Archive for the ‘Creation’ Category

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In:Accuracy of the Bible, Creation, Genesis, Miscellaneous

Comments Off on Is the Bible Wrong About Camels?

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

Will archeologists ever learn that questioning the reliability and accuracy of the Bible is not a good idea?

Recently, a paper was published on the use of domesticated camels in two ancient copper mines in modern-day Israel and Jordan.  The authors of the study came to the conclusion that camels were not used in the mines until the last third of the 10th century B.C.  This was then related to the Biblical account of the Patriarchs, which portrays Abraham and Jacob making use of camels circa 2000 B.C. – much earlier.  Gleefully, the press reported on the find and its supposed impact on the Bible with headlines like:

 

“Domesticated Camels Came to Israel in 930 B.C., Centuries Later Than Bible Says.”

“Camels Had No Business in Genesis.”

“Will Camel Discovery Break the Bible’s Back?”

“Camel Bones Suggest Error in Bible, Archaeologists Say.”

 

The New York Times, in reporting on the paper, said:

There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place.  Camels probably had little or no role in the lives of such early Jewish patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who lived in the first half of the second millennium B.C., and yet stories about them mention these domesticated pack animals more than 20 times.  Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.  These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history.

Despite the excitement of the press, these claims are not new.  Rather, critics of the Bible have used the domestication of camels as “proof” of the Bible’s unreliability for well over 50 years.

Are these claims accurate, or overblown?  The claims fall short on several levels.  First of all, the original study was about two copper mines in Israel and Jordan, not about the entire ancient near East (ANE).  Therefore, even if we accepted the claim that domesticated camels were not used in the entire Israel-Jordan-southern Lebanon area until the 10th century B.C., this would not tell us anything about other areas of the ANE – such as Egypt (where Abraham is said to have gotten his camels) and Mesopotamia (where he came from) – and their possible use of domesticated camels.

Secondly, just because no evidence can be found of domesticated camels does not mean that they did not exist, or that no evidence for them will be discovered in the future.  In other words, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  It is an argument from silence – a silence which may someday be broken by the discovery of solid evidence for earlier camel domestication.

Thirdly, evidence for the early domestication of camels – even before the time of Abraham – has been discovered in Egypt and Mesopotamia.  This includes artistic portrayals of domesticated camels with people riding or leading them, as well as ropes made of camel hair.  These artifacts are dated to the time of Abraham or before.  Notably, the first mention of camels in the Bible is where the Pharaoh of Egypt gives camels to Abraham.  The Bible does not portray camels as being common domesticated animals in Canaan at the time of the Patriarchs.

Fourthly, if domesticated camels were present, but rare, in Canaan earlier than the 10th century B.C., it would not be very likely that we would find physical evidence of their existence.

Fifthly, the Bible itself is an archeological artifact from the ancient world, providing textual evidence for the use of domesticated camels in the time of the Patriarchs.  If any other ancient text mentioning the use of domesticated camels earlier than the 10th century B.C. were discovered, it would be taken seriously, but the Bible is not.  Why?  Could it have to do with the religious motivations of those who do not want to submit to the requirements of the Bible?

We can conclude that the Bible is accurate in all of its statements, including those about camels.  It is those who wish to disprove it that are shown to be mistaken.

 

Sources

Holy Bible, Authorized Version

Lidar Sapir-Hen and Erez Ben-Yosef, “The Introduction of Domestic Camels to the Southern Levant: Evidence from the Aravah Valley,” Tel Aviv 40:277-285

Jake Hebert, “Genesis Camels: Biblical Error?,” www.icr.org/article/8008/ (Accessed March 4, 2014)

Rusty Osborne, “Camels and Consternations,” http://lawprophetsandwritings.com/2014/02/camels-and-consternations/ (Accessed March 4, 2014)

Kenneth Way, “Is the Bible Wrong about Camels in Genesis?,” http://thegoodbookblog.com/2014/feb/19/is-the-bible-wrong-about-camels-in-genesis/ (Accessed March 4, 2014)

Jan Verbruggen, “5 Things You Need to Know About Camels and Biblical Accuracy,” http://www.westernseminary.edu/transformedblog/2014/02/24/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-camels-and-biblical-accuracy/ (Accessed March 4, 2014)

Lita Cosner, “Camels and the Bible,” www.creation.com/camels (Accessed March 4, 2014)

 

Originally published in The Witness (March 2014).

