“The big hand is on the 12, and the little hand . . . “

It seems our digital era is causing yet another casualty. It has long been a rite of passage for young children; the moment they first begin to grasp how to tell the time as their parents patiently explain the significance of the “big hand” and the “little hand”. But the ubiquity of mobile phones and tablets, with their digital 24-hour clock, is threatening to make the art of telling the time from a traditional timepiece redundant. So much so that a school in Scotland has found that pupils as old as 13 are unable to tell the time from the ‘analogue’

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Sunday morning music

This morning’s post is by way of a eulogy for Neil Peart, late drummer and lyricist for Canadian rock band Rush.  He died of brain cancer a few days ago. It’s almost impossible to praise too highly Peart’s contribution to rock music, and the role of percussion instruments in that genre.  He won no less than 38 awards from Modern Drummer magazine.  He won the “Best Rock Drummer” award every year from 1980-1986, and had to be taken off the nominee list and given his own emeritus mention, just so that others could have a chance at the title!  In his obituary, the magazine

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You think you’re tough? Try removing your own appendix!

I recently came across a fascinating article about a Russian doctor who cut out his own appendix, after being left with no alternative. During an expedition to the Antarctic, Russian surgeon Leonid Rogozov became seriously ill. He needed an operation – and as the only doctor on the team, he realised he would have to do it himself. . . . Rogozov was part of the sixth Soviet Antarctic expedition – a team of 12 had been sent to build a new base at the Schirmacher Oasis. The Novolazarevskaya Station was up and running by the middle of February 1961, and with their mission complete the group

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In memoriam: Marie Fredriksson of Roxette

I was saddened to read of the death of Marie Fredriksson, one of the duo who formed the Swedish pop/rock group Roxette in the 1980’s.  I enjoyed their music at the time, finding it a welcome distraction from some of the nastier events taking place in South Africa back then.  Britain’s Daily Express reports: Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson has died at the age of 61. The Swedish popstar co-created Roxette with Per Gessle in 1986 and was best known for her hits It Must Have Been Love, Joyride, Listen To Your Heart and The Look. Marie died on Monday morning after suffering from a long-term illness for 17 years.

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No, things were NOT better under white rule in South Africa

There seems to be a perennial attempt to insinuate that the only reason things are so bad in South Africa these days is because white supremacist rulers and their policy of apartheid are no longer in charge.  I addressed this at some length in a previous essay (which, if you haven’t read it, remains very relevant, IMHO), but there are still plenty of doubters out there. Now Kim du Toit, another expatriate South African who’s now an American citizen, brings his own contribution to the debate.  He concludes: So there’s no point in reevaluating apartheid:  it was a savagely iniquitous and evil system, and the

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The death of a friend

I’ve lost a lot of friends, comrades-in-arms, and acquaintances.  It was never easy to cope with, and sometimes it felt like the yawning, empty ache death leaves behind was about to overwhelm me.  (Not unlike a heart attack, in some ways:  I’ve now experienced the latter twice, so I think I have some basis for comparison.) Over the weekend, a friend of mine lost a loved one, and turned to me for a shoulder to lean on.  Again, that’s something I’ve done a lot, as a pastor (now retired) and as a friend.  Living in a conflict zone, as I

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Fake science, sexual reality, and gender identity

Last week I noted that the ACLU’s claim, that one can be a man and still have periods, get pregnant, etc., was scientifically false;  that sex was determined by the chromosomes, and they are definitive.  Since then, I’ve received a certain amount of pushback from transgender individuals and/or lobbyists, trying to persuade me (or browbeat me into accepting) that the science is rather more involved than that, and that gender fluidity and/or identification is not a matter of the chromosomes alone. I accept that psychological or psychiatric problems can lead some people to adopt a different mental outlook on their gender and

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America’s first military intelligence chief?

In a blog post yesterday, my friend Cedar Sanderson asked “What are you reading?”  In her own list of books, she mentioned this: Major General George H Sharpe (cool Civil War era spying biography) I’d never heard of General Sharpe.  Intrigued, I did a quick search for information, and found this article. Not many people today have heard of George H. Sharpe. I hadn’t heard of him until I happened to read a short CIA historical report that—in little more than a passing reference—credited him with having established “the first ‘all-source intelligence’ organization in U.S. history.” Sharpe was the director of the

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The homeless crisis and what it portends

In a recent interview, Doug Casey offers his perspective on the explosion of homelessness in parts of this country, and what it means.  He doesn’t mince his words. I see it as part of the continuing decline of Western civilization. The West has always been distinguished relative to the rest of the world by its order, its cleanliness, its respect for property rights. These things are all going by the wayside. We were a middle class society with “bourgeois” values, essentially Boy Scout virtues. But these things are now held in contempt, even while the middle class is being squeezed. “Ground

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I’d like to try cooking them

I was amused to read that clay tablets, many thousands of years old, containing ancient Babylonian recipes have been decoded, and researchers are trying to prepare the dishes they describe. The instructions for lamb stew read more like a list of ingredients than a bona fide recipe: “Meat is used. You prepare water. You add fine-grained salt, dried barley cakes, onion, Persian shallot, and milk. You crush and add leek and garlic.” But it’s impossible to ask the chef to reveal the missing pieces: This recipe’s writer has been dead for some 4,000 years. Instead, a team of international scholars versed in

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