- Name: on-the-rocks
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geosciblog Continuing Series
Newly-Found Geology/Science Blogs (Early-2009 to Mid-2011)
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Not Ready for Facebook
Oh, By the Way, Happy New Year
Another Climate Change Rant
Hoplophobia - the New Word for the Day
Tiny Lund, a NASCAR Legend
Recent PostsStill Here...
Not Ready for Facebook
Oh, By the Way, Happy New Year
Another Climate Change Rant
Hoplophobia - the New Word for the Day
Tiny Lund, a NASCAR Legend
GeologicalScienceBlog - subjects include Geology, Climatology, Environmental Science, NASCAR, Beer, Property Rights, Random Thoughts, & Politics from a Christian Conservative/Libertarian/pragmatist viewpoint. As a Dad & Grandad, I am concerned about the overgrowth of government at the expense of freedom. Background - two degrees in Geology (BS '77, MS '90), started studying Geology beginning Senior Year of high school (1971 - 1972) <68>
Monday, May 30, 2005
Is Urban Planning Coming to a City Near You?
On the surface, this would seem to be simply a place to rant about this flawed paradigm (for new readers - the atmospheric carbon dioxide content is 390 ppm (parts per million), equivalent to 4 pennies out of 10,000 pennies ($100)). This paradigm was born as a political animal and thus it remains.
There might be other human causes to local and regional climate change, but nothing humans can do will control natural carbon dioxide releases (volcanoes, hot springs, animal/bacterial respiration, bacterial consumption of organics, oceanic releases) that dwarf human emissions (see May 19th post "Playing with Greenhouse Numbers" - third graph).
But there is something more ominous in this post, something that cuts to the very heart of freedom, the ownership of private property. Most of these 3.2 million homes are probably free-standing homes on privately-owned property. These are to be replaced with "publicly-funded" new homes, including 120,000 planned for Thames Gateway, that will comply with new codes for "sustainable buildings", due to be published later this year. The over-taxed Brits are going to have to pay for this on top of everything else.
This suggests that private home-owners will be bought-out (but what of those that don't want to sell? Will they be forced-out? It has happened here, in the U.S., already.) and herded into urban settings of dense population (as if London and other cities don't already have enough problems with unemployment, immigrants that don't want to assimilate,...).
What of the abandoned land? It will probably be "re-wilded".
This is not paranoia. This is part of the larger issue of "Sustainability" (also known as "Smart Growth:) and how it will be achieved. It sounds sensible, but who defines what is sustainable? Are they pushing it because they think it is more efficient than the status quo or is it because the are control freaks? Urban planning boards (among others) funded by "Federal" money are superceding local elected governments. Who elected the planning boards? No one, that's right. The decisions they make will affect you and your descendents. Think of a home-owners' association on steroids.
In the view of the "Smart Growth" crowd, single-family homes are not considered sustainable. Cattle farming is not considered sustainable. You might be surprised what is not considered sustainable. More info is available at PropertyRights.org and Freedom 21. [Update: from Henry Lamb in the May 15th issue of Eco-Logic Powerhouse, comes this quote:
..."Planners have no sacred wisdom, they only have authority. Every time government attempts to engineer society by shaping and molding market forces, the result is failure. Nothing shapes the future as efficiently as a free market."
By way of the same "e-magazine", comes this link for a new website, that connects the dots between our expectations of property rights and the Wildlands Project. It is entitled Taking Liberty and it is worth a visit.
More will be posted on this "Slippery Slope" towards socialism in the near future.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
On Inertia, Gravity, and the Slippery Slope
Ongoing "Hate Crimes" legislation falls under the same heading. Within the realm of law and regulation, you have the letter of the law/regulation and you have interpretation by prosecutors & other attorneys, and judges. Those are the details where the devil dwells.
As far as the spoken word causing harm, in reality, the words cause the most pain when they are delivered by someone we value. They can hurt when they address painful truths that we have not addressed or could not address, for whatever reason. They can also hurt when there has been a misunderstanding or a mis-reading of events or perhaps the speaker is addressing "the effect" without knowing "the cause". But still they are only words.
What I am trying to say is that when a total stranger insults you, for no good reason, you should try to be strong enough to devalue the stranger's words, i.e., don't let him rile you. If his words rile you, you have given him power over you. If the words are hurting you, it is either because there is a grain of truth therein or because you have "assigned" too much value to this person's words. It is the action, the deeds, not the words that cause physical harm to you and others, unless the words contain a clearly implied or stated threat.
If some stranger hollers "hey baldy!" to me, that means nothing. If that same stranger hollers "hey baldy, I'm going to kill your family!", that is different. Especially if heard by witnesses, this would seem to be a more actionable event, i.e., if you bounced a brick or two off his head, your legal standing would likely be stronger as you were replying to a specific threat, not a general insult.
The main trouble with Hate Crimes laws is that; 1) Hate is a thought; 2) Some people will treat criticism, even justified, truthful criticism as hate; 3) Some victims are more worthy of protection than others. The "hey baldy!" remark is an expression of a thought, that doesn't hurt me. But some would take those words as words of hate and if the recipient was a member of a minority group and the stranger a WASP, the speaker might be punished more harshly than if both were of the same group.
Jews and Christians are constantly under verbal attack, have you ever heard Jackie Mason issue a fatwa? Or any rabbis? How about Jerry Falwell? Political correctness is already running amuck in Canada, the UK, Europe, and elsewhere with Hate Crimes prosecution for critical words written or spoken. Orianna Fallaci is on trial and not for the first time, in Italy I believe, for her criticism of Islam. The Lib/Leftists and the appeasers are handing over the right of free speech/free press to an adversary that cares nothing of that right.
It will get worse here before it gets better. Especially if hyper-sensitive aggrieved parties are allowed to use Hate Crimes laws as a weapon of revenge.
Friday, May 27, 2005
The column addresses the Muslim reaction to the Newswreck-purported Quran flushing and more importantly, the fact that mainstream Islam didn't attempt to quell the wackos. He points out the lack of violent reaction to transgressions against other religions. Christians were upset of the film, "The Last Temptation of Christ", but I don't recall worldwide violence (though there may have been some phone threats by cowardly wackos).
I do remember a bit of tension in Nepal, years ago, over a tourist wearing a Sargent Bilko t-shirt, because Phil Silvers' image bore a resemblance to the Dalai Lama. There may have been some pushing and shoving, and demands that the offending t-shirt be removed. But once the situation was explained, there were no calls for anyone's death.
Maybe it is just that Muslim riots are nothing new to our expectations. That is their loss more so than ours.
Idiotarian Moonbat Independence Day Plans
Independence Day is supposed to be a day honoring 56 brave men that signed a death warrant in defiance of a corrupt, tyrannical king.
While I am not advocating violence, if there is going to be a rash of arson fires on that day, perhaps baseball bats might be effective in combating this rash of deliberate destruction (heh, heh). We got your "Direct Action" right here!
This is not reasoned dissent. This is not Classical Liberalism. This is "Domophobia" (hatred of one's home). If you hate your home that much, then leave! Find some middle-aged Cuban immigrants and ask them what would have happened if they had burned the Cuban flag, in public, in Cuba. What would happen in North Korea? China?
I am not in favor of an anti-flag burning Constitutional Amendment. Flag burning is free speech (albeit totally stupid free speech). And if your stupid free speech empassions other citizens to beat your ass over it, you started the chain of events by your choice of actions. It is actually a law of physics: Direct Action triggers a Direct Reaction.
Yes, there were mistakes made along the way during the evolution of this country, but tearing down the country now is not going to atone for past mistakes and deliberate actions by self-serving individuals and entities. We didn't invent slavery. But a lot of American blood was shed putting a stake into the heart of this vile human practice, a practice that still lives in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Yes, many Americans have forgotten the sacrifices and what Independence Day actually means, but that is human nature. It is not human nature to destroy your home.
Memorial Day Thoughts
No doubt the MSM will do some programs this weekend honoring the fallen and the living members of our armed forces, but there will likely be some subtle or not so subtle jabs at the Bush Administration. This is not to say that a few jabs are not justified, as no effort is perfect. But are the jabs intended toward a better prosecution of the War on Terror, or is it just more residual anger over the 2000 election? Is it just more ways to discredit President Bush? I think the answer should be clear to most thinking persons.
When the issue of the toll of the War on Terror comes up, we need to remember that this is still an asymmetrical war, i.e., our civilian death toll from 9/11 and the first WTC attack are still higher than the death toll from the battle theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not to focus entirely on numbers. We were told on September 20, 2001 that this war was going to be different, that there would be different theatres, and it was going to take a while.
