Pageviews last month

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Hot off the presses: 419 scam from Serbia

Counter-FROM: Slabidan Graviditch
I am Slabidan Graviditch, until recently a security guard in the London branch of a Serbian executive security company. My last official duty was serving security escort duty for the wife and children of Colin Dixon, the manager of the Securitas Currency Depot in Tunbridge while my distinguished colleagues assisted Mr. Dixon in relieving the Depot of excess cash on 21st February.

Since coming into this sum of cash (estimated at £ 50,000,000, an overage of 30 million beyond our intended withdraw), disagreement has arisen amongst the members of my gang over how to allocate the windfall of $30 million (UK). My supervisor preferred to invest it in offshore gambling resorts in the Caribbean, while it was my stated intention to donate it all to charity. In the ensuing dispute, I was relieved of my duties and deprived of my fair share of the haul. But unbeknownst to my erstwhile employer, I had already secreted away a substantial portion of both of our shares under the guise of moving it to a safer location than where it is being stored until it can be safely disposed of.
This, my dear friend, is why I went to considerable effort to locate your email address; it is my sincere desire to share this bounty with the charity of your choice. Although I have only just met you, it feels like we are already best chums and I know you to be responsible with funds like these.
Since I am now in hiding in Pristina, I will need you to handle these funds on my behalf to purchase DIAMONDS on the open market in Brussels. These can in turn be converted to your currency and donated to the charity most near and dear to your heart.

Please respond to me soonest. I want you to indicate your interest to me by my email, upon your indication of your interest to travel to Brussels, I shall make arrangement to have my lawyer join you there and together proceed to the secret location to retrieve the money. You can then transfer the money directly to your Bank Account.
As soon as you prepare to be in Brussels, my lawyer will leave Serbia ahead of you to receive you in Brussels. I really have confidence in you. I will discuss with your face in details concerning the money. Your commission will be discussed later when we meet face to face by then the money must have been in your Possession. I sincerely appeal to you to keep this transaction confidential. Thanks for helping me out of a jam.
Best regards.
Slabidan Graviditch

Monday, 20 February 2006

What is wine?

I got my first taste of wine as a teenager.
No, it wasn't some furtive assertion of adolescent independence. Actually, it was all a mistake. I was on a transoceanic flight and somehow got bumped up to first class, where the menu choices were awkward enough without my trying to figure out how to forgo the small bottle of complimentary wine. I poured the little shot glass full, but couldn't manage to drink it down. The stuff simply tasted awful.

I came closest to developing taste for wine while a sailor in the US Navy.
No, it wasn't at the Enlisted Club. Or in some seedy seaside dive while on liberty.
It was at an ecumenical Communion Service on board the USS J___, where the chaplain dipped each wafer in a cup of wine before administering it to the communicant. It was my first time to partake of alcohol liturgically, but it was not to be the last.
In 1991, the Central Command hosted a theater-wide Passover Seder service for all branches of the military. In preparation for participating in it, I attended Sabbath services at a neighboring ship the week before.

It was a rather odd service. There was myself, a gentile of the evangelical persuasion. My host, who up until that moment had successfully shielded his Jewish identity from me and everyone else on board the J___. A Black Jew with a taste for fine cappuccino, but totally at home with the ritual. A White Jew even more devoid of pigmentation then I, who showed only a casual familiarity with the proceedings. The chaplain's gentile guest, who was obviously just there for the cross-cultural experience. And the chaplain himself, who was a rather enigmatic character. At the beginning of the service, he produced the obligatory bottle of wine, commenting, "Oh good, we still have some of the Megen David left. I guess that means we won't have to break out the Blue Nun." It was my second liturgical taste of wine, this time without the accompanying cracker. I decided I could handle doing this at least once a year.

The following week I attended both nights of Seder with my newly-disclosed Jewish friend. We were the only ones there from the J___. At our table were three other men and a woman. One was a legal officer who normally worked at the White House but had been called up from the reserves. The others were all Army enlisted, just in from "the sandbox". One of these was very much looking forward to the portion of the ceremony that involved drinking one cup of wine after another. He made some comment that since this was Kosher wine, it was OK.

