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Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

Making Gas From Trash

Even as the world scrounges for improved sources of energy and seeks to depend less on the desert oil barons, the US Army is investing in technology that converts garbage into fuel. The US Army has developed a mobile machine that consumes trash and converts it into diesel, mitigating the troublesome issues of both garbage disposal and fuel transportation in foreign, often hostile lands. 

Anytime the Army goes into a foreign country, it has to make sure its personnel and their vehicles are properly supplied. That means millions of gallons of gas have to be transported to support US forces, often in the middle of hostile territory. According to the US Government Accountability Office, the US Department of Defense supplied forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with an average of 68+ million gallons of fuel every month in 2008. That's a lot of fuel transport convoys – convoys that can get attacked.

Waste disposal is another issue in foreign lands; the military can generate quite a bit of trash. According to the Army, a 550 person unit can create about 2500 pounds (1130 kg) of garbage every day. Getting rid of that waste can be a problem because it's expensive to build incinerators that will only be used for a year or two, and burn pits produce smoke that can causes health problems.

The US Army has been solving both difficulties by taking its garbage and turning it into diesel fuel by means of a big machine that uses pressure and heat to break long chain polymers like plastics into short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons - trash to gas. The Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery (TGER) is now on its second version - a huge garbage disposal on wheels. The updated TGER uses an auger to rotate refuse in a horizontal gasifier. Steam can be injected into the gasifier, increasing the percentage of useable gas generated.

The new and improved machine can produce 550 BTUs of gas, and 12 hours after starting it up, it can cook up enough diesel to power a 60 kW generator continually - as long as somebody keeps feeding the TGER its garbage diet.

The TGER is environmentally friendly to boot. "TGER reduces the volume of waste in 30 to one ratio. If you start off with 30 cubic yards of trash, you end up with one cubic yard of ash, and that ash has been tested by the Environmental Protection Agency. They call it a benign soil additive. You could actually throw it on your roses," said ECBC project director for TGER, Dr. James Valdes.

A desert tough, mobile power station that digests garbage could prove a much-needed form of energy generation if it got around, but the TGER garbage eater is not the only trash-to-energy truck on the block. Other methods of making the most of our refuse have been in place for years.

Burn It:
The idea of turning waste into energy is not new. The US-based company Covanta operates 44 power plants that each take local garbage and burn it in order to heat water that turns turbines that create power. Burning trash for power plants is a useful idea, as long as the plants employ air-pollution controls (which Covanta's plants do). The leftover ash is then transported to landfills at a fraction of the garbage's original weight.

Superheat It:
A process called pyrolysis has been around for decades. Pyrolysis involves breaking down organic matter by heating it to extremely high temperatures and is used in the chemical industry to produce charcoal or methanol from wood, or to make the PVC plastic used in water pipes, or syngas (synthesis gas) from biomass.

Depolymerize It (KDV):
The German company AlphaKat has developed what it calls the KDV (Katalytische Drucklose Verolung) process, a catalytic low pressure depolymerization of waste materials.

Metals and glass and sand are removed from trash, leaving only plastics and other carbon-based materials like food and paper, grass, tires and grease. This waste is dried and chopped up and mixed with used oil. A catalyst containing aluminum, sodium and silicon is then added, and the whole mess is dumped into a turbine that spins at 1500 rpm. Frictional heat alone raises the temperature to about 270 degrees Celsius. Inside that spinning turbine all the organic matter is broken down to a pure hydrocarbon diesel that is much like the stuff that gets drilled out of the ground - and at a much faster rate than oil is created naturally. Throw the stuff in the mixer, spin it, and in a few minutes you've got oil. Not only does this process turn garbage into fuel, but all the gasses and liquids are contained in the specially-designed turbine itself, protecting the outside world from possible pollution caused by the diesel production.

The question is, does KDV really work? Have they actually taken milk jugs, banana peels, and leftover burger bags and turned them into oil, or have they succeeded only in creating diesel from used cooking oil, which isn't half so big a deal? 

