Sunday, September 16, 2007

"RACE MATTERS!" - LA Times

I admit to trumping up the headline a bit. However, if you read the Editorial pages of today's LA Times, and you don't think my headline is an appropriate summary, just say so in the comments. This blogger has been saying for years that we are burying our collective heads in the sand when we take the politically correct approach to education (and other aspects of life), and try to walk away from the real reasons blacks don't swim and whites can't jump.

There are real differences in the ways that different ethnic groups and races handle different aspects of life. If we are ever going to get true equality of opportunity (all we can really hope for), then it is going to require someone to start asking the hard questions. There is hope, of course. Bill Cosby has addressed the social issue. Now the Times has bravely thrown down the gauntlet. We reported here on a study that showed parental expectations to be uniquely correlated with student results. (Black parents expect "C's", Asian parents expect "A's".)

Thank you LA Times. And for those of you who don't know me or my family. We are mixed race and ethnicity.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Harry Potter - Buy It in Paperback


Completely out of reading material, and still several weeks before football, I decided to read the Harry Potter Books. This was not entirely without a recommendation. Hugh Hewitt had interviewed John Mark Reynolds, classicist and apologetics professor at Biola regarding whether or not Harry Potter was ok for Christians. Reynolds couldn't see how it was any less appropriate than Lord of the Rings, and said while Harry Potter wasn't close to the literary level of LOTR, it was still a fun read.

After reading books 1 and 2, I agree. On my rating system, this is buy in paperback only if you can't borrow it from someone. I suspect my 11 year-old son likes it way more than me. He is about to polish off number 5 (700 plus pages), having just begun about 4 weeks ago. Maybe I'll have him do a review.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mandatory Doctor Visits

You knew it would come to this, but it is the most shocking statement I remember ever hearing out of the lips of a presidential candidate. Normally they do this stuff by stealth when you least expect it. John Edwards says that his health care plan would REQUIRE US Citizens to be covered by health care and REQUIRE US Citizens to go to the doctor.

Now you may or may not know this, but in Canada's health care system, Canadian Citizens are REQUIRED to use doctors within the system. It doesn't matter how much they are willing to pay a doctor outside the system, they must use PUBLIC health. And doctors who provide health care outside the system are committing a CRIME.

You can bet that any system cooked up by a Democrat will make all health care public, none private, thus forcing US CITIZENS to go out of country if they want better or faster health care, just like the Canadians do now.

John Edwards didn't have a chance of becoming President. Now he has no chance of achieving any public office. However, we need the reporters to start asking Hillary and others if they would agree with Edwards about MANDATORY preventitive doctor visits.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Global Warming Exposure as Fraud Should Not Stop New Energy Effort

It will probably take another 10 years for the Europeans to get it, and 5 years before the Democrats in America give up on it, but human-caused global warming is just not provable, and the science is quickly proving that any warming is cyclical and natural.

Here is a Nasa revision of hotest years on record over the last 100 or so. You don't need to be a scientist to look at those numbers and do an analysis which even questions whether there is global warming of any consequence at all.

According to the new data published by NASA, 1998 is no longer the hottest year ever. 1934 is.

Four of the top 10 years of US CONUS high temperature deviations are now from the 1930s: 1934, 1931, 1938 and 1939, while only 3 of the top 10 are from the last 10 years (1998, 2006, 1999). Several years (2000, 2002, 2003, 2004) fell well down the leaderboard, behind even 1900. (World rankings of temperature are calculated separately.)

Top 10 GISS U.S. Temperature deviation (deg C) in New Order 8/7/2007
Year
1934
1998
1921
2006
1931
1999
1953
1990
1938
1939

Here’s the old order of top 10 yearly temperatures.
Year
1998
1934
2006
1921
1931
1999
1953
2001
1990
1938

Then here is a listing of scientists with super-impressive credentials who once believed in anthropomorphic global warming, who have changed their mind due to further research.

The most important point to be made of all this has nothing to do with global warming or cooling or whether man has anything to do with it. The other reasons for encouraging science and markets to dramatically increase efficiencies in energy use, and to find alternative energy sources are far more compelling, provable, and immediate.

1. Middle East and Northern Coast of South America use of oil as weapon.
2. Cost of chasing ever more difficult to reach carbon based resources
3. Pollution of air and other natural rescources by current methods of extraction, delivery, and use of carbon based fuel.
4. Just makes good sense to minimize all costs of energy, freeing up capital and income for other uses.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Futurethink - What Are Big Issues for the Future

I ran into this website while researching future trends. The blogger did an excellent job of laying out some possible major issues of the future. Some of the comments were outstanding. I couldn't help myself, so I commented

Aging Population - Aging Labor force. It seems likely that we will see major increases in productivity that will result in needing less labor rather than the other way around. The seniors won't need to go back to work as some may think as, but they may want to to increase sense of being valuable. Many young adults will be bored out of their skulls like some of the wealthy young adults are today, since the average person will enjoy a lifestyle like a rockstar today. If that seems crazy, imagine what the average person has today vs what they had in the 30's or even 50's. There will be a major business opportunity and use of labor for entertaining these bored people.

Health Care costs will peak and decline- There will be no field where innovation will drive down costs more than this one. The incentive to invest in this area will drive huge amounts of capital into faster, less expensive cures, and lowered drug cost. Changes in the method of delivery of health care is already happening (see WalMart health clinics, for instance.)

China and Russia may be the major threats of the future, but they may just as likely integrate into the community of nations without any real confrontations of consequence. The Extremist Muslims will be marginalized by all "mature" nations. As Mideast oil becomes less important (due to oil from other places and new sources of energy), the rest of the world will no longer be held hostage, and will be able to use all necessary methods to root out the bad guys from the tinpot dictatorships.

Solar energy will be the future energy method that will win the day. New materials, new storaage approaches, and computer optimization will combine to find a way. Solar is the obvious ultimate victor, because it is ubiquitous, and can't be owned. This months Wired magazine shows a new material that may dramatically increase the ability to maximize available sources of sunlight in a small area.

The issue of rich vs poor will never go away, and many will still be arguing for redistribution of wealth. It won't work. Take all the money from the rich and give it to the poor. Wait 10 years and the distribution will work its way back to the way it was +/-.

Global cooling will be the big political issue 10 years from now as the Sun enters a period like the 50's - 70's. The foolish among us will once again claim the sky is falling and that the next ice age is just around the corner.

Pollution will become a non issue as the cost of controlling it becomes substantially less (orders of magnitude.)

As history will prove, the real issues of politics will be unintended consequences, ruthless desire for power by sociopathic leaders, and folks with IQ's of 100 and 180 who fall for the garbage offered by such leaders.

Religion will be alive and thriving as the rest of life becomes less and less meaningful. We tend to find meaning in our occupations, our children, our possessions, and our creative output. All of these things will have less meaning. (e.g. See LA Times article on luxury goods losing their cachet.

I agree with the idea that runaway science in any of a number of places is the greatest threat to our futures: Nano anything, genetic engineering, robots, etc.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Energy Independence From MidEast AND Reduce CO2

Gregg Easterbrook, Brooking Institute Fellow, and not someone I would normally quote, says the following (link to entire article):

This chart shows that in 1975, when the fuel crunch hit, new cars in the United States averaged 136 horsepower. The average declined to a low of 99 horsepower in 1982, as manufacturers scurried to raise fuel economy. (Higher horsepower means more gasoline burned.) Really, 99 horsepower isn't enough for anything larger than a minicar; you need enough horses to be able to accelerate, especially at freeway merge lanes. But in the last two decades, average horsepower has been climbing steadily. In 2004, the typical new car had 184 horsepower, and the typical new SUV or pickup truck used as a car--SUVs and pickups used as cars now account for about half of new vehicle sales--had 235 horsepower. That rolls together for an average of about 210 horsepower in new passenger vehicles sold in the United States. In other words 2004 cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks offer more than 50 percent better horsepower than passenger vehicles in 1975. (At that time there were no SUVs, and using a pickup truck as a car, rather than for commercial work, was rare.)

