Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Draws To A Close

Once again, we have come to the last day of a year.  Like any year, this one has had its share of significant events.  Islamic terrorists attacked the Boston Marathon with bombs made from pressure cookers, and attacked a railroad station and a bus in Volgograd, Russia with suicide bombs.  The United States military pulled out of Iraq, leaving behind a country still under attack from terrorists, but continues its presence in Afghanistan.  The rollout of Obamacare included numerous technical difficulties with its website and numerous cancellations of existing health insurance policies, making the president's promise "If you like the policy you have now, you can keep it" look like a lie, or at best a farce.  The Catholic Church got a new pope, not because the old one died, but because he resigned.  The British royal family got a new heir to the throne when Princess Kate gave birth to Prince George.

During 2013, two new words entered the popular vocabulary.  First, it was "twerk", the result of Miley Cyrus's performance at the Video Music Awards.  Later, it was "selfie", which is short for "self portrait", resulting from the proliferation such pictures on online social media.  One episode of selfie-taking occurred at the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela, with President Obama being aided and abetted by Prime Ministers Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark and David Cameron of Great Britain, and then being made to switch seats with (and by) the First Lady.  I must admit, I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with Michele Obama, but in this case, she was right to restrain her husband's behavior.

Unlike 2012, 2013 didn't bring any memorable end-of-the-world predictions, but one member of our solar system did indeed come to an end.  Comet Ison, predicted to possibly become a spectacular sight during the past month, did not survive its encounter with the sun, leaving behind only a cloud of dust.  Meanwhile back on earth, a group of scientists on their way to Antarctica to study the alleged loss of ice around that continent got stuck in the evidence to the contrary.

The last few months of 2013 brought some sadness as my father and three of my friends passed away.  One friend was a man with whom I worked.  Another I had played with in a band back during the 1980's.  The most recent was Internet radio host and Constitutional scholar Tim Kerlin, known as "Loki".

In a few hours, 2014 will be upon us.  With the midterm elections coming up in November and fallout still coming from Obamacare, to name two examples, there will plenty of things for us in the vast rightwing conspiracy to deal with.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Drone Tests Sites Include Virginia Tech Locations

The Federal Aviation Administration has selected six organizations that will develop and test unmanned drone aircraft, one of which is Virginia Tech.  The university has locations in Virginia and New Jersey that may be used to test the drones.  (During my time at VT, there were many students who came from NJ, so my Virginia-based alma mater having a facility up there isn't too much of a surprise.)  So if you're cruising through Blacksburg, VA or somewhere in New Jersey, you might see one of those unmanned craft flying around.

Read the story at USA Today or The Roanoke Times.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Auschwitz Barracks Returns To Poland

Half of a barracks from the Birkenau concentration camp, on loan to the United States Holocaust Museum, has been returned to Poland, arriving at the seaport of Gdynia.  It will eventually undergo conservation and be rejoined to its other half in Birkenau, a process that may take up to three years.  Birkenau started out as a sub-camp of the nearby Auschwitz camp.

Read the story at Fox News.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The 72 Visitors

The following is based on a joke that Loki (Tim Kerlin) once told during one of his Internet radio broadcasts.
After being killed by the American forces who stormed his compound, Osama bin Laden wakes up to find himself in a place that's even hotter than the deserts of Saudi Arabia.  He finds it hard to either breathe or move, but is still able to cry out, "Allah, where am I, and where are my 72 virgins?"

After some time, bin Laden is approached by an American Indian, who proceeds to shoot an arrow into bin Laden's midsection.  He feels the pain of the arrow penetrating his flesh, but suffers no other effects, because he is already dead.  The Indian draws closer, which causes bin Laden to wonder if he's going to get scalped.

"Who are you?", asks the dead terrorist, wanting to know who has tormented him.

"My name is Powhatan", the Indian replies, "I am the leader of the Powhatan Confederation."

An Update On Tim "Loki" Kerlin

Via a2iggymom's blog:

The Toledo Blade has published an obituary of Tim Kerlin, which contains some information that is more detailed than in my previous post.  There will be two services to celebrate his life, one today in his birthplace of Toledo, OH, and the other on January 11, 2014 in Watervliet, MI, where he lived.  From the obituary:
Timothy's life began April 24, 1958, in Toledo, Ohio.  Timothy died Saturday, December 21, at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph.  He spent his childhood growing up in Ohio, graduating high school in Sylvania, OH.  After high school, Timothy proudly served his country in the United States Navy for eight years.  After the service, a job opportunity at Cook Nuclear Plant brought him to Southwest Michigan.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Links

Here are a few stories in the news during the last day or so:

From Hollywood Reporter, after a backlash from the fans of Duck Dynasty, and perhaps some piping up by a few of my fellow right wingnuts, the head honchos at A&E have decided to bring Phil Robertson back onto the show.

