Preaching “the King’s speech”

I was glad that The King’s Speech took all of the top prizes at the Academy Awards:  Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and (the critical but much neglected category) Best Original Screenplay.

The Lutheran Church of Canada has a nice reflection on how that movie about Prince Albert and his stuttering problem has parallels to what pastors have to do when they, in their stammering way, preach God’s Word, the true “King’s speech.”

Read it here:  Canadian Lutheran Online » Blog Archive » Stuttering kings and imperfect pastors.

Let us now praise the internet

A new study has found that young people who are active on the internet are actually more engaged with civic affairs than those who are not.  As opposed to the stereotype of teenagers plugged into their own virtual worlds and never interacting with real people and oblivious to the outside universe.   See  Does the Internet make for more engaged citizens? – MacArthur Foundation.

We have often criticized the new information technology for its baleful cultural effects–doing so, of course, using the new information technology–so let’s look at the other side of the coin.

How has the internet made you more involved with issues, improved your relationships, helped your church, or otherwise been an actual blessing, a good gift from the hand of God through the vocation of those who made all of this possible?

HT:  Webmonk

Google turns to farming

The most cutting edge information technology meets the most ancient survival technology, as Google invests in weather-insurance, backed by meterological computing, for farmers.

Google Inc.’s venture capital arm is backing a start-up founded by ex-Googlers that insures farms and other business against the whims of Mother Nature.

Launched four years ago, WeatherBill Inc. is announcing today $42 million in Series B funding from Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures and several previous investors.

Founded by two ex-Googlers–Chief Executive David Friedberg, who worked on Google’s corporate development team and Google AdWords, and Chief Technology Officer Siraj Khaliq, who worked on Google Booksearch and other technical projects–WeatherBill aggregates large amounts of weather data from the National Weather Service and other sources and applies statistical analyses to run large-scale simulations that assess the probability of weather occurring several years in advance anywhere on the globe, the company said.

According to Friedberg, more than 90% of crop losses are due to unexpected weather, and these losses are exacerbated by the increasing number of extreme weather events caused by climate change. Friedberg cited recent droughts in Russia and China and flooding in Australia, while one of WeatherBill’s customers–Steve Wolters, a farmer who grows corn, soybean and wheat in Celina, Ohio–cited a very dry growing season in Ohio nine years ago followed by a year in which 14 inches of rain fell in 10 days.

“The flip flop of weather from one year to the next is the biggest challenge farmers face,” Wolters said in a statement.

WeatherBill’s flagship product, called Total Weather Insurance, acts as a subsidy to government-subsidized crop insurance by enabling farmers to hedge their risk on crops. Farmers can create contracts that lock in profits based on their locations and how much damage they could incur from rain, drought, heat, cold or snow. WeatherBill pays automatically based on measured weather conditions within 10 days of when a policy ends. . . .

“Agriculture is an unusual area for venture capital, but we submit that agricultural technology has the same potential as biotechnology had in pharmaceuticals or chips had in telecommunications,” Khosla said on Monday.

Google Ventures, meanwhile, is attracted to WeatherBill by “the power of massively parallel computing infrastructure, which was not possible even 10 years ago,” said Managing Partner Bill Maris. “We understand the problem and are looking forward to deploying resources to help them solve it. We have a cloud looking for big problems to solve.”

via Google Ventures, Khosla Make Rain For WeatherBill – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ.

Here is the website for the company, should you want to insure some crops: Weatherbill.

HT:  Rich Shipe.

The Bible as oil prospector

A man believes that a Bible verse teaches that there is oil in Israel.  So he started Zion Oil & Gas Co. to find it.  And apparently he has.

Ask John Brown why he’s spent three decades looking for oil and natural gas reserves in Israel, and he has a simple answer: The Bible told him to.

That sounds a bit crazy, the chairman of Zion Oil and Gas Co. admits, especially because no one had ever found much oil there.

“In the first years, it was sort of bizarre to talk about oil and gas in Israel because there was none,” Brown said. “There’s an old joke that, when he came to the Promised Land, Moses should have turned left and gone to Saudi Arabia instead.”

