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, February 28, 2011

Paranoia or Prescience Regarding Books?

Kindle & e-books vs. paper books.

1st choice vs. 2nd choice advantages:

1st choice - portable, presumably searchable (or perhaps will be in the future) for specific words. Kindle users could probably give some more advantages.

2nd choice - permanence.

Not being a "computer wonk", I always worry about "hidden codes" within computer programs and files. Codes that may give a "shelf life" to a purchased text, i.e., after a certain time period, it expires and "goes poof". [Having lost a number of hours of personal work to computer glitches, viruses, or expired subscriptions, I have a personal dislike of hours worth of work or other stuff "going poof" into cyberspace, never again to be seen.]

Other codes that could be hidden might tweak the wording of a text, programmed ahead of time or upon an electronic signal. My hardbound copy of "Atlas Shrugged" is never going to undergo any text changes. Subtle changes of text could change and weaken an otherwise powerful text over time, to the delight of...[insert appropriate name of control freak here.]

CD formats are probably going to go away in the near future, perhaps leaving flashdrives, and memory cards to hold some of the info. How easy are those small items to lose? Or have you ever had a flashdrive "just die"? The info may be retrievable (at a cost) or it may not.

To say nothing of an Electro Magnetic Pulse, nuclear or solar wiping out all of our computers, so even if the media were preserved, the reading hardware might be permanently fried.

It is a variant of the camera film vs. digital media. How long will the electronic storage of photos last? Though I haven't used a 35 mm camera in several years (and having foolishly sold off my Pentax MX), I wonder about the permanence, aside from physically printing the most valued photos. And how permanent are the dyes in the printed photos?

Stuff to consider...

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Year's Resolutions - 2 Months In

In an effort to maintain these attempts...Compare, if you wish with this post from approximately 3 weeks ago.

1) To blog more, posting political stuff here, so my Liberal cousins' ears won't bleed on Facebook. Or maybe not. [I was trying to stick to this one, until the Tucson shootings and the obscene blaming of it on Conservatives. And the Leftist assaults on taxpayers in Wisconsin, et al. I guess I am an incurable political animal.]

2) To have McDonald's sweet tea only twice a week, unless I have to drive long distances. At home I always have unsweetened tea, as I don't want to know how much sugar is in sweet tea. [Partial progress on this one. Sorry, McDonald's sweet tea is one of my "comfort foods". So it goes.]

3) To get back into doing stained glass, which I haven't done in 25 or so years. [No change on this one, yet. Got to find a local source for "scrap glass" or small sheets.]

4) To lose weight...Honestly. [Somehow, I lost 9 lbs. during January. I appear to be holding the line. The bathroom scales are electronic and don't seem entirely reliable. For February, I am holding at -9 lbs., at a plateau of sorts. Better than regaining it.]

5) To host more social events at my home, beer tastings, parties, etc.. [No progress, however, progress is being made on some necessary indoor projects.]

6) To photograph more wildflowers. [With the weather warming, it will be soon.]

7) To pray more, for myself and for those Liberal cousins that haven't changed their views in 40 years. [Got to do this one more...]

8) To have Mexican food or hot wings only once a week. This will be tough. [OK, once a week for each.]

9) To get my life more organized. Being disorganized costs $$$$$. [Working on it.]

10) To have the confidence to dive into those needed home projects and the persistence to get them finished. I have the skills, but sometimes lack the confidence. Well, not for anything electrical, but for glasswork, light plumbing, woodwork,... [Trying to get the electric stovetop elements leveled is a headache - may have to seek "outside help". The garbage disposal is "toast", so I just have to rebuild the center drain pipe and worry about a new disposal in the future. With the warming weather, I need to concentrate on replacing the screens on the back porch and disconnecting the old ceiling fan. Works in progress.]

11) To have zero french fries or Krispy Kreme doughnuts for January and only once per month afterward. [Success, I done it. No french fries or doughnuts thusfar this year. Now what will I do for Lent? I usually swear off doughnuts and french fries.]

12) Get my basement cleaned out, move the air hockey table either to the basement or to the extra bedroom. [Not yet, a bit of progress, but not ready to move the air hockey table.]

13) Find a home for one of our 3 cats. I like cats, but we don't need 3 of them. [No change, yet.]

14) To cook at home more. As I am not teaching this next semester, I won't be using several hours a week to drive to and from the campus. [After I wrote the original post, I didn't have any classes to teach. A few days later, I received a call from my college boss asking me if I wanted a couple of classes on Tuesday and Thursday, so I don't get home 'til 10 PM or so, so those days are out for cooking.]

15) To take some free training courses offered by the college. [Not yet.]

16) To do something with the 1978 Ford F-100 truck sitting in my driveway. Sell it, fix it, whatever... [Not yet.]

17) To have a yard sale, or at least put some stuff out at the street labeled "Free" for folks to haul away. And to call the Kidney Fund to come pick up the unsold yard sale stuff, so I don't have to cart it back to the garage/basement. Not selling much stuff is not the worst part of a slow yard sale. It is having to haul the junk back inside afterward. [Not yet.]

18) Blog more on my other blogs, too. [Yes, except for my Beer Can Blog. Will try to rectify that.]