From Reuters, Hyundai Motor Co. has announced that their U.S. chief John Krafcik is stepping down and being replaced by Zuchowski.

From the Chicago Sun-Times, a pregnant teenager was tragically shot and killed, but doctors were able to save her baby.  (via Life News)

From Faith Freedom, how to confront "hired" Muslim missionaries.

From The Guardian, a federal judge in New York has ruled that the NSA's collection of phone data does not violate the Constitution, which contradicts the ruling in a similar case heard in a court in Washington.

From AZ Central, deportations of illegal aliens decreased by 10% in 2013.  (via Weasel Zippers)

From The Washington Times, the U.S. Border Patrol has arrested a 12-year-old illegal alien for smuggling marijuana into the U.S.

From The Blaze, a Piers Morgan video that conservatives such as myself might be able to enjoy.

From Fox News, a California man of Vietnamese descent has pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge.  He had been in Syria providing weapons training to Al Qaeda personnel.

From the Los Angeles Times, a car bomb explosion in Beirut killed five people, including a former Lebanese ambassador to the United States.

From ANI News, Turkish muslims have blamed Santa Claus for booze, drugs and immorality.  (via Jihadwatch, who show pictures from Turkey and Bulgaria of someone punching Santa Claus.)

From ABC News, the international president of the Machinists union has called Boeing's latest offer an improvement of $1 billion.

From The Baltimore Sun, former baseball player Paul Blair died suddenly yesterday while practicing for a celebrity bowling tournament.  During his career, Blair won 8 Gold Gloves playing center field and played in four World Series with the Baltimore Orioles, winning two (1966, 1970).  After the 1976 season, he was traded to the New York Yankees.  Blair spent the 1977 and 1978 with the Yankees as a part-time outfielder, often used as a late-inning defensive replacement for right fielder Reggie Jackson.  The Yankees won the World Series both of those years.  Blair played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1979 and briefly rejoined the Yankees in 1980, before retiring.

And from Motor Authority, the Dubai police force just added a McLaren MP4-12C to their already formidable fleet of vehicles.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

To all who read this blog and celebrate Christmas, may you have a happy and safe Christmas season.  And to the Person who made it all possible, happy birthday, Jesus.   (While driving down to my mother's house here in Virginia yesterday evening, I actually saw a large display of lights spelling that out.)

Snow Art

Who needs crop circles when you can have snow art?  Simon Beck has created some amazing figures in the snow with just his feet.  While wearing boots, I would hope.

See the snow art at The Blaze and Viralnova.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tim Kerlin, a.k.a. Loki 1958-2013

I have been informed by friends on Twitter and Blog Talk Radio that the BTR host known as "Loki" has suddenly passed away.  Only within the past few days did I even learn of any concerns about his health.  When I first started listening to BTR in 2008, Loki was one of four co-hosts of the show American Truth Warriors and a contributor to its related blog, A Newt One.  He also created shows entitled Halls Of Valhalla (with a co-host who similarly called himself "Tyr") and Spin This.  Tim Kerlin was dedicated to understanding the United States Constitution and helping others do the same.  To that end, he and two co-hosts created a show (mostly on Talkshoe, but with some episodes on BTR) called Patriot's Pub, on which they studied the creation of the Constitution during the convention in Philadelphia in 1787, but started with some historical background as far back as the French and Indian War.

From listening to Tim's broadcasts, I've learned enough about him to give a brief biographical sketch.  Tim was originally from northwestern Ohio, where his father was a school teacher.  He was a member of his high school's wrestling team.  After graduating, he served in the U.S. Navy, where he learned about nuclear reactors.  After his discharge, he took his skills into the private sector and worked at a nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan.  He and his wife ran a rescue operation for a breed of dog called the Japanese chin.  He was also, if I remember correctly, the father of 5 children.

Although Tim traveled to Washington, D.C. a few times along with other BTR users, I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.  But even so, I will be among those in our little section of the conservative side of the blogosphere who will miss him and his constitutional patriotism.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

For more about Tim, go to Holger Awakens and a12iggymom's Blog.

