Monthly Archives: July 2011

99th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birthday (Part 1)

Happy 99th Birthday, Milton Friedman! A tribute to the late, great economist

If you know anything about this blog then you know that I quote Milton Friedman about as much as anybody. Growing up I was deeply affected by the book “Free to Choose” (also the film series) by Milton Friedman and the two film series by Francis Schaeffer (also his books).

The first political candidate I got excited about was Ronald Reagan in 1976 and Milton Friedman was the main economist that influenced him. Reagan also hired C. Everett Koop into his administration and Koop had co-authored the book and film series “Whatever happened to the human race?” with Francis Schaeffer. As you can see at the time I really felt that my political, economic and social views covered by the written views of these individuals.

Now all these individuals did not agree on everything. Concerning religious view, Friedman was an atheist, and  Schaeffer was an evangelical and Reagan was somewhere in the middle.

Here is a tribute below to Milton Friedman by Nick Gillespie:

There’s no way to appreciate fully the contributions of Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman (1912-2006), who would have turned 99 years old this weekend, to the growth of libertarian ideas and a free society.

This is the man, after all, who introduced the concept of school vouchers, documented the role of government monopolies on money in creating inflation, provided the intellectual arguments that ended the military draft in America, co-founded the Mont Pelerin Society, and so much more. In popular books such as Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose, written with his wife and longtime collaborator Rose, he masterfully drew a through-line between economic freedom and political and cultural freedom.

Yet his ultimate contribution to freedom and liberty is found less in any of the specific argument he made and more in the ways he made them. Friedman provided an all-too-rare example of a public intellectual who was scrupulously honest, forthright, and fair in every debate he entered. Whether he was duking it out with fellow Nobel Prize winners and other high-profile economists or making the case for the morality of capitalism with TV hosts such as Phil Donahue and angry students, he always argued in good faith, admitted when he was wrong, and enlarged the circle of debate. 

Long after some of his technical points and social insights have been superseded, that commitment to relentless inquiry and search for truth wherever it takes us will survive.

Written and narrated by Nick Gillespie. Produced and edited by Jim Epstein, with help from Jack Gillespie.

About 2.30 minutes.

For Reason’s coverage of and interviews with Milton Friedman over the years, go here now.

Go to Reason.tv for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason.tv’s YouTube channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

Gary Thain of Uriah Heep is a member of the “27 Club” (Part 7)

Amy Winehouse died last week and joined the “27 club” which is a group of rockers that died at age 27. Gary Thain also joined that same group long ago and I wanted to look at his life today.

Uriah Heep – Wizard

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By Sean Nelson, Special to MSN Music , July 23, 2011

Gary Thain (Uriah Heep)

 

The bassist from Uriah Heep is more or less the quintessence of the rock 'n' roll casualty. Known only to the band's die-hard fans (and their families and loved ones), these guys neither burn out nor fade away; they merely get replaced in time for the next tour, the next session. Gary Thain was from New Zealand. He moved to London. He played with a band that opened for Uriah Heep. They asked him to replace their bass player. He did. They made some records, played some tours. Somewhere along the way he got addicted to heroin and got fired, replaced by someone else. He overdosed on December 8, 1975. As fate would have it, he was 27. (Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images)

Larger image

Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images

The bassist from Uriah Heep is more or less the quintessence of the rock ‘n’ roll casualty. Known only to the band’s die-hard fans (and their families and loved ones), these guys neither burn out nor fade away; they merely get replaced in time for the next tour, the next session. Gary Thain was from New Zealand. He moved to London. He played with a band that opened for Uriah Heep. They asked him to replace their bass player. He did. They made some records, played some tours. Somewhere along the way he got addicted to heroin and got fired, replaced by someone else. He overdosed on December 8, 1975. As fate would have it, he was 27.
Today RockStar Weekly would like to pay tribute to Uriah Heep bassist Gary Thain, a member of rock’s 27 Club who passed away on this date (Dec. 8) in 1975. The 27 Club, also occasionally known as the Forever 27 Club or Club 27, is the name for a group of influential rock and blues musicians who all died at the age of 27, including such notables as Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain.

 

Early in 1972, Gary received a phone call from Ken Hensley and joined Uriah Heep as their 3rd bass player (replacing Mark Clarke). Heep was touring the USA at the time, Gary flew in to join the band and practiced the material he had to perform for several weeks.  His first gig with Uriah Heep was on February 1, 1972 at the Whiskey A Go-Go in Los Angeles, California.

The first album that Gary recorded with Uriah Heep was “Demons & Wizards” (released May 1972), only 4 months after he joined the band.  “The Magician’s Birthday” followed later that same year, and by that time Gary co-wrote some of the songs (Spider Woman and Sweet Lorraine).  The remastered edition (released 2003) also includes “Crystal Ball” and “Gary’s Song”, which he wrote during that time. (Gary’s Song being an alternate version of Crystal Ball).

Gary also toured with Uriah Heep almost non-stop.  In the beginning of 1973 the first collection of some of those touring efforts was released, aptly titled “Uriah Heep Live 1973”.  One of the points worth mentioning  is the excerpt of their Rock ‘N Roll Medley endings.  It shows Gary’s skill of using the 50’s and R ‘n R Bass lines that he had so diligently learned early on in his career.

All in all, he participated in over 140 live performances all over the world with Uriah Heep in just 3 years. After continued struggles with health and drug problems, Gary died of respiratory failure due to a heroin overdose on December 8, 1975, in his flat at Norwood Green at the young age of 27.

Enjoy this promo clip from 1972, Sweet Freedom, featuring the legendary Uriah Heep line up: David Byron, Mick Box, Ken Hensley, Gary Thain, Lee Kerslake

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Lori’s Story: Unsatisfied and Depressed

I have had an amazing two years. About two years ago I graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and joined the family business. Just over a year ago I married a wonderful man. This past spring, my husband and I bought a fantastic house for the children we hoped to have in a few years. Just over a week ago I completed my master’s degree. Sounds like I should have been happy, right?

And yet I wasn’t. About six months ago, I realized that I had lost my purpose. What had really happened was that I had lost my joy.

I tried everything. In a session at the Monadnock women’s retreat a few weeks ago, the speaker, Linda Shultz Anderson, spoke about looking for happiness in all the wrong places. She described the Avis mode–if I only try harder, I’ll be happy. She also discussed the mall mode–if I only had this new pair of shoes, or in my case, this house, I’d be happy. Then there was the devastating leaning mode–somehow my family or friends should ensure my happiness. The reason that this was so destructive for me was that nobody, including myself, could even figure out what I had to be so depressed about, so what was it that I was expecting from them? In a nutshell, she had summarized the year and a half of my life leading up to my salvation.

Trying harder only made me tired. Buying more was fun for a while, and don’t get me wrong, I love our home. But it didn’t fill my emptiness. And trying to make other people responsible for my happiness only strained our relationships. I finally realized that I was tiring myself out trying too hard to achieve the things that mean success according to the society we live in. I just felt stressed out and tired. I started having brief fits of depression, where I would be completely devastated by anything that didn’t go my way. Then I would cry uncontrollably, because I didn’t know what I was so upset about and felt like I had lost control of my life. If I didn’t get any joy from the life I’d been living and the goals I’d achieved, then why was I doing it? And if none of these things could give me a fundamental purpose, then where was I possibly going to turn to find one? I felt like I had looked everywhere.

During one of my crying fits, my father made a very simple suggestion. So simple that it’s amazing to me that nobody else had suggested it, or that it hadn’t even crossed my mind. He said, “Why don’t you go to church with Beth this weekend and see if there’s something there that can help you with this?” I said, “Yeah, you know, it couldn’t hurt.”

Before I even got to church that weekend, my dad gave me some tapes of some of the Pastor’s sermons. There were two in particular that I’ll never forget, because they spoke right to my heart and my troubles. The first one was based on Philippians 3:12-14 and Philippians 4:11-13, where Paul talks about learning to always be content no matter what his material and worldly situation is. It became so clear to me that I had been chasing material goals and I needed to chase God instead. I could stop worrying so much about having a great car, house, and career, because He would take care of me if I’d only ask Him to.