I want each reader to go back and think about your thoughts on the afternoon of 9/11. I know I was thinking "What's next?". I fully expected further attacks across the country as the day progressed. If someone had told you that afternoon that there wouldn't be any more attacks for at least the next 3 and 1/2 years, would you have believed them? We may not know for years all of the reasons for this period of relative homeland peace. Is it because we have thwarted every effort or are they just waiting for the right moment?
We are at a disadvantage in this war. We are fighting a zealous enemy with no rules. Despite our flaws, we are a good people, a good nation. In a large city, you can open the "yellow pages" and select the church of your choice. Can you do that in any Muslim countries, besides perhaps Turkey? Our individual cases of prisoner "mistreatment" at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib pale in comparison to the worst cases of torture in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Most of the people in custody in those places are there for good reasons. These are not common street criminals.
Past responses to acts of terror have largely been a few bombing runs and cruise missile strikes. 9/11 forced President Bush to have to take more reactive and proactive responses to punish the past attacks and more importantly, prevent future attacks.
When we hear pundits ask "Is the cost worth it?", we have to ask "What is the cost of the future?" Preserving "our way of life" is not just about the United States. It is about the larger issue of preserving the "natural yearning to be free" that is most exemplified in Western thought, but can be embraced by other cultures. It is about preserving other cultures (besides our own), where citizens are allowed to elect their representatives and leaders. It is about preserving other cultures that have some sort of positive future outlook.
At the same time, we have to look at our own culture and what we "broadcast" to other countries and cultures. When the MSM focuses time on such trash as Mary Kay Latourneau (sp.?) or we have businesses such as Carl's Jr. and its Paris Hilton ad, some of this gets overseas. And some of these other cultures take our tolerance (free speech) to be the same as endorsement by our Judeo-Christian culture, i.e., things like this make us look corrupt.
I am not promoting censorship nor Puritanism, but to paraphrase Michael Savage, "we need less sex and more religion and the Muslim world needs more sex and less religion." The hedonism that some celebrate (and many of us have practiced in our youth) is catering to the animal instincts in us. What passes for TV (and other) entertainment and cultural mores in Europe (and elsewhere) is not being progressive, it is a sign of cultural rot.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
"Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning bigotry and religious intolerance, and recognizing that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.
Whereas believers of all religions, including the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should be treated with respect and dignity;
Whereas the word Islam comes from the Arabic root word meaning “peace” and “submission”;
Whereas there are an estimated 7,000,000 Muslims in America, from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, forming an integral part of the social fabric of America;
Whereas the Quran is the holy book for Muslims who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity and spirituality; Whereas it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage the Quran, Islam, or any religion in any way, shape, or form;
Whereas mistreatment of prisoners and disrespect toward the holy book of any religion is unacceptable and against civilized humanity;
Whereas the infringement of an individual’s right to freedom of religion violates the Constitution and laws of the United States: Now, therefore, be it
1 Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
(2) declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
(3) recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
(4) calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith."
What about the vaunted "Wall of Separation" that Lib/Leftists want to preserve? Oh, that's right, since we are not talking about Christianity, it doesn't count.
If a Christian Congressman (especially from the South) submitted such a bill to protect the Holy Bible and Christianity from such transgressions, Bill Moyers, Bill Maher, et al, would be hollering that the theocratic armageddon was at hand.
Most American Christians are tolerant, decent people that do not make a practice of desecrating the holy books of other religions. Who are the people most likely to desecrate the holy books of others? Why it wouldn't be the Lib/Leftists or Islamists would it? Nahhhhhh!
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
So I decided to do some web-surfing, looking for a sensible discussion of the issue. It took a few stops, but I found what looks like a sensible article (from a self-professed liberal magazine American Prospect, no less). In this and other scanned articles, though, I don't recall seeing the word "Haliburton". Instead I saw mention of Unocal, Enron (both political parties were involved in some fashion with the Enron debacle), and some other names. This complex article, linked above, dispels some of the throw-away lines about Cheney and Haliburton and our desire for Afghanistan's resources.
As follows is a summary of the article "No War for Oil!: Is the United States really after Afghanistan's resources? Not a chance." by Ken Silverstein. If I find a suitable map (to help the reader reference the surrounding nations), I will add it to this discussion.
Most of the past discussions about a natural gas (not crude oil) pipeline were held because it seemed (to some) that Afghanistan would be a suitable transit corridor for Caspian Basin natural gas (largely from Turkmenistan) to Pakistan and then to other Central Asian markets. The natural gas was not destined for the United States. Most of the remainder of current Caspian Basin oil and gas production is destined for Russia and Europe.
Unocal was the major player and from 1996, the Clinton Administration was in favor of their planned gas pipeline from the Dauletabad Field in southeastern Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, to Pakistan. Afghanistan would have benefited by construction jobs and the collection of transit fees, plus the pipeline would have helped open up markets for Afghanistan's much smaller gas production (or it might have helped build a pipeline to deliver gas from the northern part of the country to the larger cities in the central and southern parts of the country).
Much of the remainder of the petroleum industry saw the Unocal plan as folly, due to the long-term instability of Afghanistan, due to the residual effects of the Soviet invasion and ongoing tribal infighting. Pipelines are vulnerable to terrorism (witness the problems in Iraq). Despite these opinions, the Clinton Administration and Unocal continued to tout the pipeline, but it never moved past the planning stages.
As the Unocal project fell from favor, the Clinton Administration shifted its support to another pipeline project, called the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, extending from Turkmenistan across Azerbaijan and Georgia and into Turkey. The conspiracy buffs focused on this one because Enron was involved in the planning stages, but a consortium led by Amoco, Bechtel, and GE Capital was selected for the planned pipeline. The planned Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline route did not cross into Afghanistan at any point.
After the 1998 al Qaida bombing of the U.S. embassies in Africa, the Clinton Administration focused its Afghanistan attention on Osama bin Laden, rather than gas pipelines. Meanwhile, the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline project died because Azerbaijan discovered its own large gas fields, thus they became interested in selling their own gas rather than serving as a transit for Turkmen gas.
Other pipeline projects from the Caspian Basin fields focused on Iran, as the cheapest and most direct route, but these have been disfavored by both the Clinton and Bush Administrations, as they both tried to isolate the Iranian regime.
After the Unocal gas pipeline project failed, Unocal considered a small oil pipeline from Kazakhstan across Afghanistan to Pakistan, but this short-lived plan never received any serious support from the Clinton Administration.
Changing market conditions (new supplies, changing demand patterns) have now rendered Afghanistan even less practical for a pipeline than before. Even with an elected government, somewhat friendly to the United States, there is still some tribal conflict in rural regions and a pipeline would still present an inviting target for terrorists.
In short, Haliburton apparently had no role in the planning of a gas pipeline across Afghanistan during the Clinton Administration. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. If such a gas pipeline ever comes to fruition, it would serve Central Asian markets, possibly alleviating the "Asian Brown Cloud" (subject of a early blog, on March 6).
Reconstructing the Paleoclimate
Computer models are useful for visualization, brainstorming, and discussion purposes, but they are just high-tech "Scientific Wild-Assed Guesses" - SWAGs and they are really lousy for law-making purposes, which is what the Kyoto "crowd", including John McCain, et al, want to do.
Since direct weather measurements only go back into the late 1800s, in many cases, we have to rely on indirect ways of putting together estimates of past climate and weather events. For this we use various sources of "proxy data", the modern analogues of which can be compared to modern temperature (and other) records. For different time periods we have to use different proxies.
Paleoclimatologists, paleobotanists, et al, have reconstructed a database of tree rings, recovered from old living trees and various archeological sites. In some cases, large pieces of carbonized wood (from campfires) may be usable, if enough rings are preserved. "Dendrochronology" involves the study and reconstruction of climatic events based on the width, density, and composition of tree rings.
Other climate data can be gleaned from historical writings, cultural records, e.g., Japanese records of cherry tree bloomings and French records of wine-grape harvests, and old government records, describing severe weather events (droughts, floods, warm periods, cold periods,...).
Another type of proxy data are sediment layers in natural lakes and ponds. The thickness and composition of individual layers offers information about temperature and precipitation conditions. For instance, the 1993 floods in the Upper Midwest are no doubt recorded in the sediments of the Gulf of Mexico, near the Mississippi River Delta. A 7,000-year history of El Niño events has been reconstructed based on sediment cores from natural lakes in the Galapagos Islands.
Other proxy data include the presence, absence, and ratios of various isotopes as they relate to ocean and atmospheric temperatures and even celestial events. Modern comparisons provide us with the ability to extrapolate past isotope data with past events. We find interesting isotopes in such places as mineral grains, fossil shells, and stalactite rings (in caves).