It appears the technology truly transforms garbage to energy. Alphakat has built at least seven KDV plants around the world; the first in Monterrey, Mexico in 2005. Canada feeds waste plastics into its KDV system, and plants in Spain, Bulgaria and the United States use KDV to generate diesel from household waste.

While windmills have popped up on the horizon from east to west, and people grieve over the high price of gasoline, the key to energy self sufficiency may not soley require sucking oil from the ground if we can put fuel into people's trucks by keeping it out of our landfills.
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Who's Afraid Of A December Apocalypse?

from K-House

December 21, 2012 on the Mayan calendar has been anticipated as the day Armageddon begins, and doomsayers are preparing for the worse. People around the world are stocking up on candles, kerosene, dry foods, and batteries, reminiscent of the days of Y2K when apocalyptic forecasters predicted all the computer clocks would reset back to the first century plunging the world into financial chaos. New Year's Day 2000 came and went, and nothing happened. Now, now the doomsayers fear the 21st will bring ultimate destruction, and the world will never see another Christmas.

NASA has so much confidence that the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse will be a non-event, the agency has already released a video, ten days ahead of time, explaining, "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday." There is no wayward planet Nibiru ready to crash into Earth, NASA says. There are no known comets or meteors ready to destroy our planet, and while the sun is near its 11-year activity peak, "this is the wimpiest solar cycle of the last 50 years," according to Lika Guhathakurta, head of NASA's Living with a Star program.

Still, the recent spate of natural and other disasters across the world, from the Japan Tsunami to Hurricane Sandy, have encouraged a sense of doom about the future, and the end of the Mayan Calendar offers a collection point for fear.

Who Started It?
The Maya, written by Michael D. Coe in 1966, describes his fascination with the Mayan calendar. In the book, he predicted the end of the world would take place on December 2012, on the final day of the Mayan's 13th bak'tun or cycle, annihilating our present universe. This led other scholars and researchers to write their books and articles based on Coe's theory.

According to Mayan theology, the world came into being 5,125 years before present. The Mayan calendar was created more than 5,000 years ago and is based on several cycles, each counting different lengths of the year. The calendar used to predict the apocalypse is called the "Long Count" calendar. The ancient Mesoamerican culture developed a calendar system based on 260, 360, and 365 days in a year. The 260-day calendar was called the Tzolk'in, and the 365 day calendar was called the Haab'.

The Tzolk'in "count of days" calendar uses a cycle of 20 named days combined with 13 numbered days. Each named day is numbered up to 13 for 260 unique days in the year.

The Haab' is a solar calendar made up of 18 months; each month contains 20 days with an extra 5 days added at the end of the year. The last five days were thought by the ancient Mayans to be the most dangerous times of the year - the Wayeb or "nameless" days. The ancient peoples practiced certain customs and rituals to ward off evil spirits that tried to pass through the barrier between the spiritual and physical. It is estimated that the Mayans developed the Haab' about 550 BC during the winter solstice.

Every 52 Haab' years - 18,980 days - is considered a calendar round. Scholars have calculated back and traced the Mayan calendar day of creation to be August 11, 3114 BC on the Gregorian calendar.

The Long Count calendar uses the Mayan day of creation as a starting point. It counts its first 360 days of the year using a modified base-20 decimal scheme, instead of the Western base-10 scheme. This Long Count calendar used a 5 digit count system and was well suited for inscribing dates on Mayan monuments. On December 21st the Long Count calendar will reset to, ending the 13th bak'tun and preparing for the 14th bak'tun. While the most recent cycle is ending, there are 20 cycles on the Mayan Long Calendar. The day the Long Calendar will reset to will be October 13, 4772. So for the ancient Mayans, the upcoming cycle may have been a day of huge celebrations marking the end of a cycle, equivalent to a millennial New Year's party.

