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Middle aged hetrosexual, WASP male. Middle of the road, reasonably sane and  reasonably employed.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Brother can you spare a dime?

We made a list, and we checked it twice. Gotta find out, who's both rich and nice!

A lot of lists going around about the richest Americans but this is a list I compiled about the richest of Americans of all time that are:
1. Rich
2. Rich adjusted for today's dollar
3. Rich adjusted to the % of GDP they owned for their time
4. Known by the Public

John D Rockefeller, Oil, 192 Billion






Cornelius Vanderbilt, Railroads, 143 Billion





John Jacob Astor Family, Real Estate, 116 Billion





Bill Gates, Microsoft, 82 billion







Andrew Mellon, Banker - Industrialist, 78 Billion






Sam Walton Family, Retailer, 54 Billion






Henry Ford Family, Industrialist, 53 Billion






Andrew Carnegie, Industrialist - U.S. Steel, 48 Billion






J.P. Morgan, Banker - Chase Manhattan, 46 Billion





Warren Buffet, Investments, 45 Billion






There were some others such as Stephen Girard - 83 Billion, A. Steart - 70 Bilion, Fred Weyerhaeusen - 68 Billion, Jay Gould - 67 Billion, Stephen Van Resselaer - 64 Billion and Marshall Field -61 Billion but not too many people have ever heard of them - and nobody gives a shit!

Your "just the facts, ma'am" scribe;
Allan W Janssen

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Islamic Reformation!

It's always darkest before the dawn is true in more ways than one. We have Islamist terrorists on one hand and guys like this on the other.

A very inspirational piece that bears repeating here!

GUEST POST: Losing My Jihadism, Opinion - Mansour al-Nogaidan
The Washington Post:

Islam needs a Reformation. It needs someone with the courage of Martin Luther.

This is the belief I’ve arrived at after a long and painful spiritual journey. It’s
not a popular conviction — it has attracted angry criticism, including death threats, from many sides. But it was reinforced by Sept. 11, 2001, and in the years since, I’ve only become more convinced that it is critical to Islam’s future.

Muslims are too rigid in our adherence to old, literal interpretations of the Koran.

It’s time for many verses — especially those having to do with relations between Islam and other religions — to be reinterpreted in favor of a more modern Islam.

Daniel Shayesteh talks about his former life as a member of the Islamic Fundamentalist Revolutionary Movement, Teacher of Islam and his new life now as a Christian.

Research resources on Islam. It’s time to accept that God loves the faithful of all religions.

It’s time for Muslims to question our leaders and their strict teachings, to reach our own understanding of the prophet’s words and to call for a bold renewal of our faith as a faith of goodwill, of peace and of light.

I didn’t always think this way. Once, I was one of the extremists who clung to literal interpretations of Islam and tried to force them on others. I was a jihadist.

I grew up in Saudi Arabia. When I was 16, I found myself assailed by doubts about the existence of God. I prayed to God to give me the strength to overcome them.

I made a deal with Him: I would give up everything, devote myself to Him and live the way the prophet Muhammad and his companions had lived 1,400 years ago if He would rid me of my doubts.

I joined a hard-line Salafi group. I abandoned modern life and lived in a mud hut, apart from my family. Viewing modern education as corrupt and immoral, I joined a circle of scholars who taught the Islamic sciences in the classical way, just as they had been taught 1,200 years ago.

My involvement with this group led me to violence, and landed me in prison. In 1991, I took part in firebombing video stores in Riyadh and a women’s center in my home town of Buraidah, seeing them as symbols of sin in a society that was marching rapidly toward modernization.

Yet all the while, my doubts remained. Was the Koran really the word of God? Had it really been revealed to Muhammad, or did he create it himself? But I never shared these doubts with anyone, because doubting Islam or the prophet is not tolerated in the Muslim society of my country.

By the time I turned 26, much of the turmoil in me had abated, and I made my peace with God. At the same time, my eyes were opened to the hypocrisy of so many who held themselves out as Muslim role models.

I saw Islamic judges ignoring the marks of torture borne by my prison comrades. I learned of Islamic teachers who molested their students. I heard devout Muslims who never missed the five daily prayers lying with ease to people who did not share their extremist beliefs.

In 1999, when I was working as an imam at a Riyadh mosque, I happened upon two books that had a profound influence on me.

One, written by a Palestinian scholar, was about the struggle between those who deal pragmatically with the Koran and those who take it and the hadith literally.

The other was a book by a Moroccan philosopher about the formation of the Arab Muslim way of thinking.

The books inspired me to write an article for a Saudi newspaper arguing that Muslims have the right to question and criticize our religious leaders and not to take everything they tell us for granted. We owe it to ourselves, I wrote, to think pragmatically if our religion is to survive and thrive.

That article landed me in the center of a storm. Some men in my mosque refused to greet me. Others would no longer pray behind me. Under this pressure, I left the mosque.

I moved to the southern city of Abha, where I took a job as a writer and editor with a newly established newspaper.

I went back to leading prayers at the paper’s small mosque and to writing about my evolving philosophy. After I wrote articles stressing our right as Muslims to question our Saudi clerics and their interpretations and to come up with our own, officials from the kingdom’s powerful religious establishment complained, and I was banned from writing.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, gave new life to what I had been saying.

I went back to criticizing the rote manner in which we Muslims are fed our religion.

