Thursday, July 31, 2008

Workings of Ancient ‘Computer’ Deciphered - NYTimes.com

Workings of Ancient ‘Computer’ Deciphered - NYTimes.com:
"After a closer examination of the Antikythera Mechanism, a surviving marvel of ancient Greek technology, scientists have found that the device not only predicted solar eclipses but also organized the calendar in the four-year cycles of the Olympiad, forerunner of the modern Olympic Games.

The new findings, reported Wednesday in the journal Nature, also suggested that the mechanism’s concept originated in the colonies of Corinth, possibly Syracuse, in Sicily. The scientists said this implied a likely connection with the great Archimedes. ..."
This device is quite sophisticated for its time, which suggests that earlier versions must have been made, yet thus far this is the only one found.

Earlier blog entries on this:

IOC agrees to Internet blocking at the Games - International Herald Tribune

IOC agrees to Internet blocking at the Games - International Herald Tribune:
"BEIJING: The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday what journalists arriving at the lavishly outfitted media center here had suspected: Contrary to previous assurances by Olympic and government officials, the Internet would be censored during the upcoming games.

Since the Olympic Village press center opened Friday, reporters have been unable to access scores of Web pages - politically sensitive ones that discuss Tibetan succession, Taiwanese independence, the violent crackdown of the protests in Tiananmen Square and the sites of Amnesty International, Radio Free Asia and several Hong Kong newspapers known for their freewheeling political discourse.

On Wednesday - two weeks after its most recent proclamation of an uncensored Internet during the Summer Games - the International Olympic Committee quietly agreed to some of the limitations, according to Kevan Gosper, chairman of the IOC press commission, Reuters reported. ..."
This is a shocking development. Why couldn't the IOC simply have refused to acquiesce in this? The Chinese government will do what it will, but there is absolutely no reason to "agree" to what will be imposed in any case.

The internet has been for most people a source of freedom. Information, ideas, discussions, blogging have all "flattened" the world (as Thomas Friedman would put it) -- but there is a large part of the world where such concepts are repressed. This is ironic to see in a nation which has embraced state-of-the-art networking technology and has a network infrastructure that is significantly ahead of the US and Europe.

Google has cooperated in filtering content into China. Yahoo has provided identifying information that has resulted in at least one internet user going to jail. This is not that the Internet is about.

I have mixed feelings about the Olympics this year. I remember the tit-for-tat boycotts of the Olympics by the USA and USSR in 1980 and 1984 and thinking that it did nothing but use the athletes as proxies in the Cold War. It's a little late to do anything for the 2008 Olympics, but there really need to be clear understandings about what is required when a nation undertakes to host the Olympic Games -- and clear repercussions for failure to deliver.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Habakkuk in Zimbabwe | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Habakkuk in Zimbabwe | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction:
"How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Hab. 1:2-4)

Over the last five years, I have preached often from Habakkuk. I stress the fallenness of our world and the need to be realistic about human wickedness. But Habakkuk also stresses that history demands a judgment. If God is just, there must be a judgment one day — maybe not in this life but certainly in the life to come. God's answer to our struggles with evil and evil men and women in this world is, 'The righteous will live by faith — our loyalty to God in spite of the godlessness of others.' We're getting lots of practice.

Daily life in Zimbabwe is the painful reality of starvation, AIDS, and violence. Most families are fortunate if they can have one solid meal a day. There is no food on the shelves, there are no medicines in hospitals, and no one can afford to buy from the drugstores. ..."
This article by an anonymous Zimbabwean minister reminds all of us that what has been happening in Zimbabwe is more than just political and factional violence; there are real people affected and some of them are our fellow Christians.

Monday, July 28, 2008

China’s Internet Population Growing At A Fast Pace Despite Restrictions

China’s Internet Population Growing At A Fast Pace Despite Restrictions:
"China’s Internet population is visibly growing every month, and despite all restrictions imposed by the government, it became the world’s largest Internet population, counting 253 million users, according to the latest government report.