Ever-higher horsepower is the reason the overall fuel economy of new U.S. vehicles is now at its lowest since 1988. Engineers have steadily made automotive power trains more efficient--but nearly all the efficiency has gone into power, not MPG. Other things being equal, a one-third reduction in the horsepower of new vehicles would lead to roughly a one-third increase in their miles-per-gallon numbers. And a one-third increase in the MPG of new cars and SUVs is all that is required to eliminate petroleum imports from Persian Gulf states!

Now, I recognize I am past the age of caring very much about muscle cars (that is unless someone wants to indulge me in my fantasy of taking a HemiCuda out for a day on the Salt Flats.) But if Easterbrook is right, and we could be energy independent by merely chopping HP by and average of 33%, which would also mean 33% less Carbon in the atmosphere. What is Congress waiting for.

In fact, the House passed an energy bill today that did not include any increase in MPG standards. The Senate version calls for an increase to 35 MPG average by 2020.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

No Hurricanes - Must Be Global Cooling

I would never choose the career of a weather forecaster. With all the data, all the scientific advances, all the weather satellites, and all the ice core drilling, you'd think we could predict what the high and low will be tomorrow. But we are lousy at it. See my scientific report on same last year here.

So Al Gore, the inventor of global warming, hung his hat in a major way on Atlantic and Gulf hurricanes being related to global warming. Then the headlines declared global warming proven beyond doubt after the 2005 season. Of course, Al and his disciples called the 2006 season (one of the least productive in a century) a fluke. 2005 wasn't a fluke, it was scientific evidence. As July segues into August, we have another fluke on our hands. All the forecasters who are called upon by the media to predict hurricane numbers are lowering their estimates for 2007 to another unusually mild year.

So the scientific question for all you Global Warming advocates: "How many flukes does it take to change a mind?"

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Calvinism 2

Likely this will be my last post on this subject, but it is the hot topic in my house right now. Part of the Calvinistic thinking is that God only loves those he foreordained to be saved. In other words, he doesn't love sinners who will not be saved. This is explained by pointing to scriptures where the Bible says God loves all as really meaning only His own.

However, we as Christians are instructed to love our enemies, our neighbors as ourselves, and even those who persecute us. The question then is: "Why would God call His creation to a higher standard than He Himself is going to follow?"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Doctrinal Debate - Calvinism vs Arminianism


I think that most folks who come to this blog are Christians. I'm sure some aren't, but given that a high percentage of the postings and linkages deal with Christianity explicitly or have a religious right flavor, those who are not so disposed probably run for blogs that think like they do.

Within the evangelical church, there are many factions, and some of those factions have factions, which sometimes breed other factions. In fact, there are now so many factions, that I wouldn't be surprised if independent churches are becoming the norm.

In my world (and welcome to it) I have had an ongoing debate with my brother and my partner regarding the Charismatic side of things. What about tongues? Slain in the spirit? Word of knowledge? I don't agree that these things are necessary in the Biblical age, but I'm OK that they do.

My prayer partner tends toward the Calvinist side and is a bedrock member of Calvary's mother church. We love to debate one another and have lively differences on some of the issues that divide Southern Baptists and Calvary thinking.

That debate now rages close to home. I'm just guessing, but for 99% of Christians I doubt that the Arminian/Calvin issue ever comes up, and for almost that many I doubt they even know there is a debate.

There are several points of disagreement, but foundational to all is the sovereignty of God. All fundamentalists believe that God is 100% sovereign, otherwise how can he be omnipotent (all powerful, and omniscient (all knowing.) The narrower question is the application of this to our lives, even to our salvation.

Calvinists believe famously in predestination. You may be more aware of this concept from the Presbyterian church where the debate sometimes is compacted into: "there is a bullet with your name on it. Nothing you can do." That trivializes the actual issue which is better stated thus: God does not love all people, only those he predestined to be saved. We are born completely depraved and with no good in us. But at some point in your life, if God has chosen you, He will regenerate you, and you will recognize your need for Jesus. It will not be up to you to choose Jesus. That would be a "work" on your part, therefore you could boast that you had a hand in your own salvation.

The Calvinists acknowledge that this seems to strike a death blow to the idea of Free Will in general, and specifically the issue of man's responsibility for his actions that can only arise out of his having free will. The Arminian (Southern Baptists and most other Baptists, Methodists, etc.) argues that if we don't have a free choice over the most important decision in our life, having free will on the rest is pretty meaningless. Thus, the Arminian says that God knows the beginning and the end, and therefore knows who will be saved, but that we must choose to accept the gift of salvation. (Modern Methodists commonly would think this choice can just be part of a running lifelong participation as opposed to a clear-eyed, come-to-Jesus moment.)
Thus, our Free Will is intact for this decision.

Most of my friends on both sides of this issue say that this distinction should never be a family divider, but it has been and will undoubtedly continue to be a congregation divider. I'd sure be interested to hear comments from the blogosphere.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Goal Setting for Old Folks



Truth is, the following ideas for setting goals are not only for old folks, but will work for anyone. However, in this post the examples and such will be aim at those over 50 or thereabouts. We established a few days ago some of the reasons why goal setting should not be only the province of the young. Now on to the practical methods of doing so.

To do the following exercise right, you would do well to set aside as much time as possible in a quiet place with no chance of interruption. The good new for most in this age category is that such time availability and quiet spaces are way more likely than for those 20-50. Get rid of the cell phone. Relax and contemplate.

The first exercise will deal with the things of this world. What do you wish to acquire? Where would you like to travel? What will you spend your money on? So, imagine that you as you are sitting there, a fairy princess appears. (insert any other magical creature you wish if you aren't in to fairy princesses.) She has appeared before you for the express purpose of fulfilling ten wishes. There are the usual disclaimers: None of the wishes can be for more wishes; you can't wish for things that are impossible; you can't wish for health, happiness, true love, long life etc. You can wish for money. But that is a bit boring.

So sit back and contemplate what you would wish for. A huge home in Newport Harbor, a Hummer, full time travel on back to back cruises, diamonds (blood free, of course), a lifetime supply of Italian Ices? Make a list. When you get to 10, you can add 10 more if you like. In fact, go crazy and list all kinds of things.

If you like travel, list the places you'd like to go. If you have a very special home in mind, give the details that matter to you. If you want some bling, what kind.

Take your time. Think about it. I'll be back in a few days to offer the next step.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Poppy bragged about his Granddaughter. Equal time for the Grandson. How much cuter can one small human be. Watch out girls. In about 20 years he will be the most eligible bachelor on the planet.

More on Cost of Driving



Did some more research on cost of driving cars today. The overall inflation rate from 1950 to today is almost exactly 10 times. A dime in 1950 buys what a dollar will buy today. Gas cost about 20¢ in 1950 in the Midwest. It now averages around $2.50. But in 1950 cars averaged about 11 miles per gallon vs over 20 today. So the real cost of gas per mile is $1.25 by comparison. We spend the same dollar amount per person on gas today as we did in 1950, but that's because we drive almost double the miles per person. With dramatic increases since 1950 in disposable income, the actual percent of disposable income used to buy gas has gone down, not up, even though we drive twice the miles.

The cost of the automobile itself is slightly up as a percent of disposable income, but this is largely due to the fact that we are buying more expensive cars with far more features. My loaded 1960 Fury did not have seat belts, airbags, a.m/f.m. stereo with cd player and 6 speakers, fuel injection, computerized engine analysis, or electric seats, door locks, and alarm system. It required far more maintenance (although you could do it yourself if you were so inclined.) Expected life 125,000 miles, maybe.

In telling this to one friend the other day, he said: "Why does it still hurt so much when the gas pump reads $50." Good question. I was only 2 in 1950, so I'm not sure whether a full tank at $5 gave my Dad a headache or not. I'm guessing it did. I do remember buying used cars for $250 in the late 60's and that was a lot of money to me.

Overall, I think we should quit our grousing. We have it so, so, so good.

Throwing Good Money and Lives After Bad

I'm beginning to get it. Those on the left and more than a few on the right are convinced that we cannot attain the results we want in Iraq. No amount of money, guns, or boots on the ground is going to convince these dumb Iraqis to stop killing each other over centuries' old grievances, and tribal annoyances. The issue isn't so much one of ideology, but just plain practicality. Why waste more effort, spend more money, and risk more American blood to chase an illusory dream.

