Saturday, December 23, 2006


The family is starting to arrive. Our normal 5 is up to 8, and those are just the folks that are sleeping here. The big deal is today. Pretty much all the LA basin relatives will be here. It will be nothing but delightful times with kids and grandkids right through the 27th.

Then my young bride and I will head to the Central California Coast to celebrate an amazing 20 years of marriage together. We have been promised that the night tour of the Hearst Castle is spectacular, especially at Christmas time. How much better can 8 days be, at least in promise.

So, blogging will be a distant priority for the next week or so. Maybe I'll just bore you all with a few pictures of all these family to-do's. Or maybe the December archives will just be a little short of content.

God bless all of you who visit here, even those of you who don't think He exists.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

New Website Gives Basic Points Re-Darwinism/Naturalism Is Wrong

WorldnetDaily is still a daily stop for me, although I am concerned that they are falling pray to some pretty wacked out ideas. In between the silly stuff, however, this news aggregator does find a few gems that you won't see reported elsewhere. So, today we have a story about a group who is buying space on billboards to advertise their new website, "Who Is Your Creator?"

The purpose of the site is to give simple (some might say simplistic, but they would be wrong), easily understood arguments against the naturalistic view of how life began and came to be the way it is today. After reviewing half of the material on the site, I didn't see anything new, but the site is well laid out, and would be a great starting point for someone who doesn't desire to read an entire book on the subject.

One very cool offering on the site that I had heard about but never seen was a list of scientist who have signed a "scientific dissent from Darwinism." You can find that download on this page

Visit their home page to see the billboards they are putting up. Really quite fun.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Would You Die For Darwin

Decided to spend some time tooling around in the We Should Live blog. Blogger in residence, Ben Bateman, is a real out of the box thinker. I really liked this post, which I have edited down to the essentials:

Let’s start with the premise that a society built by and for intellectuals has a very limited future. I say that regretfully, as an intellectual, but I see no way to deny it. You could view most of the problems with Communism and its offshoots from this perspective: They all start with intellectuals saying to each other, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if WE ran the world?”

The problem with intellectuals running the world is that most of the challenges inherent to self-perpetuation are not intellectual challenges. They are more often challenges of courage, strength, endurance, or faith. We intellectuals can chatter at each other and read all the books we want, but that isn’t what maintains a civilization. To survive, a civilization’s women must steadfastly endure the risks and hardships of pregnancy, birth and infancy. And its men must be willing to fight and perhaps die on the battlefield in defense of their women and beliefs. Intellectuals aren’t very good at either task.

So here’s today’s theory on why Western Civilization seems to be unraveling, and where it’s likely to stop: A civilization will start to deteriorate when it becomes substantially more complex than the intelligence of its average citizen.

My comment to his much longer post: "I would rather extend your original argument that civilization will unravel when folks are so caught up in their science and other heady pursuits that they are unprepared to take on somebody like the Islamofascists. I am probably far less inclined to die for Darwin than I am for Jesus."

The Left and Europe Just Don't Get It

A few days ago I posted regarding the President Ahmadinejad speeches and interviews being available unfettered at this blog. I want to update my opinion of that blog, and it makes for an even more interesting point.

Because of some harrassing comments on this site from another blogger, I went back and read more of the comments on the Ahmadinejad site. It soon became clear that the site was intended for those sympathetic to the Iranian despot. I had earlier left a rather neutral comment, which passed through their approval process and was pointed to in their left column. Now I returned and left another message which was very unfavorable to their fearless leader. This new comment was not posted, nor was a follow up comment that spoke to the issue of not posting my less-than-favorable comment.

Why is it that those on the Left and in Europe, not to mention Russia and China, are so blind to what the leadership in Iran and their ilk are after? What will it take for them to understand that if the Islamofascists are allowed to expand their influence liberalism defined every way you can define it, is dead? Dissent means death. Torture isn't an issue up for debate. Believing in no god or any other god but Allah is not an option. A simple blog just confirms what we can expect in a future where these modern Nazi's are in control.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Maximum Pragmatism in God v No God Debate

The debate started below has found additional life at Master of None

A comment deep within one of the posts from Ben Bateman might provide us with the in extremis position on pragmatism as it relates to the issue of belief:

What if truth, as he understands it, is ultimately fatal? First he denies the premise, then he ignores the arguments entirely.

Let's assume that human societies cannot survive for long without religion. And let's assume that atheism is "true" in whatever sense SDB, Bernardo, Mark, and many others say that it's true. Which side should win? Truth or life?

Please resist the temptation to declare as dogma that truth automatically maximizes life. That denies the premise, which doesn't get us anywhere. Let's just assume for argument that homo sapiens is designed with a powerful need to hold beliefs that aren't true, and groups without those beliefs will perish. In that situation, which set of beliefs do you recommend: those that are true, or those that are necessary for survival?

Of course, this could be very satisfying to the Darwinists. Here we have a social meme that might be the emotional equivalent of an opposing thumb. It wouldn't even matter whether Christianity made us better or worse, nicer or more evil, as debated elsewhere. It would only matter that believing increases our chances of surviving and making more babies than those that don't. This is already happening. See here.

The entire post with all comments here.

The Mystery of Christmas - 48 Hours Mystery

We can generally expect at least a few TV specials each Christmas on the skeptic's view of the Bible, Christianity, and/or the Christmas story. This year is no exception with at least two such shows. CBS offered one such effort on their Saturday night news program, 48 Hours Mystery. I have emailed the following review to the folks at CBS. It will be interesting to see if there is any response.

First allow me to praise the special for giving equal time to both believers and skeptics. The overall balance was better than expected from a major network. The quality of the content was also excellent, and I think the average listener could follow and understand the issues.

There were two rather glaring evidences of bias, however. They were subtle, but bias nevertheless.

First, in describing many of the arguments put forward by the skeptics, the program used words like many theologians agree, or most theologians agree, or even just theologians agree. In no case was there any way for the viewer to know if this was a few obscure ranters and ravers, 25% of all theologians, or 100% of mainstream experts, but only 5% of evangelical writers and thinkers. By leaving it vague, the implication was that there are vast numbers of theologians who are skeptical.

In not one case were the words of the Ben Witherington backed up by any statement from the moderator with regard to anyone else agreeing with him. Not once did she use the words used to support the skeptics. Yet, the skeptics represent a small minority of Christian theologians. The vast majority would agree with Mr. Witherington at every point.

In addition, the program used three different skeptics, who each had full references to their backgrounds. In the case of Ben Witherington, he was described as "a conservative Bible scholar and an evangelical minister." But it would have been more complete to say at least some of the following: "Bible scholar Ben Witherington III is Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies." This information was a Google away.

By providing only a more modest background of Mr. Witherington's credentials, the program obviously intended to give him less credibility.

Finally, while most of the arguments provided by the skeptics had to do with questions around the historical accuracy and consistency of the 4 gospels, the program really failed to provide any of the well known rebuttals to these questions. They could, I'm sure, have had Josh McDowell or Lee Stroebel on the program to offer such rebuttals.

All-in-all a good, but flawed effort.
You can read the entire transcript of the show to confirm my comments if you would like. I will let you Google Ben Witherington yourself to see how hard it was to get his credentials.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Know Thine Enemy Department - President Ahmadinejad

A one stop resource for the recent rantings, ravings, and speeches of Iranian President Ahmadinejad can be located in one blog. They are presented without editing, and the blog does allow for comments. If you would like to read some of the interviews and speeches of Ahmadinejad, prepare to be both fascinated and appalled. Many of the comments that have been provided by readers are also quite good and illuminating.

