Tag Archives: grandchildren

THANKSGIVING AND BEYOND

Seated:  Brooklyn, Aubren, Elena and Hayden.  Standing:  Alyssa with Evan, Paris with Leeson, and Ethan.

We just survived four days of Thanksgiving with nine grandchildren!!!

Actually that’s not quite true.   All nine were only with us from Wednesday evening at 6pm until Thursday at 8pm.   The other seven were in our home for 97 hours and 38 minutes, to be exact.   But, who’s counting?  Delightful chaos!

It was fun – most of the time.   Except when the boys, all 5 except for our son who is 38 going on 5, were playing nerf wars; running around the house with toy guns shooting light plastic/foam bullets at each other.

Until Sunday afternoon, when the oldest “5” year old got hit in the eye and ended up in ER.  Twice.   After spending 2 hours and 30 minutes at the first ER, he had to go to the second ER because they didn’t have the necessary equipment to examine the eye at the first. Both hospitals are owned by the same company, so you would think that the second hospital would let him go to the front of the line.   No way.   He had to wait another 5 or 6 hours to get any attention.  It was eight hours before he arrived back at our home.   8 hours and a few hundred dollars, plus whatever his insurance company paid out on his behalf.

Waiting with him at the second hospital, I was observing what was going on.  I usually take something to read when I have to wait at doctors’ offices or hospitals, but I thought this visit would be brief. Not so.   After about three hours, our son wanted something to eat and walked into the main part of the hospital, which has a “Starbucks” – add another $20 to the cost of his eye injury.  (And another $10 for parking!)   He returned from the Starbucks exclaiming that it cost more than any Starbucks he had been to in any airport.   Hospitals are clearly big business!

It looks as if his eye will be ok, but he has to go see the eye doctor every day this week to see how it’s doing.

His nephews had a lot of fun, but we may just be playing “Snakes and Ladders” next time they visit.   No, I doubt it.   If there’s anything they all have, it’s plenty of energy.

It’s now Tuesday and they have all been gone for almost 48 hours. However, Diane and I are both still exhausted.  Even the house seems to be breathing a sigh of relief although three of the little delights live here.   Only the cat had any sense – he stayed away almost all the time our visitors were here.  For some reason, he’s taken to sleeping on my pillow, so if I want to take a nap, I have to fight him for the space.   I could always get my own back by eating his cat food!  Maybe not – it has turkey as one of the ingredients.   I don’t think I could consume any more turkey for at least a year.

Our youngest grandson, Hayden, 18 months old, enjoyed all the attention from his cousins, aunts and uncles.   He has a new tee-shirt with these words on it:   “If Mom says No, go ask Grandpa”!   I think he already knew that.

It was a great Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for, starting with the nine grandchildren (pictured above).   If I had to live my life all over again, I think I would go with grandchildren before children – they are so much easier.

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AVOID THIS COMPANY

One thing we are not thankful for is roof repair companies.  Or, at least one, the one we used in February to put a new roof over our bedroom.   The company we used was Hanson’s, who offered us the best deal, or so we thought.

A few weeks after their work, we saw a dark shadow over our ceiling in one corner.   And, some days later, the ceiling started caving in.   We then saw the mold that had developed in the attic since their work on the roof.   The mold had to be treated and the ceiling repaired.  The water leak also ruined the heating coils in our ceiling so that source of heat had to be terminated, therefore installation of an electric heater near the floor was necessary.

After sending their foreman to examine it, and him denying it had anything to do with their roof job, they blamed it on evidence of a former leak, which happened apparently before we bought the place.   Funny, it wasn’t wet up there before they gave us a new roof.  And that “evidence” was on the chimney, not the roof – it would be leaking down the chimney if it were leaking at all.  And it wasn’t.  I had called them in because there was what looked like a small leak in a totally different part of the room.

Well, their foreman and his supervisor came back and did a “water test” and said it didn’t leak until they lifted the hose up to the former repair job on the chimney.  Then they left saying it wasn’t their roof that was at fault.  Well, we redid the water test ourselves when they left because we didn’t believe it.   And when we just laid the hosepipe on the roof, water only going on their roof, it POURED in the ceiling.   We called them and when we told them what we did – they immediately offered to give us a new roof – no apparent intent to come back and see again for themselves.   So they “seemed” to accept their responsibility in this matter and I told them there were ceiling repairs and they said they would submit a claim to their insurance company.   We had that hole in our ceiling for almost 6 weeks.  No insurance adjuster was ever sent to see it.   So I got it repaired and sent them the bill.

We could have saved on postage.  They are now saying they will not pay.  Of course, the ceiling is fixed now so nobody else can come out and confirm that it was their fault.  They lied and that’s that.  They said we called them originally because of a leak in the spot that caved in.  Unbelievable!   And because we did not start out this business with Hanson’s assuming they were dishonest shysters and did not document things as we should have, we now have to come up with the $7,348 to repair the shoddy work that originally cost marginally less than that.  In effect, we will have to pay twice for the same work. No wonder America, with only 4% of the world’s population, has over 50% of all the world’s lawyers (which most can’t afford)!

This spoiled our Thanksgiving – their letter of refusal arrived on the Monday of Thanksgiving Week.

It led to the following thoughts.

I remember thirty years ago, when we lived in England, I needed a chiropractor and the nearest one was about 30 miles away, across meandering country roads.   Beautiful scenery, but a long drive.

I was surprised to find the chiropractor was an American.  I asked him why he was living in the UK.   His response was that business in America was crooked.  I came to America’s defense, pointing out that there were crooks in England, too.  “Yes,” he replied, “there are some crooked companies in England, but in America they are all crooked.”

