Monday, July 04, 2016

Miscellany (Including some Spoilers.)

Regarding the Warcraft Movie:

While the movie was predictable in some ways, I still found it to be entertaining. There was only one major problem with it from my humble point of view.

Whatever in hell those over muscled things were, I can not realistically think of them as Orcs. They are too physically imposing, too (relatively) intelligent and possess few if any weaknesses. I also had a problem with an Orc Shaman being able to wield powerful Life Magic. Orc Shamans are rather low on the magic totem pole and simply don't have that level of magic knowledge. It made more sense that the main human mage opposing the Orcs had that sort of magic but I would call him a Patriarch (who DOES have life magic knowledge... although of the evil kind.). There is also the problem with one of those monster things riding a human horse. If one of those toothy monsters weighs let's say 400-500 pounds and a average horse weighs between 700-1100 pounds, one of those monsters wouldn't realistically be able to ride one of those horses. If the horse was a Percheron (weighing in at 2000+ pounds), that would be different but Percheron's are war horses who would not tolerate a strange rider. The monsters in the movie would be better called trolls or even giants, not Orcs.

Regarding The Game of Thrones (Spoilers here too!)

Season 6 is done on HBO and somewhere in the USA, George R.R. Martin is cranking out 'The Winds of Winter' (probably one word at a time). The finale for Season 6 was decent and now looking forward to Season 7, here are some things I would like to see in the HBO Series. (These will be N/A regarding the books).

- Have more giants appear and have Jon Snow step in to protect them.

- Arya makes it back to Winterfell (in a faceless disguise) but only revealing herself to Jon and Sansa when she is caught practicing with Needle.

- When Daenerys attacks Kings Landing, those in the city respond with wildfire once again. While the Unsullied are susceptible to swarming attacks, their spears and shields together make a formidable fighting wall. If used in concert with the Dothraki skirmish attack, the combination could be deadly. Daenerys makes landfall with assistance from Houses Dorne and Tyrell and begins suborning the area surrounding Kings Landing.

- Bran Stark also makes it back to Winterfell but he not only vacates his claim to Sansa, he tells Jon of his true parentage. Jon and Sansa  wed so that they are King and Queen of the North. As such, they harshly rebuke a Lannister order to bend their knees to Cersei. before Arya leaves River Run, she releases Edmure Tully and his banner men so that they can take back the Tully home. Almost every Frey is killed in retaliation for the Red Wedding.

- Arya helps an injured giant and gains his loyalty as a reward. She and Lyanna Mormont become fast friends. A White Walker attacks Winterfell with a small horde of  cold walkers (What I call the 'wights'. A Wight has more intelligence than a blue eyed frozen zombie.) and Arya only avoids getting killed by the WW by sheer luck. Her sword Needle is shattered into pieces and only a blow from Jon Snow's sword saves her from death.

- Lyanna Mormont welcomes the arrival of more of her banner men and the large chest they bring with them. The trunk was used by her grandfather but only recently found and is sealed by a rusty lock. Once the lock is broken, the chest has a lot of things inside. In addition to armor of a proper size for the Little Bear, there are also several swords including a bastard sword made of  Valyrian steel and a small sword made of the same. Lyanna gives the bastard sword to Arya to replace Needle; it was called Bear's Bane by a Mormont ancestor.

- Another White walker/ cold walker attack happens at Winterfell but the results are drastically different. While Arya's giant friend  (Hur Knur) smashes apart the cold walkers, Arya confronts and then kills two White Walkers (Including one attacking the Little Bear). Arya is lifted up to Hur Knur's shoulder where she can use her bow with dragon glass arrows. She kills a third White Walker as the attack is finally defeated.  Her prowess in battle causes a group of knights to call themselves 'Arya's Legion'.

- A meeting between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen occurs. Common ground is found and an agreement is reached. House Lannister's fate is sealed as banner men are called and the largest army ever created in the history of Westeros looks to the north. By this time, only King's Landing is held by the Lannisters; the houses of the surrounding lands are either exterminated or have sworn allegiance to Daenerys.

- Arya still shows that she dwells on the dark side of humanity. She freely admits to killing Walder Frey in retribution but she is far from done. Unknown to even Hur Knur, Arya has cut the faces from more than one cold walker and is undetectable by even a White Walker while in such a disguise. She sneaks beyond the wall where the cold walker hordes are massed but her attempt to assassinate the WW Leader is foiled by another WW. Before Arya floats away south on a coracle, she has added two more White Walkers to her kills. The Night's King is as angry as one such as him could be and he decides to attack the south with his full might.

