Evolution of Terrorism

International terrorism is evolving.

Noting how crazies who are nations get away with murder (Think: Russia, Iran or North Korea), Islamic terrorists have decided to be a nation, too. Being a state gives advantages that Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and various splinter terror groups have not enjoyed. For one thing, they can almost count on Russia as a partner.

There is no end to the variations of people who hate the status quo nor the means they will go to to destroy it, but we should be especially wary of the overlap of terrorism with nation-state status, as the Islamic State is attempting.

The next step? Combining a terrorist state with nuclear weapons capability. Oh, we already have that: the above named crazies.

Thus terrorists evolve into state sponsors of terrorism.

Birthing the Miraculous by Heidi Baker (Four Stars)

Birthing the Miraculous: Carrying God’s Promises to Fulfillment by Heidi Baker

(Four stars out of Five)

Part memoir, part scripture study on the Annunciation to Mary this is a good read for those seeking God’s favor. “If we are to accomplish all He wants for us in this life, we must always desire more of Him. There is always room for more intimacy, more of His presence, and more of His glory.” However, be careful what you ask for.

“Sometimes God will allow you to wait and wonder why he is not doing something exactly when you thought He would. He knows what He is doing.”

Heidi is a modern Albert Schweitzer, who went to the then-poorest nation in Africa and spent the last thirty years providing home, food, clean water and jobs to the poorest in Mozambique. She knows of what she speaks both in terms of surrender and of miraculous results.

“It takes humility to nurture something that is beyond your understanding while counting it all joy.” Much of her life isn’t what comfortable American Christians would have defined as joy. Nonetheless, she believes “now is the time for God’s promise to be supernaturally birthed in your life.”

Aside from how you receive her message, Heidi communicates both Biblical truth and the challenge of a surrendered life in gripping, easy-to-grasp prose. This book is an easy read.

Chasing Ancient Germans around Modern Maryland

POW reenactor at Fort Frederick, Maryland

POW reenactor at Fort Frederick, Maryland

Drove to and from Fort Frederick, near Big Pool, Maryland on September 13.

I was tracing my great (times five) grandfather, who as a Hessian mercenary had served with the English attempting to subdue the rebellion in colonial America. My predecessor was impressed into the Hessian army and shipped to New York, which his unit helped “liberate” from George Washington.

Records show that Jacob “deserted 24 Sep 1781 from POW status probably at (hospital?) Frederick, Maryland.”  There were two POW encampments in Maryland, both occasionally called Fort Frederick. This first, which I visited today, was built in 1756 as a frontier bastion against the French. It–older, larger, more permanent (note the twenty foot tall stone walls)–housed up to a thousand British POWs captured during the Revolutionary War. The other a wooden stockade near Frederick (then called Fredericktown), some fifty miles away, housed the German POWs. The Continental Congress worried the Germans would escape from the one, but not the other.

Reenactors of Maryland colonial militia who garrisoned Fort Frederick to guard POWs.

Reenactors of Maryland colonial militia who garrisoned Fort Frederick to guard POWs.

The remainder of Jacob’s record is tantalizing: “May have joined American forces.” We have found evidence that several German POWs may have joined a German immigrant unit of Pennsylvania and Maryland (obviously not Amish or Mennonites, who shunned violence) and fought in the southern campaign against Lord Cornwallis, culminating in his surrender at Yorktown, VA on October 19, 1781.

Flint-lock musket demonstration

Jacob, where were you and what were you doing?

We next find Jacob (now Zike) married and settled in Jessamine County, Kentucky (then still part of Virginia) in 1782, the proud father of a son (my great (times four) grandfather).

Wily rascals, those Hessians.

2014 is the New 1984

George Orwell image from Wikipedia

Yesterday’s revelation by the Guardian that the US government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it refused to hand over user data to the National Security Agency does little to comfort citizens worried about the mythical transparency of the current administration, but should raise the standing of Yahoo.com among those concerned about Big Brother mining their data.

In fact, Obama’s minions are cracking down on whistle blowers and otherwise closing the curtains on their activities.

Are we entering an Orwellian universe where NewSpeak transposes the meaning of words to their opposite? George Orwell‘s timing was off, but the privacy and transparency are both disappearing at an alarming rate.

