American Elephants


Oh Come All Ye Faithful by The Elephant's Child

We teamed up with two talented a Capella groups, BYU Vocal Point and BYU Noteworthy, to create a beautiful reminder that we hope inspires people of all denominations to look inward and reflect on the value of faith in their own lives this holiday season.



Christmas is Coming: The Geese Are Getting Fat… by The Elephant's Child

A mysterious light switch allows unsuspecting New Yorkers to turn on over 50,000 Christmas lights. From Improv Everywhere:

For our latest mission, we placed a 7-foot-tall light switch in New York City’s Father Demo Square. When a random New Yorker flipped the switch, the entire square lit up with Christmas lights. In addition to lights on the trees, benches, and fences around the park, a mob of performers wearing lights wrapped around their clothes lit up as well. The performers were instructed to turn on their lights and freeze in place when the switch was flipped on.

(h/t: AmericanDigest)



A Comment on Today’s Culture: Historically Inaccurate, but Pointed. by The Elephant's Child

Totanic-selfie-copy



Protesters Call for Free College – 0. Jihadists Death Toll – 153. by The Elephant's Child

Well, give a young man a  bullhorn, some friends in all matching black lives matter tee shirts, and a cause — and he may start feeling quite powerful. Add on some professional protesters from Ferguson, Baltimore and  New York to urge him on, and first thing you know he’s got headlines all over the country.

The cause? The student government president, Payton Head, who is black, claimed that he had been called the n-word by some men in a pickup decorated with Confederate flags. There was no police report, and nobody else seemed to have seen it. He also claimed that the KKK had been seen on campus as well, but he had to retract that. The black hunger-striker claimed that the president of the university , Tim Wolfe, allowed his driver to hit Johnathan Butler with his car during an attempted shutdown of the homecoming parade. Unfortunately, a video shows that Butler rushed directly toward the car, hitting it, rather than the other way round. This seems to be the total of the frightening acts the protesters are calling “terrorism.”

Give a young man a Kalashnikov, some friends with their weapons, and a big dose of martyring one’s self to get all those virgins in Paradise, and they start feeling quite powerful. Nothing quite so powerful as executing over a hundred innocent people attending a rock concert.  The latter, of course, made the headlines all over the world, and the former protesters who had done nothing much except a lot of shouting and raising their clenched fists, but succeeded in getting faculty and a university president to resign. The impetus for that was apparently not the raised fists, but the threat of cancelling a football game — a forfeit that would have cost them a million dollars.

But here’s the disgusting part. The spoiled brats on America’s campuses were outraged that a bunch of Muslim terrorists had deprived them of their media attention.

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(h/t:The Right Scoop)



Octavists by The Elephant's Child

I had never heard the term “Octavist”, nor heard one sing. Amazing! The term “oktavist” describes a basso profundo singer with an extremely deep range. You’ll notice that the singers showcased in this video all sound unbelievably deep, with some making you question whether or not it’s humanly possible to produce such low notes. Their voices can go as deep as an octave below the bass staff.”

http://www.wimp.com/russian-oktavists/ Do watch the whole thing.

The octavists in this video are all Russian, but they exist all over the world.



Samuel Eliot Morrison: “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” by The Elephant's Child

History_Ask_History_Did_Columbus_Really_Discover_America_SF_still_624x352How about we just call this “Make Fun Of History Day?” Or ‘I feel so superior because we don’t do the bad thing that our ancestors used to do.’ Tear down the Jefferson Memorial because Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Destroy his statues!  End history.  This is beyond silly. History is what actually happened. Our knowledge of what went on in another time is limited to the writings of the time. Slavery, at the time, was simply an accepted custom, as was indenture. Teachers were often indentured servants, as were others with little money and needed skills. We look back at the institution of slavery now and realize that it was a horror for those who were enslaved, but that is our mores or customs of today.

Some day in the future, people may find our dangerous way of driving cars on freeways with so many accidents hard to understand. It’s not our business to judge the past, only to learn from it. Besides, if Jefferson had not done anything else, the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition alone make him worthy of that beautiful memorial.

So pay no attention to those trying to rewrite history. Here’s an excerpt from Samuel Eliot Morrison’s biography of Christopher Columbus Admiral of the Ocean Seas: A Life of Christopher Columbus. Learn a little about him instead.