A more authoritative comment comes from a PBS documentary shown about twenty years ago.  The program compared German business practices with American to see what made Germany such a successful exporting country.

.The conclusion was interesting.  When a German company makes a sale, they consider it the start of a beautiful relationship with the customer; in the US, the sale is the end of the relationship.  That’s certainly true of Hanson’s and of some others we have experienced over the years.

When we lived in Ghana, a local businessman there made a similar observation. He bought his veterinary products from Germany because every few months they would send somebody down to make sure everything was going right.   American companies, he said, won’t do that – once the sale is made, they just want to go home.

When PM Margaret Thatcher was once asked to stop foreign nations from selling their cars in the UK; her response was to encourage the foreign car companies, until British companies learned from them how to do better.

It’s all rather sobering, but I would not be doing Hanson’s, or their future clients, any favors by covering up their shoddy work and blatant lying!

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TOTAL MADNESS FROM BRITAIN AND AMERICA

Don’t call female pupils girls or ladies because it reminds them of their gender, head teachers are told

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5104579/Heads-warned-not-use-gendered-terms-schools.html

New York phases out ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greetings on the subway in favor of politically correct gender-neutral terms including ‘passengers’ and ‘riders’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5070439/New-York-phases-ladies-gentlemen.html

Reminder:  “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)

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Poland’s Christian [Catholic] Government Votes to Phase Out Sunday Shopping So Families Can Spend More Time Together        28 Nov 2017 * Breitbart

Poland’s parliament has voted to slowly begin the process of abolishing Sunday shopping to allow workers to spend more time with their families.

The law has been passed by the sejm — equivalent to the British House of Commons or the U.S. House of Representatives — but must be approved by the Senate and the president, both of which could veto the decision.   Although the major change — which reverses decades of movement on turning Sunday from a holy day of rest into an ordinary day of shopping and work — has been criticised as putting jobs at risk, the government hopes it will improve quality of life for ordinary Poles.

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TEHRAN IS WINNING THE WAR FOR CONTROL OF THE MIDDLE EASTJonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum 11/21

The confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is taking place across a swath of the Middle East in which, over the last decade, states have partially ceased to function — Iraq and Lebanon — or collapsed completely, as in the case of Syria and Yemen.   A war over the ruins has taken place in each country, with Riyadh and Tehran arrayed on opposing sides in all of them.

Throughout the region, the advantage is very clearly with the Iranians.

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IRAN COMPLETES ITS LAND BRIDGE TO THE GOLAN         Jonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum, 11/18

In the east of Syria, the so-called race to Abu Kamal between the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces and the forces of Iran, the Assad regime and Russia appears to be close to conclusion – in the latter’s favor.   Regime forces moved into the town last Thursday. They were then expelled by an unexpected Islamic State counterattack this week, and have now retreated to positions about two kilometers outside of Abu Kamal.

The Islamic State move, however, has the flavor of a last roll of the dice.   Clearly, the Sunni jihadis will lose the strategic border town in the days ahead.

The US-supported SDF fighters are covering ground rapidly to the north.   But the forward units of the mainly Kurdish force remain about 25 kilometers north of Abu Kamal, in the area of the Kishma oil field.

Hezbollah can now be reinforced by Iran’s other regional clients in a future conflict with Israel. 

Iran is a regional super-power in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia is engaged in resisting Iran’s hegemony on a number of fronts.   Iran now dominates an arc of Shia Islam which includes Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – an arc that covers the same territories as the biblical King of the North in Daniel 11.   This would not have been possible without US intervention in Iraq 14 years ago.   Note:  these nations have Russian support.   ISIS, a violent and reactionary force within Sunni Islam, is largely defeated, making the forces of Shia Islam even more powerful.   This poses a serious threat to Israel. MR

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Headline in the Times of Israel:  IRAN VOWS TO PUT EUROPE IN MISSILE RANGE IF THREATENED    (Times of Israel 11/26)

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FRANCE SUBMITS TO TERRORISM, MUSLIM ANTI-SEMITISM  Guy Milliere, Gatestone Institute, 11/28

  • In France, since 2012, more than 250 people were killed by Islamic terrorism -more than in all other European countries combined.
  • No other country in Europe has experienced so many attacks against Jews.   France is a country where Jews are murdered because they are Jews.
  • “Muslim believers know very well what is happening.   Only a minority is violent.   But as a whole, they do not ignore that their birthrate is such that one day, everything here will be theirs.” — Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg

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TIME TO DRAIN THE SWAMP – ALSO IN EUROPE                            Geert Wilders, Dutch nationalist politician, 11/26

  • Our democracies in the Western half of Europe have been subverted.  Their goal is no longer to do what the people want.  On the contrary, our political elites often do exactly the opposite. Our parliaments promote open-door policies that the majority of the people reject.  Our governments sell out sovereignty to the EU against the will of the people.  Our rulers welcome ever more Islam, although the majority of the people oppose it.
  • Our democracies have become fake democracies.  They are multi-party dictatorships, ruled by groups of establishment parties…. The establishment parties control everything, not just the politicians in their pay, but also the top brass of the civil service, the mainstream media, even the courts…. They call us “populists” because we stand for what the people want.   They even drag us to court.
  • We need to show that Europe’s streets are our streets, that we want to stay who and what we are, and do not want to be colonized by Islam. Europe belongs to us!

“Next month, I will be visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  I have been invited to speak to a group of Czech patriots. The Czechs are a freedom loving people.   In 2011, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, they named a street in Prague after this great American president and freedom fighter.