I criticized al-Qaeda’s school of thought, which considers everyone who isn’t a Salafi Muslim the enemy.

I pointed to examples from Islamic history that stressed the need to get along with other religions. I tried to give a new interpretation to the verses that call for enmity between Muslims and Christians and Jews.

I wrote that they do not apply to us today and that Islam calls for friendship among all religions.

I lost a lot of friends after that. My old companions from the jihad felt obliged to declare themselves either with me or against me.

Some preferred to cut their links to me silently, but others fought me publicly, issuing statements filled with curses and lies. Once again, the paper came under great pressure to ban my writing.

I became a favorite target on the Internet, where my writings were lambasted and labeled blasphemous.

Eventually I was fired. But by then, I had started to develop a different relationship with God. I felt that He was moving me toward another kind of belief, where all that matters is that we pray to God from the heart.

I continued to pray, but I started to avoid the verses that contain violence or enmity and only used the ones that speak of God’s mercy and grace and greatness.

I remembered an incident when the prophet told a Bedouin who didn’t know how to pray to let go of the verses and simply to think of God and get closer to Him by repeating, “God is good, God is great.” Don’t sweat the details, the prophet said.

I felt at peace, and no longer doubted the existence of God.

In December 2002, in a Web site interview, I criticized al-Qaeda and declared that some of the Friday sermons were loathsome because of their attacks against non-Muslims.

Within days, a fatwa was posted online, calling me an infidel and saying that I should be killed. Once again, I felt despair at the ways of the Muslim world.

Two years later, I told al-Arabiya television that I thought God loves all faithful people of different religions. That earned me a fatwa from the mufti of Saudi Arabia declaring my infidelity.

But one evening not long after that, I heard a radio broadcast of the verse of light.

Even though I had memorized the Koran at 15, I felt as though I was hearing this verse for the first time. God is light, it says, the universe is illuminated by His light. I felt the verse was speaking directly to me, sending me a message.

This God of light, I thought, how could He be against any human? The God of light would not be happy to see people suffer, even if they had sinned and made mistakes along the way.

I had found my Islam. And I believe that others can find it, too. But first we need a Reformation similar to the Protestant Reformation that Martin Luther led against the Roman Catholic Church.

In the late 14th century, Islam had its own sort of Martin Luther. Ibn Taymiyya was an Islamic scholar from a hard-line Salafi sect who went through a spiritual crisis and came to believe that in time, God would close the gates of hell and grant all humans, regardless of their religion, entry to his everlasting paradise.

Unlike Luther, however, Ibn Taymiyya never openly declared this revolutionary belief; he shared it only with a small, trusted circle of students.

Nevertheless, I find myself inspired by Luther’s courageous uprising. I see what Islam needs — a strong, charismatic personality who will lead us toward reform, and scholars who can convince Islamic communities of the need for a bold new interpretation of Islamic texts, to reconcile us with the wider world.

Mansour al-Nogaidan writes for the Bahraini newspaper Al-Waqt.

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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ASSHOLES OF THE WEEK!

I think we could safely make the Taliban assholes of the week first, and then Al-Qaeda the next week and then just keep switching back and forth.

Just read a rather detailed report on Islamist militant groups this week and it seems their main purpose, (other than fighting amongst themselves) is to drive a wedge between Muslims and Non-Muslims.

I would have to say they are doing a fairly good job of it.

The real shame in all this would be the relationship with the vast majority of Muslims (not Islamists) that is suffering because they refuse to speak up about injustices carried out by these assholes.

The latest example of this is that the two Germans kidnapped near Kabul in Afghanistan this week have been killed, a spokesman for the Taliban has said.

The spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said the Taliban's demand that Germany withdraw its 3,000 troops in Afghanistan had been ignored.

Local police said the Germans, whose identity has not been revealed, were seized with six Afghan colleagues on Wednesday in Wardak province where they had been working on a dam project.

On an even more serious note there a about 20 South Korean women who were kidnapped as well and the ferocious, manly, righteous, favourites of God have threatened to put them in the town square and stone them to death.

These guys take people who volunteer to go to Afghanistan to help re-build the country, and try to drive them out so that they can impose their own brand of Islamic extremism on the population again.

These half-assed measures the West is taking are nothing more than a joke. There are only two possibilities to be followed in the Middle-East.

The first would be a real and concerted effort by all neighbouring powers to go in "en-masse" and clean things up in the Middle East or just cut and run and get the hell out of there.

Of course, everyone is too "chicken-shit" to really get the job done properly so it's too bad they have all that oil, otherwise the U.S. would just let the bastards sort themselves out!

If that's possible.

Your faithful scribe;
Allan W Janssen

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Saturday Morning Confusion!

Way too confused this morning. Nothing comes to mind. Will try later when less confused!

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Mid-East Justice!

Still don't believe that most of the Middle-East is still living in the Dark Ages?

Read this from "The Times" of London: (WARNING, graphic violence!)

The horrific final hours of a Kurdish woman murdered on the instructions of her father and uncle because she had brought “shame” on her family were revealed to a court yesterday.

A series of secret prison recordings showed that Banaz Mahmod’s killers had laughed as they raped and tortured her, before Mohamad Hama, a hired thug, stamped on her neck while strangling her with a ligature to “force out her soul”.