Palynology, the study of fossil spores and pollens, provides to us another database for study of the past. Fossil pollens and spores are sometimes preserved in shales and claystones, deposited in quiet water conditions. Some of the pollens have modern analogues, i.e., living relatives that are characteristic of certain climate conditions.
Ice cores from polar ice caps can provide atmospheric gas data (from entrapped bubbles), pollens, volcanic ash, atmospheric dust, carbon soot (from past large forest fires), and other information.
There are certain sediments and sedimentary rocks that are climate-dependent or climate-influenced. These include glacial sediments, lake and swamp deposits, old reefs (coral and other organisms), sand dune-related sandstones, etc..
None of these individual sources of proxy data will tell the entire story, different proxies must be "overlain" to look for consistencies and inconsistencies in the record. Inconsistencies have to be explained (or at least noted for future study). Proxies such as isotopes and pollens/spores allow us to estimate climate variations as far back as the "Precambrian" (prior to 546 million years ago), when the rocks are not too badly metamorphosed or otherwise altered. Of course, the further back in time we go, the less reliable the records are.
The point is that most people that are skeptical about the MSM/political "human-released carbon dioxide causes global warming" paradigm are cognizant of past Earth history. They know that "change was normal" long before we were ever here.
The "human-caused global warming" proponents are largely using computer models that offer future projections, based on data input. Some of them do so because that is where the money is, with government and taxpayer funded organizations. Some of them look at past human mistakes and conclude that any changes from the perceived "norm" must be our fault. To some it is simply a political tool, by which to gain power and influence.
Overturning the Citizen Vote
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon took issue with the following: "Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska."
Admittedly, I haven't read the law, nor the judge's ruling, so this is Mrs. Schlafly's interpretation we are receiving (she is an attorney). Under previous conditions, what was the legal status of civil unions and domestic partnerships? Did they have any "force of law" equivalent to traditional marriage? Was this new law seemingly broad, so as to cover loopholes and other contingencies? Others will have to clarify this.
The purported justification for striking down the will of 70% of Nebraska's active voters was that it violated the First Amendment because it "chills or inhibits advocacy" of same-sex marriages. It does no such thing. Even after passage, people can talk and advocate all they want. If they truly believe in their position, the passage of a new law should not shut down discussion of that issue.
As stated before, here and elsewhere, the male-female relationship is central to our biology and culture. That is not hate, that is just a recognition of "what is" and "what has been" for thousands of years. The male-female bond that marriage is, is supposed to be special, as it provides for the domestication of the male; it defines a publicly-declared, legally-recognized relationship; and it helps provide family and societal stability for the purpose of raising children.
To give other relationships the same legal footing devalues the "specialness" of the traditional marriage. I don't have a problem with civil unions or domestic partnerships, as long as they don't have the same "force of law" as the male-female marriage. And what people do in the privacy of their homes is between them and God. But the legal weight of marriage is a public issue.
To use a different (and probably somewhat flawed) analogy, if a Federal judge were to rule that, in the interest of fairness, $50 bills would hereafter have the same value as $100 bills, it would result in the devaluation of the $100 bills that had been earned by those holding the larger bills.
Saying that other human relationships have the same value as the male-female marriage would not affect individual marriages right now (this is an argument used by Neal Boortz, et al, i.e., "how is it going to hurt your marriage?"). This is about things larger than individual marriages. It would have a long-term detrimental affect on a core institution already damaged by the live-for-today, love-the-one-you're-with mentalities of the 1960s (and later).
If the Nebraska law had been overly vague in its addressing of civil unions and domestic partnerships (that perhaps didn't have the force of law anyway), then perhaps the judge might have had some grounds for overturning the law (or portions of it). But if Mrs. Schlafly is correct, this seems an example of an un-elected, unaccountable judge overturning a legal vote.
Before this ever reached the voting public, it presumably had to work its way through the Legislature of citizen-elected Representatives and Senators and then presumably past the citizen-elected Governor. It was subjected to an "up or down" vote. If it passed Nebraska Constitutional muster, then what is the problem? The voters of Nebraska did not tell California voters what to do.
Monday, May 23, 2005
From the Riding Sun blog by way of FrontPageMag's War Blog (and other blogs), the above-linked post is about Newswreck's February 2 Japan edition showing a dirty, American flag in a trash can and the headline text that translates "The Day America Died.".
Even though it is from a few months ago, did Newswreck think that it wouldn't eventually find its way back here? Like the statements by the Dixie Chicks, et al?
The same blog post shows a January 31 international Newswreck cover with President Bush and the caption - "America Leads: But is Anyone Following?".
Newswreck, tell us how you really feel about your home? A home which has a Bill of Rights that recognizes the Right of a Free Press. The home of "Checks and Balances". What is it that you are trying to say? Now that you have been caught (multiple times), go ahead and be honest. Are you expressing your true feelings or is this simply to goose up sales by appealing to international leftist thoughts and wishes?
If such covers are being marketed in a War on Terror ally, albeit a somewhat wobbly one, are there Middle East editions and if so, what are they saying? Or is this intended to weaken Japan's resolve to the point where they pull out their moral support?
Sunday, May 22, 2005
We need to keep the issue of the National Sales Tax (also known as the Fair Tax) in the public eye. Now is the best time for action. If the Democrats regain control of either branch of Congress or the Presidency, it is very unlikely to happen.
Of course, we can't count on the MSM to get it right. They seem to focus on the 23% figure without reminding the viewers that; 1) They already pay approximately 22% in embedded taxes (that would be eliminated); 2) There are plans for rebate checks to re-imburse citizens for sales taxes on needed items; and 3) With the Fair Tax plans, workers will get 100% of their paychecks (no more withholding).
Americans for Fair Taxation has a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the subject. As with any human endeavor, there are no 100% Solutions. But we are a nation of creative people and we can address most concerns. The Progessive income tax is an old socialist relict that needs to be replaced. Yes, it will take some time to implement all aspects and there will be some economic & employment shifts, but persons far more intelligent than myself believe that this is a good idea. Don't most of you dread having to dig out records on the run-up to April 15? With the National Sales Tax, April 15 will be just another Spring Day.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Pat's perhaps unstated thesis was that because "we" left Josef Stalin standing and "gave away" Eastern Europe, then WWII wasn't worth it. He suggested in the column that, if France and the UK had not declared war on Germany, when Poland was invaded, Hitler would likely never have invaded France and attempted a conquest of England. Rightttttt.
Though I'm not a historian, didn't Hitler, et al, blame many of Germany's post-WWI problems on excessive punishment in the Treaty of Versailles, at the behest of France? Did Buchanan expect Hitler to stop at the Rhine River and wave to the French saying "Now ya'll behave yourselves and I will leave you alone"? Rightttt.
I agree with Don Feder's suggestion that Yalta capitulations by Churchill and Roosevelt were most likely because Allied armies and their populations were tired after 4+ years of war. Additionally, war on Hitler's aggression was easier to justify, than war against quasi-ally (or short-term ally) Stalin. Feder also notes that, in crushing Germany from the East, the Soviet Union had already overrun the nations that were "ceded" to them at Yalta. I also suspect that Roosevelt's health may have prevented his wanting to make any additional issues of contention at Yalta.
Some historians have suggested that our use of "The Bomb" was intended to end the war with Japan and send a message to Stalin, should he want more of Europe or Japan, after WWII. As the 60th Anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are coming up soon, Lib/Leftists are going to be out in force questioning whether our use of "The Bomb" was based on racism. And someone is going to try to connect Bush Administration efforts in Iraq with the termination of WWII.
Changes in the Petroleum Paradigm?
In these and similar basins, in the upper few hundred feet, water currents, wind currents, and sunlight produce somewhat normal marine conditions, i.e., the water is teeming with life, from the phytoplankton/zooplankton base of the food web to larger organisms. But below the photic zone, at greater depths, especially where the bottom of the basin restricts deep currents, the lack of oxygen contributes to a sulfidic, acidic, anoxic conditions that are unfavorable for most bacteria. Thus when something that floats or swims dies, it sinks to the bottom and does not "get eaten". The smaller components of the sinking organics are referred to as "marine snow".
In the middle of the basin, away from landmasses, the only sediments available for deposition in these quiet waters are fine clays, which accumulate over time as shales. The preserved organics give them a dark gray to black color and a sulfur smell, when freshly broken. There are certain conditions when organics can be preserved in shallower, tropical basins (also with restricted water circulation) undergoing limestone deposition.