I wondered about that. There was even a notation on the Seder program that during the Passover season, only Kosher wine could be consumed, as all other was Chametz for Passover. What was it about a wine, I wondered, which could possibly render Kosher for Passover something that was obviously fermented? I didn't get an answer, but I determined then and there that if I was ever going to drink wine, it would be Kosher. But I still wondered what it was about Kosher wine that made it OK. Especially when the officer, who evidently was somewhat of a wine connoisseur, decided to imbibe from a different bottle on the table than that which he had been using, and just about choked on it. "That tasted like five miles of bad road! he gasped. I checked the label. Nothing about roads, but it did bear the seal of the Rabbinical Union. I tasted it. Like everything else I had been drinking that evening, it tasted basically like watered-down grape juice spiked with unflavored cough syrup. I was able to get it down all right, but I just couldn't get used to the stuff. It made me appreciate the nonalcoholic policy of the churches at which I partook of communion.

Well, what about communion wine--should it--or could it--contain alcohol? There were people who argued either way. Some arguments seemed rather specious, as those that allowed leaven in the bread but no alcohol in the cup. These made no more sense then those that forbade leaven in the bread but allowed it in the cup. It seemed to me that the symbolism required that both be equally free of corruption.

About five years ago I came across the idea that every positive mention of "wine" in the Bible refers to grape juice, while every negative mention is of an alcoholic beverage. That seemed a rather specious argument too, until I read Wine in the Bible by Samuel Bacchiocchi. In thoroughly scientific study of the Greek word oinos, Bacchiocchi minutely examines and gently demolishes "the arguments that are commonly used to prove that our Savior made, commended, used and commanded the use of alcoholic wine until the end of time. We have found these claims to rest on unfounded assumptions, devoid of textual, contextual and historical support."

While the reader may not agree with Dr. Bacchiocchi's conclusion that the Bible commands, Jesus practiced, and the apostles taught total abstinence, he will probably have to admit that Dr. Bacchiocchi presents a consistent hermeneutic of the five Biblical accounts (contained in nine passages) commonly cited to prove otherwise.

Interestingly enough, virtually all of these accounts (as is the case with the doctrine of prayer and fasting) are replete with textual problems. Just look at the variants for one passage in Luke--in an average of one place in each verse, the Westcott-Hort and/or Nestle-Aland text differs from the text found in an overwhelming majority of all Greek manuscripts. In all but one of these variants, it changes or diminishes the text.

Luke 5:33. Omit "Why do" after "said unto him" and render as a statement.
Luke 5:34. Add "Jesus" and render 'Jesus said'.
Luke 5:36. Read "No man rendeth a piece from a new garment and putteth it upon an old garment; else he will rend the new, and also the piece from the new will not agree with the old".
Luke 5:38. Omit "and both are preserved" at end of verse.
Luke 5:39. Omit "also" after "No man".
Luke 5:39. Omit "straightway" before "desireth new".
Luke 5:39. Read "The old is good" instead of "The old is better".

And look at all the changes in just a single verse of the parallel passage in Mark:

Mark 2:22. Omit "new" before "wine doth burst".
Mark 2:22. Read "will burst" instead of "doth burst".
Mark 2:22. Read "the wine perisheth, and [also] the bottles" instead of "the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred".
Mark 2:22. Omit "but new wine must be put into new bottles" at end of verse. [margin]
Mark 2:22. Omit "must be put" before "into new bottles".

As with The Effectiveness of Prayer & Fasting, it is impossible to develop a doctrine of Alcohol in the New Testament without making reference to any textually disputed passage. Take them all away, and you have no context for your doctrine.

Dr. Bacchiocchi also addresses most of the Old Testament passages that refer to wine, showing that in no case is an alcoholic beverage specified, except when its consumption is expressly discouraged. His otherwise excellent case is severely flawed by omitting any mention of Deuteronomy 14:26. Now if only he could do a scientific study of the Hebraism word shakar, he could complete his doctrine of Alcohol in the Bible.

Aside from the lack of a tidy wrap to his study, Dr. Bacchiocchi does provide the Bible Translator with some very useful information, without which any translation is going to be deficient. Just looking at a few of the modern versions of the English Bible, I see that they use "wine" and "(strong) drink" so interchangeably as to eliminate any possible linguistic distinction between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. To its credit, the 1977 NASB is slightly more consistent even than the KJV in translating sakar as 'strong drink' in Numbers 28:7--another verse that Dr. Bacchiocchi really needs to find room for in his doctrine. But those who are translating only the New Testament could, following his lead, legitimately translate all positive references to oinos with the meaning of 'grape juice' and virtually all negative ones with that of 'alcoholic beverage.'

