Category Archives: Books

Sam Jankovich–A Butte Kid Does Well

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“ … I worked in the Leonard mine which was the turning point of my life. I was put in a tunnel and was scared to death. I thought for certain I would not get out alive. I came home and told Patty that if I had to work in the mine we were going to starve. … “

How did this young man, a hard rock miner from Butte Montana, rise from the depths of a mine tunnel to one day stand beside two Presidents and among two National Championship college football teams? From a dirty and dangerous mine to stand beside Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde and coaches of the caliber of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson? How did this young man rise from that dark, cold mine shaft to become Chief executive Officer of the New England patriots? How did this man expand a football stadium in Pullman Washington from 24,000 to 39,000 seats – with no cost to the tax payer?

Sam Jankovich came to the surface of the Leonard mine and rose to the top of his chosen profession of athletics. From state championship teams in Butte — to assistant coaching at universities in Montana and Washington — to Athletic Director at Washington State and the University of Miami – to CEO of the Patriots. All along the way earning induction into the Halls of Fame of these institutions.

As the editor of Sam’s memoirs I learned the answers to these questions. Sentence by sentence – paragraph by paragraph – page by page – place to place. I found the answers in words like ‘character’, ‘loyalty’, ‘quality’ and ‘consistency’ bubbling up from the pages. I began to see the character of the man as golden threads woven through the fabric of his life and career. Part of the fabric and yet distinctly visible.

The story of Sam Jankovich is in these pages, but it is not a story of “I”. Rather, it seems subsumed and surrounded by the many stories of the “others” of Sam’s life. You will run across constantly recurring phrases as “… a wonderful man” “ … a wonderful person” “… a dear friend”, “a wonderful woman”

Sam Jankovich is one of the “old timers” I’ve become acquainted or reacquainted with in recent years. Others, along with their stories, have come to me from my US Navy past — some from that “Greatest Generation” of World War II, Korea, the Cold War and Vietnam. One of my Navy shipmates, and a friend, is a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and a three tour Vietnam veteran. Another is a Navy veteran of those many World War II sea-battles in the South Pacific — followed by infantry combat in that very brutal Korean War.

These folks who have lived such consequential lives, and have left behind recollections of their lives, deserve to be remembered. That is why I have become passionate in doing what I can to further those remembrances.

I hope you enjoy the story of one such consequential life – the life of Sam Jankovich.

 

(Click on the book cover below to find Sam)

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Don Johnson – typoist and editor of Sam Jankovich

Loose Lips Sink Ships

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Grassley questions whether Clinton attorney had clearance for thumb drives

Official: More than 300 Clinton emails flagged for potentially classified info

Just how potentially serious is such a security breach?

The invasion of France at Normandy was the largest such landing in history and cost the lives of many thousands of allied soldiers. The landing was shrouded in much secrecy including deception to make the German defenders think that the landing would be elsewhere.

Had the landing plans been compromised,  it is likely the landing would have failed with many more lives lost and the course of the war would have changed dramatically, including the likelihood that all of German occupied Europe would have been lost to a Communist Soviet Union victory.

And the brave Seal Team 6 who went after Osama bin Laden – had this operation been compromised by loose lips, in all likelihood the entire team would have been wiped out and a significant victory handed to an Islamic enemy.


The Hillary Clinton security case needs to be aggressively investigated  and prosecuted. The full force of the law needs to be applied, including indictment, trial and  imprisonment, including life without parole.

The fact that she is a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, and now the leading Democratic candidate for President should not in any way diminish an aggressive prosecution of this case —  on the contrary, because of her extensive resume, all diligence should be applied to prevent such an individual from attaining the highest office in the land, and leader of the free world.

The Democratic Party should immediately disavow her as a candidate and the press should aggressively press for an aggressive prosecution of this case.

This is NOT a political issue – lives are potentially at risk because of such behavior.

