Sunday, November 26, 2006


A comment on my previous "Pro-life?" entry that addressed technical details on depleted uranium seems important enough to deserve an answer in its own blog entry.

How bad radioactivity is depends on what kind of radioactivity and where it's delivered. U-238 is an alpha emitter, and quite harmless outside the body. The reason it's deadly in Iraq, where cancers and birth defects have increased many times, is that as ammunition it becomes an aerosol that lodges in the lungs and other organs.

Alpha particles are highly charged helium ions. A piece of paper or thick skin stops them fine. But inside the body, they are the deadliest radiation there is. This is why a speck of plutonium oxide in the lungs - very similar to uranium oxide except for its greater radioactivity - is a death sentence by lung cancer. Specks of depleted uranium are less bad than that, it's true, but the US has delivered lots of them, and with great effect. You don't see a lot of breast cancer in 10-year-old girls outside Iraq.

The Hiroshima bomb didn't leave a lot of uranium - it only amounted to about 140 pounds of it to start with, a miniscule fraction of what the US military has delivered to the civilian population of Iraq. The bomb's radioactivity was delivered by the flash and by the fission products from the 140 original pounds of uranium, many of which were gases or had short half-lives. It was all gone very soon, with a few exceptions like Strontium-90, which is bad because it lodges in bones. Sr-90 is a beta emitter, far less dangerous within the body than alpha emitters like U-238, and with a half-life of only 28 years , unlike U-238, which at 4.5 billion years is forever, once lodged in the body as small particles.

The US military acknowledges over a thousand tons of uranium munitions, roughly half of which remain as fine dust. That's why it will be killing, aborting, and causing hideous birth defects and cancers forever.

The US military is fully aware of all of this and has been at least since a memo written to General Lesley Groves in October 1943 concerning the use of fine radioactive dust against civilian populations. Uranium is not mentioned in the memo, because at the time it was very expensive and they didn't have much, but everything they say about the effects of long-lived beta emitters is all the more true of eternal alpha emitters buried in the lungs, and that was well known at the time. So what they proposed to do then with other radioactive isotopes they have done more effectively and permanently with the enormous amounts of waste uranium they now have.

The Groves memo is easily found if you google Groves memo October 1943. Here is one link:

The absurd denial of completely uncontroversial facts about radioactivity, notably the effects of alpha radiation within the body and what may be expected when such tiny particles lodge in the lungs, is ludicrous. It resembles the similar denial by tobacco companies of the same effects on the lungs from cigarette smoke. The statistics on birth defects, child cancers, and the like around Basra after the first Gulf War are no more deniable than the gas chambers at Auschwitz, but that hasn't stopped the guilty in each case from denying either. Bloodguilt is a spiritual poison that works the same in all humans - Germans, Americans, Japanese, or any others- and it should not surprise us to find the same symptoms in all that are so affected.

The good news is the remedy stated so clearly long ago by John the apostle, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It's no accident that John pointedly does not specify that we need to confess them to God in particular, since we may not believe in him.

It's a good thing that that is no obstacle, because as John points out in the next verse, while we're denying our sin we're making God a liar and never believing in him -whatever may be our religious patter. So before we even think about God, let's confess the bloodguilt we have incurred through the murders we have approved or winked at, and then maybe we will believe in God. But whether we do or not, we will at least be free from that burden, and with a better chance that we can think straight about other things.

It's just the same way that a drunk needs first to sober up before he can make sense about God or anything else. Mass murder and alcoholism are much the same; it's just what we're drinking that's different. So the addicts act the same, and they need the same treatment.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dixie Chicks Concert

Four of us went last night to the Staples Center to see the Dixie Chicks. One of us remarked that Natalie has learned to keep her mouth shut, but I guess I don't get it. I think they said quite a bit, and it was very clear.

They came onstage to "Hail to the Chief." That does sort of make you think of the President of the United States. It's not exactly the way to stay away from the subject of Mr. George W. Bush and all his works, and how the Dixie Chicks have spoken of them. They opened with "Lubbock or Leave It," which is pretty clear too. "I don't wanna hear no more about killing, and how it's God's will." It's a pretty aggressive song. The Christoids of Bloodlust will probably not like it!

The crowd went wild for "Not Ready to Make Nice." In "Taking the Long Way Around," there was some special response to "wouldn't kiss all the asses they told me to."

