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>

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Post-Disaster Capitalism

The MSM and the politicians like to call it "price gouging" or "profiteering" and pronounce it evil, but it is the marketplace at work and if interfered with, the interference slows the pace of recovery.

When people are stressed following a natural or human-caused disaster, of course their emotions are closer to the surface. We went through a tornado in April, 1998 and I will forever be thankful that my brother-in-law, his dad, and my nephew are all good at using chainsaws. I used to hate the infernal noise of chainsaws, but when you have at least 22 trees across your driveway (we lived on a long wooded lot at that time), you begin to have different thoughts about chainsaws.

Add to the mix our public schools' generally poor economic education, as to the laws of supply and demand. Therein you have a situation in which politicians can ride in and pretend to take positive action. And most people never even realize the truth.

In the Gulf Coast and points north, now there is a need for a number of different items. Government and charities cannot cover all needs in all places because of the magnitude and geographic spread of the damage. There are places where the free-market system and entrepreneurship can play a role in the cleanup, if allowed to do so.

As an example, there are some areas that have a need for chainsaws. Cities and counties may take care of clearing streets, it will take FEMA weeks to get around to helping clean up private property. In the meantime, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. will sell out of their stocks of chainsaws. It will take time for new shipments to reach the marketplace. In this case, citizens from outlying areas can fill the need, for example, by renting a U-Haul truck and going to their own Home Depot, Lowes, etc. and paying retail prices of a "mess of chainsaws". So before even leaving their home area, they have incurred the truck rental costs and the chainsaw costs. Add to that the fuel costs to reach the disaster area and lodging and food costs once there.

They then travel to the disaster area, find a parking lot and start selling chainsaws to those interested. As they own the chainsaws, they can charge what the market will bear. For instance, if they choose to sell the chainsaws for a 100% mark-up, that is their choice. Remember they have the above-cited costs to cover. With those costs in mind, a 100% mark-up is not 100% profit.

A little "salesmanship" on the part of the entrepreneurs might not hurt at this point. If they are confronted about the mark-up, they could politely remind the resident of what it cost to bring the chainsaws to "the market". They could politely remind them that they could either buy this chainsaw "right now" or wait in line when Home Depot gets some more in a week or two.

If the local residents feel the prices are too high, ultimately they don't have to buy the chainsaws. They can borrow existing chainsaws or they can wait until new ones arrive at the normal sales points. Or they can form consortiums with neighbors and/or pool their resources. Some other locals may decide "we can do better than that" and they can drive a couple of hundred miles, buy some chainsaws and come back and sell them for 75% mark-up. That is competition and the free-market. The "visitors" ultimately do not want to get stuck with the retail-purchased chainsaws, so if they are not selling for the 100% mark-up, they may cut the prices to 90%, then 80%, then 70%.... Remember, the longer they stay there, the more U-Haul rent they have to pay, the more food they buy, the more their lodging costs will be, i.e., their per-saw costs are rising daily.

If the locals feel the prices are too high, the best way to "punish" the "carpetbaggers" is to make them "eat their chainsaws and their expenses". Then they can think about their mistakes on their long ride home.

If the chainsaws are selling for the 100% mark-up, despite local grumbling, the bottom line is that the saws are getting where they need to be. If the local politicians and police interfere, they can chase off the entrepreneurs and the local storm survivors will be without those additional chainsaws.

With local merchants, it is a different issue. Local merchants have to depend on the "Good Will" of the customers. And if they sharply raise prices on items all ready in stock, their customers will (and should) remember and shop elsewhere when things return to normal. If the local merchant has to special order something, then they should explain the reasons to the customers for the price increases. Remember, the customers are already stressed out and local media has probably already been tossing the "price-gouging" word around. So emotions are on edge.

Local motels need to keep the local market in mind when raising prices after a disaster. Those local people may have relatives visiting in the future and if the motel owner raises prices sharply, without a good explanation, when people have lost the use of their homes, there may be an unspoken repercussions in the future. They may not complain, but they may not forget either. So later on, when Uncle Charlie and Aunt Phyllis come for a visit, the locals may steer them to another motel.

In short, if sellers have a good reason to raise prices, it is just wise to explain it for PR reasons. And if you live there, you have to consider the long term effects of your "now" choices.

The free-market system will work, if left alone.

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Hurricane Katrina thoughts

I didn't post yesterday due to class preparation, chores, and worrying about folks in the path of Hurricane Katrina.

It goes without saying that there are probably millions of people that need your prayers in the Gulf Coast area.

My personal concerns are for long-time friends riding out the storm in Diamondhead, MS (Biloxi area), beer can collecting friends in the Biloxi area, friends in the Covington, LA area. My niece in Starkville, MS is OK, and Two Dogs is OK.

As for New Orleans, it has been "living on borrowed time" for decades. It was not quite the worst-case scenario, but I heard this morning of a two-block long levee-breach. As portions of the city are below sea level (partially due to the city sinking into the soft sediments), it is going to take a long time for things to return to "normal". The mayor says that 80% of the city is underwater. You can only hold nature back for so long.

[A clarification from the original post: Things being what they are, I have changed my mind, somewhat. People steeling food and water should not be shot, but those raiding jewelry stores, clothing stores, electronic stores, etc., should not be shown any mercy. When order breaks down that rapidly on the first day or two, what comes next? That is why it needs to be stopped. Stealing jewelry is not about surviving, stealing loaves of bread or other essentials is a different story and in some cases, looking the other way may be the only course of action. But to those stealing non-essentials, if New Orleans is rebuilt, if life returns to some sense of "Normalcy", these same people that are laughing while looting stores may wonder why businesses do not re-open in their neighborhoods.]

I know that I am sitting in a "safe zone", but looting should not be taking place the first day after the storm. Natural disasters require the suspension of some aspects of decorum, but not all. If days or weeks go by before some form of help arrives a la Hurricane Andrew in Florida, order breaking down is understandable as nerves get frayed. Anarchy should be the last resort, not the first thing to happen.

Some will use this storm as "proof" of global warming. It is not proof of anything, except for the tradeoffs of living close to the ocean.

If the MSM/activists use dollar amounts of damage to say that hurricanes are getting worse, that is a bogus argument. Dollar amounts are getting worse because more people are living in coastal areas and they are building bigger, more expensive homes in low-lying areas.

I don't mean to cozy up to environmentalists, but there are some areas in which we should not build because of flooding issues. Is this the time to look at some hard choices about cities such as New Orleans? How much taxpayer money will be spent and when will the "next time" be? Levees are only a stop-gap measure. How long can we challenge nature? Again, I am just looking at this as a geologist.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Something Else That President Bush Will Never Get Credit For...

At least from the "environmentalist community".

The Bush administration is almost constantly being excoriated in the MSM press and by environmentalists for planned drilling in ANWR, not ratifying Kyoto, for its Clear Skies Initiative, and other programs and policies.

You would think that when the Bush administration's actions results in the "rescue" and repair of the largest wetlands in the Middle East, there might be some appreciation from the greenies.

In the years leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as part of the War on Terror, the Saddam Hussein government had undertaken a program designed to drain the Tigris/Euphrates River Delta wetlands. It was not done to expand agricultural production or for any other industrial purpose, it was part of a campaign against the Marsh Arabs. The Marsh Arabs, also known as the Ma'dan, are Shia Muslims and while they were not directly part of the failed uprising against Hussein, some of the survivors of the uprising took refuge among the Marsh Arabs. The Marsh Arabs represent one of the oldest continual cultures in the world and have been part of the delta environment for the last 5,000 years.

From the above-linked BBC article: ..."But a more serious threat emerged in 1991, when Saddam Hussein's regime began building an extensive network of dykes and channels to take water away from the marsh area, which originally extended for almost 9,000 sq km.

Satellite images showed that by 2002, the area had shrunk to only 760 sq km; an estimated 70,000 people were forced into camps in Iran."

The remediation program seems to be supervised by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and partially funded by an $11 million donation from Japan.

H/T the Commons Blog, which linked to/reported on the damage to this ecosystem and its repairs.

Personally, I don't know if the United States is funding any of the marsh remediation efforts, but the dominant point is that without the liberation of Iraq, as part of the War on Terror, the Marsh Arabs would still be suffering and the Tigris/Euphrates wetlands would still be under assault.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lindsey Graham is Taking RINO Lessons...

From John McCain, or so it seems, at least on the subject of Global Warming. A few years ago Senator Lindsey Graham of SC was seen as rising star in the Republican party. One has to wonder what happened.

I have blogged so many times about the atmospheric carbon dioxide content of 390 ppm, it is the equivalent of 4 pennies out of 10,000 ($100). This paradigm has been a political animal since its "birth" as a political tool of PM Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain.

Maybe Fred Thompson or someone else with gravitas needs to take Senator Graham under his wing and remind him of "what's what".

