The Age Of Embarrassment

Number 13 in a series

There was in the 18th century a period now called the Age of Enlightenment. It was marked by intellectual and philosophical advance, noted predominantly in Europe, but not denied to others. There was born the notion that authority and legitimacy should be founded on reason rather than on social standing and political power. I state this because this series is my argument that we may have entered in this country into the Age of Embarrassment. People at the highest levels are acting contrary to reason, and we are beginning to embarrass ourselves. There is evidence:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has fired another shot at the scientific community, this time dismantling a federal advisory committee on climate change.

Members on the 15-person committee tell CNN they learned the news by email Friday. CNN has obtained a copy of the email sent from acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Benjamin Friedman.

As the meme posted above would indicate, the Republican Party seems to have passed through the Age of Enlightenment without catching on. We now have a President of the United States who previously declared:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Considering whether Donald Trump ever backed down from that claim, the core concept has never left him:

They changed the name from “global warming” to “climate change” after the term global warming just wasn’t working (it was too cold)!

Another freezing day in the Spring – what is going on with “global warming”? Good move changing the name to “climate change” – sad!

It’s 46º (really cold) and snowing in New York on Memorial Day – tell the so-called “scientists” that we want global warming right now!

Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee – I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!

We should be focusing on beautiful, clean air & not on wasteful & very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit! China & others are hurting our air

I’m running out of room here. I will just skip over some of these and print one more:

Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don’t believe it $$$$!

So we elected Donald Trump President, and we got what we asked for:

WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Thursday that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, weakening efforts to combat global warming and embracing isolationist voices in his White House who argued that the agreement was a pernicious threat to the economy and American sovereignty.

In a speech from the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said the landmark 2015 pact imposed wildly unfair environmental standards on American businesses and workers. He vowed to stand with the people of the United States against what he called a “draconian” international deal.

“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” the president said, drawing support from members of his Republican Party but widespread condemnation from political leaders, business executives and environmentalists around the globe.

You will note that in his speech President Trump is no longer denying anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He’s just saying it’s bad for business. Except…

Except, the city he named, Pittsburgh (not Paris), does not considered itself to be represented by Donald Trump. The voters of Pittsburgh went overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in the November election, and the city of Pittsburgh is all in for combating AGW. Again we are reminded we are no longer in the Age of Enlightenment.

So, has President Trump, rather the Department of Commerce under the command of Donald Trump, decided he can go it alone without the benefit of reason, previously provided by those scientists, now dismissed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is part of the Department of Commerce, and the following is now posted on the NOAA site:

Per §102-3.55 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment (Committee) charter expired on August 20, 2017. The Department of Commerce and NOAA appreciate the efforts of the Committee and offer sincere thanks to each of the Committee members for their service.

Please note this action does not impact the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which remains a key priority for the Department and NOAA. 

Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is responsible for climate assessment activities and the quadrennial National Climate Assessment (NCA) report. The NCA integrates and evaluates the findings of the USGCRP in the context of current and projected global climate change trends, both human-induced and natural, and analyzes the effects of current and projected climate change on: ecosystems and biological diversity, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, and social systems. USGCRP is implementing a sustained National Climate Assessment process that will ultimately facilitate continuous and transparent participation of scientists and stakeholders across regions and sectors, enabling new information and insights to be synthesized as they emerge.

In 2015, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) established the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Advisory Committee consists of 15 experts that advise on the engagement of stakeholders and on sustained assessment activities and the quadrennial NCA report.

The diverse membership of the Advisory Committee assures expertise that reflects the breadth of the NCA activities, including: communications, engagement, and education; risk management and risk assessment; economics and social sciences; technology, tools, and data systems; and other disciplines relevant to the sustained NCA process. These non-federal eminent experts also reflect the NCA regional and sectoral interests, as well as the ethnic and gender diversity of the United States. Members are appointed by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA administrator, in consultation with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.

For a concise overview of the Advisory Committee, please view our fact sheet.

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment is seeking public input on a draft outline of Near-term Recommendations on Sustained Assessment. Comments can be sent to snca.advisorycommittee@noaa.gov. Comments received by August 14, 2017 will be incorporated into the initial draft recommendations.