The second sermon talked about Pontius Pilate and how he was troubled by Jesus because he knew that there was something extraordinary about this guy, but he shrugged it off and turned away his chance for salvation. This struck me, because God had caught my attention a few times over the past few years, and I had let my interest fade each time. I asked God not to let me slip away this time. Within two months I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and asked God into my life.

Since then, I’ve slowly been healed. I still mess up of course. I can still slip into having pity parties for myself, or find myself worrying about things instead of turning them over to God. But I can pull myself out of these modes because when I’m starting to fall by relying on a new source of joy in my salvation. I have a new feeling of purpose.

I have been amazed by the things that God has provided for me every time I’ve asked. This spring, He gave me those taped sermons. He has brought me back in touch with an old friend of mine, who accepted Christ in the last year and has been a great help in my young faith. I asked Him for some kind of bible study group because I feel like I need something structured to get me reading the bible on a regular basis. He brought me to a discipleship conference which really helped. I was driving to church a couple of weekends ago thinking that I needed a booster shot, and the Pastor’s sermon was “Do you need a fill-up?” Every time I’ve asked, He’s given.

So I thank God for my family; especially my husband. I also thank God for being stubborn with me this time, and showing me all the reasons I have to rejoice.

If you are depressed or unsatisfied with life, please follow this link:
What is purpose of your life?

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What is the Purpose of Your Life?

Discovering Your Purpose In Life

Like most people, you may have wondered why you are here on Earth. Do you think your existence is an accident or are you here for a reason? Is there some purpose for your life? According to the Bible, you are not a mistake and you were created by God for a reason.

Created For A Reason

The main reason God created you is to make you part of His eternal plan (Romans 8:28-29). God wants us to be in Heaven with Him and to tell people about Him. His plan is for every person to be saved from their sin and Hell and to spend eternity with Him (2 Peter 3:9). Unfortunately, some people choose to live their own way and abandon God’s plan for their life (Proverbs 14:12).

What Are You Living For?

Most people seem to believe that the main purpose of life is enjoyment and personal fulfillment. Are you living for things such as money, fame, success, fun, possessions and power? The wise King Solomon accomplished many great things and had all that anyone could desire, yet described it all as meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). How about you? Are you more consumed with the pleasures of life than what happens to your soul when you die? The Bible says “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul” (Mark 8:36)?

Life Is Short Compared To Eternity

Hopefully, you would agree that what happens to you eternally is far more important than what happens to you on Earth. Think about the word eternity. That is far beyond trillions and trillions times longer than our earthly life. It is so hard to even comprehend that concept because it never ends. You may have a great life or a terrible life on Earth, but either way it will come to an end someday. Then, you will spend everlasting life in either Heaven or Hell (Matthew 25:46). Please think carefully about where you will go after you die as it can happen any day.

The Problem

Too many people assume they will go to Heaven when they die based on their own concept of God. The reason why everybody can’t spend eternity in Heaven is because sin separates people from God (Isaiah 59:2). You have rebelled against God and committed a sin every time you broke one of God’s commandments by stealing something, telling a lie, hating somebody, disobeying your parents, having a lustful thought, or countless other things. God hates sin and will severely judge each and every one of your sins. Just being a good person or believing in God won’t erase your sin either. The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

The Good News

The good news is that no matter how severe your sins are, God made a way for you to be forgiven and be declared innocent on judgment day. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Being a good person or being religious won’t rescue you from your sin. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The word grace means “undeserved favor”. Your sin separated you from a perfect and sinless God, but Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins and later rose back to life (Matthew 28:5-6) so you can have everlasting life in Heaven. Even though none of us deserve Heaven, God was kind enough to make a way for us.

Receiving Forgiveness

It is not enough to just believe that Jesus died for your sins. You must personally trust in Jesus to save you from the penalty of your sin (Romans 8:1-4). You must also be willing to repent (turn from) your sin (Luke 13:5) and follow Jesus as Lord of your life (Romans 10:9-10). Doing this mends your broken relationship with God and allows you access into Heaven.

Live For God

You were created to know God and to live for Him. That is why you exist. Only then does your life have the meaning and purpose God intended for you. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). To live your life for the glory of God means that you will love, obey, worship, please, and trust Him. This should not be a burden, but a pleasure because of what He means to you.

The Choice Is Yours

You never know how much time you have left on this Earth and nothing is more important than where you spend eternity. Hopefully, you will decide to follow Jesus so your life can be used to glorify God. Please make this choice right away, because after you die it will be too late.

Yes, I would like to know how I can become a follower of Christ
No thanks, I prefer to live life my own way

Medicare Spending Is Adding to Future Deficits Faster Than Other Program Spending

Medicare Spending Is Adding to Future Deficits Faster Than Other Program Spending

Everyone wants to know more about the budget and here is some key information with a chart from the Heritage Foundation and a video from the Cato Institute.

Entitlement spending is the main cause of long-term runaway deficits. While reform must address spending within each program, Medicare is the largest driver due to the effects of an aging population and rising health care costs.

PERCENTAGE OF GDP

 
 
Download

Medicare Spending Is Adding to Future Deficits Faster Than Other Program Spending

Source: Congressional Budget Office (Alternative Fiscal Scenario).

Chart 32 of 42

In Depth

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Nihilism can be seen in Woody Allen’s latest film “Midnight in Paris”

In one of his philosophical and melancholy musings Woody Allen once drily observed:

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction.

Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

Life tortures Woody Allen

posted by Rod Dreher | 11:50 amThursday April 22, 2010

Rod Dreher is director of publications at the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropy that focuses on science, religion, economics and morality. A journalist with over 20 years of experience, Dreher has written for The Dallas Morning News, the New York Post, and other newspapers and journals. He is author of the book “Crunchy Cons.” Archives of his previous Beliefnet blog, “Crunchy Con,” can be found here. He and his family live in Philadelphia.
 

In an interview with Commonweal, Woody Allen shows the skull beneath the skin. Excerpt:

RL: When Ingmar Bergman died, you said even if you made a film as great as one of his, what would it matter? It doesn’t gain you salvation. So you had to ask yourself why do you continue to make films. Could you just say something about what you meant by “salvation”?WA: Well, you know, you want some kind of relief from the agony and terror of human existence. Human existence is a brutal experience to me…it’s a brutal, meaningless experience–an agonizing, meaningless experience with some oases, delight, some charm and peace, but these are just small oases. Overall, it is a brutal, brutal, terrible experience, and so it’s what can you do to alleviate the agony of the human condition, the human predicament? That is what interests me the most. I continue to make the films because the problem obsesses me all the time and it’s consistently on my mind and I’m consistently trying to alleviate the problem, and I think by making films as frequently as I do I get a chance to vent the problems. There is some relief. I have said this before in a facetious way, but it is not so facetious: I am a whiner. I do get a certain amount of solace from whining. RL: Are you saying the humor in your films is a relief for you? Or are you sort of saying to the audience, “Here is an oasis, a couple of laughs”?WA: I think what I’m saying is that I’m really impotent against the overwhelming bleakness of the universe and that the only thing I can do is my little gift and do it the best I can, and that is about the best I can do, which is cold comfort. 

Allen goes on to say that human creative endeavor is all about distracting us from the fundamental emptiness and meaninglessness of existence. I think there’s something admirable about the willingness of Allen to deal with the fullest implications of nihilism, which is to say, a world without God. Father Robert Lauder, who interviewed Allen here, says that even though he does not share Allen’s atheism, it is admirable that Allen, in his art, sees clearly that how one answers the question of whether or not God exists influences everything in one’s outlook on life.For myself, I cannot escape the same conclusion as Woody Allen: either God exists, or Woody Allen is right (and so is the monstrous Judah character in Allen’s great Dostoevskian film “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” who concludes in the final scene — excerpted below — that in a world without God, moral conduct becomes a matter of whatever you can get away with and rationalize. That is not an argument for God’s existence, of course, but I would say that people who think the non-existence of God is not such a big deal haven’t really thought through the question like Allen has. Unfortunately, Allen keeps making the same movie over and over again, from a philosophical point of view, because I think he’s realized that the only way he’ll ever find what he’s looking for is if he accepts God, and he either cannot or will not allow for that possibility

Woody Allen

Does life have meaning? If life will end one day then why even go on? Woody Allen has no answers according to the video clip above.

