December 2006 - Posts
Yesterday, the family and I went out to buy a Christmas tree. Yes, it's a little late. But it seems to be a family tradition to, umm, run late.
We went to Lowe's. I had every intention of marching in there and telling them that I refused to pay more than twenty dollars for a Christmas tree just 3 days before the holiday. We walked into the garden center and, as I walked up to the associate working there, Mrs. Napalm tugged at my shirt. There was a sign on a post: "Any Christmas tree. $5." Any Christmas tree?
, I asked the employee. Sure enough, any tree. Some of the trees that were previously priced at $60 or $70 were now only five dollars! We selected one of the most beautiful frasier firs on display -- full of needles and well proportioned. They even trimmed the bottom off and wrapped it.
We took it home immediately to let it drink deeply from lots of fresh, cool water. You would've thought that the tree would be thankful; but, you'd have thought wrong. We tried and tried to get the tree to stand upright in the stand. We lifted, twisted and coersed. But everything we tried failed. The half-dead tree now sits in the corner of the living room leaning perilously toward the wall with a single strand of lights and two ornaments on it. It also drops about five pounds of needles every hour despite our loving kindness.
I guess that's what you get for five dollars, huh?
Anyway, we intend to have a great time around it opening presents on Christmas morning. It's a memory that won't be forgotten for a long, long time. And that's what I wish for you and your family. I hope that you will find joy this Christmas. You won't find it in your gifts. You won't find it in family members traveling from afar. And you certainly won't find it in a five-dollar Christmas tree taunting you in the corner of your living room.
You will find joy by starting at the Nativity. "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel -- which means 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:23, NIV)
Have a merry Christmas and I'll see you on the other side of Christmas!
You can begin the journey here: Part I
, Part II
- Unidentified Map Fragments II. If you found the first one, you should easily find this one. The website is not asking where you found the map, but what city or town the map references.
- Unidentified Map Fragments III. While looking for the 2nd fragment, go ahead and search for this one, too. All of the maps are in the same collection.
- Unidentified Map Fragments IV. Each of these four maps has a number and a title. The title is especially important for this map. Some of the readers got hung up on this one.
Up until now the tip book has been extremely helpful. It provides a headstart. Over the holidays, I expect to sit down and figure out who the trustees are. If you don't know what I'm talking about, purchase the tip book by clicking here
. We'll need to know eventually to get to the treasure.
- "Lama barn goings". OK, enough is enough. I'm going to tackle this one over the next day or so. I'm going to start here: [Link].
- Hieroglyphics. Again, I solved the clue, but have not had time to research the answer. If you're still having problems, email me.
- The image at the bottom of page six. This alludes to another secret website that right now has no real significance. Hint: Similar to the page 90 cipher -- but it's not a cipher.
- The coin on page 91. It seems to point to a website, but I can't discern the letters.
There are three new map fragments up today. I will edit this post as we are able to discover the location of each map.
Feel free to email clues, questions or answers to email@example.com. I will share with the rest of the group.
There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
I have been told that Heaven looks a lot like the Great Smoky Mountains. In particular, there is a cabin beside a rolling stream in a secluded holler that looks just like our heavenly home. It could be untrue, but I reason that it isn't.
Have you surveyed the Grand Canyon from the South Rim? Have you witnessed a sunset in the Pisgah National Forest? Have you wondered at the views in Yellowstone? Have you ever stood on a mountaintop overlooking a vast expanse of wilderness? If so, two experiences will strike you to silence.
First, you cannot witness those spectacular views without a nod to the idea that there is a tremendous amount of order. Sure, it's wild. And the prospect of being lost in the backcountry is a little disconcerting, but it is not chaotic -- there are physical rules to which everything submits. It doesn't matter if you are in Tibet or if you are in Alabama. There are rules; and there is order.
The second experience that you cannot avoid at the loftiest of heights is the amazement of grandeur. If you have had the opportunity to hike to a spectacular view -- or pulled over to an overlook on the side of the road -- you're heart swells as you gaze upon the glory and magnificence.
By seeing the creation, you are witnessing the handiwork of the Creator. It's no different than looking at a painting. They both testify that an artist exists. And they both give a glimpse into the personality of the artist. This is called "general revelation."