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In:Creation, Miscellaneous

Comments Off on Mysterious Dinosaur De-Mystified!

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

If a giant shark is called Jaws, then Deinocheirus could aptly be called Arms.  For decades, little was known of this dinosaur but its enormous, terrifying, mysterious 8-foot long arms tipped with huge claws – arms so awe-inspiring that the dinosaur’s name means “Terrible Hand.”

These arms were discovered in 1965 during the Polish-Mongolian Palaeontological Expedition in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.  Along with a few ribs, vertebrae, and other scraps, the arms were all that was found of the skeleton.  A later expedition to the same site found hundreds of bone fragments, but not much more from which to reconstruct the creature’s skeleton.  What it did find was two Deinocheirus belly ribs with bite marks on them from a Tarbosaurus, a giant predatory dinosaur very similar to Tyrannosaurus rex.  This gives us a clue as to why so little of the Deinocheirus skeleton was found.

So for nearly 50 years, this animal has been a mystery.  What could it have been?  Early on, it was imagined as a giant, Allosaurus-style predator.  If its arms were the same size proportionate to its body as those of Allosaurus, we would have a gigantic theropod which would put Tyrannosaurus rex to shame!

Later analyses suggested a more mundane explanation.  The arms bore similarities to the ornithomimids, the “ostrich mimic” theropods with long necks, toothless beaks, small skulls, and long arms.  Their slight build suggests they were apt at running and they seem to have had little other defense against more aggressive theropods.  For some time, their diet was unknown as well.

So it came to be somewhat accepted by the paleontological community that Deinocheirus was an ornithomimid.  The question remained, however, of its exact size and form.  Were its arms the same size, proportionately, as other ornithomimids?  If so, Deinocheirus would be about forty feet long – the size of T. rex.  Or was it a smaller animal with disproportionately long arms?

All of these questions promise to be answered soon, as two new skeletons of Deinocheirus have been discovered near the site of the original find.  Between the two, we now have a mostly complete skeleton of Deinocheirus – missing only the end of the tail, the feet, some of the vertebrae, and the skull.  One of the specimens has an arm even larger than the original Deinocheirus arms!

So what do these new remains reveal?  They reveal that Deinocheirus was, indeed, an ornithomimid about the size of Tyrannosaurus rex.  But it was not just any old ornithomimid!  In addition to its immense size, it had another unique feature which no one had suspected – it had a sail or partial sail on its back,[1] similar to some other theropod dinosaurs such as Spinosaurus and Concavenator.  This very interesting feature adds to the thrill of finally discovering the identity of Deinocheirus.  The skeletons also reveal that whereas most ornithomimosaurs seem to have been lightly-built creatures fit for running, Deinocheirus was a heavier-built animal which probably was not as much of a runner.

Additionally, one of the skeletons was discovered with over 1,100 gastroliths, or stomach stones.  These are stones swallowed by plant-eating animals to help grind up vegetable material in the stomach to facilitate the digestion process.  This find indicates that Deinocheirus, despite its terrifying arms, was a plant-eater.

This discovery, combined with the revelation that Deinocheirus had been scavenged by a Tarbosaurus, shows that, while certainly exciting and unique, it does not displace Tyrannosaurus rex from its long-held position as “tyrant lizard king.”

We eagerly await the publication of the description of the new Deinocheirus material, at which time we will be able to learn more about this long-standing paleontological mystery.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).