Don Johnson – August 2015

Sr. Chief Rob O’Neill – A hometown hero

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I will be adding this to my book at: http://www.blurb.com/user/store/donanddiana

Don Johnson – December 2014

Kick-Off Event for The Book “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom …”

My wife Diana and I attended the 39’th annual USS BalchPorterfield reunion in early September, and like last year this was a memorable event. The reunion was held in Buffalo and was a week filled with activity and camaraderie amongst fellow shipmates and family members. If I have my numbers correct there were 22 of us sailors dating back to 1941 and through World War II … through the Korean War … through the Vietnam War … through the Cold War and on to 1969 when the Porterfield was decommissioned for  the final time.
Many family members were also there … sons & daughters- brothers & sisters, as well as friends, making it very much a family event. I think the total count was in the mid sixties.

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The flag you see above was the last flag flown on the Porterfield (DD-682).
The fellow on the right is Sam Thomas who was on the commissioning crew of the Porterfield in 1943 … he is called a “plank owner” and is a spry 91 years old.
The follow on the left is Steve Osbourne  who was on the decommissioning crew of the Porterfield in 1969.
The setting for this picture was the fantail of the USS The Sullivans (DD-537), a museum ship in Buffalo. The Sullivans is a Fletcher Class tin can … destroyer, the same as the Porterfield.

During this reunion I presented the video “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … “ which was well received by the reunion members, and I received a number of compliments. Sam Thomas told me that “it brought tears to my eyes in places … “.  I created this video as an introduction and companion to the book, and it contains a selection of snippets representing some of the things that sailors get involved with at sea … in peace time as well as war time.

Following the video I presented a book to each of the sailors present as well as to the three widows in attendance. I also sold copies to anyone else interested.

I received many compliments for the book, both from the sailors and family members … Gene Beckstrom, a Navy veteran from WW-II and a Korean War Army veteran told me that some of the stories in the book brought tears to his eyes.  So these comments served to validate the work I have done in compiling this book, and thus I consider the 2014 Balch-Porterfield reunion to be the “kick off event” for the book and I  invite you to take a look at it at my online bookstore.

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After returning home from the reunion I received a phone message from a 90 year old Navy veteran from World War II.  Len Lohne recently traveled as an honored guest of Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington DC, and some of us at church were asked to send cards, letters and mementos to Len as he returned from his trip. I sent a copy of the book, and Len called to thank me for the book and tell me how much he enjoyed reading it … further validation of the message I intended … to honor those who served and gave so much, as well as the family members who were left behind.

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Best regards and smooth sailing …

Don Johnson Sept 2014

Irresponsible Choices: Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

Irresponsible Choices – Thomas Sowell – Page full

The latest Gallup poll indicates that 14 percent of the people “moderately disapprove” of Barack Obama’s performance as president and 39 percent “strongly disapprove.”

Since Obama won two presidential elections, chances are that some of those who now “strongly disapprove” of what he has done voted to put him in office. We all make mistakes, but the real question is whether we learn from them.

With many people now acting as if it is time for “a woman” to become president, apparently they have learned absolutely nothing from the disastrous results of the irresponsible self-indulgence of choosing a President of the United States on the basis of demographic characteristics, instead of individual qualifications.

It would not matter to me if the next five presidents in a row were all women, if these happened to be the best individuals available at the time. But to say that we should now elect “a woman” president in 2016 is to say that we are willfully blind to the dangers of putting life and death decisions in the hands of someone chosen for symbolic reasons.

If we were to choose just “a woman” as our next president, would that mean that any criticism of that president would be considered to be a sign of being against women?

No public official should be considered to be above criticism — and the higher up that official is, the more important it is to hold his or her feet to the fire when it comes to carrying out duties involving the life and death of individuals and the fate of the nation.

We have not yet had a Jewish president. If and when we do, does that mean that any criticism of that individual should be stigmatized and dismissed as anti-Semitism? What of our first Italian American president, our first Asian American president?