The battle from the right isn't much more ideological either. Americans have made this huge investment. We should finish the job. The risks in money and blood is worth it. The potential risks of walking away are substantial.

I don't know if the average reader of this blog understands that the Iraqis are looked at by others in the region as the lowlifes of the Middle East. Iranians (Persians), Turks, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, and Saudis all look down their noses at the scrabble in Iraq. The triumphant era of Babylon is far too distant in comparison to the more recent successes of their neighbors. Unconsciously, I think all Westerners do see this population as the Pollocks of the region (pardon my un PC description, but it is the comparative stereotyping that appealed to me, not any real sense of mine that Polish folks are not as smart as say, Frenchmen.)

So the practical among us, may really be wondering why we are spending so much to save so unseemly a bunch of ragtag thugs. Maybe this is really the issue with our lack of substantial effort in Darfur. Maybe it really isn't racism, as much as it is just cutism. (I am copyrighting that term as of this posting.) Cutism (I will now define my new term) is the very human inclination to be more interested in saving cute things than ugly things.

Please raise your hand if you have ever read an article in the paper about a tragic death, checked the picture, and thought: "not much of a loss." How many campaigns are well funded to save some endangered snake, moth, or rodent? How come the year-long saga's of missing individuals or unsolved murders are almost always cute blond women?

If Iraq's population were cuter and fuzzier, were contributing more to Western Culture by way of art, films, literature, great food or wine, or were passionately fierce fighters for justice, spending another couple of years there would probably be a no brainer.

So Bush and friends, I've maintained for a long time that the failure of your administration in the public opinion polls (not in the results of your governance) is due to horrible communication. If you want to finish the job in Iraq, we need some PR for them as a people. Pictures with flies on open sores have been overdone and are better at getting folks to let go of $26 a month. No, we need some very attractive men and women that are still in Iraq, to become spokesfolks for their fellow countrymen. Otherwise, General Petraeus, you better have some great stats in September. Americans like great stats, too. But I'd start working the PR angle as a back up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Don't Count Out Mr. Misunderestimated

I wanted to write this column last week, but I couldn't take the heat. Bill Kristol said it better and wiser than I ever could, and he has a spine. "Why Bush Will Be A Winner."

Economy
Tax Cuts
Beating the goals on lowered deficit
Judges
Prescription Health Care
No Child Left Behind
No attacks on American soil since 9/11
Korea dismantling nuclear plant
Lybia joins the civilized world
US friendly governments in Germany and France
We will win in Iraq ... by Spring
Next President a Republican WITH coattails.

That's my list, which has a few more items than Bills.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Planning the Senior Years

"Aim at nothing, and you are very likely to hit it," or words very nearly like that set the stage for a class in leadership training I offered at my church years ago. Part of this course laid out a method for setting goals, including deciding about certain things you would desire to happen in the next ten years. "But if you aim for the stars and only hit the Moon, you will have likely been more fulfilled and successful during those ten years," would have been the follow-on line.

One of the older gentlemen in the group (I think he was around my current age at the time), came up to me afterward and asked: "Why should I be setting 10 years goals? I probably won't even be around in 10 years." Twelve years later I reminded him of that conversation.

I have always been a goal setter and a long ranger thinker. Nothing to be proud of, since it seems to have been born in. However, a few changes in my life gave me a jolt. I have neglected this discipline for a long time, and have been coasting a bit ... Ok, a lot. And while it is true that very few people actually sit down and consider their goals, I'm going to surmise (no survey results on this subject) that folks 50 and older are the least likely among adults to do so.

How crazy is that? A twenty-something has 60 years to screw things up and still have the time and opportunity to take several other bights at the apple. Second careers are almost normal today. Back to school in your forties is almost a cliche. But a fifty something is potentially down to 15 or 20 years of active living where most choices are still available (major league ballplayer is probably out.) Every day wasted would be like a week wasted for a young person.

It really hit home with me when I was contemplating the financial side of my future. Because of some unusual ways that my life has unfolded, our family has very little savings compared to our income. To make things more interesting, at age 59 I have one child starting college this year, and one who will start the year I turn 65. Our pretty decent income is well spent every month, so any increase in savings now without a serious increase in income, would mean a decrease in lifestyle.

So the choice might become a decrease in lifestyle during my 60's and my wife's 50's, so we can enjoy a better lifestyle 10 or more years from now. Hmmmm. Not an easy choice, but is it make a choice or to just wing it?!

Multiply that choice by decisions about: where to live, where to travel, how to contribute back into the community, how much time with kids and grandkids, should my spouse or I work, what legacy will we have, and what do we do with the body?

It might seem like my situation is unique. But suppose you have $1,000,000 bucks in your 401k, the house is paid for, retirement is already at hand, and the kids are all married and on their own. Does that change the need to set goals? You could still end up looking back 10 years from now and wonder at the wasted time watching TV, sleeping, or even golfing. You could easily ask yourself at age 70, why didn't I get to know my grandson when he was a kid. Now he's 15 and grandpa is not a major concern in his life.

Next time: How to prepare for setting goals.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Humility

You've probably already seen this, since 28,000,000 million have so done. However, just in case you're feeling like you're all that, check it out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Confused About the Word "Lie"

Do words mean anything in a relativistic culture? If there are no absolutes, do we then allow everyone to make up their own definitions to suit their position? I'm not talking about well-worn issues like pro life or pro choice. This is spin. O'Reilly is spinning when he calls his show the "no spin zone."

Let's take a walk back in history to the Clinton/Bush-the-elder political campaign. Pundits list a host of reasons for the Bush defeat: third party effort by Perot, small recession, lack of vision by Bush, and so on. But not to be quickly forgotten should be the cry that Bush lied about no new taxes.

It wouldn't take a complicated conspiracy theory to suggest that Democrats understood the power of that line and were looking for any possible way to tar Bush-the-younger with the same brush. No line has been more frequently repeated in the last 5 years than "Bush lied, they died."

Now comes Al Gore with his movie "An Inconvenient Truth." Al, inventor of the internet, will provide us with the truth. This is fine. I call this blog "The Truth About Everything," with a bit of tongue in cheek going. But even if I was arrogant enough to think I had some special hold on truth that the great unwashed are missing, this doesn't mean that errors or differences of opinion or changes in thinking are lies.

But then what of Gores assertion in 1992 that: "Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled."

You see, Bush 1 made an assertion which he later had to walk away from. He told us one thing, and then he did another. You can call that a lie, but it is hugely mitigated by the fact that he believe that it was critical to our nation that he change his mind about a belief he held dear.

Then Bush 2 took the opinion of most of the world's intelligence community, asserted that he believed what they said, and acted on this belief. He had other intelligence that did not agree, but he certainly did not "lie us into war" by an reasonable definition.

Now we are back to Gore who walks away from the truth with not much concern, it seems.

A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren't sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn't think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.


I suspect that most of you could fill in a few more examples, but this one just continues to get my goat. Go here for more on the story.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

What Cost Beauty?


My broom in hand, delicate petals recently fallen from my favorite jacaranda tree move from the driveway onto the lawn. During May and June this duty is required daily, and even then some of the sticky, squished versions of the petals are likely to get tracked into the house. I think back to a different handle to a different tool raking up massive piles of sycamore leaves when I was growing up in St. Louis. Those sycamores may not be as colorful as the jacaranda, but they are beautiful none-the-less.

We pay bucks, time, energy, and deep emotional costs in order to have beauty in our lives. Atheists are hard pressed to explain why, if there is not God, beauty matters. How does one's appreciation for Bach, Gauguin, or the Psalms, enter into survival of the fittest? It amazes us that a person would give up a "pearl of great price" to follow Jesus, but why would someone pay such a great price for a piece of sand wrapped in luminescent oyster secretions?

It isn't all about beauty, of course. Some beautiful things we seek to acquire for the purpose of impressing others with our wealth, taste, or our own personal beauty. But, for this to work, there must be an agreed-upon understanding of what is beautiful. Why diamonds and not quartz? Why piano and not acordion?