 

Sources

Holy Bible, Authorized Version

Halszka Osmólska & Ewa Roniewicz, “Deinocheiridae, A New Family of Theropod Dinosaurs,” Palaeontologica Polonica 21:5-19

Phil R. Bell, Philip J. Currie, & Yuong-Nam Lee, “Tyrannosaur feeding traces on Deinocheirus (Theropoda:?Ornithomimosauria) remains from the Nemegt Formation (Late Cretaceous), Mongolia,” Cretaceous Research 37 (October 2012):186-190

Yuong-Nam Lee, Rinchen Barsbold, Philip Currie, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, & Hang-Jae Lee, “New Specimens of Deinocheirus mirificus from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia,” Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology October 2013 supplement, p. 161

 

[1] Or possibly a fleshy hump.

 

Originally published in The Witness (March 2014).

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In:Accuracy of the Bible, Creation, Miscellaneous

Comments Off on Walking Up the Geologic Column

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

 

Fossil footprints and trackways are found all over the world, left by many different types of animals.  They are normally found running along the surfaces of sedimentary layers, showing the locomotion of animals across the tops of soft layers of mud.

 

However, discovery of an unusual trackway breaks these normal rules.  The trackway was discussed in the latest issue of Creation Matters, a publication of the Creation Research Society.

 

Near Slick Rock, Colorado, the trackway is actually three trackways – the tracks of three individual animals.  The footprints are in the Middle Jurassic rocks of the Entrada Sandstone or the Junction Creek Sandstone – allegedly 120-150 million years old, by evolutionary dates.  These rocks are under the Morrison Formation, a Jurassic layer famous for its allosaurs, stegosaurs, and sauropods.  Joe Taylor, a creationist paleontologist who was involved in studying the trackways, described the layer they were in: “It is a whitish-gray layer seen for miles and miles under the generally red layers above, which look to be possibly 200 feet thick or more.”

 

What is unique about these new trackways is that the animals which made them did not walk across the geologic layers, but up them.  Terry Beh, author of the article, wrote, “There are three distinct trackways of varying lengths, which ascend vertically across several bedding planes of a 15- to 20-feet-thick exposure of Junction Creek Sandstone…The left side trackway…consists of at least 10 footprints and crosses the entire face of the exposure, including four separate beds, and extends up and over the topmost, cross-bedded layer.”

 

What does this mean?  If an animal can ascend vertically across the rock layers and leave footprints in them, that means that these layers were all soft when it walked across them.  If they were all soft at the same time, that means that the rock layers had to have been laid down almost simultaneously.  Joe Taylor said, “Since these layers, all six visible feet of them, had to all be wet and soft at the time the dinosaurs ran up them, it means that they cannot possibly have taken hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of years to form.  All of the dozens of ¼“ thick layers comprising the track ways, had to be laid down at the same time with no erosion between them. There is however, a layer at the top about 16 inches thick that is a cross-bed. But, it too was soft, as the tracks make the same impressions in it as the lower layers.”

 

This conclusion does not just affect our view of a few local Colorado rock outcroppings.  The rock layers that these tracks were found in extend great distances; the Junction Creek Sandstone covers parts of all of the Four Corners states, with a wide distribution in western Colorado.  These tracks show that the entire extent of the whole set of layers had to be soft, all at the same time.  Joe Taylor said, “Given their vast extent, this requires a massive, massive deposition at one time by liquid mud.”

 

Thus, the evolutionary idea that these rock layers were laid down slowly over thousands or millions of years by small river floods is discredited.  However, the creationist idea that the geologic rock layers containing dinosaurs and their footprints were laid down simultaneously during the Flood of Noah’s day is supported.

 

What type of animal made these footprints?  The locals call them “cat tracks.”  This would be a major challenge for the evolutionary timescale, because cats were not supposed to have evolved by the Jurassic.  Unfortunately, the tracks are too eroded to discern for sure what type of animal made them.  While showing the similarity in shape between the Slick Rock tracks and modern cougar prints, Terry Beh concludes that the tracks were probably made by a prosauropod or a similar type of dinosaur.  Joe Taylor said, “It looks like a bipedal [two-footed] animal made the tracks. There were at least three individuals moving side by side up the soft wet sand layers.”