My point is that we need to stay as far away as possible from any incarnation of Kyoto, unless you enjoy high energy prices or an orchestrated recession. Restricting combustion is the only way to cut carbon dioxide in the short term and even then, most carbon dioxide is from natural sources.

H/T Ace of Spades HQ (from August 21).

Many British scientists have been caught up in the Margaret Thatcher triggered "hoorah" about global warming and the availabililty of government (taxpayer) funding for climate studies, especially those that seem to show favored results.

One exception is Dr. Jane Francis, of University of Leeds. This short bit, from "Global Warming: A Chilling Pespective" summarizes the thoughts of many responsible climatologists:

" What we are seeing really is just another interglacial phase within our big icehouse climate. Dismissing political calls for a global effort to reverse climate change, she said, ' It's really farcical because the climate has been changing constantly... What we should do is be more aware of the fact that it is changing and that we should be ready to adapt to the change.' "

Hay Chewed: What Causes Natural Climate Variations, Reversing the Flawed Climate Change Paradigm? (see links within)

Some Background on the Origins of the Intelligent Design Concept

As I have posted before, the zealots on both sides of the ID debate are attempting to seize the issue for their own benefit.

It is my continuing contention that flaws in the Theory of Evolution can be discussed with discounting the theory. I have posted before about the importance of having an imagination as a scientist. All of science is not conducted in the laboratory. Sometimes, in the absence of direct evidence of a series of geologic events, we have to "sit down on a hillside" and brainstorm about what brought about what we see.

Canadian columnist Ted Byfield in cuts through some of the MSM & Blog fog to remind us of the origins of this concept that has become a recent "household word". He cites three individuals, none of whom would seem to qualify as "Bible thumpers".

The first is UC Berkeley Law Professor Phillip E. Johnson. Professor Johnson ..."was puzzled by the absence of any real evidence behind Darwin's 150-year-old theory of evolution.

Johnson does not question that the Earth is zillions of years old, and he does not regard the Book of Genesis as a scientific treatise. But neither could he believe that everything came about by sheer chance, as Darwin claimed. To Johnson, Dawinism seemed to require a leap of faith far more demanding than the alternative theory that there had to be some kind of Mind at work behind everything."

In other words, using a lawyer's mind and a lawyer's paradigm of collecting evidence... "he decided to put Darwin's theory on trial, as it were – to assemble all the evidence that the scientific community has gathered over 150 years to support the theory, and to see whether or not that evidence would convince a jury.

He discovered an astonishing array of fabrication and outright fraud – pictures depicting evolutionary development that have appeared for years in high school textbooks with no evidence behind them; renowned experiments with fish, flies and moths that do not prove what they are supposed to prove; sudden appearances and enormous gaps in the fossil record that do not suggest gradual transition but rather instant change. From all this, he concluded that the Darwinian case is in no sense proven."

[See the previous post discussing the plausible reasons for gaps in the fossil record. And within the realm of science, theories are not proven, they are supported by the best currently-available evidence.]

Professor Johnson's contribution is the book "Darwin on Trial". I haven't read it, I am simply navigating using my knowledge and opinions. If any reader has read it, please weigh in.

The next person cited by Ted Byfield is Lehigh University Biochemist Dr. Michael J. Behe. Behe wrote "Darwin's Black Box." ..."Darwin wrote, says Behe, that "if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.""

The third person cited was Baylor University Mathematician and Philosopher Dr. William A. Dembski, ..."who did his post-doctoral work at MIT and Princeton, propounded what he called "intelligent design." Essentially, it challenges the philosophy called "scientism," which imposes the dogma that any scientific theory that relies on a factor beyond the natural cannot be regarded as scientific. This means, of course, that no matter how compelling the evidence, science can never discover God. If it did, it wouldn't be science."

As stated earlier, there is room for discussion among sensible people. Thirty plus years ago, I heard one of my geology teachers refer to "evolution with a guiding hand". Intelligent Design is just a variation of this interpretation. If you are aware of the strengths and the weaknesses of the fossil record, you can acknowledge the evidence of evolution and the progression of species, while allowing discussions of how it happened.

Gaps in the "Fossil Record"

For past and future discussions...

There are plausible reasons for gaps in the fossil record. Just because there exists a gap, that doesn't mean that the "missing link" never existed.

Among the reasons for the gaps:

The conditions favoring preservation and fossilization did not exist at the time of the death of the "missing link" organism in that particular setting.

The sedimentary rocks containing the "missing link" organism were destroyed by weathering and erosion.

The sedimentary rocks containing the "missing link" organism were altered by metamorphism (recrystallization of limestones) and/or tectonic deformation, including shattering during faulting.

The sedimentary rocks containing the "missing link" organism lie deep beneath the present land surface and are only accessible as rock fragments produced during oil or deep water well drilling or as two to three-inch diameter core samples. When taking core samples, a "miss is as good as a mile", i.e., if you miss the fossil, it doesn't matter if it is two inches or two miles, you missed it.

The fossil may not have yet been discovered or properly identified. There are constantly new discoveries being made. There are past-discovered fossils that dwell within dusty laboratory or museum drawers, forgotten by current paleontologists. There are fossils discovered by amateurs that have yet to reach the attention of professionsals.

The fossil record is constantly undergoing revision. That there are gaps doesn't mean that the gaps will never be filled.

Hay Chewed: AJC Editorial Letters on Science and Religion, Can't We Just Talk - About Evolution and Intelligent Design? (includes links to previous posts and other articles/columns).


Friday, August 26, 2005

What Causes Natural Climate Variations?

For discussions past and future...

Theories of the reasons for natural climate changes may fall into one of the following categories:

Sean Penn Reports From Iran

Back on Monday, Pam at Blogmeister USA posted on Sean Penn's first of a series of reports from Iran, regarding their elections.

On Tuesday, Aaron at Lifelike Pundits posted on the execution of two gay teenagers in Iran.

Do you think Sean Penn will be going back to Iran to report on the treatment of gays by the Iranian clergy-led government?

Just wondering. I won't hold my breath.

Feingold's Folly

According to Col. Ollie North's column, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) knows when he want's our troops to leave Iraq. He thinks the job will be done on December 31, 2006. The biggest problem is that he is telling the enemy the same thing. RINOs like Chuck Hagel are saying the same thing, perhaps not the same date, but he is calling for an exit date.

From Col. North's column: ..."A firm "end date," the senator claimed, would "help us to undermine the recruiting efforts and unity of the insurgents." He went on to say that, "I think not talking about endgames is playing into our enemies' hand." In short, Feingold and his friends want us out of Iraq by a "date certain.""

In a manner of speaking, it would undermine enemy recruitment efforts, because they wouldn't need as many "insurgents". They could just pull back into the woodwork and wait us out.

Giving them a tangible date IS EXACTLY PLAYING INTO THEIR HANDS. Hello! Senator Feingold! I am just a geologist with a head full of rocks and I can figure this out.

You beat the insurgent/terrorists by showing FIRM RESOLVE AND A UNITED FRONT. And even then, it is going to take years.

When President Bush gave his speech to Congress on September 20, 2001, we were united in common cause, except for the most extreme fringe elements. Why did so much of the Democratic Party leave? Was it just window dressing? Can't you understand the importance of unity during a time of war? We are in Iraq to prevent future 9/11-style attacks. Yes, our prosecution of the war has been flawed, but then every human effort is flawed.

Anyone with a lick of sense knows that most (maybe not all) large Muslim nations in the Middle East are;

1) Supporting Islamist terror because they agree with the terrorists or;
2) Supporting Islamist terror because they are afraid of the terrorists.

The ones that currently offer some support are probably afraid that we will lose our resolve and quit, leaving them in the lurch. They have to know that we will stay with them until they are ready to "fly on their own" (in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq). The longer we show firm resolve, the more positive results we will see. It won't happen overnight. President Bush's belief is that stable nations are the best long-term remedies to prevent terrorism.

The remainder of Col. North's column:

..."Whether they call it a "deadline" or a "timeline" or a "blueprint for withdrawal," what Messrs. Feingold and Hagel are advocating is a distinction without a difference. Both of them are saying, "Cut and run." Feingold would simply tell everyone the exact day and time of our departure. But leaving at any time before it is the right time would create the power vacuum about which Hagel is concerned. We won't know what the right time is until it arrives.

As we near the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11, it's important to remember that events make dates important, not the other way around. And in the new democratic Iraq, positive events have already created dates for its citizens -- and Americans -- to remember:

March 19, 2003: The day the liberation of Iraq began, as the U.S.-led Coalition entered Iraq.

April 9, 2003: The despot's statue in Firdos Square, Baghdad, toppled by a joyfully liberated people.

Dec. 13, 2003: A bedraggled, wild-eyed Saddam, dragged from a rat hole in the dirt and taken prisoner to stand trial.

Jan. 30, 2004: Millions of Iraqi men and women proudly displaying ink-stained fingers to show the world that they had braved threats and intimidation to vote.

