Silicon Valley Gazillionaires are Prepping Like Crazy

Found this fascinating:

Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich

Snippet:

How did a preoccupation with the apocalypse come to flourish in Silicon Valley, a place known, to the point of cliché, for unstinting confidence in its ability to change the world for the better?

Those impulses are not as contradictory as they seem. Technology rewards the ability to imagine wildly different futures . . .

Bonus:

Many of Asia’s billionaires have been buying private hidey-holes in New Zealand for the last few years:

Political Parties Die

Whig Ticket

Abraham Lincoln was originally a member of the Whig Party. The Whigs saw four members elected President before collapsing and dissolving in 1854.

The Whigs were replaced on the national stage by a new party—the Republicans.

Yes, political parties can and do die. We may be witnessing the death of one in our time. Which reminds me . . .

Here in Texas, powerful thunderstorms can roll through in the late spring and early summer fronted by intense, straight-line winds. Occasionally after such a storm, you’ll see a huge, ancient tree blown over with the roots pulled right up out of the ground.

It’s easy to look at the huge girth such a tree and marvel that mere wind could take it down after centuries of life and vitality. But take a closer look and you’ll often see that the roots are diseased and shriveled. Such trees are all showy top and no anchoring base.

If the Republican Party rapidly collapses in the aftermath of this election it would not surprise me in the least. And the real cause will have been the disdain for the conservative roots by the bloated establishment elites in Washington and Wall Street; the open borders advocates at the Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Donald Trump will merely have been the wind that knocked it over.

Millard Fillmore was the last Whig president. Perhaps Donald Trump will be the last Republican one.

 

 

Pharma Companies are Clearly Out of Ideas for Drug Names

scrabbletray

Well, I just saw one of those “ask your doctor about . . .” television spots for a new drug call Farxiga. That’s right FARXIGA. This new diabetes drug from AstraZeneca joins their other pharmaceutical offerings that now include FASLODEX, KOMBIGLYZE XR, LYNPARZA, ONGLYZA, and ZOMIG.

It really does seem like they’re now just grabbing a handful of Scrabble tiles and throwing them on a table and whatever randomly comes up becomes the new drug name. But their Scrabble set must come with lots of extra Xs, Ys and Zs.

XeljanzIt’s not just AstraZeneca. Pfizer is the maker of ELELYSO, FLYGYL, INYLTA, REBIF, SKELAXIN, TRUMENBA, and XELJANZ. Clearly, they long ago ran out of ideas and now they’re just messing with us.

How about these offerings from GlaxoSmithKline: LAMICTAL, TANZEUM, STAXYN, and RAXIBACUMAB.

Should you ask your doctor if RAXIBACUMAB is right for you? Let’s hope he says “no.” It’s a treatment for people who have inhaled anthrax.

Attention, Pharma companies! I hereby offer you my creative services for coming up with names for new drugs. I’ll even give you the first three at no charge.

YRRAL, YLRUC, and EOM*. (You’re welcome.)

 

 

*Larry, Curly and Moe

 

 

 

 

 

The One Key to Understanding Mr. Obama’s Sellout to Iran

Ramirez Iran

Here is the key to understanding recent U.S. policy in the Middle East in general; and the twisted logic behind Mr. Obama’s complete surrender on the recent “deal” over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. An agreement in which Iran got everything it wanted in terms of removal of sanctions and gave away nothing it didn’t want to give. “Such a deal,” as Jewish New Yorkers say.

It’s the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the seemingly indecipherable.

It’s vital to understand one thing. The primary driver of events, tensions and bloodshed in the Middle East is not, as most people believe, the existence of Israel or the situation of the Palestinians. Not even close. It is this . . .

The Middle East is a chess board with Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia as the opposing players. They are playing for strategic dominance in the region and, more importantly, the dominance of their preferred brands of Islam. Both have friendly allies, and surrogates or insurgencies in place everywhere.

Until the wildcard ISIS emerged in Iraq and Syria, the war in Syria is essentially a proxy war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi.

In the decades since the Iranian hostage crisis in the late ’70s (watch the movie Argo for some liberal-biased context, young people), the United States has tilted toward Saudi Arabia as the least unsavory option among a a number of ugly choices for allies in that region other than Israel.

Some U.S. administrations have tilted farther than others.

Ahem . . .

Ahem . . .

Enter President Obama. From day one he has clearly been bent on moving U.S. favor away from the Saudis and toward the Iranians. So much so that he is happily risking a nuclear arms race in the insane, volatile Middle East just to strengthen Iran economically through the lifting of sanctions. This “deal” is only a fig leaf for getting international sanctions removed.

The more interesting question is “Why?”

My guess is that Mr. Obama—as a bleeding heart, anti-colonialist liberal (see: Dreams from My Father)—has a soft spot for the Shiites, who have historically been the persecuted underdogs and the out-group in the Muslim world. This affinity for the Shia has been flagrantly on display in U.S. policy toward Egypt.