The only exception is in Acts 2:13, where 'sweet wine' is specifically mentioned. This verse had served to really puzzle me until I read Dr. Bacchiocchi's explanation.
He says that it shows that the disciples had a reputation as tetotallers, drinking only wine that was freshly squeezed from the vine and thus had no chance of causing intoxication. Their unusual behavior caused adversaries to scoff that these disciples were crazy enough to even appear drunk on nothing but fresh grape juice.
I think that explanation is at least as plausible as any other I've seen, and fits well into his overall theory.

I see that although I'm done, I haven't really answered the question posed by the title. For that I refer you to relevant chapters of the book, which can be read at
his website.

Thursday, 16 February 2006

The Hand of God--another thought


What was necessary--or sufficient--to deflect the first attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941?

The entire Pacific Fleet, minus its aircraft carriers, wasn't sufficient.
The entire air wing on Ford Island wasn't sufficient.
The newly installed radar that picked up the incoming Japanese planes wasn't sufficient.
Advance warning of the attack from the spooks on Purple Code detail wasn't sufficient.

The attack occurred, unannounced and unhindered; the planes circled back for another pass and continued to do so until they exhausted their weapon load. The few planes that rose up to oppose them were just as likely to be shot down as were their targets.

What further resources could the US possibly have marshalled to defend against the anticipated attack of 1941? Yet it turned out to be a bloodbath; more American sailors died in the Battle of Pearl Harbor than in any battle before or since.

So . . .

What was necessary--or sufficient--to deflect the second attack on Pearl Harbor in 1968?

The SOSUS net wasn't sufficient-- it wasn't aware of K-129's location until after the launch was initiated.

The squadron of subs based in Pearl Harbor wasn't sufficient to detect the presence of K-129 hundreds of miles closer in than her assigned patrol area.

The Nike Zeus ABM system, developed to "Prevent a Nuclear Pearl Harbor," wasn't sufficient. It had already been put on hold due to unreliability.

The thousands of Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Special Forces stationed at Pearl Harbor were not sufficient. None of them were aware of the impending attack.

The spooks in their cubicles at Barbers Point knew nothing of the top-secret planning behind the attack. Hours after attempted launch, they noted in their intercept records that K-129 had uncharacteristically observed radio silence after leaving port, but by then it would have been far too late to do anything about it.

In short, despite billions worth of topline equipment, and a million-man military in a high state of Cold War readiness (two spook platforms having been recently taken by the Communists)--none of this availed anything to protect the lives and property of virtually everyone on Oahu island.

What more was needed than everything an armed and ready America could throw up in its defense? Prayer.

What was sufficient to make a nuclear missle blow up on launch, killing only its launch crew and sinking only its launch platform? One righteous man in ferverent prayer.

" I exhort FIRST OF ALL supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for . . . all who are in authority, that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life. . ." 1 Timothy 2:1

Saturday, 11 February 2006

The Hand of God

CounterThis is such an incredible story I decided to offer it without comment. It's from the Whiskey & Gunpowder website (a site usually devoted to investment advice)
And finally, a reader named Jon, from Virginia, forwarded this very interesting message: "You might be interested in a life-defining event during this time. (It was) ... some time in March of 1968, but I wonder if what happened to me relates to this Red Star Rogue event that I only learned about recently (Red Star Rogue is a book about the foiled Nuclear Attack on Pearl Harbor in March 1968).

"I was a very young pastor in Lincoln, Nebraska, just out of seminary. I was praying late one night in our church office when I felt a tremendous terror: it was like I could "see" a Satanic figure entering the front doors of our church, walking down the main aisle of the sanctuary getting ready to turn left toward our offices. I have never, ever experienced such utter horror and fear. I was praying frantically, confessing any sin, but suddenly found myself desperately screaming in prayer for the safety of our country. After a long time, toward about 2 AM, as I remember, I felt it was over and that we were OK. At the time, I had the strong impression (and had told others later) that some nut case in Russia was about to pull the nuclear trigger. I naturally had doubts about my discerning such an event, because it all sounded so implausible. But at the same time I couldn't account for my prayer experience that was so unspeakably real and powerful.