All this gave me a few things to consider:

1) When you bully people - especially a mob bullying three pretty women, and even radio station executives bullying their affiliates - precisely because they look vulnerable and you figure they will be easily cowed, it doesn't look good on you, and it will blow back on you in the end. People do get tired of being told to kiss all those asses, don't they? It's an instance of God's promise to have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

2) After 5 years of having their meanness and cowardice cultivated and milked for political advantage, at least a few Americans that were not tired of it before are getting tired of it now. Since God has made man in his image and likeness, there is something offensive about people always trying to corrupt us for their advantage, even if we're enjoying it at the time.

3) These ladies have genuinely grown up and begun to understand that it does indeed cost you to stand in truth, and they sing about it and how worthwhile it is in ways that anybody can learn from. Adversity does sharpen the just as gnawing sharpens a rat's tooth.

And besides all this, it was a fun show!

Friday, November 24, 2006


Here's a laugher from my atheist friend Cecileaux:

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Sandinista the GOP Should Love

Attention U.S. Catholics: Nicaragua's Congress has just voted to ban all abortions, precisely what a purportedly "pro-life" Republican majority U.S. Congress has failed to do in four years. All the GOP-run Senate had to do was ratify a treaty signed by President Carter.

The news and the implications that cascade from it in my mind make me think of those Catholics I know who hold fast to the political version of what I call Stupid Catholic Logic. Let me explain SCL with a true story.

Once upon a time I worked with a former nun who had two rambunctious sons from two presumably rambunctious fathers, the only two men with whom she had had sex since leaving the convent. Had she considered using birth control while fornicating with such blissful abandon? "Oh, no, that would be a sin!

"The political version of SCL is what leads some dunderhead Catholics to vote Republican as a way to oppose abortion. Let me make clear that, for reasons different from theirs, I agree with them that abortion is always wrong.

To my mind, abortion always involves the risk of taking a human life since we just don't know with certainty when life begins. Still, what civil law should say about abortion is distinct from its place in moral philosophy. Law in a democracy expresses the sometimes errant wishes of the majority, not pure ethical principles.

A safer course than current U.S. law, however, might be to adopt the absolute ban in traditional Latin America law, which Nicaraguan law will adopt if the bill passed by its Congress is enacted. Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, who now professes to be a devout Catholic, could become next month the president who enacts the statute. (His nemesis Ronald Reagan, a very lapsed baptized Catholic to his dying day, never seemed to find time to make abortion illegal despite campaigning twice nationally on the promise to do just that.)

The Latin American legal principle is embedded in the American Convention On Human Rights. By a quirk of my employment history, I happened to be on hand when President Jimmy Carter signed the document on June 1, 1977 at the OAS General Secretariat, in Washington, D.C.

Signing the convention was a way for President Carter to affirm U.S. policy against human rights abuses, which were then rampant in the regimes of generals Cesar Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Jorge Rafael Videla of Argentina and Ernesto Geisel of Brazil. Funny how in 30 short years the U.S. government has gone from defending to blatantly and explicitly violating human rights, while Latin American governments have become sterling democracies in which even former torturers are tried for their crimes.

Yet it struck me then, and it does now, that in article 4, paragraph 1, the document states:

Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.

Accordingly, it didn't surprise me that the pro-choice Carter Administration didn't push ratification too hard, since in U.S. law ratified treaties become a part of the federal code. But I have been amazed that in roughly 26 years of Republican ascendancy, in which the GOP controlled the Senate for a total of 6 years, not a single clever backbencher thought to bring up ratification of the charter as a stealth "pro-life" measure.

This despite the claim in the GOP's Catholic Team Web site, that Republicans have consistently worked to promote a "culture of life," a buzz phrase stolen outright from Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae. Of course, it is easy to see how the broad economic and social terms in which the encyclical describes "life" might give the GOP's Catholic Team headaches, what with the concocted war in Iraq (which John Paul II pointedly opposed) and questionable domestic policies.

There simply is no Catholic logic left, stupid or smart, for voting Republican. Unless one simply enjoys being taken for a ride.

Go to the original to reach his links and read comments.

Who are these "pro-lifers" who condone the wholesale poisoning of Iraq with depleted uranium? Why don't they have a problem with abortions and birth defects that this fine dust of death causes and will cause forever?

Why is an abortion done on a willing woman by Planned Parenthood to further some supposed social or personal good worse than countless such abortions done by the US military on unwilling Iraqi women now and forever - as dust storms stir up the fine uranium oxide dust that they and their children will inhale forever. The resulting abortions, hideous birth defects, childhood leukemia, and other cancers will serve as the eternal memorial of America's presence. Why are they OK with this? Have they never read God's judgment that those who destroy the earth must be destroyed (Revelation 11:18)?

