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Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Brief Biography of Fidel Castro

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

A Brief Biography of Fidel Castro

Whether one hates or loves the man, any biography of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s long-time iron fisted Communist ruler from 1959 until the present, now involved in removing himself from public view because of ill health, cannot deny the man is intelligent, forceful, and has instituted many impressive domestic programs during his reign.

Today, high quality, free medical service is available to all; the nation has an incredible 98 percent literacy rate; and infant mortality rates are low.

Still, a 2008 BBC news report said of Castro--who’s outlasted nine U.S. presidents during his tenure as Cuba’s president, and weathered, according to one Cuban minister, ‘more than 600 CIA assassination attempts,’--“While many Cubans undoubtedly detest Castro, others genuinely love him. He is the David who stood up to the Goliath of America.”

A Marxist-Leninist revolutionary as early as age 21 when he participated in a failed coup in the Dominican Republic, Castro was a long-time friend of Argentinean-born revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and now with Venezuela’s socialist leader, Hugo Chavez.

Castro’s Communist ideals promoted a close association with the Soviet Union that, in 1962, led to the Cuban Missile Crisis where, with Soviet nuclear missiles based on Cuba aimed at the U.S., the world came as close as it’s ever been to nuclear war.

An eloquent speaker and writer with a doctorate in law from Havana University, Castro led an unsuccessful coup attempt to oust Cuba’s corrupt government led by Fulgencio Batista in 1952, and later a successful Cuban coup in 1959.

Imprisoned and placed on trial following the 1952 coup attempt, Castro defended himself with his well-acclaimed “History Will Absolve Me” speech. One snippet from it reads, “The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them--neither prison walls or the sod of cemeteries.”

Major events in the life of Fidel Castro include:

* August 13, 1926 Born in southeastern Cuba

* 1947 Participates in failed Dominican Republic coup

* 1950 Earns doctorate in law

* 1953 Leads failed Cuban coup, imprisoned for two years

* 1955 Flees to Mexico, organizes July 26 Movement, meets “Che” Guevara

* 1956 Lands in Cuba with 81 fighters, begins revolt

* 1959 Batista flees, Castro begins his Cuban rule

* 1961 Defeats 1,400 at U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion

* 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

* 1970s Sends Cuban troops to support Marxist guerrillas in Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia

1998 Pope John Paul II visits Cuba

2006 Assigns temporary transfer of power to brother, Raul Castro

After the U.S. put a trade embargo on Cuba in 1963, Castro turned more and more to the Soviet Union for economic assistance. But the subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union cost Cuba billions of dollars in foreign aid.

Still, the defiant Communist leader of Cuba, near the shores of Florida, is resourceful and adamant in his outspoken opposition to anything involving the U.S.

Without doubt, the biography of Fidel Castro will grace future history books.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Much Is Known About the City of Jericho

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

Much is Known About the City of Jericho

Although much is known about the city of Jericho, located in what’s now the West Bank between Israel and Jordan, whether its walls did come tumbling down as recorded in the Bible can be disputed.

Some archeologists, such as Brit John Garstang (1930-1936), and another British archeologist, Kathleen Kenyon (1952-1958), said their findings confirm that the walls of Jericho did collapse. Still, Garstang argued the walls came down in about 1,400 A.D., when Joshua and the Israelites in Joshua 6 are reported to have conquered the city by walking around it, playing trumpets, and crying out loud on the seventh day; and Kenyon claimed the walls came down 150 years earlier.

A known Bible scholar, Bryant Wood, a graduate of Syracuse University, in New York, claimed in 1990 that pottery uncovered by Kenyon is from 1400 B.C., and not 1550 B.C. And the arguments go on.

As often is the case, a faith versus science scenario exists as to how and when the city‘s walls fell.

What is known about ancient Jericho is it’s considered to be the oldest inhabited settlement known to man, at about 8,000 B.C.; is said to have been the world’s lowest city, at about 900 feet below sea level; and was prominent in Biblical times because of its strategic location in the middle of Palestine. Located about 10 miles north of the Dead Sea and only a slightly greater distance east and north of Jerusalem, the site of ancient Jericho, less than two miles from modern Jericho, includes an oasis made by natural irrigation from the nearby Jordan River and underground water sources from the Central Mountains.

