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>

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Restating the Message of Why I am a Conservative...

(but not necessarily a purist). [I didn't mean to rewrite War and Peace.]

When I was a Classical Liberal years ago, I feared and hated tyranny, regardless of whether it was Right Wing or Left Wing. I learned over the years that most tyranny is Left Wing in nature.

It just seemed logical for a Liberal to value the freedom to pursue their own political viewpoints and try to persuade others. It seemed logical for a Liberal to value dissent and a good debate and listen to other opinions. One thing that Classical Liberals understand - but Leftists don't - is that "Disagreement is not hate".

Other things I learned as a Classical Liberal included Lord James Acton's quote - "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." and the notion that "tyrants use crises to grab more power". The second statement was uttered by someone who, at the time, considered President Reagan to be a tyrant. At the time, though I didn't agree with (actually I didn't understand) the Reagan administration doctrines, e.g., lower taxes, less regulation, rebuilding our national defense forces,...I somehow respected President Reagan for his backbone, something that Jimmy Carter decidedly lacked. And despite the near Liberal hysteria when President Reagan confronted the Soviets, in different manners, when the Reagan administration ended, I observed that there had been no nuclear war. I was willing to admit that I was wrong.

Shortly after the Reagan administration ended, when the Berlin Wall came down, when the Eastern Bloc broke apart and the people of Romania rose up and slew their tyrannical dictator, I began to understand more about the natural yearning to be free. Having been open-minded as a Classical Liberal, I considered it my duty to listen to "the other side", e.g., Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, etc.. Over time, with their appeal to logic in analyzing political issues and pointing out "what works and what don't"...I began to understand more. I was amazed at the rapidity at which the Soviet Union disintegrated. [We now know that Ted Kennedy actively went behind the President's back to attempt to thwart President Reagan's efforts at achieving peace through strength and by facing down the Soviets.]

I came to understand that as flawed as Capitalism was (and is), Socialism, though it sounds good, was responsible for an enormous amount of bloodshed and suffering in the 20th century. Democide (death by government) by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Communist China, et al, accounted for an estimated 100,000,000 to 120,000,000 civilian deaths during the 20th century. Josef Stalin himself observed "One death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic." It is hard for the average person to wrap their minds around the size of that death toll.

Now after sliding towards more Socialism in the latter years of the Bush administration, the pace has increased, the slippery slope has steepened. This article by Mark Tapscott is a highly-recommended read to understand where an increase in government size and authority may lead.
A few excerpts:

..."Because the politicians and bureaucrats who will manage the government-run health care program know that, without the force of government behind them, they won't be able to make the rest of us do what they tell us to do.

Once the power is granted, the question becomes how severe will the enforcement be. Fines will suffice, for Obamacare, for now. For Stalin, the first choice was usually the Gulag, or a bullet. It's just a matter of degree. [Emphasis added.]

But that is what government always does as it becomes more costly, intrusive and intolerant of dissent."... [Emphasis added.]

Regarding a Cease and Desist order from the government...

..."The gag order was issued after Humana Corp. sent a letter to its policyholders who participate in Medicare Advantage telling them the facts about Obamacare's effect on the program. The companies were ordered "to end immediately all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your website."

The bureaucrats added this blunt threat: "Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions. ...."

Those, my friends, are the words of soft tyranny. How much longer before it becomes a hard tyranny?"...

An attempt to suppress the flow of information is certainly a hallmark of tyranny or at least the beginning of it. Which side of the political aisle is attempting to shut down debate on whether or not human-generated carbon dioxide is capable of causing climate catastrophes?

While asking an inconvenient question on a blog that supports the "humans cause global warming" viewpoint, a commenter said that I should be put on trial for my skeptical viewpoint. Free speech be damned.

Which side wants to shut down talk radio and restrict the internet/blogosphere? It begins with censorship of dissenting voices.

Tapscott continues:

..."And if the dissenters won't be quiet, Bill Ayers, Obama's once-and-future colleague, can always dust off his copy of that old Weather Underground plan for FEMA re-education camps in the desert southwest.