In reading his most recent letter to the Citizens of the US, I couldn't help thinking that the content could have just as easily have been stated by Jimmy Carter or John Kerry. Go ahead, read it and see if you don't see extremely close parallels.

In the interest of clarity, allow me to add a comment to this post. At least one person seems to have misunderstood my position. I recommend reading these works in order, as the title states, to know your enemy. This man is the enemy of civilization in a way that can only be compared to Hitler, Pol Pot, Kim, Stalin, Lenin, and other similar despots. Some of the comments in this blog are favorable, and the entire blog may have been set up to give favorable treatment to Ahmadinejad. Whatever its purpose, the result provides all of us with a direct look into the heart of Islamofacism.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Evidence For the Existence of God

Continuing this thread to its next logical step. First, it was established that neither atheists nor Christians can prove or disprove the existence of God. I suggested that the logical method for proceeding to determine the most likely reality when a major premise cannot be proved or disproved is to try and determine which has the preponderance of the evidence.

From there I further offered that the major premise and the various pieces of evidence that might support the major premise should not be treated as all or nothing propositions, but rather each should be weighed based on the likelihood of its being true.

Now it seems sensible to lay out the basic evidences for the existence of God. This will be shorthand version. Many very capable theologians and philosophers have done extensive works on this subject. I don't pretend to be able to come close to their authority.

1. The basic human assumption on seeing complexity in design is to assume an intelligent designer, not a random occurrence.

2. A shared experience of perception by large majorities of the population gives rise to an assumption of its being real.

3. Underlying "rules" of properties (matter, energy, life) that are consistent through known time and space suggest intelligent forces at work, not randomness at any level.

4. An almost incomprehensible set of requirements for support of life as we know it on this planet maintained in critical balance for either millenniums (Bible) or millions of years (science). Such balance is beyond the imagination of most humans to contemplate without intelligence tweaking systems which might have otherwise gone awry. (Consider how science is now telling us that a mere 6% of warming might destroy human life that has survived for a very long time without help from science.)

5. Emotions such as love, hate, empathy, selflessness, patriotism, even the contemplation of beauty don't seem to fit into survival patterns without a real stretch. In other words, most honest evaluators would not think that sacrificial love is a product of evolution.

6. It is possible to come up with convoluted explanations for how bats use radar to find their way around in caves by natural evolution, even though it strains credulity to imagine why they would start creating the sounds needed when their ears weren't evolved to respond, or why their ears would evolve to respond prior to their "voice" being able to create the sound. Then it gets more difficult yet to figure out how both of these things evolved to the point of usefulness prior to some bat trying to use it in a cave. It isn't that one can't create a story line to solve this mystery. It is just that the story line wouldn't pass muster in Hollywood.

This is only one such mystery that needs such a workaround. Some, like the eye, are much discussed, but truly there are mysteries concerning almost every organ and organism which beg to explain how one thing developed before the other, even though there was no need for the second thing until the first came about. And that is only one kind of such mystery.

7. First cause. For those who want it all to be natural, they ultimately must deal with how the first thing came into existence. For God proponents, they must deal with who created God. Science has absolutely no answer, and it is beyond credibility that they ever will.

Those who believe in God propose that the spiritual realm has no space/time continuum, and that God is the first cause. We can't prove it, but at least we have a conceptual framework.

8. Life from non-life. Science has now proposed large number theory as a way to explain how life came from non-life. Once again I would assert that this very recent theory, while plausible, is extremely fragile.

To believe that God created life, as He created everything, is not that hard to believe. Billions believe it to be true. So it can hardly be called illogical or primitive. That would suggest that a very small percent of the population has, with absolutely no proof or even a way to get to the proof, determined that the vast majority of the population (including some pretty smart people) are delusional, and only they have it right. This would not hold up very well in a court of law with finders of fact trying to get it right.

9. There are 1000's of "coincidences" of fact regarding the Bible that would give rise to an assumption that the Bible is special beyond any other "human" achievement. One can look at all of these facts and deny all of them, and therefore conclude that the Bible is merely an astonishing human work. However, once again, that is not how we look at evidence. Each of these 1000's of facts would need to be addressed individually, and then they would need to be viewed in the context of the entire lot of them.

10. You can take #9 and pretty much just insert the name of Jesus in each place where it says Bible. There can be almost no question that He was the most remarkable human to ever walk the planet, and has had the most impact of any other man. Given his short life, very brief public activity, location of his birth, life, and death, methods of his work, and claims made by him and about him, an honest intellectual cannot dismiss the possibility that He was more than mere human. It is evidence that must be weighed.

Therefore, the logical way to approach this subject is to look at the 10 evidences above plus many more and give each some weight. If there were only three logical arguments that lead a large percentage of the population to a certain conclusion, and a dozen that point the other way, then a logical person would likely conclude theory B to be the better one. I submit that this is why the vast majority of humans conclude there is a God. People with IQ's of 70 and 200. Folks in primitive cultures and the most advance cultures. People with horrible upbringings and privileged upbringings. People who have acted very badly in their lives and those who try their hardest to be good citizens, parents, friends.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bernardo's Superlative Argument (with comments)

Bernardo (his website is here) answered one of my questions in the GOD v No GOD debate thusly:

I agree that God could exist, and that my tendency to see things as products of unguided natural processes (rather than as deliberately created) is a result of the fact I would rather live in a naturalistic world than in a world where there's supernatural stuff going on that I can't understand. (And history reaffirms my feelings on this, because all kinds of things used to be attributed to God until science discovered the natural processes behind them). Conversely, I insist that what anchors most theists to theism is their preference to live in a world that has meaning and purpose, part of a narrative, where lives move towards a divine goal. This view may or may not be justifiable from the evidence.

But when it comes to believing that God is talking with you, that your prayer can cause someone to change their mind or recover from a disease, that a "religious experience" really means you're connected with the divine, then those things I feel can "be dismissed as the rantings of lunatics or the silliness of uneducated or even the misguided ideas of folks who should know better".

Without being picky, I would list the following questions for all of us to ponder out of Bernardo's well written response:

1. Does believing the world to be a naturalistic world result in more or less confusion about "stuff going on that we can't understand?" Does free will get clearer? How about origins? Purpose? Bad things happening to good people? Horrific diseases, death, and destruction?

2. Believers clearly prefer a universe with purpose and hope of justice, including heaven and hell. Does this mean atheists prefer a random universe where the sun might choose to come up in the West tomorrow or gravity might exert 45 pounds/sq' on earth?

3. How is it that those who don't hear from God, trust in their prayers to be answered, and feel connected in a personal way to the Creator of the universe set themselves up as clearer thinkers than the rest of us. I generally don't doubt the clarity of thought of those who see things differently. Merely their conclusions. And generally I will even regard their conclusions as having some percentage chance of being superior to mine.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Not Reported in Mainstream Press - Global Warming Not Anthropogenic

“the global warming observed during the latest 150 years is just a short episode in the geologic history. The current global warming is most likely a combined effect of increased solar and tectonic activities and cannot be attributed to the increased anthropogenic impact on the atmosphere. Humans may be responsible for less than 0.01°C (of approximately 0.56°C (1°F) total average atmospheric heating during the last century)”

“Any attempts to mitigate undesirable climatic changes using restrictive regulations are condemned to failure, because the global natural forces are at least 4–5 orders of magnitude greater than available human controls.”
These two statements don't need an editorial content. Except to say that Al Gore will be surprised to find out that these are not the rantings of some axe-grinder. Rather it is quoted from a recent issue of Environmental Geology in an article entitled “On global forces of nature driving the Earth’s climate. Are humans involved?” It is written by two scientists at the University of Southern California. Environmental Geology is a first-class journal, and papers submitted to the journal are peer-reviewed by scientists at major institutions.

