The $15 million man

The deadline was Monday at midnight. At 11:58 and 43 seconds, Stephen Strasburg–who is supposedly the best pitching prospect in a generation–agreed to sign with the Washington Nationals. The last place team signed the number one draft pick for $15.1 million for four years, plus incentives, which was half again as much as the previously biggest contract for a draftee. I blogged about Strasburg’s pitching prowess earlier.

Nationals fans now have something to feel good about and someone to get their hopes up. Do you think this is a good way to spend that kind of money?

Things are tough all over

The Washington Post on Sunday had a front page, color-photograph, two-full-pages-in-section-A feature about the financial hardships of a woman struggling to live through the recession on only $300,000 a year.

I’m sure people read the story with both indignation and schadenfreude. I am not without sympathy. If you live in a $2.5 million house that you can’t sell in this market, it can be tough to come up with the $10,000 monthly payments. Still, when one of the hardships is having to let the gardener go, I worry more about how HE is going to make it.

The Wizard of Waukesha

That’s what they called Les Paul in Wisconsin, the man who invented the solid body electric guitar and multi-track recording. He died august 13 at 94. The man who made rock ‘n’ roll and much of today’s popular music possible could also play. Here he is. After he shows what he can do with a guitar, there are some photos of his growing up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, just outside of Milwaukee, as well as an interview in which he tells how he got started fiddling with electronics and music.

Yale Univ. Press censors cartoons of Muhammed

. . .even though the book it is publishing is about the cartoons! The author had wanted them in her book, but a panel of 24 consultants told the academic publisher not to print the cartoons, nor the other illustrations of the prophet that are discussed in the book.

If Yale University Press is scared of Muslim reaction, then it should pull the book from publication. But to print the book without the illustrations that the book is discussing is just ridiculous, not to mention a prime example of the politically-correct, anti-intellectual, anti-Western bias that is paralyzing academia.

Controversial stuff dropped from health care bill

Congress is listening to at least some of its constituents’ concerns. Senate Bill Will Not Address End-of-Life Care:

The Senate Finance Committee’s health care plan will not include provisions dealing with end-of-life care, now one of the more controversial topics in the health care debate, the committee’s top Republican said on Wednesday.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa said in a statement that the committee “dropped end-of-life provisions from consideration entirely because of the way they could be misinterpreted and implemented incorrectly.”

A Senate Finance Committee aide confirmed that the panel was not discussing end-of-life measures, adding that they were “never a major focus” of the committee’s negotiations.

House committees have passed legislation that would provide Medicare coverage for optional counseling sessions on end-of-life services.

In his statement, Mr. Grassley called the House legislation “so poorly cobbled together that it will have all kinds of unintended consequences.”

And now I just read that another controversial measure, the public option, by which the government would set up its own insurance program to compete with private companies is also being dropped.

Feel better now? Will these changes let you support the bill?

New Mt. Sinai site with relics of Bible miracles?

Some people are maintaining that they have found the “real” Mt. Sinai in Saudi Arabia. And the discovery is accompanied with evidence of Biblical history, including the possibility of actual artifacts of miracles described in Exodus. This is from a secular blogsite. I’ll intersperse some pictures of what the account refers to, which are so mindblowing that they nearly defy belief :

Dr. Moller points out that the site at Nuweiba he identifies as the Red Sea crossing point has an underwater land bridge, upon which damaged chariot parts and bones remain, engulfed in coral.

Pharoah's chariots?

The top of Jabal al-Lawz, the alleged real Mt. Sinai, is black, as if burned from the sky as described in Exodus 19:18, where it says “the Lord descended upon it in fire.” This feature sets it apart from all the other surrounding mountains which do not have darkened tops. The BASE Institute’s film shows Cornuke, who snuck onto the mountain, examining the rocks he cracked, observing that they are not merely black rocks and that only the outside had become darkened by whatever had occurred at the site. Moller has a photo of one of these rocks, which he identifies as “obsidian or volcanic glass, a mineral formed at high temperatures.”

Mt. Sinai?

One of the greatest — and most doubted — miracles of the Exodus is the story about God instructing Moses to hit a large rock with his rod, which resulted in a flow of water for the Hebrews to drink from. Near Jabal al-Lawz is a large rock, standing about 60 feet high, split down the middle. The edges of the split and the rock underneath it have become smooth, as if a stream of water had poured forth from the rock, creating a river. Given the annual rainfall in Saudi Arabia and the fact that the erosion is only present on that rock and no other ones in the surrounding area, it’s hard to find a plausible explanation for this remarkable find.

Water from this rock?

A site matching the description of the altar of the golden calf is also at this site. As the Biblical story goes, while Moses was away for 40 days on Mt. Sinai, the Hebrews created an altar with a golden calf on top of it, which they worshiped. Moses, incensed at the betrayal, crushed the calf into smithereens. A large altar with inscriptions of Egyptian bulls engraved onto it is also near Mt. Sinai, making it the only location in Saudi Arabia to have such inscriptions. Moller notes in his book that “one block of stone at the altar had a slight depression and after a brief shower something glistened at the bottom, which turned out to be small flakes of gold. This rock could well have been the place where Moses ground the golden calf into powder.”
Golden calf inscriptions?

This is just scratching the surface. The 12 wells of Elim, the altar constructed by Moses after the defeat of the Amalekites, evidence of large encampments, the boundary markers and stone pillars the Bible says were placed around Mt. Sinai, and several other sites identified in the Old Testament are located. Simply put, everything that the Bible indicates should be there is present. The researchers even describe how the locals refer to the site as “Moses’ Mountain” and it is common knowledge that Moses passed through the area.

Can this be? Is it a hoax? Is it real? I’m sure that skeptical scholars will be all over this, offering alternative explanations. But is God offering physical evidence of the truth of His Word? If He is, will it make a difference?

There are books and documentaries on these findings, with a movie documentary in the works. I’ll link to the ones available:

I’ve got to say, though, I feel suspicious. The books came out in the early 2000s, do not seem to be from mainline publishers (except for one from Broadman & Holman), and are already out of print. Why is this work from a decade ago being brought up now? Why hasn’t this already made an impact if it is so compelling? Still, bogus or real, it’s intriguing. Does anyone know any more about this?

UPDATE: Here is a critical review, though it doesn’t deal with all of the questions.

The mountain is called Jabal al-Lawz. You can see it on Google Earth.