You think I exaggerate? Read National Review Editor Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism," or historian Paul Johnson's "Modern Times," two books without which you cannot understand where we've been or where we are headed."...

I forget the original source, but last year, there were reports from undercover agents that had infiltrated the Weather Underground (or a related group) in the 1980s, that provided evidence that they had discussed the issue of "re-education camps" and the difficult logistics of having to kill 25 million Americans, those that refused to be re-educated.

Yes, there are a few authoritarian Conservatives, but the lion's share are on the Left side of the political aisle. Tyranny is tyranny, regardless of how it is packaged and sold.


The term "Democide" was coined by Dr. Rudy Rummel. From his website, linked above, he reminds us of "the sides" to this issue - Freedom, Democracy, Peace vs. Power, Democide, and War.

Other considerations, not in any particular order:

I try to judge each issue and candidate on their own merits. There are a couple of statewide Democrats that I vote for at the same time the Ga. governor's race is going on, 2-years offset from the presidential elections.

Nature is not fair. Life is not fair.

In a "fight", real or political, the underdog is not always the good guy, i.e., sometimes for emotional reasons, Liberals will side with the underdog.

Being nice to bad people will not make them good or nice.

Republicans and Conservatives (not necessarily the same thing) generally do a really lousy job of explaining themselves. The United States is a Center/Right nation, when people honestly look at the value of Traditions, i.e., societal and individual behaviors that have withstood the test of time. But with Leftist infiltration of the media, education, culture, and industry over the last 80 years or so (using the Wilson administration as a starting point), this notion has become obscured.

Hierarchies exist in nature, for a reason. As people - though created equally - have differing levels of skills, different motivations, different behavior patterns, different personal histories,...hierarchies develop. The answer to a more "just" society is finding a way to uplift those at the bottom, without tearing down the talented ones "at the top". Rather than giving way to the Deadly Sin of Envy (of wealth individuals or families), we need to learn "How did they do it?". Too much of modern "social justice" is about revenge for the past sins of past generations.

Looking at organizations such as ACORN, in a systematic, widespread way, have they ever made it a practice to hold workshops in which low-income attendees are taught how to write a resume? Or fill out a job application? How to study "Help Wanted" ads or how to network for job searches? How to start one's own business? Have they ever held bookfairs, to not only encourage kids to read, but adults? Have they worked with other civic organizations to fight adult illiteracy? Teaching individuals how to access the system can be a way of opening a door for them to a better life.

Or is ACORN more about rabble-rousing, taking advantage of misbehaviors in the free-market system to try to bring the system down, to be replaced with a Socialist Utopia? It is easy to appeal to downcast people and whip up their jealousies, their emotions, allowing them to blame others instead of themselves. For most people of any social level, we are our own worst enemies, i.e., we are the architects of most of our problems. Remember the words of "Pogo", "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Many families are poor generation after generation, because in the past when true racism and bigotry were more systemic (see this source for the distinction between systematic and systemic), minority individuals were not allowed full access to the mainstream culture and the cultural assimilation (and cultural literacy) that is so important.

When people are truly disenfranchised, they tend to pass this attitude along to their offspring, until the point it becomes part of the family subculture. So many minority (and some white) individuals have been taught at home (and by biased or discouraged teachers) that "they have no chance", they believe that they have no access to "the system", so even when the system opens doors for them, they can't see it. They have become so convinced that society is against them, they can't recognize positive societal changes. They come to suffer tunnel vision.

In closing, as stated, I am not a purist, I am more of a weird hybrid of Conservative/Libertarian/Classical Liberal/Pragmatist. I am willing to consider limited government programs to help individuals as long as they are truly limited in scope and in time. "Tough love" seems harsh, but when people survive, they are strengthened. Other people's money, whether taxpayer money or inherited money becomes like an addictive drug, sapping people's self-reliance and confidence when they know the "net is there". When they aren't sure, some will persevere and find new strength in themselves, to fly on their own.