The above paragraph is a paraphrase of a longer article you can read on the World Climate Report Website.

The unsurprising thing about this article is that I had to dig for it. You won't find Al Gore or his ilk holding a press conference to say: "Well, here's one for the other side."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

More Backpedaling on Global Warming

Even as the rhetoric is reaching every increasing levels of hysteria, no less than a major UN study has concluded that humans are contributing 25% less to global warming than previously thought. And even though the UN thinks the temperature will march ever upward in the next 100 years, the consequences seems to be measure in heat waves and a bit over a foot rise in average sea level.

This comes on the heals of a substantial reduction in the estimate of temperature increase predicted in the next 50 years as reported here a few weeks ago.

The earth has weather fires, massive volcanoes, ice ages, meteors, and who knows what else over the time of its existence. Many, in his hubris, somehow thinks his weak contribution to climate change in the last 50 years is somehow going to be the "thing" that the earth can't handle. Then we humble humans think we can do something to counter these effects. And we think we can do so without unintended consequences which may very well turn out to be exceedingly more destructive. WOW!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Challenge - Why Not Homosexual Behavior and Abortion?

As the comments continue to accumulate in the debate over God's existence, another common thread has emerged. Should our system of government be influenced by Biblical principles? This argument can range from the idea that Christianity has too much influence and needs balance from those who don't believe, to some who think that using the Bible or Christian thought as one argument at the table is inappropriate, or at least not worthy of consideration.

So the vast majority of Bible-believing Christians today would argue that the Bible clearly calls homosexual practices sin. Most would go so far as to say that such practices are specially called out as a major concern for God.

Likewise, those in this group would say that killing unborn humans is still killing. And while many will make exceptions for rape, incest, and threat to the mother's life, it is very hard to see any distinction in the arguments for killing kids inside or outside the womb.

So, the challenge is for folks who feel this way to make substantive arguments against the practices that can be argued by all sides without reference to Divine thinking. For the purposes of this post and to engage the debate, I will just give a shorthand list of such:


1. There is every reason to believe that the child experiences pain when it is destroyed.
2. Any operation has risks, both at the time of the operation and later.
3. There is clearly established psychological trauma associated with abortion for the mother.
4. The grandparents, biological father, and others may not like being deprived of the potential benefits that the child may have given them.
5. Many, if not most, women who have an abortion have eventual regrets, depression, anger, and other psychological results that negatively impact their lives.
6. Women who never have a child, but who aborted one, are faced with particular sets of issues that impact their lives.
7. Many of the individuals who are making this decision are very young and not at a point of their lives where they can easily weigh the consequences of this decision.
8. The taking of any life creates a diminution in the sanctity of life for the individual taking the life.
9. Society as a whole experiences a diminution in the sanctity of life when the wholesale slaughter of millions of unborn children takes place with little thought.
10. The community as a whole is deprived of the potential of that human.
11. Many communities choose to select out certain attributes (sex, race, social standing, disease, abnormalities), in the birth/abortion decision. These selection processes have many known and undoubtedly far more unknown consequences. For instance, if Darwin's theory is correct, we may select out abnormalities that are actual potential benefits.
12. Slippery slope. Once we agree that partial birth abortion is OK, do we now OK abortions for one hour after birth, or at least until the cord is cut? If we agree that killing unborns is justified because of sex, race, social standing, disease, or abnormality, then WHO is going to say that it isn't justifiable to exterminate such undesirables at age one hour or 86?
13. Easy abortion is clearly used as a birth control method. To this extent it is a great boon to men. They can be totally cavalier when it comes to the use of condoms or worrying about having sex outside of marriage. They just have to insist on abortion when a mistake occurs.
14. To the extent that people see abortion as an easy out when mistakes are "created," it further diminishes the idea that life is to be preserved except in very special cases.

Homosexual Practices:

Introduction. I have gone to great lengths elsewhere in this blog to fully explain my understanding of the origin of homosexual inclination. In short, I believe for some there is genetic confusion, for some there is biological predisposition, for some there is early childhood environmental influences, and for the vast majority a seduction by an older individual resulting in unwanted or at least unexpected homosexual experiences. However, it is my further contention that homosexual desires, like other similar desires, are only acted upon by choice. No matter how one feels about the question of whether a gay individual can choose to have homosexual feelings, it should be obvious that they can choose not to act on them. Now on to the reasons why society should discourage homosexual acts.

1. Society has a large stake in the procreative process. If we don't make babies - even if we don't make enough babies - our village, city, or nation will decline or die out. Many behaviors have tipping points, and it is likely that homosexual activity is one of these. If it becomes a "fad," it may have a very substantial detrimental effect on population.
2. Male homosexual practices are by their nature prone to disease transfer. Aids is only one of many diseases that flourish in the homosexual community.
3. Males are by their nature promiscuous. Females tend to have a domesticating influence on males, and the addition of children into a family increases the likelihood that the male will be less promiscuous. Promiscuity is something I have never heard anyone promote as beneficial, so I will not list the dozens of issues here.
4. Predatory heterosexual behavior, while to be abhorred, does not generally lead to the victim's turning from heterosexual behavior in the future. Predatory homosexual behavior dramatically increases the likelihood of the victim becoming a homosexual, and repeating predatory behavior.
5. No matter what the PC press tells you, homosexuals are very inclined toward young partners, and greatly prefer virgins. Thus it is not surprising that adult homosexuals are more inclined to act out these desires with underaged kids than heterosexuals are.

I have no doubt that smart readers can poke holes in my arguments, and I encourage the debate. The point, however, is not whether each of these ideas is debatable, but rather that one can have clear reasons for desiring that these practices be discouraged, regulated, or even criminalized without turning to the Bible.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Assigning "Weight" in the God vs no God Debate

In the previous post and the comments that followed, I started to notice a pattern that I can now recall is often present in this discussion. Evidence categories that would be acceptable in almost any other area of inquiry are dismissed totally in this debate. The emotional stake is often so high that evidence is either totally acceptable or totally unacceptable. Normally, evidence is given "weight."

Maybe the most important question in this age-old point of contention is the issue of complexity implying design and thus designer. So, if I find a watch on the beach, my assumption will be that something this complex must have an intelligence behind the design. It seems impossible to image that the watch just came together by natural causes without the hand of an intelligent creator.

Those who are either predisposed to naturalism or who have rejected God and thus must find a natural cause for every natural thing reject the designer argument. But they reject it, totally. Because, if ANYTHING was created by a supernatural being, then the debate is over. Similarly, God proponents are loathe to agree that any complex natural item or creature is the result of a natural process. If we can believe that birds evolved from dinosaurs, then it isn't too difficult to take a next step to monkey and humans. (It does get a little harder to figure out non-living matter to living matter.)

So the line is drawn in the sand. Here is where I propose that intelligent beings are not being honest in their argumentation. It is far more reasonable to assert design and intelligent designer to complex elements of the universe from crystals to roses. While a Christian would be intellectually dishonest to assert 100% certainty to this conclusion (large number theory is not without some merit), the atheistic naturalist is far more dishonest if he asserts that he is 100% certain that all complexity in the universe arises without design. Just for the heck of it, lets say that it is 92% likely that God did it.

You can apply this weighting approach to each of the subjects under the truth of God debate. Is the Bible God-inspired? The amazing amount of evidence would certainly put the weight well above 50%. Is there a spiritual realm? Was Jesus God? etc.