For two hours Miss Mahmod, 20, endured the ritualistic “honour killing” at the hands of a gang hired by her father, Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and uncle Ari Mahmod, 50. The men, who had fled to Britain from Iraq more than ten years ago, were enraged with Miss Mahmod because she had begun a relationship with someone of whom they did not approve.

In conversations with visitors to Belmarsh prison, Hama, 31, revelled in the sadistic attacks he launched on Miss Mahmod before cramming her body into a suitcase and burying it in Birmingham, 150 miles from her home.

The jury, which convicted Miss Mahmod’s father and uncle of her murder, were never played the tapes because they were thought too explicit and prejudicial.

The gang of at least four men went to her family home in Morden, southwest London, in January last year to kill her. After she disappeared Hama was arrested as a prime suspect and police taped his conversations secretly to try to establish whether Miss Mahmod was dead or alive. The tapes helped officers to discover her body three months later.

The transcripts, read out at a pre-sentence hearing at the Old Bailey, revealed that Hama, who admitted murder, had boasted of how the gang performed a series of degrading and violent sexual acts on Miss Mahmod in the final hours of her life.

He added that it took 30 minutes to strangle her with the bootlace ligature. “The soul wouldn’t leave her body. It took over half an hour. I swear to God, my leg or my foot was on her back. Mohammed [a gang member] made the cord like a hook.”

He added that when she vomited the men tried to “shut her up”. “I was kicking and stamping on her neck to get the soul out. I saw her stark naked, only wearing pants and underwear.”

Laughing uncontrollably, he described to one visitor how – after the murder – the killers accompanied the uncle as he carried the suitcase containing the body to a car.

Hama said: “The road was crowded and a police car came by. The handle broke off. I swear to God I was standing there. I almost ran away. We were around him, each side of him, as God is my witness. Her hair was sticking out. Her elbow was sticking out. It was a stupid, silly thing. We put the bag on our shoulders to take it away.”

He went on to boast how he carried out the killing with his “bare hands”. He also claimed that because of the respect the uncle wielded within the Kurdish community, he would serve 100 years in jail before turning him in.

Victor Temple, QC, for the prosecution, said: “None of these defendants in the case have expressed the slightest remorse over what happened to that girl. Uncle Ari wielded very considerable influence within the family and the wider Kurdish community in South London.

“Effectively what occurred was the uncle taking the leading role contacting other younger members of the Kurdish community who would look up to him, respect him and wished to do his bidding. They were only too conscious of what their participation was going to involve – namely cold-blooded murder.”

Hama, from West Norwood, Mahmod, and Ari Mahmod, both from Mitcham, will be sentenced today. At least two of the gang of killers have since fled to Iraq.

During the three-month trial in which the father and uncle were tried for murder, the jury was told that Miss Mahmod had approached police on four separate occasions saying she feared for her life.

At one point she gave officers at Mitcham police station a list of five names of those she feared would one day kill her, including the name of Hama. A month before her murder, she told a police officer that her father had plied her with drink before trying to kill her.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation and an internal Metropolitan Police inquiry were set up after the convictions to try to establish why further steps were not taken to save Miss Mahmod’s life.

An officer who dealt with the case believed she was seeking attention and was drunk, despite needing treatment for cuts to her wrist.

And we sit here in our complacency and wonder what's the matter with those people over there!!!!

The Iraqi's claim to have to oldest civilization in that part of the world but they sure as Hell don't act like it!

At all!

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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I'm Just a City Boy!

SEATTLE 3,600,000
FRANKFURT 4,100,000
DUBAI 1,400,000
SYDNEY 4,200,000
SAO PAULO 18,300,000
SEOUL 20,800,000
SHENZHEN 6,200,000
KUALA LUMPUR 1,600,000
TORONTO 5,100,000 (My home town!)
SINGAPORE 3,800,000
TOKYO 32,000,000
SHANGHAI 13,100,000
NEW YORK 21,000,000
CHICAGO 9,500,000
HONG KONG 6,900,000

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Praise the Lord and Pass the Amunition!

Guest Post: Andrew Higgins

Late last year, a Swedish hotel guest named Stefan Jansson grew upset when he found a Bible in his room. He fired off an email to the hotel chain, saying the presence of the Christian scriptures was “boring and stupefying.”

This spring, the Scandic chain, Scandinavia’s biggest, ordered the New Testaments removed.

In a country where barely 3% of the population goes to church each week, the affair seemed just another step in Christian Europe’s long march toward secularism. Then something odd happened:

A national furor erupted.

A conservative bishop announced a boycott. A leftist radical who became a devout Christian and talk-show host denounced the biblical purge in newspaper columns and on television.

A young evangelical Christian organized an electronic letter-writing campaign, asking Scandic: Why are you removing Bibles but not pay-porn on your TVs?

Scandic, which had started keeping its Bibles behind the front desk, put the New Testament back in guest rooms.

“Sweden is not as secular as we thought,” says Christer Sturmark, head of Sweden’s Humanist Association, a noisy assembly of nonbelievers to which the Bible-protesting hotel guest belongs.

After decades of secularization, religion in Europe has slowed its slide toward what had seemed inevitable oblivion. There are even nascent signs of a modest comeback.

Most church pews are still empty. But belief in heaven, hell and concepts such as the soul has risen in parts of Europe, especially among the young, according to surveys.

Religion, once a dead issue, now figures prominently in public discourse.

God’s tentative return to Europe has scholars and theologians debating a hot question: Why?

