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Uncommonly Sensible

Keeping the "anal" in analytical... (While trying to remain civilized)

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Location: United States

Friday, March 31, 2006

Let's not forget...

Well, it's been one year since Terri Schiavo breathed her last.

I'm not going to rehash that travesty.

What I am trying to do here is remind everyone to get their wishes in writing, and to let more than one person know about them...just in case.

Here are mine (in writing, no less):
"I want no extraordinary measures to keep me alive, once it has been determined that all is lost."

"All" means higher brain function. I know there are those who don't think I possess that now, but they are fooling no-one, probably not even themselves.

If I can't communicate through some means, answer questions through some means, that would be a fairly good indication that this magnificent mind has become seriously diminished. What a loss to humankind that will be.
(Yeah, right)

With any luck, I'll just get splattered by an 18 wheeler while riding my Harley on an Interstate, or take a nice fatal SPLAT!!! in a cave. Something unequivocal, y'know?

Was I rambling?!

Good; higher brain functions intact...

First blogiversary?

I'm fairly certain that's not even a real word, (yet) but this makes one year since I started this little diversion.


Does anyone care? I'm really not even sure if I do...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Free at last?

Abdul Rahman...who faced a possible death sentence for converting from Islam to Christianity is to be freed after a court Sunday dismissed the case against him, citing a lack of evidence, officials said.
(AP Photo/ Ariana Television via AP Television News)

A.P.: KABUL, Afghanistan - A court on Sunday dismissed the case against an Afghan man facing possible execution for converting from Islam to Christianity, officials said, paving the way for his release.

The move eased pressure from the West but raised the dilemma of protecting Abdul Rahman after his release as Islamic clerics have called for him to be killed.

One official said freedom might come as soon as Monday for Rahman, who became a Christian in the 1990s while working for an aid group in neighboring Pakistan.

Muslim extremists, who have demanded death for Rahman as an apostate for rejecting Islam, warned the decision would touch off protests across this religiously conservative country. Some clerics previously vowed to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he was let go.

Rahman was moved to Kabul's notorious high-security Policharki prison Friday after inmates at a jail in central Kabul threatened him, Policharki's warden, Gen. Shahmir Amirpur, said.

The case set off an outcry in the United States and other nations that helped oust the hard-line Taliban regime in late 2001 and provide aid and military support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. President Bush and others insisted Afghanistan protect personal beliefs.

Authorities have barred journalists from seeing Rahman. But on Sunday, officials gave AP an exclusive tour of Policharki, which houses some 2,000 inmates, including about 350 Taliban and al-Qaida militants.

Amirpur said Rahman had been asking guards for a Bible but they had none to give him.

Well, it would be nice if they would just get his Bible out of the evidence locker for him, but at least they're not going to make a martyr out of him.

Now he will have to worry about someone killing him once he's released. It is a dreadful shame that he cannot exercise his "freedom of religion" under Afghanistan's new constitution, so that he may have to live in a self-imposed exile...which is what he did for years, until the Taliban was overthrown.

Some things never change, unfortunately, but we just have to take what we can get sometimes...

Update! A.P.: KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's parliament demanded Wednesday that the government prevent a man who faced the death penalty for abandoning Islam for Christianity from being able to flee the country.

His whereabouts are unknown but he likely is still in the country. The Italian government granted asylum to Rahman after Muslim clerics called for his death.

Afghan lawmakers debated the issue Wednesday and said Rahman should not be allowed to leave the country. However, they did not take a formal vote on the issue.

The plot thickens, and sickens...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fountain of Youth?

Fountain of Youth (St. Augustine, FL)

Don Juan Ponce de Leon arrived in America with Columbus on his second voyage, 1493. Leon and his fellows, not Columbus, completed Spain's claim to the New World. Made governor of Puerto Rico in 1510 and later deposed, Ponce de Leon, at his own expense, equipped an expedition to the North in 1513. A few years previous, Amerigo Vespucci had discovered and claimed the South American continent for Spain. Two of the mightiest nations in the world stood opposed for proprietorship of half the globe. Ponce De Leon heard Indians tell of Bimini, a fabulous island in the North. Historians do not unanimously honor at full value the beautifully romantic story that Ponce was seeking to find the fountain of youth.


