Friday, May 30, 2008

Tom Harper: Was Christ's life based on pagan myths?

Comment: Was Christ's life based on pagan myths?

By W. Ward Gasque

WHEN I first met Tom Harpur just over 30 years ago, he was teaching New Testament studies at Toronto's Wycliffe College. Shortly thereafter, he left the ivory tower to become, in due course, Canada's best-known religious journalist. Since then, he has written 17 books, and several thousand articles and columns; he has also achieved high visibility as a radio and television commentator.

To say that his religious views have changed over the years would be a gross understatement. In 1970, he was an evangelically committed Anglican priest, preparing students to faithfully preach and teach the doctrines of Christianity as understood by the classic creeds of the church.

Today, his understanding of God, the world, and salvation seems to be that of a theosophist or a neo-gnostic -- though he continues to consider himself a Christian.


The Pagan Christ (Thomas Allen, 2004) is Harpur's story of his discovery of the writings of Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963), Godfrey Higgins (1771-1834) and Gerald Massey (1828-1907) -- who argued that all of the essential ideas of both Judaism and Christianity came primarily from Egyptian religion. Their thesis was that, toward the end of the third Christian century, the leaders of the church began to misinterpret the Bible.

Prior to this time, Kuhn and company maintained, no one had ever understood the Bible to be literally true, and the narrative material of the Hebrew and Greek Bible had been interpreted as symbol or myth; first among these myths was the concept of the incarnation -- i.e. that God resided within every "fully realized spiritual human being." According to this theory, the leaders of what became Christian orthodoxy made a tragic mistake by identifying this religious experience with a historical event: namely, the birth, life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

According to Harpur, there is no evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever lived. Drawing especially on the writings of Kuhn, he claims that virtually all of the details of the life and teachings of Jesus have their counterpart in Egyptian religious ideas; he also maintains that there are strong parallels between Christ's life and Greek, Hindu and Buddhist myths.

Harper does not quote any contemporary Egyptologist or recognized academic authority on world religions, nor does he appeal to any of the standard reference books, such as the magisterial three volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (2001) or any primary sources. Rather, he is entirely dependent on the work of Kuhn, who he describes as "the most erudite, most eloquent, and most convincing . . . of any modern writer on religion I have encountered in a lifetime dedicated to such matters."

Who is Alvin Boyd Kuhn? He, along with Higgins and Massey, is given the title 'Egyptologist,' and is regarded by Harpur as "one of the single greatest geniuses of the twentieth century . . . [towering] above all others of recent memory in intellect and his understanding of the world's religious." Kuhn, he writes, "has more to offer the Church than all the scholars of the Jesus Seminar together. More than John Spong . . . C.S. Lewis . . . Joseph Campbell or Matthew Fox. I remain stunned at the silence with which his writings have been greeted by scholars."

As it turns out, Kuhn was a high school language teacher who earned a PhD from Columbia University by writing a dissertation on Theosophy. A prodigious author and lecturer, he had difficulty finding a publisher for his works; most of them were self-published. His only link with an institution of higher learning was a short stint as the secretary to the president of a small college.

I sent an email to 20 of the world's leading Egyptologists, outlining the following claims put forth by Kuhn (and hence Harpur):

* That the name of Jesus was derived from the Egyptian "Iusa," which means "the coming divine Son who heals or saves".

* That the god Horus is "an Egyptian Christos, or Christ.... He and his mother, Isis, were the forerunners of the Christian Madonna and Child, and together they constituted a leading image in Egyptian religion for millennia prior to the Gospels."

* That Horus also "had a virgin birth, and that in one of his roles, he was 'a fisher of men with twelve followers.'"

* That "the letters KRST appear on Egyptian mummy coffins many centuries BCE, and . . . this word, when the vowels are filled in, is really Karast or Krist, signifying Christ."

* That the doctrine of the incarnation "is in fact the oldest, most universal mythos known to religion. It was current in the Osirian religion in Egypt at least four thousand years BCE."

Only one of the 10 experts who responded to my questions had ever heard of Kuhn, Higgins or Massey! Professor Kenneth A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool pointed out that not one of these men is mentioned in M. L. Bierbrier's Who Was Who in Egyptology (1995), nor are any of their works listed in Ida B. Pratt's very extensive bibliography on Ancient Egypt (1925/1942). Since he died in 1834, Kitchen noted, "nothing by Higgins could be of any value whatsoever, because decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs was still being finalized, very few texts were translated, and certainly not the vast mass of first-hand religious data."

Another distinguished Egyptologist wrote: "Egyptology has the unenviable distinction of being one of those disciplines that almost anyone can lay claim to, and the unfortunate distinction of being probably the one most beleaguered by false prophets." He goes on to refer to Kuhn's "fringe nonsense."

The responding scholars were unanimous in dismissing the suggested etymologies for Jesus and Christ. Professor Peter F. Dorman, of the University of Chicago, commented: "It is often tempting to suggest simplistic etymologies between Egyptian and Greek (or other languages), but similar sequences of consonants and/or vowels are insufficient to demonstrate any convincing connection."

Ron Leprohan, of the University of Toronto, pointed out that, while "sa" means "son" in ancient Egyptian and "iu" means 'to come," Kuhn/Harpur have the syntax all wrong. In any event, the name 'Iusa' simply does not exist in Egyptian. The name 'Jesus' is a Greek derivation of a Semitic name ("Jeshu'a") borne by many people in the first century.

While the image of the baby Horus with Isis has influenced the Christian iconography of Madonna and Child, this is where the similarity stops. The image of Mary and Jesus is not one of the earliest Christian images, and, at any rate, there is no evidence for the idea that Horus was virgin born. And the New Testament Mary was certainly not a goddess (like Isis).

There is no evidence for the idea that Horus was 'a fisher of men' -- or that his followers, the King's officials, were ever 12 in number. KRST is the word for "burial" ("coffin" is written "KRSW"), but there is no evidence whatsoever to link this with the Greek title "Christos" or the Hebrew "Mashiah".

There is no mention of Osiris in Egyptian texts until about 2350 BC; so Harpur's reference to the origins of Osirian religion is off by more than a millennium and a half. Elsewhere, Harpur refers to "Jesus in Egyptian lore as early as 18,000 BCE"; and he quotes Kuhn as claiming that "the Jesus who stands as the founder of Christianity was at least 10,000 years of age." In fact, the earliest extant writing that we have dates from about 3200 BCE.

Kuhn/Harper's redefinition of "incarnation," and their attempt to root this in Egyptian religion, is regarded as bogus by all the Egyptologists I consulted. According to one: "Only the pharaoh was believed to have a divine aspect, the divine power of kingship, incarnated in the human being currently serving as the king. No other Egyptians ever believed they possessed even 'a little bit of the divine'."