This panorama forces you to choose between two options. Ignoring it isn't an option. Therefore, you have to choose to be foolish (stupidly foolish or elaborately foolish); or, you have to say that there is a Creator and that he is orderly and grand.
OK, back to the Liberty 101 series. You can find part one below or by clicking here.
In part one of the two-part series I defined "democracy". In part two, I hope to focus on what defines a republic and how the difference between it and a democracy is important today.
Again, democracy literally means the ruling of the majority. In a country with kind and compassionate citizens, democracy could be a good thing. But anyone can read the history of human nature and find it filled with evil deeds. Alexander Hamilton wrote the following concerning democracy:
It has been observed that a pure democracy, if it were practicable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselves deliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny: Their figure deformity.
The United States has been called the "Great Experiment in self-government." The experiment is to answer the question, "Can self-governing people coexist and prevail over government agencies that have no authority over the People?" In a democracy, the sovereignty lies in the whole body of the free citizens. But in our republic, the sovereignty resides in the people themselves -- one or many. We can act on our own or elect representatives to solve a problem. However, our representatives (who we "hire" and work for us) perform tasks under the rule of law, specifically, the Constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution gives our representatives specific directions. They are to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
Because of the rule of law, lawmaking in a republic is a slow and deliberate process. There is no mob laying down the law of the day. Our republic rests balanced on a three-branch system, with each branch designed to keep the others in check. The legislators make the laws. The executive officers enforce and administer those laws. And the judiciary decides whether the imposition of these laws are proper and in agreement with the “contract” between the people and government known as the Constitution.
How does the difference between a democracy and republic affect us today? John Adams writes, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Nothing in our Constitution comes close to suggesting that government grants rights. In fact, the Constitution recognizes that Congress is the greatest threat to our rights. It uses negative phrases against Congress like: shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. Instead, government is a protector of rights.
For a very recent debate about an un-democratic mechanism, look at the criticism of the Electoral College in the 2000 Presidential election. Our founders gave us the Electoral College so large, heavily populated states could not run over small, slightly populated ones -- keeping popular opinion and rash decisions in check.
Dr. Walter E. Williams, Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, writes this:
Here's my question: Do Americans share the republican values laid out by our founders, and is it simply a matter of our being unschooled about the differences between a republic and a democracy? Or is it a matter of preference and we now want the kind of tyranny feared by the founders where Congress can do anything it can muster a majority vote to do? I fear it's the latter.
Next in the Liberty 101
series: Rule of Man versus Rule of Law.
Zach, thank you very much for the banner above. You did a great job. It's nice the spruce the place up a bit. So, here's your virtual pistol wink! ::wink::
Runner-up: ScoutMom. ScoutMom actually submitted two -- one with a Christmas tree and one without. It was a tough choice, but the academy had to choose one.
Please swing by the comments and give a "thank you" to Zach and ScoutMom. Our just stop by and air out your grievances.
See the beginning of the walkthrough here: [Link
- Unidentified map fragment. The link to the map is on this blog. Search and you may find a helpful website. The answer is clear when you get there.
My current disjointed clues. Please, I need your help.
- The Morse code on page 87 does say "lama barn goings". It is much clearer in the actual catalog. I have researched this clue and have discovered that it is an anagram. It is three words that possibly directs us to a secret web site. It may be a redundant clue. It is ridiculously simply. And, finally, it doesn't have ".org" in the answer. I'm stumped for now.
- This weekend, my family translated the hieroglyphics on page 108. As of now, the clue makes no sense, but we're looking. To solve the hieroglyph clue, use this website [Link]. Hint: It is extremely important to not only understand the deciphering phonetics, but also how to read them. Chew on this for a day and email me if you're completely stumped. (Note, this problem made me really appreciate seeing the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum.)
- The image at the bottom of page 6 is a clue. I haven't even looked at it in depth. Can someone start on that one?
- Look at the coins on page 91. One of them obviously has ".com" spelled out in reverse order on the bottom edge. Again, I need help on this one.
Keep hunting. I want one of those coins! ;)
1. Today is Bill of Rights Day. You may ask, "So how do I celebrate?". Well, after the Constitution was written, the document went on a tour of the United States for approval by the states. We all know it's a keen document -- quite possibly one of the greatest documents in all of history. But, when the Constitution made rounds through the state delegations, some people would not approve it without an addendum with a bill of rights. So, the Bill of Rights is a concession -- or condescension -- by the founders in order for the Constitution to be approved. Sure, this is a simplified view, but it does outline the beginnings of the Bill of Rights.