In the weeks ahead, the Iraqis will submit the constitution that they have drafted to a referendum of the Iraqi people. In December, they will hold elections for a 275-seat National Assembly, and form a multi-ethnic, largely secular government that will guarantee the same rights and privileges to all of the country's ethnic and religious groups.

None of these events -- past or future -- are the consequence of artificial timelines imposed by a hostile mainstream media or skittish lawmakers. This week, the president reiterated that we will stay the course until the Iraqi people are able to govern and defend themselves against terrorists who would deny them, and us, the most fundamental of liberties.

To do otherwise would surrender the people of Iraq -- and the region -- to a fate even worse than that to which we left the Vietnamese thirty years ago. And if we do that, there will be another "date certain" -- the point in time, years from now, when historians will look back and say, "that's when the great American dream of individual liberty began to die.""

Previous posts "We Have Been Warned" and "Those Who Forget the Past..." have been intended to remind us that the Islamists are in this for the "long run". Ignoring this problem is what we did before 9/10. It didn't work, did it? Being nice to bad people will not make them nice.

The anti-war movement of the 1960s/1970s was partially orchestrated by the Kremlin. That orchestrated mindset resulted in the war dragging on for years longer than necessary, when the North Vietnamese were ready to quite in 1968, costing the lives of tens of thousands or Americans and Vietnamese. The surviving elements of that mindset are orchestrating this anti-war movement.

IF THESE PEOPLE WIN THE DAY, THEN WE ARE FORGETTING THE PAST AND WE ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT. And it isn't just us that will suffer as the war drags on longer than it should. It is the Iraqi people that voted. It is the Iraqi people that are working with us to help rebuild and strong, free-standing stable nation.

The best way to shorten a war is to have a united front against the enemy and to win a decisive victory. We have to have war now in order to have peace later.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Another Short Rant on the "Chickenhawk Issue"

While searching this morning for info on the Pleistocene Rewilding subject, I ran across a blog heading re-iterating the illogical Moonbat strategy of "hollering Chickenhawk" at every non-military citizen that supports the War on Terror, especially the Iraq theatre of the war.

As stated here and elsewhere (more eloquently), this is just a Leftist attempt to shut down discussion and support for our troops and their mission. Just as other forms of Political Correctness seek to stifle discussion and actions that otherwise might seem logical to most people.

By virtue of our Creator-granted right of Free Speech, recognized by those writing the Bill of Rights, every American citizen has the "moral authority" to voice an opinion. It is not our backgrounds that validate our opinions, it is information, logical thought, articulation, and ultimate acceptance by our fellow citizens that offers "value" to our words, spoken or written.

Yes, Cindy Sheehan has a measure of moral authority to protest the War on Terror and we have the moral authority to call her on the content, logic (or lack thereof), and accuracy of her statements.

Cindy Sheehan would have been more effective, had she maintained a quiet, lonely vigil in Crawford, Texas. But her "vocal and paper trail" increasingly devalues her opinions and effectiveness. Her tortured reasoning in response to Chris Matthews' (sp.?) August 15th questions about the justification of our Afghanistan invasion illustrates her lack of logical thought patterns. Most of the people in Iraq that are killing our service people are the "Freedom Fighters" she described. She is, in essence, cheering on the very people that killed her son.

[Afterthought: Using this same Moonbat "rationale", I have no authority to write about the Flower Garden Reef, having never gone scuba diving there nor do I (or any other living scientist) have any authority to write about the megafauna of the Pleistocene Epoch, since no currently-living scientist lived during that time period from 1.8 million years to 10 thousand years ago.]

What Was the Pleistocene?

Before we get to the issue of the Pleistocene re-wilding of North America, some may be wondering "just what exactly does "Pleistocene" mean?

"Pleistocene" refers to a specific interval of geologic time that is estimated to have lasted from 1.8 million years ago to 10 thousand years ago. It is best remembered as being the time of the last major Ice Age. Many scientists believe that "today's" warm climate is simply a natural rebound (or recovery) from the last Ice Age.

Referring to the accepted Geologic Time Scale (different versions may have slightly different age estimates), geologic time is divided into a hierarchy of time periods, based on different criteria. Most of the time boundaries are based on significant changes in the sedimentary rock and fossil record, as observed in 18th and 19th century Europe, where most of the present Geologic Time Scale was devised and defined. All of the time units, within the various categories, are of differing lengths.

The broadest time periods (at the top of the hierarchy) are "Eons", which cover hundreds of millions of years. We live in the Phanerozoic Eon, which began approximately 544 million years ago with the first widespread appearance of hard-shelled marine organisms.

Eons are divided into "Eras", which cover tens of millions of years. We live in the Cenozoic Era, which began approximately 66 million years ago with the end of the Mesozoic Era, when the dinosaurs became extinct.

Eras are divided into "Periods", which cover millions to tens of millions of years. The Cenozoic Era consists of the Tertiary Period (66 million years ago to 1.8 million years ago) and the Quaternary Period (1.8 million years ago to the present).

Periods are divided into "Epochs", which cover hundreds of thousands of years to millions of years. The Quaternary Period consists of the Pleistocene Epoch (1.8 million to 10 thousand years ago) and the Holocene (or Recent) Epoch (10 thousand years ago to present). The dividing "line" between the two epochs is the last major ice age.

As details of the geologic record become less distinct as we go back in time, the Epoch time classification is only used on a world-wide basis for the Cenozoic Era, i.e., the last 66 million years.

With the mass extinction at the end of the Mesozoic Era (and the end of the Cretaceous Period, too), approximately 66 million years ago, the niches and habitats of the world's ecosystems were "emptied out" of dinosaurs and other organisms. The mammal and bird survivors refilled these vacant niches and habitats with an "Adaptive Radiation", i.e., whereas the previous Mesozoic Era is known as the "Age of Reptiles", the Cenozoic Era is known as the "Age of Mammals".

With the natural global warming that ended the last Ice Age, human populations rapidly grew, cultures developed and humans migrated, in our case, most notably from Asia into North America. There was a significant extinction of large Pleistocene mammals in North America, attributed to human activities by some scientists, while others consider other possible causes (but not excluding the "human effect").

The article linked at the top of this post addresses the plans to introduce large African and Asian mammals (megafauna) to North America, to "replace" that which was lost in the last 10,000 years or so.

More will be added to a following post, when time permits.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bringing Back the Wooly Mammoth

...Or something like that.

A plan has recently been publicized that entails releasing endangered African mammals (large herbivores and carnivores) ostensibly to replicate the conditions of the Late Pleistocene, where large mammals roamed the North American continent until they were slaughtered by the earliest human inhabitants. It is also intended to create a breeding stock should the need arise to replenish African animal populations.

Wait a minute! The earliest human inhabitants were probably not Europeans, so how is it possible that they exterminated any mammal species?

[I need to do some reading before I attempt to articulate all of my concerns and objections to this plan. I will update and finish this post, later, probably tonight.]

On Tap Over at Beer Can Blog...

...Is a post relating to the collecting of beer cans and other brewery-related items (termed "breweriana"). So please drop over and have a round.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

We Have Been Warned

As I posted on August 16 and as others have more eloquently stated, Adolf Hitler told us what he was going to do and he did it. And it took a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears to crush that demon ideology, yet 60 years later, the demon still breathes in the minds of Islamists bent on Sharia-domination of the Middle East and beyond. It despises liberty, faith, individuality, mercy, tolerance, all of what we consider "good human traits".

Today's Cal Thomas column on reminds us of what the Palestinians, Hamas, et al, have said about their future plans. In short, they want it all. They have previously and continually stated their goals for domination of what is now and what was historically Israel (during the time of the Old Testament). Israel as the homeland of Judaism, and then later Christianity, has been supported by numerous archeological studies.

Cal Thomas uses analogies from the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" wherein James tosses pieces of chicken to crocodiles (or if they were alligators it doesn't affect the analogy) to distract the voracious reptiles long enough to make an escape. Yet Israel has no escape. Hamas has no plans for co-existence. From the column:

..."Among the chants heard as Israeli soldiers forced their fellow Jews from their Gaza homes was, "We will continue with the rest of Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem, until we control all of Israel."

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, in an interview with the Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, said, "We do not and will not recognize a state called Israel. ... This land is the property of all Muslims in all parts of the world. . Let Israel die." That's not the rhetoric of someone who yearns to live side-by-side in peace and harmony with an Israeli state."

Personally, I hope Israel's Gaza pullout will be a last-ditch show of good faith, that will be followed with terrible resolve if the Palestinians and associated groups (Hamas, Hezbollah, etc.) cannot or will not co-exist. You cannot bargain in good faith with someone that is dedicated to killing you.

Israel is a laboratory of the rest of the world. If Islamism is able to complete the work of Adolf Hitler, will Cindy Sheehan's life be more secure? Will Jimmy Carter's life be more secure? Will Chrissie Hynde's life be more secure?

