Jun 19 2010

You don’t say!

Category: Bible,history,Israelharmonicminer @ 8:29 am

How religion made Jews genetically distinct

Jewish populations around the world share more than traditions and laws, they also have a common genetic background. That is the conclusion of the most comprehensive genetic study yet aimed at tracing the ancestry of Jewish people.

In a study of over 200 Jews from cities in three different countries, researchers found that all of them descended from a founding community that lived 2500 years ago in Mesopotamia.

What a surprise.

Click the link and read the whole story….  and try not to laugh.

The Bible just keeps looking better and better.

Jun 04 2010

Did it have to turn out like this?

Category: God,government,history,justice,liberty,military,national security,societyharmonicminer @ 8:00 am

The next time you get a chance to take a shot at a future conqueror, take it. No, lefty nitwits, I’m not talking about taking a shot at the next Republican president-elect. I’m talking about people whose overweening ambition makes them think they have the right to conquer the world.  By definition, no US president qualifies, because all have left office, willingly or not, without coercion, and gone home to write their memoirs, if they lived long enough. 

No, I’m talking about a Hitler, or a Stalin, or a Mao, or….  well, you get the idea.  Kaiser Wilhelm, without whom World War I would probably not have occurred as it did, is one such, though that seems not to have been immediately obvious to Annie Oakley…  a dead shot if there ever was one.  Although after WWI started, she seems to have caught on quickly enough about the Kaiser’s character.

THERMOPYLAEHILLBILLY: Annie Oakley and Kaiser Wilhelm II

Where would we be today if Annie Oakley had just a little more to drink in 1889? Kaiser Wilhelm II was the Reich’s new leader and had a box seat to watch Oakley at the Berlin Charlottenburg Race Course. She was appearing with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and had cleaned her Colt 45 the night before. Annie announced that she would shot the ashes off any man or woman’s Havana cigar. Normally her husband Frank Butler come out of the audience and her speech was just for show.

She never expected anyone, including Kaiser Wilhelm II to take her up on her offer and here came the Kaiser out of his box seat. Oakley had made her dare, there stood the Kaiser and she couldn’t back down. So as she measured her distance the Kaiser took out a cigar and started puffing. The German police thought it was a joke until the Kaiser took up his position. The Kaiser told the police to get out of the way.

Annie Oakley, American sharp shooter, raised her pistol, aimed and blew the ashes off Kaiser Wilhelm II cigar. Had she missed the woman from Cincinnati may have prevented the First World War 25 years later. When World War I started Annie wrote the Kaiser asking for a second chance. Silence followed……………

What If Diaries » What if Annie Oakley had shot Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1889?

One chilly November afternoon in 1889, a fur-coated crowd assembled in Berlin’s Charlottenburg Race Course to enjoy a performance of Buffalo Bill’s Wild Wild West Show, which was touring Europe to great popular acclaim. Among the audience was the Reich’s impetuous young ruler, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had been on the throne for a year. Wilhelm was particularly keen to see the show’s star attraction, Annie Oakley, famed throughout the world for her skills with a Colt. 45.

On that day, as usual, Annie announced to the crowd that she would attempt to shoot the ashes from the cigar of some lady or gentleman in the audience. “Who shall volunteer to hold the cigar?” she asked. In fact, she expected no one from the crowd to volunteer; she simply asked for laughs. Her long-suffering husband, Frank Butler, always stepped forward and offered himself as her human Havana-holder.

This time, however, Annie had no sooner made her announcement then Kaiser Wilhelm himself leaped out of the royal box and strutted into the arena. Annie was stunned and horrified but could not retract her dare without losing face. She paced off her usual distance while Wilhelm extracted a cigar from a gold case and lit it with flourish. Several German policeman, suddenly realizing that this was not one of kaiser’s little jokes, tried to preempt the stunt, but were waved off by His All-Highest Majesty. Sweating profusely under her buckskin, and regretful that she had consumed more than her usual amount of whiskey the night before, Annie raised her Colt, took aim, and blew away Wilhem’s ashes.

Had the sharpshooter from Cincinnati creased the kaiser’s head rather than his cigar, one of Europe,s most ambitious and volatile rulers would have been removed from the scene. Germany might not have pursued its policy of aggressive Weltpolitik that culminated in war twenty-five years later.

Annie herself seemed to realize her mistake later on. After World War I began, she wrote to the kaiser asking for a second shot. He did not respond.

Annie Oakley, the Butterfly Effect, and You

In the late 1800s, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was a dazzling display of horsemanship, gunplay and other cowboy skills. One of its acts involved the sharpshooting of the great Annie Oakley. Dubbed “Little Sure Shot,” Oakley had an amazing routine, she would shoot out lit candles, for example, and the corks of wine bottles.