“This fact reminded me of a shameful event in my home town of The Hague, the seat of the Dutch Parliament and the government of the Netherlands.   Look for a Ronald Reagan Street in The Hague and you will find none.   A proposal in 2011 to name a street in The Hague after Reagan ran into fierce political opposition.   Leftist parties, such as Labor, the Greens and the liberal D66 party, argued that naming a street in honor of Reagan would “do the image of the city no good.”   The whole affair ended in a disgraceful political compromise.   Last year, a short stretch of a local bicycle path was named the “Reagan and Gorbachev Lane.”

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UNBELIEVABLE                                                                                                            BBC

Zimbabwe has officially declared 21 February to be Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, thereby making the former president’s birthday a public holiday, the Herald newspaper reports.

Mr. Mugabe was the President of Zimbabwe for over 37 years.  Under his period of rule, the country, once one of the most successful economies in Africa, collapsed economically.   The army forced him out of office last week.  Major change, badly needed, does not look likely.   MR

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TIMES HAVE CHANGED

In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated, choosing the American woman he loved over the throne of what was then the British Empire.  The parliaments of the UK and the Commonwealth Dominions, did not want Edward to marry a woman who still had two living former husbands.   The King, titular Head of the Church of England, could not marry a divorcee.

In 1955, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend, a divorced equerry in the royal household.

Sixty years later, Prince Harry is to marry another divorced American woman, Meghan Markle.   Nobody is ruffled at all by this.  She is also biracial and could, as Ebony magazine pointed out, give birth to a black baby.

Times have certainly changed.   Of course, Britain itself has changed, with one in ten cohabiting couples living with a member of a different ethnic group.

Divorce has become more common and more acceptable, even in the royal family.  Princess Margaret divorced her husband over forty years ago; Princess Anne followed.   Charles and Diana divorced more than twenty years ago.   He went on to marry a divorced woman, Camilla Parker-Bowles, though the wedding was a civil ceremony in a Registry Office.

Having said all the above, the new royal couple seem well suited and very happy.   Ms. Markle, who has been living in Toronto, seemed to understand the importance of the 53-nation Commonwealth and the royal family’s constitutional role within the organization.   This came out during a televised interview with the couple.

She will not carry the title “Princess” as she is not of royal blood.   As Prince William and his wife are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, so Harry and Meghan will have a similar title.   The wedding is scheduled for May.  It will no doubt lift everybody’s spirits as they go through the challenging process of Brexit.

The latest news on that is the divorce bill.   55 billion euros is being offered by London, but is said to be too little by Brussels.   As the UK has been subsidizing the EU for decades, they shouldn’t have to pay one penny.   But the British government of Theresa May does not have the confidence to stand up to the Bullies of Brussels!

Fortunately, the wedding will not cost the tax-payer anything (except for police security) and should help boost the country’s income through tourism.

 

 

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BACK TO REALITY

The November 2, 1917 declaration by then British foreign minister Arthur Balfour said his government viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”. Photograph: (AFP)

We’re back from Indianapolis after delivering one of our cats to our daughter and family.   We stayed three nights, to see the family and for the cat to get adjusted to her new situation.

I offered to go get some cat food, but our daughter and granddaughters would not allow me near the pet food aisle after my last blog!

I don’t know what it is but whenever I visit them I go into “vacation mode” – I don’t feel like doing anything. I just want to relax.  This is not fair to them.   We help take care of three (sometimes, five) grandchildren in Lansing; then have four when we visit Indy.

Our family Sunday ended up being a day in front of the television with our granddaughters who introduced us to the British series “Father Brown,” available on Netflix. It was actually quite good, though some things did irritate me.   For example, whenever the priest prayed in Latin, the closed-caption subtitles simply said: “Prays in a foreign language.”   Don’t most people know that Latin has been the lingua franca of the Catholic church for almost 2,000 years?

Family members are all trying to be healthier, which meant no junk in the house.   If I had remembered that, I would have taken some goodies to nibble between meals.  I was so hungry, at one point I called our daughter in Lansing and said:   “Can you come down immediately and bring some food?” I was just being humorous – it’s a 4+ hour drive; and I could have gone to a local grocery store if I thought I might expire.

Mike, our son-in-law, is a very good cook and the food was excellent.   I decided to join the healthy eating and then continue it at home, which is what I’m now doing.   I feel better already.   I’ve had no indigestion for a week and feel more energetic.  The dog food last week probably helped.

It was really nice to have a break from everything, including world news.

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BACK TO MORE REALITY

The terror attack in New York on Tuesday is a reminder of the constant threat to our lives that emanates from radical Islam.   It’s also a constant reminder of how hopeless our governments are – they keep letting in Muslims en masse, trying to claim that “Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists.”

Trump called immediately for Congress to abolish the Diversity Visa Waiver program.  This is a lottery that enables 50,000 people a year from usually poor and backward countries to enter the United States.  They may then sponsor their relatives and friends to enter the US.   Tuesday’s murderer brought in 23 over 15 years.   Most of these people go straight to the bottom of our economic ladder, competing for jobs with low income Americans.

(Do the math. If one man brought in 23, multiply 50,000 x 23 = 1, 150,000 people per year.   That’s in addition to the one million plus who get a visa the normal way.)

President Trump immediately called on Congress to change the law.   That’s commendable.   The law needs to be changed.   But, then, why didn’t he react the same after the Las Vegas mass shooting?   Changes to the law are desperately needed.

It’s been over twenty years since the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, Australia.   35 people were killed in a little over half an hour.   The conservative prime minister, John Howard, immediately called on parliament to pass tough controls on assault weapons.

“Twelve days after the Port Arthur massacre, the Australian prime minister, John Howard, announced a sweeping package of gun reforms in a country where firearms had long been considered an essential prop in the national mythology of life in the bush.