With those thoughts in mind is it any wonder that the reviewer below notes, “That the film even attempts an affirmative, baseline existential conclusion, rather than embracing stasis and status quo ante, is to be commended.” Solomon had the answer to this nihilism and I have posted about that earlier.

Golden Age Thinking”: Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)“Golden Age Thinking”: Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen, 2011)

Posted on June 17, 2011 by buddwilkins

Midnight in Paris, the latest chapter in Woody Allen’s ongoing Euro-travelogue, commences with an old-fashioned overture—a lengthy montage of postcard-pretty Parisian street scenes set to a Sidney Bechet clarinet number—hearkening back to the opening scenes of Manhattan (1977), the Woodman’s swoony, romantic ode to NYC. Steeping himself in European locations for the last half decade hasn’t so much compelled Woody to forge new material, as it has encouraged him to approach longstanding preoccupations from a foreign perspective.

Cultural cross-pollination isn’t just Woody’s latest modus operandiit’s also one ofMidnight’s overarching themes. Situating a familiar constellation of Woody Allen stock characters—the indecisive, lovelorn and –torn protagonist (Owen Wilson, whose troubled personal history adds an affecting layer of vulnerability to his performance) who suffers the slings and arrows of indignity at the hands of his shrewish fiancée (Rachel McAdams) and slave-to-status, presumptive in-laws (Kurt Fuller, Mimi Kennedy)—against unfamiliar surroundings generates the majority of the film’s fish-out-of-water gags, whether they’re social-political (Gil’s persistent potshots at his future in-laws’ Tea Party leanings) or cultural (Michael Sheen’s bearded blowhard correcting a tour guide on the fine points of Rodin’s love life). At this point in his six-decade career, Woody can write that sort of material in his sleep, and while it doesn’t negate the few hearty chuckles these jokes elicit, the thematic heart and soul of the film rests with what he designates “golden age thinking,” the unshakeable sensation haunting aspiring novelist (and erstwhile Hollywood screenwriting hack) Gil Pender that life would have been more satisfying if only he had lived in some ideal, bygone era.

In Midnight’s central conceit, Gil wanders the streets in a drunken stupor until, at the stroke of (you guessed it!) midnight, a vintage Rolls crowded with revelers pulls up at the cobblestone curb to whisk Gil back to the 1920s, the fabled era of the expatriate Lost Generation, where he soon finds himself keeping company with the likes of Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates). These stand-ins not only permit Woody to drop some tidbits of cultural and historical knowledge, they also serve as sounding-boards for Gil, allowing him to bounce his meager stock of ideas off his literary idols. It’s a good thing, as it turns out, that their rather surprising goodwill and encouragement do not simply lead to a warm ego-bath for Gil (and, by extension, Allen theauteur). What could so easily have come across as portentous and heavy-handed just about breezes past under Woody’s (for once, of late) deft touch.

Parenthetically, my favorite bit of historical revisionism must be the scenes where Gil meets up with the Surrealist cohort of Salvador Dali, Man Ray and the inimitable Luis Buñuel. Gil at one point inadvertently suggests the scenario for Exterminating Angel(1962) to a bewildered Buñuel. Probably it’s no coincidence that one of Buñuel’s early films was the Surrealist masterwork L’Age d’Or (aka The Golden Age [1930]).

The light-hearted, nigh-on whimsical, atmosphere is, however, a bit deceptive: Ultimately, in a neatly recursive step even further back into the past, in the service of his paramour Adriana’s (Marion Cotillard) own hyperinflation of the late 19th century Belle Époque, where they encounter Toulouse-Lautrec and Gauguin, Gil realizes that existence invites dissatisfaction, whenever and whatever you happen to be. Midnight’s conclusion is therefore inversely proportional to Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s (2008), wherein its protagonists reject the possibilities that Spain opens up for them, only to return to the status quo of their former lives. Gil, on the other hand, ends by endorsing Rainer Maria Rilke’s apothegm: “You must change your life.”

Never mind that this sea-change occurs altogether too quickly and easily for Gil, in the winsome form of a simpatico vendor (Léa Seydoux) who shares Gil’s cornball quirks (playing the flâneur in the soaking rain, a Cole Porter fixation). That the film even attempts an affirmative, baseline existential conclusion, rather than embracing stasis and status quo ante, is to be commended. The Woodman still has a few excellent ones in him. And that alone is reason enough to rejoice…

 
 

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

Single-Payer healthcare system work? (Free Market response, Part 2)

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I would like to respond the idea of a single payer healthcare system by quoting from David Hogberg’s article “Free Market Cure – The Myths of Single-Payer Health Care.” He notes:

A single-payer health care system is one in which a single-entity — the government — collects almost all of the revenue for and pays almost all of the bills for the health care system. In most single-payer systems only a small percentage of health care expenses are paid for with private funds. Countries that have a single-payer system include Australia, Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Single-payer is popular among the political left in the United States. Leftists have emitted tons of propaganda in favor of a single-payer system, much of which has fossilized into myth.

Here are some of the more prominent single-payer myths:

Myth No. 2: Claims of rationing are exaggerated.

Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick, wrote that the “stories about [rationing in] Canada are wildly exaggerated.” Yet advocates of single-payer never say what they mean by “exaggerated.”

The fact is that people often suffering great pain and anxiety while they spend months on a waiting list for surgery. Others spend months waiting for a surgery, only to have it cancelled, after which they will spend even more time waiting for another surgery. Sometimes people even die while on the waiting list.

Media in foreign nations are full of stories about people suffer while on a waiting list. In Canada, Diane Gorsuch twice had heart surgery cancelled; she suffered a fatal heart attack before her third surgery. In Great Britain, Mavis Skeet had her cancer surgery cancelled four times before her cancer was determined to have become inoperable. In Australia, eight-year-old Kyle Inglis has lost 50 percent of his hearing while waiting nearly 11 months for an operation to remove a tumor in his ear. Kyle is one of over 1,000 children waiting over 600 days for ear, nose and throat surgery in Warnbro, a suburb in Western Australia.

These are not mere anecdotes. Much academic literature has examined the impact of waiting lists on health. A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 50 people died while on a wait list for cardiac catheterization in Ontario. A study of Swedish patients on a wait list for heart surgery found that the “risk of death increases significantly with waiting time.” In a 2000 article in the journal Clinical Oncology, British researchers studying 29 lung cancer patients waiting for treatment further found that about 20 percent “of potentially curable patients became incurable on the waiting list.” [Back to Top]

W. Hatcher v. E. Hatcher top ten soccer videos (Part 2)

Wilson Hatcher’s choice for number 7 video:

PELE The NY Cosmic Man

Rare pele videos!

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Wilson Hatcher’s 6th pick is:

Brazil 1970 World Cup

This mentions the greatest world cup team at their prime.

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This is Wilson Hatcher’s 5th pick:

Messi Juggling His Boots! VERY FUNNY!

How does he do it ?

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Everette’s #7 goal is this one:

USA vs Slovenia – June 18,2010

Everette’s pick for number 6 is

Rooney Best goal of the season v City

Great kick.

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 Everette’s #5 pick:

 

Greatest goalkeeper actions ever!

I love it.

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Senator Pryor asks for Spending Cut Suggestions! Here are a few!(Part 106)

Senator Mark Pryor wants our ideas on how to cut federal spending. Take a look at this video clip below:

Senator Pryor has asked us to send our ideas to him at cutspending@pryor.senate.gov and I have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

On May 11, 2011,  I emailed to this above address and I got this email back from Senator Pryor’s office:

Please note, this is not a monitored email account. Due to the sheer volume of correspondence I receive, I ask that constituents please contact me via my website with any responses or additional concerns. If you would like a specific reply to your message, please visit http://pryor.senate.gov/contact. This system ensures that I will continue to keep Arkansas First by allowing me to better organize the thousands of emails I get from Arkansans each week and ensuring that I have all the information I need to respond to your particular communication in timely manner.  I appreciate you writing. I always welcome your input and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any issue of concern to you in the future.

I just did. I went to the Senator’s website and sent this below:

You are friends with the gang of six members and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma is one of the those members. I noticed a study that Senator Coburn did on how to cut money out of our bloated federal budget and I have included below some of his suggestions concerning the Dept of Health and Human Services below:

Repeal Damaging Provisions of Wrong-Headed, Controversial Health Care Law

Before it became law, supporters argued the federal health care overhaul would become more popular after it passed Congress. However, more than a year later, most Americans remain opposed to the law and still concerned about its impact on their family, budget, and health care

choices.

