Category Archives: Fabulous

How teachings of the old testament affect daily life

On her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.
When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination… End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is, my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I am confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus Dept. of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

Camille and Kennerly. Harp Twins.

Yes, as you may have guessed, this post is about music. For me music is an important part of life. Without music (and my writing) life would not be life as I now know it, and much less valuable.

This post is about 2 ladies I discovered through the marvel called Internet. They are twins and they both play harp, and their names are Camille and Kennerly. Many people will perhaps stop reading here, but they won’t know what they miss.

Harp twins

Harp? Yes, harp. It’s a beautiful instrument. I never played it, but I have lots of harp music ranging from Händel’s harp concertos via Lisa Lynne Franco to – indeed – Camille and Kennerly, and how these two ladies make their harps sing is amazing. For example this song, Asleep, by the Smiths (tip: listen with proper headphones to get the most out of the music!):

Before you think that harp music is only for the slow, the sullen and the sleepy, have a taste of this: Don’t fear the reaper, from Blue Öyster Cult. (Sorry about the off-site link, for some strange reason this video won’t show here.)

This too can be done with harps. Disappointed that there are no screaming double-speed electric guitars? If so, remember that they play harp, not double-speed electric guitars.

harp twins

So, what is so special about these twins? First off, they’re twins who both share a passion for the same instrument. Not so common, I think. Next is that they are independent artists, not signed up with any big label, not sponsored by large amounts of money. They do everything themselves, which strikes a chord with me being an indie writer. Indies do everything themselves. Everything:

harp twins - harp transport
Harp transport. Hello dolly!

They even move their own harps into the most impossible places, and they arrange their own videos. And, as they told me on their Facebook page, they once shot a video in a field where they were almost consumed by mosquitoes. One cannot other than appreciate such dedication. As indie artists they are also very approachable via for instance Facebook, they like very much to interact with their fans. And they have plenty of those (but there’s always room for more).

For Game of Thrones fans (count me in), they did a wonderful rendition of the title tune!

If you want to learn more about the Harp Twins, you can visit their website at Harptwins.com, or their Youtube channel. Their music is available through itunes and CDBaby.

All photos used with permission of the Harp Twins. Thank you for that, ladies!

Heaven’s Gate Mountain. Zhangjiajie City, China

The elevation of Tianmen Mountains is 1518.6 meters (the highest one in Zhangjiajie); people may feel amazing that about 40 peaks inside the mountain area are over 1000 meters. Due to the high elevation of the mountain, the day time is longer than the night hours and the temperature on the mountains is about 10 degree centigrade lower than the Zhangjiajie city, the sunrise on the mountain is 30 minutes earlier and the sunset is 45 minutes later than it is in the city areas. Thus it is known as an endless sky without darkness.

The mountain is famous for its unique natural miracle – the Tianmen Cave; it was authorized as a national forest park in July, 1992. The door-alike cave was created after the cliff collapsing in ancient time. Tianmen Mountains is rich in Chinese culture; it is regarded as the Top 1 Heaven Mountain in the west part of Hunan province and the sprit of Wuling (an old name of the county here). This place has absorbed the essence from the nature for thousands years, therefore visiting the holy temple on the mountain – Tianmenshan Temple has become a popular way to pray for a safe and healthy life.

NASA Attempts to Take the Science Fiction Out of Warp Drive

(Via The Daily Nexus)

Posted by  on November 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

Whether or not you know anything about “Star Trek,” you’ve probably heard of the warp drive, that fictional technology that can fling a starship light-years away in mere minutes, opening up the universe to our exploration. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve got the hyperdrive. It sounds like strict science fiction, and it is, but what if I told you that such technology might not be so far from real science’s grasp?

The 1960s were a good time for space exploration. With the specter of Communist Russia looming over the American people, the prospect of conquering the Final Frontier became far more interesting to politicians like Kennedy, and the Space Race was launched. Within a decade of John F. Kennedy’s bold announcement “we choose to go to the moon,” we went from not even knowing how to put a man in orbit to landing two of them on the moon, right on schedule. With that kind of success rate, it was easy for science fiction writers to envision us conquering far-off planets within a century. Well, as we now know, that kind of thing dried up a while ago; we don’t even have a manned space program at present. But hope remains; NASA has just begun experiments to see if it is possible to create a warp drive.

Warp drive was a term essentially made up by Gene Roddenberry for an episode of “Star Trek” as an explanation for how the Enterprise was able to travel faster than light. It was a fancy word, but it didn’t really mean anything. Until, that is, a man named Miguel Alcubierre took a look at the series and decided to make it mean something. Whereas most die-hard Trekkies devote their time to figuring out where the Captain’s lounge is on the Enterprise’s schematics, Alcubierre was an actual physicist who figured out how a warp drive might actually be possible. Now, a new generation of thinkers at NASA have taken a look at his idea and decided to give it a try.