“At that stage the gun lobby was the ruling lobby in Australia,” says Philip Alpers, associate professor at the University of Sydney.  “What happened at Port Arthur is that they were outpaced, outflanked and outwitted by a man who had the power to move in 12 remarkable days.”

“Tim Fischer was leader of the National party and Howard’s deputy prime minister in the Coalition government, charged with persuading skeptical country voters to support, or at least accept, reforms.  “Port Arthur was our Sandy Hook,” he says.   “Port Arthur we acted on.  The USA is not prepared to act on their tragedies.”   (The Guardian 14th March 2016).

The Sandy Hook massacre of kindergarten children took place on December 14th, 2012.   Congress did not pass any laws following the deaths of 26 people, including 19 children.   If the country could not make any changes after the deaths of so many young children, it’s doubtful they will ever come.

President Trump and others reacted to the Las Vegas shootings by saying, “Now is not the time to discuss gun control.”

Then, when will it be the time?   Immigration policies make the situation worse – the killer at Virginia Tech ten years ago was from South Korea.   The Boston Marathon killings were also the work of new arrivals.

Changes can be made without encroaching on the Second Amendment, which says:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Today, the US definitely has a “well regulated militia,” so America’s needs have changed.   At the same time, people do have a right to defend themselves.   There’s a balance. It’s time for a national debate.

On the highly successful Australian TV show, “Janet King,” Janet, a senior employee of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS; sometimes referred to as “Crownies”), is appointed by the country’s Governor-General to head a royal commission into gun violence.   It’s time the United States had a presidential commission to look into mass casualty gun violence, with the remit that it report back to the president and the public within twelve months, making recommendations to effectively reduce gun violence.

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NEW ZEALAND MAKES THE NEWS

Before we leave the Antipodes, New Zealand has a new, radical prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern is only 37 and the third female leader of the country. She wants to restrict immigration into New Zealand – one of her first acts was to ban the sale of homes to people living outside of the country.   She is a left-wing republican, meaning she would like to end NZ’s relationship with the Crown thereby giving greater power to the politicians, of which she is the chief!   Interestingly, she is also a former Mormon who has strong views on churches that encourage families to shun former believers like herself; she left the church over its anti-homosexual stance.

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QUOTE: “President Xi (of China) believes that America is in steep decline and China rising in a power game that will define our century” (Carrie Gracie, China Editor, BBC News, 11/2).   President Trump is about to visit China.

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CENTENARIES

Today, November 2nd, is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.   Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in London to commemorate the celebration, boycotted by the anti-semitic socialist Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn.

The famous Balfour Declaration was announced in the middle of World War I by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, at a time when Great Britain was the dominant power in the world. It committed His Majesty’s Government to establish in Palestine a home for the Jewish people.   It was one of the most important documents of the twentieth century and a major fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It led directly to the establishment of a Jewish nation in the Middle East, the country now called Israel.

An independent Jewish nation had not been in existence since Roman times.   The Roman Jewish province of Judea rebelled against Rome in 66 AD. The Romans crushed the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD, destroying much of Jerusalem in the process.   The Jews rebelled again from 132 AD-135 AD.   Once again, the Romans crushed the revolt.   This time, the Jews dispersed to other parts of the Roman Empire and beyond.   For almost two millennia, they did not have their own country.   But scriptures made it clear that the Jews would be back in their homeland, called Judah in the Bible (the Jews were only one of the twelve tribes of Israel).

Zechariah was a prophet 2,500 years ago.   His Old Testament book is a Millennial prophecy about the Second Coming of the Messiah. Judah figures quite prominently in events at the time immediately prior to Christ’s Return.

Note Zechariah 12:2-3 – “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.  And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

And Zechariah 14:2-4 – “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.

“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.”

The last verse is clearly still in the future.   Jerusalem, Judah, revived after almost 2,000 years is once again a central point of geographical contention, with neighboring nations and tribes wanting to destroy the country.   As if perpetually drunk, they desperately try to destroy her, so far not succeeding.

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RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

Five days after the Balfour Declaration, Russia had a second revolution.   Earlier in the year, the Czarist regime had fallen and was replaced by a parliamentary system.   Elections were scheduled for later in the year.   Two weeks before the election, the Bolsheviks (communists) staged a coup on November 7th that overthrew the interim government of Alexander Kerensky.   They proclaimed the world’s first communist state.   It brought seven decades of misery to the country, with despotic leaders that made the czars look like Sunday school teachers.   Communism has gone, but the country remains a dictatorship, though claiming to be a democracy.

The Bolshevik Revolution was the second revolution of 1917; there was an earlier revolution in 1905, which led to the establishment of the Duma (parliament) but still left the czar with ultimate power and authority.   Russia’s parliament today is also called the Duma and is the people’s assembly.   However, some would say that Vladimir Putin is a new Czar, with all the power and authority.

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500th ANNIVERSARY OF PROTESTANT REFORMATION

Tuesday was the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church in Germany.   We should all be thankful to Martin Luther.   He had the courage to stand up to the Church of Rome, ending the monopoly the Church had in western Europe.   All churches today owe their freedom to Luther.

I watched a two-hour documentary on PBS recently about Martin Luther and the Reformation.   He is considered the greatest theologian of all time, due to the fact that he wrote more books and articles on the Bible than anybody else. He also translated the scriptures into German.

Later in life, asked to sum up his writings, he replied: “God forgives.” That was of paramount importance to Luther, who struggled all his life with sin, as we all do.   Hearing that, I thought about all the churches that have come out of Luther, directly or indirectly.   Many have one thing in common – they can’t forgive.   How ironic.