"That week I told friends about this prayer experience. Five of them told me that they had felt it necessary to pray for the safety of the country that week, something that was very unusual for them, so I felt that I wasn't the only one that sensed the danger. I have had a few other similar experiences like this (like for personal protection or healing), that proved to be valid, but never, ever anything so intense and terrifying.

"I always wondered what in the world was going on during that time, but never had any possible answer until Thursday of this week, when I read a summary of Red Star Rogue."

"So, ya gotta wonder, Who ultimately controls the destinies of nations!"

Well, on second thought, I will make a brief comment. This story strikes home.

I've never personally experienced a prayer session quite like this one, but I've received emails from people who did. Several of them concerned the 2000 election. At that time, several people were convinced that the fate of America tottered in the balance, and if George Bush lost the election great disaster would result. They were convinced that only desperate prayer would sway the vote to his side. What happened? A vote so close as to be inconceivable; the president of the United States won with a minority of the popular vote by winning the electoral college by a margin of some 250 votes out of an electorate of several million in the State of Florida. No national election before or since has been won by such an infinitesimal percentage of the vote. Perhaps one less person praying would have swung the vote the other way. I know one woman in Florida who was rushed to the emergency room on Election Day. She felt such a heavy weight of responsibility on her to cast her vote for Bush that she obtained, and filled out from her bed in the hospital, an absentee ballot--knowing that it wouldn't even be counted unless the vote turned out to be extremely close.

It was.

But God's hand does not always protect America. Nor does he always offer his people the opportunity to pray their country out of mortal danger.

On September 10, 2001 I attended a chapel service at the headquarters of a mission agency. One of the volunteers was there with a message on her heart from the Lord. It was such a burden to her that she had to share it, though she had not spoken in that chapel before, nor has she since. Her message: Muslims hate Israel so much (because the Jews are God's chosen people and they aren't), that they even hate America just for supporting Israel. They are doing their best to suicide-bomb Israel into oblivion, and WE ARE NEXT.

The next morning I awoke to the news of 9/11.

(disclaimer: This blogger did not vote for George Bush in 2000).

Cartoon Catastrophe

CounterThis protracted outrage against a dozen political cartoons is unprecedented. One could say it represents the next step in the Muslim plan to dominate the world.

The what?

OK, so maybe there is no official plan. But whatever is behind what happens, it works something like this (percentages vary from one situation to another. Local concentrations will be much higher):

1. Decide which policy will work best for a particular country: Immigration or Education. Poor countries get the latter approach; rich countries, the former. However, if possible both approaches are used simultaneously, once a beachhead has been established.

2. Demand and achieve equal rights for the Muslim minority.

3. Once a Muslim population of about 10% is reached, win political office.

4. Demand and achieve special privileges for the Muslim minority.

5. Seek court decisions to overturn legislation unfavorable to Muslims.

6. Once the Muslim population exceeds 20%, start demanding Islamic education in the public schools, under the guise of multiculturalism.

7. Instigate violent confrontations between Muslims and non-Muslims; demand that the non-Muslims back down (this is where we are at now). Once they do, concede some small token to demonstrate goodwill.

8. Demand Muslim sensitivity training to prevent future confrontations.

9. Once a majority of the population is Muslim, start taking over the government.

10. If any non-Muslim tries to achieve high office, assassinate him.

11. Eliminate separation of Church and State.

12. Put restrictions on non-Muslim religious expression.

13. The last step is implementation of Sharia Law. This can be done when only half of the population is Muslim; this can occur even at a sub-national level (as is the case in Nigeria now).

What's interesting about this case, and what makes it so shocking to Westerners, is the audacity of the Muslim world to demand that everybody else play by their rules. Expect this to set a precedent for many violent confrontations to come.

Thursday, 9 February 2006

I Predict. . .

Ok, having slept on it, I'm ready to do a little prognostication on the subject of the previous post, namely:

What are the foreseeable results of the clash between civilisations known as the Cartoon Conundrum?

1. Free Speech is on its way out. This process which began when (closed-ended) Government Censorship in time of War was replaced by (open-ended) Government Censorship during time of Conflict (War itself having been defined away by the United Nations, but conflict having never having ceased during, and despite, the existence of that August Body). This event will only serve to hasten the process. The new paradigm, however, will be in every way touted as better and freer than the old. Sic semper tyrannus.

2. The Danish Flag is on its way out. Ironically, Danes were proverbial for their vicious and unsparing predation of the coasts of Northern Europe prior to their acceptance of Christianity as a state religion (still in effect), and the Cross as the national emblem on their flag (still in effect).