Part of the reason, pretty much everyone agrees, is an influx of devout immigrants.

Christian and Muslim newcomers have revived questions relating to faith that Europe thought it had banished with the 18th-century Enlightenment.

At the same time, anxiety over immigration, globalization and cutbacks to social-welfare systems has eroded people’s contentment in the here-and-now, prodding some to seek firmer ground in the spiritual.

Some scholars and Christian activists, however, are pushing a more controversial explanation: the laws of economics. As centuries-old churches long favored by the state lose their monopoly grip, Europe’s highly regulated market for religion is opening up to leaner, more-aggressive religious “firms.” The result, they say, is a supply-side stimulus to faith.

“Monopoly churches get lazy,” says Eva Hamberg, a professor at Lund University’s Centre for Theology and Religious Studies and co-author of academic articles that, based on Swedish data, suggest a correlation between an increase in religious competition and a rise in church-going.

Europeans are deserting established churches, she says, “but this does not mean they are not religious.”

Upstarts are now plugging new spiritual services across Europe, from U.S.-influenced evangelical churches to a Christian sect that uses a hallucinogenic herbal brew as a stand-in for sacramental wine.

Niklas Piensoho, chief preacher at Stockholm’s biggest Pentecostal church, says even sometimes oddball, quasi-religious fads “tell me you can sell spirituality.”

His own career suggests that a free market in faith is taking root. He was poached by the Pentecostals late last year after he boosted church attendance for a rival Protestant congregation.

Most scholars used to believe that modernization would extinguish religion in the long run. But that view always had trouble explaining why America, a nation in the vanguard of modernity, is so religious.

The God-is-finished thesis came under more strain in the 1980s and 1990s after Iran, a rapidly modernizing Muslim nation, exploded with fundamentalist fervor and other fast-advancing countries in Latin America and Asia showed scant sign of ditching religion.

Now even Europe, the heartland of secularization, is raising questions about whether God really is dead.

The enemy of faith, say the supply-siders, is not modernity but state-regulated markets that shield big, established churches from competition. In America, where church and state stand apart, more than 50% of the population worships at least once a month.

In Europe, where the state has often supported — but also controlled — the church with money and favors, the rate in many countries is 20% or less.

“The state undermined the church from within,” says Stefan Swa”rd, a leader of Sweden’s small but growing evangelical movement.

Consider the scene on a recent Sunday at Stockholm’s Hedvig Eleonara Church, a parish of the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran institution that until 2000 was an official organ of the Swedish state.

Fewer than 40 people, nearly all elderly, gathered in pews beneath a magnificent 18th-century dome. Seven were church employees. The church seats over 1,000.

Hedvig Eleonara has three full-time salaried priests and gets over $2 million each year though a state levy. Annika Sandstro”m, head of its governing board, says she doesn’t believe in God and took the post “on the one condition that no one expects me to go each Sunday.” The church scrapped Sunday school last fall because only five children attended.

Just a few blocks away, Passion Church, an eight-month-old evangelical outfit, fizzed with fervor. Nearly 100 young Swedes rocked to a high-decibel band: “It’s like adrenaline running through my blood,” they sang in English. “We’re talking about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Passion, set up by Andreas Nielsen, a 32-year-old Swede who found God in Florida, gets no money from the state. It holds its service in a small, low-ceilinged hall rented from Stockholm’s Casino Theatre, a drama company. Church, says Mr. Nielson, should be “the most kick-ass place in the world.” Jesus was “king of the party.”

The message has lured some unlikely converts, including a heavily tattooed, self-described former mobster. “I’ve gone soft,” says Daniel Webb, the son of an English father and Swedish mother, who spent five years in jail for illegal arms possession and assault.

He was baptized, like most Swedes, in the Church of Sweden but never prayed. He went to church for the funerals of fellow hoods but scoffed at Christian sympathy for the meek.

Mr. Webb first went to Passion Church three months ago with a female friend.

Expecting to be bored, he got hooked. “An ocean of anger has calmed,” he says. His ex-wife, he says, “thinks I’m ridiculous.”

He says he’s turned his back on crime.

Europe’s upstart churches aren’t yet attracting anywhere near enough customers to offset a post-World War II decline. But they are shaking up and in some places reviving the market for religion, argues Rodney Stark, a pioneer of religious supply-side theory at Baylor University in Texas.

Mr. Stark first developed the notion of a “religious market” in the 1980s as a way to explain America’s persistent faith. It posits that people are naturally religious but that their religiosity varies depending on the vigor of what he calls religious suppliers. “Wherever churches are a little more energetic and competitive, you’ve got more people going to church,” he says.

The notion that Adam Smith’s invisible hand reaches into the spiritual realm has many detractors. Steve Bruce, a professor of sociology at Aberdeen University in Scotland, says market theory “works for cars and soap powder but it does not work for religion.”

Christianity in Europe, he says, has reached the point of no return, like a dying language doomed because too few people transmit its vocabulary to their children.

The Church of Sweden is also skeptical of the supply-side view. “We don’t sell a product,” says archbishop Anders Wejryd. With 1,800 congregations, he says, his church must cater to a spectrum of views.

He says the Church of Sweden’s more dynamic parishes, some of which mimic evangelicals’ methods, are thriving.

Predictions that Christianity is doomed in Europe date back centuries.