Has anyone seen this line of argument before? What do you think?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Intellectual Argument For Belief in GOD

The self-proclaimed intellectuals of Western Culture have largely decided that they are agnostic or atheistic. A very large percentage of academics, scientists, professionals, and those engaged in the arts are either indifferent to or openly hostile to religion, especially Christianity.

Over the past 22 years I have debated many of these individuals in person, by e-mail and in Internet forums. You can see a very substantial writing that came out of these debates having to do with the practical advantages of Christianity vs almost no practical advantages in unbelief. You can begin here and continue through I think 18 such advantages. If you want a complete list of the posts, just use the "search this blog" feature at the top of this page and insert "practical advantages."

Today I want to add to this body of work a basic argument for belief in God that I can't recall having seen before. If you have seen a similar approach used before, please point me to it so that I can site it.

A familiar refrain from most scientists and others who write on this subject is that they just don't see a "need" for God. In other words, in order to understand the origins, nature, or purpose of the World and Universe, believers look at such things as order, rules, beauty, love, even hate, and marvel at creation. Believers look at all of this and say that there is no way to comprehend what they see and experience without postulating a superior creative intelligence. Jews, Muslims, and Christians call this intelligence "God."

Science says "we can explain all of these things without inserting a superior creative intelligence." They also suggest that what can't be explained today, will be someday. And even if some things are never explained, there is still no need for God. Natural occurrences can explain everything, even if some of these things are forever beyond human ability to explain fully.

Taking these two opposite arguments and applying the philosopher's approach, most intellectually honest individuals agree that neither point of view can ever be proven or disproven. No matter what supernatural thing God decides to do, the naturalist can claim that the event can be explained naturally. One can even make a claim that any supernatural event is merely a natural event that has never been seen before.

The opposite is also true. One cannot disprove God. It is a basic premise of philosophy that you cannot ever prove a negative.

With that introduction, here is the "new" argument. If we are philosophically at an impasse, with an almost 100% inability to prove one or the other, then the wise observer is going to use what lawyers call the "preponderance of the evidence." For instance, if there is an accident, and 100 citizens witness the event, you may end up with 100 versions of what happened. The legal system requires the plaintiff in any such case to prove his point to the jury. The jury doesn't have to be 100% certain or even 75% certain. Technically, I suppose, preponderance means 51%. Realistically, the normal jurist is probably looking for a bit more than that, but nowhere near 100%.

When it comes to deciding how one feels about things like: the purpose of the Universe, life, human life, and individual existence; understanding our relationship with the creator, determining the underlying basis for societal rules and behavior, and postulating regarding life after death, using preponderance of the evidence would seem to be the most "scientific" way to make a decision.

If we accept this postulate, then I would propose that any person who thoroughly and honestly reviews evidence currently available will find a "need" for God, intellectually. I would go so far as to propose that those who does such a review and who decides that the weight of the evidence is for nature as the cause of everything, have looked at the evidence through a lens clouded by personal animosity or bitterness, a strong emotional stake, or concern for how they might have to live their life much differently if they decide God is real.

Please send this post to your non-believing friends or repost in places where atheists and agnostics are likely to gather. I am anxious to hear from those who don't agree.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Democrat - Part II

Dean Barnett over at gives us another look at the amazing hypocrisy of the folks who have a donkey for a mascot. The leader of the Democratic underground, the number one leftist blogger, and a force credited as a major help in winning the Congress for the Dems has this to say about how he selects guest writers for the front page of his blog:

I won't pay any heed to physical attributes (sex, race, etc). In the blog world, the writing -- and how it fits in my vision for the site -- is everything.

Gosh, maybe Kos should have provided a friend of the court brief in the various college admissions cases of the years. Or does he just agree that we, as a nation, have now made enough progress that we no longer need special set asides for various folks. That would be a great help to me. I have lost millions of dollars in military contracts over the years to minority set asides.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jihadists, Islamofascists, Islamists - Whatever You Call Them, They Will Not Go Peacefully

Hezbollah should be providing the entire world with a wake-up call. They do not intend to be denied power. Like Al-Qaeda, the various Palestinian factions, and other similar groups in Europe, Africa, Asia, and here, they have absolutely no concept of morality, ethics, social compact, rules of law, or human decency. There surely must be some historic examples of other societies who were this ruthless, but Attila the Hun, the Mongols, and the Nazis all seemed to at least understand that the stuff you do to others might come back to be used against you.

Given the barbarity of their actions, why do so many continue in their unrealistic belief that there is a way to mollify these animals. Where can we find the evidence where these groups have signed a treaty and then lived up to it. One is reminded of the Russians, but even with the horrors of the pogroms and the gulags, one always sensed that the Russians could be dealt with at some level. Yes, we were concerned that they might try a nuclear first strike. But it just never seemed really likely.

Is that the case today? Do liberals here and in Europe think that Iran's statements are just a bunch of bluff and blunder? Does anyone believe that their hatred for Jews would even be mollified if all Israeli Jews moved to America? Not a chance. These people are fighting for beliefs that we can no longer even contemplate.

We need to wake up before the greatest Nation and civilizing force in history is brought to its knees by an inferior and uncivil horde.

For more on this subject see the excellent post by Hugh Hewitt's guest columnist, Dean Barnett.

Illegal Immigrants Broke the Law - That's All We Need to Know!!

The most common argument for sending all illegal immigrants back where they came from (or at least all Spanish Speaking ones), is the "rule of law" argument. If we fail to uphold the laws of the land, then there will be no respect for those laws. This is most commonly said in the context of the immigrants who have broken one law not respecting other laws. Sometimes, though rarely, it is also applied to the rest of the population.

I have argued elsewhere that this is not a particularly good argument because of the legal concept of "acting in reliance." In short, due to 20 years of lack of enforcement, undocumented workers have acted in ways to build their lives, that were we to suddenly strictly enforce the law, the harm to them would be substantial.

However, I can now add three additional legal defenses that should forever end this debate point.

1. Prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutors commonly decide not to press charges for dozens of different reasons. In the case of illegal entry or overstaying a visa the reasons could include a plea bargain, overcrowded facilities, no other criminal record and clear civic contribution, child care or spousal support for legal citizens that would end upon deportation, and many others.

2. Judicial discretion. Judges are able to take into consideration a wide variety of mitigating circumstances in determining sentencing for all crimes including murder. Lack of other criminal record, no community benefit to penalty, implication of others of greater value in the crime, etc.

3. Pardons. Presidents, governors, and judges, at a minimum, have the ability to pardon very nasty criminals for past acts (Clinton pardoned some real nasty folks.) Pardon can be issued for a reason or for no reason at all. We already have something like this for illegals who serve in the military.

In addition, we could change the law to include new penalties other than deportation. While deportation may seem like a fitting penalty, it needn't be the only one. I'm sure at one time death seemed like the only fitting penalty for taking a life. Now, some murderers are out after 7 years or never serve a day because of temporary insanity.

Therefore, I would propose a fine of $5000.00 and 2000 hours of community service.

Who Talks More - Women or Men?

There is a theory in the news business that "Dog Bights Man" is not a headline worthy of any reporter. So then, how is it possible that this headline Women 'talk three times as much as men'... possibly make the DrudgeReport and the Daily Mail.

This is obvious and well known without any new study being done. I believe, but will not take the time to confirm, that Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus proposed this almost exact difference. The idea was that men use up all their words during the work day, and then head into their cave at night, while the wife still has 1000's of words left to share.