19) Donate more to our church. [Due to job change, haven't fulfilled that one, but plan to work on it.]

20) Fix the leaky shower valves in our back bathroom and reconnect the pipes (the disconnection was an emergency move). [Plan to get back to this soon, see college schedule remarks. Got to go back to Home Depot, again.]

21) Paint the main bathroom. Get rid of the larger mirror, replace with a smaller mirror. [Got the smaller mirror. Need to put the hooks and wire on the frame.]

22) Improve my Beer Karma on Beer Advocate, currently it is 165.6. Will explain that another time. [Up to 175.56 at the last update - now 176.28.]

23) Get the wireless router working, however necessary. [Not yet. I did extend ethernet cable through the crawlspace, so we now have a computer hook-up in the dining room for one of the laptops. Got to find the instructional CD to re-begin this project.]

24) Participate in at least one Tea Party event. [Haven't heard of any yet, but as Herman Cain is considering running for President, there should be some activity this spring.]

25) Read "Atlas Shrugged". I got a head start by reading the Cliff Notes version. Yeah, it is cheating of a sort, but I will understand the characters, etc., when I dive into this daunting book. [Finished it in about 3 1/2 weeks. Now awaiting the movie.]

26) Try to read two books per month, at least. [Did that. Read "The Hiding Place" and "1984" in January. "Atlas Shrugged" should count as two books. May read Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" in March. Or at least the Cliff Notes version, before the movie.]

27) Check out the local pawn shop for a used chainsaw. [Keep forgetting to do so.]

28) Clear front yard of all fallen oak leaves by the end of January. [For allowance money, our teenaged son has shown an interest in raking leaves. OK, didn't make January, but at the end of February, most of the leaves are gone, but haven't had time to grind them for mulch.]

29) Repaint shutters when the weather warms. [Not yet, perhaps during Spring Break, if the warmer weather holds.]

[I would probably give myself a C for my efforts, taking the weather into account for the outside stuff.]

30) Expand xeriscaping in front yard. Repair rock walls. [Partial progress. I need a source of flat stones. I don't like to pay for rocks.]

31) Do some backyard landscaping. Clean up wildflower garden to prepare for spring. [Blew the coverage of fall leaves off the garden yesterday, hoping they are not needed for any late cold spells.]

New ones:

32) Collect more heavy mineral samples (including gold) by panning local creeks. Get more Geology photos.

33) Start a job-search for more part time work (or full-time in the local school system, if I can find a satisfactory position for teaching science.)

[Maybe this is drifting away from the original idea, but if I need to publicize it to keep it on the front burner, then so be it.]

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Normalcy Bias

I don't recall where I saw this term, but the article from which it came addressed the human-nature of not wanting to "go there" (mentally) as to what might happen in the future, i.e., worst-case scenarios of societal collapse, marshal-law curfews,... I myself don't want to dwell on it, as my daughter and her family live just across the Hudson River from NYC, in a high rise apartment. Totally vulnerable in some scenarios,... Our bathroom closets have two - three times (at least) the storage capacity of their kitchen pantry.

We just want things to "stay normal". To stay stable. We like to think that everyone can be as rational as we are.

It has been said by some that "we" (our system of grocery stores) only have maybe a 2-day supply of food. We saw a bit of this with the recent "lost week" due to snow and ice, when the trucks couldn't make their regular deliveries. Where would we be if widespread riots and marshal-law led to inability of trucks to engage in their normal deliveries for a week or more at a time? In a state of anarchy, even elements of the government would not be averse to diverting truckloads of food to favored areas and/or favored people. Or they may be unwilling/unable to stop highjackings of trucks (or even warehouses).

Think Katrina, when the local government (with some outside assistance) was hellbent on disarming citizens, while criminal gangs were roaming the flooded parts of the city. It doesn't take long for order to break down. And the "good people" will be the easiest to control.

Aside from a nuclear-induced Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - see the book "One Second After", consider the possibility of a natural Coronal Mass Ejection. Either could fry all of our fancy electronics. What follows is no electricity, no computers, no cell phones, no sewage pumping, no water pumping, the electronic systems of our modern cars and trucks would be "fried". Aside from the few older vehicles and tubed radios, we could be "kicked back to the 1850s". Everything we have stored on our computers would be gone, forever - though I am not sure about things like unplugged flashdrives.

A 1962 Chevy truck (unaffected by the pulse) would suddenly worth more than a 2011 Rolls Royce - but one would have to learn to siphon fuel from underground storage tanks or drain the gas tanks of the roadside abandoned vehicles). And you would have to be constantly armed to protect your truck from the roving gangs of criminals and even the newly-desperate "good people".

I don't wish to be in "Alex Jones" or "Mad Max" land, but quietly stashing away a couple of weeks worth of canned foods, canned milk, and jugs of water (and a few days worth of toilet paper) is not a bad idea. If nothing happens, just rotate your stock. And don't stash it all in the same place. As part of a martial-law declaration, it would be so easy for them to include a "no hoarding" clause, despite the fact that you might have purchased your goods during a "time of plenty". They won't have any appreciation for those that think and prepare for themselves. It is just those in power and the sheep they have to "guide".