Virtually none of the alleged evidence for the views put forward in The Pagan Christ is documented by reference to original sources. The notes refer mainly to Kuhn, Higgins, Massey or some other long-out-of-date work. Very occasionally, there is a reference to a more contemporary work of scholarship, but this often has little or nothing to do with the point made.

Very few of the books listed in the bibliography are recent. Works that are a century or more old are listed by the date of the most recent edition. The notes abound with errors and omissions. If you look for supporting evidence for a particular point made by the author, it is not there. Many quotations are taken out of context and interpreted in a very different sense from what their author originally meant (especially the early church fathers).

Harpur's book is chock full of questionable claims, such as:

* That prior to the fourth century "it was believed that the coming of the Messiah, or Christ, was taking place in the life of every person at all times."

* That "Christianity began as a cult with almost wholly Pagan origins and motivations in the first century."

* That nearly all of the most creative leaders of the earliest church were pronounced heretics and reviled by "those who had swept in and grabbed control of [church] policies."

* That "the mystical/allegorical method of interpreting the sacred Scripture . . . was replaced by a wholly literal/historical approach" (presumably, in the fourth century).

* That "apart from the four Gospels . . . and the Epistles, there is no hard, historical evidence for Jesus' existence coming out of the first century at all."

* That Albert Schweitzer "concluded that there was no traditional Jesus of Nazareth as a historical person."

* That "Paul's Jesus lacks any human quality for the very reason that, in Paul's understanding, he was not a human person at all."

According to Harpur, Christian scholars have a vested interest in maintaining the myth that there was an actual Jesus who lived in history. First, he insists, there was "the greatest cover-up of all time" at the beginning of the fourth century; and thousands of Christian scholars are now participants in this on-going cover-up.

This perspective misses the fact that, for several generations, there have been professors of religious and biblical studies who are Jewish, Unitarian, members of every Christian denomination -- and many of no professed religious persuasion. And there are no religious tests for chairs in Egyptology. Presumably, the Jewish, Unitarian, secular and many very liberal Christians who happen to be recognized scholars have no axes to grind regarding whether or not Jesus actually lived, or whether most of the ideas found in the Bible stem from Egyptian or other Near Eastern religion.

If one were able to identify all of the non-Christian members of the major learned societies dealing with antiquity, it would be unlikely that you could find more than a handful who believe that Jesus of Nazareth did not walk the dusty roads of Palestine in the first three decades of the Common Era. Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible.

Rather than appeal to primary scholarship, Tom Harpur has based The Pagan Christ on the work of self-appointed 'scholars' who seek to excavate the literary and archaeological resources of the ancient world the same way an avid crossword puzzle enthusiast mines dictionaries and lists of words.

W. Ward Gasque is a co-founder of Regent College in Vancouver, and a historian of early Christianity.

Related stories:

No historical evidence of Jesus
Ever since the publication of The Pagan Christ, literalist clergy and others have been hammering away at the theme of the alleged historicity of the Gospels. Yet, Bible scholars today know that the Gospels never were historical biographies even though they may appear to be such.
Tom Harpur, Toronto Star, May 16

Stonehenge served as long time burial site





Stonehenge served as long time burial site
KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Archaeology students Steve Bush, right, and Sam Ferguson sieve through earth amongst the stones at Stonehenge, England, March 31.
May 29, 2008

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – England's enigmatic Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings and for several hundred years thereafter, new research indicates.

Dating of cremated remains shows burials took place as early as 3000 B.C., when the first ditches around the monument were being built, researchers said Thursday.

And those burials continued for at least 500 years, when the giant stones that mark the mysterious circle were being erected, they said.

"It's now clear that burials were a major component of Stonehenge in all its main stages," said Mike Parker Pearson, archaeology professor at the University of Sheffield in England and head of the Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project.

In the past many archaeologists had thought that burials at Stonehenge continued for only about a century, the researchers said.

"Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B.C. The cremation burial dating to Stonehenge's sarsen stones phase is likely just one of many from this later period of the monument's use and demonstrates that it was still very much a domain of the dead," Parker Pearson said in a statement.

The researchers also excavated homes nearby at Durrington Walls, which they said appeared to be seasonal homes related to Stonehenge.

"It's a quite extraordinary settlement, we've never seen anything like it before," Parker Pearson said. The village appeared to be a land of the living and Stonehenge a land of the ancestors, he said.

There were at least 300 and perhaps as many as 1,000 homes in the village, he said. The small homes were occupied in midwinter and midsummer.

The village also included a circle of wooden pillars, which they have named the Southern Circle. It is oriented toward the midwinter sunrise, the opposite of Stonehenge, which is oriented to the midsummer sunrise.

The research was supported by the National Geographic Society, which discusses Stonehenge in its June magazine and will feature the new burial data on National Geographic Channel on Sunday.

The researchers said the earliest cremation burial was a small group of bones and teeth found in pits called the Aubrey Holes and dated to 3030-2880 B.C., about the time with the first ditch-and-bank monument was being built.

Remains from the surrounding ditch included an adult dated to 2930-2870 B.C., and the most recent cremation, Parker Pearson said, comes from the ditch's northern side and was of a 25-year-old woman. It dated to 2570-2340 B.C., around the time the first arrangements of large sarsen stones appeared at Stonehenge.

According to Parker Pearson's team, this is the first time any of the cremation burials from Stonehenge have been radiocarbon dated. The burials dated by the group were excavated in the 1950s and have been kept at the nearby Salisbury Museum.

In the 1920s an additional 49 cremation burials were dug up at Stonehenge, but all were reburied because they were thought to be of no scientific value, the researchers said.

They estimate that up to 240 people were buried within Stonehenge, all as cremation deposits.

Team member Andrew Chamberlain suggested that that the cremation burials represent the natural deaths of a single elite family and its descendants, perhaps a ruling dynasty.

A clue to this, he said, is the small number of burials in Stonehenge's earliest phase, a number that grows larger in subsequent centuries, as offspring would have multiplied.

Parker Pearson added: "I don't think it was the common people getting buried at Stonehenge – it was clearly a special place at that time. One has to assume anyone buried there had some good credentials.''

The actual building and purpose of Stonehenge remain a mystery that has long drawn speculation from many sources.