What kind of "pro-lifer" approves of mass abortion on people both in and out of the belly whenever it suits the desires of the US and Israel to dominate and terrorize people into submission to their hegemony? If it's really OK to slaughter all kinds of people so you can feel safe through being dominant in the world, how can you object to a woman wanting to kill her baby so she can secure her career?

So if you're against that, you "pro-life" Christians - and you should be - how about looking in the mirror and taking Haggai's advice to "consider your ways?" When are you going to oppose mass murder even of future generations to secure the career of the American nation state?

Jesus said he sends his disciples out as "sheep in the midts of wolves." If you won't go like that, but must instead go as wolves among sheep, or even as jackals following the wolves, like Samaritan's Purse and the other American missionaries who crouched in Jordan waiting to follow the American invaders into Iraq, do you think Jesus will change his mind and send you on your own terms, to reward you for rejecting his?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Appointment in Samarra

DEATH SPEAKS: There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, "Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me."

The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market-place and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, "Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?" "That was not a threatening gesture," I said, "It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra."

Let the reader understand.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Midterm elections

The Democrats did well on their midterms. I'm glad they did too, because it makes it less likely that I will soon be declared an "unlawful combatant," or one of their supporters, just because Mr. Bush says so, and disappear - no habeas corpus, no lawyer, nobody to know what tortures they're inflicting on me. Of course Bush wouldn't do that if it weren't true, would he? Doesn't he always judge rightly and tell the truth about everything and everyone?

But let's not get carried away. Like the dog chasing the car, what are the Dems going to do with it now that they've caught it?

Augustine rightly said that the doing of good deeds begins with the confession of bad deeds. I hope that Congress now actually investigates the criminality they've been covering up the past 5 years - it's their job, and Romans 13 charges them to do it already. But the Democrats now so delightedly pointing the finger at Bush and the other incompetents would do better to start by confessing their own bad deeds. Didn't most of them vote for this monstrosity, and are they not continuing to search for ways to put more whipped cream on this turd? Didn't a lot of them go along with torture and with disposing of the Constitution and habeas corpus? Being more interested in pinning it on the Republicans than in doing justice to anybody, they will end up at this rate making this turd their own, which is exactly what the equally cynical Republicans are busy maneuvering them into.

It's tough for the wicked, for those who refuse to humble themselves. Their way is a hedge of thorns, just as the proverb says.

One thing I've wondered about all along is the so-called Bible believers who read in the Revelation that four mighty angels are bound at the River Euphrates that when released will bring about mass death all over the world. These people, who supposedly believe that scripture, were eager to tap dance on that river bank, like none of the calamity they want to inflict on others could possibly touch them (Proverbs 17:5). They were all for the Marines devastating al-Fallujah - bombing and attacking hospitals, shooting drivers in their ambulances, and even people in the Euphrates itself who were trying to escape. If you believe those scriptures, and I say you should, is that just the spot in the whole wide world that you should act like that?

Ar-Ramadi is also on the Euphrates, and they just killed 11 members of one family there with tank fire in a crowded neighborhood. Again, can anyone who takes the Bible seriously pick that riverbank to act that way?

All this robbery and mass murder was conceived in lying and impatience - in the cowardice of a nation manipulated through its fears and greed for oil and world domination, like Gog and Magog rushing to easy plunder by the prompting of Satan (Ezekiel 38:10-12, Revelation 20:7-8). No amount of violence will repeal the truth about what has been done or the spirit in which it has been done - and God is not mocked. Who will take Augustine's advice, given earlier by John the apostle in 1 John 1:6-10? Are there any Christians out there?

In a hurry

"Bush and Blair are in a hurry, and such men lose wars." This comment in a column in the British paper the Guardian stopped me cold. There's a lot to think about in this completely true statement, and Bush and Blair are really not its point. It reminds me how often people are defeated just by being put in a hurry. Victory belongs to the patient.

These are hard words for me, because patience has never been one of my foremost qualities. To the degree that I have learned it, it has been through lots of time in remedial education, not much fun. But having seen it put it so truly and starkly, I am reproved, and I'm a little more signed up now.

Of course it does apply to Bush and Blair, who as always will try to repeal this truth with more violence. Violence is at its core rebellion, the attempt to overthrow truth by force.