Even our hope of heaven contains layer on layer of expectations regarding beauty. The pearly gates, streets of gold, heavenly mansion, choirs of angels, and so much more. Back here on earth we drive hours for a spectacular view (6 hours each way for the 7 pools of Hana in Maui),
give special points to meals which the chef has displayed with aplomb, and pay manifold billions to appoint ourselves with clothes, jewelry, designer noses, and straight teeth.

The jacaranda petals appear as bright jewels against the green lawn. It was worth it to move them from the driveway. Now I can go rest in my sun room with its view of red, pink, orange, and purple bougainvillea.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Do You FEAR!?!


I would appreciate as many comments on this one as possible. You might even want to post the question on your blogs and get me some additional thoughts on the subject.

The list of possible fears is long and varied, everything from public speaking to spiders and such. However, for the purpose of this survey, I'm looking for the big picture. I will list 10 that I can think of that should set the tone. If these are big for you, let me know. If there are other similar things that are bigger for you, add them.
  1. The US devolving into a dictatorship
  2. The rapture and God's judgment on earth
  3. Hell
  4. Global Warming
  5. Islamic extremism creating global conflict
  6. Nuclear holocaust
  7. Depletion of critical natural resources
  8. The US devolving into a socialist government
  9. Overpopulation
  10. Underpopulation
  11. Too few culturally "Western Civilization" in the population
  12. Pollution
  13. Nuclear power plant catastrophe - or nuclear waste catastrophe
  14. Aliens (from outer space)
  15. Avian flu or similar disease
  16. Scientific advance out of control (e.g. genetic engineering, nanobots, robots with AI)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Can You Define Hyperbole? Try This!

If you have kids, take them to the beach. They should enjoy it while it lasts, because there is a chance that within their lifetimes California's beaches will vanish under the waves.
Believe it or not, this is the opening paragraph on the lead (actually the only) editorial in today's LA Times. It comes shortly after this subhead:

A carbon tax is the best, cheapest and most efficient way to combat cataclysmic climate change.
Cataclysmic! Here is a word that might be overused by journalists, but generally we think of cataclysmic for such things as tsunamis or 50,000 killed in an earthquake. Just like any good liberal organization, the LA Times is putting up a boogie man that can only be defeated by government intervention, and especially the use of a new tax.

Nowhere in the article does it suggest that government is the largest single user of all resources, and that if the government merely started using more efficient light bulbs, driving more efficient vehicles, and made more efficient use of every facility it owns or rents, we would go a long way toward solving problems related to energy use and pollution.

You are only seeing the beginning of the baloney that will be coming your way on this climate change issue. Read the editorial for yourself. You will only see the potential negative effects of increases in temperature. Don't be fooled by the fearmongering in this kind of propaganda. Do your own research. Many of the links to other points of view are contained in this blog. Look on the home page, look back in the archives. The Iraq war will not be the issue in 2008. Global warming will be the dominant issue in the 2008 political campaigns.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

DECEPTION by Randy Alcorn - Book Review

Christian Fiction may be one of the fastest growning categories in book publishing today, but that doesn't necessarily mean there are limitless excellent authors. In fact, subject to taste, there are really only a couple of handfuls of same who would be successful in the wider publishing field. Then, these ten or so writers can only produce so many books. In fact, almost all of them write as an adjunct to their ministry or other careers, limiting their potential production. As a result, those of us who prefer to read Christian writers wait breathlessly for our favorites to produce their next great effort. My favorite, Randy Alcorn, has just delivered a review copy of DECEPTION to my doorstep, and I'm happy to report 75 hours later that it is a total triumph.

The complete story is here.

You see, I am really over-the-top when it comes to promoting the works of 4 of my favorite authors. I haven't yet done fan pages on all of them, but for Randy Alcorn, Dr. Dobson, Ted Dekker, and Tim LaHaye, I am in the process of attempting to review all of their works and begin to pull in biographical and other information on them all. I have some of their favorite reading lists, and am hoping to do interviews. So visit one or all as you like by clicking on their names above.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Summer Movies - A Prediction


Just saw my 2nd Summer blockbuster, "Shrek The Third." Easily as good as the original, it is not surprising that records fell. 11 year-old son, Robert, saw Pirates on Thursday night. At 2 hours and 40 minutes, he said he noticed it was long. On the other hand, he couldn't stop talking about it. I just checked box office Mojo, and first estimates are that Pirates will not beat the record for a Friday, but that might have a lot to do with not being able to show it as often as you can a 2 hour movie. At an estimate $43 million domestic, no one will be complaining over at Disney.

I am going to go way out on a limb and make a prediction. This Summer season of movies will completely demolish all the records here-to-fore. The biggest problem for the movie makers will not be audience, it will be screens. Pity the B and C movies. They will be moving to airplanes and DVD's faster than ever as the huge hits monopolize the venues. Some also-rans might even be wise to pull out of this Summer's release plan, and take their chances with the Fall.

This proves, as was mentioned here on previous occasions, the movie business isn't dead. If they put out product that it fun, uplifting, exciting, or edgy, folks will flock to see it. The pundits who predicted two years ago that the end of "going to the movies" was at hand, must have been some of the same prognosticators who are now predicting catastrophic horrors due to global warming - just a failure to consider all of the facts.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Science Doesn't Know


Wired Magazine just changed its format. New fonts and colors are supposed to make the mag so much better. Maybe these things matter to some readers. I just want great content. Wired delivered in a major way (again) in the February '07 issue. There are numerous excellent articles, but one is a major standout: "What We Don't Know: 42 of the Biggest Questions in Science."

One might correctly surmise that I liked this article because it admits to the limitations of science. Not only does it do so in the general sense of the title, but in very useful details in reviewing the 42 questions. In addition, the contributors to this article raised some fascinating issues which give support to some of my favorite opinions about various scientific issues. I encourage you, dear reader, to click over to the entire article and read it for yourself. I will be highlighting a few of my favorite passages over the next few days.

Best of all was this on GLOBAL WARMING:

Will forests slow global warming - or speed it up?

.......

We don’t know which way it will go, because we know so little about forests themselves. Scientists estimate that up to 50 percent of all species live in forest canopies - three-dimensional labyrinths largely invisible from the ground - but virtually no one can tell you what lives in any given cubic meter of canopy, at any height, anywhere in the world. We don’t even have names for the most common species of trees in the Amazon.

We know that trees suck up CO2. We know that decaying trees give off CO2. We also know that trees tend to absorb light energy, rather than reflect it. Termites, which eat trees, are a major source of methane gas, another greenhouse gas.

However, the take away line from this story is "we know so little about forests..."
Add to this line a few of the other things we don't know that have been discussed in this blog alone:
  1. We also know very little about clouds and how they will effect future global warming.
  2. We also know very little about the self-healing aspect of our three atmospheres.
  3. We also know almost nothing about how the earths millions of species of plants and animals will react to warmer climates. Ocean surface algae alone could so increase in population that CO2 would be dramatically reduced by this algae consuming it

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Spidey III - Forgiveness


Make sure that your children and your unsaved friends see Spider-man 3. I took three very solid Christian young men to see it yesterday, and the critical messages of the film were subtle enough that they didn't get it until I pointed it out. But it was indeed a sermon.

The basic storyline from the beginning has been that we humans, with or without super powers, are a complex bag of good and evil. We are faced with choices all the time where we are forced to choose the expedient or the right thing to do. We commonly choose the expedient.

At another level the writers clearly want us to know that there is a kind of evil which exists outside of nature and our own human nature which can influence our decisions in a major way. As with most movies in this genre, one of the ways the evil is used to create inappropriate behavior is to incite us to revenge. And not just any revenge, but taking God's judgment into our own hands.

As this part of the storyline plays out, we see character after character asking for or giving forgiveness, and we see that in so giving or granting, there is a blessing to both the giver and the receiver. At one point, Peter (Spider-man) is even encouraged to forgive himself.

Even the love story has a serious Christian message with regard to the relationship with husband and wife. Peter's Grandmother tells him that he should only marry when he is confident that he can put his wife's needs ahead of his own. This subtheme is not some hidden subplot, but a repeated admonition that would be impossible to miss.