Having at least a small stash of food may allow you to "hunker down" for a few days and avoid the public chaos, while you have time to formulate a "Plan B", which may involve an escape from urban or near-urban areas. As we all can't afford a mountain cabin or something, if we can't "take up" with a rural relative (ya gotta bring your own food), we might have to make do with an abandoned home or even set up a tent in an isolated valley with a flowing creek. A Coleman stove, a water filtration kit. All of these things take up space and have weight to them. You might have to do a triage based upon whether or not your car runs or do you have to steal a grocery shopping cart or two for your family possessions. In the short-term, a rain barrel might help (but you can't move a full rain barrel). So many things to consider.

I could go on and on, but it is up to each individual and family to decide. If there is some preparation, there is less of a feeling of helplessness. In the short-term, gold would have value, but then that would go away, as you can't eat gold. We would have to have some "barter worthy" items.

Yeah, I know that mentally "going there" makes you feel (and sound) like a wacko. But what is the value - to your family - of being at least partially prepared. So many people are totally unprepared.

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So, I Guess Today is the Day...

for SEIU planned protests across the country. Don't let anybody fool you that these are spontaneous and grass-rooted. Someone had to co-ordinate the permitting process for 50 state capitals. It wouldn't surprise me if they got some help from inside the White House, in addition to any moral support from the No. 1 "community organizer".

And the alphabet news media will probably lie about the goals of these demonstrations. This is not about unions vs. large corporations. This is about unions vs. taxpayers. Yet on Facebook, there is the usual contingent of kneejerk useful idiots who will do what their masters want, by saying that all unions are good. They apparently don't even think about who signs the paychecks for the public-sector union workers.

There is no plan to destroy unions. In the private sector, unions (when well-behaved) do serve as part of our checks-and-balances. But as the public sector is taxpayer-funded, even George Meany and FDR thought that unionization was a bad idea. I gather that it was JFK that signed the executive order that made this possible.

The larger goal is about generating chaos and anarchy. At a time of high unemployment and rising food and gasoline prices, do we really need riots in the streets? I don't have to tell you that there will be the usual number of Leftist groups attaching themselves (like leeches) to this "labor movement". They are simply there for the thrills. For the worst of them, they are caught up in the mob mentality and if a few windows of "evil corporations" get broken and they don't get caught, they feel as if they have actually accomplished something. They haven't a clue as to how they would suffer if they actually got their way and the "system" collapsed.

Yes, perhaps I should be there counter-protesting against this, but today (as is common in the "spring-time"), I am "blessed" with a sinus headeache and a minor earache. If not taken care of these can turn into migraines. I have missed Tea Party events for this same reason. It is just me and my ongoing sinus congestion in the springtime, coupled with the weather changes. For anyone familiar with migraines (or pre-migraines), light and noise are not good.

So - perhaps I am rationalizing - being on the sidelines and "cheerleading" and informing others is better than saying or doing nothing. As these are orchestrated events (with the hand of Van Jones, Jr. involved), I am just not comfortable with inserting myself into this when I am not at my best.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Phil Donahue Interviews Ayn Rand

Part I



Part 2



Part 3



Part 4



Part 5

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6th Blogiversary

And so it began with these posts...

Rather than start a new post, I will simply vent here to avoid insulting a decent, but unintelligent liberal friend on Facebook.

A long-time friend of my wife, she is a nice lady, but she linked to a website/blog that made a reference to the Republican "war on women and children", something about MsKathleen.

I would like to grab some of these dumb liberals by the collar, go "gunny sarge on them" and remind them that these children (that they profess to be concerned about) will someday be adults and they will inherit the trillions of dollars of debt created by these damn social programs, deliberate damage to the economy by political favoritism, and vote-buying schemes. I have made the statement before - here and on Facebook - that they will be screaming at our graves - "Why didn't you do something." in reference to the debt.

She is one of the kind of people that needs to read "Atlas Shrugged", but it would go over her head, if she could even master the effort to finish it. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but I began to evolve out of this kind of mindset 20 year ago.

Lord, grant me the strength to be nice to dumb animals, liberals, etc.. Especially if I have a beer later.

I have first cousins who are just as liberal, I may politely engage them, if they link to this same website. Or I may just scream into the nearest pillow.

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New Year's Resolutions...One and One-half Months Later

In an effort to maintain these attempts...Compare, if you wish with this post from approximately 2 weeks ago.

1) To blog more, posting political stuff here, so my Liberal cousins' ears won't bleed on Facebook. Or maybe not. [I was trying to stick to this one, until the Tucson shootings and the obscene blaming of it on Conservatives. I guess I am an incurable political animal.]

2) To have McDonald's sweet tea only twice a week, unless I have to drive long distances. At home I always have unsweetened tea, as I don't want to know how much sugar is in sweet tea. [Partial progress on this one.]

3) To get back into doing stained glass, which I haven't done in 25 or so years. [Not much done on this one, yet. Got to find a local source for "scrap glass" or small sheets.]

4) To lose weight...Honestly. [Somehow, I lost 9 lbs. during January. I appear to be holding the line. The bathroom scales are electronic and don't seem entirely reliable.]

5) To host more social events at my home, beer tastings, parties, etc.. [No progress, however, progress is being made on some necessary indoor projects.]

6) To photograph more wildflowers. [Too early, yet.]