Yeah, I know this has carried on for a bit too long. Steam of delirium, don't ya know.

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Just an updated photo of my grandson

Ben is about 6 and 1/2 months old now. In about a week, they will be moving to NYC.
I am very blessed for every moment I have had with him (and with other family members as well).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a Geologist Sees - Part 28

Shales. Mudstone. Claystone. Clay. They are the most common sedimentary rocks or sediments.

Yeah, sometimes they can be a bit boring if we only look at them from one dimension. While on vacation, I searched this Tulsa, OK outcrop for more than a half-hour and found nary a fossil. As I was pressed for time and saw no other outcrops nearby, I kept looking.

In other shale outcrops, splitting apart the layers can bring nothing or it can bring to light a fossil leaf, a fossil seed, a fossil shell, a trace fossil,...

In the case of the specimen at left, this is a sample of shale that has been baked by an underground "coal seam fire" sometime in the past. The heat baked the shale to a natural ceramic and preserved the Cretaceous-aged fossil leaves within. (I regret not having collected more samples from this site 30 years ago.)

Shale is a clastic sedimentary rock that consists of compressed clay. It differs from claystone or mudstone by being "fissile" as shown in the upper photo. Fissile refers to the property of splitting into thin layers, which is caused by the alignment of the microscopic, flat, hexagonal clay plates (visible only to scanning electron microscopes). In the fissile shales, bedding planes are often observed, presenting the planes of weakness that allow the splitting.

Claystone or mudstone, while being hard, do not have the same alignment of clay plates, thus they fracture in a more "massive" fashion with no visible bedding planes, often leaving a curving "concoidinal" fracture, as seen below in the kaolin sample.

When younger or less-compacted (and therefor softer), as on the Gulf or Atlantic Coastal Plains, we refer to it as "clay".

As defined by the Wikipedia entry, "Clay minerals are hydrous aluminium phyllosilicates, sometimes with variable amounts of iron, magnesium, alkali metals, alkaline earths and other cations."

There are five groups (and other subgroups) of clay minerals, including some 14 minerals (one of which is not always considered a clay) - according to the Wikipedia entry.

Clays are derived from the chemical weathering of silicate minerals and rocks. Minerals such as micas, amphiboles, pyroxenes, but especially feldspars. In continental settings, such as exposures of highly-weathered rock, reddish colors (for the famous Georgia red clay) for some clays can come from iron-staining.

Once clays have been delivered to the river systems (including swamps and lakes) and then to the ocean, their eventual colors are a function of their environment of deposition. Due to the minute nature of the clay plates (less than .004 mm) and their buoyancy, quiet water conditions are needed for the clay flakes to finally sink to the bottom of the ocean (or other water body). Sometimes slight increases in water energy can result in silt (.004 mm to .063 mm) being deposited within the clay or as separated, interbedded layers. Silt is usually made up of minute silica (quartz) grains, but may include other minerals.

In the case of the Tulsa shale outcrop, this was probably an open-marine setting, where there was relatively good water circulation (and oxygen availability for bacterial degradation of any organics), usually yielding a light- to medium-gray color. The same is true for the shales interbedded with the thin limestones of this particular facies of the Ordovician Lexington Limestone. The alternating layers suggests fluctuations in the environment, due to changes in sediment supply, water depth, or other factors.

When you see reddish-colored shales or claystones (in a sedimentary setting), those were usually deposited in a continental or transitional setting, such as a river system, delta, or a tidal flat setting. The red color is due to the subaerial oxidation of the iron within the clay sediments. Usually the preservation of ripple marks suggests a certain amount of silt in the rock.

Currently, the most popular color of shale (for geologists) is dark gray to black. The dark colors are most-often due to the preservation of organics in stagnant (anoxic) conditions, where slow water circulation fails to replenish oxygen. So when organics drop to the bottom, the bacteria that would normally be there to "eat" them, are absent. This is the case in swamps (blackwater) or in restricted marine basins, e.g., the Black Sea or the deep part of the Gulf of Mexico.

