Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Family is a western term used to describe a domesticated group of people linked together by descent. Todays American family is much more egalitarian than families structures of the passed. Women enjoy a position of respect higher than ever before. Families today are typically started as a result of two people meeting informally and then eventually going through the courtship process and getting married. This was not the case in ancient Rome. Rome was an extremly Patriarchal society, males had all the power. In Rome, families were second to a persons role as a tax payer and citizen willing to die for the empire. The purpose of the Roman family was to carry on the family line so the spirits of the dead could be honored. To strengthen and form political alliances, Roman men with fertile wives would often divorce their wives and pass them on to an ally to be remarried to father his children. Slaves were also part of the family household. The oldest male member of the Roman family was called the pater familias and the younger male members of the family had to do business with his name unless they were emancipated.
In China, the family was seen as a core aspect of the culture. To this day, the Chinese exchange family name ahead of first name when introducing themselves. Chinese families are also Patriarchal, however when the oldest female member is widowed, she enjoyed a position of power. Daughters were often sold into slavery in poorer Chinese families.
In Japan, Family was thought of existing unceasingly, regardless of birth and death. The family existed in the past and it will continue to exist in the future. Members of the family think of each other as sharing a bond, not in blood, but as partners in a shared responsibility of maintaining the family as an institution.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oral Roberts

Oral Roberts, a Christian televangelist and self proclaimed faith healer may be one of the most successful frauds ever. With a university to his name, Oral Roberts has been cited as a major leader of the Charismatic Movement. Ironically, Oral Roberts became a faith healer after dropping out of college. The Charismatic Movement is an evangelical movement that focuses on the gifts of the spirit: speaking in tongues, faith healing, and other abilities that are allegedly supernatural. Faith healing was popularized largely thanks to Oral Roberts 1950s televangilizing.
Roberts has told of and acted out several fraudulent "faith healings". In his biography, Roberts claims that he was healed of tuberculosis by a traveling preacher, and he even provides evidence by showing medical records of his healthy lungs, unfortunately he never showed any documented evidence that he had tuberculosis. In another instance a women appeared on Robert's show claiming to be miraculously healed of cancer, apparently she wasn't because she died less than 12 hours after the taping. They same thing happened again when a women with spinal cancer claimed Robert's had healed her on his show, only to die three days later of the disease.
Oral Roberts clearly is not a gifted faith healer. He has shown no actually ability to heal the sick, and he has been publicly exposed several times. The fact that this man has a University named after him displays that people will believe anyone if they want to, no matter how rediculess the character is. Unfortunately this is not always comical. In 1959, after hearing Roberts speak, diabetic Wanda Beach threw away her insulin. She was dead within hours. At another Roberts rally, three people reportedly died from similar circumstances.
The listed examples are deaths that are directly tied to Roberts preaching. The belief that prayer and meditation is a better cure for severe illnesses than western medicine is a dangerous one. Who knows how far Roberts has spread that belief, Roberts may actually be indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. Now thats what I call preaching the word of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The ACLU and Torture

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a coalition of lawyers that focuses on protecting the civil rights. The ACLU both acts as lobby group and as a non-profit litigation. The also ACLU focuses on represents groups of the population that are often denied their rights. The ACLU has taken several steps to raise awareness torture and also hold those accountable who are responsible for torture that violates the Geneva Conventions and the constitution. The ACLU recently released a book entitled Administration of Torture. The book details accounts of prisonor abuse at Abu Ghraib and Gauntanomo Bay. The purpose of the book is to expose elements of America's methods of combating terrorism that need to be further questioned on their ethical consequences, effectiveness, and the violation of human rights.
The ACLU has been aggressive in their assertion that U.S interrogation tatics violate the Geneva Convention. Here is what the ACLU says about torture:

Torture threatens our most treasured values and it is wrong:

    Torture is illegal, banned by both domestic and international law.
    Torture doesn't work. The information elicited is inaccurate; torture victims themselves tell us they have confessed to crimes they did not commit in order to end their suffering.
    Torture puts our troops at greater risk, increasing the chance that, should they fall into enemy hands, our servicemen and -women will be tortured in kind. Countries around the world have already begun citing the United States when justifying their use of cruel and unusual punishments - most recently the Junta in Myanmar.
    Torture tarnishes the image of the United States abroad. Torture degrades the rule of law and puts the core values of our democracy - the belief that all men are created equal and have the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - at risk. It not only creates new enemies abroad, but is damaging our relationships with long-term allies.

Albert Porta and The End of the World

In 1919, Albert Porta, a well respected meteorologist concluded that the December 17th conjunction six planets would lead to the end of the world. Porta stated that the conjunction of the six planets would "cause a magnetic current that would pierce the sun, cause great explosions of flaming gas and eventually engulf the earth". Albert Porta's bold prediction cost him his reputation and his career. When the end of the world failed to arrive, Porta lost all his credibility in the field of meteorology. He spent the rest of his life working for a newspaper.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Edgar C. Whisenant and the 88 reasons the world didn't in 1988

Edgar C. Whisenant was a bible student who was relativily unknown until he decided to predict the rapture. Whisenant studied the bible and concluded that the world would end somewhere between September 11th and 13th of 1988. Whisenant went so far as to publish and distribute 2 books entitled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be In 1988 and On Borrowed Time. Whisenant best his reasoning on calculations gathered from a collection of dates and history in the bible. Whisenant was so convinced that he would even bet he stated he would bet his life on his claim. "[I]f there were a king in this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on Rosh Hashana 88." Many leaders discounted Whisenants prophecy but the Trinity Broadcast Network did not. Between the dates of the 11th and 13th, the network ran tapes instructing non-Christians on what to do in case their Christian friends and relatives disapeared leaving them in a world thrust into tribulation. When the world did not end, Whisenant warned that the rapture was coming on the September 15th, and then October 3rd, and then he realized he had made and error citing a fluke in the gregorian calender stating that the rapture was actually coming in 1989. Whisenant continued his warnings publishing The Final Shout--Rapture Report 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, etc. Whisenant finally gave up after the continued to disappointment. The absence of the rapture has landed Whisenant in good company among the thousands of other failed prophets, though Whisenant did sell 4 million copies of his book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Minnesota Iceman

The Minnesota Iceman was a mysterious harry man-like creature buried in a block of ice that was put on display at carnivals by exhibitor Frank Hansen in Rolling Stone, Minnesota and Milwaukee during 1968. The Iceman was male, covered with brown hair, and was around six feet tall. One of its arms was broken and its left eye was falling out of its socket, allegedly from when the killing bullet struck it in the back of its head. It is unconfirmed to this day whether the Iceman was a hoax or genuine. Two scientists examined the Iceman and confirmed it as a living being citing that they could smell the purification of flesh in a spot where the ice had melted. The scientist even followed up with an article that caught the attention of the Smithsonian. The FBI almost began a murder investigation but J. Edgar Hoover showed no intrest stating that if it wasn't human, it wasn't there place to investigate. There were several speculations to the creatures origin ranging from Bemidji, Minnesota to Vietnam. Soon Hansen stopped any further investigation on the creature stating that the owner, a mysterious millionaire, did not want it investigated anymore. The Iceman quickly disapeared and in a 1995 interview, Hansen stated that he didn't know where the Iceman ever went.