7) To pray more, for myself and for those Liberal cousins that haven't changed their views in 40 years. [Got to do this one more...]

8) To have Mexican food or hot wings only once a week. This will be tough. [OK, once a week for each.]

9) To get my life more organized. Being disorganized costs $$$$$. [Working on it.]

10) To have the confidence to dive into those needed home projects and the persistence to get them finished. I have the skills, but sometimes lack the confidence. Well, not for anything electrical, but for glasswork, light plumbing, woodwork,... [Trying to get the electric stovetop elements leveled is a headache. The garbage disposal is "toast" and I may not have the money to replace it. In other words, a work in progress.]

11) To have zero french fries or Krispy Kreme doughnuts for January and only once per month afterward. [Success, I done it. Will try to keep the streak going.]

12) Get my basement cleaned out, move the air hockey table either to the basement or to the extra bedroom. [Not yet.]

13) Find a home for one of our 3 cats. I like cats, but we don't need 3 of them. [No change, yet.]

14) To cook at home more. As I am not teaching this next semester, I won't be using several hours a week to drive to and from the campus. [Still working on the stove and the oven. I am getting some of the "fixins' ready to try making my own tortillas. And cornbread.]

15) To take some free training courses offered by the college. [Not yet.]

16) To do something with the 1978 Ford F-100 truck sitting in my driveway. Sell it, fix it, whatever... [Not yet.]

17) To have a yard sale, or at least put some stuff out at the street labeled "Free" for folks to haul away. And to call the Kidney Fund to come pick up the unsold yard sale stuff, so I don't have to cart it back to the garage/basement. Not selling much stuff is not the worst part of a slow yard sale. It is having to haul the junk back inside afterward. [Not yet.]

18) Blog more on my other blogs, too. [Yes, except for my Beer Can Blog. Will try to rectify that.]

19) Donate more to our church. [Due to job change, haven't fulfilled that one, but plan to work on it.]

20) Fix the leaky shower valves in our back bathroom and reconnect the pipes (the disconnection was an emergency move). [Plan to get back to this tomorrow. Got to go back to Home Depot, again.]

21) Paint the main bathroom. Get rid of the larger mirror, replace with a smaller mirror. [Got the smaller mirror. Need to put the hooks and wire on the frame.]

22) Improve my Beer Karma on Beer Advocate, currently it is 165.6. Will explain that another time. [Up to 175.56 at the last update - now 176.04.]

23) Get the wireless router working, however necessary. [Not yet. I did extend ethernet cable through the crawlspace, so we now have a computer hook-up in the dining room for one of the laptops.]

24) Participate in at least one Tea Party event. [Haven't heard of any yet, but as Herman Cain is considering running for President, there should be some activity this spring.]

25) Read "Atlas Shrugged". I got a head start by reading the Cliff Notes version. Yeah, it is cheating of a sort, but I will understand the characters, etc., when I dive into this daunting book. [I started on this book on January 31. I am now at page 1000 of 1168 and James Rearden has just disappeared. ]

26) Try to read two books per month, at least. [Did that. Read "The Hiding Place" and "1984" in January. I think "Atlas Shrugged" should count as two books.]

27) Check out the local pawn shop for a used chainsaw. [Keep forgetting to do so.]

28) Clear front yard of all fallen oak leaves by the end of January. [For allowance money, our teenaged son has shown an interest in raking leaves.]

29) Repaint shutters when the weather warms. [Not yet.]

[As suggested in a January post, I would probably give myself a C/C+ for my efforts, taking the weather into account for the outside stuff.]

30) Expand xeriscaping in front yard. Repair rock walls. [Not yet, but picked up a few flat stones near Clayton, GA. to add to one of the walls. No other changes. I need a source of flat stones. I don't like to pay for rocks.]

31) Do some backyard landscaping. Clean up wildflower garden to prepare for spring. [Too early. But getting closer.]

New ones:

32) Collect more heavy mineral samples (including gold) by panning local creeks. Get more Geology photos.

33) Start a job-search for more part time work (or full-time in the local school system, if I can find a satisfactory position for teaching science.)

[Maybe this is drifting away from the original idea, but if I need to publicize it to keep it on the front burner, then so be it.]

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Oops, I did it Again!

No, I am not channeling Britney Spears.

After I tried to avoid posting politics on Facebook,...my bad, my bad.

No doubt I have pissed off some Leftist cousins, etc., on Facebook. I am getting increasingly pissed at the Leftist orchestration of mob actions in Wisconsin, Ohio, Washington, DC, and elsewhere, as we (and our elected representatives) are trying to turn the tide against out-of-control government spending.

Anarchy leads to tyranny. Time and time, again.

Some of these Lefty folks cannot see the same viewpoint, partially because they haven't changed in 30 - 40 years. And they are (as-of-yet) are unwilling to admit their mistakes, as I did when I began to evolve from Classical Liberalism to my current Libertarian/Conservative viewpoints. As an aside, even when I was a Classical Lib, I hated tyranny, whether it was left-wing or right-wing. As I evolved, I came to recognize that most political violence and hate are LEFT WING. There is no provable argument otherwise.

It is a public forum and for every person that bitches, 4 or 5 agree with me, even if they don't say so - in public.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the "Downhill" Side of "Atlas Shrugged"...