Oh! How was the movie? The action? The story? Best of the three in my opinion. Two of the three of my young charges agreed. Personally, I "liked" the bad guys better.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

On Being Overwhelmed, Passion or the Lack of It, and Their Connection

Warning: If the following seems ill-conceived or rambling, take it for what it is worth. Blogs are allowed to be journals with unintelligible musings thrown in from time-to-time.

As this blog is called to tell the Truth, and truth generally must be fired by passion, I have not been blogging much this past month or so. What has been different in these past few weeks is the amount and type of work I have been doing. Our company has been struggling at a number of different levels, and this has dramatically increased the amount of work I do while at work. The intensity is much higher. And, for the first time in my career, I tend to bring the "work" home. No, I don't bring my briefcase or my computer home with me. In fact, I rarely even look at my office e-mail from home, make phone calls, or even do research after hours. It's worse. I think and ponder and contemplate and mmmm worry and plot and plan and ............

This kind of intensity seems to block out everything else. I have read 4 novels in the past 4 weeks, still hold a Bible study on Tuesday night, have attended countless little league games and other such for the kids during this time, but in order to write about the stuff I do, you have to have passion about the things you are writing about. And at least it would appear that passion is hard to sustain when you are worn out, worried, anxious, plotting, etc. I just wondered if a lot of what Paul was saying in the New Testament had to do with this very thing. How can we be passionate about following Christ and doing His will if we are burned out by the everyday things of life?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Chick Book" Report


I have never been too concerned about having my manhood questioned. Instrumentally I may play the flute, but I also play the Sousaphone. So, with that defensive statement in place, I offer the following review of the recent works of Nicholas Sparks. If the name is familiar, but you can't quite place it, some of his books have made it into movies: The Wedding, Message in a Bottle, and The Notebook. Last Summer I read these three books. In the past 60 days I have consumed another 4. Here is my report.

If you don't like the Lifetime Channel you won't care much for Nicholas Sparks. Pretty much every book is built around a romantic couple and death. If, however, you are a husband who has tired of self-help books and marriage seminars as teaching tools for being a more romantic partner, these books could infuse you with a mental stimulation that non-fiction sometimes fails to create.

Personally, I am both embarrassed and annoyed when a movie or book brings me to the point or past the point of tears. (I know, I know. I shouldn't be embarrassed.) Be forewarned that if you are possessed of any heart at all, you will not get through any of these books without tearing up.

The folks who buy movie rights were correct in taking The Wedding to the screen. I still think this was his best work to date. However, The Notebook is a two Kleenex Box book. It should come as no surprise that I find his writing very compelling, the characters real and endearing.
Many of the books have a Christian message that suggests Sparks is not only a believer, but wants the message of Christ to be spread. Contrast that with a recurring plot line of sex on the first date. The good news is that he doesn't linger on the sexual aspect or give details.

Under this blogs book review rating system, the works of Nicholas Sparks are Buy In Paperback.

A Thought-provoking Poem

Thoughts for Harry Reid
By Tarzana Joe


Would Rockne be remembered
If the towel he had tossed?
Forget about the Gipper, boys
This game’s already lost.

Would Lincoln be a hero
And on pennies be embossed
If he announced that, after Shiloh
This Union, friends, is lost.

Would Caesar have surrendered
Before the Rubicon was crossed?
Did Ulysses pull the plug
When his barque was tempest-tossed?

Would Perry’s flag be flying
Would hist’ry gip a rip
If, on it, he embroidered
“Do give up the ship!”

If we’d been bowed by setbacks
Or our opponents’ fury
Nothing would have happened
On the deck of the Missouri

So in the battle of our lifetime
If I can be the chooser
I’d rather keep on fighting
Than declare myself the loser.

HT: Hugh Hewitt

Happiness? Joy? Bah! Humbug!


Several weeks ago I posted on Happiness vs Joy. It didn't result in much discussion (Ok. No one commented.) This was a bit surprising in a blog, Godvsnogod.blogspot.com, where 20 comments is the average. At some level the issues of happiness, joy, contentment, anxiety, angst, fear are at the very heart of the human condition. Wired magazine has a brief essay this month which adds a bit of flavor to the issue from the pharm side of things. I recommend this 3 minute read. But here's an excerpt:

From a distance, pleasure without fear or desire sounds pretty good. But in your grasp, it starts to feel less like paradise and more like soma. A species that shuts out adversity does not survive very long in a Darwinian universe. In the short term, humans with happy-making neural implants would cease to be interesting. Quenching feelings of hardship also means never feeling desire or want. Unpleasant as those emotions can be, they're also the basis for ambition and creativity. "Happy people are not ambitious," Greenfield says. "They do not build civilizations."
One could argue that there is no inherent goodness in building civilization, and I have had some commenters on this and other blogs who feel all this need to grow and build is not the best for human kind. The Jesus People certainly would contend that the constant grasping for material improvement is not of God. Many environmentalists clearly would like to see a return to simpler times.

Now enters the age of Pharma. The article points out that we may be on our way to being able to use various drugs or other tools to completely control our moods. We certainly have taken a number of very large steps down that path with various anti-depressants, anti-anxiety products, ADD and ADHD solutions, and "muscle relaxents." On the surface and case-by-case one has a hard time saying to the chronically depressed person, "You'll get over it," when a couple of tiny pills will give them so much peace. But as a species, is this approach wise?

Taking it directly into the God realm, there is a small and shrinking percentage of the Christian community who proclaim the sufficiency of Christ. This is similar to the Christian Scientist Claim of no medical intervention. However, do we begin to see their point as we move down the slippery slope. (Or should we say slippery slopes...eg. designer babies, gene alteration, or enhancement drugs.) Should we draw a line? Where?

The article concludes with this interesting thought:

Maybe it's no coincidence that some of the happy-making stuff is manufactured in those countries. It's reminiscent of the scenario laid out by another prescient thinker, H. G. Wells. In his book The Time Machine, Wells wrote about a world where the happy, indolent elite — the Eloi — are served by industrious outsiders called Morlocks. The Eloi are also the hardworking Morlocks' food. Grim stuff. And also the exact opposite of what Jefferson was trying to tee up for Americans. Maybe he knew that if you have too much happiness, you don't get life and liberty.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Laser TV's and Projection Cell Phones


Several new approaches to TV are on the way, but leading the pack in the over 40" category is Laser TV. Claims are that these TV's will be half as thick, half the weight, half the cost, and use 25% of the energy of existing large screen LCD and Plasma TV's. Did I mention that these will also have a much better picture? Other sources say that LCD TV's in this size range will be coming down by half by Christmas at the same time the Laser TV's are supposed to be hitting stores, worldwide.

In some ways more interesting is that the same technology is being tested on cell phones to allow users to project images onto any surface. This could create a serious portable TV. We can be sure that if it works, it will cause some kind of cancer.

Some more detail here and here.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Dream House - Major League Style


I used to day dream when I was a kid. Just ask my teachers. Among other things I dreamed of owning a mansion, and while much of the details escape me today, I clearly recall that my dream home was to have a bowling lane in the basement. Today I know that my immagination was far too limited.

One of our church members is related to the All Star shortstop of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jack Wilson. This morning about 40 men and boys from church traveled out to spend a couple of hours with Jack. The goal of the trip was to hear a bit about the life of a big leaguer. You know. How does a Christian avoid all the pitfalls of that life. Jack did a fine job of delivering that message and regaled us with short snippets from his career. But I think the thing we will all remember is his back yard.

About 1/3 of the yard is devoted to a full on major league infield with the latest Astro Turf to make it realistic. To the right of the field is a facility for perfect aerobics, a swimming pool. The rock waterfalls and slides probably don't have much to do with his work outs, but his kids have to love it. Off to the left is the 500 square foot training room with 40" LCD tv, and every kind of machine you could ever ask for. Just in front of this the tennis court, professional full basketball court, putting green. Oh! Did I mention the batting cage. I didn't ask, but since the batting cage was about 50 foot deep, I suspect it works well for hitting golf balls, also.