After millions of years of accumulation and burial by younger sediments, heat and pressure "cook" the organics to produce the crude oil that drives the world's economic "engine". If the components are not "cooked" sufficiently, the result is called "kerogen" and is unusable. If the heat is high enough, some of the larger petroleum molecules are "cracked", producing methane (natural gas) and other smaller petroleum molecules (propane, butane, etc.).
The fine-grained sediments where the organics accumulate and are cooked are generally unsuitable for production reservoirs, because the small pore spaces between the mineral grains (low porosity/low permeability) inhibit fluid flow. So to be usuable, the oil usually has to migrate upward through sediment grains and/or faults until it reaches a limestone or sandstone with enough pore space to store and transmit the fluids (higher porosity/higher permeability). If there is a "caprock" of impermeable (impervious) rock (clay, shale, fine-grained sandstone or limestone), the oil will be trapped, otherwise it will rise to the land surface or ocean bottom as oil seeps.
Coal and most natural gas (methane) are produced from the burial of terrestrial (land) accumulations of organics in large swamps and marshes, that were buried by subsequent layers of sediments. Especially in swamps, the slow movement of water contributes to anoxic (stagnant) conditions, preserving organics. For the past few million years, sediments have been accumulating in the Mississippi River delta. As new sediments are added, older sediments (and the associated swamps) sink and are compacted and heated, eventually to produce coal and in the shorter-term, natural gas.
Recent discoveries, however have raised some questions about the existing organic origins paradigm. A Gulf of Mexico well platform, known as Eugene 330, taps oil from a mostly submerged salt dome, the surface of which is called Eugene Island. From its initial production in 1970, of 15,000 barrels per day, it declined to 4,000 barrels per day by the 1980s (which is not unusual). However, in 1990, oil production soared back to 15,000 barrels per day and the original reserves, estimated at 60 million barrels were recalculated to 400 million barrels.
Examination of newer, seismic (subsurface sound wave) recordings suggested the presence of a still active fault/conduit system below the existing reservoir, which was apparently "refilling" the reservoir from the bottom. Prior to drilling, the pressure in the reservoir had prevented more oil from rising from its deeper source. Similar results were seen in other Gulf of Mexico wells, at Cook Inlet, Alaska, and in Uzbekistan oil fields.
This revelation, that some oil fields may be refilling themselves from the bottom, has renewed an old debate, a paradigm favored by Soviet Union scientists in the 1980s, that crude oil is formed by inorganic processes between the mantle and the crust.
The linked article "Recent discoveries" has a more in-depth discussion of this issue, as does a 1999 book by Dr. Thomas Gold, "The Deep Hot Biosphere". Dr. Gold contends that oil is a "renewable, primordial soup continually manufactured by the Earth under ultrahot conditions and termendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attached by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs." [Actually, some crude oil (under the existing paradigm) was formed before the dinosaurs, e.g., the oil in the Permian Basin of West Texas/SE New Mexico.]
This "new" view suggests that inorganic methane molecules are "fused" and/or condensed into larger petroleum molecules as it rises through varying temperature/pressure regimes in the Earth's crust. It will take decades of debate and study to verify the validity of this "new" paradigm. It might even be that aspects of both processes play a role in crude oil production.
[Update: This is not to suggest that our petroleum supply is on the cusp of proving an endless supply, it is primarily to suggest that as with other issues, "The science is not settled." and we still have much to learn.]
The Intent of Original Intent
There are purposes for the filibuster, but not for judges. Ted Kennedy, et al, are lying when they say that Republicans are "turning back the clock" on 214 years of Senate history.
To restate the obvious, the purpose of the Federal judiciary is to determine the constitutionality of laws and judgements by lower courts. Not to write or rewrite laws. But that is what has been happening for years. The Lib/Leftists can't get their agendas past the representatives elected by the citizens, so they turn to the un-elected activist judiciary to get their way.
Stated here, and elsewhere by those with more wisdom, the U.S. Constitution is not a "living, breathing document". If the basis for our legal system was subject to the whims of public passion, where would it end? The Constitution is intended to be a rock-solid foundation, amendable, but not too easily. If the basis for our legal sytem was subject to the whims of individual, unelected judges, where would it end?
It is human nature to drift away from established rules, towards what is seen as the "path of least resistance". Every few years, we have to be guided back towards the home base. Our system has, thus far, survived the test of time. Our Founders knew what they were doing.
The American people have elected a Republican President and Republican majorities in the House and Senate. Attempting to return to established Senate and Judiciary rules is not going to bring about a theocracy.
Charles Colson's Townhall.com column today reminds us of the horrors experienced by the ethnic Hmong people of Laos and Vietnam, after we bailed. The Hmong were very loyal to the United States efforts in Vietnam and they expected us to remain true to our promises.
Thirty years after-the-fact, the Hmong are undergoing a continuation of widespread persecution because of the widespread conversion to Christianity. This seems like tyrannical oppression of an ethnic minority. Where are the Liberals? Oh that's right, modern Lib/Leftists favor only certain minority groups. Like Palestinian suicide bombers and their support system.
Remember, as stated a few days ago, the Viet Cong was ready to quit after they lost the Tet Offensive in 1968. Add the suffering of the Hmong people to the list of the the many that suffered because of the efforts of the anti-war movement. Vietnam became "Vietnam" partially because of their efforts. Yes, there was mismanagement on the part of U.S. administrations, too.
The same thing will happen if Ted Kennedy gets his way again. The Iraqis that have finally become convinced that we are there to stay will be "hung out to dry" (that is an understatement), if we "cut and run" again. Every U.S. military life is important, but there are bigger things at stake. Though we are never 100% right, now that we are there as part of the War on Terror, we have to see it through.
If we lose our resolve, we will save some of our own in the short run, but the power vacuum will kill thousands of Iraqis in the long run. I'm sure that the Baathists in Syria will be more than happy to help set up another regime in Iraq.
And the further loss of respect in the world will trigger more attacks against Western culture, as the terrorist mindset will know that if the Americans don't have the resolve, no one, save Israel, will. We are fighting the War on Terror, not just for the "now" but for the future, 5, 10, 20 years into the future.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Playing with Greenhouse Numbers
In this graph (above), from left to right, are the proportions of Water Vapor, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, N2O (Nitrogen Oxides), and Miscellaneous Gases. Notice the comparison between Water Vapor & Carbon Dioxide. [Click on graph for larger image.]
In this second graph, Water Vapor has been excluded, greatly enhancing the effects of, from left to right, Carbon Dioxide, Methane, N2O, and Miscellaneous Gases. This is the model favored by those that ascribe to the existing MSM/political paradigm. [Click on graph for larger image.]
This third graph shows the respective carbon dioxide sources - Natural (dark gray) and man-made (light greenish yellow). Natural sources for carbon dioxide (cited here as 96.775% of the total) include volcanoes & volcanic hot springs; animal/bacterial respiration; ocean emissions; natural combustion; bacterial consumption of organics (including crude oil, naturally leaking from the ocean bottom in the Gulf of Mexico (subject of a future post)). Kyoto and any of its kin will have no effect on natural carbon dioxide emissions. [Click on graph for larger image.]
Hat tip to Tom at Pooklekufr and Hamstermotor for the advice about ImageShack.
Our Personal Experiences with the Greenhouse Effect
As stated here several times, the bulk (90 to 95%) of the Greenhouse Effect is related to Water Vapor/Water droplets. The atmospheric water vapor component is the relative humidity, the effects of which are generally readily noticeable. In temperate or humid cities, especially those of low to moderate elevation, the Greenhouse Effect is more easily observable. To review, Greenhouse Gases "bulk up" the troposphere, thus insulating the Earth's surface temperature of extremes of diurnal temperature (day to night) variations.
Atlanta is about 900 feet above Mean Sea Level and relative humidities can range from 100% during those hot, steamy summer nights to the high 30s during extended droughts. Thus Atlanta's average diurnal temperature variations are relative modest.
El Paso is about 3,700 feet above Mean Sea Level. The highest relative humidities can range from perhaps the high 80s (higher perhaps?) on occasion, when weather conditions render the Franklin Mountains draped in clouds and drizzle for days on end, usually during August/September. On the low end, I remember a few days when the daytime humidity was as low as 3%. Thus El Paso's average diurnal temperature variations are more significant than Atlanta's. I remember two consecutive days of a 52 degree F difference in day-to-night temperatures, though 30 degrees is more common. I also remember 50 degree F diurnal variations in parts of Colorado.
The Water Droplets component of the Greenhouse Effect are clouds. You may notice this especially during the winter/early spring, when clear nights are generally colder than cloudy nights.