On page 770 of 1168. May be finished by next Monday. Can't wait for Part 1 of the movie. So much to say, but will wait.

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Free Thinkers and Related Species...

Just a thought (which may have been articulated before)...

The first duty of a true "Free Thinker" is to recognize and admit that other "Free Thinkers" may have different opinions, based upon their own interpretations and careful considerations. And then let the best ideas win in the arena of free and open public debate.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Government Directive 10-289

Channeling the spirit of Rod Serling...

"Imagine if you will, an increasingly oppressive socialist government, attempting to stop the downward spiral of the economy, by instituting ever-more oppressive controls. You have entered the "Atlas Shrugged Zone". [Sorry, had too much iced tea last night, and didn't get enough sleep.]

Government Directive 10-289

"Point One.
All workers, wage earners and employees of any kind whatsoever shall henceforth be attached to their jobs and shall not leave nor be dismissed nor change employment, under penalty of a term in jail. The penalty shall be determined by the Unification Board, such Board to be appointed by the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. All persons reaching the age of twenty-one shall report to the Unification Board, which shall assign them to where, in its opinion, their services will best serve the interests of the nation."

"Point Two.
All industrial, commercial, manufacturing and business establishments of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth remain in operation, and the owners of such establishments shall not quit nor leave nor retire, nor close, sell or transfer their business, under penalty of the nationalization of their establishment and of any and all of their property."

"Point Three.
All patents and copyrights, pertaining to any devices, inventions, formulas, processes and works of any nature whatsoever, shall be turned over to the nation as a patriotic emergency gift by means of Gift Certificates to be signed voluntarily by the owners of all such patents and copyrights to all applicants, equally and without discrimination, for the purpose of eliminating monopolistic practices, discarding obsolete products and making the best available to the whole nation. No trademarks, brand names or copyrighted titles shall be used. Every formerly patented product shall be known by a new name and sold by all manufacturers under the same name, such name to be selected by the Unification Board. All private trademarks and brand names are hereby abolished."

"Point Four.
No new devices, inventions, products, or goods of any nature whatsoever, not now on the market, shall be produced, invented, manufactured or sold after the date of this directive. The Office of Patents and Copyrights is hereby suspended."

"Point Five.
Every Establishment, concern, corporation or person engaged in production of any nature whatsoever shall henceforth produce the same amount of goods per year as it, they or he produced during the Basic Year, no more and no less. The year to be known as the Basic or Yardstick Year is to be the year ending on the date of this directive. Over or under production shall be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board."

"Point Six.
Every person of any age, sex, class or income, shall henceforth spend the same amount of money on the purchase of goods per year as he or she spent during the Basic Year, no more and no less. Over or under purchasing will be fined, such fines to be determined by the Unification Board."

"Point Seven.
All wages, prices, salaries, dividends, profits, interest rates and forms of income of any nature whatsoever, shall be frozen at their present figures, as of the date of this directive."

"Point Eight.
All cases arising from rules not specifically provided for in this directive, shall be settled and determined by the Unification Board, whose decisions will be final.

Sadly, I submit to you the opinion that, if this directive was printed and presented to individual American citizens, at least portions of it would be favored by a majority of those asked, if they were not told of its origins.

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Halfway Home with Atlas Shrugged...

Just past page 600 out of 1168 in the 35th Anniversary Edition. I am keeping after it, so as not to lose "the spirit" of the story.

With some books, you can put them down for a week or so and think about them, but because of the shear number of pages, putting this on down might lead to one not picking it back up again.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Palin Derangment Syndrome Explained...

with one omission...They also hate her because she is self-confident and happy.

By way of Moonbattery:



So, if a lib friend is careless enough to say "I hate Sarah Palin", just flat out ask them (politely) "Why do you hate?". That should be enough to slam their mental transmissions into reverse while they stumble for an answer.

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Tell it, Herman! Tell it all!

Herman Cain understands what is needed to created jobs.



Set aside a few minutes to "give a listen".

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

De Facto Censorship of Scientific Debate

While adding to the Blogroll of my science-only blog - geosciblog-science - I glanced at the first couple of posts on a particular Geoblog.

Sadly, as happens too often, the word "Denier" was used, vis-à-vis the climate debate. And I reached my limit. Even when I was a Classical Liberal, I hated tyranny. [I try to avoid using the word and the practice of "hate", but I think in regards to tyranny, it is OK to express such thoughts.] Censorship of public debate, especially the suppression of scientific debate, is a form of censorship and tyranny.

Aside from attempting to shut down debates, the users of the word "Deniers" (Denialists, etc.) are dishonest. Most climate skeptics DO NOT DENY that humans MIGHT cause catastrophic Climate Change - BUT - using our scientific training and powers of logic - WE DON'T THINK SO. In other words, in our scientific interpretation, IT IS POSSIBLE, BUT UNLIKELY.

It is the same mindset that uses the word "hate" or "haters" to label those with different political points-of-view. Dishonesty and intellectual laziness. And it needs to be politely "called out". [I may lose another Facebook "Friend" or two, but that is OK. The important ones will stay.]

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Just a Verbalized Thought about Atlas Shrugged...