-The battle against the Night's King has caused losses on both sides. The fell ferocity of the cold walkers is matched with fire arrows, giants with massive fiery scythes and  those with Valyrian steel killing White Walkers. The Night's King finally appears at the front of his army as Jon Snow answers in kind. There are no words spoken but the two know that they will join in single combat. The Night's King is a skilled combatant but Jon Snow holds his ground. A cold walker bear charges Jon Snow and while he is distracted by the beast, the Night's King grievously wounds Jon Snow. The bear is set on fire by some archers but there are many on the side of the living that expected such treachery. The cold walker hordes now charge forth to once again join in the melee of battle but the Little Bear has brought along a surprise. Three motionless giants come to life as they hurl barrels of wildfire into the cold walker hordes. A few fire arrows stop their charge as the wildfire will burn whatever it touches. Even a WW  isn't safe from the attack as they melt into the ground along with most of the cold walkers being destroyed. The unexpected response has caused the Night's King to pause from moving forward. As the forces under Jon's command begin chanting 'King of the North', Jon Snow gets to his feet but sets his sword on fire.  The night's King attempts to defend himself but a powerful blow from Jon Snow shatters the Night King's weapon and then the Night king himself. With his death, the cold walkers lose their animation.

Regarding the Omnicider attacks on July 4th (No Spoilers here!)

An omnicider struck in a Shi'a enclave using an ice truck to draw people in before detonating the explosives concealed under the ice. A group of dysgenes called ISIS claimed responsibility for the act but why did this occur anyways? This proves that even with the mythical concept of Dar Es Salaam (The House of Peace), the omniciding will still occur. This attack (along with others) all but proves that at least some of Islam are fell liars and that they are not doing this to even further their religious cause. They are murderers and any that don't condemn such as these are as complicit in the crime as the actual perpetrators. You can't negotiate with people like this nor can you appease them; they will not stop until they have killed everyone they consider to be an infidel and it is very easy to get on their list. I have an alternative solution to waiting for them to attack us yet again on US soil. Weapon up as best as you can so when the terrorist shitheads arrive, they can be greeted in proper fashion... in a hail of lead.
A Jaded Bard

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The most profitable High Speed Rail line in existence isn't being built. Why?

Even if air and automobile travel dominate the world, there still is something to be said about trains. They are more efficient in moving cargo when they can be implemented and over the decades, they have moved a substantial number of people across the land.  Since the 1960's or so, we have had what is called High Speed Rail or HSR. While HSR is most cost effective in highly urbanized areas, this isn't always the case. As a matter of fact, the potentially most profitable HSR line in existence would travel through the Mojave Desert between two urban areas.

Las Vegas, Nevada has around thirty million visitors per year and while gambling is a main focus, conventions and other special events also draw a fair share of people. About twenty five percent of  the yearly visitors are from southern California (SoCal) and even if Las Vegas has enough room capacity for visitors, the relatively limited road access to the city poses a logistical nightmare. Traffic in Las Vegas is bad enough as it goes let alone with massive numbers of vehicles clogging up I-15. It can take eight hours to traverse the ca. 265 miles from SoCal to Las Vegas in peak travel times but what if  the travel time to Las Vegas could be cut down to one hour instead of eight? The visitors could arrive faster and be less frazzled or worn out; this could result in more money being spent in Las Vegas and potentially more frequent trips to the city. In addition, you could get more visitors overall because foreigners visiting SoCal could be transported to Las Vegas quickly and efficiently.

Okay, you are looking askance at me like I am not in my right mind... but I am. The solution to the traffic gridlock on I-15 and to bring in more visitors to Las Vegas is...a High Speed Rail line! You would build terminals that would go from SoCal to Las Vegas while providing parking for vehicles. Concession areas would generate even more revenue and the large number of jobs created would also be of benefit. The trains themselves could have one way mirror glass so that passengers could see the external flora and fauna of the desert. This is only a partial list of benefits that this HSR line could bring.

- Free up traffic congestion on I-15
- Generate a large number of jobs
- A guaranteed ridership (One hour in a train or 4-8 hours driving?)
- Increase visits to Las Vegas from both SoCal people and visiting foreign nationals
- The opposite of the above would also be true. (More people visiting SoCal)
- Cut down on vehicle emissions
- Easier control by law enforcement

So why hasn't this been built yet?