Writing in the early 1700s, Thomas Woolston, an Englishman, estimated it would die out by 1900. A century later, France’s Auguste Comte proclaimed the end of mankind’s “theological stage.”

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels viewed religion as a symptom of capitalist ills that would be cured by socialism. More recently, the demise of Christianity in Europe has led to warnings that the continent risks becoming “Eurabia,” a land dominated by Islam.

Conservative U.S. preachers and politicians curse European non belief and trumpet the religious values of America’s pilgrim fathers. But Mr. Stark, the supply-side theorist, says America’s religiosity is relatively recent. In 1776, he says, around 17% of Americans belonged to churches.

That is about the same as the current proportion of the population in Belgium, France, Germany and the U.K. that worships at least once a month, according to 2004’s European Union-funded European Social Survey.

In the U.S., the American Revolution ended ecclesiastical hegemony in the 11 colonies that had an established church and unleashed a raucous tide of religious competition. As Methodists, Baptists, Shakers and other churches proliferated, church-going rose, reaching around 50% in the early part of the 20th century, he says.

Europe never developed such a religious bazaar.

The Church of Sweden, the Church of England, the Catholic Church in Italy and France, state-funded churches in Germany and others lost their de-facto “monopoly” status to other denominations over a century ago.

But they retained their ties to the state and economic privileges.

Grace Davie, professor of sociology at Britain’s Exeter University, compares them to “public utilities” — institutions that people look to for basic services such as weddings and funerals but that don’t demand day-to-day involvement.

The Church of Sweden, for example, has a near-monopoly on death. Its broad property holdings, gathered since the 16th century, include most of Sweden’s graveyards. The state still pays it to oversee funerals, even those involving Muslim rites.

Around 75% of Sweden’s nine million people are nominally members of the “state church” — though few ever worship and around 10% are avowed atheists, says Jonas Bromander of the Church’s research unit. Sweden’s evangelical churches, by contrast, have only 31,000 members, but they worship regularly and are growing, slowly, in number.

Tension between the Church of Sweden and would-be competitors goes back to the early 19th century, when early evangelicals were banished into exile. So-called free churches were later permitted but they remained in the shadow of the state-coddled Church of Sweden.

After World War II, the Church of Sweden followed the leftward direction of Swedish political life. The Ecclesiastical Department, the ministry that supervised the church, was headed for years by a prominent atheist. Liberal theology triumphed. Church attendance plummeted.

In the early 1980s, Ulf Ekman, a Church of Sweden priest, set up Livets Ord, or the Word of Life, an American-style congregation in Uppsala. His strict Bible-based message and charismatic preaching style attracted a flood of worshippers, and also controversy.

The Church of Sweden stripped Mr. Ekman of his status as a preacher.

The media denounced him as a cult leader bankrolled by America.

The government investigated. Today, his church has around 3,000 active members.

A big impetus to the return of faith is fear of the future, says Elisabeth Sandlund, editor of Sweden’s main Christian newspaper, Dagen. In Sweden and across Europe, old moorings are coming loose as cradle-to-grave welfare systems buckle. “People want something solid to hold on to,” says Ms Sandlund.

While working as a financial journalist, she started sneaking off to church and in 1999 eventually told her husband she believed in God. “He was not happy,” she says.

Whether competition for believers actually boosts belief stirs bitter academic discussion. Measuring religiosity is difficult and each side cites different statistics. The latest data from a major research project that tracks churchgoing and belief in concepts such as God and soul, the European Values Survey, were compiled between 1981 and 1999. (They show a decline in faith in the 1980s followed by a leveling off and, for some indicators, a slight bump in the 1990s.)

To try to refute the supply-siders, Aberdeen University’s Mr. Bruce points to Poland and Ireland, highly religious countries each dominated by a Catholic “monopoly church.” Mr. Stark and those in his camp counter that market mechanisms in Poland and Ireland were trumped by the church’s role as a vehicle for nationalism.

More revealing, they say, is America’s boisterous religious market and its high levels of religiosity.

One factor now spurring religious competition in Europe is the availability of state money that traditionally flowed almost entirely to established churches. It still does, but the process is more open.

In Italy, the state used to pay the salaries of Catholic priests, but in 1984 it began letting taxpayers choose which religious groups get financial support. The proceeds of a new “religious tax” of 0.8% are now divided, according to taxpayer preference, among the Catholic Church, four non-Catholic churches, the Jewish community and a state religious and humanitarian fund.

The result is an annual beauty contest ahead of a June income-tax deadline, as churches try to lure taxpayer money with advertising campaigns. Catholics get the lion’s share — 87% of nearly $1.2 billion in 2004, the last year for which figures are available.

But according to a 2005 study by Italian lawyer Massimo Introvigne and Mr. Stark, the system “reminds Italians every year that there is a religious economy.”

Sweden has also overhauled church financing. In 2000, the government gave up formal control of the Church of Sweden. With great fanfare it replaced what had been a church “tax” with an annual “fee,” still collected by tax authorities, levied on Church of Sweden members.

For the first time, taxpayers were told what they owed in cash — instead of being given just a percentage figure, which is typically under 1% of household income.

Church of Sweden membership dropped abruptly, and the church launched a publicity drive pitching religion. Membership stabilized, though church-going continued to decline. Still, the established church last year received around $1.6 billion in membership fees via state tax collectors. The church also brings in some $460 million in funeral-and-graveyard administration taxes.