Even NASA cannot tell the future, but it is most likely the world will still be spinning safely through space come December 22, and Christmas will come again. If it doesn't though, who will be here to tell NASA's scientists they were wrong?
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Announcement of the discovery of the Higgs Boson, often called the "God particle

From KHouse

Scientists waited in a line 1000-persons long Tuesday night to witness the long-anticipated announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson, often called the "God particle." The elusive Higgs cannot be observed directly, but physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) believe they have gathered enough evidence of the particle's traces - its subatomic-sized "footprints" - that they can say it does exist. 

The Higgs boson is fairly large as far as subatomic particles go, approximately 130 times heavier than a proton and 500,000 times heavier than an electron. The difficulty is that it breaks down too quickly to be directly observed, and only its "shadow" can be seen. Yet, it is believed that the Higgs is the particle that unifies all the forces seen in the physics of the Universe, the substance of the invisible force field that gives all subatomic particles their mass in the first place, that gives them inertia, that makes it possible for atoms to hold together. 

Physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN's laboratories deep under the Alps believe they have actually found the invisible Higgs, or at least a particle that behaves a lot like they thought the Higgs would act. There might not be just one Higgs particle, though, but a whole variety of flavors, just as there are a wide variety of quarks. "If the boson really is not acting standard, then that will imply that there is more to the story - more particles, maybe more forces around the corner," Neal Weiner, a theorist at New York University, wrote The New York Times in an email, "What that would be is anyone's guess at the moment." Particle Physics 101: The Standard Model in particle physics attempts to explain how all the fundamental particles of the Universe interact with each other. 

The model, which is often compared to the Periodic Table of Elements used by chemists, consists of the various particles that make up all matter and force in the Universe. When our children study about protons, electrons, and neutrons, they are learning old information. Particle physicists have developed the categories of subatomic particles a great deal since the neutron was discovered in 1932. Protons and neutrons now fall into the category of hadrons, particles that are made up of combinations of quarks. Electrons and neutrinos are both types of leptons. 

All the above particles, which make up the fundamental building blocks of matter, are called fermions. In contrast to fermions, bosons are particles like photons, gluons and the Higgs boson that do not make up actual matter; they are considered force-carrier particles. Two fermions cannot occupy the same place at the same time; they bump into each other. Bosons, however, are not actually matter and can move right through one another. Scientists like to talk about the fabric of time and space. 

The fabric of space? By definition, isn't a "space" an emptiness, the hole between two objects? Isn't space that vast black nothingness between the stars? In 1964, a physicist by the name of Peter Higgs, currently professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, proposed that empty space is not really empty at all; it is filled with a background energy field, like a lattice through which all other particles have to move. Wherever a particle moves through this field, the field gets distorted and hugs around the particle. The Higgs boson is that "hug" of the field - like a crowd of people around a starlet. 

The particle is given mass, making it harder for it to change direction, speed up or slow down, like the crowd-clustered starlet trying to move across the room. People surround the famous woman as she moves, making it harder for her to speed up or slow down. In a similar way, it is believed that subatomic particles get their mass - their inertia, their resistance to changes in motion - through interactions with the Higgs Field. That was Peter Higgs' idea. 

Since a field cannot be seen, scientists are looking for the hugging clusters, the uncharged particle that would interact with every other subatomic particle to give them all mass. Since then, scientists have been scrambling to find this particle, the Higgs boson. It's difficult to prove the existence of an invisible particle that disappears before you can grab it. Physicists working at CERN's Large Hadron Collider said Wednesday that they had built up enough evidence to declare that a Higgs boson-like particle did indeed exist, and already the scientists are working to learn more. 

From here they want to detail the nature of the Higgs and its possible siblings and hunt for dark matter, parallel universes and the other stuff of science fiction. "The fact that both our teams have independently come to the same results is very powerful," Oliver Buchmueller, a senior physicist on one of the research teams, told Reuters. "We know it is a new boson. But we still have to prove definitively that it is the one that Higgs predicted."Peter Higgs received a standing ovation when he entered the CERN auditorium. His eyes filled with tears as he spoke to his fellow researchers. "It is an incredible thing that it has happened in my lifetime."