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VISIT TO NOAH’S ARK

Earlier in the month, we were in Cincinnati, Ohio.   A group of us, including four of our grandchildren, took the opportunity to visit Noah’s Ark, which is just over the state line in Kentucky.   It’s well worth a visit, if only to get a better idea of the size of the original ark. This replica is built according to biblical specifications.

I’m very thankful that the enterprising Australian behind this project was inspired to build the Ark (and the Creation Museum nearby). More and more people are biblically illiterate, so it’s good that somebody has kept the story alive.   I found the wall plaques explaining everything interesting, but I do not agree with his theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old.

We had been told to allow three hours for our visit. With two 5-year-old twin boys, we went through quite quickly, in exactly two hours.  We left early — because it was raining!!!

The following evening we had a group of Barbadians over for dinner. Wonderful people.   They had actually come from Barbados to visit the Ark.   They are also Young Earthers, believing in the 6,000 years.   We agreed to disagree and still remain friends.  That’s the way it should be.

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FINALLY

I’ve been asked why I quote so often from the Daily Express and Daily Mail newspapers, two Conservative British tabloids.

The answer is quite simple: they have the best web sites.   Check them out sometime.

The Guardian and Independent, more intellectual papers, are constantly asking for money whenever I check their sites; whereas the Times, the Telegraph and the Financial Times make very little available.

The biggest problem with the two papers I use is that they often sensationalize news items.

I will try to find alternative sources, but, realistically I will have to use them occasionally as I don’t have the funds to pay for subscriptions to the more highbrow papers; and they have to request money as they have smaller circulations.

(This blog is a fully independent blog that has no connection to any church or secular organization. It was started to keep people informed on international affairs in light of the scriptures.   Financial support comes from myself and readers who graciously donate to help cover costs.) 

A VERY BUSY LAP

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I had been working on a blogpost to update readers on developments in Europe, when I had to go collect our four-year-old grandson, Leeson, from school.   From there, we went to the dollar store.   I’ve learned that the dollar store is the only store I can take him, as “everything is one dollar” and it won’t cost me too much, no matter what he wants.

Within 30 seconds, he had chosen four dinosaurs (= $4 + tax).   As we walked down the aisle, he changed his mind and chose four ice cream cone shaped bubbles toys.   So I suggested he take back the dinosaurs. When we reached the dinosaur collection, he saw other toys he wanted.   Four of them, of course.   (Is this because he’s aged 4?   Will he want 5 when he’s five?   This could get very expensive!)

I thought it best to vacate the store ASAP, before he asked for other things. I managed to persuade him to only get two toys, for a total of $2.12 with tax.

We drove home.

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His seven-month-old brother, Hayden, wanted me to pick him up out of his baby chair.   He prefers sitting in my lap to being alone in his chair.   While seated on my lap, he often just looks at me, staring for long periods of time.   It’s touching. I think I represent fun.   My wife says that’s not what it is – he just likes food and is always fascinated by what I’m eating!

Anyway, I thought I would watch the news while holding him.   The next thing I remember was Diane waking me up, with the baby screaming on my lap.   I hadn’t even noticed.

I’ve had a bad cough and chest cold for about a week now.   I can’t sleep at night.  I just cough all night.   I do manage to doze off in my recliner, which is the only way to get any sleep.   But it’s not enough, so I fell asleep holding the baby.

Five minutes after the baby was taken away from me, Leeson wanted to sit on my lap and look at dinosaurs on my laptop (do you see why it takes so long to write an article?).   I got a dinosaur cartoon on the screen.   At this point, he looked up at me and said: “I love you, Grandpa!”  I responded with:  “I love you, too!”   He came right back with:  “I love you, three!”  “Well, I love you four.”   “I love you 5, Grandpa.”   Then he quickly added:   “No, I love you 8.”

I can see now why “ONE toy” quickly turns into 8 when we go to the dollar store!   I tried to explain that from five you go to six.   But he still insisted on 8.   I can see this is going to take some time!

For a while, he was joined on my lap by his younger brother, who was returned to me.   Fortunately, their older brother, Aubren, is still in school – I have to go get him in ten minutes.   When I do get him, he will want to go with me to get a “slushie,” which is a weekly treat I buy him.

When we get home, there may be three of them on my lap, watching either dinosaurs or trains on my laptop, “Super Why” on TV or a DVD I’ve seen at least a 100 times!

Three on my lap is my limit nowadays.   A few years ago, all four girls would sit on my lap when they were together; until I developed circulatory issues.   Now I can only take three.   And, frankly, there’s a definite time limit on it!   I can no longer be buried under grandchildren.

Talking of being buried, the two granddaughters who live near us recently lost their other grandfather, who died when the truck he was driving rolled over in an accident.   It was very traumatizing for them.  Naturally, they keep talking about it and have expressed some concern that I will be next.

I was driving them home from school one day recently when we passed the cemetery.   They began encouraging me to stake out a plot on the side of the main road that is nearest to our house.   That way they could come visit and talk to me!   Perhaps they said that because they felt nobody seems to listen to them – at least I would be a captive audience.

This was not the time for a deep theological discussion.   They clearly were worried about losing me and I reassured them that I intend to be here for a while; but I also said if anything happened to me, they’ve still got Grandma, their parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.

But it’s nice to know they will visit me when I’m no longer able to go see them or give them rides!

With that, I must leave to go get Aubren, who turns 5 next month.

Footnote:   Hayden, pictured above, finally has a surgery date of February 8th. He has to have major cranial surgery.  He was scheduled twice before and it had to be postponed due to an ear infection.  Prayers would be very  much appreciated.

 

GRANDCHILDREN, THE DEBATE AND THE CANADIAN CROWN

Evan very upset he couldn't have that "juice."
Evan very upset he couldn’t have that juice.

