In Rio, Pray Wisdom Wins

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The Olympics Games is sold worldwide as the pristine display of sports talent, passion and dedication. Then comes the news the Rio Olympics has already set a new record. 450,000 condoms will be available to Olympians to avoid the sexual transmission of the Zika virus. According to the Age (May 16, 2016) 350,000 male condoms and 100,000 female condoms are available along with 175,000 sachets of lubricant, ‘from free dispensing machines in every Olympic village.’ Two Australian companies are providing extras for the Aussies!

We should never make light of a very serious problem. The Zika virus is deadly and every protection should be considered for the Olympians. Some serious scientists even called for the Olympics to be moved from Rio to escape the disease-carrying mosquito but the forecast of sexual activity must disturb every parent with a child competing.

April 16, 2003 ESPN published an article “Will You Still Medal in the Morning.” (espn.com.au). Author Sam Alipour reported: “Many Olympians, past and present, abide by what Summer Sanders, a swimmer who won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze in Barcelona, calls the second Olympic motto: “What happens in the village stays in the village.” Yet, if you ask enough active and retired athletes often enough to spill their secrets, the village gates will fly open. It quickly becomes clear that, summer or winter, the games go on long after the medal ceremony. “There’s a lot of sex going on,” says women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, a gold medalist in 2008. How much sex? “I’d say it’s 70 percent to 75 percent of Olympians,” offers world-record-holding swimmer Ryan Lochte, who will be in London for his third Games. “Hey, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Rio Carnivale

A CNN report called the Olympic village ‘The Playing Field.’ They wrote: “”Anyone who wants to be naive and say they don’t know what’s going on in the Village are lying to themselves,” one former gold medalist and veteran of two Olympics told CNN of his previous experiences at the Games. “They know, the officials know, even the media. It’s not a secret, everyone knows!” (The Playing Field, August 12, 2012 CNN. edition.cnn.com)

images-1Rio in just a few weeks, will showcase its Carnivale flair. Street musicians and dancers have been rehearsing for both the opening and closing ceremonies. “Let the Games begin!” will launch a new extravaganza. New champions will be crowned. Losers consoled. Australia helped promote the camaraderie. A young Chinese-Australian John Ian Wing proposed change for the closing ceremony at the Olympics in Melbourne, 1956. In previous Olympiads the opening and closing ceremonies were similar in structure. Wing proposed the athletes be allowed to mingle and mix together in a show of fellowship. That initiative launched in Melbourne has been a memorable highlight ever since and it is a joyous, festive addition.

In the deepest darkness we can be sure light will shine. In London 2012, United States gymnast Gabby Douglas won gold. Then just sixteen Douglas said her faith helped her cope with the pressures of competing on the world stage. “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me,” she tweeted after she won the all around gold medal. She was the first African-American to win gold in the all around competition. Former Olympian Dominique Dawes was in tears after the victory. Asked what advice she had for Douglas Dawes said, “Keep God number one in your life….Keep him first and foremost and only be guided by him.”

Eric Liddell

The Eric Liddell story was told in the movie ‘Chariots of Fire.’ In the movie he says, “… I believe God made me for a purpose … He also made me fast. When I run I can feel His pleasure.” The son of missionary parents, he died in a POW camp in 1945.

Allison Felix, the daughter of an ordained minister was an American gold medalist. She won gold and two silver medals at the 2012 Olympics. She also won three world championship gold medals. At the height of her success she said: “For me, my faith is the reason I run. I definitely feel I have this amazing gift that God has blessed me with, and it’s all about using it to the best of my ability.”

UnknownJesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Adolph Hitler staged the event as propaganda venture. Owens said: “Only by God’s grace have I made it to see today and only by God’s grace will I see tomorrow.” His modern counterpart Usain Bolt (pictured) said, “I want to thank GOD for everything he as done for me cause without him none of this would be possible.”

Betty Cuthbert

Years ago as a young enthusiastic WINTV sports commentator I was thrilled to interview, on more than one occasion, Australian track star Betty Cuthbert. In her testimony she wrote: “It’s funny looking back at everything. I was never fanatical about running – never had any heroes or anything – it all just happened.

Eighteen months before the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, I spent most of my savings buying a spectator ticket for myself. I wasn’t expecting to run in those Olympics. I wasn’t even rated in the world’s top 15 in the 100 metres at the beginning of 1956. Then I broke Marjorie Jackson’s world record for the 200 metres.