  •   A New Particle Could Be Physics' Holy Grail - The New York Times
  •   "It's A Boson:" Higgs Quest Bears New Particle - Reuters
  •   What Is The Higgs Boson? - BBC News
  •   Higgs Boson 'We Have It' - BBC News

Building Powerful Robots With God's Materials

From KHouse
In an old joke, a scientist claims that he can do anything that God can do. When God says, "All right, you go ahead and make a man," the scientist responds, "Okay! I will!" The scientist starts to reach down to grab a handful of earth, but God stops him. "Nuh-uh," God says. "Go get your own dirt." 

We still cannot build humans, from dirt or otherwise, and even C3PO is years away. Yet, robotics engineers have been able to construct machines that can do some amazing and useful things, bringing us ever closer to the droids we may or may not be looking for. It Takes a Licking…: The Swiss have built a flying robot that has been designed to hit the wall. At least, it has been built durable enough to bang into things without "crunch" crashing lifelessly to the ground.  Instead, it uses the bump to reorient itself and keep zooming through the air. If it does get knocked down, it can get up again. Even the most sensitive robots sometimes crash in cluttered areas, and when they do, the collision puts them out of commission. This robot - dubbed "AirBurr" – could be used by search and rescue to maneuver through obstacle-filled environments without expensive and complicated sensors. It keeps things simple. AirBurr can enter areas that might be dangerous or impossible for humans to go after a disaster. Nuclear radiation, noxious gasses, flooded and clogged emergency areas don't faze these flying gadgets, which can smack into rubble, crash into the ground, then get back up and continue on their mission. "We believe that this new paradigm will bring flying robots out of the laboratory and allow them to tackle unstructured, cluttered environments," Swiss researchers said in a 2012 paper for the International Conference on Complex Medical Engineering. Besides built-in durability, the trick for these hoverbots is a clearly specified center of gravity. If the robot crashes, carbon fiber legs push out and scramble it into an upright position. Once it is sitting in the proper orientation, it can lift back off straight up into the air. 

Natural Gas Could Overtake Coal If Well Managed

Drill deep into beds of shale, direct the drill to move horizontally, offer a few small, shale-cracking explosions, pump in water, sand, and chemicals, and pump out enough natural gas to give the Middle East and Russian gas some serious competition. If its production is not stymied by environmental concerns, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday that natural gas could overtake coal during the next two decades to become the second largest world energy source after oil.

Natural gas is an energy resource with a lot to support it. It is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, producing primarily carbon dioxide and water when it is combusted, without the harmful emissions produced by burning coal or oil. There is a plentiful domestic supply of natural gas, allowing the U.S. to export rather than import this resource and reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. Natural gas promises to fill an important energy role during the next decades while renewable energy technologies mature. Just as 1960s phones were fairly inefficient at texting, today's renewable energies have a long way to go before they can fill the growing energy needs of the world. Yet, the environmental concerns involved in the production of natural gas worry many who fear the drilling will harm their groundwater. Water is even more basic a need than energy, and people tend to be protective of their water resources. 

About Evolution - The Illusion Of The Cladogram

from  Koinonia House

Most of modern scientists assume that all life today evolved from single-celled organisms over the past several billion years. Since that assumption is pretty settled for the majority, biologists don’t bother questioning it. Instead, they assume it to be true, and spend time trying to figure out the evolutionary relationships of animals. What is the nearest common ancestor of both the frog and the newt? What are the ancestors of modern birds and how did they gain the ability to fly? How is this animal related to that animal, and where do they both fit in the evolutionary family tree? Enter cladograms. A cladogram is simply a branched, tree-like diagram that is used to put evolutionary relationships in order. Plants or animals are arranged along the branches according to the order in which they evolved from common ancestors. Cladograms can be useful in sorting out closely related creatures….provided there actually is a relationship. The study of cladistics is based on the concept that animals with similar structures and body parts are related. All vertebrates have a backbone, therefore evolutionists assume they all descended from a common ancestor with a backbone. Organisms are placed onto different branches based on similar characteristics, called "characters." Characters might include number of toes or number of sacral vertebrae. They might be, "has a jaw" or "chisel-like teeth". Characters can get very specific, like "Bifurcated neural spine in cervical vertebrae." The more similar characteristics different organisms have, the more closely they are considered related. It would be nice for evolutionary theory if the taxa being placed on a cladogram lined up nice and neatly, step-by-step. But, that’s often not the case. Let’s say organisms A B and C are being ordered on the cladogram based on four different characters. If A had characters #1 and #2, B had characters #1, #2, and #3, and Organism C had characters #1, #2, #3, and, #4, it would be reasonable to say that C evolved from B, and B evolved from A in neat and tidy single-transition steps. 