At the end of 1492 most men in Western Europe felt exceedingly gloomy about the future. Christian civilization appeared to be shrinking in area and dividing into hostile units as its sphere contracted. For over a century there had been no important advance in natural science and registration in the universities dwindled as the instruction they offered became increasingly jejune and lifeless. Institutions were decaying, well-meaning people were growing cynical or desperate, and many intelligent men, for want of something better to do, were endeavoring to escape the present through studying the pagan past. . . .

Yet, even as the chroniclers of Nuremberg were correcting their proofs from Koberger’s press, a Spanish caravel named Nina scudded before a winter gale into Lisbon with news of a discovery that was to give old Europe another chance. In a few years we find the mental picture completely changed. Strong monarchs are stamping out privy conspiracy and rebellion; the Church, purged and chastened by the Protestant Reformation, puts her house in order; new ideas flare up throughout Italy, France, Germany and the northern nations; faith in God revives and the human spirit is renewed. The change is complete and startling: “A new envisagement of the world has begun, and men are no longer sighing after the imaginary golden age that lay in the distant past, but speculating as to the golden age that might possibly lie in the oncoming future.”

Christopher Columbus belonged to an age that was past, yet he became the sign and symbol of this new age of hope, glory and accomplishment. His medieval faith impelled him to a modern solution: Expansion.

Thanks to Instapundit for the excerpt.



The Dirty Secrets of Organic Food by The Elephant's Child

Organic-Produce-in-Grocery-Store-PhotoThe cleverest words devised by marketing experts can be found in greatest abundance in your friendly neighborhood grocery store. In the supermarket world, shelf space is a coveted commodity, and producers are desperately trying to retain and grow the amount of shelf space they are allowed. Just stop and think for a moment of the cereal aisle, and how many different brands of cereal are there.

What can you hook a kid on? Chocolate dinosaurs? or will mom go for ‘natural’ or ‘organic’? The words chosen matter in sales success. There’s ‘natural’ which has an enticing ring, until you compare it to ‘unnatural’ which immediately shows how meaningless it is. You have GMO Free, Gluten Free, Whole Grain, Heart Healthy and a whole raft of other enticements promising more health, strength and happiness. They are mostly marketing ploys, but none is so prevalent as “Organic.”

In most stores a whole section is set aside for organic foods, but what does that mean for the customer? Better health, better nutrition? No.

Passionate advocates of organic farming and foods resemble members of a religious cult, one founded on a “back to Nature” mentality. They are not so fundamentalist, however, that they do not make concessions to reality. For example, organic standards arbitrarily define which pesticides are acceptable, but allow “deviations” if based on “need.” Synthetic chemical pesticides are generally prohibited, although there is a lengthy list of exceptions in the Organic Foods Production Act, while most “natural” ones are permitted (and the application of pathogen-laden animal excreta as fertilizer is allowed). The decisions are made in a murky process that combines agronomy, lobbying, and fundamentalism. …

Ironically, the designation “organic” is itself a synthetic construct of activists and bureaucrats that makes little sense. That brings us to another anomaly: Organic agriculture is based on agreed, allowed sets of principles and techniques, but it has little to do with the ultimate quality or composition of the final products. For example, if prohibited chemical pesticides or forbidden pollen from genetically engineered plants wafts onto and “contaminates” an organic field, guess what? The farmer gets a mulligan: He does not lose his organic certification.

Organic foods arrived on a fear of “chemicals,” (scare quotes) which pops up now and then. Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones do, and there is the added risk of pathogen-laden animal excreta — manure. Organic foods have never been shown to be healthier or to have any environmental benefit.

Moreover, a study published in 2012 in the Annals of Internal Medicine by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy aggregated and analyzed data from 237 studies to determine whether organic foods are safer or healthier than non-organic foods. They concluded that fruits and vegetables that met the criteria for “organic” were on average no more nutritious than their far cheaper conventional counterparts, nor were those foods less likely to be contaminated by pathogenic bacteria like E. coli or Salmonella.

Organic farms typically have smaller yields than conventional farms. In those examples when the conventional and organic systems are most comparable, the organic yield is 34% less. The dirty little secret ia  that organic agriculture is kept afloat by massive subsidies and bolstered by  a whole range of USDA programs, misleading advertising, and marketing that dishonestly disparages the competition.

There are new commercials on radio, advertising bed sheets that are less expensive because of the absence of a brick and mortar store, and softer, better because the cotton is grown with manure rather than an ordinary nitrogen-based fertilizer. And that makes sense because?  Because millions of Americans have been led to believe that “organic” means better for you. It isn’t. Costs about 30% more though.

 




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