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, January 30, 2006

A Pre-emptive Apples & Oranges Discussion

I am thankful that the 72 miners in the potash mine in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan were rescued.

If anyone tries to equate that rescue with the recent losses of 14 miners in West Virginia and how our mine-safety system is screwed up (it no doubt needs some work), I just wanted to pass along a reminder that the geological conditions under which potash deposits are formed are different from coal deposits.

The conditions under which massive amounts of plant materials are preserved in coal deposits, originally large forested swamps, are favorable for methane production and the mining of coal produces explosive coal dust. Those are two potent explosive agents, given the right air mixtures.

Potash, a general term for potassium-bearing salts, occur as evaporite (salt) layers probably deposited in an arid, enclosed-basin scenario. The other associated minerals are also salts, halite, sylvite, carnallite, and clay. Not the sort of conditions that produce explosive dust or methane.

Potash mining in the U.S. include areas east of Van Horn, Texas and around the Carlsbad, New Mexico area.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

It's Chili Day

For the last few winters, our adult Sunday School class has hosted a small chili cookoff and one of my modest goals in life is to finish in the Top 3 in the competition.
First prize, by the way, is a crown made of folded aluminum foil and a year's worth of teasing by the class.

But the real reason for the interest is that making chili is a good excuse for having a beer or two while making the chili (as it is a Sunday School class, we don't have beer at the cook-off). Sometimes chili in-progress cries out for a little bit of beer and sometimes it is necessary to open more than one bottle while searching for "just the right flavor for the chili". Heh.

Besides, chili is nature's perfect "guy food". In my version, it has ground beef, Bush's black beans, tomatoes, sliced jalapenos, okra, chopped nopalito (cactus pad), a little beer and a little more Tabasco sauce, along with the chili spices. Just looking for the right "pleasant burn".

I know that Texas chili purists do not approve of beans (or heaven forbid, okra) in chili, but another aspect of Texas culture is the "I'll do it any way I please."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Miss Lena's Boy Passes - Updated

[Originally posted 1/19] At age 64, Wilson Pickett has passed away. He was one of my favorite soul singers from the 1960s, leaving behind such classic hits as "Mustang Sally", "In the Midnight Hour", "634-5789", "Land of a Thousand Dances", and more.

In the middle 1960s, Atlanta's primary Top-40 AM station was WQXI 790AM, where they played an interesting mix of Motown, American Pop, and British Rock and Roll, exposing us white Southern folk to James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Four Tops, The Temptations, etc., along with the Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, and others of that time period.

A little later, one of their DJs was the late "Skinny Bobby Harper", who reputedly was the inspiration for "Dr. Johnny Fever" on "WKRP in Cincinnati".

I wish our turntable still worked.

Florida Cracker had a post showing a photo of Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman.

If other bloggers comment on Wilson Pickett's passing, I will link to them as I find them.

[In case anyone is wondering, one of Wilson's albums was entitled "Miss Lena's Boy".]

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Looking at Wal-Mart

Not through the typical MSM/Leftist manner, but rather in a more open-minded, rational manner.

Today's Kathleen Parker column on provides a review of Charles Fishman's new book, "The Wal-Mart Effect".

It is not the same as when "Mr. Sam" was alive. No doubt effective practices by Wal-Mart and good management provided to American consumers choices and lower prices, but when Mr. Sam was alive, he made a concerted effort to use American suppliers first, when possible (or at least that is my impression).

Intoxicated by the consumer-driven growth of Wal-Mart over the past decades, the present management wants more (which is human nature), but the question of "at what cost" is addressed in Fishman's book. Ms. Parker uses the issue of Chilean salmon to illustrate the point.

From the column:

"Wal-Mart not only changes the way we buy, but the way we think, Fishman says. If Wal-Mart charges $5 per pound for salmon, then shoppers wonder why a restaurant charges $15. We expect salmon to cost only $5. Or a microwave to cost only $39. The Wal-Mart effect first changes our expectations, then changes the quality of merchandise, which is cheap, because it isn't always well- or ethically made.

Take salmon. Wal-Mart, which buys all its salmon from Chile, sells more than anyone else in the country and undersells all other retailers by at least $2 per pound. That's a lot of market power, which prompts Fishman to ask: "Does it matter that salmon for $4.84 a pound leaves a layer of toxic sludge on the ocean bottoms of the Pacific fjords of southern Chile?"

Salmon in Chile are raised in packed underwater pens - as many as 1 million per farm - and fed prophylactic antibiotics to prevent disease. Here's a fact you'd rather not know: A million salmon produce the same amount of waste as 65,000 people. Combine that waste with unconsumed food and antibiotic residue, and you've got a toxic seabed.

Does it matter?"

My pool cover boss, a fervent Conservative, has spoken about this, though I don't recall his source of info. Wal-Mart has gotten to the point of size and influence that they are now telling small & medium-sized suppliers what wholesale prices Wal-Mart will pay for their goods, and Wal-Mart's intentions of paying less next year, in order to keep their retail prices down. All of this does not take the producer's production and shipping costs into effect.

So the American producers are faced with accepting Wal-Mart's demands (and similar demands from other retailers in competition with Wal-Mart), in order to keep their products in Wal-Mart and other large retailers. If their products are being sold at a loss in Wal-Mart, how can they make up the losses elsewhere? If they seek to make up the losses by charging smaller retailers more, that hurts both the producer and the small retailer. It isn't just Wal-Mart that is engaged in this practice, but they may well be the dominant practitioner.

