May 20, 2011

May 19, 2011

Area 51, Revisited

Posted by MARK THOMPSON Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

The latest on Area 51
Why does people's skepticism go out the window when it comes to military matters -- especially any that are secret? Granted, the recent dispatch of Osama bin Laden does make the U.S. military look all-but-omnipotent. But it's important to note that grand success was striking...because it was so rare.
Annie Jacobson's new book -- AREA 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base -- is the 398th touching on the Nevada site, according to Amazon's roster. But some of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. (Video: Watch Jacobson discuss her most provocative Area 51 findings)
She has interviewed 74 pilots and engineers, among others, who used to work there, and uncovered lots of details about their ground-breaking work in developing the U-2 spy plane, the F-117 stealth fighter-bomber and other aviation assets that helped the U.S. win the Cold War. There are amusing tales of trying to turn pigeons and cats into animal-kingdom 007s.
Part of Area 51's intrigue is that the government still declines to discuss it. That adds to its mystique, because truth...tends to be boring. It's the same way with the SEALs who offed bin Laden -- there is no quicker way to render a hero humdrum than to meet him. (Gosh -- he's so normal!)
Area 51 suffers one flawJacobsen's tale of the UFO that fell from the sky near Roswell, N.M., in 1947, is just that: a tale. The U.S. government transported the "spacecraft" to Area 51, where it was subject to all kinds of probing. It has generated endless controversy and confusion since then. All government efforts to explain what it was -- usually a weather balloon of some kind -- have merely thrown gasoline on the conspiracists' fires. (See the top 10 conspiracy theories of all time)
Jacobson suggests in the book (as well as in recent TV interviews) that the UFO was, in reality, a Nazi-inspired Soviet spy plane manned by midget teen-agers. Josef Stalin purportedly had Josef Mengele provide surgically-tweaked mini-pilots who were supposed to disembark from the aircraft, pretend to be space aliens, and scare Americans to death.
Someone's DVD player has been stuck on Close Encounters of the Third Kind for too long. When stories like this pop up, I like to impose what I call the "human nature" rule. Why would they have wanted to keep this tale secret, if it had happened this way? More critically, could the U.S. government have kept it a secret? Just because a fair number of Americans become unhinged when discussing UFOs and military matters is no reason for the rest of us to tag along. (See the top 10 strangest government secrets)
"Facts are often more fantastic than fiction," publisher Little, Brown's website for the book says, "especially when the distinction is almost impossible to make." Most of Area 51 is solid and well done, but its dubious claim regarding the Roswell UFO makes one wish all involved had tried a little harder to separate fact from fiction, before printing the later as the former.

Read more:

May 17, 2011

May 14, 2011

Genesis 50:20

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 

 20vos cogitastis de me malum et Deus vertit illud in bonum ut exaltaret me sicut inpraesentiarum cernitis et salvos faceret multos populos

20You thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present you see, and might save many people.

 20 וְאַתֶּ֕ם חֲשַׁבְתֶּ֥ם עָלַ֖י רָעָ֑ה אֱלֹהִים֙ חֲשָׁבָ֣הּ לְטֹבָ֔ה לְמַ֗עַן עֲשֹׂ֛ה כַּיֹּ֥ום הַזֶּ֖ה לְהַחֲיֹ֥ת עַם־רָֽב׃

May 10, 2011

Good Books

Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'll find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are. ... Telling details. Fresh details. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

after you die...

When I was a boy my grandfather died, and he was a sculptor.He was also a very kind man who had a lot of love to give the world, and he helped clean up the slum in our town; and he made toys for us and he did a million things in his lifetime; he was always busy with his hands. And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn't crying for him at all, but for all the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the back yard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them just the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I've never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands. He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

U.S. Study Says Teens Are Having Less Sex

U.S. Study Says Teens Are Having Less Sex
By ASSOCIATED PRESS Friday, March 4, 2011

Fewer teens and young adults are having sex, a government survey shows, and theories abound for why they're doing it less.

Experts say this generation may be more cautious than their predecessors, more aware of sexually spread diseases. Or perhaps emphasis on abstinence in the past decade has had some influence.

