O Littler Town of Bayt Lahm
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In the Old Testament Hebrew, the name for the little town of Jesus’ birth was Beth-Lechem, the “House of Bread,” or as we would call it, the area’s breadbasket. For Boaz and Ruth, for Jesse and his illustrious son, King David, it was home. Christians call it Bethlehem, and for centuries its population was 80% Christian. It now lies in territory governed by the Palestinian Authority, and its Christian demographic has shrunk to 20%.  The Muslims who live there now... Read More
Magna Carta
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One of the most important pieces of paper in the world is up for sale. One of 17 known copies of the Magna Carta will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s in a week. It is expected to fetch $20-30 million. Although the original was signed by King John at Runnymede in 1215, it was initially ignored and had little influence. A later (and briefer) version was forced on King Edward I (Longshanks) in 1297, and this signed copy is what... Read More
RU-486
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R.U. familiar with RU-486? It is an abortifacient drug originating in France, sometimes called the “morning after” pill. It was developed by the giant French firm Roussel-Uclaf (hence the “R.U.” initials). It is intended to be used to abort pregancies of up to 49 days’ gestation, and to be used with the drug gemeprost to induce abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation. It is legal in the United States and sold by Danco Laboratories under the trade name mifeprex... Read More
Rolls Royce
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In I Timothy 6:5, St. Paul describes the way in which Satan will corrupt church leaders. I could always understand the warnings against arrogance, conceit, quarreling, and envy. But for a long time I never really worried too much about people who “thought that godliness was a means to financial gain.” In the church world of my youth, anybody who went into church work for the money was an idiot. My grandfathers were both pastors, and it fell to them... Read More
Coins
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Do you plan to use the new presidential $1 coins? Are you even aware that there are new presidential $1 coins? Even though 100 million have been minted, I think it’s doubtful that they will catch on in a big way. Silver dollars used to be popular because they were massive, had valuable silver content, and just felt great in your hand. Modern-day dollar coins have all bombed:  Eisenhowers, Susan B. Anthonys, Sacagaweas. Nobody wants ‘em. I had to get... Read More
Titanic
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And now there is one. With the recent death of Barbara West Dainton, all of the survivors of the sinking of the Titanic are gone except Miss Elizabeth “Millvina” Dean of Southampton, England, who was but 2 months old at the time of the ship’s first and last voyage. She was eight years old before anybody told her about the disaster she had survived and in which her father perished. I must count myself among the millions of people who... Read More
Wildfire
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Generally speaking, southern California has the reputation of being a pleasant place to live. Not this fall. Not when dozens of wildfires have erupted in the tinder-dry coastal desert brush. Even a very small cluster of sparks can be driven quickly a thousand yards by the howling Santa Ana winds, called “devil winds” by local firefighters. Over a half million people were evacuated from their homes in a wide swath from L.A. to San Diego. What is shocking is the... Read More
Germs
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Are germs good or bad for you? Laughable question to my mother in 1960. Once we entered the house from anywhere else, we heard the command barked, “Wash your store hands.” “Wash your playground hands.” Anything we might have touched outside the house must have contaminated us. “Wash your school hands.” All that hand-washing by millions of children must have worked. The relatively sanitary world in which we live has made cholera and dysentery rare. But in a recent Newsweek... Read More
P2P
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One of the hottest trends in internet use has been the use of peer-to-peer networks (P2P for short). P2P networking means that through special software that you can download, you can swap files for free with anyone else who uses that sharing software. The computer traffic goes directly from one home computer to another. Getting free songs from the internet is the hottest draw. The pioneer in large-scale use was the infamous Napster, which lost some key court battles and... Read More
Helloween
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Wanna catch live performances by the thrash metal bands Queens of the Stone Age, Cradle of Filth, or Type O Negative? The “Hallowicked” 2007 tour of Insane Clown Posse? Just head for Milwaukee’s The Rave nightclub for a week of what they call their “Hell-o-ween” shows. OK, OK. Some of this is just posturing, just the music biz trying to make some money off teen rebellion. Bland bores. Shock sells. If your grandparents were smoking weed back in the ‘60s,... Read More