Friday, December 20, 2013

U.S. Sailors Attribute Illnesses To Fukushima

In March 2011, the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Essex sailed over to Japan so help with rescue efforts after the island nation's east coast had been struck by a tsunami.  Over 50 sailors who had worked aboard those two ships who are now suffering from various forms of cancer have claimed that their illnesses were caused by contamination from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was damaged in the aftermath of the tsunami.  According to this claim, when Fukushima went into meltdown, water contaminated by radioactive materials was sent from the plant into the ocean, from which water was subsequently taken into the ships' desalinization systems, which provide water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Read the story at Fox News.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reality TV Star Gets Ducked

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family portrayed on the reality show Duck Dynasty, has been suspended indefinitely from the show after saying some things in an interview with GQ that did not sit well with the head honchos of A&E, the network that broadcasts his show.  Among his comments were:
“My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.  However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong...Sin becomes fine.  Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”
Most of this sounds like basic Christianity.  Love God and each other is.  Homosexual behavior, bestiality and "sleeping around" (adultery or fornication) are all sinful.  I guess that truth has indeed become the new hate speech.  Robertson also got rather graphic.
 “It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man’s anus.  That’s just me.  I’m just thinking: There’s more there!  She’s got more to offer.  I mean, come on, dudes!  You know what I’m saying?  But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man.  It’s just not logical.”
It looks like Robertson gave us an accurate description of homosexual behavior, and his bosses couldn't take it.

Read the story at Fox News, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and Variety.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Music Break - Middle Of The Road

Not the musical style, nor the song by the Pretenders, but the pop-rock group from Scotland, who had some success in the early 1970s in Britain and Germany, but were largely overlooked in America.  In 1967, Sally Carr (vocals), Ken Andrew (drums), and the McCredie brothers Ian (guitar) and Eric (bass) formed a group called Part Four.  They later changed their name to Los Caracas and finally to Middle Of The Road.  Many of their early songs were a bit "poppy" for my tastes, such as their #1 hit in 1971 Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, but their 1972 hit Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum, I find downright catchy.  The lyrics are not about a nursery rhyme, but two warring Scottish clans.  Although I don't miss the clothing styles shown in this video, it's pretty clear that Sally's good looks were part of the band's appeal.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chinese Probe Lands On The Moon

For the first time since 1976, a probe launched from Earth has soft-landed on the moon.  For the first time ever, the probe is not from the United States or the Soviet Union, but from China.  The Chang'e, named for a mythical moon goddess, landed earlier today in a relatively flat earth-facing area of the moon.  The probe carried a six-wheeled rover named "Yutu", which means "Jade Rabbit", a pet of the same goddess.

Read the story at the Associated Press.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snow Hits Israel And Egypt

Earlier today, nearly three feet of snow fell in Jerusalem, the most since 1953.  Meanwhile in Cairo, various parts of the city were hit by snow, rain and hail (or as American weathermen call it, a "wintry mix").  The snow was the first in Cairo in over 100 years.  Snow also fell on St. Catherine's monastery near Mount Sinai, and in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Read the story at the Los Angeles Times.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thursday Links

Thursday is not my usual day for putting up link posts, but today there seem to be some interesting things out there worth passing along.

From National Geographic, the Jovian moon Europa has been spouting out geysers from its southern polar area, coming from its subsurface ocean.

From WUSA, Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy, who recently verified the authenticity of President Obama's birth certificate, has died in a small plane crash near the island of Moloka'i.

From Newsmax, the wife of Pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran since the summer of 2012, is "devastated " that congressional Democrats have abandoned a resolution calling for his released.

From The Sacramento Bee, a former official of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell has been convicted of corruption.

From Yellowhammer, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) opposes the budget deal worked out by Senate budget chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash) and House budget chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis).  If the deal is passed, it would become the first budget passed by Congress since 2009.

The DC Clothesline calls the Murray-Ryan deal a "Democratic budget dressed in RINO red".

From CNS News, taxpayers have already spent over $14,000 for each Obamacare enrollee.

From Christian News, a school board has voted unanimously to restore "In God we trust" to a sign at an elementary school.

From Reuters, a commercial space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has lost a challenge to NASA's decision to lease one of its space shuttle launch pads to a rival company.

From Fox News, North Korea has executed an uncle of leader Kim Jong Un.

From Bloomberg, the Mexican Congress has passed reforms that would allow foreign companies to help develop their oil production.

From The Blaze, something I'm naturally disappointed to find out.  Contrary to common belief, exposing your children to music does not make them smarter.

From Yahoo News, the Supreme Court of India has re-instated a colonial-era ban on gay sex.

From Charisma News, the grandson of Billy Graham says that the 95-year old evangelist is "is close to going home to be with the Lord".