Hormone Offers Promise of Youth, Risks

AP: CHICAGO - Americans are injecting themselves with human growth hormone as part of a regimen prescribed by fringe doctors and a multimillion-dollar anti-aging industry that — depending on who is talking — is either solidly based on science or mostly hucksterism and quackery.

But a portion of patients also get blood tests that detect supposedly low levels of a marker for human growth hormone. Those patients often go home with a prescription for injectable HGH and a $500 monthly hormone bill that insurance does not touch.

University of Illinois-Chicago epidemiologist Jay Olshansky, who co-authored a paper published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association on legal issues surrounding HGH, said anti-aging doctors were surprised to learn they were on shaky legal ground.

They now are changing tactics by redefining growth hormone deficiency and making questionable diagnoses of their patients, Olshansky said.

"They've been administering growth hormone as an anti-aging intervention for a long time. They haven't been hiding it at all," Olshansky said. "Now they're trying to redefine it as a treatment for growth hormone deficiency."

Most prescriptions for HGH should go to children, according to Dr. Thomas Perls of Boston Medical Center, but 74 percent in 2004 went to people age 20 and older.

Whether HGH enhances health in already healthy adults remains uncertain, but small, short-term studies have shown benefits and risks.

In 2003, a placebo-controlled, randomized study of people 65 and older found that growth hormone increased lean body mass and decreased fat mass, but the study subjects experienced frequent side effects including diabetes and glucose intolerance.

Other studies have linked HGH to raised cholesterol levels, heightened blood pressure, joint problems, swelling and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dr. Evan Hadley of the National Institute on Aging said legitimate research on growth hormone has been blown out of proportion by wishful thinkers and marketers.

"Science doesn't have immediate answers for people who want to know what the fountain of youth is today," Hadley said.

But age-management doctors said their work focuses on disease prevention, and so is an affront to the disease-oriented medical establishment.

"Many of my colleagues have criticized the work I do," said Dr. Geoffrey Jones, who puts about 15 percent of his patients on growth hormone. "I don't blame them. I was in the same shoes they're in. When I heard about it, I was critical of it. It's the old saying: If you're not up on it, you're down on it."

Read the whole article here...

On the Net:
National Institute on Aging fact sheet on hormones and aging
Cenegenics Medical Institute

So, half a millenium after old Ponce de Leon starting looking for the legendary Fountain of Youth, some people think they've finally found it. Of course, there are those pesky side effects...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Freedom of religion?

A TV frame grab, aired on March 22, 2006, shows Abdul Rahman holding a translated version of the Bible in a Kabul court. (Reuters TV/Reuters)

AP: KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan man who allegedly converted from Islam to Christianity is being prosecuted in a Kabul court and could be sentenced to death, a judge said Sunday.

The defendant, Abdul Rahman, was arrested last month after his family went to the police and accused him of becoming a Christian, Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada told Associated Press in an interview. Such a conversion would violate the country's Islamic laws.

Rahman, who is believed to be 41, was charged with rejecting Islam when his trial started last week, the judge said.

During the hearing, the defendant allegedly confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago when he was 25 and working as a medical aid worker for Afghan refugees in neighboring Pakistan, Mawlavezada said.

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which states that any Muslim who rejects their religion should be sentenced to death.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law," the judge said. "It is an attack on Islam. ... The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty."

The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said the case was the first of its kind in Afghanistan.

He said that he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman changed his religion back to Islam, but the defendant refused.

Mawlavezada said he would rule on the case within two months.

Religion of peace?! Right. The peace of the grave, maybe.

Give me that old time "Love Thy Neighbor" religion instead...any old time.

This sickens me...

UPDATE!!! Bush, Rice Express Concern for Afghani

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The wearin' of the green...

In recognition of my (¼) Irish heritage, and the fact that it's that time of year, a little background on Saint Patrick:

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

Taken Prisoner By Irish Raiders
It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

Guided By Visions
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God's—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission—to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

Bonfires and Crosses
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. (Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick's life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.)