In Melbourne, aged 18, I won the 100 meters, 200 metres and another gold medal as part of the 4×100 relay team.

One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 40:31, which was given to me by my grandmother just before I ran in Melbourne. “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.”

Later Betty developed multiple sclerosis and even then she remained a champion. I love what she wrote: “Many people think that Christians are a bit “loopy.” I don’t mind that but I wish they would take the time to find out what it all means. For me, it means renewing the mind – replacing old values with the concepts of God as revealed in the Bible.”

Well said Betty. When it comes to values, for me ‘the shield of faith’ is the best protection of all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It Started with the Answering Machine.

How could we explain our modern world to generations past? Back in the day some thought we could never fly. Colour television was beyond a dream. Now Google is about to develop robot clones of dead loved ones and celebrities. (Sputnik News, March 17, 2016) Yes, you will be able to preserve your favourite person in full robotic perfection!

images“Artificial intelligence experts speculate that in the not-so-distant future people will replace dead relatives with cloned robots installed with downloaded variants of that person’s brain,” according to a report this year. Vermont’s Tersem Movement Foundation is a research institute planning to “transfer human consciousness to computers and robots.” The Foundation director Bruce Duncan explained: “It’s like when people stuff a pet cat or dog. We don’t stuff humans, but this is a way of ‘stuffing’ their information, their personality and mannerisms.” (Sputnik News, March 17, 2016)

Is your mind spinning, like mine? What about a visit to Doctor Robot? Dr Berci Mesko MD, PhD, the Medical Futurist wrote a book “My Health, Upgraded.” On his website he wrote: Surgical robots become increasingly precise each day. Man–size robots can lift and move patients and transport them throughout the hospital. I held a PARO therapeutic robot in my arms. It was cute and calmed me. At a conference I once watched how a diminutive robot made an entire audience dance with it. It only takes the Xenex robot 10 minutes to disinfect a patient room with UV light. A robot called Tug works at hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area. It delivers food and medicine. It picks up waste and laundry. It navigates the halls without crashing into people”. (medicalfuturist.com)

But wait there’s more! A May 2016 story published by the Sydney Morning Herald reported on medical robots and specifically on doctors. The headline said, “The Robot will see you now.”

The Ying Ao sink foundry in southern China now has nine robots replacing 140 full-time workers. In a recent article, ‘China’s Robot Revolution’ the Guardian said: “Across China, factories are replacing humans with robots in a new automation-driven industrial revolution. And the effects will be felt around the world.” China is embracing robotics carefully, enthusiastically and systematically. They have a project entitled ‘Made in China 2025’. The aim is to reduce production costs by using more and more robots to improve efficiency and productivity and ultimately to reduce manufacturing costs. One Chinese entrepreneur was very direct. “Young people do not want to work on manual tasks. I’ll replace them with robots,” he said. Another forecast said 70 percent of jobs today will be replaced by robots by the end of this century. Doctors, lawyers, architects, pharmacists and accountants are all on the list.

images-1The Taub Centre for Social Policy Studies in Israel issued a report ‘A Picture of the Nation’, May 2016. They estimated ‘about 1 million Israelis (today) work in occupations at risk of computerization over the next two decades.” (Study Page 62)

Jobs at risk include tailors, watch repairers, telephone salesperson, data entry clerk, bankclerk. At medium risk they listed economist, historian, teaching assistant, bus driver, financial adviser. Of serious consideration was their estimate in the United States. 17 per cent of the workforce will be affected, in Germany 19 per cent. Similar impact will effect every country, that adopts new technologies.

Revolution

Are humans becoming obsolete in the work force, asked NBC News. “All signs point to yes,” they said. They analysed nine jobs humans are about to lose. Pharmacists, lawyers and paralegals, drivers, astronauts, store clerks, soldiers, babysitters, rescue workers, sports writers and reporters are all on the list of threatened jobs. We are living a robotic revolution.

Marshall Brain, the author of Robotic Nation, on his website wrote: “The computer power we will have in a home machine around 2050 will be utterly amazing. A typical home computer will have processing power and memory capacity that exceeds that of a human brain. What we will have in 2100 is anyone’s guess. The power of a million human brains on the desktop? It is impossible to imagine, but not unlikely.” (marshallbrain.com)

He also wrote: “People are talking optimistically about fielding a team of humanoid robotic soccer players able to beat the best human players in 2050. Imagine a team of C-3POs running and kicking as well as or better than the best human soccer stars, but never getting tired or injured.” (I’m not sure how much I’d pay to watch a bunch of robots at play?)