Or maybe they're just too busy.

"It's not even on my radar," said 17-year-old Abbey King of Hinsdale, Ill., a competitive swimmer who starts her day at 5 a.m. and falls into bed at 10:30 p.m. after swimming, school, weight lifting, running, more swimming, homework and a volunteer gig working with service dogs for the disabled. (More on More Than 10% of Young Adults With STDs Claim Abstinence)

The study, released Thursday, is based on interviews of about 5,300 young people, ages 15 to 24. It shows the proportion in that age group who said they'd never had oral, vaginal or anal sex rose in the past decade from 22 percent to about 28 percent.

The findings are sure to surprise some parents who see skin and lust in the media and worry that sex is rampant.

"Many parents and adults look at teens and sex and see nothing but a blur of bare midriffs. They think things are terrible and getting worse," said Bill Albert, chief program officer for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

There are other surveys of sexual behavior, but this is considered the largest and most reliable. "It's the gold standard," Albert said.

Health scientist Anjani Chandra of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention described the decline in sex as small but significant. She declined to speculate on the reasons. It's difficult to look for a trend earlier than 2002 because previous surveys did not gather as much detail about various types of sex, she added.

However, data over the years on vaginal intercourse among never-married adolescents shows a steady decline since 1988. That seems to be in sync with other CDC studies showing an overall drop in teen pregnancy. (More on Too Many One-Night Stands? Blame Your Genes)

That the trend began in the late 1980s seems to undermine the idea that abstinence-only sex education — heavily emphasized during the 2001-2009 presidency of George W. Bush — is the explanation, Albert said.

But it is possible those messages contributed, he added.

Comprehensive sex education — which includes abstinence but also teaches contraception and safer sex skills — didn't go away during the Bush years, said Elizabeth Schroeder, executive director of Answer, a national sex education organization at Rutgers University.

"We have been redoubling efforts and it has made an impact on these statistics," Schroeder said.

Sam Dercon, a 17-year-old high school junior from Princeton, N.J., said he's learned to worry about the consequences of having sex.

"I do think that sexual education is taking away that idea that you are invincible," said Dercon, who is also a contributing writer to, a project of Rutgers-based Answer. (More on Teen Girls More Likely to Have Risky Sex Than Teen Boys)

"There's always that fear of something going wrong with consequences that could screw up your future," he said.

The leading influence on sexual activity among young adults is what parents teach and what peers are doing, experts said. And for whatever reason, smaller proportions are "doing it" than in the past.

King, the busy Illinois teen, said she broke up with a boyfriend because "we didn't have time to hang out as much as we wanted to. We were both swimmers and the majority of the time we saw each other was at practice."

She is on the junior board for Robert Crown Center for Health Education, a nonprofit organization that teaches sex ed to students in the Chicago area.

She sees sex, alcohol, smoking and drugs as distractions to her goal of getting a college scholarship in swimming, she said.

"This generation is very focused on their future and not necessarily getting laid," agreed Washington, D.C.-based sex educator Yvonne Fulbright. (More on Does the Pill Lower Sex Drive?)

But she also suggested that some young men aren't making time for relationships.

"Some guys, at the end of the day, they'd rather channel their energy into music, playing their guitar or playing computer games," Fulbright said. "That's immediate gratification. People forget it takes work to woo somebody and keep her happy."

The study showed that 27 percent of young men and 29 percent of young women reported no sexual contact.

It looked at older adults, too. It was based on in-person interviews of about 13,500 men and women ages 15 to 44, conducted in the years 2006 through 2008. The results were compared with those of a similar survey done in 2002.

Participants were offered $40 for sitting for the interview, which usually lasted an hour and included answering very specific questions on a computer about oral sex, anal sex and other sexual activities. (More on 5 Little-Known Truths About American Sex Lives)

Among other findings:

— More than half of young people who had oral sex said they did that before vaginal intercourse; that pattern was much more common in whites than blacks or Hispanics.

— Among young adults, the proportion who had had vaginal or oral sex declined. But the proportion who had anal sex held steady, at about 21 percent.