Welcome to 1984.

Dr. Art Homer: Rest in Peace

Dr. Art officiating at a wedding in 2007

Thursday we learned that Art Homer (Colonel, USAF retired), a chaplain we first met at RAF Upper Heyford, UK in the 80s, passed away at his home in San Antonio, Texas on Tuesday.

Doctor Art, as he was known to several generations of servicemen and women and their children, had a long and troubled health history.

The Air Force probably should never have commissioned him. He was awarded a 100 % disability when he retired.

Now he is at peace.

The Legend of the Bloodstone by E. B. Brown (Three Stars)

The Legend of the Bloodstone by E. B. Brown

(Three Stars out of Five)

A really good story: deep characters (if you can forgive the pig-headedness of the leads) in a well-researched setting early in colonial Virginia. Brown expertly brings the reader so deep into the native culture that the English settlers seem like (and were) the foreigners.

However, I kept getting jarred out of the story by anachronisms: no mountains white-capped or otherwise are visible from tidewater Virginia, no “large picture windows” in 1621. (Even though the massacre happened in 1622, Maggie is time shifted to late 1621 contrary to the blurb on Goodreads.com.) Also great distances were too easily and quickly traveled by foot and horseback. (About those horses … .)

Since this is something of a time travel (that shouldn’t be a spoiler) novel, I suppose her colonial Virginia may exist in a parallel universe to ours.

For all that a good novel, but of the sort focused on the stop-and-go relationship, misunderstandings, anger and lust of the protagonists.

Well done. Just not my cup of tea.

Passing the Torch

somewhereReceived my Air Force Magazine almanac issue (September 2014) today. It lists all the civilians generals who head the major parts of the Air Force.

I’ve been retired long enough (sixteen years) that I no longer know anyone on active duty at those levels. For that matter, very few folks I knew then are still serving.

But a new generation of Americans have picked up the torch and carry it onward. Despite–perhaps because of–the stupidity in Washington (yes, I include the Pentagon in that aspersion), the men and women of our armed forces continue to protect and defend the rest of us.

God bless them all.

Putin Expands his Empire

Having reduced Ukraine, Putin begins his putative campaign against Estonia. The seizure of an Estonian official on spy charges is just the opening shot of the next phase Putin’s campaign to reestablish the Soviet Union, in fact if not in name.

Our own President may have brought Estonia higher on Putin’s list by his recent visit and claims of defense when, of course, the united States has neither the will nor the means to defend Estonia against Russia.

As with Hitler, western division and ambiguity only increases Putin’s imperial urges.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Four Stars)

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

(Four Stars out of Five)

What if? What if someone took the premise of Harry Potter and turned it inside out? What if it was science fiction instead of fantasy? What if all the games and houses and competition was rigged, by the staff, to serve a pre-determined, politically-contrived outcome? What if George R. R. Martin—no, maybe—well you get the idea—had written Harry Potter?

[There be Spoilers Beyond Here]

Red Rising posits a future where genetically altered humans have broken and broken free from the earth and rule the solar system from stratified societies scattered across the inhabitable space. And it’s all based on keeping the lowest workers enslaved to support the highest. And even the highest bent to the will of a few families and individuals which control all through a social and military Darwinism. And one man—hurt, wronged, executed (but not dead)—sets himself against the whole.

Darrow’s first goal will be to penetrate deep enough and high enough to do some real damage. To do that he must qualify for, be selected into, and survive the institute. Can he? Will he? Should he?

Therein lies the tale.

Brown accomplishes the rare feat of whetting the readers appetite for the whole series while presenting the first episode in a clearly defined and satisfying whole. And he does a good job.

Maybe only 3.7 stars, but a really good read.

The Overcoming Life by Rick Joyner. (Three Stars)

The Overcoming Life by Rick Joyner.

(Three stars out of five)

Vintage Rick Joyner.

Superficially it’s a traditional Bible study contrasting the “deeds of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit” as found in Galatians 5:19-23. It also discusses how even believers may be lulled into thinking that they need not be concerned about seeking a life which overcomes the one and cultivates the other.

A good read for both beginning Christians and for those who have been saved for years.