My son, Robert, was kind of hoping to be adopted, but he had to settle for the above picture and a signed baseball card.

What a Week!

I'm not sure that there has been another time in the history of this minor league blog when I've gone a week without a post. But this hasn't been any normal week. Like you, I have watched the news and contemplated its meaning, unsure that there really is any significant lesson outside of the fact that we will always have our crazies.

There is reason to think that we have gone to far in "mainstreaming" folks who might be a danger to themselves or others. I have been in the system with an employee who had hyperthyroid problems which were leading to LSD-like behavior, including threats to her life and that of her baby. She had to admit herself.

And yet, while the headlines are impressive, how do we measure the loss of those lives against the freedom of these individuals who are borderline. I tend to find myself more concerned about their personal welfare on the streets more than the occasional incident when an innocent civilian gets harmed.

We probably need changes in the way we deal with mental health issues. What do you think?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Whose House Is This Anyway?

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading
national university, this house incorporates every
"green" feature current home construction can provide.
The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms)
and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American
southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal
heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300
feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.)
heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The
system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas,
and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a
conventional heating/cooling system.

Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into
a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from
showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground
purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected
water then irrigates the land surrounding the house.
Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property
into the surrounding rural landscape.


For the answer, click on "comment" below.

HT: Collecting My Thoughts

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Reagan Economy Just Keeps On Buzzing Along


Do you know who Larry Kudlow is? He's that wild and crazy talk show host of Kudlow and Company. Here and elsewhere Larry provides insights into everything having to do with the economy and stocks. A couple of months ago he wrote this essay, and surprise, surprise, it has not been widely reported upon. The title: "It's the Reagan Economy, Stupid," wherein he clearly points to the things done in the Reagan years as revolutionary and producing the longest period of economic prosperity in the 20th Century.

More evidence of the Reagan-induced boom comes from Michael Cox, an economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank and co-author of the brilliant new book The Myth of Rich and Poor. Cox recently calculated that since the dawning of Reaganomics 18 years ago, the U.S. economy has slumped into recession for just 6 of the last 200 months, or a mere 3 percent of the time. That is an almost unprecedented stretch of growth considering that historically the U.S. economy has been in decline one-third of the time.


What did Reagan do that resulted in such change?

It was Reagan's supply side economic ideas -- the policy of marginal rate tax cuts, a strong dollar, trade globalization (the Gipper started NAFTA with a U.S.-Canadian free trade agreement), deregulation of key industries like energy, financial services and transportation, and a re-armed military -- all of which unleashed a great wave of entrepreneurial-technological innovation that transformed and restructured the economy, resulting in a long boom prosperity that continues to throw off economic benefits to this day.
So, what next? I predict we are already in a slower period (truckers are complaining, a leading indicator), and we will start to see increasing unemployment (we are basically at full employment now.) However, unless there is a major catastrophe, the Reagan Boom should continue on and on.



Monday, April 02, 2007

Air Show at Point Mugu



A few years ago I decided I really wanted to go to an air show. I had experienced the fly-overs at Dodger games, seen some maneuvers while driving by March AFB, and watched the SST land up in Seattle. Now I wanted the all day experience.

However, I was nervous about the traffic, where to sit, which one to attend, and all that. Then I met Bernardo. If you are a regular here, you have seen him comment from time to time. If you go over to The God vs No God Debate, you'll notice he has probably written more words on that blog than I have. But Bernardo's big passion is air shows. In fact, he has even established a web site that tells you everything you could possibly need to know about California air shows and some others around the country.





Since Bernardo is now a friend, he suggested that we (the fam) join him at the Pt. Mugu show this past weekend. It was a very, very fine day. (My wife says that it wasn't exactly her cup of tea.) In addition to watching all the great aerobatics, including Stealth and Thunderbirds, the boys got a chance to do a bit of photography using expensive cameras and huge lenses.

The results of that photo effort includes the picture at the top of the page by number one son, Brian. He is understandably proud of that effort. In the interest of equal time, however, please see Bernardo's best of the day just above.

55.6% of the Supremes Say Global Warming Is True


I'm not sure there has ever been a more political decision that this one. The EPA is given jurisdiction to determine what pollutants to monitor and control, and which ones are inconsequential, although there are guidelines in the law. 5 of the 9 members of The Court have determined that the EPA either should or at least can include "greenhouse" gasses in the list of what they regulate. Of course, these gasses are naturally present, even critical. The legislature could have added Carbon Dioxide and Methane to the list of regulated items, but they haven't. So the Supremes have voted to go on the record regarding GW (Global warming and George W.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Next POTUS, Fred Thompson


I'm really excited. Up until the last few days any effort I would have put forth for the GOP standard bearer in '08 would have been half-hearted at best. As stated in a post just a couple below here, the best of the lot seemed to be the ex NY Mayor, but there is plenty not to like.

Slowly, but surely, Fred Thompson is being drafted. He doesn't seem to be doing much overtly to get the nomination, but plenty is being done for him. He is a true conservative, has gravitas, no personal issues that we know of, and great name recognition.

If he decides to enter the race, this blogger believes he would be unstoppable. See the first poll on his chances.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Change the Divorce System NOW!

Spent half an hour on the phone yesterday with a business friend who is in the 4th year of a nasty divorce. He has spent over $100,000 in attorney's fees, and he isn't done yet. More important than the money is the emotional toll on he and his daughter, now 15.

I probably had the easiest divorce in history. It cost me $100 in attorneys fees. My ex-wife was the travel agent who booked the honeymoon of my current marriage some 20 years ago, and is still our travel agent today.

What do these two divorces have in common. My friend agreed with me that divorce is the worst thing that he has gone through in his entire life. It creates anger, resentment, bitterness, disruption in our lives at every level. In almost every case, careers are disrupted, often times businesses are hurt or even destroyed, KIDS are badly damaged, friendships are ended, and financial consequences to both husband and wife are commonly devastating.

There has to be a better way. I don't have a really cool new idea here. However, I believe that with all of its shortcomings, the fault method of divorce was better than this no-fault approach. It sent a message to the community that you don't just dissolve a marriage because you're "unhappy" or "not in love" anymore. You don't even quit because of one or two "mistakes" on the part of one or the other spouse. You don't give up because one spouse hasn't met all the "needs" of the other. Our current system says: Unhappy? End it. Everybody knows the consequences of such an approach, but nobody's doing anything about it.

One Blogger's Opinion on Global Warming

A friend and frequent visitor to this blog, Kathy, has asked me to succinctly state my position on the global warming debate.

1. Almost all evidence points to 1 degree of warming at ground level over the past 100 years. More than half of this warming occurred during 1900-1940, followed by cooling from 1940-1980. Another warming trend started in the '80's. While there have been substantial changes in the way we monitor these ground level temperatures, and today's technology and number of monitoring stations is substantially greater than those of 100 years ago, my personal belief is that we are in a warm period.

2. Almost all evidence points to a very minor increase in atmospheric warming. Again, we are better at doing this now. However, models based on CO2-as-culprit theory would suggest that atmospheric warming should be greater than ground warming. My personal belief is that we are in a warm period, but not caused by CO2.

3. Ice core studies strongly show that we have been warmer than this in the past without significant negative and some positive impact on ecosystems. My personal belief is that we can get 2-3 degrees warmer without too many problems and potentially some great benefits.

4. There are very credible models based on cyclical sun patterns that would suggest that our current warming is caused by solar activity, and that CO2 concentrations increase a few years after this kind of solar activity. I personally believe that this model has the most credibility. These models show a coming global cooling starting around 2010.

5. The amount of CO2 created by humans is dwarfed by such things as volcanoes, cow-produced and termite produced gases, and the release of CO2 from natural sinks. While humans do produce CO2, it seems unlikely that the amount comes close to having the impact suggested by the CO2 model theorists. I personally think we should modify our CO2 footprint for a lot of reasons.

