Monday, February 28, 2011

Quiz Question

Whenver our Maximum Leader goes through her cat door, she reminds me of one of these.


Quiz question: What are they and where are they referenced?

Cheezburger of the Day

If Tim McIlrath Wins, He Still Loses

So some dude named Tim McIlrath performed at one of the Wisconsin Union rallies recently. He played that ghastly CSNY song, Ohio, and urged the ralliers to "rise against" ... compound interest tables.

Fight the power! Or maybe the exponent!

Poor Timmy, you see, can't seem to fathom the whole pensions-are-underfunded thing nor does he get the idea that the Unions are the power. They negotiate with the politicians who agree to have Union dues taken directly out of employee paychecks so part can be handed over to the politicians to re-elect them so they can go back and negotiate with the Unions again. In any case, here's the Timster crooning that lovely ballad written to commemorate a few students who got shot after they spent a cheery afternoon throwing rocks and bottles at people with guns.


The song is a fitting choice for too many reasons to list here. It's a famous ballad from a group that personified the empty-headed selfishness of the time that led us to so much that is wrong with America today. The kids in the audience will spend their lives paying, paying, paying for the idiocies of the CSNY crowd. Perhaps his next selection might be that wonderful paean to sexual gratification for males and economic slavery for single moms, Love the One You're With.

Or maybe just a reenactment of the Greek riots of last year.


These Unions won their fight with The Man, Timmy, but lost to the compound interest tables. That's your stage down there in the bottom center at about 0:35, getting peppered with rubber bullets and engulfed in tear gas. Go on up there and play, man, go on! You're next!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How To Change A Tire

Spicy Mushroom Gravy

Playing around with my new Blogger app on my Droid.


Glee, House And Charlie Sheen

The last episode of House that we watched featured an annoyed Dr. House speaking at a grade school for career day. Trying to get out of the assignment, he decided to be his usual, shocking self. He described a vaginal exam for a woman who had overused her vibrator. The teacher was scandalized, but the real joke was on the one fat kid in the back of the room who didn't know what a vibrator was.

As I understand it, the last episode of Glee involved the kids all getting drunk and then performing.

Once we have properly "educated" our children and none of them are shocked any more by what they here or see - straight up pornography, drug abuse and drinking, then what?

In other news, Charlie Sheen, living the life endorsed and recommended by House, Glee, and his own show, Two and a Half Men, has completely self-destructed. No hint of irony was detected on anyone reporting the event.

Update: And, of course, a couple hundred young, fatherless men were arrested last night and sent to jail. But then again, that happens every night. What's the big deal?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rich Boy Syndrome

Our Holy Ambassador to the Mainstream Media, Peggy Noonan, penned a great column today. Here's a tidbit.
Another reason for budget denialism is that everyone now in Congress lived through the greatest expansion of wealth in the history of man on earth. It happened here, in America, in the past 30 years. And we were rich even before that. But when you grow up in a time of constant expansion, when you grow up immersed in the assumption that we are rich and will always be rich, that we're powerful and will always be powerful, you start to think that America can take any amount of damage and still continue. This is called optimism, but it is not optimism, it is Rich Boy Syndrome. A boy is lucky enough to be born to rich parents who are themselves the product of generations of wealth going back as far as the eye can see. But he never got into the habit of making money, never learned to respect it, and never felt protective of the system that allowed it to exist. So the money went away. Rich Boy Syndrome is thinking wealth will just continue no matter what you do. A lot of members of Congress have Rich Boy Syndrome. They think they can do anything and America will always be rich.
It's worth reading the whole thing as this was not her main point, just one of many things in the column that struck me as particularly good.

Multiculturalism Explained

... as only Andrew Klavan can explain it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Things I Recommend

I just started playing with the pages feature in Blogger and decided to put together a page of things I use all the time and would recommend to others. You can see it in the sidebar to the left. I'm not terribly happy with the content or formatting, but I figured I'd get started and modify it as I go along.

Something I Did Not Know

A friend invited me into a closed Facebook discussion on abortion and Libertarian morality. Thanks to my own warped view, it has devolved into a conversation about the first principles from which one might derive secular morality. In the process of the discussion, the topic of faith vs. science came up. I did some digging and here is the Catholic position on the two:
When a religious view is contradicted by a well-established scientific fact, then the sources of revelation have to be re-examined, and they will be found to leave the question open. When a clearly-defined dogma contradicts a scientific assertion, the latter has to be revised, and it will be found premature. When both contradicting assertions, the religious and the scientific, are nothing more than prevailing theories, research will be stimulated in both directions, until one of the theories appears unfounded.
If established science and accepted matters of faith collide, science wins and the matters of faith are re-examined. Way cool!

Hall-of-Famer science dude Louis Pasteur was a Catholic. Go team!