We’re visiting our daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their family in Indianapolis.   Seven of our grandchildren are with us in the house. Our son’s two girls had to stay behind for basketball try-outs on Sunday.

The 5-hour drive south was stressful, to put it mildly.   Not only did we have to contend with road construction that seriously impacted our speed but we had three young children in the van, one of whom hates traveling and kept asking to go home.   Even after we arrived, he still wanted to go home, asking Grandpa if we could leave late at night just to get away from it all. He must have sensed my stress!

It’s now Friday lunchtime.   Just as I sat down to write, Evan, one of Alix’s twins, rode in a laundry basket down the steep stairs and crashed into the front door.   He’s ok – I’m not sure about the door and the laundry basket has definitely seen better days!  (Not to mention Alix’s heart failure!)

A few moments earlier, our autistic grandson who has a tendency to run away and get lost, knocked on the front door.   We’ve no idea how he got out but at least he came back.   He’s 4.   He’s a late developer – I ran away when I was 3.

Evan is clearly a troublemaker.   I have been sipping whisky in an attempt to kill a sore throat, though it doubles as a coping mechanism with all the activity around me.   I just looked up to find Evan took my whisky bottle over to his mom and asked her to pour him some “juice.”

In spite of the occasional stress of sheer numbers, I still think that the opportunity to have time with grandchildren is a tremendous blessing and we truly enjoy every minute of it.

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We are, of course, in Mike Pence territory. He’s been Governor of Indiana for four years and is highly spoken of by, seemingly, everybody.   He’s done a good job governing the state, which has a financial surplus.

I thought he was treated badly on Monday by his opponent Tim Kaine in the Vice Presidential debate.   Mr. Kaine kept on interrupting Mr. Pence so that he could not get his points across.   Kaine was rude while Pence responded like a gentleman.

Another difference between them was over the issue of abortion. Kaine squirmed and waffled while trying to explain how he supports abortion when his own church, the Church of Rome, is against it.   He said he felt it would be wrong of him to force his own view on women who want abortions.   Mr. Pence, a Protestant and regular church-goer, reaffirmed his total opposition to abortion and said that, as Governor of Indiana, he has been promoting adoption as a means of encouraging women to give birth, rather than have their unborn child murdered.   He reminded viewers that Mrs. Clinton supports partial-birth abortions, allowing women to abort babies when they are close to delivery.   He even quoted Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Mrs. Clinton supposedly takes her Christianity seriously – she’s a Methodist, a church now opposed to abortion.

Kaine and Clinton can only be described as hypocrites, supporting the murder of innocent children, while claiming to both be people of faith.

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This year’s US presidential election cannot be encouraging any country to adopt the American system of government.   Comments heard overseas are along the lines of:   “Out of 330 million people, this is the best you can come up with?”

The ignorance of the rest of the world shown by Gary (“What’s Aleppo?”) Johnson, who is now claiming that knowledge of world affairs is “over-rated,” must be another influencing factor.

So, it’s not surprising that Canadians welcomed Prince William, his wife and two children, to British Columbia and Yukon.   The future King and Queen of Canada, with their son, Prince George, who will succeed his father on the throne 40 or 50 years from now, ensure that Canada’s current system of government will endure for the rest of this century.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, just like the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.   There are also 13 other Commonwealth Realms over which the Queen reigns.   In addition, she is Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth of former British colonies.   The British government has no authority over any of these countries.

Although many people think the 90-year-old Queen doesn’t do anything, the left-wing Independent newspaper in Britain wrote the following on her responsibilities:

“Her schedule is incredibly regimented, with multiple formal proceedings, events and processes she has to adhere to every day.

Meetings with ministers and officials take up a large portion of her day and, like most of us, she spends a big chunk of her time at work.

Morning

The Queen’s working day begins at her desk scanning the daily newspapers.   She then proceeds to go through some of the 300 letters she receives from the general public every day.   Some of these letters the Queen reads and replies to herself, while with others she tells members of her staff how she would like them to be answered.

Her Majesty will then see two of her private secretaries with the daily quota of official papers and documents.   She receives a huge number of correspondences from Government ministers and her representatives in the Commonwealth and foreign countries.   All of these have to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.

A series of official meetings or ‘audiences’ will often follow.   Each meeting usually lasting 10 to 20 minutes.

If there is an Investiture, a ceremony for the presentation of honors and decorations, it begins at 11.00am and lasts just over an hour.

The Queen will then lunch privately although every couple of months, she and The Duke of Edinburgh will invite a dozen guests from a wide variety of backgrounds to an informal lunch.

If Her Majesty is spending the morning on engagements away from her desk and other commitments, she will visit up to three venues before lunch, either alone or jointly with The Duke of Edinburgh.

Afternoon

In the afternoons, the Queen often goes out on public engagements and prepares for each visit by briefing herself on who she will be meeting and what she will be seeing and doing.   Her Majesty carries out around 430 engagements (including audiences) a year and will regularly go out for the whole day to a particular region or city.

The afternoon draws to an end with a meeting of the Privy Council with several government ministers.

Evening

Early evening can involve the weekly meeting with the Prime Minister, which usually takes place on Wednesdays at 6.30pm.” (Independent, 9/9/15)

She is also available to all Commonwealth leaders.

Prince Charles will inherit the same responsibilities, as will Prince William, then George, in turn.

In contrast to the US, where party politics has seriously damaged the unity of the country, the Queen brings people together in a non-political way.

Western democracies, in the main, have one of three distinctly different forms of democracy.

The US presidential system is one.