 

Once again, the discoveries of science have confirmed the Biblical account found in Genesis and have discredited atheistic “millions-of-years” speculations.

 

Sources

 

Holy Bible, Authorized Version

 

Terry P. Beh, “Unique Trackway in Middle Jurassic Rocks Defies Evolution,” Creation Matters 19(1) (January/February 2014)

 

Casey G. Dick, “New Stratigraphic Interpretations of the Jurassic ‘Junction Creek Sandstone,’ Upper Gunnison Basin, Colorado,” poster presentation

 

Joe Taylor, personal communication

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

What does studying rotten fish have to do with paleontology? Surprising as it may seem, results of a recent study on the decay of fish carcasses may shed much light on some evolutionary claims. Three scientists from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom published their research recently in the scientific journal Nature. They were investigating how decay might affect identification in the cases of some supposedly primitive fish-like fossils, such as Cathaymyrus, Metaspriggina, Pikaia, and the Canadian and Chinese yunnanozoans. It has been generally assumed by evolutionists that the decay that may have affected the fossilized animals was random – that is, there was no particular pattern of decay that would have affected identification. Allegedly primitive and advanced characters, or those that are “informative” or “uninformative” for identification would rot away pretty much randomly and not affect identification. Is this a valid assumption? The three University of Leicester scientists put it to the test. The scientists watched the decay of representatives of two types of fish-like creatures, both of which were supposedly advanced or “crown” members of their groups. They collected samples of juvenile lampreys (Lampetra fluviatilis), which are vertebrates of the petromyzontid group, from the River Ure in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom. They also used specimens of Branchiostoma, a fish-like chordate, a group supposedly closely related to vertebrates. These specimens were collected from the coastal waters of Argelès-sur-Mer, France. All of the specimens were killed by a poison overdose, using a chemical which would not adversely affect the decay bacteria. The dead fish were then placed in clear containers filled with water – artificial sea water for Branchiostoma, and filtered, deionised water for the lampreys. The containers were sealed shut and the decay was monitored. The researchers “destructively sampled three individuals of each species at intervals that were varied to capture rapid early decay and later, slower stages” (reference #1). The results of this research were fascinating. The researchers found that as the supposedly “crown” chordate and “crown” vertebrates decayed, they lost their so-called advanced features first, and the “uninformative” features, which these animals supposedly evolved first, were very decay-resistant. This made the carcasses look more and more primitive as they decayed, and the “crown” vertebrate and “crown” chordate decayed until they both looked like “stem chordates.” This means that if the greatly decayed lamprey was fossilized and later discovered, it would be identified by evolutionists as a primitive chordate, when in reality it was what was left after a “crown” petromyzontid (juvenile) had rotted. An article in the same issue of the journal Nature, discussing the results of the study, summarized it well: “Decomposition and the loss of morphological features have the effect of making a fossil seem less evolved than the organism was in life, and therefore closer to an ancestral (stem) position on an evolutionary tree” (#2 in our reference list). The authors of the original study show that the rotten fish they studied really did look similar to some of the supposedly primitive fossil fish-like animals: “The fossil Cathaymyrus…[is thought to be] a stem chordate. However, when viewed in light of the decay bias we have identified, Cathaymyrus is comparable to Branchiostoma at an advanced state of decay…” (emphasis added, from #1 on our reference list). The implications of this are important. The supposed primitive ancestors of vertebrates, including taxa such as Cathaymyrus, Metaspriggina, Pikaia, and the Canadian and Chinese yunnanozoans, may simply be the decayed remnants of more “advanced” looking creatures. Because of this possibility, these fossils cannot be identified confidently, and no evolutionary claims can be made from them. In the meantime, we can have full confidence about the true origin of the first vertebrates, among which were sea dragons, fish, and birds: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:20-21).

Thanks to paleontologist Joe Taylor for bringing this research to my attention.