For further information contact:
Dr. Cynthia Decker, Designated Federal Officer
Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 734-1156
FAX: (301) 713-1459

Lest you imagine fifteen highly invested scientists and other professionals are being dumped on the street, take note: this is not a paid position:

Members will be selected for appointment on a clear and standardized basis in accordance with Department of Commerce guidance. Each member shall be appointed for a term of one, two, or three years and shall serve at the discretion of the Under Secretary. Thereafter, members may be reappointed for successive terms of two years. To the extent possible, not more than one-third of the total membership shall change in any one year. Members will be appointed as special government employees (SGEs) and will be subject to the ethical standards applicable to SGEs. Members are reimbursed for actual and reasonable travel and per diem expenses incurred in performing such duties, but will not be reimbursed for their time. As a Federal Advisory Committee, the Committee’s membership is required to be balanced in terms of viewpoints represented and the functions to be performed as well as the interests of geographic regions of the country and the diverse sectors of U.S. society.

[Emphasis added]

The CNN item above additionally noted:

The Trump administration’s dismissal of the advisory committee on climate change, first reported by The Washington Post, will not affect the completion of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, according to NOAA, which says the report remains a key priority.

Scientists who discussed this with CNN expressed concern the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), due for release next year, will be suppressed:

A not-yet-released federal report on climate change finds that humans are already witnessing the effects of a warming globe — and the report’s authors are fearing that the White House will intervene before it’s published. CNN’s Rene Marsh reports.

This concern has motivated the unauthorized release of an early draft of NCA4:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

The New York Times has made a copy available online:

A final draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. The report was completed this year and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. AUG. 7, 2017

A related Times article elaborates:

A final draft of a key federal report on the science behind climate change has been leaked to the New York Times and made public. The “Climate Science Special Report” (CSSR), produced by the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), is a cornerstone of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), a periodic study of climate change impacts across US regions. Many wonder how the Trump-Pence White House will deal with this first major US government report on climate change to come across its desk; a report warning that Americans are feeling the harmful impacts of climate change in real time, and therefore “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” as noted by the Times. Initially released for public review and comment during the last days of the Obama Administration, the final draft was submitted to the White House for final approval on June 28.

In other news, the Trump administration has decided to hold off pursuing the study of the health effects of surface coal mining:

(CNN) — The Trump administration has halted a study of the health effects of a common mining technique in Appalachia, which is believed to deposit waste containing toxic minerals in ground waters.

letter from the Interior Department directed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to “cease all work” on a study of the potential health risks of mountaintop removal mining for people living near surface coal mine sites in central Appalachia. The Interior Department acknowledged in a statement that it had “put on hold” $1 million in funding for the two-year project as part of a review of its grants, which is focused on “responsibly using taxpayer dollars.”

I’m guessing, bad for business. Are you embarrassed yet?

 

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

This series of posts, appearing one each Tuesday, deals with unnecessary death due to false belief. Some time ago I realized I had been focusing too much on religious belief—faith healing and such. It’s time to  pour some attention onto death caused by alternative medicine (alt-med). Here’s the case of Lorie Atikian:

The quackery-related death of a 17-month-old girl has sent shock waves across Canada. No one aspect of the story is unusual. The scenario is a classic combination of cultural vulnerability, modern urban mythology and quackery.

The Victim

Dead from malnutrition and pneumonia is Lorie Atikian. Eight months before her death on September 25, 1987, Lorie was a perfectly healthy baby. When she died she was nearly bald, covered with deep red rashes, and so emaciated that the paramedics thought they were being tricked by being given a doll to treat.

The Parents

Lorie’s parents Sonia, 38, and Khochadour, 54, are emigres from Lebanon and Syria. In addition to Lorie, the couple has two teenaged children. Like many people these days the Atikian’s were concerned about modern food additives, pesticide residues, and drugs. Their cultural background may have made them a bit more vulnerable, but like most people they held positive attitudes toward “natural” food and medicine. Sonia became enamored with Gerhard Hanswille, an “herbologist.”

The “Herbologist”

Gerhard Hanswille, 55, says that he learned herbology in Germany through self-study and books (Germany has a tradition of folk medicine that includes a great deal of Medieval herbalism). In 1972, Hanswille obtained a mail order doctoral degree in naturopathy from “Bernadean University” (BU) located at that time in Las Vegas, Nevada. BU, which was never approved or accredited to offer any courses, was closed down by the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education in 1976. It then moved to California where it operated for several years before eventually becoming “authorized” under the State’s liberal rules (Aronson, 1983). California has tried to close BU but has been blocked by its claim to being a religious school of the Church of Universology (Emshwiller, 1987).