A personal experience with the Wal-Mart Effect, back in 1998/1999, while doing some geologic mapping in SW Georgia, I needed some new boots, so wanting to patronize an American company, I went to the Red Wing store on I-75, near Vienna, Ga. and paid $100 for a new pair of American-made boots. The next time I went back to my field area, I forgot my new boots and I couldn't do the field work without boots, so I went to a Super Wal-Mart in Americus, Ga. and purchased a pair of Chinese-made boots for $20. They weren't as good as the Red Wing boots, but for $20 per pair,...

Aside from the higher American wages, (some) American producers have to dance to the tune of unions and "their rules" and whims, and all have to dance to the tune of regulations that Chinese (and other foreign) producers would scoff at. American producers also have to deal with the paperwork costs of payroll taxes, corporate taxes,etc., (that get passed on to the consumer, via the present tax system). [With the Fair Tax, that would end, hint, hint.]

Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly made the point that capitalism cannot thrive without a framework of morality. In Wal-Mart's zeal to deliver low prices, it has bypassed and damaged some of America's smaller producers in favor of foreign businesses that lack some of the hindrances of American businesses. And many of us, despite wanting to use American-made products, the price differential a la the boots, are unable to do what we ultimately know is the better thing to do.

The Fair Tax is one way of taking some of the burdens off of American producers and consumers, but responses by informed consumers, not just to retailers and producers, but also to unions, are but one way to retain some of our production base.

A long-term run of the "Wal-Mart Effect" (without internal adjustments) will eventually turn detrimental and tipping points are not often seen until you are past them. Sensible people should not seek to damage Wal-Mart (Re: the fascism of New Jersey), but rather to return to a more sustainable pathway. But the heavy-handed methods of government, at the behest of unions and other activists (via Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, et al) are not the way to do it.

It appears that Mr. Sam's ideas are being forgotten.

No Longer a Grieving Mother...

Having been "rode hard and put up wet" by the Leftist American Media, Cindy Sheehan is now the world's oldest international political groupee. She has recently been serving the needs of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (I don't even want to know what that means). What other socialist dictators will she serve (I don't even want to know what that means, either)?

The various dictators are probably thinking "Well, she is kind of old, but if it scores points with the American media against George W., then...".

Or is she stalking Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover? Why doesn't she take Jessica Lange with her and sort of make it a girl's road trip, a "Thelma and Louise" sort of thing?

Where will she go next? Iran? North Korea? China? Did she sell enough books to pay for this? Or is Hugo footing the bill?

The mind reels, so does the stomach.

The never-to-be-asked question, by the MSM, is "How does this address or honor the memory of Casey Sheehan?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Been There, But Not Lately...

"Three Sheets to the Wind". Most of us know what it means and some have tried it (perhaps more than once). But I didn't know where it originated until this evening.

Ogre's View provides the background on this descriptive term.

"Among nautical folks, a "sheet" refers to the rope used to secure a ship's sail. On the square-rigged ships of yore, three sheets were needed to tie up the sails. So, if all three of the ship's sheets were loose in the wind, the sail would flop about and the ship would go off course -- rather like a drunken sailor staggering around on shore."

Ogre added that 19th century sailors developed a drunkenness scale, ending in 4, where the person passed out.

When I went to Ga. Southern College, Statesboro, Ga., in some circles we referred to that as "eating the ivy", in reference to someone laying face down in the English ivy (thankfully not poison ivy). Don't worry, we usually checked frequently to make sure they were still breathing.

It is just one of those things that we somehow, thankfully survived.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Slip and a Fall

In the news is a story from Utah about a small hiking party, wherein one member slipped and knocked two other hikers about 60 feet down the mountainside, resulting in significant injuries to the two. They and the others have been rescued, so hopefully all will be well after the healing process.

It just reminded me of one of the few times I have really fallen while doing geologic work and how that fall might have changed geologic history (not my contributions, but someone much more important).

During the late 1970s or perhaps early 1980s, there was a geologic convention in El Paso, where academic papers were presented and field trips took place. One of the attendees was Dr. Preston Cloud (1912 - 1991), the 1977 recipient of the Charles Doolittle Walcott Award, from the National Academy of Sciences. [Dr. Walcott discovered the Burgess Shale fauna in 1909.] Dr. Cloud's NAS citation was for:

"In recognition of eminence and distinguished achievement in the advancement of sciences in pre-Cambrian paleontology and the early history of life on the primitive earth."

Here is one of Dr. Cloud's photographs along with an explanation of some of the material that he studied. Here from is a listing of references to Dr. Cloud in other science books. "The Garden of Ediacara" (in which there were nine references) is about the Precambrian Ediacaran fauna of Australia, the most important, discovered fauna from the time before the Cambrian Explosion. Here are a few more web links about Dr. Cloud.

One of the convention field trips was into the southern end of the Franklin Mountains to observe large, fossil algal structures (I know, only geologists dig this stuff) that had been studied by one of the UT El Paso geology professors. Dr. Cloud was one of the guests of honor on the field trip and I was tagging along with the rest of the geology grad students.

After observing the algal structures, we returned down the mountainside to the vehicles to go elsewhere on the field trip. On the way back down, Dr. Cloud paused at the top of a small cliff (perhaps only 10 - 15 feet high), to observe the scenic view of the Hueco Bolson and the Rio Grande River Valley southeast of El Paso. I was a few yards upslope and behind Dr. Cloud and when I saw him stop to take in the view, I attempted to stop my downslope steps. But instead, I stepped on some loose pebbles and started tumbling. I ended up on my hands and knees scant inches (4 to 6 inches) behind Dr. Cloud, scant inches from knocking a world-famous geologist off of a small cliff in the Franklin Mountains.