Alcubierre’s warp drive makes use of the fact that space is a fabric which can be physically affected by objects within it. The problem with faster-than-light travel is that Einstein’s general relativity principles forbid it. An object can approach, but not meet or exceed, the speed of light. No exceptions. Fortunately, a warp drive allows us to get around those principles without actually breaking them. A warp engine derives its name from its function of literally warping space. It contracts the space in front of the vessel and expands the space behind it, creating a wave of space, or “warp bubble,” which carries the spacecraft along at speeds exceeding that of light. Since the spacecraft remains in the space contained within the warp bubble, it technically isn’t moving at all, allowing the rules of general relativity to remain unbroken. But there’s still a problem: It would require a gigantic amount of energy.

NASA physicist Harold White thinks that problem just might be solvable. By adjusting the shape of the warp bubble and oscillating it, he says, you can power a warp drive with an amount of fuel only the size of the Voyager I probe. For comparison, the amount of fuel you’d need without making those modifications would equal about 300 Earths.

White intends to test his hypothesis in the lab by using lasers to warp the fabric of space-time at a tiny scale, creating, in effect, a miniature warp bubble. If it works, we could eventually see the creation of a warp bubble large enough to surround a spacecraft. There are still problems to overcome (nobody is sure it’s absolutely possible yet, and on top of that nobody knows how they would turn the warp bubble off once you’ve arrived at your destination) but if it were to happen, we could travel the four light-years to Alpha Centauri in mere weeks.

“Star Trek” has influenced plenty of real-world inventors. That cell phone you’re carrying around right now? You have a “Star Trek” nerd to thank for that: The technology that makes it possible was directly inspired by the communicators from the show. Another company is now thinking about a handheld device that can scan your body for various ailments and diagnose them, much like Dr. McCoy’s medical tricorder. But if the warp drive turns out to be achievable, it has implications that will outlive all of us and revolutionize the future of the human race. No wonder “Futurama” suggested that “Star Trek” would be our religion in the future.

World’s oldest computer revived

As found on tnmoc.org:

The world’s oldest original working digital computer

The world’s oldest original digital computer springs back into action at TNMOC

The 61 year old computer that refuses to retire

After a three-year restoration project at The National Museum of Computing, the Harwell Dekatron (aka WITCH) computer will rebooted on 20 November 2012 to become the world’s oldest original working digital computer.

Now in its seventh decade and in its fifth home, the computer with its flashing lights and clattering printers and readers provides an awe-inspiring display for visiting school groups and the general public keen to learn about our rich computer heritage.

The 2.5 tonne, 1951 computer from Harwell with its 828 flashing Dekatron valves, 480 relays and a bank of paper tape readers will clatter back into action in the presence of two of the original designers, one of its first users and many others who have admired it at different times during its remarkable history.

See BBC video of the machine

Kevin Murrell, trustee of TNMOC who initiated the restoration project, said: “In 1951 the Harwell Dekatron was one of perhaps a dozen computers in the world, and since then it has led a charmed life surviving intact while its contemporaries were recycled or destroyed. As the world’s oldest original working digital computer, it provides a wonderful contrast to our Rebuild of the wartime Colossus, the world’s first semi-programmable electronic computer.”

The Harwell Dekatron computer first ran at Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment in 1951 where it automated the tedious calculations performed by talented young people using mechanical hand calculators. Designed for reliability rather than speed, it could carry on relentlessly for days at a time delivering its error-free results. It wasn’t even binary, but worked in decimal — a feature that is beautifully displayed by its flashing Dekatron valves.

By 1957, the computer had become redundant at Harwell, but an imaginative scientist at the atomic establishment arranged a competition to offer it to the educational establishment putting up the best case for its continued use. Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College won, renamed it the WITCH (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell) and used it in computer education until 1973.

After a period on display in the former Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry, it was dismantled and put into storage, but “rediscovered” by a team of volunteers from The National Museum of Computing in 2008. With the blessing of the Birmingham museum and in conjunction with the Computer Conservation Society, the team developed a plan to restore the machine and to put it once again to educational use at TNMOC.

Kevin Murrell recalls its rediscovery: “I first encountered the Harwell Dekatron as a teenager in the 1970s when it was on display in the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry — and I was captivated by it. When that Museum closed, it disappeared from public view, but four years ago quite by chance I caught a glimpse of its control panel in a photograph of stored equipment. That sparked our ideas to rescue it and we hunted it down.

“The TNMOC restoration team has done a superb job to get it working again and it is already proving to be a fascination to young and old alike. To see it in action is to watch the inner workings of a computer — something that is impossible on the machines of today. The restoration has been in full public view and even before it was working again the interest from the public was enormous.”

Delwyn Holroyd, a TNMOC volunteer who led the restoration team, said: “The restoration was quite a challenge requiring work with components like valves, relays and paper tape readers that are rarely seen these days and are certainly not found in modern computers. Older members of the team had to brush up on old skills while younger members had to learn from scratch!”

The Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer can be seen by the general public whenever The National Museum of Computing is open. Seewww.tnmoc.org/visit for opening times.