Hanswille owns two “House of Herbs” stores, writes and gives seminars at which he expounds his theories, which include making wax and clay effigies sealed with drops of blood and sperm (notions founded in Monism and Vitalism which are the basis of most primitive folk medicine). Hanswille’s book describes how to heal diabetes, epilepsy, TB, tumors and paralysis by “touchless massage.” Hanswille likens the technique to dowsing for water, something that “not everyone can do.” Sonia paid $450 to take Hanswille’s course.

Much as I take satisfaction laying the deaths of innocents at the feet of Jesus, this time he was apparently taking a few days off.

 

 

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

There’s a lot of stuff out there. Some more than others. On this planet, which is more?

  1. Uranium or lead
  2. Gold or platinum
  3. Sulfur or calcium
  4. Hydrogen or potassium
  5. Sodium or potassium
  6. Copper or zinc
  7. Nickel or aluminum
  8. Silver or nickel
  9. Iodine or fluorine
  10. Oxygen or iron

These are hard. You can use Google. Post your answers on Facebook. It’s interesting which things are more than you expected.

Years of Living Dangerously

Continuing review of Berlin Diary

William Shirer published Berlin Diary in 1941, the year following his departure as a correspondent from Berlin. While the book derives largely from contemporaneous notes, it is not the transcript of a daily ledger. There was difficulty getting his notes out of Germany, considerable danger being attached should they be discovered at the border. At the least, such inflammatory material would have been confiscated. A consequence is that Shirer composed the bulk of the book once safely outside Nazi Germany. This is one of a series reviewing the book.

This installment covers the period 10 May to 20 August 1937, 80 years ago. There are few entries, but some are telling. In May Shirer completed the first draft of what he called “the Indian novel.” A short search does not turn up any such published work. In subsequent weeks German involvement in the Spanish Civil War escalated, and his journal entries dwelt on significant events:

BERLIN, May 30

I have rarely seen such indignation in the Wilhelmstrasse as today. Every official I saw was fuming. The Spanish republicans yesterday bombed the pocket-battleship Deutschland at Ibitza with good result, killing, according to the Germans, some twenty officers and men and wounding eighty. One informant tells me Hitler has been screaming with rage all day and wants to declare war on Spain. The army and navy are trying to restrain him.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 950-954). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

BERLIN, May 31

I feel like screaming with rage myself. The Germans this day have done a typical thing. They have bombarded the Spanish town of Almería with their warships as reprisal for the bombing of the Deutschland. Thus Hitler has his cheap revenge and a few more Spanish women and children are dead. The Wilhelmstrasse also announced Germany’s (and Italy’s) withdrawal from the Spanish naval patrol and from the non-intervention talks. Dr. Aschmann called us to the Foreign Office about ten a.m. to give us the news. He was very pious about it all. I was too outraged to ask questions, but Enderis and Lochner asked a few. Perhaps today’s action will end the farce of “non-intervention,” a trick by which Britain and France, for some strange reason, are allowing Hitler and Mussolini to triumph in Spain.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 954-961). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

The following month brought home the grim realities of Nazi rule, a portent of much to come:

BERLIN, June 4

Helmut Hirsch, a Jewish youth of twenty who was technically an American citizen though he had never been to America, was axed at dawn this morning. Ambassador Dodd fought for a month to save his life, but to no avail. It was a sad case, a typical tragedy of these days. He was convicted by the dreaded People’s Court, a court of inquisition set up by the Nazis a couple of years ago, of planning to murder Julius Streicher, the Nuremberger Jew-baiter. What kind of trial it was— no American or outside representatives were present— can only be imagined. I’ve seen a few trials before this court, though most of them are in camera, and a man scarcely has a chance, four of the five judges being Nazi party boys (the fifth is a regular judge) who do what they’re expected to do.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 961-967). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shirer’s surmise was that Hirsch was entrapped, provided with bomb materials and guns, then arrested when he crossed the border into Germany. Neat people, those Nazis.