Maybe I am slightly over-dramatizing this event, but to this day I thank God that my legacy as a geologist wasn't written that day. True, the vertical distance wasn't that much, but below there were boulders and numerous cacti on the mountain slope. I am not even sure if Dr. Cloud knew how close I came to knocking him over the edge. I am not even sure that the lead professor knew and I never told him until I emailed the story to be part of his retirement party 3 or 4 years ago. He didn't reply, though I can imagine him slapping his forehead and saying "OMG" at the thought of what almost happened.

It was such an "OMG moment", I don't even remember the rest of the field trip. I don't even remember if I was driving one of the vehicles later or not.

Maybe a guardian angel stopped my tumbling or maybe it was shear dumb luck.

Glory Road - Update

I haven't had a chance to see Glory Road yet (weekends have been busy), but George Will has. I posted about it a few weeks ago, on December 21. I will try to see it after I get my next paycheck, as things are a little tight.

After reading George Will's column carefully, remember the issue of artistic license. Implying that it was an upset win over Kentucky heightens the drama, but Coach Haskins always said that he had the better team that day. And that is what it was about that day in 1966, not making racial history.

But because Don Haskins, a young coach from a small college in a backwater city (not my viewpoint) beat a sports icon, it took him years to get the respect that he deserved.

If Not For a Lack of Manners...

the Academic Bill of Rights would not be necessary. This was a point made by David Horowitz last week (or perhaps the week before). Here linked is one of David's columns.

If Modern "Liberal" educators/administrators were truly liberal, they would not only tolerate diverse viewpoints, they would relish the "thrill of the debate" and at the end of the day, they would agree to disagree with dissenters, hopefully with both sides having learned something.

But sadly, in most cases, tolerance is the exception, not the rule. And since David Horowitz knows the souls of the Left so well, that is why they hate him and his philosophical offspring, the Academic Bill of Rights. They can't even engage in honest debate, rather they lie and distort, probably even when under oath in front of legislative bodies. But maybe that is an unfair assessment, rather they may be so deluded (from the toxins of hate), they may not know they are lying.

Most people familiar with the subject know "it is not about quotas". It is not about revenge, it is not about removing "liberal" educators and students. It is just about codifying the point that the halls of education are places for the free exchange of ideas and polite debate in the interest of learning. It is about educators leaving political posturing for Political Science classes or when it is otherwise pertinent. It is about educators not using their positions of authority and age over the students in an adverse way.

At age 52, if I ever again take a college course and a political issue is brought forth by the teacher, I would probably not hesitate to politely engage in debate or at least posing some questions to the teacher. Not to "show up" the teacher, but rather to get "other sides" into the discussion. On the other hand, my 19-year old daughter doesn't have the years of political observations to "challenge" any Leftist statements.

By visiting the "usual suspects" Leftist blogs, we can see the widespread lack on manners on the Left. And when we see bad behavior on the Right, we do need to react and call them on it, as someone needs to hold the moral high ground. And I don't mean the occasional bad joke, but rather a demonstrable and repeated delivery of written or spoken venom. Not in order to "be superior" or to try to act "perfect", but rather to maintain some sort of decorum. A good part of the populace is sitting on the sidelines watching and listening, trying to decide "which side to follow" on particular issues, so if we behave as badly as Al Franken, Howard Dean, Al Gore, et al, we lose our effectiveness.

I will on occasion, especially in Environmental Science classes, weave into discussions some of the viewpoints I share here, in an honest way, giving praise concerning environmental responsibility when praise is due, regardless of the political pedigree of the relevant person or group, i.e., I generally say that no one philosophy has all of the answers.

If it appears that a student hasn't been listening, I will not penalize them for a difference in philosophy, but rather I might fret in private "they are still not getting it", e.g., if they write a term paper blaming Americans for global warming after I have explained the role of Water Vapor in the Greenhouse Effect. Again, I believe that maintaining a sense of decorum wil make you more effective.

Here are links to columns about the issue in Pennsylvania and New York.

Hay Chewed: Previous rants about "Why Modern Liberals Ain't" are included in the links in this post from Nov. 1, 2005.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

January 22 is my birthday...

Without having to remind you, it is also the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

Before, I have stated that I don't like the idea of totally banning early-term abortions, but we should seek other ways to greatly lessen the number that are taking place. Though it is a slow process, changing peoples' hearts is a more effective way of decreasing the demand for abortion.

Pro-lifers - rather than engaging in "in-your-face politics", that polarizes and drives opponents into siege positions - should perhaps engage in the "responsibility" issue. Abortion on demand is bandied about as a freedom issue by many, without any regard to the responsibility that should accompany each freedom. For most of people of the pro-life position, it is not about "controlling women's bodies" as is claimed by Libs (and Neal Boortz), rather it is a respect for life.

We know that most babies are aborted because of the "convenience" issue. We need to calmly ask abortion-on-demand supporters "Is that really a good reason to snuff out a life?". Make them think. Make them justify their positions.

Perhaps those engaged in church groups for teenagers should spend some time at the After Abortion blog, to read the words of those that have taken the "choice" route, often because they were not properly advised as to the gravity. Teen-aged boys should be directed to this blog as a way of asking "do you want to perhaps put a young woman in this position?".

I think there are ways to nudge people out of their comfort zones without engaging in the harsh "in-your-face" methods. We should force the pro-abortion zealots to reveal their shrillness, their hypocrisy, their true motives. Some of their shrillness is because deep-down, they know they are wrong and rather than engaging in difficult introspection, they strike out at those that dare stir their consciences.

Revisiting the Intelligent Design Debate

I managed to find one of the books that addresses the issue in a logical fashion, by a retired Chemistry Professor from Ga. Tech (30 years experience).

You can find it on, if you wish, I picked mine up through a local Christian book store. It is from a small Christian publisher in Ozark, Alabama.