15 The proposal outlines some of the most damaging impacts that are avoided through repeal.

Repeal prevents Americans from losing the health insurance plan they like

. Proponents of the health care overhaul often pledged that health reform would allow Americans who liked their current health plan to keep it. But In June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued rules limiting changes employers can make to health insurance plans, and still be considered to be ―grandfathered‖ – or exempt from many of the new mandates in the law. Under the Department‘s own estimates, more than half of companies may have to give up their current health coverage because of the new law by 2013.16 And, in their estimate, the Administration predicts that eight in 10 small businesses could lose their current health plans.17

Repeal prevents the economy from losing nearly 800,000 jobs.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an analysis of the ―effects of recent health care legislation on labor markets.‖18 The CBO‘s findings painted a troubling picture. The massive Medicaid expansion will ―encourage some people to work fewer hours or to withdraw from the labor market.‖19 Additionally, phasing out the subsidies to buy expensive insurance ―will effectively increase marginal tax rates, which will also discourage work.‖20 CBO said ―other provisions in the legislation are also likely to diminish people‘s incentives to work.‖ 21 The CBO ―estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount—roughly half a percent—primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply‖, which is more than 788,470 employees.22 Another independent

estimate predicted the overhaul will ―destroy a total of 120,000 to 700,000 jobs by 2019.‖

23 This is a huge number of future jobs and future workers that will be effectively sidelined because of the health reform legislation. With more than 14 million Americans out of work today, we cannot afford to lose more jobs.

12Robert Brodsky, ―Watchdog: Indian Health Service continues to mismanage property,‖ Government Executive, May 26, 2009; http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=42809&dcn=todaysnews .

13―Balances of Budget Authority Fiscal Year 2012,‖ Budget of the U.S. Government, Office of Management and Budget, page 8, accessed June 16, 2011; http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2012/assets/balances.pdf .

14 Summary of Findings of the Ernst & Young audit, Office of Senator Tom Coburn, M.D.,

http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=6a04c50e-72c7-477e-ac37-cbae0f575d10

15http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/30/healthplan_n_725503.html

16U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ―Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan Under the

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Interim Final Rule and Proposed Rule,‖ June 17, 2010.

http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/contentStreamer?objectId=0900006480b03a90&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf

17U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ―Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan Under the

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Interim Final Rule and Proposed Rule,‖ June 17, 2010.

http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/contentStreamer?objectId=0900006480b03a90&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf

18Congressional Budget Office, ―The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update,‖ August 2010, page 66-67 of PDF.

http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/08-18-Update.pdf

19Congressional Budget Office, ―The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update,‖ August 2010, page 66-67 of PDF.

http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/08-18-Update.pdf

20Congressional Budget Office, ―The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update,‖ August 2010, page 66-67 of PDF.

http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/08-18-Update.pdf

21Congressional Budget Office, ―The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update,‖ August 2010, page 66-67 of PDF.

http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/08-18-Update.pdf

22Congressional Budget Office, ―The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update,‖ August 2010, page 66-67 of PDF.

http://cbo.gov/ftpdocs/117xx/doc11705/08-18-Update.pdf . According to a U.S. Department of Labor estimate, the 2010 labor force is estimated to comprise 157,695,000 workers. Half of one of percent of our nation‘s 157 million work force equals 788,475 workers. Lee, Marlene and Mather, Mark. ―U.S. Labor Force Trends,‖ Population Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 2, June 2008. http://www.prb.org/pdf08/63.2uslabor.pdf

Anders Breivik rejected evangelical view of Christianity

I was saddened by the tragedy in Norway and I have posted pictures of many of the victims in happier days.

Below is an article that sheds light on the religious views of their killer:

Anders Breivik Is No Christian Fundamentalist

By David Stokes

7/30/2011 

Many years ago, when I was finishing work on my graduate degree in political science in New York, I took a course on international affairs. The professor was a Muslim man from Beirut, Lebanon. One day for some reason he was talking about Pope John Paul II and he paused and looked over at me and asked: “What is the pope like personally?”

He assumed that because I was an Evangelical pastor, I must know the Roman Catholic Pope pretty well, because after all, we both professed the Christian faith. This was sort of like if I were to ask an elderly African-American friend of mine if he knew Lena Horne.

This kind of associate thinking is rather benign, but a more malignant type occurs when there is a broad-brush sweep such as the recent labeling of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who wrought murderous havoc in Norway, as a “Christian Fundamentalist.”

He isn’t. And in this case the media not only gets it wrong—they do so recklessly.

Christian Fundamentalists—of which there are multitudes in this country, are not murderous or delusional thugs. They are devout people who believe in the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith—although sometimes there are extra “fundamentals” thrown into the mix. They may be strict in their codes, dogmatic in their views, somewhat austere in lifestyle, and quite critical of popular culture (while observing it from a safe distance as diehard separatists), but they are not hate-filled murderers.

I come from a background of fundamentalism, and though I long ago shelved the nomenclature in favor of evangelical, I am still grateful for some of the important things I learned and hid in my heart. I may have moved (some Fundamentalists today likely consider me at least slightly apostate) from some of the cultural “isms” – we couldn’t go to movies or swim in pools with the opposite sex and had to dress like the Amish much of the time—but I reject any characterization of Christian Fundamentalists as dangerous people. In fact, they have been among the first and loudest to condemn that evil man in Norway.

Even a cursory reading of Breivik’s twisted tome yields clues hiding in plain sight that speak to him being anything but a Christian Fundamentalist. For example, on page 1,132 (the document weighs in at more than 1,500 ponderous pages), Breivik attacks the idea of “sola scriptura” (the Protestant Reformation doctrine that means scripture alone is the final authority in matters of faith and practice), whereas to Christian Fundamentalists (as well as most Evangelicals) the concept is very much foundational to the faith. But in Breivik’s view: “Scripture was never intended to be the believer’s sole guide for all of faith and practice; for all that he believes and does.” Real Christian Fundamentalists would reject that.

In fact, the document clearly indicates that Breivik rejects “Protestantism” in favor of Roman Catholicism (“Only Rome is the true church” according to him). This is hardly the view of a Christian Fundamentalist, especially if you have any idea of the historic relationship between Fundamentalism and Catholicism. But then again, this evil man who says he admires Catholicism advocates abortion “if the baby has mental or physical disabilities (page 1,179).”

So to label Breivik as a Catholic and his murder of 76 people as somehow motivated by this would be just as egregious as calling him a Christian Fundamentalist.

Breivik is also routinely called a “conservative,” yet he spends an entire section challenging the notion that capitalism is a “force for freedom.” But pointing out these and numerous other clear differences between the mindset of Anders Behring Breivik and that of adherents to Christian Fundamentalism, Catholicism, or American-style Conservatism, seems to be lost on many who have already made up their minds.

Yep—this must be another case of a Christian nut behaving murderously, just like that Timothy McVeigh guy. Of course, McVeigh wasn’t actually a Christian (“Science is my religion,” he said) certainly not a Fundamentalist, either—but why split hairs? A fanatic is a fanatic, right?

Apparently not. This is America after all, a place where Christian Fundamentalists are regularly demonized, while clueless masses wear images of Che Guevera, whose firing squads murdered more than 10,000 people, on T-shirts or tattoos. To quote a line from a 1940 Three Stooges short, A Plumbing We Will Go: “This house has sho’ gone crazy!”

What strikes me as incredible is the difference between how the Norway story has been handled by the mainstream media as compared to the Fort Hood massacre back in 2009. From the start, the Norway narrative has been all about a rush to judgment, the clear determination from the get-go to make this evil deed the work of a conservative Christian Fundamentalist, even though the facts hiding in plain sight clearly tell a very different story.

Yet when Nidal Malik Hasan committed his horrific crimes in November of 2009, the same outlets did their best to avoid any mention of his religion—even though multiplied eyewitness testimony had it that the guy was doing it all in the name of Islam.

Could it be that there is a fundamental (pun intended) bias in some media quarters against various expressions of the Christian faith? One that leads them to a tortured attempt to connect the incredible foulness of a murderous rampage to people who, in the opinion of media elites, take their belief system way too seriously?