As I am about 1/3 of the way through with this book, perhaps the answer might come to me, but in the meantime,...

I am a bit miffed at some of the characters, e.g., Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart, for not being at least occasional "cheerleaders" for Capitalism.

Perhaps it might have damaged the persona of these characters (and others) attempting to "keep things running" in the face of increasing government controls - but if I was in their position, at least once in a while, when the "social responsibilities" of particular industrialists and their businesses were brought up, I would have attempted to explain the "social benefits" of job-creation, the benefits of payrolls, the benefits of tax revenues to local, state, and national treasuries.

Too much of this would damage the plot, but once is a while, I would take advantage of a "teachable" moment, if it was a real-life situation.

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Connected and Disconnected

Articulated by others in different ways...

It may have been Glenn Beck who recently observed the downsides to keeping kids electronically occupied during long family trips - to see grandma, etc.. Many of today's kids (at least from my vantage point) seem to think that boredom is terminal. And they think that boredom cures have to be external. This is a point that I cannot get across to my teenage son. When his older sister (8 years older) was in that age group, she seemed to be better at entertaining herself by sketching/drawing, etc. on legal pads, artist's pads, whatever was available.

Back to Glenn's point. Many of us had to endure the same "traumas" of traveling to visit remote relatives when we were young. Without the attention-monopoly of headphones, as we would draw, read (if it didn't make us car sick), or gaze out the window, etc.,... we would overhear our parents talking about family issues, family history, etc.. And we would absorb some of it. Some of the family history, some of the humorous (and not-so humorous) family anecdotes would be committed to history. I know for some of these things "ya had to be there", but still there is some value in passing these stories along.

Another issue is that the greater mobility of the post-WWII generations has resulted in families being more scattered than in the past. When kids don't have regular gatherings with relatives, they have trouble connecting when they are together. And they don't know what they are losing. Both of my grandfathers were dead by the time I was 5. My Dad passed away before I got married at age 30, but my father in-law is still alive in his late 70s as my son is 16. My Mom passed away (from Alzheimer's in 2000), so my son doesn't well remember time spent with her, either.

But because we only see his surviving grandad once or twice a year, it is hard for my son to "plug in" to the experience and talk with him. And now being partially deaf, my father in-law doesn't start as many conversations. My mother in-law is naturally more chatty and her mom (who passed away last year at age 94 or so) used to like to play dominoes and other games with the grandkids and great-grandkids, so that helped make a connection.

Thankfully, at least my daughter (when she can visit) is a little better at engaging both of her surviving grandparents in reminiscing. But as she is now in New Jersey, with her own family, it just doesn't happen as often. My son just doesn't know what he is missing and probably won't, until it is too late. He is the second-youngest of eight grandkids.

How do you reach through the iPod to get their attention? Do we have to do our own podcasts on family history? Use our own camcorders to record iPod-ready family vignettes? If I had a decent "broadcasting voice", I might consider that.

And so it goes,...

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Straight Out of Atlas Shrugged...Part 1

As stated in my most-recent New Year's Resolution update, I have been reading "Atlas Shrugged". At this point, after 8 days I am about 400 pages in (about 1/3) through the book. Also, as I have recently read "1984", both of these books influence the current lens through which I observe ongoing events.

The recent statements by Barack Obama at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, from the article include:

"If we're fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports, the benefits cannot just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line,"...

This attitude sadly is not unique to the President. We have to keep in mind the "echo chamber" in which many elitist progressive dwell. These control freaks have little or no private industry experience, but have loads of arrogant self-righteousness.

Author Rick Moran offers this bit of slightly sarcastic advice:

"I suppose government could grant a certain percentage of profits – “excess profits” – be put in a kitty for all workers. Or government could just seize what it thinks is too much profit and redistribute the wealth."

[Don't give them any ideas!] Actually, it has long been an attitude of government/media elitists that American businesses have baskets of cash lying around, just ready for government to take and redistribute as it pleases. Recently, how many times have you heard the phrase (or a variant of) "American businesses are sitting on piles of cash."? In some cases, because of cost-cutting efforts, including layoffs, businesses may have some cash, but because of uncertainties wrought by the spectre of more government micromanagement, e.g., through Obamacare, increased taxes, more regulations,...it is simply hard for businesses to commit themselves to hiring more people (or calling back some of those recently laid-off).

It is all of this old "social responsibility" thing, wherein the shallow minds of progressive socialists, just the mere existence of profitable businesses produces no "social benefits". The "social benefits" of widespread employment and rising tax revenues just doesn't cross their minds.

It just doesn't sink in that gainfully-employed, secure people are simply going to have more time and desire to volunteer and help their fellow citizens. How many of us have participated in seasonal charities (or other volunteer efforts) at the urging of co-workers? Just the mere knowledge that our co-workers are engaged certain volunteer programs might provide an impetus for us to be more engaged, too. It is a way to socialize outside of work.

[Note here that I am not in favor of compulsory volunteer projects and service, as might be the case with more government intrusion into private businesses.]

I know that there are cases of businesses making poor choices as to distributions of funds to management vs. "line workers". Even Rush Limbaugh agrees with this, but it is up to the business to straighten this out NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Unfortunately, high profile examples of these poor choices give the government an excuse to step in and "manage" things.