Update: Don't take this as a slap at anyone else. It's just something that made me smile.

Because Friday Is The Traditional Day For Catblogging

The air was cold and the hood was warm.

The Price Of Gold

A random observation: Every time we find out that the world isn't really going to end after all, the price of gold goes down.

Concentric Flowers

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

It's Like Watching NASCAR

... just to see the wrecks. With 42 minutes to go to finish the thing, I came across this.
O you who believe! do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth, driving out the Apostle and yourselves because you believe in Allah, your Lord? If you go forth struggling hard in My path and seeking My pleasure, would you manifest love to them? And I know what you conceal and what you manifest; and whoever of you does this, he indeed has gone astray from the straight path. If they find you, they will be your enemies, and will stretch forth towards you their hands and their tongues with evil, and they ardently desire that you may disbelieve. Your relationship would not profit you, nor your children on the day of resurrection; He will decide between you; and Allah sees what you do. Indeed, there is for you a good example in Ibrahim and those with him when they said to their people: Surely we are clear of you and of what you serve besides Allah; we declare ourselves to be clear of you, and enmity and hatred have appeared between us and you forever until you believe in Allah alone...
WHAMMO! Glass and metal and tires are flying in all directions!

When I listen to the thing, I can't help but do so trying to figure out just how it's been bent to encourage war and destruction. And then I hear verses like that and think it was never bent at all. Just like the video Secular Apostate posted said, the thing is picking up speed as it gets near the end.

Dangerous, frightening and yet utterly engrossing.

Fra Chris, Zig Ziglar and the Pro-Life Movement

Over at Portiuncula*, Fra Chris is re-thinking the pro-life movement. Less screaming (well, no screaming) and more praying and kindness. It's a very Zig Ziglar approach.

In his excellent Secrets of Closing the Sale, Zig teaches us that selling is the transferrance of emotion. When the prospect feels about your product the way you do, she buys. Kindness and empathy transfers feeling much better than screaming. Further, prospects never admit they were wrong. You can't get them to change their minds, only to make a new decision. Rather than arguing with them when they turn down your product, you need to present new information that allows them to make a new decision. I love the free ultrasounds outside of abortion clinics for this.

In any case, check out the video over at Portiuncula. It's a very nice example of Christian teaching informing a practical decision.

* - Have you tried Mystic Monk Coffee yet? You should. It's quite good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We've Got Some Serious Mental Disconnect Going On Here

There's an MSN article about Greeks starting an I Won't Pay movement.
At dawn last Friday, about 100 bleary-eyed activists from a Communist Party-backed labor union covered ticket machines with plastic bags at Athens metro stations, preventing passengers from paying their fares, to protest public transport ticket price hikes.

Other activists have taped up ticket machines on buses and trams. And thousands of people simply don't bother validating their public transport tickets when they take the subway or the bus.

"The people have paid already through their taxes, so they should be able to travel for free," said Konstantinos Thimianos, 36, an activist standing at the metro picket line in central Syntagma Square.
This being MSNBC, you don't get any sense of scale. It could be a dozen protestors doing it or it could be a nationwide movement. Whatever the size of the thing, here's the mind-bending part.
(M)any see the "I Won't Pay" movement as something much simpler: the people's refusal to pay for the mistakes of a series of governments accused of squandering the nation's future through corruption and cronyism.
Umm, dude, Greece is a democracy. If the government has wrecked the place, the person to blame is always nearby.

You did this to us on purpose, didn't you?

Some Pointless Macro Photography

I was playing around with my Nikon D60 artillery piece this weekend and shot this photo. I liked it a lot, so I thought I'd share. I uploaded a nice version of it, so I think the photo is worth a click.

A Little on Wisconsin

Here are just a few tidbits of idle thought on the showdown in Wisconsin.
  • I saw this in a comment thread elsewhere and found it an excellent summary of the Unions' position: They're fighting over money that isn't there.

  • If you run away, as the Democrats have done, you leave the press to interview your opponents.

  • Unions exist to prevent oppression of the workers by their management. In this case, the management is the voters as represented by their elected officials. Calling us all oppressors probably isn't a good idea.

  • Seriously, they're doomed. Even if the governor caves, which seems unlikely, they're doomed. Where is the $3B going to come from? Even if they split it evenly between taxes and cuts, the Unions are going to get whacked. The game is over and they've lost, the only thing left to determine is the score.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It Made My Day

It's an awesome new site from the Cheezburger gang.

I Find Your Sensitivity Insensitive

Valued commenter Jeff Burton left a comment on this post that, combined with my trudging through the Koran, triggered a thought.

Cultural sensitivity is itself insensitive.