OrganismCharacter 1Character 2Character 3Character 4

In real life, cladograms are not so simple. What if organism A has characters #1, #2, and #3, B has characters #1, #3, and #4, and C has #2 and #4? Which organism came first? Which came second? 

OrganismCharacter 1Character 2Character 3Character 4
CNoYes NoYes

Solar Flares, Radioactive Decay, and The Age of the Earth

From Koinonia House

From their first books on dinosaurs, our children are told that life was evolving "millions of years ago." The majority of geologists today tell us that radioisotope dating has narrowed the age of Earth to about 4.5 billion years, give or take 330 million. Recently, two dating methods have been updated, and scientists say the earth might not be as old as they thought it was, but they may not recognize how "off" the dating methods truly are.

How accurate is radiometric dating? Should we accept the "millions of years" scenario that easily, or are there alternate possibilities that get rejected because they don't fit an evolutionary model of origins?

The Grand Canyon:

The age of the earth is not a purely academic matter. The deepest held values and beliefs of many people are tied into whether the earth has been around billions - or only thousands - of years. The Bible says God created the physical universe in seven days. That doesn't leave a lot of time for life to evolve from primordial amino acids.

Where does the evidence honestly lead? On one hand, Hadrian's Wall has survived the erosional forces of wind and rain and ice for nearly 1900 years. With that in mind, it is obvious the Colorado River would have required a great deal more than 6,000 years to scratch out the Grand Canyon. On the other hand, perhaps the mighty Colorado River did not carve the Grand Canyon at all. Consider, mud flows after the eruption of Mount St. Helens gouged sizeable canyons through solid rock in just a few days…


The measurable breakdown of radioactive isotopes, like the Grand Canyon, appear to give an ancient age for the Earth. Measuring the amount of uranium-238 parent material as well as the lead-206 daughter material in a zircon theoretically allows geochronologists to date the zircon in which these "before" and "after" materials are found. By comparing the derived date to that produced by U-235 and Pb-207 in the same sample, geochronologists believe they can get fairly close results.

The age-dating methods are not perfect, however. There is far less U-235 than U-238 in natural uranium, and by consensus, geochronologists have long used a U-238/U-235 ratio of 137.88 to simply calculate the amount of U-235 in a zircon rather than try to measure it. The original consensus ratio was determined to have some flaws, however, and researchers from the British Geological Survey and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently did do some careful measuring. They found the average ratio to be a more accurate 137.818 ± 0.045.

"Firstly, the consensus value of 137.88 couldn't be traced back to international standard units like the kilogram. Secondly, the old consensus ratio had no uncertainty assigned to it, [and] thirdly, the previous measurements were made on materials like uranium ores — and not on naturally occurring minerals that are routinely used for U-Pb dating studies," wrote Joe Hiess, a Marie Curie ITN Experienced Researcher.

This ratio adjustment would take a few hundred thousand years off the widely accepted view of the planet's age. That's not much, but it does raise a question: how many other dating method particulars have been accepted by consensus while including glaring flaws?