For her grand finale, she would shoot out the lit end of a cigarette held in a man’s mouth at a certain distance. For this, she would ask for volunteers from the audience. As no one ever volunteered, she had her husband planted among the spectators. He would “volunteer” and they would complete the dangerous trick together.

Well, during one swing through Europe, Oakley was setting up her finale and she asked for volunteers. To her shock, and the surprise of everyone involved with the show, she got a real volunteer.

The proud young Prince (soon to be Kaiser) Wilhelm bravely stepped down from among the spectators, strode into the ring and stuck a lit cigarette in his mouth.

Reportedly out late the night before enjoying the local beer gardens, the unexpected appearance of this famous volunteer unnerved her. But the show must go on.

She took aim and fired… putting out the cigarette, much to Wilhelm’s amusement.

Thus, she also created one of historians’ favorite “what if” moments. What if her bullet went through the future Kaiser’s left ear? Would World War I have happened? Would the lives of 9 million soldiers and 6.6 million civilians have been spared? Would Hitler have risen from the ashes of defeated Germany? All sorts of questions come to mind…

Many historians think that the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, leading to the Soviet Union, would not have occurred without World War I to weaken the Czar (who was made by Lenin and Stalin to seem rather a nice fellow, by comparison).  Nazi Germany is difficult to credit as a likely outcome of a Germany that didn’t fight in WWI, because no great German angst would been present about a non-existent Treaty of Versailles, and no not-quite-imperialistic Kaiser would have tolerated Hitler in the feckless way German proto-democracy did.  In any case, without the agony of the post-war years, Hitler would have been only another anti-Semite, with no way to get traction with the German public at large.

World War II is hard to imagine without World War I.  Germany simply wouldn’t have had the drive to do it, absent the peculiar circumstances of the end of WW I.  At most, Japanese imperialism might have been a problem…  but strong British Empire, not weakened by WWI, would have been in a clear position to oppose Japanese aggression in China and elsewhere, and probably given the Emperor so much to consider that attacking the USA would have been a very low priority.

So imagine a 20th century without two world wars, without a cold war, indeed, without communism, which would have meant no Korean War, no Vietnam War, etc.  Imagine a still-strong British Empire still ruling the waves, shipping around the world the incredible output of American industry.

I know that cultural trends are present in history.  But I’m also pretty sure that without specific deeds by specific people, everything would have been different.

All of which occasionally leaves me wondering, in a much more pedestrian way, what deeds or words of everyday folk can sometimes have an effect that is seemingly far disproportionate to their obvious impact?

Feb 11 2010

My famous relative left the booze behind

Category: history,societyharmonicminer @ 9:23 am

Ernest Shackleton’s Whiskey Found Buried Near South Pole

It’s probably the most sought-after scotch in history, crates of whiskey buried in Antarctica by the famed explorer Ernest Shackleton a century ago. He abandoned them on a failed attempt to reach the South Pole in 1909, and they’ve been on ice, literally, ever since.

Researchers from New Zealand found the crates while restoring a hut Shackleton built and used during the expedition. He and his team were forced to cut short the trip and abandon supplies, including their booze, to sail away before winter ice trapped them there.

Shackleton’s expedition ran short of supplies on a long trek to the South Pole that began in 1907. He had to turn back about 100 miles from the pole in 1909. The team had to move quickly to escape as winter ice began to form, so they were forced to abandon all but essential equipment and supplies, including their whiskey. No lives were lost.


As for what the future holds for Shackleton’s whiskey, there are international treaties preventing the removal of artifacts from Antarctica, but Paterson wrote on his blog that he hopes to get his hands on at least a sample of the whiskey, if not a couple bottles.

“What you all want to know is: How will it taste?” Paterson wrote. “To which the answer is: Cold.”

It was said of Sir Ernest that he wasn’t really trustworthy with other people’s money, or other people’s women, but you could trust him with your life when circumstances were about as bad as they could get.

Sep 25 2009

More archaeological corroboration of the Old Testament

Category: history,Israel,religionharmonicminer @ 8:32 am

Here’s a very interesting article discussing a find of Coins with Joseph’s name found in Egypt

Archeologists have discovered ancient Egyptian coins bearing the name and image of the biblical Joseph, Cairo’s Al Ahram newspaper recently reported. Excerpts provided by MEMRI show that the coins were discovered among a multitude of unsorted artifacts stored at the Museum of Egypt.

According to the report, the significance of the find is that archeologists have found scientific evidence countering the claim held by some historians that coins were not used for trade in ancient Egypt, and that this was done through barter instead.