Human beings of every background are imperfect creatures. When they are in a position high enough for their imperfections to bring disasters to more than 300 million Americans, the last thing we need is to stifle criticism of what they do.

It is by no means guaranteed that this country will survive the long-run consequences of the disastrous decisions already made by Barack Obama, especially his pretense of stopping Iran’s becoming a nuclear power. Obama may no longer be in office when those chickens come home to roost.

If we wake up some morning and find some American city in radioactive ruins, will we connect the dots and see this as a consequence of voting to elect an unknown and untried man, for the sake of racial symbolism?

Among those who look around for someone to blame, how many will look in the mirror?

Presidents already have too much insulation from criticism — and from reality.

When President Calvin Coolidge caught everyone by surprise in 1928, by announcing that he would not run for reelection, despite a prosperous economy and his own personal popularity, he simply said, “I do not choose to run.” Coolidge was a man of very few words, despite his knowledge of multiple languages. Someone once said that Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

But, when he later wrote a small autobiography, Coolidge explained the inherent dangers in the office of President of the United States, especially when one person remains in the White House too long.

“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshippers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.

“They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”

Of presidents who served eight years in office, he said, “in almost every instance” the last years of their terms show little “constructive accomplishments” and those years are often “clouded with grave disappointments.”

Another president chosen for demographic representation (whether by race, sex or whatever), and further insulated from criticism and from reality, is the last thing we need.

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I am currently reading The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam. The book devotes a great deal of space to General Douglas MacArthur, and very little of it complimentary, and much seems to align with what Calvin Coolidge had to say in the above quoted segment:

“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshippers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.

“They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”

There may be another side to the MacArthur story, a side more favorable to the general. But the picture Halbertson paints is of a man out of control and in dangerously independent charge of a very powerful American military in Asia. That Truman eventually fired him seems in retrospect, and again through the lens of Halbertson, fully justified and indeed long overdo. If this picture of the general is accurate, then what we had was a very dangerous and a very bad man.

The advice of Calvin Coolidge as relayed through Thomas Sowell is advise that the American people would be wise to heed. We don’t need to elect yet another president  based on a persons outward characteristics. We need to elect a leader, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., based on the content of his/her character and not on his/her race or gender.

Don Johnson – Sept 2014

Adm. McRaven Urges Graduates to Find Courage to Change the World

I’ve been making our bed every morning ever since this Seal Team Admiral told UT graduates they should do this.

The strange thing is that I actually started making our bed every morning … several weeks before the Admiral’s speech  … strange, but I like it.

Does The Universe Have A Purpose?

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This is a very good question … a question often directed to religious people … and a question directed to me, a Christian, recently that gave me serious pause.  Do I believe or even think much about the question? Do I even have an answer to the question?

The serious atheists flings such a question at one of faith as if it were a lethal spear, intended to inflict much harm.

Here is a small selection of thoughts from several very prominent scientists who have given the question much thought. The question of any of them being atheist is but a side issue to the very personal question for me … Does The Universe Have A Purpose?

“Does the universe have a purpose? I’m not sure, But anyone who expresses a more definitive response to the question is claiming access to knowledge not based in empirical foundations. This remarkably persistent way of thinking, common to most religions and some branches of philosophy, has failed badly in past efforts to understand and thereby predict the operations of the universe and our place within in.” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

“We don’t know what’s driving 96% of the universe,” Tyson said. “Everybody you know and love and heard of and think about and see in the night sky through a telescope: four percent of the universe.” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

[I respect Tyson’s agnostic stance here in cautioning against claiming access to knowledge not based on empirical foundations, but it should be extended to the Atheistic Materialistic/Naturalistic world view as well.]