— For all ages in the study, women were more than twice as likely to have had sex with a same-gender partner than men were. That was true despite the fact that about the same proportion of male and female survey respondents described themselves as homosexual.

The explanation for that finding seems to be that women are much more willing to describe themselves as bisexual, or to at least acknowledge they find others of their gender attractive.

That may have a lot to do with television shows and other pop culture, which at times seems to celebrate woman-on-woman sexual contact, but not the same kind of behavior among men, said Michael Reece, director of Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion.

"My guess is women are just more likely to feel that's OK," he added.

There is an assumption that sex between females is more common among more educated women, perhaps experimenting with their sexuality during their college years. But the CDC study found that such behavior was more common among less educated women, Chandra said.

Mike Stobbe reported from Atlanta and Carla K. Johnson reported from Chicago.

Find this article at:

Read more:

May 3, 2011

Mrs. Snow

Mrs. Snow had lived forty years, and for fifteen of those years she had been too busy wishing things were different to find much time to enjoy things as they were.

Eleanor H. Potter, Pollyanna


Genesis 38

6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.
7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.
8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.”
9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother.
10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.

6dedit autem Iudas uxorem primogenito suo Her nomine Thamar
7fuitque Her primogenitus Iudae nequam in conspectu Domini et ab eo occisus est
8dixit ergo Iudas ad Onam filium suum ingredere ad uxorem fratris tui et sociare illi ut suscites semen fratri tuo
9ille sciens non sibi nasci filios introiens ad uxorem fratris sui semen fundebat in terram ne liberi fratris nomine nascerentur
10et idcirco percussit eum Dominus quod rem detestabilem faceret

Five Most Intriguing Changes in the Updated NIV

Posted in New Testament, Old Testament, Translation Philosophy by Collin Hansen on February 28th, 2011

Last year I enjoyed the privilege of moderating the Perspectives in Translation forum at Bible Gateway. This work put me in touch with some of the world’s most gifted Bible scholars, men and women committed to helping us understand God’s Word in many varied contemporary English translations.

We launched this project around the same time the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT) released the updated NIV at Bible Gateway. NIV translators Doug Moo and Craig Blomberg participated in the Perspectives forum. But so did translators and/or supporters of several other versions, including the NLT, ESV, HCSB, CEB, and NET. That made for some vigorous discussion, especially regarding the best way to render passages related to gender roles. We welcomed such debate, because translation is a serious matter that carries serious consequences for Christian faith and practice.

Now the scholars have returned to their regular tasks of teaching and writing, so we will only update the Perspectives forum if we see occasion and reader demand to convene a group discussion. We’re grateful for the significant interested readers have shown in the forum and welcome any tips for special topics we might cover.

To recap our discussion so far, I wanted to look back on the updated NIV and observe what I regard as the five most intriguing changes unveiled in last year’s edition compared to the 1984 NIV. Scholars discussed most of these changes at Perspectives in Translation. Others were covered in the translation notes released by the CBT.

5.) Philippians 4:13

1984 NIV: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

2010 NIV: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Here we have one of the most popular and frequently memorized verses in the entire Bible. According to data compiled by Bible Gateway, this is the number four most-read Bible verse. It’s easy to memorize and packs a punch. But the 2010 translation helps us to understand the apostle Paul’s intent more clearly by encouraging us to examine the context of his remark. God granted him contentment in all circumstances, whether rich or poor, well fed or hungry. Indeed, we know from Philippians 4:7 that the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God does not promise to protect believers from all hardship. But he does promise to preserve us in it.

4.) Psalm 23:4

1984 NIV: ‟Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

2010 NIV: ‟Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

I don’t remember much from Sunday school as a child, but I remember memorizing Psalm 23. The King James Version of 1611 conveyed the beauty of this chapter with lyrical, rhythmic phrasing like the “valley of the shadow of death,” retained in verse four of the 1984 NIV. Some modern translations, such as the ESV an NASB, have preserved this beautiful language. The 2010 NIV, however, has joined the HCSB, NLT, NRSV, and NET by opting for broader comprehension with a simpler modern phrase: “darkest valley.” No matter how dark things appear in our lives, God will never leave us. There can be no greater hope!