Humans Were Human Earlier Than Thought

From Koinonia House
Science artists love to depict early humankind as intelligent apes – standing upright, but hairy in a specifically primate-looking fashion, eyes and ears high on the head.  Yet, as paleoanthropologists uncover more information about ancient humans, the evidence consistently points toward a race of beings that were intelligent and capable, different from anatomically modern humans primarily in that they camped out in caves.  Recent discoveries show that fire was tamed by the earliest of humans, and they used it for more than just keeping warm.

Researchers from Boston University found ash and bone remnants in Wonderwerk Cave in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, according to details published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.  The ash and bones and been heated to nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (500 C) in what appear to be a consistent series of controlled fires 100 feet inside the cave.  The site has been dated to the early Acheulean period, about a million years ago, a time when Homo erectus (Homo ergaster in Africa) was busy making tools.  Whether the dating of the site is absolute or relative in the timeline of human history, it does offer strong evidence that humans were using fire to cook their food much earlier than previously thought. 

Prior to this discovery, there were indications that humans used fire as early as 1.5 million years ago, but most paleoanthropologists agreed that only the 400,000-year-old use of fire could be well-established.  It is well known that Neanderthals and modern humans used fire; it appears that early Homo erectus was able to control fire as well.

Paleoanthropologists commonly place H. erectus at between 1.9 million and 143 thousand years ago, when these early humans lived in groups found in spots from Indonesia and China all the way to the southern tip of Africa. Because the brain cases of H. erectus were on average smaller than the brains of people today (yet within the modern-day range of brain size), with thicker face and jaw bones, artists often portray H. erectus with ape-like features.  Yet, the evidence has long demonstrated that these early men were just as human as the humans of today.  We cannot go back in time and have a conversation with them, but we can examine the tools they left behind, and they were not the handiwork of a people who were intellectually defective.
Homo erectus craftsmen chiseled tools from stone in a distinctive teardrop or oval shape, chipping stone hand axes and other cutting tools from the earliest time of their known existence.  The cutting tools were used to butcher the large animals they hunted.  The H. erectus people are always described as hunters and gatherers, yet their tools also included picks, which means they also spent time digging in the ground.  While the "cave man" has long assumed to have been intellectually weak, the sophistication of the artifacts indicates otherwise.  
While there has been question about whether H. erectus could communicate as we do today, this people did have a human hyoid bone.  Also, the Broca's area of the H. erectus brain was like that of modern humans, according to studies of skull endocasts done by Thomas Wynn.  Scientists have been slow to agree that H. erectus communicated just as well as we do (perhaps better), but the paleoanthropological community has also been reluctant to agree that Neanderthals sat around chatting, and Neanderthals had larger brains than modern man.  Considering their sophisticated tool production, sufficient brains and a hyoid bone, there seems to be little reason to believe that H. erectus did not use spoken language, except for the same assumptions about early man that cause the artists to draw him looking like an upright chimpanzee.