  “I am not religious because I do not think the universe has any single purpose. Instead, I believe that ‘purpose’ itself is left up to an intelligent mind to impose upon reality, which is rightfully unconscious, which is why justice is arbitrary, freedom is imagined and nobody can solve the infinity problems in the arrow of time; because there was no beginning for a superhuman agency to have intervened in.” Internet Blogger

“The universe itself doesn’t have a purpose, nor is there one inherent in the fundamental laws of physics. But teleology (movement toward a goal) can plausibly be a useful concept when we invent the best description of higher-level phenomena, and at the human level there are purposes we can create for ourselves.” Physicist Sean Carroll 

“The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.”  ― Carl Sagan

Part of my message is that we’re not central to the purpose of the Cosmos. What happened to me makes us all seem very small.  Carl Sagan,

After having given the question some serious thought in recent days, here is my thinking on the question as a Bible believing Christian.

I believe the Bible when in the very first words it proclaims “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  Have I proved the existence of God, or have I discovered someone who has unequivocally proven with touchable, smellable,  visible proof that you and I can walk down the block and see for ourselves?  No … no … no! Bottom line is that it is a matter of faith … informed faith, but nevertheless  – faith.

But so is the proclamation from another prominent modern day scientist
“ … tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged” Stephen Hawking

Both statements are statements of faith, and as far as I know neither rises to what would be conclusive truth, as is humanly possible to perceive, either as science or as proof beyond the shadow of doubt in the courtroom.

So given my faith position, how do I answer the question Does The Universe Have A Purpose?

My answer is – the universe does indeed have a purpose. Further, the purpose of the universe is: personally, specifically and individually aimed directly at me … little old me living ‘somewhere between immensity and eternity in my tiny planetary home.’

Further along in the book of Genesis, we see the creation accounts of specific things in the heavens and the earth, in particular we see the creation of mankind. We also see that mankind was created with free-will. I can choose to do one thing or the other … I can choose to do good things or I can choose to do bad things – even terribly awful things,  it’s my free choice and it’s called liberty but it can be abused. I can even choose to believe in the God of the Bible, or any of a large number of gods, or I can choose to believe in no gods. It’s my choice.

In choosing the God of the Bible as indeed the one and only creator God of the universe, we close in on why I see that the purpose of the universe is personally directed towards me.

A few of Bible verses sets the cosmological stage here:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)

I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.  Psalm 139:14

He answered  [speaking of Jesus]: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourselfLuke 10:27

… because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse … Romans 1:19-20 

By freely choosing this God of the Bible – the God described from Genesis thru Revelation, the full scope and breadth of this God opens up before me and draws me to Him … the one who created the heavens and the earth. 

If I am in the high Sierra Nevada mountains on a clear night and look up at the infinite but countable  stars, planets, galaxies and constellations, I see them not as just an awesome and spectacular array in the night sky begging for exploration and explanation, but I am able to experience the night sky as did King David in saying “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands.”  I see them as directed personally towards me individually so as to draw me towards, and show me, a creator that could have done so magnificent a thing.  The night sky draws me to a strong desire to one day meet that creator when I will behold Him … face to face.  That’s not to say that others who don’t believe as I do don’t also see and sense the same grandeur … the same majesty. Indeed they do, but are they able to see it as if it is all directed specifically to them?

When I study the modern day findings of biological and cellular science, I again see at the very smallest level of life that, again as King David said  “… I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”   That this miracle of  life that has been  remarkably and wonderfully made I can now see for myself …  thanks to the creative mind of created man,  and I can see it as  pointed specifically, personally and individually to me. I can see this in a variety of ways … in the embryonic development of a chicken egg where the full body plan of the chicken is shown after just two days of development … followed by the twenty some days till the bird escapes and becomes the chicken.  This remarkable development tells me –  no … it shows me, that contained within the very first second of the fertilization of the egg,  that the egg contains not only a type of  blueprint of that life to follow, but the very mechanism of its manufacture. 