The “Westminster” (British system) is another.   This is just as democratic.   People elect their representatives to parliament.   The dominant party’s leader becomes the prime minister.   The Queen remains outside of politics, but contributes greatly to political stability and national unity.

The third option is a mix of the two, with a parliamentary form of government and a prime minister but, instead of a monarch, there is an appointed figurehead president, with similar powers to the British monarch.   The Germans, Italians and Irish have this form of government.   A serious weakness was shown with this system in 1934, when the German president died suddenly and the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, simply abolished the office and had himself proclaimed “Fuhrer.”   This could not happen in a constitutional monarchy – when the Queen dies, automatically Charles becomes King.

Although some people in Canada would like to see the tie with the Crown abolished when the Queen dies, Canadian John Fraser summed up their arguments this way:   “Queen Elizabeth has done a great job for Canada; therefore let’s make sure there is no monarchy when she dies.”  (“The Secret of the Crown,” John Fraser, 2012)   The reasoning really doesn’t make sense.

Fraser points out that Canada is one of the most successful countries in the world, thanks partly to its political system, which includes a major role for the Crown.   The country’s birth owes its origin to the Crown and the people’s allegiance to it. Even the current Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is committed to maintaining the tie with the Crown – indeed, he invited William and Kate to Canada, along with their two children.   Next year, Prince Charles and his wife will be in Canada to join in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of confederation.

 

INDIANA’S CRUCIAL VOTE

Mike Pence, Indiana Governor, endorses Cruz
Mike Pence, Indiana Governor, endorses Cruz

Our eldest daughter, husband and children live in Indianapolis, about a 4-hour drive away from us.   We go down there as often as we can to see them, but we always wish we could see more of them.

Diane, my wife, is down there now to help look after the four children while our daughter recuperates from routine surgery.  I stayed behind as our youngest daughter is about to have her third child.

That will make a total of nine grandchildren.  Two of them live with us.  Soon that will be three.   All boys.   All full of life, with lots of energy.   They can be a lot of fun.   I often wish we’d had grandchildren first!

Our frequent visits to Indiana have impressed us.   The state is more conservative than Michigan.   It has a positive, upbeat feel about it, while Michigan can sometimes be a bit depressing – the economy has struggled for as long as we’ve been here and the weather doesn’t help!

Tuesday will be a big day in Indiana, which is holding a crucial primary.

Friends in Indiana have been saying that Ted Cruz will win the Republican primary as he’s the most conservative candidate and, besides, Donald Trump is crazy and unpredictable.  The popular Governor of the state came out and endorsed Cruz last week, even though he has a lot of respect for Trump.

But the latest opinion poll shows that Trump is winning the Republican primary in the state.   He’s winning by 15%.   Mrs. Clinton is winning the Democratic primary, but only by 4%.   Donald Trump is confounding everybody.   Why is he so popular?   Although he does hold some conservative views, Ted Cruz is definitely more conservative, so why does Trump appeal to so many Republicans?

It seems to come down to two issues and an additional third factor.

The first issue is the economy.   Although there are pockets around the country that are doing well, many Americans do not feel that it is.  They blame trade deals with other countries for taking away the good paying jobs; they also blame government.   The federal government seems to take more and more of the national pie, paying employees well and giving them annual increases.   This is not the reality for people in the private sector, who are paying for it all.

Donald Trump has become the national spokesman for blue-collar workers, many of them going under in this economy.   A cover story in the latest Atlantic Monthly magazine is about America’s secret shame, that almost 50% of families cannot put $400 together in an emergency.   That means they cannot fix the car or get urgent medical treatment for one of their children.

It’s ironic but the Republican Party of Donald Trump is the party of the working-class; whereas the Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton is the party of the intellectual elite.

Whereas Bernie Sanders received donations that averaged $27, Mrs. Clinton held fundraisers where those in attendance had to donate a minimum of $33,000.

The political system has been turned upside down.

If the party conventions nominate Trump and Clinton, polls suggest the latter will win by 10% and become the first woman in the White House.

That brings us to the second issue – immigration.   Tied in with that is terrorism.   The two are often linked in people’s minds.

Donald Trump said what many think, questioning further immigration from the Muslim world until we see clearly what’s going on.

He’s also proposing a wall to keep Mexicans out.

Mrs. Clinton takes the opposite view on immigration.   That overlooks the fact that poorer people, blue-collar workers, have to compete for jobs with many of the immigrants.   It’s an example of how out of touch many politicians are.

Which brings us to the third factor.   Trump is not a professional politician like his opponents, in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

People don’t trust professional politicians.  They have been seeing a progressive decline in their standard of living and no longer feel secure thanks to five decades of myopic immigration law.

They have had enough.

Tuesday’s vote in Indiana will be a good indicator of what the future will bring.

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The same can be said for Thursday’s mayoral election in London, 4000 miles away.

A Muslim is expected to win.

This will make London the first major western capital to be led by a Muslim.

Again, it’s an indicator of what the future is going to bring!

WHERE HAVE ALL THE CHILDREN GONE?

Children

On Friday afternoon, I took two of my granddaughters to the fair.   The St. Johns Mint Festival, to be exact.   St. Johns is a small town north of Lansing, Michigan.

Their father (my son) came along, too.

We got there a little early and the only thing running was the pony rides.   At previous fairs, the girls were given a very short, once round the circle, ride for $5.  This time, they went round at least ten times for the same price.

It was hot and humid so I sat down on one of two plastic chairs.   The owner came and sat down next to me.

He told me that when he started taking his ponies to county fairs, there were hundreds of children enthusiastically wanting a ride. Now, the numbers are down to a mere handful.  He said kids would rather spend time on electronic gadgets, but then made a comment on how many millions of children have been aborted, depriving us all of the joy of seeing happy children enjoying themselves at fairs and in the streets.