Accordingly, they will increase their violence in Iraq, sending more American soldiers who will commit more atrocities and enrage more people who will repay them just as Americans would if an occupying army behaved in our country as Americans feel entitled to do elsewhere.

"Whatever you want men to do to you, do so to them" - or as Rabbi Hillel put it, "Whatever you hate, do not to others" - certainly does not enter into their thinking, however much some of them may shout that Jesus is Lord.

"Christians" who say they believe the Bible ought to remember that Jesus said of this commandment, "This is the law and the prophets." If they believed the Bible as they say they do, would they blow Jesus off like that - pressed into this faithlessness by their worldly fears? And their unfaithfulness will get them nothing but shame and immense bloodguilt anyway when we're all done, because as the Guardian writer rightly said, "They are men in a hurry, and such men lose wars."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Traffic Stop

I was stopped by the Chino Hills police on my way to pick up my son this evening, supposedly because my license plate light was out. They determined that actually there was just a lot of dirt on it, which I wiped off before I drove away.

But before that happened, they had me out of the car and frisked me. They were talking like I was a dangerous criminal with weapons. They were acting like they might well beat me up or shoot me.

They were the ones with the guns and sticks, and I'm an oldish and obviously harmless geek, but I had to take care of them and their fears. I was reminded - why do the unarmed and powerless have to reassure the armed and dangerous and soothe their fears, while those in their power just have to suck it up? But that is how the world works. Having a gun and a stick does not instill courage in their possessors.

This is what goes down for an old geeky white guy in a nice, bland Republican suburb. Up to now I've always found these deputies to be very nice and polite - Officer Friendly. So what do people in other places have to fear every day from those who are supposed to protect and serve them?

It's not a safe world after all. We need the protection of our God. You never know what might happen out there - but I don't want to find out outside the presence of the Lord.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Thoughts

Christians are very concerned with the evil spirits celebrated on that day and take pains to have special parties at their churches as alternatives to trick-or-treating. The following by Mickey Z a couple of days ago in Znet updates what Jesus said to the Pharisees about straining out gnats and swallowing camels:

Halloween is an odd holiday. The ostensible concept, as it has evolved to become, is to shock, startle, frighten, petrify, horrify, and/or terrify...all while consuming enough high fructose corn syrup to keep the American Dental Association content for another century or two.

Every year, as October 31 nears, loyal Americans eagerly squander a small fortune to adorn their humble abodes with Made-in-China images of tombstones, skulls, ghouls, goblins, monsters, zombies, and even the occasional bloody severed limb or two. While none of these cardboard
depictions scare me as much as, say, the upcoming fifth installment of Stallone's "Rocky" series, I do believe there are plenty of real-life creatures that might warrant their own Halloween mask this year...and I'm not just talking about celluloid slashers.

Ghosts, to me, are not a bigger or more urgent concern than irreparable environmental damage, and I certainly lose less sleep over the dead rising from their graves to eat me than I do a planet populated with oppressed and starving humans.

Forget Freddie of Elm St., I give you Henry the Horrible (Kissinger, that is): "Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the Third World, because the U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries."

Never mind Jason and his hockey mask when Ann Coulter is playing right wing: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

No need to worry about a fire-breathing reptile like Godzilla when a Condoleezard is loose in DC: "There is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect."

And, let's face it, a nocturnal bloodsucker named Dracula is nothing compared to the Big Bad Bushes of Yale roaming the earth both day and night:

Bush the Elder: "I will never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are." Bush the Lesser: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Of course, if none of those political poltergeist sends a chill down your ever-loving spine, you can chew on this factoid as you devour those Twizzlers, Bon Bons, and Almond Joys: For the first time in history, there are as many underweight people in the world as there are overweight people: 1.1 billion of each. (Running parallel to that troubling trend comes the reality that 100 million Americans-one-third the population-are either underinsured or uninsured when it comes to health care.) In other words...step away from the candy corn.

If you're still not quaking in your boots or pulling the covers over your head, let's take this hunt for horror global. Think about this as all those kids-in overpriced Barney costumes-come knocking on your door, expecting candy and more: Across the globe, an estimated 29,158 children under the age of 5 die from mostly preventable causes every single day. Cue the ominous music: 29,158 dead. Under the age of 5. Every single day. From mostly preventable causes.

The next time you're at a sporting event or a concert, take a good, slow look around you and get a feel for what 29,158 looks like. It's a whole lot more terrifying than the whir of a chainsaw echoing down a desolate Texas highway.