Perhaps because of the extreme variability of humidity and clouds, on perhaps a weekly basis (in some places), the Greenhouse Effects of these components are hard to "plug in to" computer models (and there is no political benefit), so many published articles ignore the contributions of Water Vapor/droplets or else relegate it to the status of "other greenhouse gases" behind carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide does vary slightly throughout the year, generally higher during the Northern Hemisphere Fall and Winter and lower during the Northern Hemisphere Spring and Summer plant/tree growing season (remember photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide). These variations are partially because a majority of the Earth's landmass is in the Northern Hemisphere.
A brief side trip to explain the difference between fact and theory, it is a fact that the majority of the landmass is in the Northern Hemisphere, how that majority of the landmass "arrived" in the Northern Hemisphere is a matter of scientific theory. There is evidence of movement of continents by way of the Plate Tectonics Theory, but not absolute proof.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
A New Species of RINO!
I will spend more time reading in depth and will offer brief analyses of their papers and if one or more mentions water vapor/water droplets, I will let you know. [Update - I found a reference to water vapor in the text of a 2003 speech given by REP Policy Director, Jim DiPeso ..."In the atmosphere, CO2, along with water vapor, acts like a greenhouse,..." Of course there is no mention of the proportions of these two Greenhouse Gases. There is also a reference in this speech to the Pre-Industrial Revolution estimates & current CO2 contents, but again, most people do not think in terms of parts per million.]
[A brief advisory: Since the current "carbon dioxide increase = global warming" paradigm is of British birth, though they are family, they tend to cling to Maggie Thatcher's political animal, more so than Americans do. Please read: "Global Warming: How it All Began".]
More will follow...
Silence is Not Always Golden
Though not quite on the same subject (of Truths unspoken), add to Dr. Adams' list:
Third World lives lost because of the "greens" campaign against genetically modified foods and DDT.
And the lives lost during and after Vietnam (and during Iraq) because our resolve was weakened due to the antiwar elders and their misguided spawn. The only way the terrorists can win is for us to quit. Have there been individual terrorists that have taken heart in the harsh, ill-considered (or is it purposeful?) words of Ramsey Clark, Jr., Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Walter Cronkite,... (you know the names). You have to wonder "Are they really that stupid or are they evil?"
Before any Moonbats jump in here...President Bush being wrong after-the-fact about WMDs is not a lie. Saddam at some point had WMDs and he used them, therefore it was logical to assume that he still had them. They are probably in Syria or still buried in Iraq somewhere.
[I haven't had my coffee yet and don't feel as articulate as I would like to be.]
Monday, May 16, 2005
When Liberal Bias Kills
Never mind the physical unlikelihood of this happening, most toilets are not built to take thick books. The story fit the MSM "template" alluded to by Rush Limbaugh, et al, i.e., if it makes the Bush Administration look bad, run it. Never mind that we are at war with a terrorist subculture that has no rules.
Now at least 15 people are dead as a result of rioting in such places as Pakistan. As the Earth continued to vibrate for at least two weeks after the Banda Aceh earthquake of December 26th, the Middle and Far East may reverberate for weeks after this now-withdrawn story. The damage has been done and more will likely die. Those that give aid and comfort, directly to terrorists, love this type of "news", as it confirms their "deepest suspicions", that America is "at war with Islam". "We're sorry" ain't going to fix it.
Liberal bias has killed in this country before, too. The most well-known case is of the "Rodney King riots" of early 1992. After the police beating videotape became media faire, they "looped" the worst parts of the film, without showing nor explaining how it began. The MSM rarely reminded watchers that Rodney had one or two passengers that were not beaten. The MSM rarely commented that, despite the police misconduct, Rodney's chosen actions had set this entire thing in motion. Thirty some odd people died in the rioting in South Central Los Angeles and countless small, minority-owned businesses were torched, many have likely never been rebuilt.
No one died in the Atlanta rioting, but a Federal Reserve employee was permanently disabled. No one in the MSM culture ever answered the question - "What the hell did Atlanta have to do with the Rodney King incident?". Businesses were looted, car windows of innocent citizens were smashed, because their suburban county tag labels identified them as "white".
A few days before the riots, after a downtown job interview, I had lunch in Underground Atlanta, in one of the restaurants where law-abiding citizens, black and white, had to cower from the mobs, a few days later. To my knowledge, the most prominent TV station, the local ABC affiliate (or at least the most prominent anchor), never used the word "riot", it was a "disturbance". This is America and we are supposed to be better than that.
In a broader sense, the Lib/Leftist MSM indirectly kills by offering the Iraqi "insurgents" hope that they might be able to "win" by making us quit. It "worked" in Vietnam at the cost of thousands of American and Vietnamese lives. After the fact, North Vietnam admitted that the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese were ready to quit in 1968 after they lost the Tet Offensive. You can check the figures yourself, but I seem to remember that Vietnam deaths were about 10,000 by the end of 1968. How much smaller would the "black granite" wall in Washington, DC be, if not for the efforts of the anti-war movement? If the Viet Cong had given up and signed a peace treaty, how many lives would have been saved? What would have happened in Cambodia, if the Viet Cong had given up? Would the Killing Fields have happened?
On the surface, Lib/Leftist bias in the MSM seems like a nuisance, but when you look at the bigger picture, it is drenched in the blood of thousands. When we "cut and run", we may save some of our own, but many more of those left behind, those that helped us, have died and will die if we honor the wishes of the Lib/Leftists.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Michael Medved explains the statistics in his book "Hollywood vs. America" (1993 paperback edition, pp. 132-135 - "The Myth of the Fifty-Percent Divorce Rate"). Herein, Michael cites several studies that dispell this myth, including the 1987 Louis Harris book "Inside America" in which Mr. Harris cited figures that "only 10% of ever-married men and 13% of ever-married women had ever been divorced." Mr. Harris concluded that "This in turn means that almost 90 percent of all marriages survive."
The 50 percent figure likely came from misreading of the figures of 1981 marriages vs. divorces. 1981 marriages totalled approximately 2,422,000 and divorces totalled approximately 1,213,000. To someone of little education or wisdom, these annualized statistics, on the surface, may look like a 50% rate. But the 2,422,000 marriages went into a "pool" of millions of existing marriages and this is where the 1,213,000 divorces occurred, in this larger pool. Some of the broken marriages were 5, 10, 15, or more years old. Michael Medved suggests, in actuality, that within a given year, more than 98 percent of all Americans go through an individual year without getting either married or divorced.
Lies, Damned Lies, and (Misread/Misused) Statistics. Dr. Sowell also explains these statistics in his book "Vision of the Anointed".
How many troubled couples bailed because they resigned themselves to "being part of the 50%"? How many might have worked it out if they knew the real truth, that it might only be 10% or so? How many children were affected by the false figures?
The EU - Artificial Unity vs. Old Tribalism
The first paragraph briefly suggests that the writer missed two points.
The second paragraph: "First, the EU is fanatical about recognizing and preserving the identity, language, history, and culture of every minority. This is neutralizing the influence of terror-prone separatist movements and contributing to the second point: The EU is the world's favored model for creating peace, democracy and strong economies."
[..."preserving the identity, language,...of every minority" might be of interest to the Anthropology Departments of various universities and descendents of immigrants, but it seems to be a foolish government policy. The lifeblood of national unity is commonality, i.e., a common culture, a common language, a common heritage, common goals, etc.. This does not mean forced homogeneity, but a recognition of what binds a people together. It seems that government being fanatical about preserving the identity of every little minority would, instead, promote Balkanization by focusing on what makes people different.
Though our nation is not without fault, a common paradigm of becoming an American (by way of legal immigration) means "leaving the old ways" at the shore, so to speak. When immigrants are sworn in as new citizens, they are no longer French, German, Italian, Armenians,...but are now Americans. Not to disparage or forget the "old country", but rather to focus on their new identities and the goal of assimilation, weaving together the American fabric, expressed as "E pluribus unum" woven together from the threads of immigration from different nations.
That new beginning allowed immigrants the opportunity to "forget" the old tribal animonsities. Though the EU sounds like a good idea, the tribal identities of Europe date back hundreds of years and will not be easily "forgotten". How will they encourage (and not force) assimilation? If a common language is do develop, how long will that take? What is the plan to reverse the effects of hundreds of years of cultural fragmentation?]
The second paragraph: "To reach full membership in the African Union, nations are severing ties with the Middle East, getting international sanctions lifted, contributing to peacekeeping operations and evolving democracies based on their own cultures and history."