Christian Fundamentalism may have its “challenges” and some things in its background that have never been fully dealt with or repudiated (I have written about some of this in my new book), but no real Christian Fundamentalist would advocate or carry out such evil violence.

Sure, the media will parade the usual suspects, McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, George Tiller, James Wenneker Von Brunn, Andrew Joseph Stack—and now Anders Breivik, but even an amateur sleuth can find glaring clues that these losers had no connection to the faith or the faithful.

In a very real sense, when the mainstream media seeks to draw a straight line from the horror in Norway to Christian Fundamentalists here, they are ironically playing the same kind of conspiracy-theory-guilt-by-association game as the one chronicled on the pages of Anders Breivik’s disgusting manifesto.

David Stokes

David R. Stokes is a minister, author, columnist, and broadcaster. His new book, “THE SHOOTING SALVATIONIST: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America,” is now available at bookstores everywhere.

Brummett: Tea Party is “right-wing extremists” and are causing debt ceiling crisis

Ernest Istook at the Saint Paul Tea Party Rally 4/16/2011 Part 1

John Brummett in his article “Taking a stand  upside the face,” July 30, 2011, Arkansas News Bureau, asserted:

The problem is that hard-right, tea party-inspired Republicans ought to be marginalized in the debate, paid no attention, while mainstream Republicans and Democrats fashion a practical compromise of strategic spending cuts and routine agreement to pay our debts, which ought to go without saying. But mainstream Republicans have been cowed by these right-wing extremists, leading to a potential debt default and likely lowering of our country’s credit rating. This could well cause harm to all of us economically. We are left only with the option to get behind the bipartisan last-gasp efforts of the Senate leaders, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, while tea party types get invited to go take the proverbial flying leap.

_______________________________

What is the root of the problem? Is it the Tea Party right wing Republicans? Or is it the uncontrolled spending? Why can’t we eliminate the Dept of Education and cut out the food stamp program that has doubled in the last 3 or 4 years?

My response is very simple. I saw a video clip by Reason TV on the debt ceiling and it showed a husband and wife at the dinner table looking over a pile of credit card bills. She  tells her husband that they are 14 trillion in debt and his response is, “We will get more credit cards!!” Her expression is classic when he says this. It is also very humorous when he walks into the next room and tells his one year old son who is now standing, “I need you to grow and get a job.” His son’s puzzled look is also very funny.

Alert icon
 
 Here are some thoughts from Reason TV below followed by an article on food stamps.
 

Uploaded by on Mar 1, 2011

[Editor’s Note: Go to http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/01/raising-the-debt-limit-it-just for details, charts, and links]

Some say the world will end in fire and some say in ice.

But in Washington, a lot of people say it will end if we don’t continually raise the debt ceiling.

The statutory debt limit, or debt ceiling, represents the maximum amount of debt the federal government can carry at any given time. The limit was created in 1917 so that Congress wouldn’t have to vote every time the government wanted to increase the amount of debt (which was becoming a more and more frequent occasion). Since then, the Treasury Department has had the authority to issue new debt up to whatever the limit is to fund government needs. Last year, the limit was raised to $14.3 trillion, an amount that is about to reached.

As it approaches, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has said failing to raise the limit would likely mean the U.S. would default on its debt, creating “real chaos” in place of the fake chaos that’s out there now. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said that failing to raise the limit would be “deeply irresponsible” and and Austan Goolsbee, President Obama’s chief economic adviser, has said that not raising the limit would create “the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”

Eh, maybe.

As Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy, has pointed out, we’ve maxed out the nation’s credit card in the past without such dire results. In the mid-1980s, the mid-1990s, and in 2002, for instance, the debt limit wasn’t raised for months at a time and the government got along just swell. The government has a big bag of tools it can use, ranging from playing around with the amount of spending that is liable to the limit to prioritizing interest and debt payments over other outlays. Interest on the debt for this year is projected to be about $225 billion and government revenue is expected to be around $2.2 trillion, so the government can easily pay the vig and avoid defaulting.

What it shouldn’t do is simply keep piling on the debt. The limit has been raised no fewer than 10 times in the past decade. When Republicans ran the White House and the Congress, they voted overwhelmingly to charge it and Democrats, including Sen. Obama, hollered bloody murder. In 2006, he called the need to yet again increase the debt limit “a sign of leadership failure.” Now that Dems run the show, the GOP has suddenly rediscovered its inner cheapskate.

So it goes.

The boldest plan to rein in spending and debt comes from newcomer Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Tea Party favorite who dispatched Republican incumbent Bob Bennett in the primaries before coasting to victory in the general election last fall. Lee has vowed to block passage of a debt-limit increase unless Congress signs on to his balanced-budget amendment which would cap annual federal spending at 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The amendment would require a super-majority of two-thirds in the Senate and House of Representatives. Lee’s bill is competing with another Republican proposal from Sens. Hatch (Utah) and Cornyn (Texas) to cap spending at 20 percent of GDP. The Hatch-Cornyn bill has weaker rules on its higher cap as well.

In 2010, spending came to about 24 percent of GDP and it’s expected to come in around 25 percent of GDP in 2011. Since 1950, total federal revenues have averaged 17.8 percent and have reached higher than 20 percent exactly once. Spending over the same time has averaged just under 20 percent.

Whether Lee’s proposal carries the day — and there’s a strong case that its passage would do more to calm financial markets than simply bumping up the federal credit line — neither the Democratic nor the Republican leadership has yet to advance a serious proposal to cut spending and reduce outstanding debt. Indeed, both the president’s budget proposal for 2012 and the generally non-existent Republican response are not only deeply irresponsible but clear signs of insanity.

That ain’t right. But it does help explain why a government that has increased spending over 62 percent in real dollars can no longer get by on a $14 trillion debt ceiling.

For more info, go to http://reason.com/blog/2011/03/01/raising-the-debt-limit-it-just

Video written and produced by Austin Bragg. Article text by Nick Gillespie.

__________________________

Food Stamp Price Tag Rising

 

Food stamp usage is at record levels according to the New York Times, with one in eight Americans now receiving benefits. There are several reasons for the upswing, including expanded eligibility in the 2000s and the severe economic downturn. The following chart shows the dramatic rise in spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as the Food Stamp program until 2008 when Congress changed its name to sound more palatable.  

  

Most Americans think that we should aid those in real need, but individuals should do so voluntarily without resorting to forced government transfers.  
 
The Times gives three examples of people who recently started receiving food aid. Each offers some food for thought.
 
The first is a 45 year-old Harlem widow with an annual income of $15,000. A food bank had encouraged her to apply for the benefits:
A big woman with a broad smile, Ms. Bostick-Thomas swept into the group’s office a few days later, talking up her daughters’ college degrees and bemoaning the cost of oxtail meat. “I’m not saying I go hungry,” Ms. Bostick-Thomas said. “But I can’t always eat what I want.” The worker projected a benefit of $147 a month. “That’s going to help!” she said. “I wouldn’t have gone and applied on my own.”
I don’t know this woman’s exact circumstances, and there’s no reason to doubt she needs assistance. But aren’t her college-educated daughters in a position to help their mother? Government welfare undermines the traditional role the family played in mutual assistance.
 
Here’s the second example: 
Juan Diego Castro, 24, is a college graduate and Americorps volunteer whose immigrant parents warned him “not to be a burden on this country.” He has a monthly stipend of about $2,500 and initially thought food stamps should go to needier people, like the tenants he organizes. “My concern was if I’m taking food stamps and I have a job, is it morally correct?” he said.
But federal law eases eligibility for Americorps members, and a food bank worker urged him and fellow volunteers to apply, arguing that there was enough aid to go around and that use would demonstrate continuing need. “That meeting definitely turned us around,” Mr. Castro said.
This fellow’s annualized monthly stipend is more than I made in my first job in Washington. And for Mr. Castro, who was warned not to be a burden on this country, he ought to be told that the federal Americorps program is exactly that. But more disconcerting is the fact that the food bank worker urged him and his colleagues to go the dole in order to advertise it.
 