If we can complete the mission (and it will take years, as we were told on Sept. 20, 2001), the lives lost are the price of future peace and liberty. If the Islamists' version of Hitler's vision is allowed to progress, what about the white crosses in Normandy and at Arlington and so many other cemetaries? What will their lives have been worth if Hitler ultimately wins?

If we cut and run now, those lives will have been wasted as we will return to the "status quo" of 9/10, where Islamist terror was largely unchallenged and we "slept". Despite the many flaws, it seems that the best way to deter future terrorism is to try to nurture "islands of stability" and relative prosperity. Turkey, though not perfect, is relatively stable and their people get to vote on their leaders. "Democracy" can work in the Muslim world.

Terrorists have turned up the heat because:

1) They think they can make us quit, a la Vietnam
2) They don't want Afghani and Iraqi citizens voting

The United States, Israel, and much of the "Western world" recognizes the basic human right of Freedom of Worship. Sharia as offered by Islamists doesn't. In a Sharia-dominated culture, Cindy Sheehan couldn't drive/fly from California back to Crawford, Texas to protest the President nor could she speak on camera. How does this escape them?

The Islamist mindset is in this for the "long haul". There will come a "tipping point" beyond which there is no return for the Western world. It may take another 30 to 50 years. The problem is, most tipping points cannot be seen until you are past them.

Why Do Corals Bleach?

Because they are stressed (honestly!).

From time to time, we may encounter MSM and mainstream science magazines that report on the bleaching of corals in particular reefs. And quite often the cited culprit is Global Warming. Not all corals live in reefs, but the primary reason for the attention and concern is that they are among the most important modern reef builders.

In the broad sense, a "reef" is a biological structure composed of living attached organisms, skeletal remains of deceased organisms and entrapped sediments that together contribute to tangible structure that rises above the surrounding ocean floor. They often are located at the edges of submerged islands or continental shelves to take advantage of upwhelling bottom currents that carry microscopic organic material (food).

The reason that reefs are of interest is that they are the areas of greatest marine diversity and there are many organisms that only live in reef settings, i.e., many of them need something to attach to, whether it is a submerged rock outcrop, a sunken ship, or perhaps the submerged structure of an oil-drilling platform. These attaching organisms, e.g., corals, bryozoa, sponges, etc., float during their larval stages, until they find a suitable structure upon which to attach (or else the larvae get eaten or otherwise die).

Anyway, most coral organisms live as minute polyps within the small openings in the stony skeletal structure composed of calcium carbonate (calcite). In many of these stony corals, the polyps have a Symbiotic or Mutualistic relationship with a particular species of algae. The polyps derive oxygen and nutrients from the algae, while the algae get protection from the stony coral skeleton.

When the coral polyp becomes stressed, it expels the algae, resulting in the bleaching. Sources of stress can include;

1) Changes in sea level.
2) Changes in sea water chemistry.
3) Changes in sea water temperature.
4) The introduction of new pollutants to the area.
5) The introduction of new incompatible species to the area.
6) Increases in runoff from nearby land areas.
7) Sewage and other waste discharges from cruise ships and other vessels.
8) The introduction of dust-borne or other pathogens from other areas, carried by wind currents.
9) Damage by excessive predation by certain starfish, snails, etc..
10) Damage by ship collisions and over-collecting.

The coral polyps can usually survive for a few months without the algae, but eventually, a relationship has to be re-established with that species of algae or another species. Studies suggest that bleaching can actually be an important survival mechanism, especially if the coral polyp can re-establish a relationship with a more compatible species of algae.

Corals prefer shallow, clean, clear, warm, well-sunlit Subtropical to Tropical waters of normal salinity (35 ppt). They need to be within the Photic Zone (receiving sunlight) for the benefit of the algae.

Sea levels have changed in the past, without any help from humans and if any sea level change is occurring now, it is probably within a range experienced by the corals before. Corals like warm water, so a few fractions of a degree in atmospheric or ocean temperature are nothing that the corals "haven't seen before". Past periods of global warming, e.g., the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period, resulted in the expansion of the geographic range of numerous corals to higher latitudes. There is evidence of this in "fossil reefs", in areas of no current reefs or deeper below existing reefs.

Remember the Range of Tolerance post? Each coral species in a given reef has different Range of Tolerance for each Abiotic component. As long as conditions remain within the Optimum Range or within the Range of Physiological Stress (for each component, e.g., pH, salinity, water chemistry,...), the hardier corals will survive.

Within the realm of nature, change is normal. It was that way long before we were ever here. At the end of the Permian Period (approx. 245 million years ago), all of the existing corals, the Rugose and the Tabulate corals, became extinct. The existing corals, the Scleractinids (or Hexacorals) "appeared" in the fossil record (from unknown ancestors or ?) in the Middle to Late Triassic Period, approximately 200 million years ago. Since then, they have survived the end-of-Cretaceous Period mass extinctions (when the dinosaurs became extinct about 66 million years ago) and other mass-extinction events during the following Tertiary Period.

There are tangible reasons for concern over coral reefs, but that concern should not be translated into a political tool, as it distracts from the real story.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Flower Gardens Coral Reef - Revisited and Reposted

[This post was from June 20, 2005. I have reposted it as a part of my getting back into the swing of teaching Geology and Environmental Science classes.]

Last night (June 19th) while reading Dr. David Yeagley's blog, I ran across a rather rambling, semi-coherent comment from "troll" following the Robert Redford post. Troll's comment alluded to a TV talk show (of some sort) with Bill Maher. In the description of the show's discussion, quotes were attributed to Maher that suggested his patent disbelief that fish (and corals) could actually live around offshore oil drilling and production platforms.

In the Gulf of Mexico, there are actually coral reefs that coexist and thrive in the presence of offshore oil platforms.

[Actually, the term "reef" refers to a "wave-resistant structure", i.e., shallow enough to be within the wave base. But these ecosystems are well below the wave base. The actual term used is "Bank" or perhaps "bioherm" to denote a biological "buildup". But "reef" will be used as it is a more common term.]

These reefs, approximately 120 miles southeast of Galveston, are collectively known as the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and are present as three separate ecosystems. The largest two ecosystems, the East Bank and the West Bank, are about 12 miles apart. The reefs lie in shallow water, ranging in depth from 350 feet to 60 feet, atop an offshore salt dome. The East Reef (Bank) covers approximately 300 acres and the much older West Bank covers approximately 100 acres. A third ecosystem, known as the Stetson Bank, lies to the north of the other two. The Stetson Bank primarily consists of sponges. Due to decreasing light with increasing depths, the depths below 270 feet are inhabited by coralline algae, that build upon older reefs that existed during periods of lower sea level (during the Ice Ages).

Without going into the complex explanation as to how salt domes form, the reason why the coral reefs are able to thrive in this environment is that sea floor faults, associated with the salt domes, allow crude oil to naturally (and continually) leak from the Gulf of Mexico ocean bottom. It has been this way for millions of years, thus the corals and other organisms are adapted to these conditions. This leakage and the unusual location of the reefs may contribute to its relatively low diversity. Despite this, the Mineral Managment Service website describes the area as having ..."A wide array of marine life, including numerous species of rays and sharks, sea turtles, and marine mammals, frequent the shallow, warm waters of the Gulf. Over 170 species of fish and approximately 300 species of reef invertebrates inhabit the banks. The colorful coral reefs and diversity of marine life associated with them are unique for their location, far north of where the majority of coral reefs are found. The East and West Flower Garden Banks are the northern most coral reefs on the continental shelf of North America."

From the webpage: The reef community also includes ..."at least 27 species of sponges, 20 species of polychaetes, 62 species of molluscs and 36 species of echinoderms. Other marine life residents at the banks include turtles, manta rays and sharks."

Currently, according to, ..."Within a four-mile radius of the Flower Garden Banks, there are currently 10 production platforms."

In this area, corals actually encrust the underwater structures supporting the platforms. Oil company divers had known about this for years, but they had trouble convincing marine biologists in academia and other circles. When some of these biologists dove the area with the oil company divers, they were amazed. This phenomenom actually complicates the issue of what to do with the platforms, once the wells are played out.

The corals, bryozoa, sponges, and other encrusting organisms cannot live on the flat, muddy sea floor. During their larval stages, if these organisms do not find elevated surfaces upon which to attach, they will be eaten by other organisms or otherwise die. There is actually a program called "Rigs to Reefs", whereby oil companies are given tax breaks for leaving the below-water structures in place, if they are encrusted with coral and other organisms. These and other artificial reefs serve as oases of marine biodiversity.

The situation of the Gulf of Mexico reefs may be unique. Other reefs are truly more fragile and may not tolerate oil-drilling intrusions.

Hay Chewed: For more info on Gulf of Mexico petroleum issues, see Changes in the Petroleum Paradigm?


[Classes are starting again, so I am getting back into the teaching mode.]