May 19, 2016 health writer Mike Adams spoke about workers demanding $15 an hour for jobs at fast food outlets. That same day Wendys in America announced 6000 restaurants will be converted to automated kiosks later in the year. (naturalnews.com)

I stood in a queue at a supermarket recently when I noticed the man behind me only had five or six items in his basket. “Hey mate, why don’t you pop down to the automated area? You’ll be much quicker,” I said. “No thanks, those things are only there to take our jobs,” he said. Reality check, right there.

So what comfort can we find? I draw on my faith. The Bible describes Jesus as ‘the same yesterday, today and forever.’ (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 8) He can never be improved. There will not be a 21st century model that replaces Him.

God also has the power to all that He has promised, we read in Romans chapter 4, verses 21. What about His promises? The Greek text for that word ‘promised’ describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. The world around us may change, our lives may face turbulence and even Big Brother intervention. There is One who will never change or be obsolete. In this topsy-turvy world, we can rest in Him.

 

The Times They are a-Changing!

album_ab4d8dff5c4543c3ed2a0c5efabf4234_3What comes to mind when we think Britain? Writers and poets through the ages have depicted British ways with tea and scones and cucumber sandwiches. Visions of Wimbledon tennis enjoyed with strawberries and cream, test cricket at Lords, pies and mash, the Union Jack, Buckingham Palace, they all portray stiff upper lip Britain. Over fifty years ago Bob Dylan (pictured) wrote, “The Times They are a-changing” and that title fits perfectly into the circumstances we are about to consider.

Sadiq Khan, a Muslim and a member of the British Labour Party was recently elected Mayor of London. His victory raised questions and provoked wild and sometimes wise speculation. How could someone other than a dyed in the wool Brit land the job? A Muslim? How? What is happening in the Old Dart?

The Daily Beast brought the reason home for all: ‘London, the United Kingdom, Europe and the wider West have been going through something of an identity crisis.” They say the mounting Muslim tide throughout the world is forcing change.

The head-in-the-sand crowd will bury the facts and avoid reality. More astute observers will note other dramatic changes and include population demographics to the study.

Mayor Khan is a member of the British Labour Party where too many headlines this year have had to do with controversial anti-Semitism by leading figures. An article published last May by the Gatestone Institute said: “Two of the Labour Party’s senior members were suspended as a result of their anti-Semitic remarks, and there is talk that 50 secret suspensions have been made.”

The author of the article Denis MacEoin declared ‘the British Labour Party is collapsing.” He blamed fierce anti-Semitism as a major cause, but despite that negative climate, Khan won anyway.

Sadiq_Khan_official_party_photoThe new Mayor (pictured has shown no signs of anti-Semitism. His first official function was to attend the Holocaust Memorial where he was seated next to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who just a week before, publicly criticized the anti-Semitism within the British Labour Party.

Population

Khan’s election points to a significant change in the make up of old London Town itself and the demographics involved will point to similar developments elsewhere. In 1939 London had a population of 8,614,245 but by the 1981 census that number dropped to 6.607,513, a fall of around 25 percent in just four decades. (worldpopulationview.com)

That same world population analysis said: “Of the 7.17 million people living in London at the time of the 2001 census, only 5.23 million had actually been born in the United Kingdom. The remaining two million people were born outside the UK. The most common country of birth for London residents (other than the UK) was India – 172,162 people living in London in 2001 were born there – followed closely by the Republic of Ireland (172,162) people.”

Each sector provides its own energy and adds to the cultural diversity of the city. This is true for cities and locations all over the world as we watch vast population numbers spread globally.

Today London embraces Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh and Buddhist religions. 15.8 per-cent identify as having no religion. All these variables must learn to live with one another or disaster looms.

Last February the Australian population reached 24 million people. We add one migrant every 2 minutes and 39 seconds. (George Allan, February 15,2016 blog.id.com.au)

With our wide open spaces we may miss the current crisis. The world is facing a population crunch. According to United Nations forecasts the world population will 8.51 billion by 2030. It reached 7.3 billion mid 2015.

The UN report says: “During 2015-2050, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Indonesia and Uganda, listed according to the size of their contribution to the total growth.”