So, back to how we should celebrate: Today, condescend to a liberal.
2. Where is napalm? Despite blaring "Ride of the Valkyries" from a loudspeaker mounted on a UH-1 Huey, and the famous "Charlie don't surf" quote, this movie just plain sucked. Nevertheless, I still love this: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning..." [Link]. And, yes, I have a cav hat. And, yes, I have smoked a cigar while wearing it. That's how I roll.
3. I'd like to thank ScoutMom and Zach for submitting the banner with George Washington wearing a Santa hat. I have submitted a picture to our webmaster to be posted. Unfortunately, this is a part-time job for us all, so it may still be a few days before you see it.
4. And, finally, the Jamestown 400 Treasure Hunt. I found an obscure blog the other day at homeschoolblogger.com or something like that where a lady had posted that she had found two other secret websites. She said that they were both somehow stated in the catalog. She also knew who the three trustees of the treasure were, but didn't know what the treasure was.
Personally, I'm stuck where most everyone else who reads this blog is. I've been fooling around with "lama barn goings" for a while. It seems to me that it's an anagram. I don't want to set anyone on a wild goose chase, but it does have ".org" in it. And I keep going back to the clue that we must be "an indispensable man." Hmm.
Also, concerning posting answers: If you don't want to see the answers, then don't look at the comments. Steeple Media is a tight-knit group of like-minded people working on several projects at a time. We had some members in the AOL Gold Rush finals. We're sharing answers in the TenHunt.com contests; and, if you look around, you'll find clues and answers to other games. By posting answers, we are not breaking any implied or explicit rule. Obviously, at the request of a Vision Forum Ministries spokesperson, I would discontinue. But for now, play ball!
I am learning a tremendous amount from researching and investigating the questions and clues in the treasure hunt. Just the other day, my mom (Yes, she's in on the hunt) called and said she found a book about George Washington's spy ring. A few nights ago, I was up until nearly midnight reading about Elias Boudinot, the first president of the Continental Congress. (Did you know he thought that the American Indians were descendents of the "lost tribes of Israel"? Is this where the Mormons get their misguided history?)
And, finally, this blog has turned quite a few people onto Vision Forum and their treasure hunt. How many of you didn't know about it until you read it here?
"Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit softly." - Theodore Roosevelt, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands" -- so begins the Pledge of Allegiance. Today, I will begin to explain the difference between a democracy and a republic. And, more importantly, we will discover that knowing the difference is decidedly vital to the future of the United States.
James Madison discussed in his Federalist Paper #10 the effect of democracy. He wrote:
Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of Government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions and their passions.
As you can see, James Madison would never have wanted a democracy as the form of government for his new nation. In fact, for fear of forming a democracy, Madison -- as well as Alexander Hamilton -- supported the formation of a constitutional monarchy.
In simplest terms, democracy is government by the majority (also known derisively as "mobocracy"). In a pure democracy, 51% rules. Therefore, democracies are free only if the people know what freedom is and are consistent in their exercise of it. If the majority of people don't know freedom or exercise it properly, then a democracy could be just as despotic as the worst dictator. Many of the sources of information that I used pointed to the forced execution of Socrates in the Athenian democracy simply because the people found him intolerable.
The biggest difference between a democracy and a republic is how each defines individual rights. Our Republic's Declaration of Independence states, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." In a democracy citizens do not enjoy God-given rights, only civil rights (privileges) granted by a condescending majority. An article by Alexander Marriott in Capitalism Magazine (www.capmag.com) explains the problem with democracies concerning rights, specifically rights of the minority. Mr. Marriott concludes:
In the long run, a democracy will always become a tyranny, either by majority, or if the majority screw things up so badly and a tyrant seizes power from the ensuing chaos. The overriding characteristic of democracy is subjectivism and that is its fatal flaw. In other words, reason is irrelevant, whatever the majority wants, it gets and regardless of how unprincipled or objectionable it may be. Rights cannot exist in such a system in the long run because they can be voted away on a whim at any time.