Interesting facts and figures about the city of Jericho include:

* Mentioned many times in the Old Testament, Jericho was the first city Israel conquered upon entering the Promised Land

* Kenyon’s research, though not consistent chronologically with Biblical history, did conclude the city then was razed by fire, as stated in Joshua 6; and that the city’s north wall, where tradition says Rahab the Harlot and her family were spared, was left standing

* Jericho was destroyed and rebuilt many times, including by Herod the Great

* Jericho was conquered by Muslim Arabs after the seventh century

* Jericho was one of few ancient cities connected both to Via Maris (a major trade route to the west) and King’s Highway (a major trade route to the east)

* Jericho means “fragrant”

* Modern Jericho was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War; and was the first city handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994 in the Oslo accords

Like much of the West Bank, the modern city of Jericho currently is living in a world of hostility between Israel and Palestine. Today, it’s a small city of about 20,000 people.

Much of what we know about the city of Jericho deals with its defensive walls which first were built about 2900 B.C.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has History

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has History

With its construction begun more than 800 years ago, in 1173, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has a long history accented by the fact the 185-foot-high bell tower constructed to complement the Italian city’s beautiful marble cathedral primarily was built to flaunt the city’s wealth.

Located along the Arno River near the Tyrrhenian Sea, in north central Italy, Pisa became a maritime power from 900 A.D. until 1284 A.D., obtaining some of its wealth from trading privileges secured in the eastern Mediterranean during the Crusades.

Hence, construction of the tower was begun as a showcase of wealth; yet within ten years, when it was learned sinking soil beneath the then three-story, 35-foot-high structure was causing a severe inclination toward the north, construction was halted. Ninety years later, construction was resumed with the structure’s design intentionally being bent to the south in an attempt to correct the unplanned inclination. In about 1350, the bell tower was added.

Until 2001, the lean of the tower, estimated to be about 17 feet top to bottom, continued to increase at a rate of about one millimeter (0.394 inches) per year. Although public access to the tower and its winding 294-step interior taking visitors from base to bell tower was closed 1990 through 2001 to aid efforts to preserve the structure’s integrity, visitors again are being allowed access to the architectural anomaly, although space is limited and reservations are suggested.

Historical facts and points of interest regarding the Leaning Tower of Pisa include:

* 1173 Construction begun; original design sometimes attributed to Bonanno Pisano, sometimes to Gherardo of Gherado

* 1183 Work halted because of unanticipated inclination

* 1275 Work resumed

* 1350 Bell tower completed, leaving structure eight-stories high

* Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) A native of Pisa, Galileo is said to have conducted gravity experiments from the tower

* 1655 Leaning Tower’s largest bell, “The Assumption,“ at 3.5 tons, was cast

* 1934 Concrete injected in base blamed for acceleration of lean

* The Plaza of the Cathedral, in which the Leaning Tower stands, includes a large marble-covered baptistery with a peaked copula, a gift from a Sicilian king; and the marble, Latin cross-shaped cathedral with ornate bronze doors

* Outer diameter of Leaning Tower’s base, about 51 feet

* Inner diameter of Leaning Tower’s base, about 24 feet

Covered with white marble, the interior of the universally recognized Roman-style cylindrical structure includes a winding staircase that affords those climbing its steps the opportunity to step off at any floor to view ornate, open galleries with round arches supported on columns.

Pisa, in earlier times a Greek, then Roman colony, is second only in population to Florence in Italy’s Tuscany region.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has long been an oddity in the architectural world, and that won’t change in spite of the fact those who worked on it 1990-2001 claim its continuous tilt has been arrested for the first time in the past 800 years.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Short Biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

A Short Biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower

Any biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, must meld his military successes in World War II with his political successes while serving in the White House from 1953 to 1961.

For the Texas-born world leader--whose favorite foods included roast stuffed breast of veal, prune whip, and fluffy turnips, and favorite hobbies were painting and playing bridge--was extremely successful on both fronts.

After graduating from West Point in 1915 and later serving under the tutelage of General John J. Pershing and General Douglas MacArthur, Ike was summoned to the U.S. War Department immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and placed in charge of the U.S.‘s Pacific front of World War II. Shortly thereafter, in 1942, he was Commander-in-Chief of allied forces in North Africa, and on D-Day, 1944, Eisenhower was Supreme Commander of troops who successfully invaded France at Normandy.