By the end of June, the proportion of online users was of 19.1 percent in China, which still accounts for less than a quarter of the country’s population. The percentage is small compared to that of the United States, where almost three quarters of the population uses Internet, but the Chinese online population seems to be growing every month.

The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) informed that while the U.S. Internet population reached 223.1 million users in June, the Chinese population added over 40 million users from the beginning of the year. Overall, China’s online population had a 56 percent increase compared to the same period last year. ..."
With a penetration of 19.1%, China looks like it will dominate the Internet for the foreseeable future. To be sure, the freedoms that internet users enjoy in the rest of the world are not much in evidence, but hopefully that will change.

One thing is evident, and that is that China and the Far East will be a significant player in the development and deployment of new internet technologies. Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) has been under development since the mid 1990s when it became obvious that the number of IPv4 addresses would eventually be insufficient for all the devices that require internet addresses.

Ironically, latecomers to the internet had the opportunity to create an infrastructure that supports IPv6, thus they are far ahead of the US and Europe in that regard.

IPv6 is the "official protocol" of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The IPv6 web site is http://ipv6.beijing2008.cn/ and from where I sit, one laptop can reach it because it is attached to an IPv6 network. Another, which is operating only on an IPv4 network cannot access that website, but http://beijing2008.cn/ will get you there on IPv4.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Show-Me State Games 2008

The Show-Me State Games are underway in Missouri. This three week event began last weekend and covers pretty nearly the full spectrum of sports from cycling to shooting to archery to triathlon.

This year my son, who has enjoyed trap shooting for a couple years now, was encouraged by the owner of one of the local rod and gun clubs to enter the games this year. I was more than happy to help make it happen, and he shot in the Youth Male division (16 and under).

The trap and skeet events use the "Lewis Classes" in which all the contestants shoot, and when the final results are in, they are separated into classes by score. Each class has its own set of medals. The upside of this is that the top shooters don't take all the medals, allowing the less experienced contestants a reasonable hope of placing in their class. Ironically, though, this often leads to a situation where if a contestant broke one less target, then he or she would have taken the gold in the next lower class instead of not getting a medal in the higher class.

Well, Liam broke 35/50 targets which resulted in a bronze medal in the "C" class (there were four classes today) -- not bad for his first time in a structured competition. He was in a squad with four adults and they welcomed him and treated him as a equal. It's nice to see how all the shooters -- male, female, youth, adult -- competed together. The importance of adult role models cannot be overrated here or in any other aspect of life.

Liam has one more year in the youth division, and at age 17 he will be considered an adult for competition. We watched some of the other squads shoot and were impressed with the level of skill shown by the men and women. The "A" class for adult males had a 5-way tie for first, all having broken 49/50 clay targets. The tie-breaker is the longest string of broken targets, and the gold medalist had broken 35 in a row. If you do the math on this, the range of tie-breaking strings is 25-49, so the difference here is very slight.


The squad on the firing line.



He shattered the target, but out of the image frame...


A tired young man

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On 25th anniversary, Brett recalls pine tar homer

On 25th anniversary, Brett recalls pine tar homer:
"KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- George Brett says he's surprised that people still make a big deal out of his 1983 'pine tar' home run at Yankee Stadium.

The Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer's ninth-inning blast was taken away after umpires ruled the pine tar on Brett's bat extended too far up the shaft. Brett erupted from the dugout in one of baseball's all-time tirades.

The Royals protested the call, it was later overturned, and the two teams finished the game weeks later. The Royals won 5-4."
It just doesn't seem that long ago...

What a game! And what an anti-climax when they had to get back together for the final three outs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

1,600-year-old version of Bible goes online - Internet- msnbc.com

1,600-year-old version of Bible goes online - Internet- msnbc.com:
"BERLIN - More than 1,600 years after it was written in Greek, one of the oldest copies of the Bible will become globally accessible online for the first time this week.

From Thursday, sections of the Codex Sinaiticus, which contains the oldest complete New Testament, will be available on the Internet, said the University of Leipzig, one of the four curators of the ancient text worldwide. ..."
It helps if you can read ancient Greek, although some passages will be available in English and German.