Usually when we talk about climate, it is on a global or regional scale. But sometimes local conditions produce local microclimates. For instance, on a regional scale, the Colorado Plateau has given climatic conditions related to altitude, latitude, position on the continent, etc.. In the Inner Gorge of the Grand Canyon, because of the much lower altitude, there are different climatic conditions, that might be termed a microclimate.

This linked article suggests that there are as many as 20 identifiable microclimates in San Francisco. I guess you could define a microclimate as an measurable area with discernibly different climate conditions and vegetation than the surrounding area.

In mountain ranges, especially desert mountain ranges, variations in altitude, slope, and valley orientation (that affects the amount of sunlight) produces enough different microclimates that mountains have been referred to as "Islands of Diversity". An example of this phenomenon is the Eagle Mountains of West Texas, where I assisted some other grad students with geologic mapping projects in 1978. The area surrounding the mountains is in the Basin and Range Province and is part of the Chihuahuan Desert. The desert vegetation was the normal mix of cacti, creosote bushes, mesquite, yucca, and short desert grasses and miscellaneous small plants.

When you drove from the flat desert area into the mountains, once you passed the first set or two of "foothills", you would start to notice that there was a change in the vegetation. By the time you were in some of the canyons in the middle parts of the mountain range, the valley would have taller grasses, scrub oaks, pines, junipers. One canyon even had muscadine (wild grape) vines growing along with the pine trees.

One reason that the inner reaches of these mountains were greener than the surrounding desert is that mountains often help trigger rainfall events through the Orographic Effect or Orographic Lifting. The Orographic Effect occurs when moisture-laden air masses encounter mountain slopes. As the air rises and cools, the moisture condenses = rainfall on the windward side of the mountains.

In addition to the Orographic Effect, the valleys seem to help entrap moisture that has fallen in the mountains. My observations in the Eagle Mountains and the Organ Mountains (in southern New Mexico) suggested that east-facing valleys are generally greener than west-facing valleys. This is probably because the east-facing valleys get the cooler morning sun = less evaporation. The west-facing valleys get the hotter, drier afternoon sun.

One more example of places to see a microclimate might be under a large "shade tree" during the summertime. The almost constant shade cools the underlying ground surface. Is the ground usually more moist under the tree than the surrounding area? Are there plants or mushrooms that live only under the tree and not in the more well-sunlit areas?

Alexander Graham Bell once said "Discoveries and innovations arise from the observation of little things." This is how we learn, by looking at things and noodling them out or brainstorming with other scientists. That is why having an active imagination is important. And that is why scientists, like artists, can get away with being a little eccentric.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Range of Tolerance - Revisited

I decided to rewrite and shorten this.

To set the stage, Ecosystems are made up of Biotic (living) and Abiotic (nonliving) components. All of the individuals of a given species in a particular ecosystem is the population.

Some examples of abiotic components of a terrestrial ecosystem, as they affect plants, would include:

1) Soil pH;
2) Soil moisture;
3) Climate;
4) Frequency of fire;
5) Availability of light;
6) Other soil components;
7) Available nutrients;, etc..

Some abiotic components that would affect humans would be:
1) Temperature;
2) Water availability;
3) Quantities of Atmospheric oxygen and other gases;
4) Ingested trace elements and chemical compounds;, etc..

Some examples of abiotic components of an aquatic ecosystem would include:
1) Water temperature;
2) Water chemistry;
3) Water clarity;
4) Water energy;
5) Dissolved Oxygen Content;
6) pH;
7) Salinity (in marine ecosystems);
8) Water depth;, etc..

For every abiotic component in an ecosystem, a given population has a Range of Tolerance, i.e., a definite range of environmental conditions. There may be other applicable terms in Environmental Science textbooks, but I am most familiar with this term. This can also be called Shelford's Law of Tolerance.

For most major abiotic components, imagine a "bell-shaped curve". Most of the population lives within the "Optimum Zone". Outside the Optimum Zone is the "Zone of Physiological Stress". Beyond the Zone of Physiological Stress, there is the "Mortality Zone". The Range of Tolerance may be skewed (or otherwise asymmetric) in relation to some abiotic conditions, e.g., trace elements (please forgive as my biology background is too weak (actually too old)). But let's assume symmetry for most components.

For instance, for atmospheric oxygen, humans have a given Range of Tolerance. Too little or too much oxygen, we become dizzy and disoriented and if we do not re-enter the Optimum Zone, we die, either from too much or too little oxygen. Same thing with Water. Too little water and we die, too much and we die (though not by the same way).

Organisms with narrow Ranges of Tolerance (prefix - steno) can be referred to as Indicator Species, i.e., they are sensitive to changes. In some Georgia streams and rivers, freshwater clams are indicator species, because they are sensitive to changes in water quality. The clams can tolerate influxes of suspended clay (muddy water) during short-term storms as this is natural. However, when upstream construction and runoff triggers long-term muddy water conditions, it is very detrimental to the clams, as the mud clogs their gills and filter-feeding mechanisms (they filter their microscopic food from the water).

Organisms with broad Ranges of Tolerance (prefix - eury) for all pertinent Abiotic components are the most adaptable ones.

An example of a fern with a broad Range of Tolerance for soil moisture (euryhydric?) is the Christmas fern, i.e., you find them in uplands and you can find them in wetlands.

An example of a fern with a narrow Range of Tolerance for soil moisture (stenohydric?) is the Royal fern, i.e., 90% of the time, they occur only in wetland conditions. Another stenohydric fern is the Bracken fern which prefers drier upland conditions or sandy, well-drained soils.

It is through genetics that most Ranges of Tolerance are "set", though responses to Physiological Stress may be learned in some animals and in humans.

Ranges of Tolerance may be broadened or narrowed by mutation, again, a beneficial mutation might broaden a Range of Tolerance for a particular abiotic component, allowing that particular population greater adaptability to a range of ecosytems or to changing conditions within a given ecosystem. Mutations within a given population of organisms may produce individual families with broader ranges of tolerance than the remainder of the population.

What I have taken too long to explain is that these genetically-determined Ranges of Tolerance are the mechanisms that determine Natural Selection when environmental conditions change.

Imagine if you will, a marine ecosystem, where the normal salinity is 35 ppt (parts per thousand). Euryhalic clams might have a broad Range of Tolerance for salinity (28 ppt to 50 ppt). Stenohalic clams might have a narrow Range of Tolerance (33 ppt to 37 ppt). If all other abiotic components remain static, but salinity changes beyond the Stenohalic range, you can see that the first group (Euryhalic) would survive, while the Stenohalic would not.

Survivability and ecological recovery depend on broad Ranges of Tolerance and the ability to reproduce rapidly.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Why Modern Liberals Ain't - VIII

[Part of a continuing series...]

Back when I was a Liberal, in the Classical Sense, overt expressions of anti-Semitism were considered "anti-Liberal" and socially unacceptible.

Why is overt anti-Semitism so much an accepted part of modern Lib/Leftism (witness Cindy Sheehan's statements, suggesting that Israel get out of "Palestine")? Where are the Israeli Jews supposed to go? That is there homeland. Judaism is much older than Islam. Doesn't that mean anything? Does she want a Nazi-style extremination? That is what is wanted by the Islamists to whom she is giving Aid and Comfort.

Why do modern Lib/Leftists seem to love dictators so much? Or is it that they just hate the U.S. so much that they will cheer for the opposition, regardless of how reprensible they are.

Robert Novak's column on reminds us of some of the organizations for whom Cindy is carrying water....

He writes that the insurgency-supporting organizations include: "...Code Pink-Women For Peace, United for Peace & Justice, and Veterans For Peace.

Those organizations were represented at a mock "war crimes" trial in Istanbul that on June 27 produced a joint declaration backing the insurgency. Based on the United Nations Charter, it said "the popular national resistance to the occupation is legitimate and justified. It deserves the support of people everywhere who care for justice and freedom."

The Istanbul statement also rejected U.S. efforts to leave behind a democratic government in Iraq, asserting: "Any law or institution created under the aegis of occupation is devoid of both legal and moral authority.""

I suppose the democratic governments of modern day Germany and Japan are "devoid of both legal and moral authority", as they were created during post WWII U.S. (and Allied) occupation. I suppose this mindset would have preferred that we simply beat Nazi Germany back to their original borders and then sit down and sign a peace treaty, leaving Adolf Hitler in power. Without addressing his nation's atrocities.

I suppose this mindset would have preferred that we simply beat back Japan to its islands and done the same thing.

The modern Islamist philosophy is the bastard stepchild of Nazi Germany. Those giving philosophical Aid and Comfort to Islamists are promoting the continuation of the Holocaust. Are these organization proud of their philosophical ancestors? Is this what they want?

[I am talking about the 20th century here. I know the U.S. has made mistakes in prior centuries, but that is not relevant to this discourse.]

Hay Chewed: Previous postings/rants on this subject.