Also Wikipedia says:

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) west of Amesbury and 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous prehistoric sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones. Archaeologists believe that the standing stones were erected around 2200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986 in a co-listing with Avebury henge monument, and it is also a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument. Stonehenge itself is owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage while the surrounding land is owned by the National Trust.[1][2]

New archaeological evidence found by the Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project, indicates that Stonehenge served as a burial ground from its earliest beginnings.[3] The dating of cremated remains found that burials took place as early as 3000 B.C, when the first ditches were being built around the monument. Burials continued at Stonehenge for at least another 500 years when the giant stones which mark the landmark were put up. According to Mike Parker Pearson, head of Stonehenge Riverside Archaeological Project:[4]

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dog VS Cats



DOG DIARY

8:00 am - Dog food! My favourite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favourite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am - Got rubbed,petted! My favourite thing!
12:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favourite thing!

1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favourite thing!

3:00 PM - Ran back and forth in the hall!
My favourite thing!

5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favourite thing!

7:00 PM - Got to play tug! My favourite thing! 8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favourite thing!

11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favourite thing!


CAT DIARY

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or
some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear in to their hearts, since it clearly
demonstrates what I am capable of.

However, they merely made condescending
comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bast**ds!

They continue to pick me up and handle me, an obvious attempt to subvert me.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event.

However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to
the power of 'allergies.'

I must learn what this means,and how to use it to
my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this
again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.

The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released -and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

Tonight I will again lay on their heads while they sleep and hope to smother them.



Wow-this Is an amazing ... Journey

In December 2007, Journey hired Filipino singer Arnel Pineda of the band ZOO. Journey had discovered Arnel via cover videos of Journey songs posted on YouTube.




The Debut Of Arnel Pineda On The Ellen Show



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnel_Pineda



Former Bush insider rips Iraq war+The Scope Today




Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Try not to feel frustrated if current circumstances do not seem to be offering you as much support as you would wish. Mercury is working on bringing a real chance to alter your direction. Mars, meanwhile, is increasing your personal power.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Market forces exert pressure on us all to earn and spend more money, but the answer to your current question does not concern material issues. Your deepening understanding of life is now promising to bring enlightenment and emotional freedom.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Stay aware of what's really pertinent to your situation. The sky cannot force you to do what is in your own best interests, but it is attempting to divert your attention from an irrelevant problem that is nudging you to pursue an unwise goal.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

If you want success today, just keep things simple – assuming, of course, that you can manage this. It requires you not to ask for too many opinions, not to read too much on a certain subject and not to worry quite as much as you have been.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Former Bush insider rips Iraq war
CHARLES DHARAPAK/ASSOCIATED PRESS
U.S. President George W. Bush and graduate Theodore Shiveley from Plano, Tex., jokingly bump chests at the United States Air Force Academy graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 28, 2008.
White House fires back at ex-spokesperson
May 29, 2008

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON–In the most stinging repudiation of George W. Bush's policies ever penned by an insider, former White House press secretary Scott McClellan says the U.S. president shaded the truth and used "propaganda'' and innuendo to sell the war in Iraq.

McClellan, once one of the most trusted members of the president's Texas "family,'' spent three years as the public defender of the rationale and conduct of the Bush war, but in a new book he calls the decision to invade a "strategic blunder'' and terms the war unnecessary.

Remaining Bush loyalists fired back quickly, painting McClellan as a disgruntled former employee who was acting like a "liberal blogger,'' portraying him as a man badly out of the loop who never raised any of these objections while in the White House.

McClellan's What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception had two other immediate impacts. It hurt presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain's ongoing defence of the war, and it should give pause to those remaining believers who consider the answers from the White House briefing room to be anything more than manufactured spin.

"History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided – that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder,'' McClellan writes.

In selling the war, he said, the Bush administration stopped short of out-and-out deception, instead "shading the truth; downplaying the major reason for going to war and emphasizing a lesser motivation that could arguably be dealt with in other ways (such as intensified diplomatic pressure); trying to make the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) threat and the Iraqi connection to terrorism appear just a little more certain, a little less questionable, than they were."

McClellan said the administration ignored some of the crucial caveats provided by its intelligence agencies, using innuendo to encourage Americans to believe falsehoods such as the idea that Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons program or operational links to Al Qaeda.

Yet, in July 2003, at one of his earliest briefings, McClellan was asked whether the White House had a "credibility problem'' over its rationale to war.

"Absolutely not,'' he replied.

"The president has been very straightforward about this from the beginning. He laid out a very compelling case, a very clear case. It was based on solid evidence and it was based on a number of factors.''

McClellan also says the inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was the biggest blunder of Bush's second term, writing that he and his advisers spent the first week after the deadly storm "in a state of denial.''

Yet, at the briefing-room podium in the wake of the storm, when McClellan was asked to respond to then House minority leader Nancy Pelosi's charge that the president was "obviously in denial,'' he said: "You all are well aware of how engaged this president is in the response efforts and making sure that we're meeting the immediate needs.''

McClellan was White House press secretary from 2003 to 2006.

"Scott, we now know, is disgruntled about his experience at the White House,'' said Bush press secretary Dana Perino.

"For those of us who fully supported him, before, during and after he was press secretary, we are puzzled. It is sad. This is not the Scott we knew.''

On Fox News, former Bush adviser Karl Rove said McClellan sounded like "a liberal blogger'' and said he was out of the loop.




Part Two

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Made In Canada

CANADA
PENSION - A Must Read. Only in Canada .



Do not apply for your old age pension...
Apply to be a refugee. It is interesting that the federal government provides a single refugee with a monthly allowance of $1, 890.00 and each can get an additional $580.00 in social assistance for a total of $2, 470.00.
This compares very well to a single pensioner who, after contributing to the growth and development ofCanada for 40 or 50 years, can only receive a monthly maximum of $1, 012.00 in old age pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Furthermore if you had the wisdom to have a RRSP and made other income generating investments you may have earned the right to receive nothing from the Federal Government as they claw your Old Age Pension back because in their opinion you do not need it!!!!!

Maybe our pensioners should apply as refugees!

Let's send this thought to as many Canadians as we can and maybe we can
Get the refugees cut back to $1,012.00 and the pensioners up to $2, 470.00,
So they can enjoy the money they were forced to submit to the Canadian government for those 40 to 50 years.

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Amazing things happen to people willing to let them happen. Taking fewer risks ultimately will lead only to a dull life, albeit a safer one.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Scope Of Things

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

They say we must strike while the iron is hot, but a particular iron in your life has not yet reached its optimum temperature. The delay will give you just enough time to identify sensitive issues before you act.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

As your preparations gather pace, it is natural to contemplate what you will do when you achieve the outcome you've been so ardently seeking. The tide has begun to turn in your favour. Just don't rush it.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Emotional pressure is coercing you to take on more responsibility than is advisable. You know best how much of your time you should commit to someone's demands. Follow the calling of your heartfelt desire.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Someone, somewhere, is taking a particular matter far too seriously. Reduce the pressure on them and on yourself, and you will instantly see more hope.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Is Renting Better? Have You Done The Math?