The period in which Joseph was regarded to have lived in Egypt matches the minting of the coins in the cache, researchers said.

“A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait,” said the report.
“Studies by Dr. Thabet’s team have revealed that what most archeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face – just like the coins we use today,” the report added.

One of the comments to the article says that these weren’t “coins” but “protection amulets.”  One can only wonder where the commenter keeps his time machine.

It would make sense that Joseph’s image would have been used for such things sometimes, since he was number two for many years in the Egyptian hierarchy, second only to Pharoah himself, and essentially acted as Pharoah’s surrogate, according to the Biblical record. 

More humorous, in a dark sort of way, was this comment:

But since HAMAS insists that this country was never Jewish, the obvious conclusion is that Joseph went to Egypt from Brooklyn, perhaps from Boro Park. Now it all becomes clear; there is really no quarrel between us at all. Joseph was the first Lubavicher Rebbe.

That really would explain a lot, since I’ve known several people from Brooklyn who would sell their own brother.

Jul 17 2009

The Next Great Awakening, Part 8: Respecting our national origins

Is the USA a “Christian nation”? Depends on what you mean by that, I suppose. But its origin in Judeo-Christian principles is clear, based on founding documents, acts of congress and presidents, and the writings of the founders.  The recognition and celebration of that heritage has been nearly universal among US national leaders until very recent times.  You can decide if that was a good thing, or a bad thing, but you can’t pretend it is a non-thing.

May 13 2009

Is the real problem “White Male Privilege,” lack of “Diversity,” and discrimination against “people of color”?

It has become common to berate institutions of all kinds that are deemed to be insufficiently “diverse,” as if there is automatically some institutional barrier preventing “people of color” from associating with them, and is if some kind of unfair “white male privilege” is the problem.   While there were significant institutional barriers in previous decades, those barriers are now largely gone, and civil-rights activists are busily fighting a war they’ve already won, almost in a manner reminiscent of Civil War re-enactments.   Nevertheless, the removal of those barriers isn’t enough for diversity activists, who now insist that institutions pursue essentially quota-based strategies to “diversify.”  The latest set of institutions engaged in self-flagellation for perceived failures of diversity are Christian colleges and universities, many of whom are scrambling just as fast as they can to “get diverse.” It is as if these institutions believe that if only they are more diverse, then the problems of minorities in American society will go away, or at least be ameliorated.  Or perhaps, if they are more diverse, they can at least feel less guilty about it.

The two biggest problems of injustice in black — and, increasingly, Hispanic — America are abortion and the epidemic of fatherless children.
Blacks abort their babies at a rate five times that of whites.  Nearly 70% of black children are born into fatherless households.  The first of these issues is directly traceable to the national legalization of abortion in 1973, an act of a left-leaning, activist court.   The second of these issues is directly traceable to the creation of LBJ’s Great Society programs in 1965, the act of a left-leaning congress and president.  These two problems cannot be primarily attributed to racism, for the historical reason that abortions were far less common before it was legalized, and the “illegitimacy rate” of blacks in 1960 was about 25%, not 70%.  What changed was government policy, in legalizing the murder of the unborn for essentially any reason at any time in the pregnancy, and in providing incentives to make babies out of wedlock by paying more for each one.  It is arguable that left-leaning governmental policies did more harm to black America than Jim Crow.  And it’s worth noting that blacks were climbing out of poverty rather steadily in the period from 1940-1960 (Thomas Sowell writes very clearly on this), while Jim Crow was still the norm.  Progress slowed dramatically with the beginning of the Great Society, proving that you can indeed offer someone too much help.

“Social justice” activists are fond of pointing to the disproportionately high representation of black men in prison as evidence of white injustice in law enforcement, the judicial system, the economy, etc.  But when the statistics are controlled for the presence of a father in the home, blacks raised with a married father in the home are no more likely than whites to be in jail.   So the “justice” problem is a society that discourages black families from forming, let alone failing.  The Left will say that “there are all kinds of families” and imply it is prejudice to promote the traditional understanding, but the sociologists and criminologists know better, if they have the courage to look at their own data.

The third biggest social justice problem for blacks is the state of the schools, but that cannot be fixed without addressing the issue of black families at the same time.   All too often, the family values are missing that will produce children with whom schools can work effectively.  Schools, no matter how well intentioned and well funded, can’t replace successful parents.  Churches can certainly help, but not when they are basically apologists for the status quo, and are used as platforms for leftist politics as much or more than for faithful transformation of inner-city culture along Godly lines.  None of this means the schools can’t be better, and various experimental schools have shown that typical inner-city black children can benefit greatly from improved schools, provided those schools don’t have to keep the most troublesome students enrolled, and are allowed to pursue educational techniques and policies of their own choosing.  But no one believes that schools alone can make up for deficits in parenting, even in experimental schools that shuck the usual pieties of the education lobby, even when the schools simply do what works, without trying to be social laboratories and places to park troubled children.