[This sounds like a step in the right direction, but you are still going to have a lot of small countries of differing tribal backgrounds and philosophies. Assuming they want some sort of broader region of stablity and success, how will they overcome the cultural fragmentation? Paraphrasing Dr. Thomas Sowell, Africa has approximately 10% of the world's people and 40% of the world's languages.]
The third paragraph: "South America has established a Common Market-style free trade confederation, the first step to a union that could include Central America and the Caribbean." The writer goes on to suggest that EU advisers have played a role in democracy movements in Africa and South America.
[South America is more similar to North America than Africa as far as immigrants' "shedding" of old identities for new & less entrenched tribal differences, so North American style stability is more of a possible (if somehow Hugo Chavez is dealt with).]
Phyllis Schlafly's column in the May 15th edition of "eco-logic Powerhouse" addresses EU constitution vs. sovereignty issues, including the following statement: "The EU is a top-down enforced togetherness of different nationalities, with different cultures and languages, many of whom don't like each other. That's a prescription for conflict, not peace."
Other than the rare story about "killer bees", when we use honey, or when we have momentary encounters with them in the vicinity of flowers, most people rarely give second thoughts to honey bees.
Honey bees, whether housed in artificial hives or "wild bees" living in hollow trees, etc., are important as primary pollinators of various types of plants and trees. Though a few plants/trees may be self-pollinating, others require the services of honey bees or less-effective secondary/tertiary pollinators, e.g. bumble bees, flies, various wasps, in order to successfully flower and variously produce seeds, fruits, etc. The first text link (above) suggests that without honey bees for pollination, world-wide crop production would drop by one third!
Over the past few years, natural bee colonies (hives) have been devastated by the small, blood-sucking Varroa mite, an external parasite. The actions of the mites weaken the larval and adult bees to the point of completely wiping out colonies within 3 to 5 years. Human-managed bee colonies can be treated, but finding and treating wild colonies is expensive, time-consuming, and dangerous.
[Note: When around bees, try to remain calm, unless you have already disturbed their hive. They do smell "fear" and if you get nervous, they get nervous. If you have already disturbed their hive, don't just stand there you fool, run! Also, bees that dwell in the presence of humans become acclimated to humans. Wild bees are not acclimated and are less-tolerant of human presence.]
Weakened colonies are more susceptible to another parasite, the internal tracheal mites. [When one factor/pollutant weakens an organism, it can make the organism more susceptible to being affected by other factors/pollutants. We call this "synergy".] Mites can be controlled in human-managed hives, but again, wild hives are not receiving any assistance to my knowledge.
In the absence of honey bees, the secondary/tertiary pollinators will partially fill that niche, but they are less effective. Aside from treatments for the Varroa mites, some beekeepers have been experimenting with cross-breeding "our" bees with Russian queen bees that have more of a natural resistance to the mites. If successful, without too many "unintended consequences", perhaps some efforts might be establish some more "wild hives" around the Russian queen bees.
Other threats to bee populations are increasing urbanization and the use of pesticides agains other insects (or the bees themselves). If a bee hive colonizes someone's attic louvers or other sites, sometimes there is the temptation to self-exterminate the hive or hire an exterminator to do the job (I think is some states it is illegal to kill a bee hive). You may have to seek an external referral to a local beekeeper. Sometimes, if the job is not too difficult, beekeepers may do the removal for free, just out of their passion for bees.
If you are allergic to insect stings, bees can be seen as a real threat. If you have kids, you always worry about their blundering into a beehive or a wasp nest. [By the way, why do young boys seem to like throwing rocks at wasp nests?] Most other people (especially "city folks") regard bees as pests. A little bit of self-study can help one cope with bees and understand their roles in nature. [I'm not writing as a "touchy-feely" greenie, but rather as an environmentally aware person. If you wonder "Why does a geologist worry about bees?", an important aspect to being a scientist is having a sense of inquiry and reasoned observation, regardless of your chosen field of science.]
Hat Tip to Basil's Blog May 13th Headline News for the inspiration for this post.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
On the Evolution Debate in Kansas and Elsewhere
[I have to finish grading finals and submitting grades, so I will try to do the Trackback thing later. This is why I may seem distracted and somewhat disjointed at times in this post.]
Decades ago (and even less in some locales), it was illegal to even mention the word "evolution". Thankfully, those days are gone. But the pendulum doesn't have to swing too far in the other direction, either. Zealots and name-calling do not have to rule the debate or the day.
As I blogged on April 12th, there are three basic sides to the debate on the origin of the Earth and Life. To add a few more complications, add to it the Intelligent Design concept.
Within the realm of science, as we learn in our schooling, a Hypothesis is termed a "good guess". During the process called the "Scientific Method", we normally develop "Multiple Working Hypotheses", including several plausible explanations as to the "how and why" of the issue of interest.
To be considered a bonifide "Theory" a concept has to have undergone years of study, review, debate, testing, and separation from the other, less plausible hypotheses before it is "elevated" to the status of Theory. Once properly "vetted" a Theory accepted by the mainstream of science represents "the best, current explanation of how a process takes place", but because of the vast complexities of nature (and limited time and budgets for study), there is almost always some uncertainty. There is always the chance that the theory could be "overturned" (discounted, falsified,...) by future discoveries and interpretations. That is why we need to be careful about the use of words like proof and fact. Scientists should understand this paradigm of uncertainty and, at the same time, not fear the uncertainty. Once a theory gains widespread acceptance, it is not easily going to be overturned. Likewise, scientists should not fear the words "we don't know". That is not a sign of invalidation of a theory, just a recognition of the uncertainty.
To allow a few questions to be raised should not undercut the value of a theory. Science is supposed to be conducted in a climate of free, open, and respectable debate. When one group of "zealots" forbids another group of "zealots" from speaking, the level of animosity between the two camps rises, further stifling debate and clouding the issues. This higher level of animosity includes the magnified misrepresentation of dissenting views, proposed compromises, and even third-party concepts.
Not meaning to be too harsh, but zealots generally do not like to discuss things. It doesn't have to be an "All or Nothing" thing. Just because the Theory of Evolution cannot answer all questions, that doesn't mean that it answers none. The truth is somewhere "in the middle".
The Three Basic philosophies are (discussed in my April 12 post):
- Naturalism or Naturalistic Evolution (The zealots at one "end" of the debate)
- Creationists or Young-Earth Creationists (The zealots at the other "end" of the debate)
- Theistic Evolutionists or Old-Earth Creationists (The third side of the debate, a "camp" that neither group of zealots trusts).
The Naturalist zealots want to lump the Theistic Evolutionists in with the Creationists, but the Creationist zealots do not want them because the Creationists think the Earth is only 10,000 years old and because the "Old-Earthers" are willing to accept the evidence of evolution happening in one form or another.I am not sure that the concept of Intelligent Design should be given the term "Theory" because it is largely an issue of interpretation and belief and it is difficult to quantify (not the best word to use) through scientific study. But it should not be dismissed as totally invalid, either. It is not a "stealth anything", it is a firmly-held belief arrived at, largely by scientists that have delved deeply into genetics and have been awe-struck by the complexity of it all (of which most of us are clueless). Think of the Intelligent Design concept (or Hypothesis) as a form of "brain-storming". Intelligent Design does not preclude microevolution through random mutation.
Acceptance of the Intelligent Design concept doesn't necessarily mean that you think the Earth is 10,000 years old. A precept of the "Old-Earth Creationist" philosophy is the belief that "God does not have a calendar", i.e., time does not matter. The Old-Earth philosophy has room for the concept of "Evolution with a Guiding Hand".
Acceptance of the Theory of Evolution as the "be-all" and "end-all" of the debate, is also a matter of interpretation and belief, since we are talking about a very slow process. While a particular organism is undergoing "microevolution" through mutation, where does one species end and another begin? There are transitional forms preserved in the fossil record, e.g., amphibians with reptile features, reptiles with mammal or bird features,... This is evidence of evolution, but not proof.
If the "Evolutionists" continue to shut out debate, the "Creationists" are going to become louder and less reasonable. Though it is time consuming, we may have to embark upon an honest and open discussion of all three cited philosophies.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Textbook Revisionism on Global Warming
Yesterday I received the new edition of the textbook I will be using to teach summer semester Physical Geology, from 2005, Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology, Eighth Edition, by Tarbuck and Lutgens. In my collection of older textbooks, I have, from 1989, The Atmosphere: An Introduction to Meteorology, Fourth Edition, by Lutgens and Tarbuck.
The 2005 Geology textbook discusses the Greenhouse Effect and its peripherals, but uses the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report as a major source. [Most of the IPCC info is probably decent and scientifically viable, but as it is a spawn of the UN, there is evidence of summaries and conclusions being tainted by politics.] And I cannot find any text references to the role of Water Vapor/Water Droplets.