This anecdote illustrates Michael Tanner’s argument that government poverty programs serve vested interests:
Among the non-poor with a vital interest in anti-poverty programs are social workers and government employees who administer the programs. Thus, anti-poverty programs are usually more concerned with protecting the prerogatives of the bureaucracy than with fighting poverty.
The last example from the Times is a Columbian immigrant who missed three months of work as a janitor because she fell and had to have knee surgery:
Last November, she limped into a storefront church in Queens, where a food bank worker was taking applications beside the pews.
About her lost wages, she struck a stoic pose, saying her san cocho — Colombian soup — had less meat and more plantains. But her composure cracked when she talked of the effect on her 10-year-old daughter. “My refrigerator is empty,” Ms. Catano said.
Last month, Ms. Catano was back at work, with a benefit of $170 a month and no qualms about joining 38 million Americans eating with government aid. “I had the feeling that working people were not eligible,” she said. “But then they told me, ‘No, no, the program has improved.’”
This is precisely the sort of person that is deserving of charity. But the federal government isn’t a charity; it is a forced transfer machine. The less fortunate, and society as a whole, would be better off if the taxes paid to support inefficient, counterproductive government programs were instead left in the hands of supportive individuals and organizations. 

See this essay for more on government food subsidies.

Janis Joplin joins “27 Club” three weeks after Jimi Hendrix (Part 6)

Recently Amy Winehouse joined the “27 Club” when she died of a drug overdose. The “27 Club” is a group of rockers that died at age 27. Unfortunately Jimi Hendrix died at age 27 in 1970 and Janis Joplin did the same three weeks later. Today we are going to look at her life and also at the life of two people who were comtempories of hers. Actually John Michael Talbot shared  the stage with her at one point.

‘Janis Joplin’ 1/5 from True Hollywood Story

By Sean Nelson, Special to MSN Music , July 23, 2011

Two and a half weeks after Jimi Hendrix died, on October 4, 1970, the world of rock was stunned to learn that he had been joined in the afterlife by Janis Joplin. Here was the one-two punch that made the curse of 27 achieve mythic proportion. A boisterous, self-destructive Texan who found her singing voice in the church and her inner one in San Francisco, Joplin had the most distinctive and powerful set of pipes anyone had ever heard, introduced first as the chanteuse of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later as a solo artist. She also had a taste for alcohol and narcotics that followed her wherever she went. No matter how many times she managed to get clean, she always relapsed. She died of a heroin overdose while recording an unfinished album released after her death as "Pearl." (Everett Collection/Canadian Press Images)

Larger image

‘Janis Joplin’ 2/5 from True Hollywood Story

Everett Collection/Canadian Press Images

Two and a half weeks after Jimi Hendrix died, on October 4, 1970, the world of rock was stunned to learn that he had been joined in the afterlife by Janis Joplin. Here was the one-two punch that made the curse of 27 achieve mythic proportion. A boisterous, self-destructive Texan who found her singing voice in the church and her inner one in San Francisco, Joplin had the most distinctive and powerful set of pipes anyone had ever heard, introduced first as the chanteuse of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later as a solo artist. She also had a taste for alcohol and narcotics that followed her wherever she went. No matter how many times she managed to get clean, she always relapsed. She died of a heroin overdose while recording an unfinished album released after her death as “Pearl.”

_______________________________________

John Michael Talbot 8/99

In the northwest corner of Arkansas, atop one of the picturesque Ozark Mountains, sits The Little Portion Retreat and Training Center, owned and operated by the Brothers and Sisters of Charity community. Here you will find Little Portion’s founder and benefactor, Christian singer/songwriter and monk, John Michael Talbot.

John Michael was born into a musical Methodist household in Oklahoma in 1954. He began playing piano and drums when he was six years old, and later took up the banjo, dobro, and guitar. He left school at 15 and together with his brother Terry, began his musical career as a guitarist for the country folk/rock band Mason Proffit. The group produced five albums during the ’60s and early ’70s, before disbanding just as they were on the brink of stardom.

Talbot became disillusioned with the rock music life. He never did drugs, and after a concert where Mason Proffit shared the stage with Janis Joplin, Talbot looked out over the arena floor, now strewn with empty wine and whiskey bottles and drug paraphernalia. “Suddenly it all seemed empty, sad.”

Following the breakup of the band, John Michael began a spiritual exploration that included Native American religion, Buddhism, and finally the Bible. As members of the ’70s Jesus Movement, John and his brother helped lead the way in the contemporary Christian music scene. By the end of the decade, John had written and recorded several albums, but had withdrawn from the public eye to pursue his increasing interest in St. Francis of Assisi. In 1978 he joined a secular Franciscan order in Indianapolis. He started The Little Portion, a house of prayer, and planned to live as a hermit. But having had a taste of his mellow and reflective new sound, people clamored for more, and so he started his music ministry.

In 1982 he and six friends moved to the Ozark Mountains, where Talbot had bought 25 acres while on tour with Mason Proffit. They established The Little Portion Hermitage. There are currently about 37 members of his Brothers and Sisters of Christ community, plus another 500 worldwide. Like Talbot, all the members have taken vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and work to provide help to those in need.

Talbot likes to experiment with his music by combining text, music, and instruments of past and present, thereby spanning the ages. The Dove Award winner has raised millions of dollars, along with public awareness, for Mercy Corps International, a Christian emergency relief agency that helps people worldwide. In 1988 he was awarded Mercy Corps International’s Humanitarian of the Year award.

Talbot, who has also written 13 books, had been nominated for the Dove Award 10 times and won in 1982 for Album of the Year with Light Eternal. His expansive discography lists 39 titles, recorded from 1976 to the present, with the most recent project being The Pathway Series, six instrumental albums designed for quiet contemplation. What makes him so prolific? “If you have something good, you’re not afraid to share it,” he says. And his fans, having bought over 4 million albums, have found something good with his soothing tenor voice and virtuosic guitar playing.

____________________________________________

How I became a Christian by John Hemans

John’s Testimony on DVD – Click Here
 
1980

I was brought up by Christian parents here in Australia, along with two brothers and two sisters. I went to good schools, got excellent grades up until I hit about 15, and generally had a normal, though very strict, upbringing.

Around the age of 14 I started to question everything my parents had taught me – I began to question the strict religious upbringing I’d had, the values I’d learnt, everything. I felt like I was just getting told what to believe about life, that my parents had set a course for me to follow, and that they expected me to blindly walk that course.

I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of things that other kids my age could – listen to rock’n’roll music, watch any TV programs that contained sex or violence, go to unsupervised parties, etc etc.
As soon as I was old enough to legally refuse my parents’ wishes (16 in Australia), I quit school and got a job, and started teaching myself rock’n’roll guitar – my heroes were guitar players like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend and Keith Richards.
Around the same time I began to hang around with other kids of my age from my area who had the same interests, and I began to embrace their lifestyle – smoking pot, drinking, sex and general teenage rebellion.
This was so far removed from the way I’d been brought up, and seemed (initially anyway) like such a great way to live, that I jumped on the bandwagon, and discovered a whole new world that I’d only ever read about, and had thought sounded pretty exciting – sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

At that time in Australia, the whole drugs sub-culture from the 1960’s was still going strong, tied very tightly to the music that went with it, and kids of my age who were getting into this scene and alternative lifestyles thought we were finding a better and more enlightened way of life than our parents had.
At 17, I quit my job and moved into a big old house with 4 other people, a little older than me, and really threw myself into the alternative lifestyle – the people that I hung out with were into elements of Transcendental Meditation, Zen Buddhism, Indian mysticism, and a big diet of psychedelic drugs. 

In that first year I embarked on what I thought was a ‘voyage of self-discovery’ – my friends and I would sit around having what we thought were ‘enlightened’ discussions under the influence of various drugs – in that initial period of drug use I tried pot, hash, hash oil, LSD, magic mushrooms, barbiturates and speed.
While initially my drug use seemed like great fun, and a huge adventure of flashing colours, hallucinations, astral travel and spiritual enlightenment, tripping to music by Hendrix, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Santana, Dylan, Janis Joplin etc, that initial phase of my drug use didn’t last very long.

Pretty soon I began to have some pretty weird things going on inside my head – I would suffer incredible bouts of paranoia, thinking that people were against me. A couple of times I had some pretty heavy LSD trips that I had to be talked down from – I realise now that the effects must have been pretty close to psychosis. I astral traveled a couple of times – floating above my body on my bed, completely detached from the physical world.