The title is "Understanding the Creation Evolution Controversy: A Scientific Evaluation Consistent with Both Modern Science and the Bible", by E.C. Ashby, PhD.

In a later post I will get more into Dr. Ashby's explanations.

One of the problems with the public reception of Intelligent Design debate, perhaps because the MSM doesn't (won't) define the debate properly, is the "inadequate definition of terms whenever the subject of creation/evolution is discussed".

One of the terms is "creationist", as Dr. Ashby describes himself, one that believes in God's creation of the universe, the Earth, and life. But he also sees the scientific evidence that suggests an age of 17 billion years for the universe and an age of 4 billion years for the Earth. He also sees the evidence for evolution, but he also sees the mathematical improbability that the complexities of life could have happened by accident. Another name for this philosophy is "Theistic Evolutionist" or "Old Earth Creationist". More on this philosophy is presented here.

Dr. Ashby uses the term "scientific creationist" to describe those that believe in God's creation of everything in six 24-hour days, approximately 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. In previous posts, I have used "Creationists" or "Young Earth Creationists" to describe this philosophy.

The bulk of the MSM attention is focused on the "Scientific Creationists" and the public thinks that the choices are either the hardline "Creationist" or the "Evolutionist" (or "Naturalist") philosophy.

Most of the public remembers that in the past, in many locales, the mere discussion of evolution could result in a teacher's dismissal and most of the public realizes that in a fashion, this is a suppression of free speech. They don't want to go back to those conditions (and we won't).

Because of the free speech issue, the public tends to lean towards the "evolution side", thinking that it is an "all-or-nothing" issue. Most Christians and Jews have an understanding that dinosaurs lived long before humans were around and the zealousness of the "Scientific Creationist" viewpoint puts them off.

A Couple of Blogs Worthy of Repeated Visits

I should have added these a while back;

Austin Bay Blog and The Right Place.

The Right Place is one of the blogs that plays host to Photo Caption contests, such as this current one and this most recent one.

Austin has a post based on a Victor Davis Hanson column.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Imagine Ben Franklin as a Blogger...

Every once in a while, the question comes up, if you could bring a historical figure back to life for a short while, who would it be? Jesus is one common answer, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, but one of the most popular (at least when the question has come up with friends) is Benjamin Franklin.

Largely, I think it would be to see his reaction to modern technology and science. What a memorable experience it would be to sit at the end of a runway and what airliners take off and land and see his reaction. Or what would Ben's reaction be to a NASCAR race?

A couple of days ago, on Ben's 300th birthday, Michelle Malkin had a post, in which she linked to a couple of bloggers that thought that Ben would have been into blogging himself ("Poor Richard's Blog"?), to which Michelle agreed.

Twenty some-odd years ago, after a few beers with some friends, I had an idea for a cheesy TV sitcom, wherein someone got carried away with a "ouija board" and brought Ben Franklin back from the dead, after which the ouija board was accidentally destroyed. While the protagonists tried the figure out "how to get him back to where he belonged", the challenge was to keep Ben from getting into too much mischief with modern day (early 1980s-era) technology. It couldn't have been too much worse than some of the other 1980s sitcoms.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Two Sides of Presidential Decorum

One side perhaps adheres to it a little too much, especially during this time of war, while the other side behaves in a "We don't need no stinkin' decorum" manner.

The decorum to which I refer is the practice of sitting Presidents not bashing their predecessors and former Presidents not bashing their successors, all for the preservation of the dignity of the office. Former and sitting Vice Presidents are given a little more leeway to be attack dogs, but some dignity should be expected also.

The last Democrat President to adhere to this standard was Lyndon Johnson, who died 33 years ago, this upcoming Sunday. At first it seemed that Jimmy Carter tried, but as his resentment of the American people grew, over being turned out of office after one term, he started unduly criticizing President Reagan and then Bush 41 and Bush 43. At first it was largely an annoyance, but when done overseas and after 9/11, it gives the impression to foreign listeners (including Islamist terrorists) that we are more divided than we actually are. Which fits the definition of "Aid and Comfort", because it is telling the terrorists that we will cut and run, eventually, as we did in Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia, etc..

Since the resignation of President Nixon in 1974, what have you heard in the way of criticism of the Democrat predecessors or successors of Republican Presidents? President Nixon had enough sense to generally stay out of sight. Did you hear Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 or Bush 43 outrightly lying about recent Democrat Presidents?

When not concerned about his legacy or trying to smooth the way for Hillary, Bill Clinton has engaged in some of the same sorry behavior that Carter engaged in, again some of it overseas, even in the war theatre a few months ago (was it speaking to some soldiers in Bahrain?). Former VP Al Gore has even less respect for dignity, as he once again went off the deep end, as reported here in this FrontPageMag Ben Johnson column. Never one to have an original thought of his own, Al Gore ranted about the "NSA wiretaps on Americans" issue, days after many others threw it against the wall trying to get it to stick.

It is amazing that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and even Hillary Clinton (as former co-president) are so freely slamming and sabotaging President Bush in his anti-terror efforts. Anybody with a grain of sense knows that most of the advance planning for 9/11 took place during the Clinton/Gore administration. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were daily briefed on important issues and I am sure that terrorism issues were discussed once in a while. Do they not see the glass houses in which they dwell?

On the other side of decorum, I am sure that each Administration does a certain amount of covering of prior posteriors in order to preserve the dignity of the office and to make sure, when the time comes, that the next successor will do the same. Is this why Jamie Gorelick and others have not been prosecuted for policies that aided and abetted in the planning for 9/11? It might be because President Bush is a more decent, moral person than Bill Clinton or it may be that Bill Clinton covered some of the mistakes of Bush 41 and Reagan (there is blame to go around in the long run-up to 9/11).