The article did not list a URL, but I will try and add it Thursday when the website is expected to go online.

[UPDATE] Actually, the article did list a URL, but it was not linked, nor is it live at this time. You should be able to go to www.codex-sinaiticus.net on Thursday, July 24, so I will link it now in anticipation of it going live in two days.

Eric Liddell's story to set Chinese hearts racing - Telegraph

Eric Liddell's story to set Chinese hearts racing - Telegraph:
"Who knows how the Chariots of Fire story is likely to go down in communist China, but we are about to find out. Eric Liddell, or Li Airui as he was known in the Far East, was considered a godly, heroic figure in non-communist China, and now the modern-day Chinese authorities have agreed to let his story of Christian humanity and sporting excellence be told."
This Telegraph article is a timely reminder of some of the history of the Olympics, and what one competitor did with the rest of his short life.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How reliable is DNA in identifying suspects? - Los Angeles Times

How reliable is DNA in identifying suspects? - Los Angeles Times:
"State crime lab analyst Kathryn Troyer was running tests on Arizona's DNA database when she stumbled across two felons with remarkably similar genetic profiles.

The men matched at nine of the 13 locations on chromosomes, or loci, commonly used to distinguish people.

The FBI estimated the odds of unrelated people sharing those genetic markers to be as remote as 1 in 113 billion. But the mug shots of the two felons suggested that they were not related: One was black, the other white. ..."
Conventional wisdom has suggested for many years that DNA testing is as close to objective truth as you can get. Even when questions get raised they usually involve contamination or faulty procedures. It appears that a closer look needs to be taken at how these tests are employed as evidence.

It seems that nine genetic markers were considered sufficient in the past for establishing DNA matches, although many states are now using 13 markers. One of the cases in this article involved DNA from a crime committed 20 years ago, and such older samples may not have been tested for any more than nine markers.

Of particular concern are the allegations in this Los Angeles Times article that the FBI attempted to suppress these findings and made threats to states performing what came to be known as an "Arizona search" that their access FBI resources could be cut off. While such sanctions have not yet been taken, further searches have revealed a number of similar matches between unrelated people around the country.

This is a scientific issue, and must be dealt with using the open methods of science. It does much damage to the cause of justice if the custodians of DNA databases try to prevent the sorts of comparisons described in this article.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Starbucks identifies stores slated for closure. - Jul. 18, 2008

Starbucks identifies stores slated for closure. - Jul. 18, 2008:
"NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Starbucks Corp. released a list Thursday of the 616 company-owned stores it will shutter by the first half of 2009.

The closures accompany planned layoffs of 12,000 workers. Starbucks currently operates 7,087 stores in the U.S.

Store closures, will affect about 8.7% of Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) stores, in 44 states, with California losing the most outposts. The chain will close 88 stores in that state. ..."
Columbia gets off without a single closing, but the St Louis metropolitan area looks like it took the brunt.

A few Kansas City stores are going to close.

We just had two stores open in Columbia over the past couple years, so we feel like we're a part of the larger world around us. We were not barbarians, though -- my favorite coffee shop remains Lakota Coffee Company and I really don't feel the need to switch my loyalties, even if I spend an inordinate amount of time at the Barnes & Noble coffee shop (which serves Starbuck's)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

World's Biggest Tsunami | 1720 feet-tall - Lituya Bay, Alaska

World's Biggest Tsunami | 1720 feet-tall - Lituya Bay, Alaska:
"On the night of July 9, 1958 an earthquake along the Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle loosened about 40 million cubic yards (30.6 million cubic meters) of rock high above the northeastern shore of Lituya Bay. This mass of rock plunged from an altitude of approximately 3000 feet (914 meters) down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet (see map below). The impact generated a local tsunami that crashed against the southwest shoreline of Gilbert Inlet. The wave hit with such power that it swept completely over the spur of land that separates Gilbert Inlet from the main body of Lituya Bay. The wave then contiuned down the entire length of Lituya Bay, over La Chaussee Spit and into the Gulf of Alaska. The force of the wave removed all trees and vegetation from elevations as high as 1720 feet (524 meters) above sea level. Millions of trees were uprooted and swept away by the wave. This is the highest wave that has ever been known. ..."
This is a fascinating story with contemporary eyewitness accounts, photographs, maps, and aerial photography.