This preserved organic material becomes the interpreted source of oil and/or natural gas, depending on the type of organics and/or the temperature conditions. An increasing amount of our domestic natural gas is being produced from Paleozoic and Mesozoic dark shales, such as the Marcellus, Barnett, Woodford, Eagle Ford, and other shales, due to our ability to "frac" (fracture) the shales using hydraulic pressure to shatter the shale and proppants (sand or minute ceramic spheres) to prop open those fractures. Without this process (or natural fractures), the shale is generally too "tight" to produce much of anything. Generally, the shales with a little bit of silt-sized silica are a little more brittle and frac more easily.

Another aspect of clay is that when compressed, the alignment of the flat clay plates makes the semi-impervious (or impermeable), i.e., they don't pass water or other fluids very well. This is why we use clays in ceramics. Layers of clay or shale can serve as "confining beds" to separate layered aquifers or as "caprock" to trap hydrocarbons.

There are other characteristics of clays that make them both a bane and a boon to humans. Some clays swell when wet and this can be useful when adding clay pellets to seal the annular space in a water (or other) well, but can play havoc with heaving (and cracking) of roads and foundations with wet/dry weather cycles. The brick steps to my back porch are a testament to this characteristic of rising and falling with wetting and drying, as they have broken loose from the foundation of the porch.

Clays also can act as absorbents for pollutants, whether in your cat's litterbox or in dealing with oil or other spills. They can be used in filtration settings, as filler material, as the "binder" for Kaopectate,...

To go any further would require re-writing "War and Peace" in a geological sense. I hope you get the picture that clay is more than just hardened mud.

For other "What a Geologist Sees" posts, click on the Tag below.

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The Four Horsemen of the New Apocalypse...Future Subjects for Posts

I was going to do a post (or perhaps a series, if time permits) on what I considered to be the four most dangerous of the political czars, which may be influencing various aspects of our near-term and longer-term futures.

There may well be more than four (now three) rogues requiring vigilance, because the MSM will not do their collective jobs, but we have to start somewhere. I would suggest going to YouTube and looking for recordings and videos of their past speeches, before the Ministry of Truth manages to scrub them. I will try to post them when I find them. So for the moment, these are the ones I intend to write about (again, pending time).

Cass Sunstein

Mark Lloyd

Van Jones, Jr. (resigned)

John Holdren

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I Know, I Keep Wandering Away...

from one of the intended goals of this blog, to do occasional geology posts.

Because of having a now 6 month-old grandson, a 22 year-old daughter, a 25 year-old son in-law, and a 14 year-old son, I have concerns for the future, given the socialistic direction of this current administration (and some of the failings of the last one).

And I am busy with my online job and my part-time teaching job, for both of which I am very grateful. And there are always chores to do.

I will try to get back on-track, when my work schedule permits. And along with a few more geology posts (which take some time to compose) I am still going to do the politics thing, though it seems to make me unpopular with some geobloggers. Or maybe I am just doing "the wrong politics" in the view of some fo them.

"To thine own self, be true."



Friday, September 11, 2009

Another George Orwell Quote...

for your consideration.

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

George Orwell

Just something to think about with our ever-expanding government, without the checks-and-balances of talk radio, the internet/blogosphere, the 1st Amendment, and the 2nd Amendment.

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So, Cass Sunstein Now Becomes...

the man behind the curtain we are told to ignore, by the MSM and Barack Obama.

If he is not hounded from office by the good people of this nation, gradually we will notice there are more and more things "we can't do anymore" or "own anymore" because this regulatory czar decided to tweak regulations at his (and his boss' whim).

So, will he get his wish and allow animals to bring lawsuits against people? What other surprises does he have in mind for us peons? For those of us not smart enough to make decisions for ourselves - in his anointed mind. Disarmament of law-abiding citizens is one of his desired outcomes.

His position having been voted upon by the Senate, he might be a little more accountable to us than the other appointed czars. But be reminded that he will toil behind the scenes - in the words of more than one pundit - adjusting one regulation 5%, another 8%, another 3%,...just enough to stay below the radar and if we don't raise hell, he will go back again and readjust the same and other regs again and again, 'til he gets what he wants.