I did the math on the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce.
After 5 years of marriage, he paid her $49 million.

Assuming he banged her every night during their 5 year relationship, it ends up costing him $26,849 per lay, not counting attorney's fees and court costs.

On the other hand, Elliot Spitzer's call girl Kristen charges $4,000 an hour. Crazy, right?

But...

Had Paul McCartney employed Kristen for 5 years, he would've paid $7.3 million for an hour of sex every night for 5 years (a savings of $41+million).

Value-added benefits are: a 22 year old hot babe, no begging, no coaxing, never a headache, wide open menu, ability to put BOTH legs around you, no bitching and complaining or "to do" lists. Best of all, she leaves when you're done, and comes back the next day, ready for another round. All at 1/7th the cost, with no legal fees.

Is it just me, or is it better to rent?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Life comes with problems...

Life comes with problems

"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

-- Fr. Alfred D’Souza

Life always brings problems. We really can’t live without them.

And so it helps to shift our perspective. We can stop trying to avoid the problems. We can stop feeling victimized by what’s happening. Instead, we can consciously work with the challenge of the moment to learn more about ourselves and the world. When we make this shift in attitude, we discover ourselves to be strong and powerful.

"Every lesson is a widening and deepening of consciousness. It is a stretching of the mind beyond its conceptual limits and a stretching of the heart beyond its emotional boundaries. It is a bringing of unconscious material into consciousness, a healing of past wounds, and a discovery of new faith and trust."

-- Paul Ferrini

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

A rising sense of irritation is being quietly matched by a steadily growing chance to do something constructive. You are aware that something good is happening, but you remain unaware of how useful it is. Soon, you'll find out.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Pressure from Neptune is undermining your optimism and making you feel weak in the face of your challenges. With more confidence, you would clearly see what strength there is in your position. There is every reason to feel good about your prospects.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Venus, as it trundles along in a friendly part of the heavens, is moving into a most auspicious alignment. If you expect a positive romantic implication as a result, you are probably right. Your heart and even your purse will soon start to feel a little fuller.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

A kind and supportive cosmic climate is determined to steer you clear of a nagging problem. The continued failure of your efforts in a vital area is not bad news, as you are inclined to believe. The stars are simply attempting to redirect you.

Visit boothstars.com.

Friday, May 23, 2008

"The meaning of life is to give life meaning."

Do you own your life?

"The meaning of life is to give life meaning."

-- Ken Hudgins

When we own our lives, we accept what we've inherited and the experiences we hold in our memories. We also claim our right to create new conditions if we're not happy with what's come before. We assume responsibility for changing what does not suit us. We acknowledge our own special talents and skills, and truly comprehend our right to enjoy the journey. In short, we embrace the meaning and purpose, the mystery and the beauty of our lives.

Do you feel that you own your life at the moment?

"I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I've written for myself... and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part."

-- Shirley MacLaine

"Life is too short to be little."

-- Benjamin Disraeli

"Every man dies, but not every man lives...."

-- Garth Brooks

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Value Just Being+The Scope

Value just being

"To do great work a man must be very idle as well as very industrious."

-- Samuel Butler

Many of us have been taught to believe that we are valued for what we do, not just for who we are. ‘Doing’ is important, but to keep life in balance, we also need time to just ‘be.’

Henry David Thoreau expressed this so well in Walden Pond:

"There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hand.

"Sometimes, on a summer morning, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumacs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller's wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.

"I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been."


Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

You have reached the end of your tether in your attempt to bring a happy conclusion to an insolvable dilemma with someone. A dynamic angle between Uranus and Mars, though, suggests that there is a potential exchange that can leave both parties better off.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Something is eating away at your ability to relax. Mercury is working on delivering a vital piece of information to you. The wait is tense, but it is also inspiring. The more you want it, the greater your chance of early satisfaction.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Something that you don't like is showing no sign of abating. It's the last thing you need right now. This very process, though, is going to produce something that you are immensely glad of. Bad news often proves to be a blessing.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

A light has appeared at the end of your tunnel. Although this signifies the imminent end to a troublesome ordeal, you are, oddly enough, reluctant to let go of it. Familiarity has become a comfort. Do not turn down a big chance. Make your escape.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Scope Today+Fears of money

Fears of money

"We are all powerless as children, and money looms so powerfully... we don't grow up to claim our financial power until we look money directly in the eye, face our fears, and claim that power back."

-- Suze Orman

How does money scare you?

In your journal, write down your greatest fears around money, and see what comes up. If emotions surface, as they undoubtedly will, let them come. Really feel your feelings, without judgment. They'll give you valuable information.

"In all realms of life it takes courage to stretch your limits, express your power, and fulfill your potential; it’s no different in the financial realm. In a buy-now, consume-now culture like ours, it takes courage to make the decisions today that may make us rich tomorrow. It takes courage to face up to the facts of old age and mortality and to prepare for them. It also takes courage to live generously, regardless of your financial state of affairs. ...It takes courage to ask for what you want. And it takes courage to live honestly, wisely, true to yourself ...and true to your desire for more."

-- Suze Orman

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

The last thing you need now is an exercise in futility. If something just isn't possible, it isn't possible. Accept as much and don't worry. For you the outlook has never held more promise. A recent struggle simply had to happen.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Your future lies ahead to where the sky meets the land. The horizon, however, recedes no matter how fast you run towards it, just like that pot of gold at the end of rainbow. Do keep moving toward your dream, even if it seems too distant.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

If you find yourself trapped in a cage with a tiger, survival depends on looking it straight in the eye, or so I've heard said. But, the beast you now face is not flesh and bone. It is only made of paper. This, you'll find, will prove to be easy work.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

When a movie nears the end, it becomes apparent with the build-up to and nervous anticipation of the climax. Likewise, The crescendo of activity that's been building up in your world has reached its culmination. And with it comes a promise of deliverance.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What are you thinking?

What are you thinking?

"I never know what I think about something until I read what I've written on it."

-- William Faulkner

What have you been thinking lately?

Do you know? We get so accustomed to our thoughts that we lose awareness of them. We don’t see how they are stuck in old habitual patterns, most of which don’t serve us.

Take time to journal so you can capture your thoughts on paper. By doing so, you will begin to take control of your mind and use it to best advantage.

"When you choose to understand [and] exercise control over the functions and attributes of your own mind, you will be empowered to create your own reality, to be completely self-reliant and totally prosperous."