Decline

Their forecast warns Europe will decline: “the populations of 48 countries or areas in the world are expected to decrease between 2015 and 2050. Several countries are expected to see their populations decline by more than 15 per cent by 2050, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine.” India is expected to overtake China in population numbers.

The world is changing. People are moving from place to place in search of a better life and brighter prospects. How do we cope with changing times? The pie man on the corner may soon be replaced by a falafel stand. The Bible prepares us for such a time as this. Jesus Christ was approached by a learned teacher of the law who asked Him, “which of the commandments is the most important?” Jesus answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark chapter 12, verse 31)

The great author and teacher C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are no ordinary people.” He added: “You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)

So it is time to embrace change because it is happening regardless. So how do we cope? Ancient Greek playwright Sophocles explains: “One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.”

 

Tom and Jerry Inspire Terrorists

9091posterTom and Jerry cartoons and video games are behind a rising tide of violence in the Middle East according to a top Egyptian intelligence agency. At a conference entitled “The Media and the Culture of Violence” at Cairo University, Salan Abdel Sadeq said, “Tom and Jerry portrays violence in a funny manner, and gives the impression that, yes, I can hit him, and I can blow him up with explosives.”

Social media in the Middle East lit up with comments. One person asked, “So it’s not the Moslem Brotherhood after all.” Another complained her daughter loved Tom and Jerry.

But Sadeq did not attribute the outbreak of violence and extremist just to the cat and the mouse. He went further.

“Video games are spreading…it has become normal for a young man to sit for long hours playing video games, killing and spilling blood. He is happy and content with that,” he said.

He added, according to the website Egyptianstreets.com, that youths are “faced with social pressures that push them to resort to violence, which they consider normal and understandable.”

While my first reaction was to defend the 1940’s cat and mouse cartoon characters, the more I considered he had some validity. While I hesitate to call Tom or Jerry terrorists, I have to admit they have always introduced a goodly amount of biff, bang, boom in their encounters!

Violence

The NSW Education Department has an excellent website to help parents understand this very dilemma (www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au) They ask: “Does cartoon violence make kids more aggressive?” “At a glance research indicates that exposure to violence makes it seem more acceptable to kids. Today’s animation and games are so realistic it can be hard for kids to tell the difference between ‘pretend’ violence and live action, making some animation just as disturbing as the real thing,” they say. Along with Tom and Jerry they also mention ‘The Road Runner and other animated favorites.”

sleeping_beauty039s_castle_185965Appropriately (I thought) they mentioned Sleeping Beauty and the jealous witch. (I am amazed at the prominence of witches and demons in children’s books. Once we preached messages about this content today we seem to have shrugged our shoulders in surrender).

After a lengthy study the Australian Psychology Society said: “it is generally agreed that prolonged exposure to media violence is one of the many interacting factors which lead to children being more likely to display aggressive behaviour in the long term. It is also agreed that the social context is important in determining the effects of exposure to violent media; e.g., if an adult helps the child interpret and critique the viewed material, the negative effects are lessened. Later research on violent video games has largely supported these effects of violent media, showing that exposure to video game violence leads to increased aggression, an effect that has been demonstrated both as a short-term consequence and longer-term effect of excessive exposure.” (www.psychology.org.au)

Smoking?

A study authored by L.Rowell Huesman and Brad Bushman, both professors at the University of Michigan found: “Violence depicted on television, in films and video games raises the risk of aggressive behavior in adults and young viewers and poses a serious threat to public health, according to a new study.”

After 50 years of research and analysis of the impact of violence in the media, the professors declared “only smoking is a greater risk for public health than video games!”

The website gamepolitics.com responded by interviewing Huesman who said, “Please be aware that an implication of the body of research I reviewed is that the mass media and video games are very powerful teachers. Video games can teach wonderful things or they can teach bad things. It would be a shame if my review were used to indict all video games. There are many great games that teach kids very valuable things.”

The most important lessons children learn most often comes from parents. By stopping a violent cartoon, game or video and explaining why it is not appropriate is the best influence of all.

The Apostle Paul was a great witness to his followers. His behavior was so impeccable he was able to write to the church in Philippi saying: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are pleasing, whatever things are commendable, if there is any excellence of character and if anything praiseworthy, think about these things. And the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians Chapter 4, verses 8 and 9)

“Seen in me” he wrote. What an amazing witness? It is true however, children learn a great deal from watching their elders and observing what we allow into their lives. The Letter by Paul was great advice then and it remains the best advice for our children today.