The best way to immediately help the workers is through TAX CUTS, not just for the employees, but for the businesses themselves. The Fair Tax might be a good start.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

New Year's Resolutions, One Month Later

In no particular order...

1) To blog more, posting political stuff here, so my Liberal cousins' ears won't bleed on Facebook. Or maybe not. [I was trying to stick to this one, until the Tucson shootings and the obscene blaming of it on Conservatives.]

2) To have McDonald's sweet tea only twice a week, unless I have to drive long distances. At home I always have unsweetened tea, as I don't want to know how much sugar is in sweet tea. [Partial progress on this one.]

3) To get back into doing stained glass, which I haven't done in 25 or so years. [Not much done on this one, yet. Got to find a local source for "scrap glass" or small sheets.]

4) To lose weight...Honestly. [Somehow, I lost 9 lbs. during January.]

5) To host more social events at my home, beer tastings, parties, etc.. [No progress, however, progress is being made on some necessary indoor projects.]

6) To photograph more wildflowers. [Too early, yet.]

7) To pray more, for myself and for those Liberal cousins that haven't changed their views in 40 years. [Got to do this one more...]

8) To have Mexican food or hot wings only once a week. This will be tough. [OK, once a week for each.]

9) To get my life more organized. Being disorganized costs $$$$$. [Working on it.]

10) To have the confidence to dive into those needed home projects and the persistence to get them finished. I have the skills, but sometimes lack the confidence. Well, not for anything electrical, but for glasswork, light plumbing, woodwork,... [Worked on the stove top and disconnected the garbage disposal to replace the exit tube, which is rotted. A second trip to Home Depot is always required. In other words, a work in progress.]

11) To have zero french fries or Krispy Kreme doughnuts for January and only once per month afterward. [Success, I done it. Will try to keep the streak going.]

12) Get my basement cleaned out, move the air hockey table either to the basement or to the extra bedroom. [Not yet.]

13) Find a home for one of our 3 cats. I like cats, but we don't need 3 of them. [No change, yet.]

14) To cook at home more. As I am not teaching this next semester, I won't be using several hours a week to drive to and from the campus. [After I get through with this next weekend, the weekend of the Barnes Class Chili Cookoff, I will practice cooking things other than chili.]

15) To take some free training courses offered by the college. [Not yet.]

16) To do something with the 1978 Ford F-100 truck sitting in my driveway. Sell it, fix it, whatever... [Not yet.]

17) To have a yard sale, or at least put some stuff out at the street labeled "Free" for folks to haul away. And to call the Kidney Fund to come pick up the unsold yard sale stuff, so I don't have to cart it back to the garage/basement. Not selling much stuff is not the worst part of a slow yard sale. It is having to haul the junk back inside afterward. [Not yet.]

18) Blog more on my other blogs, too. [Progress made.]

19) Donate more to our church. [Due to job change, haven't fulfilled that one, but plan to work on it.]

20) Fix the leaky shower valves in our back bathroom and reconnect the pipes (the disconnection was an emergency move). [Not yet, got to take care of the kitchen, first. Got to go back to Home Depot, again.]

21) Paint the main bathroom. Get rid of the larger mirror, replace with a smaller mirror. [Got the smaller mirror.]

22) Improve my Beer Karma on Beer Advocate, currently it is 165.6. Will explain that another time. [Up to 175.56]

23) Get the wireless router working, however necessary. [Not yet.]

24) Participate in at least one Tea Party event. [Haven't heard of any yet, but as Herman Cain is considering running for President, there should be some activity this spring.]

25) Read "Atlas Shrugged". I got a head start by reading the Cliff Notes version. Yeah, it is cheating of a sort, but I will understand the characters, etc., when I dive into this daunting book. [I started on this book on January 31. In the first week, I have read 330 (or so) pages out of almost 1200.]

26) Try to read two books per month, at least. [Did that. Read "The Hiding Place" and "1984" in January.]

27) Check out the local pawn shop for a used chainsaw. [Keep forgetting to do so.]

28) Clear front yard of all fallen oak leaves by the end of January. [Because of the heavy rain and snow, have only made partial progress.]

29) Repaint shutters when the weather warms. [Not yet.]

[As suggested in a January post, I would probably give myself a C+ for my efforts, taking the weather into account for the outside stuff.]

30) Expand xeriscaping in front yard. Repair rock walls. [Not yet, but picked up a few flat stones near Clayton, GA. to add to one of the walls.]

31) Do some backyard landscaping. Clean up wildflower garden to prepare for spring. [Too early.]

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Sunday, February 06, 2011

We've Had Enough...

This is an internet-based push to inform the American public (and perhaps file charges) against George Soros.

Wish them luck.

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Where are the Engineers...

and Where are the Engineering Jobs? [Purloined from American Thinker.]

From the article:

..."Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the unemployment rate among electrical engineers (EE) and computer scientists (CS) was, by and large, below 2%, but it has gone up drastically since then. It soared to 8.6% in the second quarter of 2009 for EEs and to 5.7% for CSs. At that time, the government counted 29,000 EEs out of work. Although these numbers are below the average unemployment rate in the US, they are extremely alarming, because we are talking about a profession that drives technological progress."...