Is this why the Clintons and Gore are so free with their public lies? Because they know that President Bush will not (for whatever reason) spill all of the beans? Are they using his respect for decorum against him, their having failed to provide any useful ideas concerning present day issues?

They block President Bush now, while preparing to blame him for the next attack(s). And if it happens before the next president takes office, many of the top Democrats will do a private "blood dance" while chanting "We got him now!", even while the fires are still burning and before the bodies are counted. Howard Dean will pee all over himself in excitement. Al Gore will rupture his vocal cords hollering "Why didn't he protect us?".

And the Islamists will only smile.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Not Satisfied with the Blood on His Hands from Vietnam...

Walter Cronkite wants more. In Michelle Malkin's post, she links to Austin Bay's post on this subject. Small Town Veteran has a post on this also.

Because of his role as "respected" news anchor, Walter Cronkite had a pivotal role in Americans beginning to believe that we were losing the Vietnam War after the 1968 Tet Offensive. Though the orchestrated attacks of the Tet Offensive caught us by surprise, we won. The Viet Cong/North Vietnamese lost and they knew it. I have blogged about this before, months ago. We were not wrong in Vietnam, but we handled it wrong.

Years after the war ended, in his memoirs General Giap admitted that they were ready to give up, but because of the Leftist/Kremlin-orchestrated anti-war movement and public figures, e.g., Cronkite, Jane Fonda, etc., jumping on board, the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese came to believe that if they hung on long enough, we would give up. It took several years and tens of thousands more American and Vietnamese lives, but General Giap was right. Walter Cronkite had his victory and thousands died. Walter lied and thousands died.

And he thinks that running out on Iraq is the right thing to do. As we left those Vietnamese loyal to us in the lurch, Walter, et al, would have us do the same thing to the Iraqi voters.

I can't figure out if he is that stupid, that arrogant, or that evil.

Because of him and others of the same ilk, the "black granite" wall in Washington, DC is much larger than it could have been.

Walter lied and thousands died.

A Respectful Nod Towards the Memory of Dr. King

Here is where I will diverge from the Conservative purists. I know that Dr. King was a flawed individual (as we all are). I know that there are some issues that the media doesn't address and there are some issues with some of his later statements concerning the Vietnam war and other things. But I see no useful point in rehashing that stuff. I look at this from a pragmatic viewpoint.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that THINGS HAD TO CHANGE.

Dr. King was the right person at the right time to do the right thing, that is the United States needed to start the process of getting out of the Jim Crow era. It was happening gradually, with the efforts of some Classical Liberals, e.g., Eleanor Roosevelt and President Truman with desegregation of parts of the military. But in some respects, the country, not just the South, needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century and Dr. King's nonviolent methods (in 20/20 hindsight) were the right thing to do. Some argue that the changes would have happened anyway, but how much longer would it have taken?

How else should it have happened? Each time we have had a major war, Black Americans have stepped forward and served. And each time when they came home, they found that little or nothing had changed. That to some, even their uniform didn't earn them any extra respect.

The Jim Crow laws and attitudes were real and de facto (in some cases) violations of the "Equal Protection clause" of the Constitution, in my humble understanding.

Societal evolution takes time and human nature is hard to change. It will never be perfect, but holding to the Conservative philosophy of judging people as individuals (rather than as group members, as Libs do) is one way to combat prejudice and stereotyping.

Real Liberals (of both parties) played important roles in this flawed progress that we have experienced towards equality of opportunity. Real Liberals would cheer the diversity of thought (as progress toward equal access and individualism) shown by Black Conservatives, though they might have disagreed with the individual opinions. Real Liberals wouldn't excoriate Black Conservatives, nor would they stoop to bigoted, Klan-like insults, as modern Lib/Leftists do.

Though flawed, the long-term Republican Party philosophy has been more racially progressive than that of the Democratic Party, but Republicans have done a poor job of getting the message out for so long that some of the Lib/Leftist Big Lies have become urban legends that get recycled, e.g., in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Here are some other thoughts: Ron Christie, by way of Jamie Glazov in FrontPageMag; Carolyn Garris (Heritage Foundation, by way of FrontPageMag); Rightwing Nuthouse; Stop the ACLU blog reports that the ACLU is comparing Dr. King and people in communication with suspected terrorists, i.e., they are exploiting his birthday to bash President Bush (surprise! surprise!)... more will be added as I find them.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

What Passes for Leftist Logic is On Display...

in today's AJC editorial section, in Mike Luckovich's editorial cartoon. I am not sure if you could find it through the online version, but a simple description will provide the point.

Perched on a copy of the Constitution is a cartoon image of President Bush, wearing a Napoleanic uniform with an oversized Napoleanic hat. There are muddy footprints leading up to his standing position where he speaks the words "Complainers Get Phone Taps".

Even this hack, rock-headed geologist can understand the purpose of the NSA program. President Bush is not building an enemies list, a la the Nixon Administration or the Clinton Administration (remember the 900 FBI files?). It is not about dissenters, unless they are in direct communications with known or suspected Islamist terrorists.

To the left of the cartoon (of course) is a column by Michael Kinsley, who repeats ad nauseum the phrase "the wiretapping of U.S. citizens inside the United States..." as though the domestic calls of average citizens is the target.

I am sure that others have more articulately explained the details. It's about trying to stop the next 9/11-magnitude (or worse) attack. As with so many other issues (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) the Democrats don't want to solve the problem, they want it to stay broken so they can beat the Republicans over the head with it.

As someone stated a few weeks ago, they would rather lose a war than an election. No doubt they would just blame any future attacks during a Democrat Administration on the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress.

Block and Blame is the name of the game.

Why Are Some Americans Helping the Mugabe Regime?

