shift in his book, “Hipster Christianity.” When released in 2010, his premise—that millennials have been jaded by the…

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