These days, it looks like Brown, who will be in Nashville this weekend for the National Religious Broadcasters convention, may be on to something. Two years ago, a major natural gas field was found off the coast of Israel. And the rising price of oil and new technology have made oil shale, which Israel has in abundance, financially viable. Billionaire investors like Rupert Murdoch and George Soros are putting money into companies looking for oil in Israel.

Brown, whose company’s U.S. base is in Dallas, sees these new developments as signs of God fulfilling his promises in the Bible.

“I think it’s God’s blessing for the nation of Israel,” he said.

Zion Oil and Gas Co. was inspired by a passage in the Old Testament, Genesis 49:25: “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under.”

Brown says the passage refers to oil. Biblical scholars aren’t so sure.

via Bible inspires hunt for oil in Israel | The Tennessean | tennessean.com.

So what do you think the verse is referring to?  Is this “rightly dividing the Word of Truth”?

Reversing global warming with a nuclear winter

National Geographic reports on a NASA study of the climate effect of a “regional” nuclear war:

The global cooling caused by these high carbon clouds wouldn’t be as catastrophic as a superpower-versus-superpower nuclear winter, but “the effects would still be regarded as leading to unprecedented climate change,” research physical scientist Luke Oman said during a press briefing Friday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

Earth is currently in a long-term warming trend. After a regional nuclear war, though, average global temperatures would drop by 2.25 degrees F (1.25 degrees C) for two to three years afterward, the models suggest.

At the extreme, the tropics, Europe, Asia, and Alaska would cool by 5.4 to 7.2 degrees F (3 to 4 degrees C), according to the models. Parts of the Arctic and Antarctic would actually warm a bit, due to shifted wind and ocean-circulation patterns, the researchers said.

After ten years, average global temperatures would still be 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) lower than before the nuclear war, the models predict.

via Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years?.

These computer models, though, were based on 100 Hiroshima-size nuclear bombs going off.  That doesn’t strike me as a small war!  What 100 cities would be vaporized, and what effect would that have on the world?

As Joe Carter notes (HT be to him), no one is actually proposing this as a solution to global warming, at least not yet.  But this environmentalist thinks it’s pretty much too late to reverse climate change, so he is heading for the hills, stocking up on survivalist supplies and buying guns.  So maybe there will be a movement to set off some nukes.  A commenter suggests just setting off some in a desert.

Brit complains about U.S. weakness

And I thought Republicans were harsh on the president.  Here is British journalist Nile Gardiner, writing in the London Telegraph:

The débacle of Washington’s handling of the Libya issue is symbolic of a wider problem at the heart of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The fact that it took ten days and at least a thousand dead on the streets of Libya’s cities before President Obama finally mustered the courage to call for Muammar “mad dog” Gaddafi to step down is highly embarrassing for the world’s only superpower, and emblematic of a deer-in-the-headlights approach to world leadership. Washington seems incapable of decisive decision-making on foreign policy at the moment, a far cry from the days when it swept entire regimes from power, and defeated America’s enemies with deep-seated conviction and an unshakeable drive for victory.

Just a few years ago the United States was genuinely feared on the world stage, and dictatorial regimes, strategic adversaries and state sponsors of terror trod carefully in the face of the world’s most powerful nation. Now Washington appears weak, rudderless and frequently confused in its approach. From Tehran to Tripoli, the Obama administration has been pathetically slow to lead, and afraid to condemn acts of state-sponsored repression and violence. When protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the Islamist dictatorship in Iran in 2009, the brutal repression that greeted them was hardly a blip on Barack Obama’s teleprompter screen, barely meriting a response from a largely silent presidency. . . .

It has also become abundantly clear that the Obama team attaches little importance to human rights issues, and in contrast to the previous administration has not pursued a freedom agenda in the Middle East and elsewhere. It places far greater value upon engagement with hostile regimes, even if they are carrying out gross human rights abuses, in the mistaken belief that appeasement enhances security. This has been the case with Iran, Russia and North Korea for example. This administration has also been all too willing to sacrifice US leadership in deference to supranational institutions such as the United Nations, whose track record in standing up to dictatorships has been virtually non-existent.

via Do tyrants fear America anymore? President Obama’s timid foreign policy is an embarrassment for a global superpower – Telegraph Blogs.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X