A government-run commission provides money to 28 registered religious groups outside the Church of Sweden, but these funds totaled only $7 million last year. Passion Church and other such ventures rely mostly on voluntary donations by their worshippers.

This, says Kjell-Axel Johanson, an evangelical priest, keeps upstarts more in tune with their flock. He recently set up a new church that, unable to afford a permanent home, rents a bar for a few hours. “God doesn’t care about packaging,” he says.

Hotel chain Scandic, meanwhile, has reversed course. Before Christians mobilized, it planned to keep a few copies of the New Testament at the front desk, along with the Quran and Hebrew Bible.

With the hotel under new ownership since April, Bibles are back in rooms. The Swedish arm of Gideons, a Bible distribution group, recently gave the chain 10,000 New Testaments in Swedish and English.

And so the battle between secularists and religion continues.

Your "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition" scribe;
Allan W Janssen


Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Sex Education.

Nigerian schoolchildren who received laptops from a U.S. aid organization have used them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet, the official News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported Thursday.

NAN said its reporter had seen pornographic images stored on several of the children's laptops.
"Efforts to promote learning with laptops in a primary school in Abuja have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials," NAN said.
A representative of the One Laptop Per Child aid group was quoted as saying that the computers, part of a pilot scheme, would now be fitted with filters.

Your "pound of flesh" scribe;
Allan W Janssen

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

You can run, but you can't hide!

There is a site called " Religious Tolerance " that gives a fair and unbiased view of all the major World Religions and I find them quite refreshing to read since they offer many different theological points of view.

I have on occasion written a few essays and pieces for them over the past year and apparently this put me on the radar for a dedicated group of missionaries that now seem determined to bring me around to their way of thinking.

The best I can figure is that since I am a self professed Agnostic and not an outright Atheist they feel that a barrage of biblical quotes and twisted logic will bring me around to their point of view.

(The woman I talked about a few days ago is one of them!)

They didn't complain when I talked about the Muslims or the Hindu's or whatever, but as soon as I questioned their core beliefs (The Divinity of Jesus, etc.) they were on me like a pack of hounds.

(It's the old story that you can run down somebody else's faith but don't dare question mine!)

There are now three, and sometimes four of them writing me in rotation and it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out.

Hope I can put a stop to it all without getting too obnoxious but you never know!

Will keep you informed.

Your "Friend in Jesus" scribe;
Allan W Janssen

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Lymphoma Survival!

If you know ANYONE that has Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma please tell them about this site.

It could save their life!

My wife is a testament to this!

http://lymphomasurvival.com/ Or go HERE!

Your "just what the doctor ordered" scribe;
Allan W Janssen

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Roasted!

Might as well jump in with both feet.

Music is crap since "My Music" came out in the 60's and 70's. The Missus Herself (if she is well enough) and I are going downtown here in London next week to see the Moody Blues.

This is one hell of a lot better entertainment that my son wanting to see that black wanna-be asshole Eminem, or just about anybody else making music now a days. (With a few exceptions)

The same holds true for Television. Last night they had a "Celebrity Roast for William Shatner" that was one of the lamest programs I have seen in years. As a matter of fact the only ones worse were the roasts for Pam Anderson and Tom Arnold.

Back in the sixties and seventies when the Friars Club was putting on these Roasts we had the creame de la creame of Hollywood and Vegas with Dean Martin as the host.

These programs have become classics and some of the routines by the likes of Don Rickles, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Jerry Lewis, Betty White, Bob Newhart, Redd Foxx and dozens of others will go down in history as the golden age of television.

Meanwhile, here in the progressive twenty first century we have shows that give us such luminaries as Courtney Love (who made me want to PUKE!) and everyone's favourite............... Andy Dick!



With Television so crappy and Movies sooooo expensive maybe it's time to crank up the old radio again!

Your Pal Al.

By the way, I have been looking over some of the stats from my Site Meter and find I have a very small (but loyal and discerning) group of readers.

S00000........ TELL YOUR FREINDS, DAMNIT!!!

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We got trouble in River City!

Well, Brattleboro, Vermont to be more precise, and the problem isn't pool but rather wrinkled up, gnarly, disgusting naked old men.

Skinny dipping is a rite of passage in this small Vermont town except last year some of the teems started flirting with nudity by hanging out naked downtown!!!!!

No, really!

Officials decided to let winter take care of the problem and it did until this week when some old guy wearing nothing but a pack back and sneakers went for a stroll through the main street of town, sending women and children screaming in horror!

Town officials quickly passed an emergency by-law banning nudity on public roads. If you're caught they now give you a $100- dollar fine and whack your pee-pee with a board! (It's true!!! I stand by anything I say in this blog, unless it's really bad, in which case I will blame my brother-in-law because it's about time he started becoming a responsible adult!)

Your "The Naked Truth" Scribe;
Allan W Janssen

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101) at www.God-101.com

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My home town! (Tree)

A just completed analysis of thousands of skulls shows modern humans originated from a single point in Africa, and finally lays to rest the idea of multiple origins, British scientists said on Wednesday.

Most researchers agree that mankind spread out of Africa starting about 80,000 years ago and slowly established Stone Age cultures throughout Europe, Asia and Australia.

But a minority have argued, using skull data, that divergent populations evolved independently in different areas.

The genetic evidence has always strongly supported the single origin theory, and now results from a study of more than 6,000 skulls held around the world in academic collections supports this case.