The biggest roadblock to constructing this HSR line has been political. California and Nevada have been arguing over who would pay for what for a considerable period of time. If you considered a distance of 265 miles from Las Vegas to North Tustin, only 39 miles (ca. 15%) of the route is in Nevada. Despite this fact, CA wants NV to pay for half of the route's construction but it doesn't end there. The major Las Vegas casinos were approached about paying for the HSR but they insisted that the cost be covered by a tax on Nevada residents through either a goods surcharge or a property tax levy. The response to that proposal was predictable because the tax burden would have ben on ALL residents of Nevada. Meanwhile, you have all sorts of vocal factions in California calling for regulation beyond even maximum for any such HSR line being built. California has a massive tax base but it is heavily taxed and the governance currently in place there isn't very effective. There has been a lot of foot dragging on California's end too. The biggest amount of it has to do where the terminal will be located on the California side. For my proposal, I looked at a SoCal map versus decided on a political basis. The terminal location in California has to be close enough to an urban center to be practical but also has to have ample room to not only construct the terminal but also to have room for concessions and lots of parking. The Las Vegas location was nowhere near as problematic. This is what I propose.


A High Speed Rail (HSR) line located in the following areas.

California: North Tustin  Nevada: West Lake Mead Boulevard @ County Highway 215
Distance: 265 miles between the above locations. (226 miles in CA, 39 miles in NV)
Distance Proportion: 85% CA, 15% NV (Used for cost & revenue calculations)
HSR Type: Very High Speed Rail (270 mph (434 kph))
Rail Lines: 4 initial lines with up to twelve additional lines (as needed)
Train Design: Locomotive with ten passenger cars or four heavy freight cars
Passenger Capacity:  1000 passengers @ Full load (100 per Passenger Car)
Construction Cost and Revenue Split: 85/15 for both considerations. While CA will pay 85% of the construction cost, they will also receive 85% of generated revenue from the HSR. Nevada's cost (15%) has to come from those who would directly and most strongly benefit from its construction. The State of Nevada  can't be asked to bear the cost because the HSR is only arriving in Las Vegas, not Reno or Ely or Elko. The casinos will be the ones most directly benefitting from the HSR so they should pony up the cost of Nevada's portion. In exchange, form up a Casino Funding LLC  or the equivalent to collect revenue from the casinos towards the building of the HSR. Don't make it mandatory to contribute to the LLC but the casinos that do contribute will be allowed to have an advertising and transportation presence at the new HSR location. The increase in casino business will cover the cost of the HSR sooner than they think. if the traffic volume can justify it, build extra rails for additional trains.

Cost of ridership: $40 One Way; $25 Round Trip per person. Children under 12: $10. Special Group Rates

Estimated Revenue: Ten million Visitors @ $25 per person - $250,000,000 (Conservative)

There is no way that the construction of this HSR line will be cheap; one million dollars per mile is a conservative figure and that is just for the rail. The two terminals will also be costly and it will be necessary to set up security checkpoints along the train route. One way that future costs of additional HSR lines could be reduced is to use the same sort of track and the same types of train components as the HSR line is built out. That way a freight car from the Vegas line can be used on a HSR train going to San Francisco or Vegas can be loaned a few passenger units from the Los Angeles - San Francisco Run.

If the politics can't be overcome, perhaps a foreign national company could build the HSR line... and they would get to keep ALL of the rail revenue....

A Jaded Bard.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, March 05, 2016

A Game of Thrones vs. The Shannara Chronicles

I have not only read the books of both series but I have watchesd the shows so I figure that I am in a good position to comment on the shows. Let's compare the two series.


Game of Thrones - The people playing the parts were properly chosen. The young looked their age and so did the older folks.

The Shannara Chronicles -  Some of the cast was decent (such as John Rhys Davies as the king) but the three main players (and their sidekicks) left a lot to be desired. While Ivana Baquero looks to be her age, Austin Butler looks like he is fourteen while Poppy Drayton looks like she is forty in some scenes. (She will not age well.)

Theme Music

Game of Thrones - While only a cello is used for the theme, the music is deceptively complex and when mixed in with the imagery, makes for a memorable tune.

The Shannara Chronicles - A very forgettable piece of electropop autotune twaddle sung by a millenial that sounds like she dropped some quaaludes before taking up the mike.