Sources

1. “Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation,” by Robert S. Sansom, Sarah E. Gabbot, & Mark A. Purnell, Nature 463:797-800

2. “Decay distorts ancestry,” by Derek E. G. Briggs, Nature 463:741-743

3. “Rotten Paleontology,” by Ian Juby, Creation/Evolution News, February 25, 2010, www.ianjuby.org/feb25_2010.html (Accessed February 24, 2010)

4. “Novel studies of decomposition shed new light on our earliest fossil ancestry (w/ Video),” www.physorg.com/news184141780.html (Accessed February 24, 2010)

 

Originally published in The Witness March 2010.

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

What were mammoth hunters like? Most people have the idea that mammoth hunters were hunched-over, brutish creatures, lugging stone clubs around, communicating with grunts, and wearing next to nothing. Much scientific research has shown that this view is quite inaccurate. Most recently, research on the Clute Mammoth has come to light which seriously challenges the view of mammoth hunters as ignorant, half-ape creatures. In May of 2003, the remains of a Columbian Mammoth (nicknamed “Asiel,” meaning “created by God”) were discovered in a commercial sandpit in Clute, Texas. The creature was excavated by Texas A&M University, and creationist paleontologist Joe Taylor was involved in the research as well. Bones of various other Ice Age animals – such as deer, sloth, turtle, whale, etc. – were also found in the pit. Three objects found with the mammoth were much more important than the mammoth itself. On the last day of the dig (February 22, 2004) a wooden bowl was discovered! Amazing! Did mammoth hunters make wooden bowls? This discovery implies they did! Unfortunately, the bowl was not found in situ – the excavator disturbed the context and found the bowl later. Evolutionary scientists believe the bowl came from the same sand layer the mammoth was found in, but about five feet higher than the mammoth. They think the bowl is about 61,000 years younger than the mammoth. The facts surrounding the site strongly suggest this could not be true. In 2006, the bones and some bags of soil from the site were sent to the fossil laboratories of the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, where Joe Taylor works. He re-identified many of the bones and also looked through the bags of soil. What he discovered in the sand bags (which apparently had not been thoroughly searched for bones and artifacts) was even more shocking than the wooden bowl! In one bag, he found what appeared to him to be a shard of pottery! Mammoth hunters making pottery? This certainly does not fit our image of cave men! Upon closer inspection, the pottery had a cross-weaved pattern and appeared to have been fired; Taylor thought it looked like a woven grass bowl which had layers of clay added to it and was then fired on both sides. A Texas Tech scientist thin-sectioned the piece and found that Taylor was exactly right – it was a piece of low-fired pottery with plant inclusions. He even found a head of grain in it. Another amazing discovery was yet to be made. Searching through a bag of black rocks from the site, Joe Taylor found a piece which was not a rock but looked like pottery! But who ever heard of black pottery? Taylor later found out that there was black clay in Mexico which was used for pottery production. The piece from Texas looked like it had been used as a tool – it was worked on every surface. Up until now, very little has been published on this important site. Now, much of the research has been summarized from a creationist perspective in a new book edited by Joe Taylor. Titled The Prehistoric Wooden Bowl and the Mammoth Found With It, the well-illustrated, 17-page book briefly summarizes the facts about and the controversy surrounding the site. Were the bowl and the mammoth buried at the same time? Did mammoth hunters make pottery and wooden bowls? All this and more are discussed in the book and also in the latest issue of Joe Taylor’s magazine, Mt. Blanco Fossil News. Joe Taylor summarizes the site’s importance as follows: “The Clute mammoth site is important because it gives evidence of lowered sea levels right after the Flood, allowing this mammoth, bowl and pottery to be buried 15 feet below sea level. The bowl is unique in North America. [Evolutionary paleontologist] Dr. Waters says it was washed in later at a higher level, but this layer was destroyed before anyone saw it, therefore it being at the same level cannot be ruled out. Even at that, there are lenses in the strata where within four feet, the level can vary as much as 8 inches. The pottery was at the same level as the mammoth bones. So, they show the same thing as the bowl.  All the remains there were typical ‘Ice Age’ animals.  A&M University got a date of 66,000 years old with thermoluminescence of the sand around the mammoth. We C-14 dated the bones and tusks and got dates of 5,900 and 5,400.” The Bible clearly tells us of the technological sophistication of early men. Before the Flood, they built cities (Genesis 4:17), made metal tools (Genesis 4:22), and played musical instruments (Genesis 4:21). To a creationist, it is not surprising to find a wooden bowl and two pieces of pottery in a post-Flood, Ice Age context, but some evolutionists may have a hard time accepting this level of sophistication in “primitive” Ice Age man.