Only six months into his presidency--eight years often referred to as Cold War years because of frigid international relationships between democratic nations, primarily the U.S., and socialist nations such as the Soviet Union--President Eisenhower helped negotiate a truce to end the Korean War.

Other milestones during his presidency included signing the first U. S. civil rights legislation since the conclusion of the Civil War nearly 100 years earlier, signing the bill that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and sending federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce court-ordered integration.

Important events in the life of Dwight David Eisenhower include:

* Born October 14, 1890, in Denison, Texas

* 1909 Graduated from Abilene High School, Abilene, Kansas; a star baseball/ football player

* 1915 Graduated from West Point, commissioned as second lieutenant

* 1916 Married Mamie Geneva Doud

* 1933-1935 Served as military aide to General Douglas MacArthur

* 1942 Named Commander-in-Chief of allied forces, North Africa

* 1944 Supreme Commander of troops who helped liberate Europe at battle of Normandy, France

* 1950 Named Supreme Allied Commander of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

* 1953-1961 Served two terms as president of the United States

* 1955 Suffered heart attack, and after five months doctors reported his recovery

* 1969 Died in Washington D.C., after long illness

A humanitarian--as well as a renowned military leader with an uncanny ability to assess and employ the skills of people around him and a hard-working president willing to pursue moderate policies of “Modern Republicanism,”--Eisenhower once said of the Korean War truce he worked hard to bring about, “We do not greet it (the truce) with wild rejoicing. We know how dear its cost has been in life and treasure.”

In another quotable statement made during his second year in office, Ike reportedly said, “Faith is the mightiest force that man has at his command. It impels human beings to greatness in thought and word and deed.”

This biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower will conclude with the man’s favorite motto: “Gently in Manner--Strongly in Deed.”

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Geology of the Grand Canyon: God or Science?

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

The Geology of the Grand Canyon: God or Science?

Possibly the geology of the Grand Canyon in northwest Arizona, more so than the controversial, sometimes divisive theory know as evolution, provides us with an example of the symbiotic relationship that can exist between God and science.

Although there seem to be no inconsistencies between geological lessons taught us by rock formations found in the huge, 277-mile-long chasm of beauty in the Southwest portion of the U.S. compared to the Word of God according to Genesis 1:9-10, evolutionists and Creationists seen to be on an unavoidable collision course.

Evolutionists--demanding a scientific explanation for the existence of man and the firmament on which he stands, though faced with occasional evolutionary chasms of their own such as to how the long-necked giraffe fits into the evolutionary chain--seem unable to accept the faith element so readily believed by Creationists; hence the conflict.

Because time with God seems to be such a nonentity, the billions of years scientists say it took to shape the four- to-eighteen-mile wide crevice that’s more than a mile deep in many places seem in harmony with Biblical scripture.

No matter one’s ideological beliefs, it’s clear that erosion--water, ice, and wind-- plus the Colorado River, volcano activity, and continental drift all have had a hand in forming the innate beauty of this unique natural treasure.

The history of the Grand Canyon, at best guess according to millions of years of rock formations left exposed today, includes the following dates and events:

* “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.” Genesis 1: 9 (Creationism, not science)

* Five billion years ago, the earth was formed

* 1.7 billion years ago, roots of ancient mountain range now at bottom of Grand Canyon were formed

* 1.25 to 1.1 billion years ago, volcanic activity at Grand Canyon

* 250 million years ago, marine fossils in top layer of Grand Canyon, Kaibab Limestone, only could have formed at bottom of sea

* 60 to 70 million years ago, Rocky Mountains and, later, the Colorado River, begin to form


From here, scientists offer two possible explanations:

A) 20 million years ago the Colorado River begins carving out the Grand Canyon; 17 million years ago the Colorado Plateau begins to uplift and cause the Colorado River to cut deeper; and 5 million years ago another river moving northward along the San Andreas fault captures the Colorado River on the Colorado Plateau.