The real proof is in e-mails. I know a couple of men in my life who almost make it a game to see how few words they can use to respond to incoming e-mails. Yes, no, OK, are all common responses from these types. The best was a simple "o," as in Oh! These same men can spin a quick 1000 words or so on sports, politics, and other such subjects. But, unless they are fully engaged, they are the definition of "men of few words."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fear of Illegal Immigrants, Undocumented Workers, and Aliens

Just up at "What Are You Afraid Of?"

Just Because It Can Be Said, Doesn't Mean It Should Be Said

There's nothing like the holidays and getting together with relatives to start a few hundred conversations about the relatives that aren't there. . . Not gossip, mind you. . . Uplifting discussions of how their lives are going, and every-one's positive opinions about them.

From time-to-time, however, there is the odd relative who is not doing that well. Opinions are many and varied as to how this person or that one might improve their circumstances, if only .....
Sometimes there is even consensus on a clear cut solution. With such a coming together however on one sure-fire fix for the subject's future, there is left to the group the question of how to communicate the message to the missing relative.

Certainly this dilemma is not reserved for Thanksgiving day. Personally, I might reach conclusions almost daily on how my wife, children, employees, or friends might dramatically alter their behavior to better suit my opinion of how their life should be lived. You might be surprised, dear reader, to learn that I am often willing to share my view.

In discussing such a situation the other day, the words in the title of this post popped into my head. I'm pretty sure someone has said this way before me, but it didn't come up on Google.
For what it's worth, we decided not to share our brilliant idea for this person with her. A small victory.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

If A Lie Is Big Enough and Repeated Often Enough . . .

Have we forgotten the words?

As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, please take time to enjoy the verses of two traditional American songs, the Thanksgiving Hymn and the Thanksgiving Prayer. They affirm the gratitude of a people for their God.

The copies we are sharing here did not come from a church hymnal. They were transcribed from a songbook distributed in our public school systems in the year 1945. This book was in every literate home in the United States at that time, and was called I Hear America Singing, or more formally Twice 55 Community Songbook.

The assertion that our nation ever intended to separate our devotion to God from our public spaces and our public life is a blatant lie. Our philosophy of reliance on divine guidance motivated the founding fathers, permeates the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and is inscribed on our original monuments and government buildings.

The worthy gentlemen who drafted the Constitution only intended that membership in a particular religious denomination must never be made a prerequisite for holding public office, and that citizens should never be forced to subscribe to a specific denomination. They were still mindful of the bitter religious strife between Catholics and Protestants in England, and wanted to ensure that the new republic got started on a more ecumenical footing.

The insidious erosion of our patriotic traditions and our national identity must not be permitted to continue. Every thinking American must stand against the revision of our historical records and the activism of judges who would destroy the ideological foundations of our liberty.

But at this time of joyful harvest and quiet prayer, just savor the words of these two beloved hymns of gratitude.

The Thanksgiving Hymn


The Thanksgiving Prayer

© Nancy K. Matthis

Please see more at
American Daughter Media Center
HT to Norma

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Science 3 - Pictures You Will Never Forget - Send Them to a Teenage Girl

With this kind of imagry available, how can folks continue to abort babies in the womb. Imagine the outcry if we aborted one of those elephants as seen above. Go here for other pictures of puppies, horses, and dolphins in the womb. Absolutely fascinating.

Science 2 - Playstation 3 Says It Can Help in Fight To Cure Cancer

This is a startling claim, but totally true. The best way to build a supercomputer is to array 1000's or even 1,000,000's of computers together to combine their computing capability. This is already being done with PC's in an attempt to find other life in the Universe. The new Playstation will be especially good at being so combined with its fellows to do massive computing:

Sony Computer Entertainment says that when Cure@PLAYSTATION 3 is launched, PS3 owners can register their machines with Stanford, download specially designed software and leave their machines online to process data when they're not playing.

It's modeled after existing programs in which personal computers process high-volume data for signs of extraterrestrial life and other tasks. PCs already contribute to the Stanford medical research program.

Sony said data processing time can be up to 20 times faster with a global network of PS3s, which are fitted with advanced Cell processors that can perform billions of calculations per second.

The rest of the article is here.

Science 1 - Homosexual Animals = Homesexuality is Natural

One argument used by those who think homosexual behavior is normal, therefore moral, therefore society should embrace it, is that we can see clear evidence of homosexual behavior in other members of the animal kingdom. Here is an teaser for a longer opinion piece that devestates that argument.

" I soon learned what Benjamin Franklin meant when he described the eagle as a bird of "bad moral character." With two eaglets in the nest and not enough food to go around, mamma allows the weakest eaglet to die. She then cannibalizes the dead eaglet and feeds it to the survivor. Was this natural or unnatural? Is this moral animal behavior that we should emulate? How do we know? ....

How do we know, indeed? I can think of quite a few behaviors of my pet dog that would also fit this argement. Shouldn't we at least aspire to better behavior than our pets?

Even before the question is asked, my personal belief is that homosexuals come to their orientation in various ways, some genetic, some chemical/biological, some environmental/emotional. This is also true for folks who prefer sex with little kids. The fact that the orientation stems from some reason that is difficult to cure does not in any way make the behavior ok.

One opinion piece the other day asked whether we should be asking homosexuals to give up any hope of sexual intimacy during their lifetimes if that is the only way they can express it. This argument fails the same way. Society has to ask many folks to give up some kinds of really cool stuff they'd like to do, if the consequences are detrimental to the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Turning 50

I mention this fellow blogger so often that one might suspect that she's paying me for the advertising. She doesn't. However Norma has a handful of blogs, and has just added a new one for those of us who have entered the age category associated with wisdom.

It has been 8+ years since my friends gathered to give gifts tied with black ribbon, but I do remember that passage more than most. You see, I had an Epiphany. Up until that birthday I simply counted the total number of years God has given me on this earth. Starting at 50 I looked at it the other way. How many years are left.

The good news was that because of good genes, I could easily live into my eighties and be in decent physical and mental health. So I decided to assume 35 years to go. It was an exciting revelation, because it really meant enough time for an entire career...assuming I wanted a new career.

For instance, it could mean retiring and getting involved in some type of charitable activity full-time. It could mean writing for a living instead of making water bottles. The idea opened up a vast panoply of possibilities. Instead of dreading the future, I was filled with hope and expectations.

Eight + years later, I still have 28 years of potential, according to my personal actuarial table. Such an idea continues to be very motivating.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Difference Between Old Europe and U.S.

Other than the belief in God, do you think there is anything that 86% of the US population would agree on? I'm not even sure you could get those kinds of numbers on 2+2=4. However:

Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain, 86 per cent of people believed humans were contributing to climate change, and 45 percent thought it would be a threat to them and their families within their lifetimes.

More than two-thirds said they would either strongly or somewhat support restrictions on their behaviour, but only a minority were prepared to make significant financial sacrifices to eliminate the threat of global warming.

My first thought is that this has to be a badly flawed poll. But if it is even close, it suggests that our kin in the old world are easily persuaded, and incapable of skeptical thought. WOW!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

1950's Nostalgia

Went to a '50's party the other night. There were lots of white t-shirts, black leather jackets, poodle skirts, and at least one bee hive hair doo. There were at least two elvis's, plenty of DA's, and more than a few mouths full of bubble gum. These are some of the obvious things. Here were some of the other things that came to mind that night.

No one ever throws a '70's party. Or a '60's party. Or and '80's party. I don't really know anyone who is nostalgic for any of those other era's. I know that I had a great time in all of them, but I was less than thrilled by the cultural aspects of all of them, especially 1966-1975 or so.