From The Pilgrimage chapter of the Koran:
Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associate (others with Allah)-- surely Allah will decide between them on the day of resurrection; surely Allah is a witness over all things. Do you not see that Allah is He, Whom obeys whoever is in the heavens and whoever is in the earth, and the sun and the moon and the stars, and the mountains and the trees, and the animals and many of the people; and many there are against whom chastisement has become necessary; and whomsoever Allah abases, there is none who can make him honorable; surely Allah does what He pleases. These are two adversaries who dispute about their Lord; then (as to) those who disbelieve, for them are cut out garments of fire, boiling water shall be poured over their heads. With it shall be melted what is in their bellies and (their) skins as well. And for them are whips of iron. Whenever they will desire to go forth from it, from grief, they shall be turned back into it, and taste the chastisement of burning.

Surely Allah will make those who believe and do good deeds enter gardens beneath which rivers flow; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold and (with) pearls, and their garments therein shall be of silk. And they are guided to goodly words and they are guided into the path of the Praised One.
The Koran is nothing if not repetitive; such verses can be found in almost every chapter*. Imposing cultural sensitivity on true believers of the Koran is itself insensitive.

As an aside, reading the Koran is the perfect antidote for multiculturalism and a complete explanation why Europe is in such trouble. The culturally sensitive are playing for a tie while the Islamofascists are playing for the win.

... and they're not hoping for a close game, either.

* - Yes, I know the Bible has such verses, too. Before you equate the two in any way, shape or form, read them both and then make your analysis. They are not equivalent at all and it's insulting to both sides to say so.

Multiculturalism and Medicine

Here is part of the Wikipedia definition of multiculturalism:
Multiculturalism has a number of different meanings. At one level the term means the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this sense multiculturalism approximates to respect for diversity...

In a political context the term has come to mean the advocacy of extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central. Multiculturalism as "cultural mosaic" is often contrasted with the concepts assimilationism and social integration and has been described as a "salad bowl" rather than a "melting pot."
Does this work for medicine as well? That is, do we respect and value Galen as much as we do Anton van Leeuwenhoek? Galen believed that our health was governed by humors in the body. Leeuwenhoek is considered the father of microbiology. As far as I can tell, no one of significance is suggesting that bleeding people with leeches or applying herbal enemas to bring a patient's humors into equilibrium is equivalent to examing tissue samples under a microscope to perform a diagnosis.

Why not?

Penicillin or leeches? Hey, it's all one to me, man.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Are We Pushing Our Kids Too Hard?

... or has societal evolution raised the bar for them?

I've just spent an hour going through YouTube videos on overcoming performance anxiety and how to prepare for soccer tryouts. As I did so, I thought about the criticisms of modern parents that we push our kids too hard. I've heard other parents in the stands at games exclaim, "We never had travel baseball when I was growing up. We didn't have club soccer, either!"

Whatever things were like in the past, we have kids' competitive sports leagues now and that's just the way it is. It's an evolution of sorts, people learning how to get better at all ages in all things. For example, we didn't have computers decades ago, so school was a bit easier, particularly engineering curricula. There was less to learn. Now there's more learning, more competition and you have to work harder to achieve success. Sports is no different. It's more sophisticated than ever.

Maybe instead of pushing our kids too hard, what we're doing is reacting to a new reality. I know that for my daughter, her goal of playing high school soccer is unattainable if she doesn't play club ball. I have to push her harder than girls her age were pushed 40 years ago. She has to learn how to succeed in the America of 2011, not some world of the past.

This is not your daughter's swim team.

To Jerusalem We go, for us to be the Martyrs of the Millions

Uh oh.

Boys' Vs. Girls' Sports Anxiety Treatments

My daughter, who plays club soccer, needs some help overcoming performance anxiety. She sometimes panics in games and doesn't trust her skills. She has a tendency to pass the ball too quickly when she gets control of it instead of dribbling it up the field. I spent some time on line looking up techniques for overcoming sports performance anxiety and came up with two distinct schools of thought.

The most common one, best exemplified by this article on WebMD, recommends you banish all negative thought.
  • Shift the focus off of yourself and your fear to the enjoyment you are providing to the spectators. Close your eyes and imagine the audience laughing and cheering, and you feeling good.
  • Don't focus on what could go wrong. Instead focus on the positive. Visualize your success.
  • Avoid thoughts that produce self-doubt.
Another school of thought, whose example link I lost, suggested that you get your teammates all around you to laugh and jeer while you learn to block it out. That sounds like it's guaranteed to fail for most girls.

I've been blessed to manage both my son's Little League teams and my daughter's school soccer teams. Boys and girls react very, very different to criticism and mocking. You can do it in small doses with boys, and practically never with girls. As I read through the articles on the web, I was surprised that they didn't break down their recommendations by sex. Another casualty of politically correct thinking, I suppose. Oh well.