The man told me he was 81.   From what he said he clearly felt I was about the same age, asking me how many GREAT grandchildren I have.   I responded by saying that all my grandchildren are great.  I added that I am “only” 64!

Later, while the girls went on other rides, I sat down at a table with a rather uncomfortable bench.   Another man, looking a bit like he might be 81, sat down next to me and ate a meal he had just bought. I asked him if he was with his grandchildren. His sad response was: “No, I’m all alone.   My family is dying out!”

Diane and I are privileged to have eight grandchildren whom we love dearly, but the Rhodes name is still dying out.   Only two of the eight have the name “Rhodes” and, when they marry, they won’t have it, so the name will go with them.   Fortunately, I have five nephews in England who will ensure the family continues, at least on that side of the Atlantic.

In a restaurant a few months ago, we met an elderly couple in their eighties, who told us they had 40 grandchildren and were awaiting the birth of their 25th great grandchild.   Can you believe that?   Yet, their familial situation would not have been unusual in previous generations.   It has become unusual in this generation; I should add “in the western world.”   It’s not unusual in many other parts of the world.   For four centuries the Bible believing Protestants, who dominated the West, took seriously God’s command to “go forth and multiply” (Gen 1:28).   That era has gone and birth control has made it possible.

It helps explain why the dynamics are changing in the United States and elsewhere.   Nations are changing hands, as they pass from one dominant ethnic group to others.  You can see this very clearly in Western Europe.   Because America is a much bigger country with a lower population density, we don’t see it as much, but demographic trends show it is still happening.

President Theodore Roosevelt warned, when the first Planned Parenthood clinic opened in 1916, that it would lead to the death of the race.   And that was before abortion. It’s not just abortion that has led to this dramatic change.   All forms of birth control have contributed to it.

But we can’t blame birth control, either.   Birth control was simply the means.   But we, the people, made it happen by choosing a higher standard of living over the responsibility of more children.

Let’s face it, we didn’t give it much thought.   It was a no-brainer.

But the result is exactly what TR said a century ago – we are now facing the death of the race.  In every country where Europeans and their descendants have dominated for centuries, significant changes are taking place.  Not one of those countries will still have a dominant western culture by the end of this century.

It’s a sobering reality and perhaps the most significant one happening right now.

A few months ago, NPR reported that Ann Arbor, one of the most affluent areas in Michigan, had seen a 40% drop in school enrollments in ten years.   Just pause for a moment and think of the effect this is going to have on the local economy.   The figure will be roughly the same across the US, except in areas with a high population of Hispanics, Muslims and others, who all have a much higher birthrate.   They may fill the gap in terms of numbers, but how much will that change the country?   Additionally, will they volunteer to defend us against our enemies, to whom many of them will feel a closer cultural connection?

Interestingly, when we visited Ann Arbor last month for medical appointments, we stopped at Costco, which now has an halal meat section occupying a significant part of the freezer area.   Headless sheep hung there, covered in burlap so that sensitive Anglo eyes would not freak out!   This is illustrative of how things are changing.

The St. Johns Mint Festival is highly unlikely to make the national news, but the declining numbers of children wanting pony rides illustrates the most significant trend in America, the fact that many couples no longer want children.

A nation that does not make the raising of children a priority is doomed to failure.   Worse . . . to extinction.

OBSERVATIONS II

Puerto rican debt

President Obama has called for urgent action on climate change, to save the environment for our children and grandchildren.

We are not likely to hear him call for massive reductions in government spending so that our children and grandchildren do not have to pay back the $18 trillion debt the last two generations have accumulated.

This problem is arguably more urgent than climate change.

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We’ve been hearing a lot about Greece recently.  The country has some serious financial problems.  Now Puerto Rico is in default.

“Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt of $72 billion is far bigger than Detroit’s $20 billion bankruptcy two years ago but a fraction of Greece’s $350 billion in obligations.  But unlike Detroit, there’s no law allowing Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy…..  ’There’s no big daddy to rescue Puerto Rico,’ says Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.”   (“Puerto Rico defaults on $72bn debt”, USA Today, Tuesday.)

As everyone with a credit card knows, eventually you have to pay the balance.

It’s no different with countries.

How are we, or our grandchildren going to pay off $18 trillion of national debt?   How long before it’s $20 trillion?   Will that be the psychological barrier that prompts the rest of the world to say “Enough!”?

What’s happening in Greece could also happen here.

In Athens, the Stock Market reopened yesterday after a five-week shutdown due to the financial crisis.   Shares fell dramatically, with some investors losing 25% in one day.   Shares of the Greek National Bank, once trading as high as $27.50, dropped to $0.09 Monday.

The general feeling is that the worst is yet to come.

It could also spread to other countries with a heavy debt load.

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Our economic woes are certainly increasing.  One reason is the drought, which is severely affecting some parts of the country and has been for four years.   This has led to many of the uncontrolled fires we are witnessing on the nightly news.

The drought stricken land reminds me of God’s warning to the ancient Israelites, that if they did not obey Him, there would be some serious consequences.

One of those consequences would be drought.   Note:  Deuteronomy 28:23 – “The skies above will be as unyielding as bronze, and the earth beneath will be as hard as iron.”  (New Living Translation)

Is God trying to tell us something?

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I haven’t been able to post any articles for a few days.  This is because all eight grandchildren were staying with us last week.  The four oldest, all girls, are aged 8 to 10; the four youngest, all boys, 2 & 3.   Needless to say, I spent the week pre-occupied with little time to think, let alone write.

But it was fun having them all and we’re looking forward to the next time — over the Labor Day weekend.   Family get-togethers are so very important!