A geologist was in the process of studying Gilbert Inlet for evidence of large waves in the past. There were at least four such waves in the past 150 years. This one not only dwarfed them all, but it erased all evidence that the earlier waves had even occurred.

It just boggles the mind to think how much energy was expended so as to mow down spruce forests at a height of 1720 feet above sea level -- and all this in an area roughly 2 miles wide and 7 miles long.

Presbyterian Bloggers: Viva! La Reformation!

Presbyterian Bloggers: Viva! La Reformation!:
"A current news article from the denomination’s own press service refers to Bruce Reyes-Chow, Gradye Parsons, and Linda Valentine as our top three leaders.

And all the while, I thought that our top three leaders in the Reformed tradition were the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ..."
Stushie from Presbyterian Bloggers had this to say today (and a couple paragraphs more). If you are interested, the original article to which Stushie referred was properly quoted.

He acknowledges that he might be nit-picking, but this is a fairly large nit and one worthy of discussion. Thanks, Stushie, for pointing this out.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Atom-thick material runs rings around silicon - tech - 17 April 2008 - New Scientist Tech

Atom-thick material runs rings around silicon - tech - 17 April 2008 - New Scientist Tech:
"A leading contender to replace silicon as the basis for computing has made another step forward.

Transistors one atom thick and ten atoms wide have been made by UK researchers. They were carved from graphene, predicted by some to one day oust silicon as the basis of future computing.

For 40 years computing has been dominated by a rule of thumb named Moore's law, which predicts that the number of transistors on a chip will double roughly every two years.

Yet silicon, the material that has so far been used to keep up with Moore's law cannot form stable structures below 10 nanometres in size. And today's newest chips already have features just 45 nm across. The hunt is on for a replacement for silicon. ..."
Yesterday's blog entry was addressed by New Scientist three months ago with this story on the use of graphene, a flat sheet of carbon, one atom thick, with the atoms arranged in a honeycomb. While there has been success in the laboratory, it remains impractical to mass-produce with graphene.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shrinking chip could keep us on track with Moore's law - tech - 10 July 2008 - New Scientist Tech

Shrinking chip could keep us on track with Moore's law - tech - 10 July 2008 - New Scientist Tech:
"Silicon chips could become even more densely packed with transistors thanks to a breakthrough that carves features in silicon that are many times smaller than the wavelength of the light used to make them.

The new approach produces grids of parallel lines just 25 nanometers wide using light with a wavelength of 351 nm. The grids are not functional circuits but could be made into working chips by adding extra small features.

The technique could help us keep track with Moore's law, which states that the number of transistors we can fit on a chip will double every two years. ..."
Just about a year ago, I blogged on a CNET article on Moore's Law which noted that 65nm chips were already here. This article notes that 45nm chips are being used in computers today, with 32nm chips already being made in laboratories. Moore's Law is clearly holding thus far.

This use of interference patterns (similar to what makes oily road surfaces appear multicolored when it rains) is not without its technical hurdles. Just being able to focus even short-waved ultraviolet light (350nm wavelength) to resolve features less than 1/10 that size is difficult.

But as long as smaller and smaller features can be etched into the silicon layer, then Moore's law will apply. Keep in mind that the next two years may bring 15nm chips -- which involve features about 30 atoms across. It's not going to hold forever.... At least not with silicon.

Presbyterian Outlook: Reclaiming Evangelism

Presbyterian Outlook: Reclaiming Evangelism:
"On April 5, the Presbytery of the James hosted a conference on evangelism. I found it a thought-provoking experience.

Evangelism is a word that makes a lot of Presbyterians squirm. We have a big need for evangelism, however, whether we like the word or not. As a denomination, we are losing members. So we must think how we can reclaim evangelism. It is our lifeblood as well as the core mission of the church.