Acting and Storyline Adherence

Game of Thrones - The acting is superb with several standouts. As for the complaints of excessive violence and nudity, the books are far more graphic. What sex scenes there are set the tone for the story and do not dominate the air time. After all, the series is about dynastic families struggling over who will ultimately hold power over the land. While there are some differences (and a distracted author), the show largely adheres to the novels.

The Shannara (Shagnara?) Chronicles - The major themes of the storyline are sacrificed so that a Twilight or Hunger Games style love triangle can be created. It also seems that in most every episiode, someone is sleeping with someone else and when there is a plot hole, shots of Ivana Baquero's ass are used to fill them, This show is nothing like the book it allegedly follows. The first book of the series was skipped over for because it didn't have a love story in it. The major theme of the second book was saving the lands from being overrun by demonkind, not people jumping into bed. I will give the series credit for smoothly incorporating magic and technology ruins and concepts but any future book adaptations need much more substance if it wants to be taken seriously.


Since I read the Shannara books, I know the answers to the questions posed regarding the first season but you need to be a young millenial to really enjoy The Shannara Chronicles.  If you seek a more realistic theme and better acting, then I recommend GOT. Don't ever expect TSC to be anything like GOT. (Even if MTV had HBO's free reign of content)

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Attacks on Paris - Europe's Wakeup Call

Let me first express my condolences regarding the dead and wounded in the attacks. War shouldn't be made upon the innocents  but it is they who are too often the victims of such atrocities.

Who in hell am I?

I am an American (no, I do not wear a serape and carry a loaded Colt .45 waiting to settle any argument with hot lead.) and I live in the USA. Unlike France (A Socialist Democracy), the USA (A Constitutional Republic) gives me something dangerous called freedom. I can refer to the US President as a moron (he is), I can call politicians liars and cheats (they are) and I can refer to the IRS as a criminal organization that steals money from me all year long (They are and they do) without having to worry about being disappeared or worse. This blog post will be in two parts and I recommend that you read both of them in order to get a proper perspective on matters.

To France (and the rest of Western Europe)

Congratulations!! (Sarcasm) You may have heard the phrase 'You reap what you sow' but now you are reaping what you have sown down through the centuries. When you sow intolerance and refusal to integrate and assimilate the immigrants within your borders, you reap a class of citizen who is all but told that 'you can live in (our country) but you will never be of (our country)'. This causes resentment which when it festers long enough can lead to hatred and actions based on that hatred.

Europe really hasn't changed over the centuries; it still is an elitist and classist place where the native born consider the immigrants no better than shit stuck on their shoes. The Jews used to be the favorite target but now there is a much better one at hand. What do you think a Syrian or an Algerian will do if they are told they can live in France but will never be considered French? They have to identify with something because that is how humans are. It is doubtful that they will identify with the governments in their places of origin because that is probably what they are escaping so they will identify with the only other unifying aspect of their lives: their religion. As such, these immigrants will pay attention to an alleged 'Islamic Scholar' before they pay attention to a government who considers them to be subhuman filth and if this scholar exhorts violence against those seen as their oppressors.... you get the picture.

Because these immigrants don't identify as French, you will have no way to deal with them and as their numbers swell, more violence will be the result. You can no longer sweep this issue under the rug because this will start happening in other European countries with the same classist mindset. You need to start assimilating and integrating these people into your society  because if they can identify as French, perhaps they will set their religion aside (or not be as extreme).

This is not to say that Europe is totally in the wrong. Secular government is the only type of government that works. Theocracy (Shari'a Law) doesn't. As long as they don't infringe upon others, Muslims should be free to worship God in the way they choose but it needs to be made clear to them that Shari'a Law is suborned to Secular Law. The latter also needs to be applied  in a non partisan fashion. Those attacking Muslims in France at the moment are also violating the law.

To those behind the Paris Attacks (and those of Islam)

Congratulations! (Sarcasm) Even now I am hearing and reading about the praise heaped upon the omniciders by various hard line Islamic leaders. This is nothing new. While there might actually be some Muslims that condemn the attack, there will be many others who will dissimilate on the matter. They will allegedly express condolences regarding the dead but then they will also say that if more understanding were shown to Muslims, the violence would end. Once this 'more understanding' is in place, more violence will occur and it continues in a deadly cycle until Islam has control. Once that happens, Shari'a law and intolerance follow close behind. This is how fundamentalist Islam takes over secular countries but this time you may have stepped over the line.

There are those saying the attack wasn't from Islamic State  but the usage of omnicider rigs spells out Muslim. Algerian Separatists could also have been involved but ISIS claimed responsibility so let's see what the omniciders have won for their cause!

Free ammunition for the French Nationalists & the Communards

You may say that you are Omniciding for peace but that is just another filthy lie. Even in places where most everyone is Muslim (Dar Es Salaam), these senseless attacks still occur. Salaam means peace while Islam means submission. You have not only angered the nationalists (like the LePen contingent), there are other extremist groups in France who despise immigrants. The French equivalent of a skinhead would probably be one of the Communards.

The Communards are a violent socialist contingent that is pro France and anti immigrant. They attempted to overthrow the French government in 1870 and in the early 1950's but were stopped by the military. If you persist in attacking French citizens, you will find yourselves attacked in return.

You may cause a change in Administration but it is not one you will like.

The Madrid attacks succeeded in a governmental change because the PM mistakenly attributed the attacks to Basque Separatists. A little research and comparison might have stopped the vote but the French President (who is a socialist) has called this attack perfectly. There will be no blame faux pas this time and now Europe has a warning message. A simple Vote of No Confidence could throw down the Hollande Administration and it would probably be replaced with an Anti-Immigration contingent.

Your Al-Taqiyyah has been exposed

What will happen in the aftermath of the attacks is largely predictable. There will be some who will feign concern for the dead and wounded but they will follow it with statements that people need to be more tolerant of Islam and its customs... which will be followed by even more violence. This is how Islam takes over secular countries. There are those (like myself) who have read the Qur'an and Hadith and we know dissimilation when we see it. Lying is lying and crocodile tears will only gain you more resentment.

Each attack only polarizes matters and causes more Anti-Islamic sentiment

I still can't fully grasp the sort of mindset that would allow someone to gloat over the deaths of innocent citizens. Humanity is finally running out of patience for those of that sort. While we might become insulated against the horror of such attacks, we are watching to see who condemns them. In my mindset, failure to condemn means to condone so any not condemning the Paris attacks must agree with those who perpetrated them. Is it any wonder that people have trouble separating the peaceful Muslims from the violent ones when there is such silence following a massacre? You can say that they 'don't represent Islam' all that you want but they have Qur'ans, they pray to Allah and they are quick to call those who don't agree with them 'infidels'. The aforementioned argument doesn't hold any water.

If you really want to show the world that there are peaceful Muslims, then start exterminating or marginalizing the extremist elements of your religion. Every single omnicider attack will make your job that much harder and will alienate more people regarding your efforts.

A Jaded Bard

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Game of Thrones is becoming...something else.

I waited with anticipation for the Season 5 finale of this show but all that I saw were no less than three cliffhangers plus a lot of implied things. While GOT was pretty faithful to the books for the first two seasons, they wandered off the pages from then on. While what I am seeing is still entertaining (Tyrion Lannister is played very well), GOT has become a mashup of various bits and pieces from the five books already in print and there was one major fail detected. The differences between the show and the book will follow:

Warning: Spoilers are ahead! Ye have been warned!! (HBO incidents in bold text.. Book incidents in regular text)

- Arya had the Tickler killed at Harrenhall - In the books, she stabbed the Tickler to death while the Hound gained his debilitating wounds.

The Hound gained his wounds from fighting Brienne - In the books, the Hound and Brienne didn't meet until Brienne ran across the Brotherhood Without Banners. See above regarding wounds.

- Sansa is married off to Ramsay Snow (Bolton) -  In the book, Ramsay is married off to a fake Arya Stark. Sansa remains at the Eyrie in the vale.

Brienne of Tarth confronts Stannis Baratheon - Nope; that didn't happen in the books either.

Myrcella Lannister is poisoned by Oberyn's paramour -  In the book, Myrcella was disfigured by a sword blow to the face. Jaime Lannister also never goes to Dorne to fetch his daughter.

The Others look like cold desiccated corpses - In the book it is implied that they have a sort of ethereal  but unnatural beauty.

Arya goes blind after killing someone on her list - In the books, she becomes blind after killing an errant member of the Nights Watch.

Shireen Baratheon is burnt as a sacrifice - In the book, that doesn't happen but the attack on Winterfell also hasn't occurred yet.

Theon Greyjoy and Sansa stark jump off of the wall at Winterfell. - In the books, neither of them are there to do so.

When will Tyrion meet Aegon? - It happened in the fifth book.

,,,and so on...


When the Wall is being attacked by the wildings, a young member of the Night's Watch asks Samwell Tarly how someone as cowardly as he was killed an Other. That is interesting to note because in the HBO Series, only Gilly saw Samwell kill the Other with the obsidian dagger. How could that member of the Night's Watch know of his deed? Also, the other NW members are still derisive of Samwell despite his deed. -  In the books, Samwell kills the Other in sight of at least two other NW members and that is why he is called Sam the Slayer. Also in the books, the other NW members are respectful of Samwell after he kills the Other.

Other Things

The Lady Stoneheart Storyline - I am told that HBO has dispensed with that story arc but that is not a wise decision. The Brotherhood Without Banners was already featured in a earlier season and they played a significant role at least within the novels. The Freys need to pay for their betrayal and without the BWB, how will Brienne be tasked to find Jaime Lannister?

What I would like to see happen in the GOT

- Arya giving the Gift to the House of Frey in retaliation for the deaths of her brother and mother.

- Roose Bolton and Ramsay Snow exterminated. (No matter what King Tommen decrees, Ramsay will always be a bastard in my eyes.) Maybe Arya can poison them too.

- If GOT is supposed to be like Wars of The Roses, then there will have to be a Bosworth Field type battle. Once you know who is to be fighting at the aforementioned battle, it is easy to plug in the pieces. A Brother of a former King ( Stannis Baratheon) versus the son of a thrown down king of yore (Aegon Targaryen.) are the only two players that meet the requirements; after killing Stannis, Aegon could then marry Shireen to merge the two houses.

- I would also like to see a massive battle in the north between the undead and the living. (I am not sure of what to call the undead that follow the White Walkers; they are more than straight zombies but both wights and draugs are grave bound and have at least some independent capacity). Hopefully when they attack, they will be set on fire as an opening salvo of the battle that is to come.

- It is no wonder to me that I remain an atheist and my stance is further reinforced by watching this show. You have the dogmatic religion involving the Sparrows with their pogroms and inquisitions, (Like old style Christianity), the old Gods (something like the Druids) and the Red Priestess Religion (Its savagery of blood sacrifice and intolerance reminds me of Islam.) While the Old Gods don't appear to be that harmful, that can't be said regarding the other two religions. Hey Daenerys, can you dispose of them too?

My Recommendation

It appears that GOT will become even a more confusing mashup of the books as it veers further and further from the story line (I call such an affliction Potterosis). Though I will be the first to call it very entertaining, I recommend that you read the books in addition to watching the HBO show so you will know what you are missing. I am looking forward to the sixth book in the series.

A Jaded Bard

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Concerning the Left and the Right (I will call fault with either side as needed)

This post is actually two parts; while one part is aimed at Hillary Clinton, the second part concerns the Duggar's and the recently discovered misbehavior of their oldest child some years ago.
It seems that wherever a Clinton (William or Hillary) appears, scandal quickly follows along in their wake. Things aren't much different now than they were from 1993-2001  but the issue regarding Benghazi is much more serious. Due to actions (or inaction) taken, a U.S. Diplomat and three other personnel died when the US Embassy in Benghazi was destroyed. The first attempt at spin control came from President Obama when he blamed an inflammatory video about the Prophet Muhammad for the violence but upon viewing the video, the major consensus was that it was a red herring to draw attention away from the casualties of that attack and how the incident was initially handled. The Attack occurred on Hillary Clinton's watch but when it came time for an investigation team  to ask Hillary for support documentation regarding the incident, they came up short because in violation of governmental policy, she had been using a private email server for that correspondence and though she eventually handed over some emails, her private correspondence on her private server was erased. This wouldn't be the first time this had happened (at least regarding her stalling on handing over correspondence or the equivalent). When Vincent Foster's alleged suicide was being investigated, Hillary Clinton also stalled regarding the handing over of documents relating to that matter.
Even while that incident was still playing out in the public eye, another scandal erupted concerning The Clinton Foundation. It seems that despite a massive amount of money pouring into the foundation, the whereabouts of some of these funds is unknown. It is known that TCF was profiteering in Haiti following the earthquake there from shipping in discarded FEMA trailers for usage for classrooms (The trailers were ultimately not used but six million dollars was charged for them to be sent to Haiti), to investing in 5 Star Hotels and upscale Industrial park projects. TCF was in charge of a lot of Haitian relief fund disbursement but much of that money has also disappeared.
Though wider investigations have been called for in both incidents, expect any such actions to be squelched until the elections in 2016. While we are on that topic, do you really want Hillary Clinton to be POTUS? That would not only mean we would have Bill Clinton in the White House for four more years, there would be even more scandals and more cover ups to hide them. Hillary has made no secret of her left leaning ideology and that isn't what this country needs. She must be defeated roundly and soundly this time so that she has no political future.
If someone doesn't know who the Duggars are, they must not watch reality TV because this family of Apostolic Christians is a major draw to The Learning Channel. (Or they were at least.) Jim Bob Duggar and Michelle Duggar have 19 children...yes...19 children birthed the normal way. While this is nowhere near the world record, it still is remarkable. Things were moving along smoothly for the Duggars until some rather bad allegations surfaced regarding their oldest son, Joshua Duggar. Between the allegations and Joshua's own confessions, he had been acting in an appropriate manner with not only a girl outside of his family but as many as four of his sisters. This made Josh Duggar's job as a spokesperson for the Family Research Council rather problematic so he resigned his position.There was other controversy earlier arising from the FRC position on gays and lesbians. They are listed as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because the FRC doesn't stop at vocal protests regarding LGBT people; they actively harass them at times and they have absolutely no tolerance for such individuals.
This wouldn't be the first time one of the holy roller set was caught doing something counter to the credo they espouse. If it wasn't Jimmy Swaggart being caught with a prostitute, it was Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker using PTL money for their own purposes. This is a more serious matter though because it involves children, a failure to report the behavior to authorities for a years time, the sentencing of someone involved in the investigation to prison for possessing child pornography and allowing Josh Duggar to still be around his younger siblings for years afterwards. You can ask for forgiveness all that you want but that doesn't make things right. Josh Duggar allegedly underwent some sort of therapy:
"The lessons are frighteningly light on personal responsibility, and heavy on blame for the victim—condemning younger sisters for dressing “immodestly,” and parents for exposing the boy to temptation by having him change his sisters’ diapers. The document also blames porn, advising families to “pray for protection from pornography.”
The Duggars follow something called the 'QuiverFull' movement which discourages any sort of outside interference regarding education. The males are supposed to have their own businesses while the females basic job is to be baby generators. The purpose of the movement is to shield its converts from as much secular knowledge as possible. There is this thing called self control which means you keep your hands to yourself. Accusing young girls of dressing immodestly (and blaming them for the abuse they suffer) is inane.
The major target for the Duggars are gays and lesbians. According top some of the Duggars, the LG BT contingent poses a threat to children and that they are only interested in molesting children... but how do they explain Josh's behavior? Getting back to the lesbian and gay issue, there are other bpooks to read besides the Bible but since the Duggars choose to shield themselves from as much secular knowledge as possible, I doubt that they will ever change/
I agree with the Duggars on one thging though; homosexuality is NOT normal but I would never use the Bible to prove this because it is both contradictory and lacks causal referents. Instead, I will use a true science based delimiter. Various aspects of an organism and whether it survives or becomes extinct are called Positive or Negative Survival Characteristics (PSC or NSC). Do homosexual couples produce their own biological progeny? No they don't; since this is the case, homosexuality can't be the norm or the human race would be extinct. Thus I dislike them teaching kids in school that homosexuality is normal but homosexuals shouldn't be hunted down like animals either. The following is a mainstream view with a source attached:
Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147)
While I don't think gays and lesbians should get preferential treatment, their orientation shouldn't be held against them. They should be allowed to have Civil Unions and should be left the hell alone. (Regarding the Civil Union part, that is  a state matter. By the way, Catholic Priests and prison rape victims aren't normal homosexuals) As I said, there are other books to read besides the Bible and they have knowledge to offer (but would Jim Duggar actually allow that to happen?).
I think that he should because when I hear Jim Bob call Creationism a scientific theory or Michelle Duggar state that all homosexuals are child molesters, I can see just how viciously ignorant they are. I am hoping that TLC also cancels your show because your creepy family behavior is the stuff that comprises nightmares.
A Jaded Bard

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Schism within Islam: Is Dar-es-Salaam a realistic goal?

There is a state of existence regarding the Muslim world called Dar-es-Salaam or the ‘House of Peace’. When that comes to be, all of humanity will be of the One True Religion. How exactly will this be achieved when the strife within their ranks is constant and unrelenting? Even if this state came to be, how will Islam heal the schism within its own ranks?

As long as there has been organized religion, strife within its ranks has never failed to appear human nature being what it is. The Catholic Church suffered several of these (The schism of 1054 eventually gave rise to the Orthodox religions while a papal incident lasted from 1378 to 1414. The rise of Protestantism in the sixteenth century could also be called a schism, but the permanent change that it invoked lives on to this day. The fundamentalist Christians in the modern age are Protestant for the most part (Evangelicals, Apostolics, etc.) and while some of the events had a lasting permanence upon society, other such events were resolved.

Islam exploded across the world based on the teachings of The Prophet Muhammad. Far from being a peaceful expansion, it was a military conquest born of the fervency of the believers in Islam. All was going well until the reign of the Caliph Ali from 656-661. An adopted son of The Prophet, his ascension was immediately challenged by a rebellion which he put down, but that rebellion was the first of many others. A civil war erupted in Islamic lands when the cousin of the last Caliph revolted against Ali’s rule. After a battle that resulted in a draw and inconclusive negotiations afterwards, the cousin of the last Caliph before Ali was made Caliph and Ali was murdered shortly after that event. The murder of Ali caused a split in the ranks of Islam: Those who stated that the Caliph must be descended from The Prophet (Mir) became the Shi’a while those who stated that the Caliph should be the one with the best capability of rule became the Sunni.

To this present day, the split has never been healed for several reasons:

Though the Caliphate so to speak survived in some form after the murder of the last formally named Abbasid Caliph in 1258 by the Mongols, it only came back into political use under the Ottoman Empire and even then, the power was in the actual sultan that ruled the country versus an actual named Caliph.

In March of 1924, Kemal Ataturk essentially ended the use of the term Caliph when he constitutionally ended the Caliphate with all of its trappings. An attempt to revive the title in the area of the Hejaz ended when it was conquered in 1925 and made part of Saudi Arabia.

A meeting was called in 1926 in an attempt to revive the use of the title, but by then, nationalism had begun to take over in the occupied lands where Islam was the predominant religion. With independence and the taste of real political power, the concept of a Caliph fell by the wayside.

The reason that this is so important in the scope of things is because that it was the death of an actual Caliph that provoked the split and the only conceivable way the rift could be healed would be to once more have a Caliph that would be agreeable to both Sunni and Shi’a alike, but even then, the matter still wouldn’t be that simple.

The world is a lot different now than it was in 1926. A major war plus a large number of nationalist movements have drastically altered the landscape. With the advent of large scale oil exploitation, oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia, The UAE, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait and many others have a level of power disproportionate to their actual populace and GDP. Another aspect of the situation is a population shift of sorts. Though Egypt has the largest Arab population in the world, (ca. 80 million), they are dwarfed regarding the total number of Muslim adherents they have. Pakistan (180 Million+) and Indonesia (250 Million+) comprise almost half of the Muslims in the world and chances are they would want proportional representation in selecting a Caliph. There is also the economic factor I mentioned earlier. While places like Yemen and Algeria and Morocco and Mauritania (the Islamic have-nots) might welcome a Caliph, places like Saudi Arabia, The UAE, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait (the Islamic haves) would lose much more than they would gain by having such a personage.

In order to possibly mend the schism, the Caliph that would have to be chosen would not only have to be scholarly regarding the Qur’an, they would need to prove their descent from The Prophet. This would probably result in an Arab personage gaining the title, but would Pakistan and Indonesia agree to that? Would the Shi’a also be amenable? Shi’a Muslims are not accepted very easily; in Saudi Arabia, the official consensus is that Shi’a are infidels and they are shunned and excoriated and legislated against at nearly every opportunity. The concept of Al-Taqiyyah (dissimilation) originally came to be so that a Shi’a could hide his or her faith if it became necessary. This is an ingrained practice amongst the followers of Islam and is not so easy to unlearn.

In conclusion, there may never be a healing of the rift in Islam unless massive concessions are made from all parties involved. Meanwhile, all you have to do is pick up a newspaper or watch the news as yet another omnicider kills the innocent in the name of peace…Dar-es-Salaam is the term for a ‘house of peace’ but where is the peace?

A Jaded Bard