To be continued.
OK, let's run this thing full sail!
I've conferred with the readers and deliberated. It seems the consensus is to
share not share answers. I took your comments into advisement and have decided that we will share answers here. I prefer to do it here on this blog -- in the comments.
Unless absolutely necessary, provide how one can find the answer without specifically giving the answer. See the examples below.
The rules of this blog concerning the Jamestown 400 treasure hunt:
- My intention is to not hijack Vision Forum's treasure hunt. I strongly encourage you to patronize their website, order a catalog and purchase the tip book. Steeple Media does not benefit monetarily in any way and is not affiliated with Vision Forum Ministries. It's just the right thing to do.
- If I win the coins (and that's a huge IF), I will reinvest a portion of the winnings in Steeple Media; I will buy something expensive from the Vision Forum catalog; and I will bank the rest.
- If you win the coins because of mining tips from this site, I ask that you send me one of the coins. 1/400th of the winnings is a small price to pay for the service that we provide.
WARNING: SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT. IF YOU DO NOT SEEK ANSWERS, DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT.
So, that aside, here's where I stand as of today:
- Solve the cryptogram on page 87 of the catalog (all pages are actual catalog pages). The solution says, "TO BEGIN THE HUNT FOR THE JAMESTOWN FOUR HUNDRED YOU MUST FIRST FIND THE NAME FOR THE SECRET WEB SITE."
- Solve the clue on page 81 that directs you to find an unremembered leader.
- Notice the brown letters in the catalog? Look at the "m" in "them" in the quote on page 3. See it now? Search the catalog for the letters that spell out the "secret web site." Hint: Turn the catalog upside down to find the letters easier.
- Solve the Caesar cipher on page 90 of the catalog. This will direct you to the client ID. Hint: Look from a different direction.
- Indispensable man. Modernize the English and search the Internet for a portion of the quote. Hint: It's not a common name from your typical high school history book. Before this hunt, I had never heard the name. (Note: I entered the first and last name in the block and was correct. I've asked others and they told me that they only keyed the last name. I believe the website software looks for key words for all of the following answers.)
- Indefatigable man. Google the first two lines of the quote. Place the portion of the quote in quotation marks to find those specific words. In this case, modernizing the English is not necessary. The answer will stand out if you are familiar with popular historic figures. It's a very common name.
- One of Thirty-two: Part I of II. Google the message sans quotation marks. Again, the historic figure stands out among the search results. Think: the Federalist Papers.
- One of Thirty-two: Part II of II. A little tougher, but do-able. Here's an opportunity to learn some history. Hint: If you don't want to learn, the answer is in plain English on page 88 of the catalog.
- Spymaster. Again, you can do it. I can't recall specifically how I stumbled upon the answer. The CIA's website says that Agent 355 was Canadian Dominique L'Eclise, so this one threw me for a loop.
- Calendar. Too easy. No hint here.
- Calendar II. By now, you should be an expert at Caesar ciphers. Don't forget that you can use online cryptogram solvers for help. After solving the cipher, you can begin searching for the answer by clicking here.
To be continued ...
Last night I attended a Passion play put on by a local church. You can read Uncle Jesse's post about it here. The play opened up with a dramatic song and dance routine and then went into two parallel plot lines. Soon Nazi soldiers with weapons were marching out onto the stage and barking orders at concentration camp prisoners. All I could do is put my head in my hands and shake my head.
Purchase a first-person shooter for your gaming console or PC, and you'll notice that the bad guys are either aliens or ***. Evil regimes around the globe are compared to Germany's Third Reich.
OK, OK, I get it. *** were evil. But it's time we give them reprieve. Seriously, can we just forgive them and move on? This demonization has to take a toll on modern-day Germany. Without direct ties to any German people or descendents of Nazism, I can only imagine the societal effects and backlash this worldwide demonization has caused among the German people.
By continuing the demonization, we are guilty of not forgiving and holding the current German citizenship responsible for their fathers' sins. Certainly we should not minimize the Holocaust or any other Nazi atrocities. We also can't put a positive spin on many of the Nazi's policies. And, finally, we shouldn't rewrite history.
But we can forgive.