No, I don't mean the usual suspects, the Leftists that fall all over each other to give support to Leftist dictators. Instead, I mean American "big game hunters". Like the blind hog that finds the occasional acorn, Newsweek once in a while furnishes some useful information. This linked article is about well-healed Americans that pay lots of money for the privileges of hunting exotic, large animals in Zimbabwe.

[Before going any further, I am pro-hunting, with the important caveat that I think you should eat what you shoot and if a trophy head with antlers is left over, in the case of deer, elk, etc.,, then that is fine.

My mom's side of the family has a "game supper" every Christmas season where we enjoy the contributions of the family's hunters. And I am thankful for their skills. But I just think it is wasteful, simply to shoot something for the "sport of it" or to gain a "trophy". And overtly publicizing it plays into the hands of the rabid "animal rights" crowd, that would like to ban hunting outright as well as the entire meat industry, large and small.

I don't mean to sound like a quasi-Leftist or PETA member, these are just my beliefs. I just have a problem with the waste issue.

Along these same lines, I have a problem with certain Asians that think they have to have bear-paw soup or bear gallbladders for folk remedies that may or may not work. I have read of black bears in the Appalachians being poached and then having their paws cut off and gallbladder removed, to sell on Asian markets, and the rest of the bear is left to rot.

Again, I don't have a problem with Americans hunting bear during the proper hunting seasons, I have eaten bear at least once at one of the aforementioned game suppers, that was legally hunted. That is not wasting the bear for the sake of four paws and a gallbladder. I hope that readers can see the distinction.]

Anyway, through a series of agents, Americans are able to gain access to properties adjacent to game preserves in Zimbabwe and to some of the farms confiscated through Zimbabwe's well known communistic "land reforms", that have done nothing to benefit the individual citizens of Zimbabwe and that have actually contributed to poverty and starvation. The estimated $30 million per year contributed to Zimbabwe, in the form of hunting fees, mostly winds up in the pockets of Mugabe cronies.

Legal hunting preserves have a vested interest in sustainability. When was the last time that anyone associated with a Communist government cared anything about sustainability?

The linked article shows an American woman with a dead leopard across her shoulders and the second page shows another hunter posing with the giraffe that he shot. Hey, ya'll gonna eat that stuff? Are you going to donate some of that to some of the African locals?

If it ain't putting some food on your table or someone else's, then some of it is just going to waste.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

What is the "Cambrian Explosion"...Part III

And what are Lagerstätten? (No, it is not a type of beer!)

Lagerstätten ("mother lodes" or "lode places") are fossil localities that show unusually good preservation of soft-bodied organisms, soft parts of fossils with hard exoskeletons, and delicate vertebrate skeletons. Broader definitions may include localities that show a broad variety of preserved, hard-shelled organisms without soft-part preservation.

A 1978 study of intertidal fauna in modern oceans suggested that only 40% of the genera were susceptible to preservation as fossils, with the remaining 60% consumed by predators and/or scavengers.

The earliest discovered, well-known lagerstätte is the Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone of Germany, where Archeopteryx, the oldest known bird, was discovered in the 1800s. The Solnhofen Limestone is thought to have been deposited in oxygen-poor, hypersaline lagoons associated with a shallow, tropical sea. Though fossils are generally scarce in the Solnhofen Limestone, the fossils present are well-preserved. The theorized poor oxygen & high salinity conditions of the lagoons are thought to have inhibited scavengers that normally would have eaten anything that died in the lagoon. Many of the fossils present were thought to have fallen or been washed into the lagoon, perhaps during storms. The enclosed nature of the lagoons prevented active water currents that might have disarticulated (scattered) small or delicate vertebrate skeletons.

Because of the diversity of life forms that appeared during 5 to 10 million years of the Cambrian Explosion, from 530 to 525 million years ago, Cambrian lagerstätten are of particular interest to paleontologists.

The most well-known of the Cambrian lagerstätten is the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale of British Columbia, discovered in 1909 by Charles D. Walcott, head of the Smithsonian Institute. The 1989 book "Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History", by the late Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, describes the paleo-environment of the Burgess Shale and the differing interpretations of the varied and unusual fossil fauna from their early 20th century discovery to their re-examinations using more sophisticated technology and new interpretations starting in the late 1970s.

Dr. Gould described the three preconditions that needed to exist for lagerstätten preservation to take place as:
The Burgess Shale fauna is described as dwelling at the edge of an underwater plateau or continental shelf. One or more underwater landslides swept the organisms into deeper water and rapidly buried them in mud in an oxygen-poor environment that preserved their delicate soft parts, as well as the soft-bodied organisms. The mud was later compacted to become shale and then uplifted as part of the Canadian Rockies.

The Burgess Shale fauna was actually from after the Cambrian Explosion, but there are a number of organisms that are known only from that locality and the breadth of the faunal types helps illustrate the nature of Cambrian fauna, before the mass extinctions that marked the end of the Cambrian Period.

A slightly older Early Cambrian lagerstätten, discovered after "Wonderful Life" was written, is the Chengjiang fauna of the Yunnan Province of China, which contains some of the same organisms as the Burgess Shale. [Update: This interview of Dr. Paul Chien provides some more information on the Chengjiang fauna. According to Dr. Chien, the current interpretation is that more than 50 phyla appeared during the Cambrian Period, one after the Cambrian, and that currently there are 38 phyla in existence.]

A more primitive Early Cambrian fauna, of an age similar to the Chengjiang fauna, is preserved in the Sirius Passet lagerstätten of northern Greenland. Other interpretations suggest that the Sirius Passet fauna is slightly older than the Chengjiang fauna.