"We have combined our genetic data with new measurements of a large sample of skulls to show definitively that modern humans originated from a single area in Sub-Saharan Africa," said Andrea Manica of the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology.

Manica and colleagues wrote in the journal Nature that variations in skull size and shape decreased the further a skull was away from Africa, just like variations in DNA.

According to old family albums, this is the tree and savanna that my distant ancestors used to call home.


(Makes me feel sort of nostalgic to see it once again!)

The decrease reflects the fact that, while the original African population was stable and varied, only a small number of people embarked on each stage of the multi-step migration out of Africa. This effectively created a series of "bottlenecks," which reduced diversity.

The highest level of variation in skull types was seen in southeastern Africa, the generally accepted cradle of mankind.

The Cambridge work also suggests in-breeding with other early humans, such as Neanderthals, either did not happen or was insignificant. That is in contrast to recent suggestions that such hybrids may have been fairly common.

"We're not saying there was never a single mating between a homo sapiens and a Neanderthal. But I can say, very confidently, that whatever the product of that mating was, it didn't breed back into the population," Manica told Reuters.

Chris Stringer, a palaeoanthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said the new research was important for indicating that modern human diversity was derived entirely from Africa rather than coming from inter-mixing elsewhere.

Your "Leaky Smeaky" scribe;
Allan W Janssen

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In the Name of the Lord!

Got some mail today of the type that I usually ignore, (Especially if there are any biblical quotations involved!) but what the Hell, I haven't replied to one of these in a long time so here goes.

This was actually addressed to the book God-101 website.

Honey, you need to read your Bible. Jesus not only said He was the Son of God, but He said, at the Last Supper: 'for this is My blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.' Matthew 26:28. Also 'I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.' John 14:6. In fact, this is one of the reasons why He was crucified. He was killed because He claimed to be One with God. Be very careful what you claim. Jesus also said 'On the other hand, it would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in Me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck in the depths of the sea.' Matthew 18:6. Take care that you don't confuse fact with your own opinion.

To this I gave my usual reply which was; "Why can't I give my opinion when all you are doing is giving yours! To tell me that the Biblical quotes you gave are literal truth and then to stand by them is not only the height of arrogance, but ignorance as well! (But then again I keep forgetting that you have God on your side. Sorry.)."

By the way, that threat at the end was a nice touch! Always leave 'em wondering. And don't call me "Honey!"

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 )at www.God-101.com

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NEW LOOK!

Changing times and different outlooks. Now a new format for the blog.

Allan

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Spider Man has a Fit!

It seems that fighting crime got to be too much for our hapless hero!

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Binge Drinking!

Guys, something I have suspected for years has finally been proven!

Binge drinking and wanton, gratuitous sex are actually GOOD for you.

The next time the Missus (Or the Missus Herself in my case) gets on your case about the partying, simply crank up the volume on the computer machine and let her listen to this. BINGE DRINKING !

Presented as a public service!.

Allan

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Suits Ahoy!

From the "Perspective" science desk we have this latest bit.

Future explorers on the Moon and Mars could be outfitted in lightweight, high-tech spacesuits that offer far more flexibility than the bulky suits that have been used for spacewalks in the 1960s.

"When we get back to the Moon and on Mars, we're not going there to stay in a habitat," said Dava Newman, professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems here at MIT. "EVA becomes ... a primary function," she said.
The Bio-Suit System, Newman said, would provide life support through mechanical counter pressure where pressure is applied to the entire body through a tight-fitting suit with a pressurized helmet for the head. Ongoing research is targeted at understanding, simulating, and predicting capabilities of suited astronauts in a variety of scenarios -- be they performing simple motions or more complex movement, such as overhead or cross-body reach, stepping up, or trudging across an exotic landscape.

Newman said that the spacesuits of today are very limited in terms of mobility. In addition, the current weight or mass of EVA suits is another limiting factor.

Lightweight and easy to don and doff, the bio-suit layer would be custom fitted to each astronaut -- made possible by a laser scanning/electrospinlacing process. That method stems from work at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass. where researchers there are tapping into science and technology for 21st century combat uniforms, as well as police officer garb able to thwart chemical or biological agents.

In addition, the MIT Bio-Suit System team is working with Mide Technology Corp. of Medford, Mass. to adopt such items as micro-actuators and smart (active) materials in their designs.

The ultimate goal of this concept is a symbiotic interaction of astronaut and spacesuit like that between humans and terrestrial plants in which the astronaut's waste carbon dioxide and water vapor are converted back into respirable oxygen in the suit walls using environmental energy sources.

Technologies under study, Hodgson noted, include shape change polymers and electro-emissive materials to modify heat transfer characteristics of the spacesuit skin so it is similar to that found in natural biological systems.

Your humble scribe;
Prof. Allan W Janssen

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Monday, July 16, 2007

The Weight

Remember, no matter how life treats you, don't let it get you down!

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Building a Picture!

After a lot of very careful manipulation with the giant crane, they managed to set the Moon gently on the crest of the highest hill. Here a surveyor takes the final measurements before it's anchored!

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 at www.God-101.com

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

This ain't Disney!

You remember some months back I told you about a Mickey Mouse type of character (Farfour) on Hamas Al-Aqsa TV that was being used by Islamic Fundamentalists to indoctrinate and brain wash young children!