3.) Romans 8:8

1984 NIV: “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

2010 NIV: “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

I could have selected several other verses to illustrate this same change. The CBT’s translation notes explain that particularly in Paul’s letters, the word “sarx can mean either part or all of the human body or the human being under the power of sin.” Paul uses the word both ways, just as we use the same words today with both literal and figurative meanings. The 1984 NIV aimed to help readers by offering the figurative meaning whenever translators believed they could establish Paul’s intent. The 2010 NIV takes a more hands-off approach, more frequently translating sarx as flesh and urging the readers to make their own decisions about when Paul means to reference the sinful nature that misleads us.

Blomberg explained on the Perspectives forum more about the misconceptions prompted the CBT to make a change:

Through my seminary studies . . . I came to learn that it wasn’t as though Christians had two compartments to them, one in which the Spirit resided and one in which the flesh resided, so that one could speak of their spiritual and their sinful natures. The Spirit always indwells us, and sometimes fills us, but when he doesn’t it is because we are not fully yielded to him. Thus the flesh, as the common Scriptural opposite, is most naturally likewise understood as a power to which we can yield, to varying degrees.

2.) 2 Corinthians 5:17

1984 NIV: ‟Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

2010 NIV: ‟Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

However you translate it, this is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible. Believers cling to this promise when overwhelmed with the weight of our sin and its effects on the ones we love. The 2010 NIV helps us to more clearly understand something profound: our union with Christ has cosmic implications! Far from minimizing the significance of the new birth, Paul teaches us that same re-creative power that raised Jesus from the dead now regenerates us, who were helpless in our sins. Indeed, Jesus is making all things new.

The CBT tells us more about Paul’s teaching:

Given his overall theology that the coming of Christ and the new era he inaugurated began the period of the restoration of all things that would culminate in new heavens and new earth, it is likely that Paul is making a much more sweeping claim than just the salvation of the individual believer. A new universe is in the works!

Blomberg argued at the Perspectives forum that Paul employs an attention-grabbing structure in the original Greek in order to show us that our individual conversions are part of God’s grand creative plan. This example demonstrates how translators consider both a verse’s sentence construction as well as the broader context of biblical theology.

1.) Philippians 2:6

1984 NIV: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.”

2010 NIV: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage.”

This verse belongs to a beloved section of Scripture, Philippians 2:6-11, which explains the humiliation Jesus suffered on the earth and the exaltation he enjoys in heaven. Paul tells us we have the same mindset, looking not to our interests but to the interests of others, as Jesus did by enduring death on the cross.

This verse also bears tremendous theological importance. In particular, scholars have long debated the meaning of the rarely used Greek word harpagmos. The 1984 NIV translated it “something to be grasped.” But what does it mean that Jesus did not grasp equality with God? Isn’t he in very nature God? What’s the difference?

The CBT considered new scholarship in the last 25 years that led them to believe that harpagmos carried the meaning of someone who possesses something he does not use for his own advantage. Blomberg explained more on the Perspectives forum:

The point then of the verse is not that Christ, in choosing to give up his position, metaphorically, at the right hand of the Father in order to become human, gave up his deity or even his divine attributes, but that he didn’t consider them as something to be used to his own personal advantage. Evangelical theologians have often spoken of Christ giving up the independent exercise of his divine attributes apart from when it was his Father’s will.

More than any other change, I think, this verse illustrates how Bible translators serve the rest of us. A verse that has baffled me for so long now comes into clearer focus thanks to careful study of the original language in its ancient context. And now that I know more clearly what Jesus Christ did for me, I praise him and ask for the Spirit’s help in serving others to the glory of God the Father.

Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for The Gospel Coalition and editor of the Perspectives in Translation forum at Bible Gateway. He is the co-author of A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir.

Romeo and Juliet in a modern age

If Juliet had Googled Romeo, she would have found out he was a Montague and avoided all that fuss.

Read more:,28804,2059521_2059716_2059709,00.html #ixzz1LGegTZwz