And from AZ Central, a woman has been arrested for burning her boyfriend's clothes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What A Trip!...Or....What? A Trip?

It seems that some people can't keep their feet where they belong, outside of the football field.  A few weekends ago, coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers put his foot onto the field of play, which interfered with Baltimore Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones during a 73-yard return.  Last weekend in the college game, Oklahoma Sooner linebacker Eric Striker scored a touchdown on a fumble return, and then was almost tripped by - believe it or not - a cheerleader.

Read the story at CBS Sports.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Early History Of Islam

Jay Smith gives a lecture on the early Arab conquests and history of Islam.  (H/T luchadora)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pearl Harbor

On December 7th, 1941, Japanese naval forces attacked the American bases at Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field, leading to the United States declaring war on Japan and entering World War II.  The U.S. Navy sustained heavy losses, but fortunately much of the Pacific fleet, including several carriers, was not in port that day.  Today, the U.S.S. Arizona sits where she was sunk, a solemn reminder of the "date which will live in infamy".  Of course, much has been written about that day, and many have noted the anniversary.  Here's something I just ran across, 20 photos of the attack on Pearl Harbor from Poor Richard's News.

The Twelve Days Of Obama

This parody of The Twelve Days Of Christmas was uploaded onto YouTube in December of 2008, after Senator Obama had won the presidential election, but before he was inaugurated.  Even so, it seems describe Obama's policies during his presidency pretty well.  It was written by Edward Daley, who calls himself "DarcPrynce", and performed by Daley and an internet radio host known as David Cholesterol.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Virginia Tech Gets New President

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has appointed Timothy D. Sands as its new president, to succeed current president Charles Steger.  Dr. Sands is an alumnus of the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.  He is currently the executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Purdue University.  After his academic career, he worked for Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Bell Communications Research, Inc. (Bellcore), before returning to his alma mater as a professor, and later joining the faculty at Purdue.

Read more at WLJA, Roanoke(dot)com, The Washington Post, jconline, WDBJ7(dot)com and the Virginia Tech website.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

Nelson Mandela, who led South Africa's transition out of the apartheid era and became the country's first black president, died earlier today at the age of 95 in his home in Johannesburg.  Jacob Zuma, the current South African president, announced Mandela's death in a nationally televised address.  Mandela had been suffering from a lung infection, which caused him to spend three months in a Pretoria hospital.

Rolihlahla Mandela, whose first name means "pulling the branch of a tree", was born in the Transkei region of South Africa, on July 18, 1918.  A primary school teacher gave him the name Nelson.  He was also known by his clan name Madiba.  His campaigns against the white minority South African government included periods of both nonviolence and armed struggle.  In 1964, he was convicted of conspiring to overthrow the government by violence.  He spent 27 years in prison, including 18 on Robben Island, a maximum security facility just off Cape Town.  After being released in 1990, he was elected president of the African National Congress, which he had first joined in 1942.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with President Frederik Willem De Klerk in 1993.  Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994, serving until his retirement in 1999.

Mandela will be given a full state funeral.  Flags in the United States will be flown at half-staff in his honor.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Researchers Find Huge Japanese Submarine

A Japanese submarine, captured by the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II and later scuttled to keep its technology away from the Soviet Union, has been re-discovered off the southwest coast of Oahu by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii.  The sub, named I-400, was about 400 feet long and carried three folding-wing seaplanes.

Read the story at CNN.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Great Version Of "Little Drummer Boy"

These vocalists are the Pentatonix, and this is awesome.  Be sure to use your headphones.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Muslims Mistakenly Attack Muslims

Via Jihadwatch:

About two weeks ago, three Arab youths attacked the family of Rashuan Salman, themselves Arabs, who were driving to Jerusalem near Sur Baher, apparently thinking that they were Jews.  According to Salman, the attackers tried to pull the family out of the car.  Only when Salman's wife asked the attackers - in Arabic - to leave them alone, did they break off the attack.

Read the story at ynetnews.

The Amazing Last Play Of The 2013 Iron Bowl

The annual football game between Alabama and Auburn is known as the Iron Bowl.  In this year's contest, with the score tied at 28-28 and one second left on the clock, Alabama decided to try a long field goal.  A successful kick would win the game without having to go into overtime.  As it turned out, they avoided overtime, but not in the way they intended.  Go here for the recap and box score and here for the radio call of the play, by Rod Bramblett, the Voice of the Auburn Tigers.

UPDATE:  Here's a different view of the play, combined with Bramblett's audio: