Category: News Commentary

Where’s Bin Laden’s Faith?

I came across this article the other day:

Fox News: Bin Laden claimed $29M fortune, wanted it used ‘on jihad’

This quote caught my attention:

“If I am to be killed,” he wrote in a 2008 letter to his father, “pray for me a lot and give continuous charities in my name, as I will be in great need for support to reach the permanent home.”

One would think that a leader of such an organization would be pretty sure of their ways.  If Bin Laden had supposedly accomplished so much for his religion, why did he need people to pray for him or give charities in his name to get to heaven?  Where is his faith?

As Christians, our faith is different.  There is no doubt or hoping.  We don’t need people to pray us into heaven.

Jeremiah 17:7-8  Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

One of the best examples is the story of the thief on the cross.  The thief deserved to die on the cross and did not dispute that fact.  Even so, Jesus says the thief will be in heaven that day:

Luke 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

When Jesus was on the cross, He declared His work was finished.  He had completely paid for my sin so that I could get to heaven:

John 19:30  When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

So, I am not depending on a person to help me get to heaven after I die.  Jesus completed everything, and that is what I am relying on.

Thoughts on Robin Williams

The Internet news has been a buzz with the news of Robin Williams death.  My heart goes out to his family and I pray that God gives them comfort in this time of tragedy.

The news is reporting that Williams’ suicide was largely due to depression:

A despondent Robin Williams spent 18 hours a day sleeping inside the darkened bedroom where he committed suicide as he spiraled into a fatal depression.

I saw one article at least that seemed to focus on the depression factor that lead to his suicide.

Instantly, we recalled other artists who followed the same tragic path, a lengthy list that includes painters, poets, writers, musicians and designers: Vincent van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Cobain, Alexander McQueen to name just a few of the famous creatives who suffered from depression and committed suicide.

But is there a proven link between creativity and mental illness (which, strictly speaking, is not the same as being mad)? This is still a matter of hot debate.

I wonder if the article had the wrong focus.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, Robin Williams has struggled with drug addiction:

He struggled with cocaine and alcohol abuse in the early ’80s, after his rise to fame on Mork & Mindy.

Apparently, Williams had gained some victory but relapsed.  Hollywood Reporter:

After 20 years of sobriety, though, Williams relapsed in 2006.

 

This situation has called for a heightened awareness of depression and mental illness.  But, what about a call to beware of the dangers of drug abuse?  I found several articles confirming that depression and dug abuse are linked.

For example, ABC News says:

There is a very close relationship between depression and substance abuse in adults. The two conditions are highly comorbid, which is to say that they occur together in an extremely high percentage of individuals.

The article goes on to say that it is possible that the drug addiction can cause or contribute to the depression:

Cocaine tends to elevate people’s moods, but when they come off it, they often experience a crash into depression. And there is a whole long list of other frequent drugs of abuse that also can lead to depression either during the time when the individual is intoxicated with the drug or during the withdrawal phase.

The Net Doctor says it this way:

There are certain chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) that are key to the way we feel – in other words they control our emotions.
It’s the levels of these chemicals that are altered in depression. Recreational drugs also affect these chemicals. This is why drugs alter the way we feel.

May I suggest that we take this moment to remember that drug abuse is dangerous and can have serious impacts?

 

In another twist, I saw on the US Weekly Magazine that:

Actor Rob Schneider has blamed his good friend Robin Williams’ tragic death on a drug he was taking to combat the early symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.

The same article goes on to mention that:

“Robin’s sobriety was intact,” his wife wrote in a statement earlier that day. “And he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”

So, maybe we can’t place all the blame for the suicide on the drug abuse.  There were definitely other things at play.

Then, I ran into this other article alleging that Cocaine can lead to Parkinson’s

For years, Williams had openly discussed his battle with depression and also with substance abuse. Board-certified neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock believes that Williams’ substance abuse — specifically his use of cocaine — was at the root of his Parkinson’s disease. In fact, a major study has found that cocaine users are at much higher risk for the brain illness.

The article states that the cocaine could have led to the Parkinson’s even though he wasn’t currently battling the cocaine addition:

Still, alcohol and depression were constant battles, although his wife said he was sober at the time of his death.

However, the heavy cocaine use of his past may have already done its damage, setting up Williams to develop Parkinson’s in the future, said Dr. Blaylock.

The point is that drug abuse, whether or not it directly led to Robin Williams’ death, can have serious affects, not only on your current health and life but also on your future health as you age.

 

Not matter the cause, this suicide is deeply person for Robin Williams’ family and friends.  It’s not right to callously use his situation as a case study or propaganda.  I don’t want to loose sight of the pain that they are going through  At the same time, I did notice that the tragedy of another friend is one of the things that caused Williams to fight the addiction.  Hollywood Reporter:

“The Belushi tragedy was frightening,” Williams told People. “His death scared a whole group of show-business people. It caused a big exodus from drugs. And for me, there was the baby coming. I knew I couldn’t be a father and live that sort of life.”

I can’t claim to know Robin Williams’ personally or even to be much of a fan, but with that said, could I guess that he might want the same thing said of his life?  Would he want it said of him that he helped to trigger an “exodus” from drugs?

Is it possible that Williams’ death will spur someone help and fight the addiction?  While respecting their grieving, is that the story we should be telling?

Sources

Electronic Devices on Takeoff — Finally

It looks like the rules requiring you to turn everything off while your airplane takes off is getting overturned!  Yipee!

Here’s the source:

This makes a lot of sense to me.  Telling someone they can’t use a device because it may interfere with the plane and cause safety issues is like telling a hacker that pushing a button might break a website.  You can make laws and post someone to watch all website users, but it’s never as good as just fixing the button.  With the airplanes, we are finally fixing the planes so that the electronics don’t interfere anymore.

According to Delta’s FAQ on their website, they already have everything in place.  The new rule started Nov. 1st.  I tried searching on a couple of other airlines, and I didn’t see any news of their date.  I didn’t search too long though.

According to CNN:

The prohibition against using cell phones for voice calls remains in effect because that matter is in the domain of the Federal Communications Commission.

This seems like the next logical step.  Can we harden the planes against cell phones?  Maybe one thing at a time.

Is Google Glass a Distraction?

I ran into this article just recently:

Los Angeles Times: Driver cited for wearing Google Glass may be first in California

I haven’t researched it at all, but it doesn’t make sense to me.  Maybe there was more to the citation than just the fact the she was wearing the glasses.  Maybe she was driving recklessly or showing signs of distraction.

To me, I would think that looking at a paper map and trying to fold it correctly would be more distraction than using a digital map with a GPS.  I would think that looking at Google Glass would be less distraction even than a GPS device because it would be less distance from the road where the driver should be looking.  With that logic, I don’t think using Google Glass and driving should necessarily be discouraged.

The article cited “California Vehicle Code 27602 that makes it illegal to ‘drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.'”

I think that law would be hard to enforce.  Where does a GPS device fit into that?  Are we not allowed to drive with digital maps?  I don’t know about California police cars, but the Florida police cars I have seen have laptops mounted in the front seat.  Those can produce  “entertainment”, and they are surely designed for “business applications”.

I my opinion, legislating that a driver not get distracted is very difficult to do.  I think  we have to call on each person’s integrity to drive in a safe manner.  As portable electronics get more and more popular, this personal integrity is going to get more and more important.

Did Google Enter the Culture War?

Some commercials are hilarious, some are annoying, but we saw a commercial last night that was disturbing.  Google used one of their Chrome commercials to support the “It Gets Better” YouTube channel.  You can read more about it here:

Mashable: Google Chrome Commercial Lets Gay Teens Know “It Gets Better” [VIDEO]

I agree with the messages that you should not commit suicide and hatred is not excused, but I can’t agree with the life style. AFA has called for the boycott of Home Depot for entering the culture war.  Is Google next?  I really like Google Chrome, and Google’s IO got me more excited about their developments.  While AdSense is not doing all I hoped it would on my website, it is working nicely.  I don’t want that technology on a side I cannot support.

If I could send one message to Google, I would say to choose other good causes to support with your commercials.  What about Cancer Research?  Starvation? The Japanese Tsunami situation?  I enjoyed both the Dear Sophie commercial and the Google speed test one.