Sources

1. Holy Bible, Authorized Version 2. The Prehistoric Wooden Bowl and the Mammoth Found With It, edited by Joe Taylor 3. Mt. Blanco Fossil News, issue 4

All illustrations used with this article used by permission of Joe Taylor.

To order a copy of the book on the Clute Mammoth, send a check in the amount of $12 to Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum, P.O. Box 550, Crosbyton, TX 79322.

Originally published in The Witness June 2011.

By Andrew V. Ste. Marie

 

            Evolutionists have hyped for many years the so-called fishapods – animals that are basically lobe-finned sarcopterygian fish (like coelacanths) but which have heads similar to some amphibian tetrapods (four-legged animals).  These fishapods (formally known as elpistostegids) have been claimed to be transitional forms between fish and tetrapods – sometimes, as in the case with Tiktaalik, with incredible fanfare.

            The case that these fish are transitional forms is not very convincing on its own.  However, newly published research on tetrapod trackways fromPolandmakes this scenario even less believable.

            Evolutionists believe that the elpistostegids lived 386-380 million years ago (mya).  Supposedly, the oldest known tetrapods lived around 375 mya.  New tetrapod trackways, however, have been found in Poland– in rocks believed by the evolutionists to have been made 395 mya.  The scientific paper in the journal Nature which discussed the findings said that these trackways were “well-preserved and securely dated tetrapod tracks…approximately 18 million years older than the earliest tetrapod body fossils and 10 million years earlier than the oldest elpistostegids.”  This shows that the elpistostegids could not have been the ancestors of the tetrapods, since tetrapods already existed by the evolutionist’s own reckoning!

            It is not surprising that these tracks, which undermine the much-heralded transitional status of the elpistostegids (especially Tiktaalik) have aroused a bit of concern among evolutionists.  ScienceNOW has reported that “Other paleontologists are taken aback by the discovery of the tracks. ‘We thought we’d pinned down the origin of limbed tetrapods,’ says Jennifer Clack of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.  ‘We have to rethink the whole thing.’”  It is true – they do need to rethink their story, for these tracks are a real thorn in their side when it comes to telling the story of tetrapod evolution.  This is a good time to reflect on the truth of Genesis 1:25.  “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”  This is the truth about the origin of limbed tetrapods!

            Interestingly, ScienceNOW reports that “the surface around the tracks is amazingly well preserved, with visible cracks from drying mud and the impressions of raindrops.”  Could these raindrops have been from Noah’s Flood?  “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven…For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights…all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.  And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 6:17, 7:4, 11-12).

 

 Sources

 

1. “Tetrapod trackways from the early Middle Devonian period of Poland,” by Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki, Piotr Szrek, Katarzyna Narkiewicz, Marek Narkiewicz & Per Ahlberg, Nature 463:43-48

 

2. “Ancient Four-Legged Beasts Leave Their Mark,” by Andrew Curry, ScienceNOW, www.sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2010/106/2 (Accessed January 12, 2010)

 

3. News to Note, January 9, 2010, by Answers in Genesis, www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/01/09/news-to-note-01092010 (Accessed January 12, 2010)

 

4. Creation/Evolution Newsletter, January 15, 2010, by Ian Juby, www.ianjuby.org/jan15_2010.html (Accessed January 19, 2010)

 

Originally published in The Witness February 2010.

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