B) 35 million years ago the Kaibib Plateau begins to uplift and changes course of Colorado River to the southeast; 12 million years ago the Colorado River’s path to the sea is blocked, and it becomes huge Lake Badahochi; over time, drainage is restored and Lake Badahochi becomes the Little Colorado River.

Whether attributed to God or science, the geology of the Grand Canyon presents one with unparalleled views of beauty and grandeur.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sharene, a Novel by Rocky Wilson

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

Sharene, a Novel by Rocky Wilson

Sharene Death: A Prerequisite for Life, is a new novel written by Rocky Wilson, who authors all the written text on

Wilson’s parents were a history teacher, hence his interest in writing this blog, and an English teacher who directed him along a path toward the publication of Sharene and two additional novels he has written and plans to publish in 2009.

Most of his adult life has seen Wilson employed as a journalist, including half ownership of a weekly newspaper in Oregon. He also has enjoyed years spent working as a maintenance gardener.

Sharene, written over the course of two decades, has been categorized as a “Christian thriller” by its publishing company, and covers a few years in the life of Sharene Marsena. Sharene is a beautiful high school, then college student from Alabama who’s tossed from innocence into a life of pain, love, and international intrigue before she dies at an early age.

A rough outline of events in Sharene Death: A Prerequisite for Life includes:

* Sharene’s funeral in Alabama, 1981

* An introduction to the good vs. evil elements in the novel, aka Christ and Satan

* Young, innocent love and godly intervention when one main character, boyfriend Jordan Norton, could have died

* Sharene visits her grandmother in South Carolina

* Sharene is raped and infected with a new, incurable disease

* Sharene faces her rapist in a courtroom

* The ever-present love and counseling from Pastor Dale Hemri

* Sharene refuses to tell Jordon of her plight or let him be part of her life

* Sharene attends junior college in Georgia

* Sharene becomes enamored with the novel’s most complex character, Sherm Purcell

* Purcell, working with a drug and munitions operative in Colombia, tries to lure Sharene to Colombia where the drug lord’s girlfriend is a look-alike to Sharene

* the CIA gets involved

* Sharene goes to Paraguay for two weeks of intensive training

* Sharene becomes a substitute in the drug lord’s compound for his abducted girlfriend

* Purcell helps Sharene in the compound and becomes both “emotionally involved” and intrigued by her Christian beliefs

* Satan, fearing Sharene will escape according to God’s plan, not his, materials as a radiant prince and offers Sharene the world

* The conclusion

The novel was written in hopes of appealing to a wider audience than most “Christian” books because of its fast-paced intensity and willingness to tackle, head on, such topics as rape and A.I.D.S. which often are downplayed or ignored by many Christian writers. Still, the presence of good and evil, as the author sees in existence around him every day, are present on nearly every page.

Sharene Death: A Prerequisite for Life, by Rocky Wilson, will be available at beginning in mid-February, 2009.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

The Many Turns of Venezuela History

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

The Many Turns of Venezuela History

Even before the discovery of large oil reserves in its coastal regions early in the 20th Century and the ascendancy to power in 1999 of Hugo Chavez, much of Venezuela history was marked by battles for a rich minority to retain power over a poor, struggling majority.

Over the years, many dictators have risen to power in Venezuelan politics.

Located practically at the northernmost point of South America straddling the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean southeast of Cuba, Venezuela is more than twice the size of the state of California and is home for about 28 million people, most of them of Mestizo, or mixed European and Native American descent.

Because of its rich oil reserves, which amount to 90 percent of the nation’s export earnings, Venezuela has one of, if not the highest per-capita income levels in South America. Still, the distribution of that wealth is limited and does little, as a whole, to improve the state of the poor, where commercial sexual exploitation of women and children is common.

Chavez, working to implement his “21st Century Socialism” program, has become a strong Communist-leaning force in the Western Hemisphere, changed laws to extend his term as president, and has nationalized businesses in the petroleum, communications, and electrical sectors to gain more control over the nation’s economy.