Red Deer Cave People
Even modern man gets sketched as ape-like because he is determined to have "primitive" features.  A recent article on the Red Deer Cave People in Southwest China published in last week's China Daily shows a fine ape-man pencil drawing at the top, even though the Red Deer Cave People were dated to less than 15,000 years ago, nearly 60,000 years after the time when scientists say men were using fire to blacksmith tools.  According to the common paleoanthropology timeline, these are young humans who should look anatomically modern, yet they have "archaic-looking" parietal lobes, large molars, and thick skull bones – qualities that H. erectus also shared. The most important difference is their lack of a strong modern human chin.  "They look very different from all modern humans, whether alive today or in Africa 150,000 years ago," Darren Curnoe of the University of New South Wales told the BBC.
The Red Deer Cave People were also tool makers that used shovels and stone hammers. Even pyramids and quartz stone-cutting tools have been found in their isolated Asian home.
"It is not rare to see fossils that carry both early and modern Homo sapien traits. In the same era, there were many human groups in China. Red Deer Cave people could just be ordinary Chinese," an anonymous paleoanthropologist in China told reporters.
The skulls of modern humans are relatively similar, but that does not mean that ancient people who had different skull characteristics were any less human than we are.  It simply indicates that certain human family groups died out while one group lived on. 
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By Rick Frueh  
I remain simply astounded at the response to my posts on nationalism, patriotism, and idolatry. I am convinced the Spirit is actively doing a work of grace in many, many hearts. Just so everyone knows where I am in my journey I want to share. But do not think that your perspective has to mirror mine, or that you will be bullied if you are in a different place. But it would be edifying for brothers and sisters to sharpen each other´s iron.  
I was brought up in a middle class home that went to a Lutheran church. I was baptized as an infant and I went for three years to catechism after which I was confirmed as a member. But I was still lost. But I was raised in a common patriotic family who watched the 4th of July parade and voted Republican. We always displayed a flag on the fourth.  
But in 1975 I was born again. My life was changed and I was delivered from drugs and immorality and violence. But one thing that did not change was my patriotic perspective. I never questioned it and since all the new believers I met were also patriotic Americans it just seemed like a non-issue. And even after I became a pastor I held patriotic services on the fourth of July weekend. I can remember pledging allegiance to the flag on that Sunday as well as singing a couple patriotic songs. We were good American Christians.  
During those years I can remember listening to radio and television people who held "conservative" political perspectives. Some would castigate the "liberals" and mock and berate them. And since being a politically active conservative seemed to be the evangelical way, I never questioned the Biblical nature of such verbiage.  
When Iraq invaded Kuwait I can remember the patriotic pitch rising dramatically, and even in evangelical churches there was a frothing of the mouth concerning the coming war. The emotions ran high, and if someone even questioned all it they were considered liberal or at least some 60´s hippie throwback. And I can remember listening to the radio and television updates about how the coalition (America) was winning the war. Even the phrase "shock and awe" was a rallying cry!  
It was around that time that men like Rush Limbaugh began what we now call talk radio and now talk television. And since we were all patriotic Americans who revered the Constitution and the founding fathers, we didn´t notice the caustic and self righteous rhetoric. Mocking liberals and demeaning jokes about President Clinton were commonplace and accepted even among preachers. The snowball got bigger and bigger and the evangelical church became very smug and self assured.  
But in the late 1990´s something began to eat at my insides. I could not put my foot on it but something just seemed wrong with all the saber rattling and incendiary language. I would speak with my best friend about it and he too was feeling uncomfortable. One day he asked me for Scriptural support for a violent overthrow of the American government if we disagreed with its tax policy. I thought he had lost it! I told him there was absolutely no Scriptural grounds for violence over money, none. Then he asked me why then would God support the Revolutionary War? And where was Scriptural support for that war? I was stunned. I had never even considered the Scriptural validity of the Revolutionary War. In the crowd I ran with that would have been considered treasonous just to ask such a question. In some circles it still is.  
I did a study of the New Testament just to allow the Spirit to guide me without any preconceived attitudes. It soon became obvious, I had been sold a bill of goods.  
Our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone. To pledge allegiance to any earthly government is a form of spiritual treason. It does not mean you are not saved or that you do not love the Lord Jesus, but it does mean you are blind to that form of open idolatry. If we are to be honest, it is indefensible. But I was blind and I had to repent. And I would suffer criticism and even verbal persecution from some who were my friends. It was surprising how personally believers take even a discussion in this realm.  
And then there was the battle of self righteousness and any air of superiority. Whenever the Spirit guides me into a truth that substantially changes the way I think and behave, the devil and my flesh immediately urge me to feel superior to others with whom I had agree not too long ago. Isn´t the flesh such a diabolical and clever enemy? I still need to guard against that kind of feeling.  
And in November of 2000 I cast my last vote for George Bush. And during the last 12 years I have examined many things concerning politics and the New Testament. While we are called to obey the authorities, we are never called to join with them. Politics is an unholy alliance of the saved and the unsaved. And when we resort to the ballot box, we dilute the gospel. The world sees us involved in changing the outside of the cup and subsequently they are not confronted with the eternal aspect of the gospel message. They see us as a moral religion not a faith of redemption.  
So now I ask for your thoughts... - Rick Frueh.