We wore taps on our shoes, both boys and girls. I suspect it started as a way to make soles last longer, but shuffled down the halls at school, and thought we were very cool.

Pea Coats were the favorite for winter. But to really be cool, you had to have combat boots.

We spent hours playing a pinball baseball machine. It was a nickle a game. We would build up dozens of free games. So a nickle went a long way.

Baseball cards were for trading and playing games of chance. They came free with a similar size piece of chewing gum.

No boy ever went up to a girl he didn't know or only knew a little bit and asked her to do anything. He passed a note or spoke to someone who would let her know that he was interested. In fact, more often than not, the girl let the boy know of her interest through that same grapevine first.

We smoked grapevines.

At dances, which we had lots of, boys danced with girls, and sometimes girls danced with girls. No boys ever danced with another boy, and no one ever, ever danced alone.

Boys and girls touched each other when they danced, and while it was often pretty exciting to dance with a new girl that way, it wasn't sexual.

The Prom was a very big deal. But not nearly as expensive as today. No thought that there would be any post prom party at a hotel.

What else?

Work Hard to Play Hard - '80's Mantra

Giving advice to one of my teenagers yesterday. This particular young man has looks, charm, smarts, and loves Jesus. He lacks a work ethic. He has play down really well. Now, I suppose he isn't the only 16 year-old within the reach of this blog to suffer from a lack of fire in the belly when it comes time to do homework and such. So, there may be a few of you who would like to offer up some advice on the subject.

We are trying incentives and disincentives with some success. But yesterday I was reminded of a mantra that was oft repeated in the 70's. The young executives could be heard to declare: "I work hard to play hard!" I was among those who had this attitude.

I can't find any scripture to back up this premise. God does use sports as analogies, and we know that Jesus went to parties, not to mention all those week-long celebrations in the Old Testament, so play is part of God's plan.

Clearly, we don't get to play if we don't work. And I continue to look forward to my times of play, especially vacations. I have even been known to counsel some of my all-work-no-play friends in the importance of taking serious time off.

But how does that finally work out in my advice to this teen. I don't think I want it to be quite so do the one to get the other. Hard work can be an end in itself (another cliche), but that can be a trap of another kind. Work should be done as if it was for God, Himself. That is Biblical. But on the days when we need motivation, because the work doesn't inspire, what might those motivations be.

I'll leave this one open ended for now. I'd love to hear from you.

Check Out Your Vocab Skills

You've been doing the Reader's Digest Vocabulary Helps for 20 years. Here's a chance to see if it has been effective. I guess I missed talisman.

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

HT to Norma

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Definition of Hypocracy has to be "Democrat"

Who do you suppose give more money and time to charity? Democrats who are always talking about needing to help those less fortunate, or Republicans who are saying charity should come from the heart. Republicans, those right wing bigots, Bible-thumping numbskulls, who can't get it through their thick skulls that God isn't in charge, even give more blood than the Dems.

This will be my second time to site the work of Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks. He earlier reported, and I pointed out, that liberals have fewer children than conservatives. Thus they are contributing to their own decline.

He has written a book on this new topic titled "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" (Basic Books, $26), which is due for release Nov. 24. In it he says:

"For too long, liberals have been claiming they are the most virtuous members of American society. Although they usually give less to charity, they have nevertheless lambasted conservatives for their callousness in the face of social injustice."
For a longer review go here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ask a Ten-Year-Old

I asked a ten-year-old a few years back, whether he liked gravy. Had no idea what it was. Tonight I may have topped that one. I asked my current son of that age about matchbook covers. Same answer. He said he knew what a match box was, and when he thought about it for a while, he had seen matchbooks.

How many of you remember the ads in comic books to sell matchbooks to local merchants. I actually sent away for the kit and made a few calls. Nobody bit. I think I was ten at the time.

Evolution - A Treasure Trove of Pro and Con

I have argued in this place previously that if evolution was so darn obvious and devoid of serious problems - to the point where many of its adherents trust it more than most Christians trust God - why do polls consistently show that less than 50% of Americans don't think it is the basis of life? And one would think that if the arguments for evolution were so compelling, and with the complete bias in textbooks, college courses, and government operated museum, not to mention mass media treating it like fact, wouldn't one expect almost everyone to be convinced.

Well, it turns out that even some folks with names other than Bubba and Billy Jean just can't get past some of the BIG holes in the "theory" of evolution. In fact, some highly edumicated folks have taken a really hard look at both sides and, gee-golly darn, bought into the crazy notion that God created it all. And unsurprisingly, some of these PhD's and JD's and Drs. and DD's, and such don't even need their own scientific theory to compete with Darwinism. They just know in their knower that it was God and not random chance.

Well, if there are those among my readers who would like to take a little journey into some very intellectual discussions on this subject, I am going to point you to three places that are just about the best I have seen in short, fairly easy-to-read, articles. Then in the next weeks, I hope to get around to taking a few of these arguments and blowing them to pieces right in front of your very eyes. Yes! Step Right Up! Right here in a blog called the Truth About Everything.

Now lest you think I really think I know everything, and am thus less than humble, please know that I just love knowledge and am a real skeptic at heart. I have been arguing the issues on this subject for decades, and try to read everything I can to stay abreast of the debate. But, I'm sure some of my arguments have one or two holes in them.

To the chase. My friend and sometimes debate competitor on this subject, Michael Shermer, has published a book which was excerpted recently in Scientific American. The Book is Titled Why Darwin Matters. I have not read the entire book, so can't recommend it at this time, other than to say Michael's books are always worth the read, even though he is rarely right.

The article is from a chapter in his book, "Darwin on the Right." The biggest error in the article is seen right from the start when evangelicals, creationists, and Republicans are all lumped together. While evangelicals are more likely to be creationists and Republican, they may be these things for lots of disparate reasons, and not the rather stereotypical reasons Shermer alludes to. Having said that, the article is short and very worth the read.

Many letters to the editor followed the Shermer article, unsurprisingly, and the letters selected here are astonishingly good, well reasoned, and often offer new ideas on the subject. You can read these letters without reading the article, but it does make sense to do the one before the other.

Then Scientific American points you to another article, "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense," by John Rennie. This is as succinct a presentation of Creationist arguments and counters that you are going to find. My intent is to respond to these one or so at-a-time in the next weeks, but read them now. Send me your own rebuttals. Or agree with Mr. Rennie.

Good reading. Total time to digest all of it. Maybe an hour.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Insults to Die For

A few samples of a marvelous post, and a humerous blog.

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."
Winston Churchill

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
Moses Hadas

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."
Abraham Lincoln

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend... if you have one."
George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second...if there is one."
Winston Churchill, in response

"I feel so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here."
Stephen Bishop

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
Irvin S. Cobb

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
Paul Keating

"He had delusions of adequacy."
Walter Kerr

Drinking Your Lunch - Major Cultural Change

In a time long ago, a time before MAD, and a time when expense accounts were a tax benefit, many, many executives had hard liquor at lunch. I was among them. My first and only boss (after college) would regularly take me and others to lunch. We would consume a dinner-sized meal and at least a double (he Scotch, me Bourbon.) Weighing all of 125 in those days, I would go back to work and be incabable of doing anything of value for the next two hours. Man! How things have changed.

I was reminded of this today, because I hit Jack in the Box for one of their Mint Milk Shakes. The tall version was only $.50 more, so I bought it. A half hour later, I had almost zero interest in doing my tasks at work. Taking a nap would have hit the spot. Man! How things have changed.

Why Do They Come?