Important dates in Venezuelan history include:

* 6,000-13,000 B.C. first residents came to Venezuela from Gyanas, Brazil, and Antillas

* 1498 Christopher Columbus set foot on Venezuelan soil

* 1567 Current capital city of Caracas founded

* 1821 Independence from Spain: join with Colombia and Ecuador to form Republic of Greater Colombia

* 1830 Venezuela, meaning “Little Venice,” becomes a republic

* 1870-1888 Dictator Antonio Guzman Blanco develops infrastructure, expands agriculture, welcomes foreign investment, crushes the church

* 1908-1935 Dictator General Juan Vicente Gomez’s strong military presence ushers Venezuela into worldwide prominence as major oil exporter

* 1969-1974 President Rafael Caldera Rogriguez legalizes Communist party, establishes diplomatic relations with Soviet Union

* 1999 Venezuela adopts current constitution, leftist president Hugo Chavez takes power

* 2004 Largely because of social spending programs, Chavez’s popularity rating climbs to 70 percent

* 2007 Chavez nationalizes petroleum, telecommunications, and energy companies

Like many countries ruled for any significant length of time by Spain, Venezuela, although not listed as an overly religious country, professes to be 96 percent Roman Catholic, and lists Spanish as its official language. However, because of many different tribes living in the four distinct areas of the country--the Maracaibo lowlands; mountainous region in the north and northwest; grass-covered plains and forested areas in the Orinoco Basin, in the country’s south and southeast portions; and the Guiana Highlands south of the Orinoco River--multiple other dialects are spoken as well.

Although much of Venezuela history has seen the U.S. as that nation’s biggest export and import partner, that could change as Chavez internalizes more and more industries and becomes more independent from Western influences.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Is There An Ultimate Bruce Springsteen Experience?

By Rocky Wilson
Author of Sharene:
Death: A Prerequisite For Life

Is There An Ultimate Bruce Springsteen Experience?

For some, the ultimate Bruce Springsteen experience could come February 1, 2009, when the legendary rock ‘n roll songwriter, guitarist, and singer performs in a live, center-stage extravaganza before millions of television viewers around the world during halftime of Super Bowl XLIII, in Tampa Bay, Florida.

But for many others, that ultimate experience may have come while attending any of the thousands of concerts Bruce Springsteen, often playing with his highly touted and talented E Street Band, has performed worldwide since buying his first guitar for $18 at age 13, cutting his first album at age 24, and skyrocketing into musical prominence with his ’Born To Run’ album released in 1975.

Whether staging breath-taking guitar duels with long-time friend and E Street Band member Steve Van Zandt, or stroking an acoustic guitar and quietly singing folk ballads, Springsteen has created a cult following totally enamored by his versatility and ability to communicate, in music, with the common man.

Some highlights in the life of Bruce Springsteen include:

* September 23, 1949, Springsteen is born to a bus-driving father and legal-secretary mother in New Jersey

* June 1972, after auditioning before John Hammond, the man credited with discovering Bob Dylan, Springsteen signs contract with Columbia Records, for which he still performs

* January 1973, debut album, ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.,’ is released

* September 1975, Springsteen and E Street Band’s ‘Born To Run’ is released

* October 1975, Springsteen appears simultaneously on covers of Time, Newsweek

* July 1976-May 1977 Springsteen in legal battle with former producer Mike Appel, curtails recording before settled out of court

* 1984 ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ album sells fifteen million copies, includes seven top-ten hits

* 1994 Writes soundtrack for AIDS-related film ‘Philadelphia,’ for which Springsteen earns four Grammy Awards and an Academy Award

* 1999 Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for vocals, guitar

* 2001 Springsteen helped organize top musicians in response to terrorist attacks

* 2008 Actively campaigned for presidential candidate Barack Obama

* February 1, 2009 Springsteen and E Street Band to provide halftime entertainment for Super Bowl XLIII

At times a perfectionist, Springsteen reportedly spent fourteen months working to produce his third album, ‘Born To Run,’ with six months of that time spent perfecting the title song. A contributing factor to that lengthy production time could have been the early advent of what evolved into a bitter legal battle between Springsteen and the producer of his first two albums, Mike Appel. When Springsteen’s fame from ‘Born To Run’ was simultaneously placing his photo on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines, Appel hit the evolving artist with a legal injunction that kept Springsteen from recording with his soon-to-be manager, Jon Landau, for nearly one year.

Possibly Springsteen’s 16th studio-produced album, ‘Working On A Dream,’ to be released one week before the 2009 Super Bowl, will become the ultimate Bruce Springsteen experience for new listeners.

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