6. I believe that there are mountains of evidence that the earth is self-healing, which is also an extremely strong argument for the existence of God. This self-healing effect has been working for either 10,000 years (young earth) or millions of years. It might stop working during this generation or next, but such an argument seems over-the-top crazy to me. One example is the very carbon sinks mentioned above. Organisms on the ocean surface grow like crazy when there is more CO2, they ingest and hold on to the CO2, thereby reducing atmospheric CO2. When the CO2 gets to a low level, these organisms begin to die off, thus releasing stored CO2 into the atmosphere and there is less being ingested and stored by these creatures.

7. Bottom line. Humans should work hard to reduce pollution of all kinds for many and varied reasons which are obvious. Humans should be seeking to develop energy resources that are not dependent upon potentially limited resources. I have covered this in detail here. We should not be risking our economies or the developing economies of the poorest countries based on the questionable science of Al Gore or the UN.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Biased Reporting or Confusion - Either Way It Says A Lot

Source: University of Copenhagen
Date: March 10, 2007


Climate Change: Could It Be Random?

Science Daily Severe climate changes during the last ice-age could have been caused by random chaotic variations on Earth and not governed by external periodic influences from the Sun. This has been shown in new calculations by a researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen University.


The temperature curve through the Greenland inland ice sheet shows 26 dramatic and abrupt climate shifts during the last ice age that lasted more than 100.000 years. This curve shows the climate shifts during 40,000 years. The climate shifts appear to be periodic, but mathematical computer simulations shows that they are probably chaotic and random. (Credit: Peter Ditlevsen)

Several large international projects have succeeded in drilling ice-cores from the top of the Greenland inland ice through the more than 3 km thick ice sheet. The ice is a frozen archive of the climate of the past, which has been dated back all the way to the previous interglacial Eem-period more than 120.000 years ago.

The ice archive shows that the climate has experienced very severe changes during the glacial period. During the glacial period there were 26 abrupt temperature increases of about 7-10 degrees. These glacial warm periods are named Dansgaard-Oeschger events after the two scientists first observing them.

The global warming we experience presently will cause a temperature increase of perhaps 2-5 degrees in the next century if greenhouse gas emissions continue, researchers claim. This will lead to increased sea levels and more severe weather with terrible consequences. The temperature rise during the glacial period were much larger and happened much faster.

.....

This is very important for understanding the cause of the climate changes and especially for predicting climate shifts. If they are random and chaotic they are fundamentally unpredictable.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Copenhagen.


So, which is it? The entire article is about the possibility of randomness, yet the writer has to insert his own bias about the current climate change.

HT: Norma

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Last Days by Joel Rosenberg - Book Review

If you like TV programs like "24" or books by Ludlum, and I didn't convince you last time with my review of "The Last Jihad," then I will be trying 3 more times. The second book in the series is "The Last Days." Like any good series, it takes up where "Jihad" left off. John and Erin continue their heroic exploits as the constantly find themselves in harms way. Like "24," the action is taking place in the current political climate and offers a glimpse of a possible future ourcome of the global power struggle.

The characters are almost as well written as Stephen King's. The background research is definitely on par with Ludlum. The intensity keeps you up until the wee hours on a regular basis.
This is a buy-and-keep. It is a bit hard to find in major bookstores. Usually available in the better Christian bookstores (The second book is overtly Christian, but should still be very, very interesting to those who don't like "Christian" fiction.

Lightbulbs Create Political Confusion

The left-leaning Los Angeles Times editorial page has today asked the California State legislature to NOT outlaw incandescent bulbs. I am totally shocked!! Liberals are perfectly happy to ban all kinds of things they don't like or think might hurt a moth in some swamp. Why wouldn't they be willing to reduce energy consumption through lighting by some 80% by taking a 19th century technology off the market? The answer to that question is even more astounding.

The LA Times is worried that such a ban would stifle innovation and limit consumer choice. Is there a chance that the West Coast newspaper of record has been infiltrated by editorial writers from National Review?

But alas, they just want a different limitation. They want to set target energy use levels that all light bulbs must meet by date certain (say 2012.) General electric says they are already working on various bulbs that would do everything that the legislation proposed by the Times is asking. Let the free market work, for heaven's sake.

But, once again, I am forced to keep on saying it. The government is not free market. I am 100% in favor of requiring all government purchases of bulbs to be fluorescent starting tomorrow. There is a law I can support, but which will never see the light of day.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Tide IS Turning RE: Global Warming Debate

I could just feel it in my bones. If you overhype something, eventually there will be a backlash. I think the backlash is beginning, and those who are absolutely convinced that man-caused GW will result in horrible consequences in the next 50 years are about to be sent back to undergraduate school for a remedial course.
No less a source than the NY Times writes an almost balanced article on the subject. If you are intrigued by GW or by MSM media bias, you must read this article. It actually quotes some of the GW skeptics and clearly shows where Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" is full of hyperbole and distortion (don't call it lies). Then it ends with this, a quote from a Princeton Prof: "...But in terms of the big picture, he got it right.”

If you mess with the science, totally distort almost every fact, leave out important aspects that fly in the face of your agenda, and you're President Bush, you lied. If you're Al Gore, you got it right.

Now, if you'd like to see a completely biased, but very well done documentary from the other side, the skeptical side, go here. It 75 minutes long, but it is fantastic in the way that it completely devestates the GW agenda, and shows it to be a monumental rip off. That's why it is called: The Great Global Warming Swindle

Those of you who have bought this junk science, watch the documentary and tell me why its wrong. The credentials of the scientist they interview are at the very zenith of their various disciplines.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Don't Send Presents

I read one of those viral emails the other day having to do with birthdays. You've probably seen it. When your under 10, half birthdays really matter. Up until 25 you can't wait until you get older. After 70, you're proud of how old you are again. After 100, you start counting the 1/2 years again.

Wellll, I know I'm weird, but I have always looked forward to getting to the next stage in my life. I also can't help but be fascinated by aspects of aging that most of my other friends and associates of the same age don't find that fascinating.

When I turned 50, I realized that I was starting to count in reverse. In other words, looking at family history and such, I figured I had 30 really good years left. I realized that a person could have an entire career in that much time. I began to ponder that possibility. One thing was certain. Those years were not going to go to waste.

As the calendar turns, I'm hitting 59 this Friday. The last 9 years have not been a waste, but I won't boor you with the details (2 daughters married, 4 1/2 grandkids . . . whoops.) On the other hand, my dad is turning 87 this year and my mom 81. So I've decided that I still have 30 good years left. And I bet my forecast is closer than the UN forecast on global warming.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Problem of Evil

In over 20 years of debating atheists, the most common complaint they have against the Christian God usually revolves around how a omnipotent God could allow so much evil in the world. Even more problematic for most is that God was the author of what they see as evil, especially in the Old Testament. The Great Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the utter destruction of some cities or people groups, including the take over of Jerusalem.

I have done my best to offer answers to these issues over the years, but I found a great essay that really pulled things together in a very different way. The article pointed out that in every case God:

1. Had clearly declared years in advance that certain things were going to happen, therefore putting people on notice with regard to his intent.
2. Had given many opportunities for either changing their ways or moving out of the way.
3. Had provided evidence of his mercy.
4. Had even given last chances near the time of the destruction
5. Made it clear that these actions were judgments in response to horrific behavior. Usually this behavior was sexual and violent.
6. Meted out the same exact consequences to the Jews when they were judged to be behaving badly.

Interestingly to me, it seems as if this is exactly how God works in our individual lives, and how He has promised to work at His future coming.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Reversal "...Global Warming...Over-hyped and an Environmental Concern of Second Rank" -Claude Allegre

I just keep feeling like the whole GW thing stinks to high heaven. It's one thing when you think other folks are just wrong, but are doing what they're doing with good hearts. In this case, however, I think there is power, money, prestige, and political motives that are driving this entire debacle. Call it my gut. Here's the latest.

Claude Allegre, one of France's leading socialists and among her most celebrated scientists, was among the first to sound the alarm about the dangers of global warming.

His break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in l' Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro's retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. "The cause of this climate change is unknown," he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the "science is settled."
HT: Drudgereport.com The whole story

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Science Is NOT God

The most important issue civilization will answer during the next 100 years will be whether there is a God who is personally involved in daily affairs of man, or if we will rely on scientists to determine how we live and behave. While it is unlikely that all of us will agree on one or the other, one will dominate.