You may or may not know that I can see who visits me. Not in great detail, but I can at least see where my visitors have come from. The number one reason folks visit is an article I wrote a while back on Christian Discipline. Now while I would certainly recommend the article (humbly, of course), it isn't the quality of the article that brings folks. It is the subject. And, it isn't that hundreds of people are trying to learn more about Christian discipline. It is actually kind of the opposite. I am getting a 3rd position ranking on Google precisely because there isn't much written on the subject. I get high rankings and lots of visitors based on some of my book reviews of Randy Alcorn, also.

I have written some very substantial articles on Christian apologetics, prayer, and dark chocolate. But lots of writers talk about such things. Thus the rankings are lower. I do get the occasional visitor on dark chocolate, but never on prayer.

So, check out some of the hundreds of articles that are in the archives. I can assure you that there are things that will be life changing on parenting, marriage, and even sex. Maybe one of these days I'll create a table of contents to make it easier to find subjects that are still meaningful today.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How Many Ducks Can Land in Your Lake

We used to live in a townhouse complex, and in the center of the grounds, there was a very nice lake. The entire subdivision was built on an old MGM back lot, so this particular lake had been a lake, a river, and even an ocean depending on what the movie-maker might need that day.

Anyway, one day a new sign showed up on the side of our lake. It proclaimed that our lake could only house 5 ducks. We thought this made certain sense, in that there is an issue with duck poop and such. Only later did we start to contemplate the important legal maxim - good laws are those that can be enforced. So, we wondered, how would this law be enforced.

We pictured a flock of feather friends flying overhead and sending out a scout to check out our lake. Upon returning, he signals that five members, and only five can head on down. Naaa, that couldn't be it.

So then we thought maybe they were expecting the local population around the lake to be the enforcers. But we suspected there might be other ordinances against using ordinance to reduce the duck population and increase the duck meat supply in our freezer.

So maybe we were to merely scare away or capture any extra ducks. We were unclear as to how to capture a duck, or what to do with those captured to ensure they wouldn't just head on back. Same issue with scaring them. They hit the clouds for a few minutes until things calm down and then head back to the swimming hole. And how do you scare all but five?

And then, what about swans? We had some. Do they count?

Do any of you have a clue as to how to enforce this law? Does it remind you at all of the issues surrounding illegal immigration?

Prepare Filibusters and Vetoes - Don't Forget Parliamentary Moves

We are beginning to see where the Dems really want to go. Amazing that they are putting it right out there. The ACLU wants us to give Habeas Corpus rights to enemy combatants and disrupt our ability to wire tap incoming terrorist phone calls to their contacts in the US. The Unions and Hillary want to get us going on National Health Insurance. Planned Parenthood is got their snout in the feedbag, saying they should get much more money for their abortion mills at the expense of those who would promote abstinence. These are agenda items that are over and above the get-out-of-Iraq crowd that thinks they should get their way... and the sooner the better.

There will be talking heads who will complain if we use the filibuster and say that we were against it before we were for it. They will do this full-well knowing that our objection was only for the purpose of filibustering Supreme Court and Federal Appeals Ct justices. It was never suggested that the rules be changed regarding legislation. So dust off the filibuster. We will need it.

George Bush hasn't been able to find anything to veto, so he may need to review the rules on this. He will need the veto. Just say no to more abortion spending, nationalized health care, and other such garbage.

The Dems are much better than our guys at parliamentary maneuvers, and are willing to do really nasty moves to keep our stuff from coming to a vote. Lets not be pantywaists this time around. I'm not suggesting that we be obstructionist. But we do need our folks to be tough, tough, TOUGH, and insist on getting our agenda through in trade for the other folks getting some of their hopes met.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Truth About Personal Financial Planning

One of my favorite Bloggers, Norma, sets out thirteen bits of advice with regard to creating a secure financial future for you and your family. It is well worth taking a look at. In fact, you may want to print it out and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Or you might prefer my list of 13.

1. Be born into a wealthy family. The older the money the better. Your parents and their siblings will, if they earn the wealth in their lifetime, tend to hang on to it until the pass away. By that time you are too old to really enjoy it. It is better if your grandparents' generation created the dough. It is best if they put the money into a trust that pays off a bunch in your 20's with the rest much later.

2. Marry money. If you are a guy, find a wife who is a Daddy's girl. It is way easier to get the down payment and other helps if Dad is trying to help out his favorite. If you are a woman, it is better to marry a guy who already has the money. Parents are far less inclined to give their money to their boys while they are young enough to earn it.

3. Marry a double pensioner. Or become a government employee sometime in your life. My folks taught me this one. I haven't done it yet, but I'm still thinking I might. If you get max Social Security, it is about $2700 a month now. You can live on that if you have to, but imagine if you were getting a teachers pension of even another $1000 or so. In most school districts you only have to work for 5 years to get that pension.

4. Never ever get divorced. Well, I suppose if you divorce one of those super rich folks, you could end up with potential future security. For the most part, divorce destroys the wealth of both parties. It is worse for the woman if her earning capacity is less. However, splitting assets works against both parties.

5. Don't have children unless you do #6. Some estimates are that each child will cost you $500,000 or more. If they go to an ivy league or top notch private college, they can cost that much in 5 years. The senior year of high school commonly costs more than the first year of college. Then there's the wedding!!

6. If you must have children, take a page from our forefathers. Breed them to be income producers. My 10 year-old is in his 6th year of piano lessons. I have asked his instructor to teach son Robert how to teach piano. By the time he is 12 I hope to have him earning $25 an hour or so ($50,000 a year) teaching other kids. At 18 he should be able to put himself through college.

7. If you must have kids, part II. Create a super money machine. Instead of piano, start them with boxing or golf lessons at 4. Have the child doggedly pursue this sport to the exclusion of much else in life. Then when they are a world champion, the first thing they will do with their millions is buy you a nice house, or a vacation home.

8. If you must have kids, part III. Become a talent manager. All kids are cute in their own way. There are many, many ways for them to become stars before they are even five. My neighbor's grandchild just hit pay dirt with a national retail chain. His picture is everywhere. He's 3. Yes, it is hard work for you, the parent. You have to drive them around to the auditions,

9. Choose your employment carefully when you are young. Only work for companies that are growing like crazy and that have a great stock plan. One of my uncles worked for IBM. A close friend worked for a major food maker. Both made more money on the stock then from their paycheck. Sure, you might pick an Enron, but you might pick the next Walmart.

10. Become a politician. This will help in many, many ways. First, many political jobs come with pensions. This might allow you to have two or three pensions. SS + a government pension from teaching or some such + a congressman's pension. This is called triple dipping.

In addition, you will have the income from the political post without giving up your day job. The door will also be open to paid speaking gigs, book publishing, and seats on boards of directors. All of this without having to resort to illegal activities.

11. Out earn your spending habits. Sure, I know that the "trusted" financial guru's all tell you to spend less than you earn. But what is the challenge in that? Become a big spender. Then you will be working extra hard to make sure you can make the payments.

12. Don't tithe or give to charity. If you care at all about keeping up with the neighbors and getting as many toys as they have, you can't give anything away. Sure, there is a nice tax advantage, but you're still going to be giving at least 70% real money after taxes. If you're making $100,000 a year and give 10%, that's $7000 per year after taxes. You can almost pay for two weeks in Hawaii with that. If you invest that $7000 in an IRA at 10% return, you will be a millionaire in no time.