Update: AFA has a website where you can take action: One Million Moms: Google and Disney are Not Getting Better!

AFA: BuyCott Chick-fil-A

AFA is calling for a BuyCott of Chick-fil-A next week.  Notice this is BUY not boycott!  It is designed as a reaction to some activist who don’t appreciate the pro-family stand that Chick-fil-A has taken.

AFA: Eat Mor Chikin! – BuyCott Chick-fil-A next week

Also, check out the campaign’s home page:

Chick-fil-A BuyCott April 25th-30th

Here are some of the facts they list about Chick-fil-A that I appreciate:

  • Chick-fil-A plays Christian music in its restaurants … exclusively.
  • Chick-fil-A closes all its locations on Sunday … no exceptions.
  • Chick-fil-A’s stated corporate purpose is: 1) To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us; and 2) To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chickfil-A.

 

For a quick overview, you can watch this video:

Does Solitaire Help Balance the Budget?

Someone emailed me this photograph of Connecticut leaders playing solitaire during discussions on Budgets.  The email prompted me to do some research.

Congress Playing Solitaire
copyright The Associated Press (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Is it true?

One of the first things you should do when you get one of those chain emails is validate whether the email is really true.  It is gossip if you forward it otherwise.  A quick Google Search and a search on Snopes.com usually provides quick verification.

Snopes.com: A House Diverted

According to Snopes, this picture is true and unaltered.  In fact, Snopes had a good deal of information about the photo, the photographer, and the situation.  But, keep in mind that this is a picture of the Connecticut House of Representatives not of the U.S. Congress.

Who Took the Picture?

According to Snopes, Jessica Hill took the picture.  She is a contract photographer and photo editor in Connecticut.  You can see some of her pictures and read about her on her website:

She has a gallery on her website, and I really like many of her other photographs as well:

Jack Hennessy

According to Snopes.com, Jack Hennessy was the first person in the picture playing.  According to Snopes.com and Courant.com, Jack issued an apology letter.  You can read the comments for yourself, but it sounds like it generated a mixture of feedback.  I guess the true test is whether or not he was reelected, and according to the CT Mirror, he was reelected in 2010.

You can read more about him here:

House Democrats of Connecticut: Jack Hennessy

Barbara Lambert

According to Snopes.com, Barbara Lambert is the other person in the picture.  According to Greenwich Time, she was not apologetic.  She said that she knew the information behind the issues, and she had already made up her mind on the decision.  According to Wikipedia, she did not attempt a reelection after this incident (not that her decision had anything to do with the incident).

More Information

Here are some other articles on the issue:

What Can We Learn?

First, be careful when you play solitaire!  Solitaire can wreck havoc on your PR.  Seriously, we have to watch our appearances.  Even if what you are doing is legitimate, you may have to ask what if someone were to walk up behind you and see your screen.  What would they think?

Second, take it easy!  Don’t assume that you have caught someone slacking off.  Are they on a break?  Just make sure that you understand the whole situation.  I am not saying that Jack and Barbara didn’t deserve all of the flack they got, but I don’t know enough to make a judgement call.  It would be a horrible thing if either one had been up all night studying to know all the issues and for a brief moment they took some time to relax.

Helping Japan

I think it is cool to see how many different ways people join together to help in time of need.  This disaster in Japan is no different.

Of course, there are many different charities and places to donate, but the most creative I think was Google’s new person finder service.  I saw it mentioned on the AdSense Blog and on InfoWorld.

If you see any other creative ways companies or people are helping those affected by the disaster please comment and give them credit.

Is Iran Stretching Too Far on the 2012 Olympics Logo?

I just saw this article:

Washington Post: Zion? 2012 Olympics logo is only offensive to good taste

Olympic Website with the London Logo
Olympic Website with the London Logo

Supposedly, Iran claims that they see the word Zion.  Personally, I don’t see it!  It makes me wonder if they are just picking another fight, looking for another chance to call for violence?  I see the Z, O and maybe the I but no N.

Maybe it would have been better for them to say something back when the logo first came out.  At this point, I think they should just put a call out to their citizens to show support for their cause and try to win in the games.  I think that would be the sportsman like thing to do.  Then, that would give them a platform for their cause.

That’s just my opinion though.