Corned beef & cabbage recipe:

----- Ingredients-----
5 pounds corned brisket of beef
6 peppercorns, or packaged pickling spices
3 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and quartered
1 medium-sized green cabbage, quartered or cut in wedges
Melted butter (about 4 tablespoons)

----- Preparation -----
Place the corned beef in water to cover with the peppercorns or mixed pickling spices (in supermarkets, these often come packaged with the corned beef). Cover the pot or kettle, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 hours or until tender, skimming occasionally. During the last hour, add the carrots and onions and cover again. During the last 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter and brush the vegetables with the melted butter. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes, cooked separately. (The stock can be saved to add to a pot roast or stew instead of other liquid.)

Serves 6, with meat left over for additional meals.

I guess I should get some Guinness and/or Harp this weekend; maybe a good old "Half & Half" or three...

Trouble in Paradise...

AP: KILAUEA, Hawaii - Searchers with dogs looked for bodies in the mud and debris Wednesday after a break in a century-old earthen dam released a roaring, tree-snapping torrent of water and raised fears about the safety of dozens of similar dams across Hawaii.

Search crews found one body and looked for as many as six other missing people who had been staying in the same house on the island of Kauai, including a couple who were to be married Saturday.

The Coast Guard search for victims extended eight miles out to sea. Searchers found a man's body in debris a half mile offshore.

Officials feared another dam downstream might also fail, and crews worked to pump water out of its reservoir. Structural experts arrived to inspect the reservoir, as heavy rains continued across the island. The showers were expected to persist through Friday.

Nearly all of Hawaii's dams were built early in the past century before federal or state standards existed. Many date to the 1890s, when sugar plantations dotted the islands. Like the dam on the Kaloko Reservoir, many are privately owned earthen structures.

In October, the American Society of Civil Engineers said at least 22 dams in the Hawaiian Islands had deficiencies that raised safety concerns. The society has been monitoring 130 dams in Hawaii. The dam on the Kaloko Reservoir was not on the list of dams rated "high-hazard" structures that could cause deaths and significant damage if they failed.

Kuhio Highway, the only roadway running along Kauai's north shore, was damaged by debris and water, cutting off thousands of residents and tourists. It reopened late Wednesday.

Although not the island where I'd like to retire someday, I feel a certain fondness for all of the Hawaiian islands, and Kauai is particularly beautiful; I hope that these concerns can be dealt with before anyone else loses their life because of a similar occurrence...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The envelope, please...

...or maybe not.

Should I comment on the Academy Awards? I mean, I'm pretty apathetic, really. Well, OK, just one comment:

I'm glad that B*****ck Mountin' didn't win Best Picture.

Update! Hilarious B*****ck spoof.

Tip o' the 'do rag to Hankmeister...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


AP: KABUL, Afghanistan - President Bush made a surprise visit...on Wednesday. The White House closely guarded the secret, but there was widespread speculation that he would...stop in Afghanistan. Bush shook hands and posed for pictures with U.S. Marines on their way to Kuwait. The young men, in camouflage uniforms, lined up to shake hands with the commander in chief.

I love this guy. I really couldn't care less what some other people think of him.

Let me restate that: I...really...couldn't...care...LESS.

It is technically impossible to care any less than not at all.
(But I digress; I do that sometimes)

Oh, da Prez ain't the most eloquent speaker, but then, some of the most glib folks around are also the biggest liars.
(I won't cite any examples, they are legion)

I've had the pleasure of seeing the man in person. As far as I'm concerned, he's the genuine article, the "real deal" as it were.

Some of the groups I hang out with sometimes are largely liberal, like the cavers and the hikers. I tend to think of liberals as misguided children, in their naiveté. But their way of looking at things can be dangerous if allowed to prevail. I've been pretty much avoiding all things polemic lately, speaking mostly on other topics with which I'm familiar. After all, everybody and their brother (including me and mine) can talk about current events...not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just the way of things.

Anyway, the subject here is Mr. Bush. To be perfectly honest, the first time I voted for him, it was really more of a vote against what I perceived as the continuation of a corrupt regime that had abused the office of the Presidency for 8 long years.

That all changed after that fateful day in September of 2001. Everyone knows which day I mean. Mr. Bush truly made a difference in what had been the "status quo" of appeasement. No longer were we going to sit on our hands and hope to be left alone. Now we were taking the fight back from whence it originated, in the Middle East. I haven't heard about any aircraft flying into anything since then.

Speaking of aircraft, Bush also came to visit my workplace in the "Military/Industrial Complex", and tried his hand at working on one:

Like I said, I love this guy...

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