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

For various reasons, you feel weak, ineffectual and unable to do much more than gape in amazement at certain ludicrous developments. The sky insists that there is a way to turn it all to your advantage.

Myanmar mourns for 78000 cyclone victims
The Associated Press - 1 hour ago
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - Myanmar began three days of mourning for some 78000 cyclone victims Tuesday, after its ruling junta appeared to relent to foreign pressure to allow more outside help for its storm survivors.

Obama seeks to extend poll lead
BBC News - 1 hour ago
Barack Obama is hoping to take a step towards clinching the Democratic Party's US presidential nomination, as Kentucky and Oregon hold primary votes.

Flags at half-mast for quake victims
Xinhua - 4 hours ago
BEIJING, May 20 -- Chinese flags are now flying at half-mast, and all public recreational activities have been suspended as the country begins its three days of mourning.

Israeli officials estimate Gaza cease-fire close
International Herald Tribune - 1 hour ago
AP JERUSALEM: Israeli aircraft launched two strikes on Palestinians Tuesday, killing a 13-year-old boy and an unidentified man, Palestinian doctors said.

Monday, May 19, 2008

You have the power, Leo

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

You should not consider yourself obliged to accept anything that you do not like, especially now, since you undoubtedly possess the ability to bring about the change you need. With Mars in your sign, you have the power to move a mountain.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

If something makes us feel good we tend to want more of it. We forget that feeling good can be achieved in a variety of ways. You are about to find a host of reasons to feel elated.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

You are very concerned about a matter that your intellect considers foolish and irrational. Instead, you should trust the instinctive impulse you now have. Explore it.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Laughter is the only emotion that is more powerful than fear. Find something to smile about today. It will be your ticket to freedom.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Scope Today

What needs attention?

"We often spend so much time coping with problems along our path that we only have a dim or even inaccurate view of what's really important to us."

-- Peter Senge

Where are you struggling in your life?

Look at your career, finances, relationships, growth, health and emotions. Where are you experiencing major challenges? Of these, which area most needs your attention at this time? Set an intention to face this struggle and resolve it. ATTENTION on your TENSION often releases it.

"The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it's the same problem you had last year."

-- John Foster Dulles

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

It is perfectly possible to carry on being patient and tolerant in your dealings with an intractable personality, but do not capitulate.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

You are tempted to let a sleeping dog lie. However, you should be building a plan before Fido wakes up and starts barking. Don't hesitate to assert your power. Refuse to be intimidated by anything.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

The tough stuff won't go away overnight, but certain issues will become less impossible. Or maybe you just won't be as affected by them. Progress will be made as your optimism grows.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

You must have had some idea of what was likely to ensue when first you made a certain decision. After initial doubts, you are now about to realize you actually like a lot of the rapid changes in your life.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Scope Today+Beware of that contest for fancy cellphone

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

The good old days were great, yet a time will come when today won't seem so bad, either. You are caught up in the details of a certain drama. When it finally passes, which won't be long, you will look back and see that you managed very well.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

In its current unrefined form, a certain big idea is unlikely to work, but to dismiss it as useless is like giving away a house because you don't like the garden. With a little sensible and constructive imagination, you will make it work.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

The best you can do is to exert a small influence over the outcome of a particular drama. Stop trying to achieve what's clearly impossible. That small influence is all that's needed to bring vast improvement.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Time is passing far too slowly as a particular drama or complex situation continues to take an eternity to resolve itself. The stars have not abandoned you. A marvellous and transformative moment will bring an enlightening breakthrough.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Beware of that contest for fancy cellphone
May 17, 2008

An advertisement popped up repeatedly and obscured a website while I was searching for information a few weeks ago.

I made it go away by taking a chance at winning a fancy cellular telephone. All I had to do was provide my cellphone number, and answer a question that would arrive later via text message. Tap, tap, tap and I was done, able to go on with my search.

What a mistake!

Not until yesterday did I discover this was not a telephone manufacturer teasing consumers to dream about its products. In my haste, I had signed up for what is called a short-code or premium-message service that would sprinkle my money from Vancouver to Amsterdam.

It's possible I noticed there would be a $2 charge to enter the contest. But somehow I missed the part about four questions arriving each week, and the charge applying again and again, whether I answered the questions or not.

I quickly lost interest in the questions after getting the first wrong. Yet others kept arriving like clockwork, without any word about the charges or how to stop them. I just deleted the messages. Not until I opened our phone bill yesterday and saw the $36 charge for 18 calls did I know I should investigate and find out how to halt the messages.

A customer service agent at the phone company provided the website and a toll-free number for the contest, where I was able to cancel the service without a hitch. A call centre in Cobourg gave me the name of the contest provider and an email address where I could forward queries, but no one replied.

I am wondering: who in their right mind would knowingly spend $2 over and over again to win a prize as cheap as a cellphone? Has this contest provider not received complaints about the design of the contest?

The company behind the contest is a small outfit in the Netherlands that boasts it provides "unique and appealing mobile content suitable for all ages" in 18 countries. I won't mention the name until I can contact one of its executives and get copies of the disclosure I would have received before committing to pay a fee.

Marc Choma, a spokesperson for the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunication Association in Ottawa, said various companies have leases to provide about 400 short-code services on Canada's wireless networks.

Short code refers to the few digits needed to send a text message from a cellphone. Various media outlets and providers of other services, including Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star, sell premium messages at 30 cents to $5 a message.

Wireless telephone providers know their customers send about 10 billion text messages a year, but Choma said there is no data on the volume of premium messages.

"All short-code programs are tested to ensure they comply with their lease agreement and the code of conduct" administered by the wireless association, he said. If the association found any elements of a specific program that weren't in compliance, "we would ensure that the issue is resolved."

I would be interested in hearing from readers on whether they have entered a contest such as I did, and whether they thought the disclosure of fees and instructions for stopping the service were adequate.

James Daw, CFP, can be reached at jdaw@thestar.ca by email.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mutt, Twain derail

May 16, 2008

Mutt, Twain derail

Couple separates after 14 years

By JOE WARMINGTON

Shania Twain and her producer hubby, Mutt Lange are splitsville, but few details have been revealed about the power duo's breakup. (Jae C. Hong, AP File)

Whose bed has Mutt Lange's boots been under?

Not under Shania Twain's anymore!

Yes, the news broke yesterday that the 42-year-old Canadian songbird and her superstar producer husband of 14 years, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, 59, are splitsville.

As the pride of Timmins once warned: "if you're not in it for love, I'm out of here!" and also sang "any man of mine better be proud of me, even when I'm ugly he still better love me, and I can be late for a date that's fine, but he better be on time!"

What happened, Mutt? Late for a date? Not in it for love anymore? Don't Impress her Much?