The 1989 Meteorology textbook discusses the differences between incoming Solar Energy (shorter wavelengths) and re-radiated Infrared Energy (longer wavelengths) and how the lower atmosphere (troposphere) is an efficient absorber of the longer wavelength (between one and 30 micrometers in wavelength) infrared energy. To quote from page 48: ..."Water vapor and carbon dioxide are the principal absorbing gases in that range. Water vapor absorbs roughly five times more terrestrial radiation than do all other gases combined (emphasis added), and it accounts for the warm temperatures found in the lower troposphere, where it is most highly concentrated."
The first edition of the Meteorology textbook was 1979, before Margaret Thatcher brought the current paradigm to the worlds' attention, for political reasons (see the Richard Courtney article). Though we have more data and probably a few new interpretations since the late 1970s and 1980s, the measurable (though variable) tropospheric Water Vapor/Water Droplets and their role in the Greenhouse Effect have not changed appreciably.
So why is Water Vapor/Water Droplets missing from the 2005 (and earlier editions) of the Geology textbook? This should be a "Yellow Flag" (if not a "Red Flag") to the extent of the pervasiveness of the how politics poisons scientific debate and more importantly, the drips and drabs of science that most of the public receives from the MSM.
When you see comparisons of graphs showing the rise in temperatures and the rise in carbon dioxide, this is an example of correlation, i.e., when two things happen "at the same time" in nature. By themselves, the two events do not suggest "cause and effect" or which one "leads" and which one "follows". To restate the current MSM/politicized science paradigm - carbon dioxide "leads" and atmospheric temperatures "follow". But the opposite is plausible as I have posted before. To keep this post short, I will discuss it again in a later post.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
On Norms, Tolerance, Doctrine, and Human Nature
The letter, in response to a previous letter (that I missed) laments the notion that rights "belong" to the "norm". I am unaware of the specifics of the previous letter, but I have blogged before about the general definition of what are "rights". A common definition includes the concept that exercising your rights does not harm the life, liberty, or property of others. This is where the "Right to Choose" clashes with the Right to Life.
Today's writer cited the "equal creation and Creator-granted inalienable rights" as recognized by the Declaration of Independence. If he is writing about "true rights" (and not just personal desires), in a perfect world, he would be right. The Declaration of Independence and our other Founding Documents are to serve as guidelines for our law-making efforts and how we conduct our government affairs. One the other hand, we have to deal with the realities of human nature.
The article concerns an ongoing controversy in a rural, somewhat mountainous county, White County, Georgia. It swirls around the request by a high school student to start a club for gay students and their supporters. The problem is not so much the prevailing conservative Christian background of the area, but again, human nature. And how some elements of Christian doctrine are "taken too far" by human nature and in some cases, teenaged immaturity.
Regardless of religious background, our sexual "imprints", behaviors, etc., go to the heart of our biology. Our sexual relationships and actions are our most intimate and private. Because we are biologically heterosexual, even in totally secular society, some people would have aversions to any behaviors in contrast to "the norms". And when these disparate behaviors and philosophies are "thrown in peoples' faces", there is not time to become acclimated to the idea that "so and so" is gay. We don't know all of the reasons why some people have homosexual urges and some don't. There may be a biological trigger, it may be a matter of choice, or it may be a combination.
The problem is, in a small community, where everyone knows everyone's business anyway, these still-learning, still-young people are labeling themselves publicly, for what should be a private issue. And regardless of the later paths that these people take, if they choose to stay in their home town, by human nature, they will always carry that label (at least in the minds of some people), as it human nature. Some people will forgive and forget, as the young person matures and finds their place in the community. Others will obsess over it forever. This is not a failure of Christian doctrine, this is a failure of human nature.
Of course, outsiders (on both sides) have interjected themselves into this issue, further preventing any sort of a peaceful resolution.
Friday, May 06, 2005
The end result was the extermination of 1/3 of the Cambodia population.
It is normal for teenagers to feel some resentment towards authority (parents, church,... anything that applies rules). Pol Pot simply tapped into this. He also tapped into the normal youthful fascination with "breaking things". [Last fall, during a Webelos Scout campout with my son, I gave a talk about geology and the things that geologists do. To the 9 and 10 year old boys, the most memorable moment was when I took a 4 lb. sledge hammer and broke a rock (to demonstrate how we get a "fresh surface" to study). Ditto with their fascination with fire.]
In the last few paragraphs, he raises the possibilities that this cultural disconnect is already underway here, a point probably articulated in other ways in other discussions.
When we see people in some Muslim countries dressing their children as homicide bombers, with pretend explosive belts, do we see a similarity here? When they are steeped for years in an environment that blames Israel and the United States for their problems, they have a feeling of helplessness that can be easily tapped into. When kids in this country hear the Moonbats (of any stripe) barking about the coming apocalypse, is that creating a climate of discontent waiting to be cultivated?
I suggest that you read "the rest of the story".
For some time, as reminded by Photios:
..."You see, the ACLU has taken up the defense of the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) in a civil suit filed by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Curley. The Curleys claim that the murderer of their son, Charles Jaynes, was driven by NAMBLA materials to murder, and the Curleys claim that NAMBLA bears at least some responsibility for his action."
This has been grist for discussion before on conservative talk radio (Sean Hannity, et al) and probably in the blogosphere (forgive me as I am still relatively new and still trying to figure out this "Trackback thing").
Apparently, the NAMBLA published materials offer advice to prospective child rapists:
More from Photios...In an interview with DeRoy Murdock, Frisoli explained that pamphlets like NAMBLA’s “The Survival Manual: The Man’s Guide to Staying Alive in Man-Boy Sexual Relationships” aid and abet felonious conduct, telling members “where to go to have sex with children . . . when to leave America [if one gets caught] and how to rip off credit card companies to get cash to finance your flight.”
The support offered to NAMBLA by the ACLU goes well beyond simple courtroom defense. This is open-air advocacy. This ain't about consenting adults behind closed doors. This is about offering aid and comfort to those that see other people's children as sex toys, often to be disposed of after use. Some will claim that they are driven by biological urges, but that won't fly here. There is absolutely no justification.
The ACLU appears to be ready to go to the ends of the Earth to advocate for NAMBLA, but will they do the same for Second Amendment supporters?
This is why someone, with a time-tested rule book (the Bible), has to hold the Moral High Ground. And this is why more "mainstream" gay groups have to quit offering shelter to those at the extreme fringes of human behavior.
Cultural anarchy triggers tyranny, as the people say "that's enough" and seek to use the government to control those that refuse to control themselves. Humans have to have some moral guardrails. And the further apart those guardrails, the more swerving and damage there will be within the guardrails. To use a NASCAR analogy, often late in a race, some cars may "hug" the outside wall, despite that area being where the "marbles" (tire particles, asphalt particles,...) accumulate. The rational is that if a tire blows (or the car otherwise goes out of control), the the car is more likely to "scrub" the wall = less damage. If the car is two or three lanes away from the wall, there is more time to develop "lateral momentum" towards the wall. If Dale Earnhardt, Sr. had been hugging the wall on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, he might still be alive.
Back to the subject at hand: I don't know the full truth of it, but I heard that an Elton John concert in England featured male strippers dressed as Boy Scouts, a few years ago. Is this true?
Responsibility has to balance Free Speech or both will suffer.
The "Environmentalists" Ain't 100% Wrong
When I engage is posts & discussions, I try to explain my point of view. I try to illustrate individual cogent points within Lib/Leftist environmental arguments. Sometimes it seems that some Conservative/Libertarian pundits simply dismiss them out-of-hand. By attempting to illustrate the difference between the valid and the invalid, we serve to educate the public as to the complexity of science and nature (and the "Never-ending Learning Curve) and we serve to educate the public that most of the "Political Right" does not desire to "destroy" the environment, simply because we favor nurturing a healthy, growing economy.
[Note for following discussion - "weather" refers to short-term atmospheric events, while "climate" refers to long-term (usually 30 years or more) averages.] Humans do demonstrably affect weather and climate, but it is more easily defined on a local or regional scale. For instance, in the Atlanta area, when suburban and exurban growth continues (seemingly unabated at times), large-scale removal of established forests enlarges the "Urban Heat Island", partially because of the loss of the cooling effect of trees, by transpiration of water vapor from leaves. But because of the natural variations in temperature, moisture, frequency of storms, etc., it is hard to assess the short-term and long-term effects of Urban Heat Island growth. It is even more difficult to assess the human effects on a world-wide basis, because of the normal "background" of climate variability.