Conference attendees offered many definitions of evangelism. One struck me by its simplicity and clarity. Evangelism, this person said, is “telling good news joyfully.” Only four words. Yet each conveys an essential ingredient in authentic evangelism. ..."
The "E" word makes people squirm. It made me squirm many years ago until I came to realize what "good news" meant. What good is the Good News if you keep it to yourself?

The first of the Great Ends of the Church is "the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of humankind" and such activities are part of a healthy, vibrant, and faithful church.

You may have to register to read the full Outlook article, but it is free, and worth taking the time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sudanese president charged with genocide - CNN.com

Sudanese president charged with genocide - CNN.com:
"(CNN) -- The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has filed genocide charges against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur.
About 1,000 Sudanese rallied in Khartoum Sunday against the possible charges.

They include masterminding attempts to wipe out African tribes in the war-torn region with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented his evidence against al-Bashir to the judges at the Hague in the Netherlands on Monday. ..."
The International Criminal Court is not under the authority of the United Nations, but they do accept referrals, as in this case. This is a hopeful sign that the international community is taking the Darfur situation seriously enough, but the ICC apparently lacks the authority to execute an arrest warrant (once one is actually issued), relying on the accused's country of residence to handle arrest and extradition.

So unless the UN decides to do what it was designed to do, and impose an end to the genocide in Sudan, this action may have little more than a symbolic effect.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Empathy comes naturally to children: study | Science | Reuters

Empathy comes naturally to children: study | Science | Reuters:
"CHICAGO (Reuters) - When children see others in pain, their brains respond as if it were happening to them, U.S. researchers said on Friday.

This response, which also has been shown in adults, suggests that normal school-age children may be naturally prone to empathy, they said.

'What it shows us is that we have this inborn capacity to resonate with the pain of others. That's probably a very important step toward empathy,' said Jean Decety of the University of Chicago, whose study appears in the journal Neuropsychologia. ..."
When children are baptized in our congregation, a prayer is delivered that, among other petitions, asks God to "... grant [him|her] a quick concern for others. ..."

I have thought for a long time that children are born with that "quick concern for others", having seen not only my own son grow from a newborn infant to a boy who is fast approaching manhood, but a fair number of others in his age group.

Perhaps the Lord has already granted that prayer. It is up to us as parents to reinforce what children seem to be born with, because it seems to be be a behavior that dwindles over time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Researchers open secret cave under Mexican pyramid | Science | Reuters

Researchers open secret cave under Mexican pyramid | Science | Reuters:
"MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Archeologists are opening a cave sealed for more than 30 years deep beneath a Mexican pyramid to look for clues about the mysterious collapse of one of ancient civilization's largest cities.

The soaring Teotihuacan stone pyramids, now a major tourist site about an hour outside Mexico City, were discovered by the ancient Aztecs around 1500 AD, not long before the arrival of Spanish explorers to Mexico.

But little is known about the civilization that built the immense city, with its ceremonial architecture and geometric temples, and then torched and abandoned it around 700 AD."
I was able to visit this site in 2002 during a two week stay at CIMMYT, near Texcoco (a little east of Mexico City). The Teotihuacan pyramids are a truly awesome site, and climbing the steep steps of the Pyramid of the Moon was an aerobic exercise made more difficult by an elevation exceeding 7400 feet. I did get several nice images:

Here is the Pyramid of the Moon, which in 2002 only allowed access
to the second landing due to ongoing archaeological research.

These steps are roughly knee-high and for someone who already
had knee issues, that rail was quite necessary.

The Pyramid of the Sun seen from the Pyramid of the Moon.


Looking to the side of the Pyramid of the Moon revealed these unexcavated
structures, including what seems to be a smaller pyramid on the left.


A lot of nice stonework can be seen all over the Teotihuacan site, replicas of which
can be seen in the Museo Nacional de AntropologĂ­a.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Brain scientists discover why adventure feels good | Science | Reuters

Brain scientists discover why adventure feels good | Science | Reuters:
"LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have identified a primitive area of the brain that makes us adventurous -- a finding which may help explain why people routinely fall for 'new' products when shopping.