Perhaps No One Needs to Know!


Yes, details of this breakup are just as secret as details of their marriage, which friends and music insiders have always "scratched their heads about."

Whatever happened, it was very clear yesterday though that Lange was no longer Still the One!

"This is a private matter and there will be no further comment at this time," Tyson Parker of Universal Music told The Canadian Press.

The approach doesn't shock 680 Entertainment editor Gloria Martin who saw a young and aspiring Eilleen Regina Edwards perform on the stage at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville in the late 1980s.

"Dignity" is the word Martin called the couple's approach to this separation. "This is so huge because they always seemed so solid. They set a high standard for the entertainment industry. There was no gossip. What do you know about them? Nothing."

Or certainly very little. It is known that they had homes in Switzerland and New Zealand and together have a 6-year-old son named Eja -- pronounced Asia.

No matter what happens, her story is stuff of legend -- coming from poverty and singing her way to the top. Throughout the years, her charitable nature has been well documented, along with her concern for the plight of children. This story is the most controversy she has been involved in since news that the aboriginal man who died with her mother in a car crash was in fact not her biological father -- a non-native.

One thing about Shania, whom I have dealt with just a few times, is she is also professional, cordial and classy. Like Wayne Gretzky or Celine Dion, her journey is enjoyed by a lot of her fellow Canadians.

The Sun's John White captured an image of Twain shopping on Bloor St. in Yorkville last September and several autograph hounds told me they have seen Shania in Toronto recently and many believe she may have a penthouse suite in Yorkville, although it has not been confirmed. She also has a sister living in Huntsville -- not far from Deerhurst Resort where she once graced the stage of their popular music show and where she was married to Lange on Dec. 28, 1993.

But rumours of a fractured marriage, complete with separate bedrooms, had surfaced over the years as whispers -- but never with any backup. Some of that stemmed from the fact that Twain and Lange were rarely ever seen together and that it was widely known that Lange had purchased as many pictures of himself as he could.

Ironically, I was actually within feet of them at FanFare in 1993 in Nashville, Tenn., where I believe they met -- either on or just outside of Billy Ray Cyrus' tour bus. "I remember meeting Mutt Lange with Bryan Adams on my bus," Cyrus, then of Mercury Records, once told me. "I remember Mutt saying 'who's that?' " It was Canada's own Shania Twain, a new signee with Mercury who went on to be one of the biggest selling female artists of all time.

The two -- Lange and Twain -- combined for some incredible success and tremendous music, too, with countless album sales, awards and sold-out concert tours to go with Lange's already monumental success of producing such monster acts as Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, AC/DC, Foreigner and The Cars. "Shania was like a raw diamond in the rough and he was like the jeweller," Toronto entertainment producer Gene Mascardelli said. "Together, they created the crown jewel of the country music and pop scene."

But some close to Twain have long cast a dubious eye about Lange's "hyper controlling nature" on her personal life and career and called him a Svengali-like presence in her life. A 2002 Time magazine feature story talked how since "meeting Lange, Twain has become a strict vegetarian and a devotee of Sant Mat, a strain of Sikh mysticism that advocates hours of daily meditation, abstinence from sex and alcohol, and copious journal-keeping as the path to self-realization."

That reality, it said in Time, had some, including Twain's brother Darryl, concluding that she has become, as he put it in a 2000 magazine interview, "a robot."

But that Time piece also addressed the control rumblings by describing the couple talking on the cellphone and appearing to "communicate like husband and wife, not Svengali and subject."

One music industry producer told me last night their relationship in his view was "in many ways not a lot different to what Bobby Brown was at times to Whitney Houston -- part of the solution but also part of the problem."

Of course, there was certainly no problem selling records for Twain and Lange. Together, they have sold more than 65 million. It's unknown where she will go next musically or even if they will still work together. Mascardelli says it won't stop her either way. "All of the great teams break up -- Lennon and McCartney, Martin and Lewis. She'll be fine. And so will he."

But as of last night, no one knew where Twain actually was -- although there are some who believe she could be in Toronto or nearby. If it's true that a single Shania is here in town, Scrawler has just one thing to say.

Come on Over!

Einstein God letter sells for $400,000

CP PHOTO
A letter written by Albert Einstein which says religion is childish has sold for $400,000.
May 16, 2008
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LONDON – A letter in which Albert Einstein dismissed the idea of God as the product of human weakness and the Bible as "pretty childish" has sold at auction for more than $400,000.

Bloomsbury Auctions says Friday that the handwritten letter sold to an overseas collector after frenetic bidding late Thursday in London.

The sale price of $404,000, including the buyer's premium, was more than 25 times the pre-sale estimate.

Bloomsbury did not identify the buyer, but managing director Rupert Powell said it was someone with "a passion for theoretical physics and all that that entails."

The letter was written to philosopher Eric Gutkind in January 1954, a year before Einstein's death.

In it, the Einstein said that "the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."

"This extraordinary letter seemed to strike a chord, and it gave a deep personal insight one of the greatest minds of the 20th century," Powell said.

Einstein experts say the letter supports the argument that the physicist held complex, agnostic views on religion. He rejected organized faith but often spoke of a spiritual force at work in the universe.

Einstein's most famous legacy is the special theory of relativity, which makes the point that a large amount of energy could be released from a tiny amount of matter, as expressed in the equation E=MC2 (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared).

The theory changed the face of physics, allowing scientists to make predictions about space and paving the way for nuclear power and the atomic bomb.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind

Levels of consciousness

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind."

-- William James

Here is one perspective on levels of consciousness and some descriptive words to help us identify the differences:

Not conscious - instinctual, follower
Subconscious - habitual, robotic, reactive
Conscious - aware, intelligent, conceptual, reflective
Superconscious - intuitive, guiding, truthful, loving, universal

Reflect on how you typically move through your day. As we use our minds more consciously, we open up to the superconsciousness.

"Utilizing your conscious mind to direct the subconscious mind to enter into communication and harmony with the universal mind is the secret of personal power."

-- Delfin Knowledge System

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Within a tiny acorn is all that's necessary to create a mighty oak. Just be sure to add soil, water and sunshine. And, of course, we mustn't forget time. You've got the potential to plant for the future, if you have the patience.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Some seemingly bad news is a sure indicator that your life is being constructively redirected, like a river, toward a much more rewarding destiny.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Some people could be carried off by a team of angels and shown the cure for all human suffering and they would still look for drawbacks. For you, it would be better to be trusting of what is looking so right.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Through ingenuity and versatility, you will be able to cobble together an opportunity here, a possibility there and an offer of help from somewhere else. You'll come up with a solution to the difficulty you face.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Three levels of prosperity

Three levels of prosperity

"Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons."

