Hurricane Sandy’s butcher’s bill

Hurricane Sandy hit last week, but the regions most affected–especially New Jersey, New York, and particularly Staten Island–are still struggling with the devastation.  That includes shortages of food and fuel.

Living conditions remained severe for tens of thousands of people unable to return to their homes, and some 1.4 million homes and businesses were due to endure another night of near-freezing temperatures without power or heat.

The devastation could also send ripples through Tuesday’s presidential election, with President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney locked in a close race.

An exhausted region now faces the prospect of a new storm. A strong “Nor’easter” was forecast to bring freezing temperatures and more rain and wind by the middle of the week, possibly flooding coastal areas that have yet to recover from Sandy.

The U.S. death toll rose to at least 113 and thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged by the gigantic storm, which slammed into the U.S. East Coast a week ago, bringing a record surge that flooded low-lying areas with seawater.

via Sandy still causing nightmare commute, housing crisis | Reuters.

Victims have been complaining about relief efforts, from the Red Cross to FEMA.

Digging out

Superstorm Sandy did a lot of damage, as forecast:  Sandy Death Toll Climbs To Over 30 As Millions Remain Without Power « CBS Connecticut.

We escaped pretty much unscathed.  We’re over an hour from the ocean in northern Virginia, so we missed the worst of it.  Yesterday we had quite a bit of rain and wind all day, but it wasn’t until 8:00 p.m. that the wind really started to roar, with the trees lashing and the skies opening up.  Remarkably, though, we did not lose our electricity.  Other people in our area did, but we were spared.

There is flooding in the area, but we aren’t on low ground or by a river.  A tree across the street was blown down.  Ours are fine.  Two screens blew off and one of our gutters was blown so that it sticks out from the house, strangely.  But that’s the only damage I’ve seen at our place.

So I’m very thankful, while also grieving for those who were harmed, in their persons or in their property, by the storm.

Were any of you impacted by Sandy?  (I realize that if you are one of the millions who lost power that you have also lost access to the internet!)


We’re battening down our hatches, getting ready for what they are calling “Frankenstorm,” a monster begotten by Hurricane Sandy becoming one flesh with a Northeaster.  The brunt of the storm is supposed to hit us today and/or Tuesday.  We’re in northern Virginia, not the coast, but we may get lots and lots of wind and rain.  We’ve stocked up with food, batteries, and other necessities.  We’ve pulled inside the lawn furniture, my prized Hasty-Bake BBQer, and everything else that might blow away.  So I guess we’re ready.   A soft summer breeze is enough to blow out our electricity where we live, so I can only imagine what a Frankenstorm will do.

But at least, as my wife says, people here in the D.C. area are talking about something other than politics.  The storm is going to affect Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and the undecided, all equally.  We are all in this together.  The storm is a unifying factor.

At any rate,  if I don’t post anything for the next day or so, that means we lost power and got knocked off the internet.  Stay tuned, and I’ll report when I can.

Hurricane Sandy Will Affect Millions and Cost Billions.


UPDATE:  Since my school has been cancelled, until the electricity goes out, I think I’ll put up some posts timed to appear on the next couple of days.

OK, now it's a depression

The Dust Bowl has returned to my native Oklahoma.  A huge  dust storm hit Blackwell, Oklahoma, causing a 30-car pileup on I-35.  Blackwell is where my daughter, son-in-law, and three grand-daughters live!

Dust storm causes thirty car pile-up with injuries near Blackwell Oklahoma




Dust storm in Oklahoma causes highway to close and thirty car pile up – Oklahoma City Everyday People |

The faith of infants

A key Lutheran teaching is that infants can have faith.  This is why Lutherans see no contradiction between infant baptism and justification by faith.  Lutherans see faith not just in terms of intellectual knowledge or conscious volition, but as trust, dependence, and relationship with a Person.  Infants can trust, depend on, and have a relationship with their parents and also with their Heavenly Father.  The faith that begins with baptism then grows and matures, fed by the “milk” of God’s Word, as the child grows into adulthood, and continuing thereafter.  (That faith can also die if it is not nourished, which is why someone can have been baptized as an infant but then reject the faith and become an unbeliever in need of conversion.)

Anyway, a new book explores, from the vantage point of scientific research, the way infants and extremely young children seemed to be wired for religious belief.

Wheaton provost Stanton L. Jones reviews Born Believers: The Science of Children’s Religious Belief by psychologist Justin L. Barrett:

He summarizes creative, sophisticated research establishing that in infancy, babies understand distinctions between mere objects and agents (human and non-human, visible and invisible) which initiate actions that are not predictable and yet are goal-directed or purposeful. Only agents act to bring order out of disorder.

Children over three begin to discern and attribute purpose to much of what happens around them, which they in turn are inclined to attribute to human and superhuman agents. When children are old enough to actually discuss their intuitive concepts of god(s), they seem normatively disposed to believe in a (or many) divine agent(s) possessing “superknowledge, superperception, creative power, and immortality,” as well as to believe in a purposeful design to creation, in some sort of basic universal morality, and in the persistence of human identity after death.

Roughly the first 40 percent of Born Believers summarizes this research, while the remaining portion fleshes out its implications. Barrett’s view of religious development is that “children are naturally drawn to some basic religious ideas and related practices (natural religion), and then the meat of a religious and theological tradition as taught by parents grows on this skeleton.” He discusses trends in the research that might foster effective religious education.

via Born Believers, Part 1 | Books and Culture.

Bringing woolly mammoths back from extinction

As you may know, frozen woolly mammoths have been discovered in ice formations, more or less intact, since the 18th century.  So why not clone some, bringing them back from extinction?

A Russian university says scientists have discovered frozen woolly mammoth fragments that may contain living cells deep in Siberia, bringing closer the possibility of cloning the extinct animal.

The North-Eastern Federal University said in a statement on Tuesday that an international team had discovered mammoth hair, soft tissues and bone marrow at a depth of 328ft (100m) during a summer expedition.

Expedition chief Semyon Grigoryev said a group of Korean scientists with the team had set a goal of finding living cells in the hope of cloning a mammoth. Scientists have previously found bodies and fragments, but not living cells.

Grigoryev told online newspaper Vzglyad it would take months of lab research to determine whether they have indeed found the cells.

Woolly mammoths are thought to have died out 10,000 years ago.

via Woolly mammoth remains may contain living cells | Science | The Guardian.

Bringing back the mammoths.  Would that not be cool?