Disestablishing the Danish Lutheran Church would be like eliminating a major welfare program: it would put a lot of powerful people out of work, and offend more than it placated. So I don't see that happening as an inevitable result of this conflict, although given their relative growth rates of the two populations, within a decade or two there will be more people each week in Denmark attending mosques than churches.

But changing the flag is much easier; a simple vote of the Legislature, if not vetoed by the Executive, should suffice to effect a removal of the Crusader emblem from the national flag. The order may even come down from a superior court of the European Union. I expect this change to take effect about as soon as the last Danish veteran of WWII is positioned above his grave draped in the flag under which he once fought.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

The Cartoon Conundrum--time for the Tenth Crusade?

CounterThe forces of Radical Islam have unleashed a new Intifada upon the civilized world. Interestingly enough, few of the Islamists who have rioted over the cartoons supposedly depicting Mohammed have even seen any of the artwork. It was enough for them to be told that it existed, and that its existence necessitated a renewed jihad against infidels everywhere.

Western (read: Non-totalitarian) governments are caught in a conundrum. They can't ban the art, because to deny the right of an artist to make a non-inflammatory depiction of a historical figure solely because someone will thereby become offended, even violently so, is inconsistent with any remaining notion of Free Speech. On the other hand, accustomed to being able to slap Christians in jail for Hate Crimes just because they publicly opposed a Gay Parade, these governments are frustrated at their inability to placate Radical Islam with toothless apologies and repeated calls for tolerance.

It is starting to dawn on some people, perhaps, what was painfully obvious to Catholics from Europe who attempted to make pilgrimages to the Holy Land around the turn of the 12 century: Muslims and anti-Muslims cannot practice their respective faiths in the same place and at the same time. That first realization launched, over the course of the next two centuries, a full nine different Crusades, which each managed to, however temporarily, dislodge the Muslim foe guarding the Christian holy sites against the entry of pilgrims. These came to an end when the Turks finally overran the Kingdom of Jerusalem for the last time, and, taking the battle back to the enemy as it were, began closing in on Constantinople. For the next few centuries Christendom was in a pitched battle for survival which did not come to an end militarily until the vanquished Ottoman Empire was partitioned by the winners of World War One.

Unable to meet the foe in pitched battle, Jihad has now gone global, with major victories in New York, Madrid, and London. The aim is the same now as it always was: to bring the infidel nations of the world into subjection to Islam.

Islamists have thrown down a mighty gauntlet to the governments of the Free World, saying essentially what the original Messengers of the Prophet said to the three emperors of Christendom: "Submit to Islam, or die!"
The emperors refused, and their empires all fell to the scimitar, leaving only small remnant populations behind to forever live as an oppressed minorities in a vast Muslim empire: the Copts in Egypt, the Assyrians in Syria and points westward, and the Armenians and Serbians in what had been the Ottoman Empire. Only on the Greek and Iberian peninsulas did the majority non-Muslim population endure through the centuries of Muslim occupation--and to this day these are the only two countries in existence to have shrugged off their Muslim oppressors once and for all.

The Global War on [Islamist] Terror has taken on a very broad front.
So far, the only response to this latest offensive has been diplomacy. I don't know what our governments ultimately plan to do about this, but it's looking to me very much like the lead-up to the Battle of Senlac Hill. The regime change that was brought about that day has endured to this, nearly a millennium later.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Eructation and Ecrutation

The word is from Latin eructatio, from eructare, from e-, "out" + ructare, "to belch."

I came across this word on a web forum as a component of the phrase, "Male Bovine Eructation." In other words, "Bull Burp". Having raised bulls, I'm aware that they are not so much known for their burping (a process by which they bring forth cud for further processing), as for what they bring forth from their other end.

Obviously this word was pulled out of the dictionary in order to create a softer euphemism than the similarly coined "Male Bovine Excrement;" Bull Cud, to put it vulgarly. I suggest a slightly more fitting euphemism, which I must admit to coining myself: Male Bovine Ecrutation.

Ecrutation (from the Latin crudus "crude") becomes 'crud' by folk etymology.
The euphemized vulgar equivalent of the full phrase would be "Bull Crud".

Crud also emerges from the foremost extremity of the bull, but like the cud, is also ingested for reprocessing. That's crude.