Elections have consequences.

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Lest We Forget

[Updated and slightly modified from 9/11/06, 9/11/07, and 9/11/08. I don't know if all of these links and blogs still work.]

Because Each One Had a Name - The 2,996 Project

Who was Robert A. Lawrence? He was a husband to Suzanne and a Dad to daughter Toland, then 11 and son Bobby, then 9. [They are now 19 and 17.]

He was one of the 2,996 victims of 9/11. His name is listed here on this CNN WTC list of victims.

Robert A. Lawrence was 41 at the time of his death on 9/11.

He was a Mortgage-backed Securities Specialist for the firm of Sandler O'Neill & Partners. Sandler O'Neill and Partners was on the 104th floor of 2 World Trade Center. Of the 180 employees, 66 were killed.

Robert, despite his dislike of heights, began his career with Sandler O'Neill & Partners on September 10, 2001. It was one of those sacrifices that parents make in order to put food on the family table.

We know that Tower 2 was partially evacuated after Tower 1 was hit, but because too many people were in the "it was an accident" mindset, workers in Tower 2 were given the "all clear" to re-enter the building at 9:00 AM.

At 9:03 AM, United Flight 175 slammed into 2 WTC (the South Tower), immediately impacting floors 78 through 84 of the 110. The impact isolated those above the crash by blocking stairwells and elevator shafts, through damage, debris, and fire.

Besides being a Husband and Dad, he was a Son, a Brother, a Nephew, a Cousin, and no doubt a Friend to many. From the online tributes, we also know that he enjoyed sports with family members, he liked to play guitar to entertain his kids and other family members. He had a sense of humor and he liked to organize events and meetings.

He doesn't sound like the "Little Eichmann" label applied to 9/11 victims by Ward Churchill. He doesn't sound like the kind of person that deserved this sort of payback, as opined by Noam Chomsky, because of the sins of past Americans regarding American Indians, Mexico, the Philippines, etc.. He was just another American engaging in commerce, bringing together the combined talents of "Wall Street" and "Main Street", both vital parts of American commerce, which the MSM tries to separate.

This is one particular timeline of 9/11, because some want us to forget. [Some are saying, in essence, that it is "no big deal".]

Going to the 2,996 Project Website, you can find another bio of John A. Lawrence. His other 2,996 Project tribute is by Matt Rooney at The Republic Square.

[2008 Update: I hope I continue to do some justice in this brief tribute with this brief yearly tribute. We need to continue our private efforts as the MSM is clearly devoted to hiding images from our collective view. Also remember how Keith Olbermann "had a cow" over the 9/11 tribute at the Republican National Convention. That sanctimonious bastard got torqued over the Republican Party's "exploitation" of 9/11, when most adults-in-the-room know that it is about reminding ourselves of why we continue to prosecute the War on Islamist Terror.]
[More links to the 2,996 Project and other info were posted on 9/12/06. Here is what I posted on 9/11/05. Go back and study some more.]

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Why I Am More Concerned Than Ever...

about the health of New York City, regarding terror attacks.

My daugther, son in-law, and 6 month-old grandson are moving to New York City, as my son in-law has gotten a job with a NYC bank.

Unfortunately, large American cities, especially NYC and Washington, DC will always be targets. Let's just hope that Muslim terrorists, their allies, and useful idiots will realize that our resolve lasts, despite the attitudes of our present government.

We will not know for years the reasons for the peaceful 8 years since 9/11/01, whether it was largely a function of our proaction or if they choose to wait 'til we are asleep again.

Despite the frustrations regarding Sen. John McCain's lack of fervor on some issues, at least we could rest assured that the world would have known of his legendary temper. Barack Obama's temper seems mainly directed at any Americans that might disagree with his agenda.

I am eternally grateful for the efforts of all members of our military in taking the fight overseas to their backyard, so...

"We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

George Orwell

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