Maybe it's because I'm still peeved that "Saving Private Ryan" lost to "Shakespeare in Love" for the Academy Awards' Best Picture back in 1998. Or maybe it's because I am absolutely sick of hate-America politics. I just caught this on the Drudge Report: "LA critics vote for Clint Eastwood's 'Letters From Iwo Jima'..."
Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" was the recent film about the Americans who planted Old Glory atop Mount Suribachi when they had won the battle for Iwo Jima. It wasn't terribly exciting as far as I've read [Full disclosure: I haven't seen the film]. "Letters from Iwo Jima" was filmed concurrently to "Flags" and follows battle from the Japanese soldiers' perspective. And, of course, film critics are frothing at the second picture.
In a poorly written article at FoxNews.com [Link], entertainment commentator Roger Friedman writes the following:
But what I think will make the difference for "Iwo Jima" is that it arrives just at the right time politically in this country. "Flags of Our Fathers" had a hard time finding an audience because people thought it was rah-rah patriotic. It wasn’t, but the marketing department had trouble communicating its sometimes ambiguous message. "Iwo Jima" should be easy: War is hell. That’s it. And at the end of 2006, with soldiers coming home in body bags, this should be pretty simple to grasp.
I'm sorry Mr. Friedman, but the fact that "Flags" wasn't "rah-rah patriotic" is the reason that the film had a hard time finding an audience. Want proof? Watch Clint Eastwood's "Iwo Jima" bomb at the box office, too.
The same critics that voted down "Saving Private Ryan" are now pulling for "Iwo Jima" for Best Picture. Something's amiss. And that something is Hollywood's contempt for America. Oh, how I am disgusted by it! The same people that benefit and profit from the opportunities afforded by living in this free nation are the very people that cry about it's uncultured people, the same people that destroy lives of statesmen with lies, and the same people that hate our victories -- hoping for defeat.
Don't settle for defeat. Don't give up. Perservere. It's what heroes do.
In other news: The movie "Rocky Balboa" now has me hooked. Sure, it's probably campy and a tad silly, but I was hooked with this quote from the newest trailer:
...But it ain't about how hard you hit... it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward... how much you can take, and keep moving forward. If you know what you're worth, go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit.
That's the kind of rah-rah
for which we yearn -- keep on keepin' on.
Next page »
Well, today I ran into a dilemma that I should've foreseen. Should I post answers to the Hunt? Earlier I said that I would, but some of you have searched for hours; and it just wouldn't be fair to simply throw the answers out there for Googlers to sweep in and take the coins, would it?
I need help with this dilemma. Your comments would be appreciated.
Here's how I have approached the JT400 Hunt thus far:
1. Found the cryptogram on page 44 of the PDF catalog (all pages will be given from the downloadable PDF version). Solved the cryptogram at this website (click here
2. The solved cryptogram says that we need to search for a secret website (Treasure Hunter shared this answer with us in an earlier post). A quick search of the Internet shows that the website address is hidden in the catalog in the form of differently colored letters (Hat tip: My brother).
3. Sure enough, the "m" in "them" on page 2 (PDF) is brown. So is the "o" in "hold" on page 3. And the "c" in "B.C." on page 5 is brown, too. I found that the website address is spelled backwards. I just shared with you the last three letters -- or ".com". I've found that the easiest method for searching for the letters is too zoom in 200% or 300%. The brown letters stand out when zoomed in tight.
4. This evening, I purchased the $10 tip book [Link
]. The tip book includes 18 pages of tips, clues, maps, pictures and "special clues." Here's an excerpt from the book:
- There are clues on more than twenty pages of the Vision Forum catalog.
- At least one clue found within the Vision Forum catalog is in morse [sic] code.
- The Vision Forum catalog clues are not exclusively in English.
- The cyber-journey you will need to take involves some time-released clues.
- It is recommended that you keep a journal of your observations and discoveries.
5. Once you find the website address and visit the site, you'll see some new information open up and discover that you'll need to find some information in order to log in. That's where I'm stuck right now.
Based on my observations, this hunt looks to be incredibly more difficult than any other online treasure hunt. The tip book says that the sleuth will have to access primary source documents to unlock some puzzles. I don't share this to discourage you, but to show the importance of players guarding some critical information. Just to get to the website, many players will have devoted hours and hours of researching and detective work.
When it comes to answers, what says you?