A few years back I wrote on what I labeled The Problem of “Massively Complex Synchronicity.” In that essay I tried to capture the sheer magnitude of life and its complexity and design. Since then I continue to find amazing findings and discoveries from the world of the life sciences. A good place to start is with a set of wall charts produced by Roche, a large biotech company.  These charts, Biochemical Pathways, “provide a graphical overview of the most important biochemical pathways all in one place.”

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I don’t presume to say that Roche takes a particular position on evolution/creation/Intelligent design;  I don’t know and I suspect they are silent on the matter.  I use the wall charts here as sort of an umbrella under which one could reasonable infer design at the cellular level (i.e. life itself). One who has commented about the charts is   Don McLeroy at To My Listening Ear.   

So what else have I found under this umbrella?

Peer-Reviewed Science: What the Field of Systems Biology Can Tell Us About Intelligent Design

When Biologists Think Like Engineers: How the Burgeoning Field of Systems Biology Supports Intelligent Design – Evolution News & Views

Systems Biology as a Research Program for Intelligent Design | Snoke | BIO-Complexity

Specialized Retinal Cells Are a “Design Feature,” Showing that the Argument for Suboptimal Design of the Eye “Is Folly” 

Confirmation of a Creationist Prediction Becomes Even More Stunning | Proslogion

A model of the vertebrate retina, showing the Müller cells (image by Dr. Jens Grosche, Universität Leipzig, found in reference 2)

Wavelength dependent optical fibres in the mammalian eye

Researchers Suggest Molecular Machine Is Irreducibly Complex – Evolution News & Views

Look at and consider the following video:

 

About Us | Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical ResearchAbout Us | Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Biological Information – New Perspectives A Synopsis and Limited Commentary. My Limited Review of This Synopsis and Limited Commentary — (Don’t be intimidated by this title) | A Yearning for Publius

Imagine How It Happened! “Evolution Presents” the Ribosome, “Nature’s Masterpiece”

 

The Workhorse of the Cell: Kinesin

If Nature’s Designs Weren’t So Good, Engineers Wouldn’t Be Rushing to Imitate Them – Evolution News & Views

The Challenge of Design in Nature | A Yearning for Publius

UD Commenter (and US Navy veteran), ayearningforpublius, on: “The Challenge of Design in Nature” | Uncommon Descent

“I’ve grown accustomed to your face . . . ” — headlining a comment by ayearningforpublius to pose the question of origin of a significant case of FSCO/I . . . functionally specific, complex organization and/or associated information | Uncommon Descent

And the following pictorial caught my eye recently from Why Greta Christina’s critique of God-guided evolution misses the mark | Uncommon Descent

In looking at the above pictorial and mentally stepping through the steps involved in translation, my mind came back to those days when I was directly involved in the software process of detecting a message embedded in a stream of data entering our system. The message(s) occupied only a percentage of the available bandwidth, so what we had was a mixed stream of random bits with periods of ‘system specific’ messages.
The technique of extracting these messages is quite similar to that described in the RNA Translation wherein the detecting system looks for a sync pattern – a predetermined specific bit pattern (e.g. x’0E0E0E0E’),and then starts clocking in the following bits until it encounters a predetermined pattern of stop bits, at which point it terminates the message and passes it to data storage for use by downstream processes. Alternatively, the message processing could terminate after a predetermined fixed number of bits.

And, as in nature, this process of message detection was but the beginning of a chain of events producing a useful and desired product of providing visual products used by combat aircrews in training for their mission of defending against adversaries.

So here again, it seems we have an analogy between a design in nature and a design at the hands (and minds) of human Intelligent Designers.

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There is much more, but these are a few that have caught my attention in recent months. They caught my attention because of the scientific research presented, and in keeping with the main thought of this essay, they point the arrow of the  purpose of the universe to me individually and specifically – because “I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”  Psalm 139:14

In the physical and materialistic sense of the Cosmos, to paraphrase Carl Sagan: Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity in my tiny planetary home …  I indeed am an insignificant piece of dust, and indeed will return to dust when my earthly life is done. 