Re: the first paragraph: The only way to "control" carbon dioxide emissions in the short term is to restrict fuel use, whether by rationing or by taxes (or both). If you support the concept of the Kyoto Protocol/Treaty, then get ready for the continuation of $2+ gasoline and other energy price increases. If you go back and read "Global Warming: How it All Began", you will understand the political background of this entire paradigm.
Even if we "roll back" carbon dioxide emission, we still cannot control volcanoes, hot springs, animal/bacterial respiration, ocean releases...
As carbon dioxide comprises 390 ppm of the troposphere (remember the 4 pennies out of 10,000 pennies analogy of previous posts), what effect will the restrictions have?
It is about slowing down the U.S. economy and on a broader scale, slowing the growth of other capitalist economies. Most of the UN consists of socialistic nations. It is easier to blame the U.S. for things than it is for them to address their own problems. On a more ominous note, Jacques Chirac has stated that Kyoto is a "First Step Toward Global Governance".
Kyoto is bad law based on bad science. And it distracts us from real pollution issues.
Why Modern Liberals Ain't - VI
When I was a Liberal, in the classical sense, I considered it my duty to be open-minded and tolerant of dissent. I considered it my duty to learn the "whys" of dissenters and to give some consideration to their arguments, even if they made my skin crawl. I also had an intense dislike of tyranny and the censorship of reasoned dissent.
Today's David Limbaugh column on Townhall.com, retells the story of Le Moyne College, in Syracuse, N.Y., and its treatment of a philosophically wayward student, Scott McConnell.
McConnell, a graduate student working on a Master's of Science of Teaching, achieved a 3.78 grade-point average for the fall semester and an "excellent" evaluation for his outside classroom work at a Syracuse elementary school. This would seem to be sufficient to demonstrate his personal dedication and pedigree. But McConnell made the mistake of suggesting in a paper that "corporal punishment has a place in the classroom." He received an A- for the paper and a note that his ideas were "interesting", from Prof. Mark J. Trabucco.
But when Dr. Trabucco forwarded a copy of the paper to Education Department chair, Cathy Leogrande, she promptly cried "Off with his head!" (or something to that effect). Rather than calling McConnell in to advise him that some "might have a problem with his philosophy", she started the program and college expulsion process, based on his having been accepted into the Le Moyne College Graduate Education program on a conditional basis."
No discussion, no allowing for an appeal, even when McConnell appealed to a "higher authority", Dr. John Smarrelli Jr., Academic Vice President. Fortunately, McConnell had the courage to take his case to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
This is why David Horowitz, et al, are pursuing the Academic Bill of Rights to combat such egregious examples of Lib/Leftist tyranny. The treatment of McConnell (assuming we know the entire story) is a violation of the Classical Liberal philosophy. There appears to be no moderation in the reaction to his paper.
In my Environmental Science classes, I explain early on my philosophies regarding the "increased carbon dioxide = global warming" paradigm. Near the end of the semester, I allow students the option to submit a short, extra credit term paper on the environmental subject of their choice. Even after I feel that I have explained the evidence behind my beliefs, I still occasionally get papers spouting the MSM/Lib/Leftist philosophy on carbon dioxide-induced global warming.
No, I don't penalize the students for their "heresy", but I do roll my eyes and say, "they just don't get it", especially if they fail to include "both sides" of the argument. If they show some evidence of "Critical Thought", I will give them some credit.
Do your own research. If you don't know David Horowitz's past, he used to be a radical Leftist, during the 1960s. That is one reason that the Lib/Leftists hate him so, because he "knows their souls" so well. Lib/Leftists frequently toss about the "Conservative/Christians = Taliban" analogies. But where are the practices of Taliban-type tyranny? Is it on the political Right? For right now it seems to be on the Left, especially in academia.
The various state-legislature incarnations of the Academic Bill of Rights are not about establishing a quota of different philosophies. It is about codifying the concepts of freedom of thought and diversity to which most institutions of higher learning claim to aspire. It is about insuring that as long as a dissenting opinion is delivered in a responsible, sensible manner, there will be no repercussions.
What is wrong with that?
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Why Modern Liberals Ain't - V or Am I a Dominionist?
This sentence pretty well sums up Feder's column:
..."Having little or no religion themselves, leftists are baffled by and fearful of those who take religion seriously – whether they’re evangelicals, traditional Catholics, Orthodox Jews, or Mormons."
Surfing the web through TheocracyWatch.org, I wound up at the Daily Kos (ewwwww!), where I found a March 20 post entitled "How to Beat the Christian Right, Part I", by Frederick Clarkson, followed by a thread. Some of the gems from that thread include:
From a reply by the author; ..."we have been unable to respond to one of the most dangerously anti-democratic movements in American history".
[Other than wanting to return to successful, traditional values and insisting that judges adhere to their constitutionally mandated spheres of influence, what is anti-democratic about the Christian Right?]
A later post offered the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli as the reason why the United States is not a "Christian Nation": ..."Quick background: It was the treaty that negotiated an end to naval hostilities with Muslim nations in the Mediterranean.
The treaty states, unequivocally, that the United States is NOT a Christian nation and as such would remain neutral in all Christian-Muslim conflicts."
[There is a difference between what we are legally and what we are culturally as a nation. Our First Amendment codified the concept of there being no government-endorsed religion. Thus in my simple mind, we are a secular government. But culturally, in the April 29th and earlier blogs, I restated the obvious, that the United States is a Judeo-Christian culture (as are most European cultures (especially Great Britain, from whence we evolved)). And the First Amendment Establishment Clause was not intended to expunge all traces of our cultural/religious foundations.]
..."Its no accident that Hitler and all his henchmen were raised in devoutly Christian households."
[Uh huh,... right! It doesn't matter what Hitler and his henchmen were raised as, it matters what they became. I think that many historians consider Nazi culture to be Teutonic paganism, rather than Christianity. Even now, at least some Aryan-nations type groups consider the gospels to be a "Jewish invention".]
..."These nutbars refuse to believe that the Treaty of Tripoli represented the "majority opinion" at the time. Never mind that Jefferson and Adams, violent political rivals, both supported it. Bringing up the Treaty is a bad idea. Better to ask them which of the Founding Fathers they believe had this great vision of America as a "Christian Nation"."
[We were not intended to be a legalized theocracy, but our Founders did recognize our Judeo-Christian cultural foundation.]
..."Part of the process of beginning from the ground up -- municipal elections, regional politics, individual congressional districts -- is to remind people that the very notion of electoral politics is the product of the "secular humanism" that the Christain right would destroy."
[What aspects of electoral politics does the "Christian Right" want to destroy? Judicial activism is not part of electoral politics.]
..."While I am not religious, I think the most effective action is likely to come from Christian left, center and right moderates who are distinctly uncomfortable with the CRs' totalitarianist fantasies."
[What are the "Christian Right's totalitarianist fantasies"? It matters little what an individual may have said, philosophically, what matters is, what average conservative American Christians stand for. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, Anarchy or Theocracy.]
..."One advantage that the right enjoys...is ready made regular meeting times and places through which they are able to organize and educate (churches).
Without regular union meetings at the local union hall, where the "working class" could recieve information and education regarding government (economic and labor) policy..."
[Gathering together in worship and fellowship is something that we just do. When we organize into various missions, whether it be to deliver meals to homeless shelters, engage in prison ministries, helping people recover after natural disasters..., this is a sign that we are not interested in "Window Dressing", rather we are engaging in action. And I guess that Christians and other members of the Right don't work, do we?]
..."The current religious right seek to revise history, reinterpret the constitution because they know it's very existance is meant to oppose them
Religion, as opposed to faith is about nothing more than subjugating people and aquiring and weilding power.
The religious right cary the sword of hate, and the shield of fear, we must defeat them with the truth, and real faith."
[Is getting back to Original Intent "reinterpreting the constitution"? And what is this "sword of hate"? Disagreement ain't hate.]
..."How to Beat the Christian Right, eh? An interesting question I must say. I've always been partial to baseball bats myself. But some people swear by axes. Some claim rakes work best. Still others feel that the best way to beat them is with a nine pound single jack. I have to say that I find this diversity of opinion refreshing. And, would suggest there may not be such a thing as a "best way". "
[A little Leftist humor here. If a member of the "Christian Right" suggested "beating" the Lib/Leftists in the same manner, there woud be hollering from the MSM from now until kingdom come.]
Despite the zealotry of some "Christian Right leaders", we are not going to lose our freedom to a theocracy, but more likely to socialist tyranny. Mainstream America (not the media) has a moderating effect on most philosophies, so it is best to ignore the Moonbats barking about the coming theocracy and focus upon the actual actions of those of faith.