I have argued here and in many atheist and naturalist blogs and forums that while I love science and the fruits of scientific endeavor, we can't turn it into our God. The main reason is that no matter how much we may think we know about the way things work, we will never know the "rest of the story." A very small amount of new information can make major changes. A HT to Norma for this fantastic original reporting:

I invite you to read the first 5-10 pages of any issue of Nature. Here's what I noticed today:
  • The fat metabolism of Drosophila (fruit fly) is a mystery. . .
  • They still haven't figured out the influence of genes vs. environment in disease, and some studies are "controversial."
  • Astronomers' galaxy theories are in need of a new model because of new observational techniques.
  • "despite intense investigation. . ."
  • "it is a mystery. . ."
  • "new techniques reveal. . ."
  • "will test the hypotheses that . . ."
  • "previously unknown changes. . . "
  • "reveal an unexpected connection in. . ."
  • "more widespread consequences than previously predicted. . . "
  • "may play a role in climate change (this was not human related). . ."
  • "long running debate in how . . . "
  • "the nature of how this works is unclear. . ."
  • "the reason for this variation has been something of a mystery. . . "
  • "there is only one fossil of this 150 million year old species available for analysis. . . "
  • "Even some of the most accomplished scientists are in the dark about the most basic information underpinning their work. . . "
  • "The plant with the largest flower (a metre across) has no roots, leaves or stems and has no DNA clues on how it is related to other plants. . . "
  • the question of whether this property plays an active role in tumors has remained under debate. . . "

Presidential Straw Vote

If the election for POTUS were held today, and instead of just two candidates, you could choose among all the folks who are currently being considered, who would you vote for?

That question was put to me yesterday by a friend of mine who enjoys politics as much as I do. I thought about it for a few seconds and startled myself with Giuliani. Then as I created this post I realized I couldn't spell his name, not even close enough for Google to correct me. Do you think there is time for a complete dark horse to come and save us from this sad list of potential leaders of our country?

The reason I chose Giuliani is because he clearly is a leader. He has vision, style, and folks want to follow him. But he has so many negatives. Unfortunately, however, after him we just don't have much to look at. Romney would be my second choice, but why do I feel like he's Bill (take a poll - change my opinion) Clinton in Republican clothing. McCain has aged out, and I never liked him for the job when he was younger. Too self-righteous.

Brownback? Acts like an extremist. Condi? Needs to get married and run for a lower office first. Otherwise I like her among all considered candidates. Newt? Would probably be good at it. I would vote for him ahead of Giuliani, but I think he's unelectable because of too much exposure.

Then there's the folks on the other side of the aisle. If Obama has the credentials to be president, then so do I. I've written more books than he has. He is so far to the left that Ted Kennedy couldn't vote for him. Hillary? Uhhhh, NO! And if it were between Hillary and Edwards, I'd actually vote for Hillary.

My friend then suggested that all of this made him think Gore should run. After he wrestled the gun away from my head, I suggested that all of this made Powell look perfect for the job. Do you think his wife would let him do it?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stock Market Bust - What Isn't and Won't Be Reported

Immigration is down. You know, the illegal kind. Whether it is because our Homeland Security improvements are working, or because the Mexican economy is on a roll, or because of our construction slump, fact is, there are fewer apprehensions. That is how the HSD determines how many are trying to get in.

But this reduction could end up being one of those unintended consequences that most economists will never actually figure into the historical pattern. Let me see. Less new adults added to the population, fewer families looking for a place to live, less people buying goods and services. This is very likely to lead to an economic slowdown, starting with housing. Checked out the value of your home recently.

In checking around with my friends in the business world, construction work is very slow, truckers are looking for loads, and almost everyone seems to be complaining about new business in the last three weeks of February. So Alan Greenspan says: We might have a recession later this year. China hears that (he said it at a meeting in China.) They aren't stupid, and they can feel the cough in America long before it becomes a cold in Asia. So their market dumps 9% in one session.

Does this mean we should encourage illegal immigrants to start crossing over again? Does it even mean we should dramatically increase the number of work visas and such. Not necessarily. We just need to know that there will be pain in the process.

PS. This is not to say that this is the only thing impacting the economy or housing prices. And I am not predicting a recession later this year. As a card carrying member of the Optimist Party, I expect a major increase in business tomorrow or the next day.

Al Gore, Liberal Elitist Extrodinaire, Just Doesn't Get It

Wow! Al Gore responded today to the issue of whether his energy use of 20 times the national average was an indication of hypocrisy in his war against global warming. He pointed out that he has switched many of his light fixtures to low energy compact fluorescent bulbs. He is in the process of installing a solar panels, and he tries to buy energy from companies producing such energy from greener sources. Thus he is reducing his carbon footprint from what it was.

It turns out, however, that the "pool house" uses 10 times more energy than the average American home. Al, if you want to be the lead spokesman and win the Nobel Peace Prize for that leadership, maybe you could lower yourself to live in a 2500 square foot home with a pool. Just maybe you could travel commercial instead of private jets. I know you have worked hard, as did your father before you, and you deserve your luxuries. You and Babs with her air conditioned barn that stores her personal memorabilia. But if you want to be believed that you think we are in a global emergency, and that life as we know it is threatened, then I would think the only ethical thing to do would be t0 actually sacrifice. Don't hold your breath.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Al Gore Get's Another Award

This is almost too good to be true, but other than the Drudge Report where I found it, you're just not going to see this information hitting the Main-Stream-Media any time soon.

Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own “Inconvenient Truth”
Gore’s home uses more than 20 times the national average
Last night, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.
Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.
Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.
Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year.
“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Tennessee Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.
In total, Gore paid nearly $30,000 in combined electricity and natural gas bills for his Nashville estate in 2006.


So let's dispense with the nominating, the voting, and all that. I say we give him Hypocrite of the Decade with no further ado.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Given Enough Time, Science Might Get Things RIght

I've been spending more than few hours debating scientist over at my new blog http://godvsnogod.blogspot.com. And in order to do the research, I have also traveled to places like thenogodblog, The Panda's Thumb, and the bronze blog. Most folks in the science world agree that much they propose to know to be true today will be improved on in future days, months, or years. Science is always self-correcting. We can hope it self-corrects for the better. If global ice age vs. global warming is any indication, there is still much work to be done.

Well, if there is one science that is usually the most ridiculed, it is the one I have my degree in, psychology. Freud has been completely discredited, and those who followed fit the claim often made of economists: If you have 10 psychologists in the room, you probably have 11 opinions on any given subject.

I have to say, though, the past few months have seen some remarkable progress in the field. Psychologists first determined that teaching self esteem wasn't working. This was almost my first post on this blog. Then last year a survey revealed that therapists believed that 75% of emotional illness is related to failure to forgive. Both of these are most amazing in that they confirm Biblical teaching.

Now this
from findings of The American Psychological Association:
...the portrayal of girls and young women as sex objects harms girls' mental and physical health - should be addressed at the root cause: the media.
If this were the only finding, it would be amazing enough. But the article goes on:

The saturation of sexualised images of females is leading to body hatred, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression, high rates of teen pregnancy and unhealthy sexual development in our girl children. It also leads to impaired cognitive performance. In short, if we tell girls that looking "hot" is the only way to be validated, rather than encouraging them to be active players in the world, they underperform at everything else.And all along the "progressives" in this society have believed that it is ok to dress our 12 year- old girls like sluts, allow our 14 year-olds to date adults, and put no restrictions on the tv, movie, or internet habits of our preteens of either sex.
I spent two weeks over at blogcritics.org a couple of years ago arguing about the negative effects of porn, an inclination of men to require their dates to do what they have seen on porn. This and the opposite. Women feeling compelled to do what they believe their date likes in porn in order to hold onto them. Most of the folks in the forum thought I was an old fashioned nanny.

Well, the Bible tells us to esteem not ourselves, that our worth comes from God. The Bible says that forgiveness is the key to spiritual cleansing which will lead to a balanced life. The Bible says that we should reserve the sexual aspects of our lives to our mate. Science follows Bible. I like it.