There was church opposition to Hitler and the Nazis, and there were notorious repercussions:

BERLIN, June 15

Five more Protestant pastors arrested yesterday, including Jacobi from the big Gedächtniskirche. Hardly keep up with the church war any more since they arrested my informant, a young pastor; have no wish to endanger the life of another one.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 983-985). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

In July Shirer began to entertain prospects of new job opportunities. Jay Allen with the Chicago Tribune (“Chicago Daily News”) gave him Edward R. Murrow‘s card. Murrow was director of European operations for CBS. On 14 August Shirer’s position became tenuous:

BERLIN, August 14

Universal Service has folded after all. Hearst is cutting his losses. I am to remain here with INS, but as second man, which I do not like.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 1002-1003). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Difficulties reporting from Nazi Germany escalated as the Nazi’s played power games with foreign correspondents:

BERLIN, August 16

Norman Ebbutt of the London Times, by far the best correspondent here, left this evening. He was expelled, following British action in kicking out two or three Nazi correspondents in London, the Nazis seizing the opportunity to get rid of a man they’ve hated and feared for years because of his exhaustive knowledge of this country and of what was going on behind the scenes. The Times, which has played along with the pro-Nazi Cliveden set, never gave him much support and published only half of what he wrote, and indeed is leaving Ebbutt’s assistant, Jimmy Holburn, to continue with the office here.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 1004-1008). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Shortly thereafter Shirer lost his job due to cutbacks in the International News Service European staff. He then began his career with CBS, on the path that would shortly take him to international notoriety.

BERLIN, August 20

I have a job. I am to go to work for the Columbia Broadcasting System. That is, if…. And what an if it is! It is this way: It is crazy. I have the job if my voice is all right. That’s the catch. Who ever heard of an adult with no pretentions to being a singer or any other kind of artist being dependent for a good, interesting job on his voice? And mine is terrible. I’m positive of it. But that’s my situation tonight.

Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 1027-1031). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.

Future posts will chronicle Shirer’s radio news postings with CBS in collaboration with Ed Morrow. The world was about to view the onset of another world war in nearly real time. It was a first for this planet.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Yes, for old and bad movies Amazon Prime Video is the go-to place. I’m trying to get ahead of the game so I can take a few days off, so I’m doing a burst of bad movies this week. And this one is bad. It’s Unashamed: A Romance, from 1938. There’s no Wikipedia entry, so I’m getting details from IMDb.

Sorry, it’s not a really great print. That’s about what’s available from that era. The opening shows a nice looking woman in her underwear, preparing for a day at work and contemplating her love life. She is Rae Lane (Rae Kidd). We are going to be seeing a lot more of her.

Rae has the hots for Robert Lawton (Robert Stanley), her hunk of a boss. Except that her boss doesn’t find her all that appealing. Besides, he’s a hypochondriac, always wasting doctors’ time and taking bottles of pills. Rae convinces the doctor, Dr. Malvin (Joseph W. Girard), to recommend that Robert take some time of and relax. The doctor recommends a nudist camp. This is going to get interesting.

Robert arrives, sees all the naked people, and gets ready to strut his stuff.

Without an explanation why, Rae is there. Now Robert finds her interesting.

A romance develops, hence the title. But along comes Barbara Pound (Lucille Shearer), a pharmaceutical heiress, on the run from unwanted publicity. She and her sidekick, another charming lass, stumble onto the nudist camp while eluding search parties. Not realizing they are on the camp property, they make themselves at home.

Besides checking out each other’s wares, the nudists are entertained by a ventriloquist and his dummy.

For a movie showing all this flesh, it is terribly dull. There is next to zero drama, and we spend most of the 64 minutes worth of celluloid watching naked people play volley ball, splashing in the pool, and (here) doing a sing-along.

Robert takes an immediate shine to Barbara. Rae is suddenly abandoned.

Her loss sinks in and Rae climes to the tip of the stony peak and surveys the surroundings and the remains of her love life. It’s not made explicit whether she jumps.

And that’s the end of the movie.

Yeah, given a gaggle of good-looking, naked women (and men), I could have come up with an interesting plot, and maybe even some intelligent dialog. Watching through it on my big screen I got the idea that somebody had a few thousand dollars and wandered through a studio lot and asked, “Who wants to be in a nude flick?”