The Obama administration was robustly cheerleading when the notorious Muslim Brotherhood (Shiite) took control of Egypt at the ballot box in 2012 via the election of Mohamed Morsi. Shortly thereafter the churches of Egypt began burning, the Christians started dying, and the Obama Administration started being fresh out of craps to give.

When Egypt’s secular generals saw the country sliding rapidly into an Iranian-style fascist theocracy, they quickly stepped in, threw Morsi out, and took control. The churches stopped burning. The Christians stopped dying. And Team Obama was furious.

Ever since the “coup”  kicked out Morsi, Team Obama has treated Egypt worse than it treats Israel, and that’s obviously saying something. They’ve held up aid and delivery of military hardware. And they’ve sharply criticized the Egyptian government for cracking down on Brotherhood extremists.

So there you have it. It is beyond clear that Obama is rooting for the Shiites agains the Sunnis, which translates into helping the principal promoter and supporter of Shiism in the world—Iran.

Which is how you get here . . .Ramirez Iran 2

 

 

 

 

Remembering Nepal

Three years ago I spent an unforgettable week in Nepal on a work-related trip—helping document the fight against human trafficking in that nation. We were not only in Kathmandu but also ping-ponged around the country with a video crew.

Today the people of Nepal continue to dig out after the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The death toll is above 8,000 and continues rise. Below are a few of my photos from the trip. Many of the places I shot in Kathmandu and Pokhara are no longer standing or are badly damaged.

Nepal iPhone114Nepal iPhone119 Nepal iPhone14

Pokhara

Pokhara

Family members washing the body of a deceased loved on with chai, before setting the body on fire.

Family members washing the body of a deceased loved one with chai, before setting the body on fire.

DSC_1807IMG_0076IMG_0128

On Being Back Up North

wisconsin

Spring has not quite yet sprung up in Minnesota and Wisconsin. But, as I was reminded last weekend, that is the way it goes up there. They’d had a little snow the previous week. And the earliest budding trees are just now showing some signs of life.

We spent five-and-a-half great years living in the Twin Cities in the late ’90s. Not surprisingly, moving there from Oklahoma involved a little culture shock (and a lot of climate shock.) The winters were astonishingly long and harsh. But the summers . . . oh, the summers were something special. And the Autumns were spectacular but also filled with a sense of dread about what you knew was coming.

Minneapolis-Fall-Colors

The window for golf was narrow—roughly mid-May to early September—but I played more rounds per year there than in any other period of my life. Here in Texas I can play 11 months out of the year but I’m out of control if I play two rounds a year.

The wife and I headed back up there to reconnect with some dear friends and teach at Liberty Christian Center in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Menomonie is a charming little college town in western Wisconsin that wraps halfway around a lake.

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The church is as cool as the town is quaint. If you know anyone who lives within driving distance of Menomonie, I recommend Liberty heartily. Here is the first of four sessions we did for their marriage retreat:

 

And here is my message from the second Sunday morning service:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Resurrection Morning

Empty

They are laying Him in the borrowed place of burial.

“Tear down this temple and I’ll build it back in three days,” He had once declared to the bewildered Temple leaders. Now that “temple” has been battered beyond recognition. Torn down in every way a human body can be.

Loving hands have rushed to prepare the broken body for interment. Washed it. Wrapped it in strips of linen. But the customary step of anointing is skipped. They are out of time. The relentlessly sinking sun is disappearing in the western sky.

So they hurriedly hoist the limp, white-shrouded bundle and gently lay it on a chiseled shelf in that rock-hewn womb—and anoint the body only with their tears.

Moments later, with those same Temple officials looking on to assure that all is done as ordered, the hand-picked guards roll a large stone disk across the opening. The ground beneath all feet trembles as the massive wheel drops several inches into the niche carved to hold it in place.

They seal it. And the co-conspirators, breathing sighs of relief, congratulate themselves. They have won, they believe. Finally, the hope of these stubborn Jesus followers has been once-and-for-all extinguished. Indeed, they have already scattered like shepherdless sheep.

The sun is gone. Darkness and silence envelope the rocky garden. No sound is heard, save the distant, fading sobs of a heartbroken mother.

Two nights pass. Then somewhere in the courts of heaven a book is opened and a line from a song of David is sung:

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:10

Immediately, Venus, the Morning Star, rises in the east, declaring the imminent approach of dawn. The earth trembles and the powers of heaven are shaken.

Then we see Him. He emerges with a word on His lips for you, for me and for every wandering child of Adam:

“I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” (Rev. 1:18 NLT)

 

“Christian, it is your Lord,
He meets the morning of His resurrection.
He arises, a conqueror from the grave; He returns with blessings from the world of the spirits; he brings salvation to the sons of men.
Never did the returning sun usher in a day so glorious! It is the jubilee of the universe!
–Edward Thomson (1810-1870)

On Good Friday

 

Do you come here often?