The real “white male privilege” with which we should concern ourselves most is that of white doctors killing black babies in the womb, or just barely out of it, for profit, in abortion clinics placed conveniently near inner city neighborhoods to encourage repeat business.  We would submit that the apparent nature of “black male privilege” does more damage to blacks than anything white males are doing, or saying.  Finally, there is the “white male privilege” of mostly white politicians who depend on the black vote, and buy it with government benefits and promises of more, the new form of sharecropper oppression, because by taking the deal, blacks have crippled themselves as a group in being able to improve their own circumstances by their own efforts, though there are obviously many individual exceptions.

These problems will not be solved by whites.  They will not be solved by a black president, leading a government made up mostly of whites, unless that black president is determined to undo the government incentives that encourage bad behavior.  That seems unlikely in this case, doesn’t it?  These problems will only be solved by black leaders “on the ground,” who must spend more time challenging their own communities, straightforwardly demanding better behavior, teaching skills and values for successful living, than they spend twisting the arms of “white” institutions to be more “diverse.”   They need to be teaching their people to reject government handouts that weaken their motivation to lift themselves up, tempting them to lower standards for personal and public behavior.  We need ten thousand people like Jesse Peterson, Clenard Childress and Johnny Hunter for every Jackson/Sharpton shakedown artist and/or community organizer whose idea of service is to take a young woman who shouldn’t be pregnant to city hall to apply for benefits (to “find her voice”), or, even worse, to provide rides to the local abortion mill, and in either case protecting from any responsibility the man or boy who made her pregnant, and in many cases the parent or guardian (usually only one) who failed to provide her with adequate supervision.

Inner-city black America is suffering not from being non-diverse, not primarily because some colleges and universities are not diverse, but because it is killing itself. We have just inaugurated a president who will encourage much, much more of the same, judging by his record, his public statements, his political commitments to his supporters, and his chosen advisers.

In the meantime, those Christian colleges and universities that are in a headlong rush to “diversify” are learning that it is very difficult to avoid all the Leftist influences that accompany diversity activism.  Some of these schools, which were once unabashedly pro-life, pro-traditional-family and pro-American, are now finding that with diversity comes the choice between promoting life or lionizing Obama-as-symbol, between being pro-traditional-family or endorsing all kinds of other arrangements as being “just as good,” and between acknowledging the strong Judeo-Christian ethic in the American founding and social ethos, or seeing America as “just another nation” with no uniquely important religious elements shaping its heritage, values and behavior.

It’s a choice these institutions are making, this decade.  The faculty they’re hiring now will be the ones who decide the directions of those institutions in the next decade, not today’s adminstrators and board members, who may make policy statements attempting to “hold the line,” etc.  Adminstrators and trustees come and go, but faculty have tenure.  Unfortunately, it seems no more possible in the current environment for prospective faculty to be asked, “Are you anti-abortion?” than it is to ask a prospective supreme court judge about future rulings.  That’s because, somehow, abortion has been relegated to being a “political question” instead of the frankly moral one that it is.  Somehow, it has become acceptable in some quarters for Christians to vote for pro-abortion politicians, and for that choice, and campaiging for such, to be seen as a valid “political choice.”  Yet I’m quite sure that most Christians would consider it a sin to vote for a pro-slavery candidate.

We are in a grim place, and those of us who see it that way need to be deep in prayer over it, and then we need to work within our institutions to improve the situation.

UPDATE: Walter E. Williams on Race Talk

Race talk often portrays black Americans as downtrodden and deserving of white people’s help and sympathy. That vision is an insult of major proportions. As a group, black Americans have made some of the greatest gains, over the highest hurdles, in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind’s history. This unprecedented progress can be seen through several measures. If one were to total black earnings, and consider black Americans a separate nation, he would find that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world’s 16th richest nation — that is just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans are, and have been, chief executives of some of the world’s largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, who headed the world’s mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black American. Black Americans are among the world’s most famous personalities and a few are among the richest. Most blacks are not poor but middle class.

On the eve of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed these gains possible in less than a mere century and a half, if ever. That progress speaks well not only of the sacrifices and intestinal fortitude of a people; it also speaks well of a nation in which these gains were possible. These gains would not have been possible anywhere else.

May 02 2009

Jon Stewart is a funny, funny man

Category: historyharmonicminer @ 1:59 pm

Watch it here.