The title sequence does not reveal the production company, and neither does IMDb. Amazon on-screen notes relate this film was banned in Boston (surprise, surprise). A theater showing was scheduled without first clearing it with City Censor John J. Casey. The police showed up, and everybody had to leave the theater. Those were the days.

No mention of Academy Awards nominations.

Snowflake-in-Chief

New game in town—number 31 of a series

Easy one today, readers. I only want to post a short message from the President of the United States. Remember, this is an official communication of the United States government:

I want to thank Steve Bannon for his service. He came to the campaign during my run against Crooked Hillary Clinton – it was great! Thanks S

You have that, right? Now concentrate on the phrase, “Crooked Hillary Clinton.” And take the rest of the day off.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 19 in a series

All right, readers, to give your tired brain a workout, here is a nice puzzle. Find four differences between the two photographs. The photos are screen shots from ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, dated 18 August 2017 and streaming on Hulu.

If you were able to locate the differences, then give yourself a pat on the back and have a glass of wine.

And that is all I am going to say about that. When you’re talking about buyer’s remorse, not much more needs to be said. Keep reading. There will be more.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Bob was in a terrible automobile accident, and he suffered severe burns to his face. The doctors told him he would need a skin graft.

Happily, they determined his wife’s skin was a perfect match for the graft, and they took a large patch of skin from her buttocks region and grafted it onto Bob’s face. The operation was a complete success, and Bob came out looking as handsome as ever. He was ever grateful to his wife for her contribution.

“My dear,” Bob told her. “How can I ever thank you?”

She gave him a sweet smile and replied, “No need to thank me, Bob. I will get all the thanks I need every time your mother kisses you on the cheek.”

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 18 in a series

It’s going around more every day. It’s buyer’s remorse. It’s buying something at the store, taking it home, and finding out it’s not what you wanted. Robert “Bob” Corker is one such person. He’s the junior senator representing Tennessee, and he’s exhibiting visible signs of buyer’s remorse:

On 17 August 2017, two days after President Trump’s third statement about the ‘Charlottesville rally’, Corker “bluntly questioned the president’s ability to perform the duties of his office” (New York Times). Corker told reporters: “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful”. Trump had not “appropriately spoken to the nation” about Charlottesville, Va.

My understanding is that Senator Corker is a level-headed person, though not nearly as old as I am. So I figure this epiphany was slow in coming. It would be interesting to probe the history of the Senator’s thinking, so recently revealed. When did the light begin to show through? At what point did the sun peek above the horizon? Any number of times present themselves. We can only speculate.

It could have been as early as five years ago.

An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that ‘s birth certificate is a fraud.

It could have been more recent:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

It could have been as late as last year.

Last October.

It could have been back when Trump was trying to figure out whether Muslims were people:

At a December 2015 rally in Charleston, South Carolina, just a few days after the San Bernardino shooting, Trump told thousands of supporters:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”

It could have been when Trump displayed a remarkable loss of contact with reality:

In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

Could have been when Trump began to get the hang of dealing with American industry:

Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!

Or most recently:

Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!

Could have been any one of those times. It’s for sure, Bob Corker must have known all along this business with Donald Trump wasn’t going to work out. He’s noted for being exceptionally coy. It’s a rare quality.

Friday Funny

Number 72 of a series

There is always something funny on Friday. Other days, as well, but Friday is a good time to celebrate. And what is more funny than the words of self-centered people. Did I ever mention Anne Graham Lotz? Maybe it’s about time again:

In light of Ezekiel 33:1-6 that commands a watchman to be faithful to warn others of the danger coming against the land, I feel compelled to issue the warning once again. The warning is triggered by the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, nicknamed America’s Eclipse. For the first time in almost 100 years, a total solar eclipse will be seen from coast to coast in our nation.  People are preparing to mark this significant event with viewing parties at exclusive prime sites. The celebratory nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate.  While Belshazzar and his friends partied, they were oblivious to the impending danger.  Belshazzar wound up dead the next day, and the Babylonian empire was destroyed.

Yes, this is funny. Pathetic, yes, but funny nevertheless. Anne Lotz is also known as “Lotz wife,” so it’s not surprising she has some odd notions. But get this one. Lotz, a mature woman who is allowed to vote, operate a motor vehicle, and possess sharp objects, thinks that a natural phenomenon that has been on schedule to occur since millions of years ago, is a sign from God, not otherwise identified. Are we in trouble, people?