At the time there was world wide condemnation of this to the point that Al-Aqsa TV had to promise to remove the offensive character from their programming.

Like all Islamic Fundamentalists, these lying bastards took Farour off the air all right, by making him a myartyr that was killed by an Israeli soldier!

Following the "martyrdom" of Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV's Mickey Mouse-like character Farfour at the hands of an Israeli soldier ( MEMRI TV ) on the Pioneers of Tomorrow children's show, the show introduced a new character, Nahoul the Bee, who vowed to continue in Farfour's path of "Islam, heroism, martyrdom, and the mujahideen."

The following are excerpts from the Pioneers of Tomorrow show featuring Nahoul the Bee, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on this Friday July 13, 2007.

TO VIEW THIS CLIP: Nahoul

Saraa, child host: Who are you, and where did you come from?

Nahoul the Bee: I am Nahoul.

Saraa: Nahoul who?

Nahoul: I'm Nahoul, Farfour's cousin.

Saraa: What do you want?

Nahoul: I want to continue the path of my cousin Farfour.

Saraa: How do you want to do this?

Nahoul: I want to be in every episode with you on the Pioneers of Tomorrow show, just like Farfour.

I want to continue in the path of Farfour – the path of Islam, of heroism, of martyrdom, and of the mujahideen.

Me and my friends will follow in the footsteps of Farfour. We will take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the killer of the prophets and of the innocent children, until we liberate Al-Aqsa from their impurity. We place our trust in Allah.

Saraa: Welcome, Nahoul...

That's all Folks! REMEMBER, THIS IS A MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALIST SHOW AIMED AT PRE-SCHOOLERS!!!!!!

Allan W Janssen

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know!) at www.God-101.com

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The sounds of HELL!

My Friends I wish this was the "Sounds Of Silence" or anything else, but unfortunately it's an actual recording of the "Sound of Hell!"
Scientists in Siberia discover a deep crack in the earths surface and after lowering equipment into it they made a recording of the ACTUAL screams of the millions of poor souls who are roasting there to pay for the sinful, wicked, amoral, lustful life without Jesus as their personal saviour. (Or was it Muhammad to lead them? I forget!)
Anyway, listen with your own ears and realise that God is not mocked. Listen and repent my friends for your immortal Soul is at stake here!

Brothers and Sisters we have to prevent this from happening to others and I have set up a foundation to carry the Holy Word to the entire World but I can only do it with your help. If you care at all, please contribute what you can to this ministry. Contact Rev. Al in the comments section and let us know how much you can contribute.

God Bless You!

P.S. Cash or money order only, no cheques please!!!

Allan W Janssen is the author of The Plain Truth About God-101 (what the church doesn't want you to know!) at www.God-101.com

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Sunday Morning Funnies!


ACTUAL AUSTRALIAN COURT DOCKET

A lady about 8 months pregnant got on a bus.
She noticed the man opposite her was smiling at her. She immediately moved to another seat.

This time the smile turned into a grin, so she moved again. The man seemed more amused.

On the fourth move, she had the man arrested.

The case came up in court the judge asked the man (about 20 years
old) what he had to say for himself.

The man replied, " well your Honor, it was like this!

When the lady got on the bus, I couldn't help notice her condition.

She sat under a sweets sign that said, "The Double Mint Twins are Coming", and I grinned.

Then she moved and sat under a sign that said, "Logan's Liniment will reduce the swelling, and I had to smile.

Then she placed her self under a deodorant sign that said, "William's Big Stick Did the Trick", and I could hardly contain myself.

BUT, your Honor, when she moved the fourth time and sat under a
sign that said, "Goodyear Rubber could have prevented this accident"...I just lost it"
CASE DISMISSED!


Bull

A cattle rancher needs a bull to service his cows but needs to borrow the breeding fee from the bank.

The banker lends him the money and comes by a week later to see how His investment is doing.

The farmer complains that the bull just eats grass and won't even look at the cows.

The banker says he knows a great veterinarian and that he'll send him out the next day to check the bull.

The next week the banker returns to see if the vet helped.

The farmer looks very pleased and told the banker, "The bull has serviced all my cows, broke through the fence, and has even serviced all my neighbor's cows."

"Wow," says the banker. "What did the vet do to that bull?

"Just gave him some pills," replied the farmer.

"What kind of pills?"asked the banker.

"I don't know," says the smiling farmer, "but they sort of taste like peppermint..."


Hangover!

A man wakes up with a huge hangover. He forces himself to open his eyes, and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins and a glass of water on the side table.

He sees his clothing in front of him, all cleaned and pressed. He looks around the room and sees it is in perfect order. So's the rest of the house. He takes his aspirins and notices a note on the table:

Honey,
Breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go shopping.
I Love you.

He goes to the kitchen. Sure enough, a hot breakfast and the morning newspaper await him. His son is also at the table, eating. The man asks, "Son, what happened last night?"
His son says, "Well, you came home after 3 a.m., drunk and delirious. You broke some furniture, puked in the hallway, and gave yourself a black eye when you walked into the door."

Confused, the man asks, "So why is everything in order and so clean, with breakfast on the table waiting for me?"

His son replies, "Oh that! Mom dragged you to the bedroom, and when she tried to take your pants off you shouted,

"LADY, GET YOUR DAMNED HANDS OFF OF ME! I'M MARRIED!"

And finally: ALLAN"S MOTTO!



Cat: The other white meat!

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