But when I seek God, and seek his perspective of who I am in this vast Cosmos, I find something quite different. I find a god who singles me out in this vast universe … I find a god who created me in his own image … I find a god who is concerned about me, a lonely individual in a very large and scary place … I find a god who advocates for me individually when I am enslaved and oppressed … I find a god who cares for me if I am a widow or an orphan … I find a god who tells me that I am my brothers keeper and I should be concerned for and help others! … I find a god who holds me personally accountable when I wrong others.

Throughout  this essay I have been talking about me, the big “I”, and how I have been singled out …  and perhaps you are aghast at the arrogance of such a stance. You should be, so now let me complete my thoughts here and expand this “singling out” to others.

I said at the beginning of this essay that mankind was created with free will, and we can either choose or reject the God of the Bible as the one true creative god among so many to choose from. I freely chose this path many years ago after a considerable amount of struggle.

Like many, I wandered in, around and through the many religious, cultural and philosophical ideas that present themselves in any generation. I had very little religious upbringing, but being American was raised in a culture that had a fundamental Christian underpinning. I briefly studied Catholicism when first dating my, then future, wife. I succumbed to the then popular  atheist teachings of   men like Bertrand Russell, and read the many then popular “debunking’s” of Christianity such as The Passover Plot. I was captured by the hedonistic Playboy Philosophy of Hugh Heffner which tantalized me with an offer of my own Playmate of the Month …  each month?  I dabbled in drugs … marijuana, which mainly depressed me … and mescaline which resulted in the absolutely most frightening experience of my life. I found my self on the road to alcoholism, although  I don’t know how close or far I was away from that destination – but I knew I was on that road. I found myself married with two children, a couple of cars, a nice house, a good job, a loving wife … but I had no real or deep interest in any of that – I was just wanting to get through the next day.  

But then at age 36 I found myself in an unexpected place … a place that at once was a place of new direction and at the same time a place of confusion. I came under the influence and teaching of Biblical end-times prophesy, in particular the writings of Hal Lindsey of The Late Great Planet Earth fame.  This book and others by Lindsey compelled me into a study that I then and now would characterize as “Is this guy crazy? How can any of that be true? He’s a nut” 

My study expanded from Lindsey into the Bible itself, Gideon hotel  bibles including one I actually stole. I needed to know more, and the truth source for me was ironically, the Bible. Actually the Bible, Lindsey’s books and current events as they unfolded from front pages and newscasts. I began to see the correlations that Lindsey talked about.   

“He answered [speaking of Jesus]: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Cutting to the chase here and getting to the bottom line, I was drawn to a local church with a very good teacher/pastor and a very supportive and loving congregation. Over the next several years, the verse above became clearer and clearer, and I began to see that it was speaking to all of me as a person; heart-soul-strength-mind. The mind part is especially important because it taught me that understanding and believing the Bible and seeking God is a continual intellectual as well as spiritual effort and one that does not require “blind faith” in the words of ancient and ignorant “goat herders.”  Thus my citing of the many recent scientific and technical discoveries I’ve noted above.

So have I been “singled out” as the one for whom the universe has purpose? No indeed, I understand now that each and every person now living, or who has ever lived on this small and lonely blue dot has been singled out and can claim,  as I have, that the universe has purpose, and that purpose is specifically me – no matter who I am, no matter where I live – no matter the circumstances of my life.

It’s a matter of free will choice!

I’ve answered the question  “Does The Universe Have A Purpose?” for me personally, but each person ultimately must answer that question as a matter of their own free will choice.  My hope is that this essay of mine will offer a few things to think about for others as they ponder the choice.

Regards,

Don Johnson – Sept 2104

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was Iraq Worth It? A Marine’s Answer

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The Marine’s (a combat veteran from Iraq) answer was  … “It was worth it.”