Some of the younger lagerstätten, including the Carboniferous Period Mazon Creek fauna of Illinois and the aforementioned Jurassic Solnhofen Limestone, are described in links here and more information on the modes of preservation and other issues are here. Others include the Early Silurian Period Brandon Bridge fauna from Wisconsin, the Devonian Period Hunsruckschiefer fauna of Germany and the Eocene Epoch Messel Oil Shale of Germany.

Although each example of lagerstätten provide valuable information to the fossil record, none of the younger lagerstätten show the broad diversity of the Cambrian Explosion lagerstätten.

Charles Darwin admitted that the Cambrian Explosion posed a problem regarding his theory of evolution that he was unable to reconcile. Some, such as the late Dr. Gould, regard the diverse Cambrian faunas as evolutionary experiments that, if the survivors had been different, life on Earth would be vastly different now. Others regard the Cambrian Explosion as evidence of creation and/or Intelligent Design.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Congrats to Sister Toldjah...

on her mention in Nealz Nuze this morning (in the Reading Assignments). He didn't cite a particular post, but he tagged it with the comment "Interesting", which probably means he is going to spend more time reading her posts before commenting in a more in-depth fashion.

One of ST's posts is about a plan being hatched at to gain access to the private phone records of prominent Conservatives, in retaliation for the President's program of wire-tapping terror suspects and their contacts. Michelle Malkin has more on details on this sleaze.

OK, so the President, by way of the NSA, authorizes listening in on al Qaeda, et al, in order to try to prevent future 9/11 (or worse) types of attacks and rather than engaging in thoughtful debate over the subject, these Leftists are seeking ways to harass the families and friends of their political adversaries. And anything they publish will be available to terror cells in this country for future use.

So this is what passes for reasoned debate on the Left, exposing the families of fellow American citizens to harm over political disagreements. This is what you will be getting more of if we abandon the Republicans over "family squabbles" this November and in 2008. Yes, there is much about which to complain, but which is less dangerous, treasonous Leftists or RINOs that might be persuaded by voters to return to the more sensible Republican values?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Was Wrong...Imagine That!

A few months ago, I predicted that someone (perhaps Elton John) would do a remake of John Lennon's song "Imagine" to mark the 25th anniversary of his death. I predicted that woven into that remake would be references to the Iraq War, and perhaps Hurricane Katrina (I am going by memory). Thankfully, I was wrong and we didn't have to suffer through the media orgy that would have accompanied the song's release. There are so many Leftist issues that could "piggyback" on that song and discussions thereof.

This memory came up because yesterday, while riding with my daughter and listening to a CD of her favorite songs, "Imagine" came on and I politely asked her to turn it off or go to another track. She asked "Why? I like this song?". I politely explained to her that "Imagine" is a socialist anthem that has nice music and sounds good, but if you closely listen to the words, you will hear the atheistic Utopian promises of socialism. Promises that will not come about naturally, but would likely come about by force.

This morning, she told me that she did listen to the words more carefully and she better understood what I was talking about. I suspect that she may still listen to the song when I am not in the car, but at least she is aware of the words and what they mean.

Pajama Warriors

Junkyardblog has a link to an interesting Focus on the Family article about Christian and Conservative bloggers and the influence they have outside the blogosphere.

This success has been much to the chagrin of the MSM, with some pundits complaining about the lack of "checks and balances" in the blogosphere. Or the lack of journalistic training of many of the bloggers.

A point that escapes the critics is that widely-read bloggers cannot depend on their pedigree, instead they must depend on their talents, accuracy, and productivity. Gee, that sounds just like the free-market system! Maybe that is the true source of the MSM disdain.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Is There Anybody Less Relevant Than Harry Belafonte?

Like the Herpes virus that causes the occasional flareup of cold sores, Harry Belafonte is back to remind us of how useless he is. I found this report of Harry's trip to Venezuela at Michelle Malkin's blog and unfortunately, our local FOX TV affiliate had to waste our time this morning with a report, too, saying he was a "goodwill ambassador" for UNICEF. That image forever ruins the words "goodwill ambassador" and to say that it speaks volumes about UNICEF would also be redundant. Harry's idea of "goodwill" was to call President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world". His entourage included Danny Glover and Cornel West.

That it was considered newsworthy also speaks volumes about the local FOX affiliate, as they think we are really interested in what this has-been has to say. Hey, there was a big tractor trailer wreck on the north side of I-285 early this morning. That is much more important to local Atlanta people than Harry Belafonte spewing his hatred for this nation.

Harry felt it was necessary to go to Venezuela to be a cheerleader for the Castro's philosophical bastard son, Hugo Chavez. Michelle Malkin's post has a long list of Harry's unending support for various socialist causes and tyrants.

Hugo Chavez has already voiced an intention to give financial support to al Qaeda, if he hasn't already, so by inference we could suggest that Harry supports al Qaeda, also. Do you think Harry would ever have the "huevos" to stand in front of Hugo and call him for what he is?

I won't hold my breath.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The West Virginia Coal Mine Explosion...

is President Bush's fault.

As I have been busy lately, I haven't had time to fully explore the internet/blogosphere, but the MSM - Lib/Leftist mindset is so predictable, it wouldn't surprise me if someone said that. [Update: Sistertoldjah had a 1/5 post on the New York Times taking the lead in the blame the prez game. (I had trouble linking to the individual post)]

If the media reports on the number of safety violations are true, there is, no doubt, blame to go around, but it should fall upon OSHA, among others, not the President. It will take time to assess the blame and how to prevent future explosions. It is of little consolation to the suffering families in Buckhannon, WV, but mines are safer than they used to be.

The blame could more plausibly be placed upon environmental activists and the NIMBY philosophy. A good portion of our electricity is generated by coal-burning power plants. We have plenty of coal in this country. The problem is how do we get it and how is it used.