-- Woody Allen

To become more prosperous, we need to change on at least two levels. First, we must ensure our financial affairs are in order. We need an income that at least covers our expenses. And we need a foundation of habits, tools and skills so we achieve some financial stability in our day-to-day experience.

Second, we must become aware of the beliefs we hold around money and prosperity. If we unconsciously believe we are lacking in some way, then no matter what we do, we will unconsciously sabotage our own efforts to improve our finances.

And third, it's helpful to understand the spiritual principles that govern our level of abundance. Once we know those principles, we can work effectively within them to attract abundance to us.

"If you're prosperous in soul, you'll be prosperous in whole."

-- Mark Victor Hansen

Monday, May 12, 2008

10 reasons why McCain could win the White House+The Scope Today

10 reasons why McCain could win the White House
For many voters, the Republican nominee is viewed as true war hero and the one to best defend country
May 12, 2008

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON–Howard Dean surveyed the Indianapolis ballroom, a crowd of almost 2,500 Democratic faithful including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and offered a warning.

"The only thing that can stop us from winning the presidency is ourselves," said the chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Maybe.

Conventional wisdom still tells us Obama, the young, silver-tongued agent of change, will easily dispatch Republican John McCain, the geriatric extension of the Bush administration, a man on the wrong side of the Iraq debate in a war-weary country.

This is the same conventional wisdom, however, that once pronounced McCain dead, Clinton the easy Democratic nominee and the primaries wrapped up by the first Tuesday in February.

So here are 10 reasons McCain could become the next president of the United States:

REAGAN DEMOCRATS

This is the term coined for white, working-class voters who migrated to Ronald Reagan, putting him in office in 1980 and 1984.

Will they become McCain Democrats?

They have consistently put their faith in Clinton during this primary season and Obama has offered no proof so far that he can win them back in the general election.

Obama outpolled Clinton among white voters without a college degree in only three states for which exit polling is available: Vermont, Wisconsin and Utah.

You can file Utah. George W. Bush won 71.5 per cent of the vote there in 2004.

Obama is supported by less than 30 per cent of these voters in two states key to Democratic hopes: Pennsylvania and Ohio.

A Pew Research poll found almost one in four voters who consider themselves conservative or moderate Democrats would vote for McCain over Obama.

They were much more likely to stay with Clinton against McCain.

WOMEN

Much has been written about the danger of African-Americans and young voters fleeing the party if Clinton was seen to have somehow stolen the nomination from Obama.

Time, space and a unified convention will radically bring down the increasing number of Democrats who angrily say they would not vote for the winner if their candidate loses the nomination.

But there are millions of women, mainly middle-aged and older, who believed this was the year a woman was going to win the White House and are convinced the bar was placed much higher for Clinton by a biased media. Many are angry. How many of them will stay home in November or move to McCain?


SCORCHED EARTH

The race so far has been bruising, but not debilitating for Obama.

Clinton has done much of the Republican work in defining her opponent as elitist, inexperienced, a man of words instead of action.

But she has not really crossed any line.

If she plays this out until June 3, she has promised to take the high road, but there will be a temptation from Camp Clinton to launch one more "kitchen sink" salvo and the party is worried about their presumptive nominee emerging tarnished.

RACE

There is still a hesitancy among some in the U.S. heartland to vote for an African-American as president and it is not always reflected in polling.

"You can't be called a racist in this country," said Edward Frantz, a history professor at the University of Indianapolis.

"It is worse to be a racial bigot than a gender bigot in this country at this time." Voters often cite other reasons for not backing Obama.

Clinton wasn't as restrained when she told USA Today last week, "Senator Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening again ... and whites in (Indiana and North Carolina) who had not completed college were supporting me."

DISTRACTIONS

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former urban terrorist William Ayers, flag lapel pins, questions about whether he placed his hand over his heart during the playing of the national anthem – they will all resurface for Obama in the general election.

He has called them distractions, remnants of old-style politics that he will change, but symbols Canadians would dismiss as irrelevant can stick and change perceptions in elections here.

MCCAIN'S LIFE STORY

It is compelling and it will be exploited.

A man seen as a genuine war hero who overcame more than five years in captivity will play to a patriotic strain in this country which will be hard to counter for Obama, a 46-year-old first-term senator who came of age in the post-Vietnam era.

This will be the first U.S. election when Vietnam should (finally) cease to be an issue, but service to one's country will always be an issue here.

OCTOBER SURPRISE

Even if the country heads into the home stretch of this campaign with Obama well ahead, there will always be a sense right until election day that there is a well-timed grenade from the Democrat's past waiting to explode.

The Republicans have already started crafting a story line that the Democrats are nominating a candidate about whom less is known than any other candidate in history.

HOMELAND SECURITY

This has always been the Republican trump card and they will use it again. Polling indicates voters have much more confidence in McCain (63 per cent) than Obama (26 per cent) to defend the country against future attacks.

That far outstrips any margin Bush ever held over the 2004 Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry, on the issue.

THE L WORD

A widely cited National Journal analysis has pegged Obama as the most liberal voter in the U.S. Senate.

Obama's camp disputs the analysis, but liberal in this country still means high taxes, profligate spending (although the Bush record blunts that McCain argument), being soft on terror and outside the mainstream on social issues.

McCain is also seen as out of step by a major portion of the Republican base, but assuming the party will eventually coalesce behind him to head off this liberal menace, Obama will have to be believable when he tacks to the centre.

CALIFORNIA

Solidly Democrat? Sure, right now. But never underestimate the Schwarzenegger effect: Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could put his home state in play by stumping for his friend McCain, something he would not do for Bush in 2004.

Respected political analyst Charles Cook has McCain leading in electoral votes right now.

A California flip would make him president.



Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

There's a limit to what you can do. You can't fly to the moon any more easily than you can make you-know-who do you-know-what. Even so, within reason, you can entertain certain unreasonable expectations. Mars is blessing you with plenty of extra power.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Do not view what is happening in your life as something ordinary. It is something precious and special to be treasured. You will attain victory at the moment of greatest need.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

Success often seems to be a matter of who you know, but a book full of VIP phone numbers is still no substitute for skill, experience and wisdom. Still, a helpful contact in the right place at the right time can be invaluable – as you will soon learn.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Although you can see the consequences of someone's irrational actions, there is very little that you can do. It would be nice to save them from their mistakes, but they must learn on their own.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Go for what you want+The Scope Today

Go for what you want

"Follow your bliss."

-- Joseph Campbell

It’s hard for some of us to believe that the world is served when we seek our own happiness. We’ve been taught that this is selfish.