The thing was, instead of becoming more enlightened, or leading a better life than I had had, and being set free from what I thought were the petty restrictions set down by my parents and the beliefs I was brought up with, these drugs were doing incredibly  destructive things to my mind and my spiritual well-being.
Never having been the kind of person who’s done things by halves, I decided that the solution to my problems must be to use more drugs, until I ‘broke through’ some sort of barrier. There was something completely dark and reckless that had taken hold of me, that urged me to flirt with danger – I was starting to discover some dark things in me.
I had just turned 18, and was starting to move in a heavier scene – friends and I went to score some pot one afternoon, and the guy I was making the buy from said he didn’t have any pot left, and offered me heroin instead. My friends backed away, but I thought ‘What the hell, I’ll try it, once won’t kill me’. Talk about famous last words …

A few months later, I had a motorcycle accident, nearly losing my left leg in the process. I was in hospital for months and months, having operation after operation as the doctors tried to save my leg. All the time they pumped me full of pethidine, morphine and other narcotic painkillers, and I came close to a physical dependency at that point. I remember when I was finally released from the hospital, I was too weak to use my crutches, and my Dad had to carry me to the car to take me home.

My poor parents had been through so much during this time, as they knew I had dabbled in the drug scene, but were not aware to what extent.
They thought that as I had moved home after leaving hospital, I would straighten out, maybe go back to school and finish my education. However, I still had a lot of friends who were doing drugs, and I got back into it, but this time with a vengeance.

The thing was, I had discovered that there was no enlightenment in these drugs, or in all the mystical practices and eastern religious beliefs that all my hip friends were into. Instead, it felt like there was this big black hole in the centre of my being, a vacuum that kept screaming out to be filled.
I started using different kinds of drugs to try and fill up this void – speed, mescaline, barbiturates, nitrous oxide, alcohol, in any concentration and mix.

That hole in the centre of my being was still there, but I was starting to lose sight of any normal perspective I could have used to seek some help out of the mess.

And all this time, at the back of my mind, and at the heart of my desires, I could remember the first time I shot up heroin – that warm wave that just enveloped my entire being, that seemed for a time at least, to put the world where I wanted it – at my feet.
I started hanging out with people that were into it, and my old friends dropped away, as I started moving in rougher circles.

As I began to get to know the drug sub-culture better, and saw up close what it does to people, I discovered that people in the drug scene weren’t all peace, love and understanding, that terrible things happened in life, and a lot of them were done by people to each other.

At the age of 18, my brush with the ‘hippie’ scene was well and truly over, as I saw a complete absence of the promised enlightenment and freedom that the hippie movement claimed to stand for being manifested in real life.
What I had actually bought into was darkness and bondage.
My disillusionment found a perfect vehicle in the punk rock scene which sprung up towards the end of the Seventies.
I joined my first band as a guitar player, called World War 4, playing Sex Pistols, Stranglers, the Damned, and a lot of songs we wrote ourselves. We got a few gigs in Sydney, but spent most of our time doing drugs.

The bass player in that band, his girlfriend and his brother were all heavily into the heroin scene, and I started hanging out with them, doing heroin occasionally at first, but mostly smoking dope and taking acid and mushrooms. But the more I hung out with them, the more heroin we did. Pretty soon I stopped taking any other drugs altogether, because I could never trust what was going to happen in my mind, whereas with heroin you always new how it would feel.

The thing is, the first few times you try heroin, you feel like the king of the world, but after that, the craving for that first huge rush isn’t satisfied as easily, and there begins the slide into addiction.
Each time I used, the high wasn’t as high, and it didn’t last as long, so I needed more. The line between being really stoned, and having an overdose becomes very blurred, very quickly.
And no matter how I justified it and rationalised it to myself, and tried to persuade myself that I wasn’t really addicted, I had entered into a world that leads to overdoses, diseases and an early death.

As well, I was now starting to feel out of place somehow, when I was straight.
I found that using heroin was something you had to hide, that the only people who accepted it were other people who were also heroin users, that my old friends didn’t want to hang out with me any more, because I just didn’t relate to them any more – my emotions weren’t stirred by the same things theirs were, and as they heard about what I was doing, initially they’d try to help, but they soon figured out that I didn’t want help, or friendship, or love, because all those desires had been replaced by the need to be so stoned on heroin that absolutely nothing could touch me.

I was also starting to drop the pretence of being a ‘casual’ heroin user – I even found a perverse ‘cool’ in being a junkie. I was starting to associate with people who have that desperate edge to them, people whose drug addiction was the be-all and end-all of their lives. Now, also, the line between right and wrong began to blur as my need for heroin escalated.

Initially I had things under control, holding down jobs occasionally, but more and more heroin became the focus of my life – I started resorting to dishonesty to pay for it, then outright theft – from my parents, friends, everyone I knew.

By 1979 I was in big trouble – I’d been kicked out of home, my girlfriend had nearly died from all the heroin we’d been taking, and I weighed about 7 stone. As my habit got worse and worse, my dealer set me up selling for him, and I made enough money to support my habit for a while, but pretty quickly it was all just going straight in my arm. After losing everything I owned, I straightened out for the first time – taking barbiturates to numb the horrific withdrawal pains. My parents allowed me to move back into their home, and I found a job.

Things went OK for a while, but I discovered that once you’ve had heroin everything else seems pale and grey in comparison, and that desire never let me go. Pretty soon I was hanging out with my old friends again, using heroin as often as I could get it, and wandering aimlessly through life.

I used heroin, cocaine and amphetamines, in that order of preference, whenever I could, with a few short breaks now and then, for the next 6 years. I travelled all over Australia, playing in bands, chasing sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. In that time I also graduated to speedballs – heroin and cocaine mixed together, because heroin by itself wasn’t enough for me anymore.
I got married in 1984, and my wife and I moved to the States for a year, living in Los Angeles and scoring ‘Mexican brown’ heroin and street cocaine in Hollywood.
It was in America that my wife fell pregnant, right in the middle of one of the worst drug binges of my life.

In that year alone, I had already spent close to $100,000 on heroin and cocaine.
My mother flew my pregnant wife home, as I had spent every single cent we possessed feeding my habit, and I stayed on with my brother in Las Vegas, came down and dried out, and flew home just in time for my baby girl’s birth.

That was the only time in my life where I stayed off serious drugs for any length of time – even though my wife and I divorced a year later, I kept straight, kept my job, and just occasionally I’d have a line of coke, though I did some serious drinking in that time.
Things improved (or I thought they did) – I had a succession of jobs, played in a succession of bands, had a couple of girlfriends that really cared about me, but the demons that I thought had been laid to rest were still there inside me, content to lie dormant for a while.

I had dealt with the symptoms of my problem, but not the real disease deep inside of me.

Then in 1994, after 8 years of never even considering touching  heroin, I woke up one morning, and I had a craving for a speedball of heroin and cocaine. This desire, which I had thought was dead, awoke in me like it had never been away.
One day I was fine, the next I craved heroin – craved it to the point of not being able to think about anything else.

I lasted two weeks, and then I was into it again, like I’d never been away. I headed straight for Sydney’s red light Kings Cross district, and within a couple of hours I was back to being a junkie. This time I went to desperate lengths to conceal what was going on. My girlfriend left me, though she fought hard to keep me away from the drugs, and for the next three months I got stuck into it.
After overdosing twice, I realised that I was going to die if I didn’t do something – the second OD I woke up from with a collapsed lung, and I was paralysed down one side for nearly two days.

I managed to stop using again, but now I had a worse fear – the knowledge that I had no control over this thing – that though I could fight it off successfully from time to time, it was always going to be there, and that one day, this thing was going to kill me.
You have to understand that I’ve been through five or six overdoses in my life. Three of these were critical – on one occasion, I was revived by paramedics with Narcane (an anti-opiate) after overdosing – I dropped immediately after a hit, turned blue, my heart stopped, my friends couldn’t find a pulse, and it took the ambulance officers more than 15 minutes to get there – according to all the accepted knowledge about brain damage after oxygen starvation to the brain, I should have brain damage, but through some miracle of God, once the ambulance officers revived me, I recovered completely.
Most of the people I had hung around with who were into heroin are now in one of three situations – dead, in jail, or drug addicts and alcoholics.