I wish I could reproduce his full Opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal, but it’s behind a pay wall if you want to read it in full, or alternatively purchase a copy of  the paper or read it at a local library. In any case, here is the on line link: 
Brian M. Welke: Was Iraq Worth It? It Was for Me – WSJ

Mr. Welke’s story resonates with me and is why I still have the picture of the young lady seen above as the background picture on my computer.  I don’t remember if she is Iraqi or Afghani, but she is the reason I tell veterans and active duty Marines, soldiers, sailors and airman, whenever I get the chance, that they have the best job in the world.    Why?

Because they have had the unique opportunity to bring liberty and opportunity, or at least the hope of same,  to the lives of many  because of their sacrifice and service on behalf of others.

I will try to bring some of Mr. Welke’s thoughts here, and then try to tie his experience to some of what I have written previously, but I would encourage you to read Welke’s account in full as from one who was there … in the arena.

“A sacrifice’s worth is not determined by outcomes.”

Speaking to the question of was it worth it …
”A far more painful question, asked of one’s self, is: What if I hadn’t tried?”

“It was in the sands of Ramadi that I learned most people want to be masters of their own fate.”

“How many nations in the course of human events have sacrificed so much to give an unfree people a shot at self-determination?  … Did Caesar conquer Gaul and then say, “Now its your turn to govern yourself.” No other country in history has defeated its enemies only to hand over the reins of government to its native population.”

I see Welke’s missive as yet another example of American Exceptionalism as I have written about here, and here, and here.

As I was reading Mr. Welke’s piece my mind immediately traveled to 1975 and the Navy Destroyer USS Kirk. I have highlighted this episode in my book I Didn’t Want to Worry You Mom … but a much fuller rendering of that great episode of American Exceptionalism is captured  at:

 The Lucky Few, The Story of the USS Kirk

and

The USS Kirk: Valor At The Vietnam War’s End : NPR

I conclude by adding to Mr. Welke’s oh-so-true statement “No other country in history has defeated its enemies only to hand over the reins of government to its native population”   … the  nations of Western Europe, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, South Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan   … and the southern states of the Confederacy following the Civil war.

 

Don Johnson – August 2014

Mosul’s Christians recount flight from historic home under ISIS threat

A sad but predictable fate is swallowing up small minorities in  Iraq.

Mosul’s Christians recount flight from historic home under ISIS threat

“We heard the gunshots outside our door, and knew the terrorists were killing Christians,” Aziz said in a raspy whisper. “But we hoped someone might rescue us. We cowered inside for two days, then knew we had to leave. We gathered some clothes and left at night.”

“There were Christians everywhere we went. In every garden, and in every door way, there are just so many with nothing and with nowhere to go.”  – Munira Aziz, 74

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I wrote about this in February 2011 and revisited the topic  last year in August 2013.

History Shows That a Power Vacuum Will Always be Filled

And before that:  the vacuum left in South Vietnam in 1975  after the withdrawal of American forces and the cut off of self defense funds for South Vietnam … and the human carnage left behind by the Communist North,  filling that vacuum and spilling over into the Pol Pot carnage imposed on Cambodia:

  The Real Heroes of Vietnam

Can we expect repeats in  Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Israel?

Iraq and Vietnam … and Afghanistan … and Pakistan … and … and …

So what to do about it?

That’s both an individual and national question … perhaps the answer at the individual level is to stay engaged and try to help these people as individuals in ways that you can … that may be through various organizations such as The Voice of the Martyrs or Samaritan’s Purse or others.

At the national level it’s a difficult matter of somehow making our national leaders accountable and responsible to living up to our commitments and not abandoning those who have put their trust in America.

Don Johnson – August 2014

Are Google and NSA Becoming Just a Bit too Personal?

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This is what shows up when we enter our home address into Google Maps and then look at Street View.

Yes, that’s Diana & I sitting on our front porch minding our own business.

I know I’m paranoid, but this just adds to it. I think I’ll switch over to schizophrenia and let the other guy depress and fret over this.

Don Johnson – August 2014