If we stop to reflect on how we are in the world when we are happy, we can see how this serves. We have more vitality. We’re more loving and generous to others when our own needs are met.

What activities bring you greatest joy? Your unique gift to the world will be found in those pastimes you love the most.

How can you live your joy each day?

"Spiritual growth is not made in reaction against, for all striving against imposed restrictions is imaginary. Spiritual growth is accomplished by inclination toward. We grow like the sunflower, following the light."

-- Joy Houghton

We each of 3 purposes - The personality's, the Soul's and Spirits's. It is never too late to be who you were meant to be.



Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Most problems get worse if we give them too much attention. Worrying simply does not improve things. The current stress will ease as confidence and strength now start making a welcome comeback

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

A feeling of safety is available to you from the toils and rigours of life. Put your big concerns and big fears to one side. Be at ease and do only what makes you feel comfortable.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

The urge to stray from the norm is good, since this will allow you to stand out. Follow your natural instinct and do things your own way.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Venus is giving you an opportunity to shine. Even if things are not progressing as quickly as you would like, something of value is taking place. And it's set to get better.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fullfillment?

For fulfillment, we need to take our lives off autopilot. We need to consciously decide what we will and will not do, moment by moment. We need to give ourselves the space, support and freedom to be proactive in choosing how we live each day.

"Learn to use ten minutes intelligently. It will pay you huge dividends."

Work smart, not hard

"The whole secret of freedom from anxiety over not having enough time lies not in working more hours, but in the proper planning of the hours."

-- Frank Bettger

We need to commit time to doing the right things for ourselves, and only we can judge what’s right for us. We need to clearly know what we want, and we need to believe we can have it. Having goals in mind, we can avoid the trap of busyness and get right down to business. Efficiency is not nearly as important as effectiveness.

-- William A. Irwin


Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Right now, you can only score small victories and subtle successes, but a chance to turn the tables has arrived thanks to Mars returning to your sign. A shift in the balance of power is occurring. It will bring a welcome return of confidence and strength.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

Mars is offering you the requisite speed and ability to get past difficulties swiftly and to hasten progress toward a desired destination. If last week was not a splendid one, you will find this week will more than make up for it.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

It seems you have achieved little despite all the effort you have expended, but these small gains will prove, in time, to be very significant. Settle for them and take heart from them. The rest will come soon enough.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

Though you may be concerned about your role within a relationship or perhaps within a particular group of people, you need not let this bother you. There is no need to play a part or to adopt a particular position. Just be yourself.

Read Phil Booth at boothstars.com or at thestar.com/horoscope.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What's a mom's work worth? Try six figures $126,593.00

Leo (July 23 — Aug. 22)

Many things look lovely under candlelight, but under the glare of city street illumination few things look very good. You've been casting a harsh light on a crucial issue. Wonderful changes will come, if you dim your cerebral activity just a little.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 — Nov. 22)

When things are going well, we hardly notice it. But when we are forced to endure dreadful conditions, we then see how we took the good times for granted. Things may not be exactly as you wish, right now, but it's still pretty darn good.

Pisces (Feb. 20 — March 20)

It may seem as though life is not delivering what you most need. Don't underestimate the value of what's happening in your life. It may seem insignificant, but it will ultimately alter everything for the better.

Gemini (May 21 — June 21)

What you need most now is a fresh perspective. With Mercury in your sign you will suddenly look at something that you have seen a thousand times and start to see it in a different way. An old source of disappointment will vanish.

What's a mom's work worth? Try six figures

Compiled by Terry Brodie

What's a mom's work worth these days? A tidy annual $126,593 for those who stay at home, and $74,101 for those who work outside the home, according to Salary.com Inc.

The on-line compensation firm based its calculations on the time mothers put into 10 roles that it calls the most popular "mom job functions."

They are, in order of hours spent each week: housekeeper, day-care centre teacher, cook, laundry machine operator, computer operator, psychologist, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive officer and janitor.

Similar calculations in the United States put the stay-at-home mom's compensation at $116,805 (U.S.) and the working mom's pay at $68,405, according to Salary.com's eighth annual assessment of the value of a mother's work.

The biggest driver of the six-figure salary: the amount of overtime moms work. It calculated that stay-at-home moms put in an average 94.4-hour workweek, half of that clocked in as overtime. Moms who work outside the home put in an average 54.6 hours on top of their paying jobs. All told, overtime averaged out to 54.4 hours a week, Salary.com said, basing all of its calculations on reporting by 18,000 moms.

Moms would swap money for more time with kids

How much would working moms give up to have more time to spend with their families? Forty-three per cent would take a pay cut - and 34 per cent of them would give up 10 per cent or more, according to a survey of 880 full-time employed mothers surveyed by online job site Careerbuilder.com.

And just over half - 51 per cent - of those with more than one source of income would give up their job if their other half made enough to support the family.

Time still seems to be in short supply: More than one-third of working moms said they spend fewer than three hours a day with their kids. As well, 27 per cent said they had missed two or more significant events in their child's life in the last year, and 17 per cent missed three or more.

Even when home, work can get in the way. One in five said they bring work home every workday while 16 per cent said they bring work home at least three days a week. Almost a quarter said that work had negatively affected their relationships with their children and more than 25 per cent said they're dissatisfied with their work/life balance.

Majority of working moms burn the midnight oil

It's no wonder moms wish for more time with their kids: Seventy-one per cent of working moms say they work late and respond to e-mails after hours, nearly the same proportion as the 73 per cent of women who aren't parents, a new survey from staffing company Adecco USA finds.

Nearly half - 49 per cent - say their companies should do more to help them build better work/life balance, the online survey of more than 2,100 U.S. workers found.

And 71 per cent of working moms find it more difficult to manage family than career, the reverse chosen by just 29 per cent. Still, the two can work together: 59 per cent of the working mothers said that becoming a parent had not affected their career path while 15 per cent said it had had a negative effect.

Tough for new moms

to re-enter work force: poll

Meanwhile, moms who leave the work force still have a tough time re-entering it, according to more than three-quarters - 76 per cent - of executives surveyed by executive recruiting firm Korn/Ferry.

In fact, almost half - 49 per cent - consider it more difficult for female executives to return to work now than it was five years ago.

One possible reason: a lack of flex-time opportunities. Nearly half - 49 per cent - of the executives surveyed said flex-time is not offered to new mothers at their companies, even though 69 per cent rank flexible work schedules as the most valuable benefit for working parents. That was followed by telecommuting, cited by 17 per cent, and on-site child care, picked by 12 per cent, according to the executives canvassed in more than 50 countries for Korn/Ferry's most recent executive quiz.

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