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Friday, August 19, 2005

The NASCAR Hall-Of-Fame Traveling Road Show...

Made another stop in Charlotte. I posted a couple of days ago about their stop here in Atlanta.

The Hall-Of-Fame is not the problem. It is the proposed use of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to fund the project that bothers me and Ogre's View. In the case of Atlanta and Charlotte, it is the Democrat-controlled City Council that is trying to attract the project, but Ogre and I are concerned about the largely Republican/Conservative NASCAR fans that might forget some of their principles when the prospect of a new museum is being presented.

I think it would be better to use private funds to enlarge the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega, instead.

More ACLU Nonsense

I saw this a day or two ago on WND, but forgot to post about it. Thanks to Ogre's View blog for reminding me about it.

I have long realized that a good way to flummox a Leftist is to say that you will pray for them (in all sincerity). If there is a shred of conscience inside of them, it will get to them. If they "have a cow", then you have forced them to show their true selves.

A good example of "their true selves" is an ACLU spokesman, Joe Cook of the Louisiana ACLU, who recently stated "They believe that they answer to a higher power, in my opinion. Which is the kind of thinking that you had with the people who flew the airplanes into the buildings in this country, and the people who did the kind of things in London."

As we are reminded in the linked WND article above and in this Ogre's View post, this revealing statement by Mr. Cook was during an ACLU attempt to stop members of a local Louisiana school board from opening their meetings with a prayer.

I guess the ACLU agenda trumps the free speech rights of anyone that recognizes a higher power. They will go to bat for Taliban/al Qaida detainees in Gitmo but they will smack you down if you have a audacity to pray in public for guidance. Ordinary citizens praying for guidance before a meeting is not about the government giving official endorsement to any one sect. More on this particular incident is posted at Stop the ACLU blog.

To even suggest that ordinary American citizens praying is the equivalent of Islamist terror goes beyond the definition of absurd.

So let's all get Mr. Cook's goat, let's sincerely pray for him, for carrying around this sort of vitriol is not healthy.

More Aid and Comfort for the Enemy...

Brought to you by the ACLU.

In this WorldNetDaily article, the ACLU is hard at work protecting the people in Gitmo that would kill most of you in a heartbeat. Yes, there are bound to be a few innocent people there, but most of these people are just where they need to be. If the system is allowed to work, the innocent few will be winnowed out and sent home, as some have already been. Some of the others released have already gone back to fighting us in Afghanistan.

True to form, the ACLU wants to extend our constitutionally-recognized Creator-granted rights to non-citizens. Apparently, the Pentagon is helping them in this endeavor, as stated in the brief excerpt:

"..In addition, the Pentagon has brought in a veteran staff attorney from the ACLU to serve as chief defense counsel in future military tribunals."

These people are not American citizens and if they had their way and Sharia were the order of the day, all you would have of your Creator-granted rights would be a distant memory. Do you think the Taliban or al Qaida ever gave a damn about civil liberties?

I am not anti-ACLU per se, as we need Checks and Balances, but most of their agenda is far Leftist.

We are at a disadvantage in this war and we don't need more cheerleaders for the enemy. We have enough decent people to keep "an eye" on the tribunal proceedings and interrogations (for the most part). We don't need more aid and comfort being given.

This is where the absurd becomes dangerous. The Stop the ACLU blog no doubt has plenty more info that will boil your blood. Their analysis of this same WND article is linked here.

The "Chickenhawk" Strategy

Recently, it appears that the Lib/Leftists have revived a old strategy to try to shut down debate and discussions on the War on Terror.

It seems that in their twisted viewpoint, you are not entitled to speak in favor of the War on Terror unless you or a family member has served in the military in the past or are serving in the present. Now of course they are exempt and can express their opposition to the war without the same restrictions.

They are throwing the "chickenhawk" term around to attempt this shutdown of discussions. Even their current poster child, Cindy Sheehan has taken to this. Ben Shapiro has a column about this anti-Free Speech strategy (just remember that Classical Liberals relish free and open debate, but most of these folks are Leftists, not true Liberals).

This same "reasoning" has been used to shut down discussions on other issues before. If you are not a member of a minority, you have no "right" (in their view) to discuss minority-related issues. If you are not a woman, you have no "right"to discuss gender issues. Again, of course they are exempt from these restrictions.

A Little More Info on Refineries

A follow-up from the previous Refinery post...

Another reason for building some new refineries is that a heavier grade of crude oil is available on the market for about $14 less per barrel than the lighter crudes.

The primary problems with the heavier crudes relates to their larger petroleum molecule sizes, thus they probably don't flow as easily as the lighter crudes and it takes more energy (heat) to "crack" the larger molecules and separate them into the smaller molecules of gasoline and other petroleum products.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Kelo vs. New London Case Goes From Being an Injustice to an Outrage!

From Right Thinking News, through Iowa Voice and Basil's Blog (August 17 Breakfast Covered Dish Special)...

The name "Kelo vs. New London" should be seared into your memory as an example of Lib/Leftist tyranny, the kind I used to hate when I was a liberal (in the Classical Sense). Tyranny was tyranny, whether rightwing or leftwing. Well, it has gotten worse in New London.

Now Right Thinking From the Left Coast tells us that the New London Development Corporation, not just content with having won in the U.S. Supreme Court, they are offering buyouts to the seven property owners based on year-2000 evaluations (when this mess started) AND they are going to charge back rent, claiming that the city has owned the property since 2000! So they are going to rape them three times, by; 1) Eminent domain abuse; 2) Offering year-2000 settlements; and 3) Charging them back rent on their own titled property!

Iowa Voice reports that these back rents may go as high as $300,000!

All because these seven property owners were impudent enough to believe that their land titles actually meant something! All because these thought that their Bill of Rights meant something!

The New London housing market has been growing during the last few years, meaning that the year-2000 market settlements are not going to be sufficient to "replace" the confiscated property AND with the back rent being charged, how are these people going to find another home?


When Sean Hannity is finished with his broadcasts from the Southern Border area, he needs to do some broadcasts from the New London area to cast a light on this outrage.

Where are the good Classical Liberals from New England? Why aren't they out protecting the little guys here?

The Profit Motive doesn't justify everything! There are supposed to be Checks and Balances. I sincerely hope that Justice David Souter loses his home to eminent domain abuses. And then they can start on the homes of the other four justices that endorsed this shameful practice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Those Who Forget The Past...

Well, you know the rest.

When we look at the governing ideologies of various Muslim nations aligned with al Qaida, we most often see only the Islamist component without seeing other, interwoven ideologies, such as the Stalinism of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iraqi and Syrian Baathist governments. Perhaps the breeding ground for the Islamist terror ideology was provided by the misery wrought (as elsewhere) by this Stalinist socialism. And as with Nazi Germany (also ideological brethren of Islamists), Jews provide the scapegoat needed to answer to the failures of socialism.

Rick Moran of Rightwing Nuthouse reminds us that in a way, we have been down this road before. In this excellent post, Rick describes the genesis of the "smoldering embers" of the late 1920s begat the flames of WWII. In short, in his book "Mein Kampf" Hitler warned us. We didn't listen.

Rick attempted to read Mein Kampf for himself, but after 100 pages, he found the reading too tedious because of Hitler's poor writing style. Using other analyses of Hitler and what he had read, he posts:

"For contained in its 664 rambling, confused pages was Hitler’s plan to conquer Europe, subjugate the Slavs, destroy Russia, and annihilate the Jews. It was all there in black and white and the snobby intellectuals who looked down their noses at him ended up paying for their incredulity with the most destructive war in European history.

Even Hitler’s rise to power was outlined in the book. The alliance with big business and the army, the use of propaganda, the mysticism, the hearkening back to Germany’s pagan roots – it was all there. Never before in history has a leader offered such an exact blueprint of his rise to power or plans for conquest. [Emphasis added.]

The book was written in 1925-26 when Hitler was serving time in prison for trying to overthrow the Weimer Republic. Ten years later, he began to methodically carry out plans laid out in the book almost as if he was going down a list and checking off items as he went along. Starting with the re-occupation and re-militarization of the Rhineland, through the Anschluss with Austria, the claims made on the Sudentenland, the elimination of a rump Czechoslovakian state, Poland and the Danzig Corridor, and finally the war that he planned to fight with first France, then England, and lastly the Soviet Union."

Rick used this analysis to lead into a Fourth Rail blog post, by Bill Roggio, which describes a Seven Phase Plan by al-Qaida to establish a worldwide Muslim Caliphate.

Condensed, from Roggio's post:

"The Word Unheard points us to an article in Spiegel Online by a Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein, who is believed to be a reliable source of information on al Qaeda. [The Word Unheard post was prefaced by the suggestion of Abu Musab al Zarqawi as a source for the "Seven Phase Plan".] His main source for this article on al Qaeda strategy is none other than Saif al-Adel, al Qaeda's military commander who is currently operating from Iran.

al Qaeda's purported strategy can be broken down into seven "phases" which span from 2000 until 2020, at which time they believe the global Islamist Caliphate will be established and they will acheive "definitive victory." Here are the phases, which are followed by commentary when appropriate [Herein edited].