The two methods of retrieving coal are surface and underground mining and each has its tradeoffs and risks.

Surface mining is safer for the miners and less expensive, but it is obviously disruptive to the land surface and to the local ground and surface waters. There is a great deal of waste rock produced. Some of that waste rock associated with the coal seams are dark, organic-rich shales. The anoxic (oxygen-poor) conditions under which plant material is preserved in coal swamps is also conducive to the deposition of sulfur compounds (as well as uranium and other trace elements). Over time, the sulfur combines with metals in the shale, and perhaps in the coal, to form minute grains of sulfide minerals, primarily pyrite (iron sulfide). When waste coal and dark shales are exposed (through mining) to rainfall and percolating shallow groundwater, the pyrite and related minerals are dissolved, yielding various sulfur acids. These acids in-turn dissolve other minerals, contributing to water pollution.

Underground mining produces less waste rock and less water pollution, but it is more expensive and the buildup of methane and coal dust can produce explosions, as we have seen in this and other cases.

We could argue that environmentalists are allowing less surface mining, so we continue underground mining.

We could argue that environmentalists will not allow the construction of newer, more efficient power plants, which would need less coal.

We could argue that environmentalists will not allow the drilling of more oil and gas wells, some of which might provide energy for electric power plants.

We could argue that environmentalists will not allow the building of new nuclear plants, that could replace some of the coal-fired plants.

We could argue that environmentalists will not allow the building of new hydro-electric dams, that could replace some of the coal-fired plants.

There is blame to go around, but as with so many issues, it is more complex than can be covered in 15 or 30-second sound bytes.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Notable Quote

"Beer, if drank with moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health."

Another good reason to like Thomas Jefferson.

Hat tip: Taco Mac restaurant menu and Doug, the pool cover guy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Light Blogging for the Next Few Days

Because of the work schedules and getting ready for the new semester.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

No, I Haven't Become a One-Trick Pony...

on the issue of Intelligent Design. I just got annoyed when prominent conservatives/libertarians (Rush Limbaugh, Cal Thomas, and Neal Boortz) started getting on the same page as the MSM and Lib/Leftist pundits and calling Intelligent Design something that it is not (Creationism). Intelligent Design was conceptualized by scientists, not by theologians.

Now the Dover, PA school board brought some of this on by requiring the teaching of Intelligent Design. If they had only proposed allowing the teaching of Intelligent Design, along with evolution, the mis-construers and opponents would have had less of a leg to stand on.

And I haven't meant any slander against Creationists, though I disagree with their timelines and strict interpretations. I just think the public at large is uncomfortable with the doctrinaire attitudes of Creationists, i.e., the literal interpretations of Scripture. I believe that the Scriptures are inspired by God, but the number of times the Bible has been translated concerns me over the issue of strict interpretations. [Note: I don't want to engage in a debate here on biblical interpretations.]

As intended by those that conceptualized Intelligent Design, who the designer was and how long ago it was is left to individuals to decide, based upon their own beliefs and interpretations.

Accepting evolution as the only answer is also a matter of faith. So which faith has the most evidence? The faith that all that we see of life (and what we can't see deep within the cell) is by a series of fortuitous accidents? Or faith that all that we see, etc. is the work of a designer, perhaps a designer that used evolution as one of his tools?

My bias is as a field geologist, not a laboratory geologist. Nature is not nice and neat like a laboratory. In the field, sometimes you have to brainstorm in order to come up with a plausible explanation for what you see. And that takes imagination and an open mind, similar to what is needed in the Evolution/Intelligent Design discussion.

Monday, January 02, 2006

What is the "Cambrian Explosion"...Part II

If you might have forgotten your high school/college biology, scientists have divided the living world into different styles of classification.

The one with perhaps the longest use is the Linnaean hierarchy, in use since the 1700s. It consists of (in order of increasing specialization):


After dividing Animals from the other Kingdoms, there are approximately 35 – 40 known living and fossil phyla. The number is uncertain as some organisms defy simple classification, as they may have characteristics of multiple phyla or in the case of fossils, because of incomplete preservation or gaps in the fossil record, complete classification may be difficult. And there are disagreements between biologists and paleontologists as to some classifications.

Among these, there is evidence of 19 phyla in the Cambrian fossil record. One phylum (Annelida – segmented worms) is present in the Precambrian and the phylum Bryozoa appears first in the following Ordovician Period. Some other of the currently-living phyla are soft-bodied and have no identified fossil record.

The noteworthy phyla that appeared in the Cambrian fossil record are:

Porifera (sponges)
Archeocyatha (Cambrian Period only)
Cnidaria (jellyfish, corals)
Arthropoda (insects, trilobites)
Echinodermata (starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars)

Other phyla that may have been present in the Cambrian (subject to debate due to differing interpretations of the fossil record):


Efforts have been made to find ancestors for the organisms of the Cambrian Explosion, in late Precambrian sedimentary rocks. There are possible ancestors in the Ediacaran fauna and other Vendian-age faunas, but for for the most part, the denizens of the Cambrian Explosion appeared in the fossil record in a geologically short period of time.

This graph shows the distribution of phyla appearances during Geologic Time. Again, note the preponderance of Cambrian appearances. [Note: on geologic maps and charts, the Cambrian is symbolized by a capital "C" with a short horizontal line superimposed upon it.]

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season.

With 2006 being an election year, let's hope those so inclined keep fighting the good fight, to counteract the MSM cheerleading for the Democrats. Let's hope that some of the lying Democrats are put out to pasture in November, and let's also hope that maybe any RINOs running for re-election get a good scare put into them, if they survive primary challenges by Republican loyalists.

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