Continuing:

..."On a human level, these people made personal sacrifices to get their degrees, trusting that their knowledge would be needed, only to find out that society had failed them."...

More from the article:

...'"What do you expect from a country that decided to abandon its manufacturing sector? We have gotten rid of mining, oil-drilling, logging and nuclear power. We no longer have ugly and smelly factories, but despite zillions of dollars in government subsidies, promised green jobs are not forthcoming. We have a cleaner environment and buy everything from abroad. Who needs engineers now?"'...

There is reputedly a small oil refinery under construction in southern Arizona and one may have been permitted for North Dakota or South Dakota, but otherwise, there hasn't been any construction of new refineries for about 35 years. Engineers are needed for that, too.

At this point, you might see why Geology jobs suffer too, as mines close (or new ones are not opened.

Continuing:

..."To aggravate the unemployment problem, the US government has brought in hundreds of thousands of foreign professionals by issuing H-1B visas and by utilizing a host of other programs known by their bureaucratic designations: TN, L-1, etc. These programs were created by Congress under pressure from US employers, who cited the shortage of qualified American candidates. Although many professional engineering societies have consistently debunked the myth of shortages, their lobbying power was no match for that of big companies, and predictably, the latter prevailed."...

More:

..."Curiously, it was now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff who was instrumental in ramming the H-1B program through Congress. He was retained by Microsoft and that's why the H-1B visas are nicknamed "Gates-Abramoff visas." The H-1B program is still around, despite the dismal state of the US economy and despite the opposition of many reputable groups, researchers and Senators. For example, Michael S. Teitelbaum, Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, said that no one "has been able to find any objective data suggesting general 'shortages' of scientists and engineers." Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, called the program a corporate subsidy."... Hmmm. A corporate subsidy. A little bit of crony capitalism. Just a little.

Continuing:

..."These programs were sold under the guise that they would enrich this country by bringing intellectuals and talented scholars here. Their proponents invoked the image of the pre-WWII immigration, associated with names like Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi. In reality, the government already has a separate program for admitting "outstanding professors and researchers" who "are recognized internationally for their outstanding academic achievements in a particular field," known as the EB-1 program."...

And:

..."The much broader H-1B program is utilized by run-of-the-mill workers, most of whom do not possess any unique knowledge or skills. For example, a person with a bachelor's degree who knows how to design websites would qualify. Employers push for it, simply because they prefer a surplus of potential employees, just like members of either gender prefer a surplus of the members of the opposite gender at a dance party."...

Having a surplus of potential employees also drives down wages. In a free-market, that is part of the game, but when this surplus is generated by favorable manipulation of the rules by the government, to favor certain businesses/industries, it throws the free-market system out of balance. Maybe that is the goal. To make things "more equal" by tearing-down the United States to benefit other nations.

Continuing:

..."A widely cited article in the prestigious Chronicle of Higher Education in 2007 was titled: "The Real Science Crisis: Bleak Prospects for Young Researchers" and was subtitled: "Tight budgets, scarce jobs, and stalled reforms push students away from scientific careers." According to the article, despite depressingly high unemployment, underemployment and misemployment of new graduates, "leaders at the top of government, academe, and industry insist that the nation needs more scientists" and argue for enlarging the "pipeline" of science students. Amazingly, the same leaders acknowledge that "the recommendations for additional support for thousands of undergraduates and graduates could be setting those students up for jobs that might not exist," but that minor detail apparently does not bother them too much."...

Add to all of these problems, the realities of culture, especially modern culture. For anyone that showed an interest in science and math in grade school through high school, we all know that they (we) were labeled as "nerds". Has there been any widespread, proactive effort to suppress this practice? From my kids attitudes (once they reach a certain middle-school age),... No.

More from the article:

..."It is fashionable to blame our education system for the country's economic ills. And it definitely has its share of problems on both the high school and college levels. Many of these problems are caused by bureaucrats entrenched in school districts and in state and federal departments of education. They push their politically correct agendas, such as catering to the lowest common denominator, rather than helping gifted students who want to learn more, which they deem ‘elitist.'"...

The spectre of egalitarian "equality" rears its ugly head.

..."But despite all drawbacks, there are plenty of talented teachers and dedicated parents who do a remarkable job of educating the new generation. There is no shortage of overachieving high school kids who are eager to go to college. And we still have the best colleges and universities in the world."...

In closing:

..."Our economy is losing ground not because of the decline of the education system. It is the other way around -- our young and talented people are being let down by the economy. Simply put, they are no longer needed."

Plenty of food for thought.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Last Monday, January 31st, I Took the Bull by the Horns...

I started reading "Atlas Shrugged". I have gotten 300 pages (of about 1200 in the hardbound 35th anniv. edition) into it. Back in December, I read the Cliff Notes version, so I would have a head-start.

I can't wait until Part 1 of the movie debuts on April 15th, 2011.

Having read "1984" in January and now "Atlas Shrugged" is in-progress, I have to say my readings have influenced the lens through which I observe the political theater.

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A Link to Sarah Palin's Speech Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth

[Purloined from Full Metal Patriot.]

Spend a some time watching Sarah's speech (Parts 1 and 2), knowing that somewhere a liberal's head is about to explode.

Heh.



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