The First Phase - Known as "the awakening" -- this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby "awakening" Muslims...."

The Second Phase - "Opening Eyes" is, according to Hussein's definition, the period we are now in and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the "Islamic community." Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaida wants an organization to develop into a movement."

..."The Third Phase - This is described as "Arising and Standing Up" and should last from 2007 to 2010. "There will be a focus on Syria," prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and -- even more explosive -- in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaida's masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.

The Fourth Phase - Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaida will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that "the creeping loss of the regimes' power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaida." At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism."

..."The Fifth Phase - This will be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, can be declared. The plan is that by this time, between 2013 and 2016, Western influence in the Islamic world will be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al-Qaida hopes that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.

The Sixth Phase - Hussein believes that from 2016 onwards there will a period of "total confrontation." As soon as the caliphate has been declared the "Islamic army" it will instigate the "fight between the believers and the non-believers" which has so often been predicted by Osama bin Laden.

The Seventh Phase - This final stage is described as "definitive victory." Hussein writes that in the terrorists' eyes, because the rest of the world will be so beaten down by the "one-and-a-half million Muslims," the caliphate will undoubtedly succeed. This phase should be completed by 2020, although the war shouldn't last longer than two years."

Roggio believes that success in the current Second Phase would short-circuit the remainder of the plan. And he contends that thusfar, we have al Qaida off-stride, likely because they didn't anticipate our strong response to 9/11, in light of previous weak responses, which can be attributed to Presidential administrations of both parties.

I have stated before that the "War on Terror" is a crossroads event in human history. If true, the seven phase plan highlights this contention.

Roggio closes with:

..."However, in the event of the United State loses its political will and pursues a policy of isolation from the Muslim world, an inevitable showdown with al Qaeda would ensue. Open confrontation with the West, as well as the possibility of a nuclear armed Caliphate, would bring the full military might of the Western World (those who value their freedom). The current operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Southeast and Central Asia and within the borders of Western nations would be tame in comparison to what would come. The Japanese, Germans and Italians discovered in World War II the price of wakening the American military psyche.

The West would basically have two options: (1) blitzkrieg 21st Century style - the full mobilization of its military and an accompanying sweep of the Islamic crescent, without regards for Politically Correct warfare; (2) nuclear war. Both campaigns would be designed to fully eliminate the Islamist threat, and the Muslim infrastructure, which allowed for the rise of al Qaeda's ideology."

Before, when we ignored Hitler's stated plans, 40 million died. If options 1 or especially 2 come to pass, what would the death toll be?

Though prosecution of the War on Terror has been flawed, the actions against the Baathist regime in Iraq and beyond are the "Ounce of Prevention" needed to hopefully negate the "Pound of Cure" of options 1 or 2. Are the anti-war protestors too shallow to see this? Are they so shallow as to not see the effects of a U.S. withdrawal power vaccum? Or do they hate their homeland that much?

How would Cindy Sheehan fare at the hands of a worldwide Caliphate? Or Michael Moore?

Oil Refinery Problems

As a geologist, I should have posted on this before...

ABC Nightly News seems to be the first MSM TV outlet to report on this issue (or at least it's the first that I have heard), the story of our aging system of oil refineries. We haven't built a new oil refinery in this country in the last 30 years or so.

Even then, they still don't quite tell the entire story.

Glenn McGinnis, CEO of Arizona Clean Fuels, has been trying to build a new refinery in Arizona "...for a decade, and at this point hopes to be operational in early 2010. It's taken five years to get the air quality permits — the site had to be moved from Phoenix to Yuma — and they still won't break ground for another year.

"By the time we're completed, it will have been 15 years since the project really got started until we got product to the market," McGinnis said."

While the TV report mentioned the "NIMBY" (Not In My Back Yard) philosophy and it vaguely referenced air quality permits, it didn't address the issue of environmental regulations specifically nor did it address the issue of environmental lawsuits and other forms of "activism".

The TV report did mention that in 1981 we had 324 refineries versus 149 now. Market forces probably closed some of them, while environmental regulations and remediation costs no doubt closed many more. That is not to say that we don't need regulations, but the EPA has a history of disregard for the realities of business. The fact is that our refinery system is old and it is operating at almost full capacity. When a refinery goes down because of maintenance or because of fire or explosion, there is no "slack" that can be taken up by another refinery.

We are using 50s, 60s, and 70s technologies in our refineries. You can only retrofit an old facility so many times. That is why they are such dirty, nasty places. It would probably cost 100s of millions of dollars to build a large, new refinery. How long will it take to recover those expenditures, especially with the hassles of environmental lawsuits?

If we allow companies to build new refineries, hopefully this will mean some dirty, old refineries can be retired. Each time a planned refinery is refused permits, we don't see the detrimental results immediately, but rather we see them ten, fifteen, twenty, or more years "down the road". Refineries are just a reality in our petroleum-driven economy.

In summary, we are demanding more and more from a aging refinery system. One more consideration, in addition to the above problems, many different cities have mandated "boutique" fuel blends to address pollution issues (the efficiency of some blends is open to question). These different blends also increase the costs of refining.

On Being Consistent on Expenditures of Taxpayer Money

At the risk of being a NASCAR heretic...

I have been following NASCAR racing since 1966 and have been attending races since 1967 (though not as much in the last few years because of ticket costs and an intense dislike of traffic, instead I go to local short tracks, the "grassroots"). I have been to stock car races in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. I saw Curtis Turner race once in 1967 at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta (now covered by part of the amphitheatre) and I saw Jeff Gordon at Lanier Raceway in 1991 before he was a household name.

When we of the Conservative vein decry the expenditures of taxpayer money for "pork barrel" spending, we have to be consistent, even when the pork barrel spending benefits something that we like.

Atlanta is apparently among the finalists for a NASCAR museum. It would be built in a part of Atlanta accessible from the MARTA line along with other tourist venues (Centennial Olympic Park, CNN, etc.) which sounds pretty good, but the "package" being offered up includes a few tens of millions of taxpayer dollars (aka "public money"). The new Georgia Aquarium is being build largely (entirely?) with private funds. I could more easily support a smaller NASCAR museum project if it was done with 100% private funds.

"Activists" in Atlanta are decrying the expenditures of taxpayer money for this project, but then they turn around and demand the money be spent instead on low-income housing and other pet projects. No, no, no.

I know that regardless of the source, the museum construction will employ hundreds of people and another tourist attraction to downtown Atlanta will benefit the tax base and tourism-related industries, but taxpayer money is not voluntarily procured. Even if it promises more tax revenues (remember where else that argument is being used?), we should resist the sirens' call.

Go find a copy of Frederic Bastiat's short book "The Law". It does a pretty good job of explaining "the proper role of government". In short, government should take care of that which individuals cannot, e.g., national defense, law and contract enforcement, public infrastructure, and a few things that are a matter of interpretation.

Republicans often "talk the talk" of smaller government, but they become just like Democrats when budget time rolls around. Why? Because that is what the public has come to expect. In many places we have come to expect government to pay for a new stadium so that a baseball/football team will stay in town. But it is not government's money, it is taxpayer money.

So, we have to be consistent, even when it means goring our own sacred cows. So, if other cities are offering smaller privately-funded packages, I would prefer that the NASCAR museum go to another city. Atlanta is going to have to spend billions to bring its water/sewer system up to snuff (as it was ignored for decades). They are asking for Federal taxpayer dollars for that also. But that is a public health issue, of sorts.

So, if I seem a heretic, sorry.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

On the Passing of Coo Coo Marlin

If you are not a long-time NASCAR fan, the name will probably mean nothing to you. Clifton (Coo Coo) Marlin was the father of current driver Sterling Marlin and possible future driver Steadman Marlin. He passed away at age 73 from lung cancer today.

He never won any official points races in NASCAR's premier division (now called Nextel Cup), but he did win a qualifying race for the Daytona 500 in the early/mid 1970s. In his 165 races, he did have 9 top-five finishes and 51 top-ten finishes. He made his living as a farmer and cattleman, to him racing was an expensive hobby, but he did it fairly well. He was a force to be reckoned with on some Tennessee short tracks in the late 1950s and 1960s. At one time, he was the second winningest driver at the Nashville Fairgrounds Raceway, behind Darrell Waltrip.