Using brain scans to measure blood flow, British researchers discovered that a brain region known as the ventral striatum was more active when subjects chose unusual objects in controlled tests. ..."
Interesting. The researchers suggest that seeking out new experiences benefits a species because it may lead to a better quality of life.

But there can be a downside:
"...Being daring, however, also carries risks. Some choices could be dangerous and, in the modern world, selecting the new may, for instance, make consumers susceptible to marketing hype. ..."
OK. So I'm a gadget freak. My ventral striatum temperature rises 10 degrees every time I read about the newest processors or go into Best Buy. It's too bad my wallet can't support my adventurous spirit.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Churches Retool Mission Trips

Churches Retool Mission Trips:
"Not long ago, the families of Fairfax Presbyterian Church spent thousands of dollars to fly their teens to Mexico for eight days of doing good. They helped build homes and refurbish churches as part of an army of more than 1 million mostly Christians who annually go on short-term international mission trips to work and evangelize in poverty-stricken lands.

Yet even as those trips have increased in popularity, they have come under increased scrutiny. A growing body of research questions the value of the trips abroad, which are supposed to bring hope and Christianity to the needy of the world, while offering American participants an opportunity to work in disadvantaged communities, develop relationships and charge up their faith.

Critics scornfully call such trips 'religious tourism' undertaken by 'vacationaries.' Some blunders include a wall built on the children's soccer field at an orphanage in Brazil that had to be torn down after the visitors left. In Mexico, a church was painted six times during one summer by six different groups. In Ecuador, a church was built but never used because the community said it was not needed. ..."
This provocative article goes on to acknowledge that not all short-term mission is like these somewhat incendiary examples. I have participated in several short-term mission trips, all within 800 miles of my home. The groups I have gone with tend to be small (under 12 participants), multi-generational (under 10 to 80 years old), and have spent significant time in prayer and fellowship while searching our motivations and our hearts.

We have contemplated overseas trips, but thus far only one has materialized -- over ten years ago -- and while there is a certain attraction, the logistical considerations are great. I did not go on the trip to Yucatan, but my wife did. I've seen the pictures, and whatever it was that attracted the participants, it wasn't great weather and sunny beaches. It was a community that appreciated what we had to offer, and in turn, offered the participants much fellowship and love.

There is much to be said for hands-on mission for Christians of all ages. It is often a life-changing experience, and certainly an educational experience for those who participate. With care in preparation, not only in logistics, but spiritual preparation, short-term mission opportunities can open eyes to the ways in which God works in people's lives.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day 2008

Those who have followed this blog over the past nearly three years know that from time to time I blog on hymns -- familiar and not-so-familiar. I try to tell a bit of the history and include the original words, when I can locate them.

Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and poet, was commissioned by President Madison in early September 1814 to negotiate the release of an American prisoner held aboard a British ship in the Chesapeake Bay. In the course of these negotiations, he heard portions of a plan to bombard Fort McHenry, and while his negotiations were successful, he and his co-negotiator were held aboard until the attack was over. Following is Key's poem, with its original title, begun the night of September 13-14, 1814 and completed following his release on September 16 in Baltimore.

The Battle of Baltimore was a key victory for the United States in the War of 1812. The loss of such a major port would have been devastating.

Defence of Fort McHenry

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
-- Francis Scott Key (1814)

Back From Camp

I am back in town, having spent several days at my son's summer camp near Iconium, MO. The weather was great with overnight lows getting into the high 50s and highs in the mod 80s. That went a long way toward making it a pleasant experience.

The highlight for me (and of course my son) was his advancement to the status of warrior in the Tribe of Micosay. This is a camp-based organization which encourages not only scout-like behavior, but also serves to keep them staying active with their troops and returning to camp year after year.

It's been an interesting 15 1/2 years, but seeing my son grow into a fine young man is a pleasure.