Do you come here often?

Somewhere outside my home study window a male cardinal is holding forth mightily—robustly advertising his availability and suitability as a husband and baby-daddy.

I vaguely recall being in my early twenties and doing pretty much the same thing. Like my cardinal friend, I strategically deployed the color red and music. I bought a red Corvette I couldn’t afford, and was in a band.

The insurance alone took a third of my paycheck.

The insurance alone took a third of my paycheck.

I also recall using the color white—in the form of an unconstructed, Don-Johnson-on-Miami-Vice-style jacket.

Fortunately for me, all these efforts failed spectacularly. And five years later God brought me the perfect life companion as I was deploying the counter-intuitive mating strategy of simply not looking like a complete douche all the time.

I’m so grateful for the gift that is my bride. And for so many other things. Which brings me to my thoughts here on Good Friday . . .

The cross changed everything.

I know we all nod and give mental assent to that assertion. But I’m pretty sure we don’t know the half of the vast work of restoration and restitution that was embedded in the “It” of Jesus’ “It is finished.”

The cross is the hinge upon which all of human history turns. Everything before was one way—dating back to the Fall of Man. Everything after it has been different. More different than we know, in fact, because our perspectives are too limited and our vantage point to occluded.

The necessity of the cross testifies that God built this universe on a legal/judicial framework. Just rules, laws, systems and processes were woven in the very fabric of Creation itself. God’s grant to Man of dominion stewardship over planet Earth was a part of this judicial framework. It was a legal grant.

And these principles were so inviolable, that even God Himself could not trespass them and remain His holy Self. When Man’s Fall unleashed evil upon this world and made God’s outlaw enemy the legal “god of this world” God could not simply turn the Etch-a-Sketch of creation up side down, give it a good shake, and start again.

God is not free to cheat. Not and remain Who He is.

So when things went wrong, God set out to make them right again. But to do so legally and justly would require a plan which would be thousands of years in the unfolding.

The culmination of that plan took place roughly 1,985 years ago at this time of year . . . at the cross. Let’s look with fresh eyes at what transpired there.

At the foot of His cross the spirit realm is invisible to our natural eyes. We see a man suffering. What we do not see is what is transpiring in the unseen realm.

If we could, we would see hordes of gleeful, and giddy demons who have finally seen the lowering of the hedge of protection that always surrounded the Son of Man. He was finally vulnerable to torment and attack.

It’s been eerily dark and quiet on Golgotha. It would be easy to assume that nothing of significance has transpired. But in that same span, the great court of Heaven has been the scene of a remarkable flurry of activity.

Legal processes have been executed . . . accounting has been done . . . business has been transacted. . . . a kinsman redeemer has stepped forward to pay the necessary price to redeem an enslaved relative—Adam—and his every willing descendant.

A long-open set of accounting books has been reconciled and closed. A cosmic stamp pounds an ancient page leaving behind a blood-red message across the writing there. “Paid in Full.”

A corner has been turned.

The suffocating blanket of darkness that covered the last half of these proceedings begins to lift. Now that the sun can once again be discerned, we realize it has already begun it’s fiery plunge into the Mediterranean to be extinguished for another night. The Jewish Sabbath rest begins at sundown and it is rapidly approaching.

The few remaining observers on Golgotha heard the man on the center cross shout something about His God having abandoned Him. A little later He’d whispered a request for water—one that was answered, not with a ladle of cooling water but with a vinegar-filled sponge. Now we see the expiring Prince of Heaven summoning His last remnants of physical and mental strength . . . rising to speak once more.

Just one word this time. He cries out:

tetelestai

It is a Greek accounting term. Future English translations of John’s gospel will render that term in a way that tends to strip it of the legal and financial connotations. They translate it, “It is finished” (three words for one). But tetelestai does not mean merely that a thing has ended.

It has a far greater implication than merely a clock has run out and the game has concluded. It is a declaration that all has been accomplished. All that was lacking has now been supplied. The breech has been healed. The debt has been fully satisfied.

Shalom—nothing broken, nothing missing.

Charles Spurgeon called this declaration, “Christ’s dying word to the Church.” But our King’s proclamation carries even more dimensions of meaning than this. He means that all the types, shadows, and symbols of the Old Testament have now been fully manifested in Him.

He decrees that the prophecies that pointed to a future Deliverer King have been fulfilled. John the Baptist had asked, “Are you the One or should we look for another?” Jesus’ answer at that time was suggestive but indirect. Now He speaks plainly. His tetelestai! emphatically shouts, “You can stop looking! The promised One has appeared and accomplished the prophesied task. Dominion of planet earth has been restored to its rightful steward.”

Finally, in that cry of consummation, Jesus declared an end to separated man’s religious striving to build a ladder back to God.

How did this happen?

God Himself became flesh and bone and blood. Walked among fallen men. And willingly laid down on a cross.

We receive and are grateful.