Despite not winning in the "big leagues", Coo Coo got to vicariously enjoy his son Sterling winning two Daytona 500s and a Pepsi 400 at Daytona, in addition to seven other NASCAR Nextel Cup victories. Sterling finished third in the point standing twice, in 1995 and 2001. Sterling lead the point standings for 26 weeks in 2002, but his closest quest for the championship was cut short by a broken neck, resulting from a crash at Kansas Motorspeedway, perhaps exacerbating an injury from a hard crash at Richmond, VA a few weeks earlier. He just hasn't been the same since then. Sterling started off well this season, maintaining a position in the top 10 of the point standings for the first eight races, but a series of crashes, many of which were not his fault have dropped him far back in the standings and resulted in his contract for the #40 Coors Light Dodge not being renewed.

Sterling still works on his family's farm in Columbia, TN. I wonder if Coo Coo's passing will provide the impetus to go ahead and "hang up" his helmet at the end of this season. He was hoping to finish his career in the #40 after one or two more seasons. It probably depends on the quality of the options for future rides.

AJC Editorial Letters on "Science and Religion"

The letters in this section are in response to Cynthia Tucker's Aug. 7 column suggesting that the "U.S. sacrifices science on the altar of religion".

As mentioned in the previous post, there is some balance in the letters, but I want to address a couple of them.

In one of the anti-ID letters, in which you will see the bigotry, the statement is made:

"The world is filled with religious nuts brainwashed from infancy. I have never been able to understand why supposedly intelligent people discount science and embrace religion.
As Tucker says, science can be tested and retested against evidence, but religion is religion, which is just a belief. Ted Turner was right when he said religion is a crutch."

As stated before, science and religion do not have to be antagonistic. It is so because of zealots, those unwilling to discuss things, on both sides of the issues. To accept evolution as the only answer also requires a type of faith.

As for Cynthia Tucker's contention "science can be tested and retested against evidence", Hello Cynthia...Not all science takes place in the laboratory. It is not all petri dishes or beakers or test tubes.

Nature is messy and when we "read" the rock record of Earth history, it is most often obscured by thousands to millions of years of weathering and erosion, covered by soil and plants, or it may lie hundreds to thousands of feet below the surface. In the last case, our only hard information may come from core samples that are 2 to 3 inches in diameter or well-cuttings from a deep oil well or water well. A lot of our evidence is based upon "consensus science" where interpretations and evidence are presented and discussed with other scientists. We can't test and retest the Theory of Plate Tectonics on a global scale. In the laboratory, we can make computer models and physical models, but then we have to go to the field to collect the "real world results and try to decipher "what happened". We just gather the information, thrash it out and present it. Some of it will be discounted someday, but we understand that.

We cannot test and retest all of the mechanisms involved in the gradual changes from one species to another. We cannot study the DNA of long-dead fossils to see what genetic changes wrought which morphological changes significant enough to name a new species.

We collect our data from field studies, submit draft reports for peer-review, then we submit the reports for publication and/or we give talks at meetings, hoping to convince other geologists of our findings and theories.

In the end, a Theory has to go through years of testing and retesting, but again, this isn't always laboratory testing. It is presenting and discussing evidence and data, which is either accepted by the scientific community or it has to "go back to the drawing board", perhaps for decades, before a breakthrough discovery or a new interpretation makes the Theory plausible enough for acceptance.

The other, more sensible letter (in my opinion), the writer states "There is no "war" being waged against evolution. Intelligent design actually complements evolution...."

The longer evolution zealots fight the allowing of ID discussions, the more likely the Young-Earth Creationist zealots are to co-opt the ID discussions.

If you have a strong enough faith in something, you should be able to withstand a few questions, even if you have to say "I don't know.". That doesn't mean that an answer doesn't exist, maybe we just haven't found it yet. Or we may never find it.

Hay Chewed: Links to previous posts and outside sources are presented in my August 12 post.

A Red-Letter Day for the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Their editorial pages actually show some balance, in the letters-to-the-editor, selected by the staff!

Both sides of the issue are actually presented by citizens in the "Science and Religion" and "Voter ID" responses to previous editorials. I may post individually on each of these issues later.

I don't think there is a full moon right now. Let us savor the moment as it may not last long.

Now, that that brief celebration is over. We return to the predictable, Lib/Leftist, moonbattish (sp.?) editorial cartoons of Mike Luckovich. His serving today is of an image of Cindy Sheehan standing in front of a line of tanks labeled "Bush & Co.", a la the 1989 Tiananmen Square photo. It is my understanding that the student standing in front of the line of Chinese tanks was later tortured and murdered. For Luckovich to trivialize this act of singular bravery is reprehensible, but not surprising.

The "tank man's" name was supposedly Wang Wei Lin. By way of The Peking Duck blog post on Tiananment Square and "Whatever happened to...", comes this portion of a post:

"In a speech to The President's Club in 1999, Bruce Herschensohn reported that Wang Wei Lin was executed 14 days later."

In the comments section of the Peking Duck blog post cited above, one or two of the commentors try to equate Rachel Corrie with Wang Wei Lin, the same sort of mentality that equates Cindy Sheehan with Wang Wei Lin. I honestly do not believe that Cindy Sheehan is going to be treated in the same manner as Wang Wei Lin.

Unfortunately, what might have been a solemn exercise of Cindy Sheehan's First Amendment rights (which would not exist under Sharia) has become a media circus, but Cindy doesn't seem to mind. The agenda prevails.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Message to Cindy Sheehan

Mohammed at Iraq the Model has a poignant post reminding us of who would suffer the most if we turned and ran, the Iraqi people.

Each American life lost in Iraq hurts us, but we have to look at the long-term. What would the world look like in five to ten years if we didn't make this attempt to crush Islamist terror?

If we had daily loss updates and bios on each serviceman (or woman) lost during WWII, we could not have had the courage to finish the job. If the American public had been barraged with the bios of the 500 men (average) lost per day during the 38-day Battle of the Bulge, how could we have finished crushing Nazi Germany? At the time, we didn't know that the war had only a few months to go.

If we cut and run, thousands will die in the power vacuum as they did in Vietnam.

Hat Tip to Aaron at Lifelike Pundits.

Minority Participation in NASCAR

Lucky Dawg News is a good place to keep up with NASCAR news and other commentary.

Chris's individual posts do not have Permalinks, so just scroll down to: "Retired Raider Tim Brown plans on owning a Nextel Cup team" for his post and the see the link to the original article.

You can judge for yourself at which point I diverge from Chris's opinions.

I have no problem with increased minority participation in NASCAR, the door has been open for a while. But I do have a problem with some aspects of how it is being done.

Major league stock car racing (Nextel Cup, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series) has a vast farm system of smaller organizations and local raceways across the country. And southern drivers no longer have the advantage. The farm system is where tomorrow's drivers are laboring now. Most white drivers are not Jimmie Johnson/Reed Sorenson-type "phenoms" and it is wrong for minority drivers to bypass the farm system for the sake of satisfying liberal agendas. Not because of the "sanctity" of the farm system, but partially because it is such a dangerous sport. And an expensive sport. Participating in the farm system puts them up against other future drivers and local "journeyman" drivers who for financial reasons couldn't advance or perhaps they didn't want to hassles of travel and other pressures of the "big leagues". There are good drivers that have driven local tracks for years and they could have "gone somewhere" if they had wanted to.

From Chris's commentary:

Thanks to NASCAR's diversification programs, a PC word for affirmative action, we might have the possibility of a team owner that's in it for all the wrong reasons. Ex Raider Tim Brown announced that he will start a racing team possibly within the next 60 days. Technical support will come from Roush Racing.

From the Mercury News article (which requires registration): Brown said he would like to have a Cup and a Busch team going next year, with the intention of putting "a young driver, young minority driver, woman driver ... and develop them in the Truck and Busch series on up to Nextel (Cup)."

Tim Brown probably has no clue how expensive owning a Nextel Cup team is, let alone trying to have a Busch team at the same time. And trying to put a young minority driver under the media microscope will probably do the driver more harm than good. Again, different drivers have different "maturation curves" and putting them under too much pressure, too soon, may put them into a position that could get them or someone else killed. Or it might "burn them out". It has happened to white drivers, it can happen to anyone.

If Tim Brown is really serious about bankrolling one or more young minority drivers, he needs to do a "talent search" of the drivers that are already in the farm sytems and instead of "yanking them upstairs", he could nuture them through the system until they are mature enough to step up to the next level. It will take time and patience.

But as liberals like to bypass the legislative system by using the court system to "pass new laws", they seek to bypass the established stock car racing farm system in order to satisfy their agendas.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Tributes to Peter Jennings

As one would expect, tributes are rolling in for Peter Jennings. I will link to blogosphere (& other) tributes to Peter Jennings, rather than try to add anything, as these other writers will no doubt be more articulate that I could hope to be.

I will go as far as to say that Peter Jennings had more class than some in his position, i.e., Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite.

Some Respectful Tributes Include These From:

Captain's Quarters; Michelle Malkin; RightWingNuthouse; Ramblings' Journal;

[Update: Mea culpa: Aaron's cc has a compendium of Peter Jennings's "extra-news" activities, some notably leftist and anti-Israeli.]

More will be added as they are found...

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