I managed to pull out of this tail-spin, but my idea of ‘getting it together’ was to become a pot dealer – I knew so many people that liked smoking pot that I found it easy to make money from it, and by dealing in a drug I no longer used, I felt safe. By the end, I was making up to 4 or $5,000 a week.
I was playing in my own band, I had a gorgeous girlfriend, nice car, didn’t have to work for a living, if I wanted to buy anything I had the money, and for a little while I thought I was really living – outside the law, thumbing my nose at society – a successful sociopath.

I didn’t take drugs, I drank moderately, I had it together.

Then things happened to bring things to a head – my girlfriend split up with me, and that started the ball rolling.
I coped with breaking up with her, but then I began to sense something I’d never experienced before –

I’ll never forget how the process started. I was sitting on the couch having my first cigarette and coffee of the day, watching TV, and suddenly I just burst into tears. And, along with the tears, came a realisation. Someone was speaking to me, right in the place where all the heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, sex and rock’n’roll had gone – that hole in my being that I could never fill.
It was like someone who knew me intimately taking me back over all the things I had done in my life – a trip through all the dead, empty spaces in my life, where you start off with hopes and dreams, and you wake up 36 years later, and half of your life is gone.
I was remembering things from my past that I had buried for years – things that I didn’t want to look at – but I had no choice -this person was bringing these things up out of my dead heart, exposing them to the light, and asking me to evaluate them and take responsibility for them.

It was a devastating experience – for years, every time a bad memory had popped up, I had pushed it away, pretending not to remember too many of the specifics of the horrible things I had done. Now though, I had no choice – and I had to face the person I had become.
At this point my whole world just imploded – I couldn’t function at all – For three weeks I’d just burst into tears, tears of heartbreak and guilt and self-disgust.

At this point, a friend of mine told me I needed to get my relationship right with God, and that’s when I realised what was going on – that it was God showing me the person I had become.
I began to realise that it was a real, living person speaking to my spirit, and this person wasn’t condemning me, or taunting me with my failures – this person was showing me the results of the choices I’d made in life, and this person was telling me, in my spirit, that it didn’t have to be that way, that there was a way out of the hole I’d dug for myself.
God was telling me that it was time to let Him take over, that He wanted me to put things right with Him. Not only that, he wanted to help me, to heal me.

All I had to do was surrender.

 

It was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever done. I had been a rebel all my life. To have to admit that you have completely made a mess of your life is an extremely humbling thing to have to do.
In the end I did it, because I knew in my heart that there was nowhere else to go – I’ve tried anything and everything else in my life, and nothing filled that emptiness within me.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s all been sweetness and light since I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and redeemer, because it’s a hard and narrow road to obey God, and it’s no fun to take responsibility for the misery you have inflicted on those around you, but at the end of every day I carry in my heart a sure and certain knowledge –

That God cares about every one of us, even though we deserve nothing, and to prove it He sent his only son to be tortured, humiliated and killed by the likes of you and I, and that His death as a substitute for our sin brings us eternal life if we just humble ourselves and ask for it.
I now know in my heart that drugs and alcohol will never be a force in my life again. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs can never be completely successful by themselves, because they don’t deal with the evil that generates these desires.

Only God can do that. That’s what God has done in me, and He is working an ongoing, continuous miracle in every aspect of my life every day.

Note – I wrote this testimony of God’s deliverance and salvation in 1997, a year after giving my life to Jesus.
Here’s an update….

May 22nd 2004

As I sit writing this update to my testimony, I find it hard to comprehend the enormity of the changes the Lord has made in my life. I started Bible College a couple of weeks ago, and if someone had told me 8 years ago that I would be studying at Bible College, preaching in gaols, recording Christian music cd’s and running evangelistic events in parks, I would have sent them off to have their ‘head read’!

What really amazes me is that 8 years ago, when I turned my life over to Jesus, my life was such a mess, and I was so damaged emotionally, physically and spiritually by the life I had led, that I really had no expectations left of life – I felt completely and utterly crushed.

And yet God knew all along that He wasn’t finished with me, and that He had a plan for my life that I had never expected.

Where to start this update? As soon as I became a Christian, in February 1996, I knew there were things in my life that had to go . I knew my rock band had to go – I couldn’t reconcile my faith in God with lyrics glorifying sex, drugs and rebellion. I knew the binge drinking had to go. I knew the drugs had to go. I knew the casual sex had to go. I knew I had to work. I had done nothing but play in bands, drink, party, do drugs etc etc for the previous 3 years of my life, and for most of my adult life before then.

My problem was that even though I had accepted Jesus as my saviour, and I had such an awesome conversion experience, the whole Christian lifestyle as I understood it was completely alien to me. There were many times when I would look back and begin to wish some of those things in my life that I had stopped were still there. Without those crutches of drugs, sex, alcohol and my old lifestyle to support me, my true human frailty was there exposed before me.

There were times when I felt naked and exposed and raw in a way that was completely humiliating to me. It wasn’t until those crutches were stripped away that I realised how emotionally damaged and racked with depresssion I actually was, and how this had been covered up and masked by my dissolute lifestyle.

Thank God that He placed me somewhere I could get help.

Within a week of my conversion, I realised I needed to start going to church. I knew I needed to have fellowship with other Christians, and I knew I needed help. And then I began to have re-curring memories of a church my parents had taken me to as a child, called Calvary Chapel. Calvary Chapel is a pentecostal church of the Foursquare Denomination, and is situated in Georges Hall in Sydney, near Bankstown (to have a look, click here). I remembered that as a child when I was taken there that people would be in that church raising their hands, praising and worshipping God, and I just knew somehow that I needed to be in that environment.

I rang my mother and asked her if the place still existed, and she told me it did, and offered to go there with me the following Sunday. So I went, and what an experience it was! I couldn’t work out why everyone was smiling, for a start, and why people were so friendly towards me. In fact I was so used to negativity being around me that at first I was very mistrustful of their motives!

The worship music was so hearfelt from the lips of all the believers there. When people were asked to come forward for prayer, and were prayed for, many of them fell under the power of the Holy Spirit. The atmosphere in the church just crackled with a sense of the power of God. Within a few minutes of the service starting, the tears began to roll down my face. All the shame, the painful memories of my past, all of it seemed to come to the surface, and the enormity of it all was all just too much for me.

When the preacher spoke, he spoke on Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I felt like every word of what he spoke was just for me. At the end of his message, he invited those in the church who wanted God’s plan for their life to come to fruition to come forward and be prayed for. I hesitantly went to the front as prayed for. More tears!

God began to show me all the things that were wrong within me, how I had opened up my life to demonic oppression and how I needed prayer ministry for those areas. I went to church as often as I could, and received much counselling, deliverance ministry and prayer from the pastoral and counselling staff.

In the meantime, I had no job, no money, and things were looking extremely grim. Since abandoning my band, I had turned over all my talents and gifts as a musician to God, and made the commitment that I would serve Him with my music. However, my change of heart was not paying the rent.

Once again, God showed me his provision – I had aptitude and some skills in computing, but little formal training. My brother offered to give me some part time work, helping him with his fright management software company, and so I moved from Sydney down to the Southern Highlands an hour from Sydney, and worked on the help systems for his software.

Now, I wasn’t a great fan of computers, and never imagined my future in that area. In fact, there were times I was extremely fortunate that my brother continued to put up with my complaining about the type of work I was doing, but I look back now and I see God re-forging me as a person, building character and stripping away the junk I had allowed to build up inside me.

One day my brother brought home a new software package for designing web sites, and said, “I think we should have a web site – why don’t you have a go at using this to put something together for my company?”

 

When I opened the software and got it working, I discovered an area of computing I actually really enjoyed, and have some aptitude for.

From that small opportunity, God has blessed my attempts to re-train and learn new skills, and I now head a web and multimedia development company that I founded some 6 years ago – SEO Technologies Pty Ltd.

What does being a Christian mean to my life today? Where once I was racked with shame over the way I had lived my life and the things I had done wrong, I now have forgiveness and right standing with God. Where once I was tormented and angry I now have peace, and where once I was a constant victim to depression, I now carry a sense of joy.

God continues to work His miracle in me every day – To sum it all up, once I was lost, but now I’m found!

Hallelujah!