13. Be lucky. Corollary - don't be unlucky. All of my sage advice can be turned to ruin if your child comes in 2nd in the national college tennis championships. There just isn't much money in being 2nd.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What a Difference 24 Hours Makes

And I don't mean the TV show. So, I have reason to be slightly less optimistic since the Senate is teetering towards Democratic control. I have mixed feelings regarding Rummy. I think he may have been the greatest Sect. of Defense in history. However, new blood my bring new ideas. The Baker commission effect is also in play. The next 30 days may be more politically interesting than the last 30.

Here is more optimism:

Someone is going to get credit for increasing the minimum wage. I hate the minimum wage, but with California heading towards $1.25 higher than the national rate, we need the playing field leveled. This could be the Republican "reason" for getting it done pre Pelosi.

I am a fan of No Child Left Behind. It will now clearly be re-upped. The question is whether the Dems will mess it up by reducing accountability.

Pelosi says she will fully implement the 911 Commission Report. Hats off to her for that. I suspect that when the cost is counted, very little will change, but there is nothing wrong with revisiting this important issue 4 years later.

I have no issue with lowering the interest percent on student loans. Maybe the Republicans could add a rider that Universities receiving Federal Aid of any kind need to have at least one conservative on the faculty.

You already know my feelings on immigration reform.

Now...Is there any chance that we could trade a few important Republican agenda items for support on these issues.

Health care needs reforming ... BADLY! Social Security needs reforming ... REALLY BADLY!!
With a divided government, maybe compromise can be reached. It would be nice to see Bush really stick to his guns like Reagan, even while giving something to the Dems.

Seems unlikely that we will move towards smaller government, lowered taxes, or less regulation of business. But maybe these could be trading pieces.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Great Political Night in America - One Big Exception

Sure, I'm an optimist. The headline tomorrow will be that Nancy is the new leader of the House. That is really, really bad news. However:

Republicans will hold the Senate
Marriage definition wins everywhere (except maybe Az)
Deadlock in government isn't always a bad thing
The President and his Sect of Defense will have to rethink the plan. (I am a lonely voice who thinks they know what they are doing, but it never hurts to have your back up against the wall. Tends to stimulate the gray matter)
Stock market will probably love this
Republicans will have to think like losers instead of winners. Much needed
Maybe somebody will convince Bush that communication is needed
Something will be done about immigration reform (I know most of my friends won't like this, but I'm a lonely voice on this one who believes we need a plan for the millions who aren't going home.)

All-in-all, a pretty good night.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Where To On Energy

A frequent visitor, Kathy, asks whether I am in favor of alternate sources of energy. The answer is both simple and very complex. I believe in the market. If the market is left alone it will almost always do the right thing. I will make my conservative friends a bit nervous by saying that I think government may need to not only protect its citizens from invaders outside our boarders, but from those who would destroy our environment to make a dime. However, to the extent that government wields that sword, they need to move slowly and cautiously.

For the latest on global warming, head over to Mike William's latest post on the subject. I can't improve on his analysis or his sources. I believe we should be developing every possible source of energy, and the cleaner the better. And we should be seeking to conserve as much as possible. However, these efforts will happen with the market. If the smart guys who run energy companies and buy energy futures believe that oil is running out or falling out of favor, they will absolutely start putting their money into options that SELL and that are available. The market is "intelligent."

But if there is plenty of oil, and if folks keep buying all the makers can make, then smart owners of energy businesses will continue to put their efforts into oil. Simple.

The complexity comes in with the long development curve for many alternatives. Due to this long curve, there is also a whole lot of money needed to get to a new approach before there is a payoff. Should government have a hand in that investment? Maybe. That is a much harder question.

Where should we be spending the most money. Batteries. No matter what we do, we need storage. The government has been paying for storage of energy for over a century. Dams and the lakes behind them are just that. If solar power, electric cars, or hydrogen based systems are to ever have a chance, we will need much better batteries.

More another day.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Celebrity Look Alikes

For the last year or so I commonly hear Shirly Temple in my grandaughter's voice. Her Mom found a site that has confirmed that Maddie is a Shirly Temple stunt double.
So I wanted to try this on my own mug. Most folks who mistake me for anyone of import are inclined to suggest I look like a couple of the most murderous and treacherous role player in moviedom, Anothony Hopkins or James Woods

So here is the first comparison

So now its time to vote. Which do you think your fearless blogger resembles most. Or do you have another name to add. Someone who plays nice people would be a plus.

Star Quarterback

A star is born. Of course, the sports writer might be biased. The mighty Steelers of the local flag football league won their first game after 4 defeats. It was clear to this writer that the big difference was Robert Kirk playing both halves at quarterback.

Used sparingly in his previous outings, it was clear that this young player was poised at all times and possessed leadership skills. As he has shown at center in BBall and catcher in baseball, he has a real sense of the whole field of play, and makes very few mental errors.

Whoops! Fact Check Changes Things

There may be others in my almost two years of blogging, but I surely made an error in my post on George Bush the other day. It is true that a loss of 20 seats or so in the house will be better than most two term presidents in their 6th year midterms since the Civil War. It is not true that his stats would be better than FDR, Reagen, or Clinton. Clinton did very well in his 6th year, but was battling back from his disastrous results in '92 and '94. Reagan also did well in year 6. But FDR was the big winner in year 6, even though he had control of both houses already.

On average since WWII, the party in power loses 25 seats in all midterms. If Bush manages to only lose the 12-15 predicted by many, it will be one more big notch in his legacy belt.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Spending $100 Plus on a New Item - Read This

Until about three years ago, if you wanted to buy a new vacuum cleaner, you might ask your friend for advice, your housekeeper, or just head off to the store and trust the minimum wage clerk who started yesterday. That has all changed, and in a way so dramatic that it might be one of the biggest stories of the decade. If the internet is about information, product reviews are the future of marketing.

We did buy a vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago. We have probably been buying one every two or three years, on average. Either we are hard on them, or they are just cheap. We generally spend $150-$200. This time I did my research.

As I do in any web based search (which I use for everything from cures to what ailes us to where to find a new bottle cap for a sports bottle we are designing) I just started googling key words that I thought might get me some info. As you might imagine there were plenty of web sites that gave information about literally hundreds of brands, models, and styles. Some of these were put up by the companies, themselves. Others were put up by sites designed to help you find great pricing. Finally there were sites that purported to offer unbiased reviews by either professionals or just plain folks.

I ended up at a most unusual place, but I shouldn't have been surprised. I had been here before. This site has more experience than anyone with consumer reviews, and their expertise in their primary product, books, is even more valuable in the consumer product area. It is unlikely that understood that their greatest eventual value would be reviews of vacuum cleaners, but that might be the very thing that gives them lasting power.

I first used to purchase a digital camera for my wife. The reviews are from folks that know almost nothing and some who know a bunch. But taken together, I was able to select a camera that was not only dependable, easy to use, and good at its primary function, but appropriate for my Pam's needs. And it worked. I can say without hesitation that this camera is the best we've owned (and we've had several.) It's a Canon PowerShot SD600, and the reviews were overwhelmingly favorable.

So, back to the vacuum cleaner. At our house, we all have use for the beast. Each of us is responsible for some part of the vacuuming job. Pam and BJ both have alergies, so that was an issue. So I ended up back at After a bit of research, the choice of consumers was clear. And once again the result has been excellent. Every expert in this house is a fan of our new Bissell Cleanview Revolution Delux model #3596. It even has a light that tells you when the carpet is dirty or clean. (How does it do that???)

With Christmas coming we are all going to be buying items like these for our loved ones. I'm suggesting that you use for your reviews. Personally, I also try to reward them with the business, too. But, we did buy the vacuum at Target.