Expert Village hits the nail right on the head in this video on coaching girls' soccer.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meanwhile, In Libya

Dig this.
Snipers shot protesters, artillery and helicopter gunships were used against crowds of demonstrators, and thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes as the Libyan regime sought to crush the uprising.

"Dozens were killed ... We are in the midst of a massacre here," a witness told Reuters. The man said he helped take victims to hospital in Benghazi.
Friendly regimes are toppled as we support the uprisings, hostile regimes are ignored as they slaughter protestors. It doesn't look like this will end well.

The View From The Other Side

I wrote a post about this yesterday, but felt it was too flippant and took it down.

I downloaded the Koran from Audible and am slogging my way through it now. The writing style is not very fluid and the composition is nonlinear, so it's probably better in an audio version than text. Last week I was listening to the Gospel of St. Matthew and the contrast on all levels is dramatic.

I'm 1/3 of the way through it and have already come across the beat-your-wife-if-she's-disobedient part as well as the recommendations on taking slave girls (by all means, do so!) and the kill the infidels part (attack!). All in all, it's a very aggressive book. Something I saw on Secular Apostate's blog suggested that it gets even more aggressive as it goes along and so far that's held up. It's also a schizophrenic book.

The Koran is a big on righteous living, being good to orphans and avoiding sin. You can certainly see how it could be interpreted as a religion of peace by some. Seen through a particular prism, the Koran would lead you to respecting and loving your spouse, raising your children to be good citizens, telling the truth and caring for the poor.

Seen through a different lens, you could be properly following it when you killed Jews, Christians, secularists and any other idolators, infidels or transgressors. My own personal reading of it is that the peaceful parts apply to Moslems and the warlike parts apply against the infidels. If I were Moslem, that's the way my mind would reconcile the two halves. I'd be squarely in the jihadi camp and completely at peace with my world view and religion.

I've got another 9 hours or so to go to listen to it all. One thing became clear within the first hour and has been reinforced over and over again as I've gone along - arguing that the Islamofascists are improperly interpreting the Koran is never going to work.

Bono's got a tough job ahead of him.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

If they would rather die, said Scrooge, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population

... after all, that would reduce their carbon footprint. (Frankly, this looks like a win-win for the AGW crowd.)

Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings has an excellent post about how biofuels, our food-based answer to Global Warming, has contributed to food riots around the world.
Nearly all assessments of the 2008 food crisis assigned biofuels a meaningful role, but much of academia and the media ultimately agreed that the scale of the crisis resulted from a "perfect storm" of causes. Yet this "perfect storm" has re-formed not three years later. We should recognize the ways in which biofuels are driving it.
I wonder if taking huge swaths of California's farmland out of production to save a tiny fish* has anything to do with it.

* - Flipping the Dickensian analogy on its head, we have this:
``At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,'' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, ``it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Delta Smelt, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.''

``Are there no aquariums?'' asked Scrooge.

``Plenty of aquariums,'' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

``And the aquafarming establishments?'' demanded Scrooge. ``Are they still in operation?''

``They are. Still,'' returned the gentleman, `` I wish I could say they were not.''

``Biology departments and zoos are in full vigour, then?'' said Scrooge.

``Both very busy, sir.''

``Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,'' said Scrooge. ``I'm very glad to hear it.''

Forget History, He's On The Wrong Side Of Math

So President Obama has decided to mobilize Mobilize America* and support the Teachers' Union protest in Wisconsin. Maybe he's forced into this because the unions are a big part of his coalition, but it looks like a sure loser to me. If the unions win the day, they'll end up with layoffs instead of benefit cuts. The math is against them.

Further, in many cases, the teachers called in a sick day to protest, closing down some schools. Moms and dads had to scramble to find a sitter for Junior so the teachers, whose pay is probably higher than theirs and whose benefits almost certainly are, could run off and chant in unison. Again, probably not a good move, particularly in a state where Obama's side just took a historic beating.

Writing that last sentence and considering the budget he just released, it looks over and over again like the guy is completely disconnected from reality. Wisconsin has to balance its budget by law. There aren't too many places to cut. The electorate in Wisconsin just let everyone know they've had it with the Democrats. Obama is doubling down on a losing hand by sending out his own political action group to man the front lines.

Crazy, man. Crazy.

Civil discourse!

* - Or is that organize Organize America? Whatever.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Easiest Solution To The Budget Crisis

Don't raise the debt ceiling. Period. That will have the same force as a Balanced Budget Amendment. Imagine the scrambling that would go on then. I'd love to see it happen, but I'm sure it won't.

If He Was Going To Lead, Wouldn't He Have Done It By Now?

All across the blogosphere and the newsmedia, people are wound up about the president's pathetic and timid budget. Here's a sample.
If a motto summed up the Obama presidency, it might be, “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” His policies are all about self-indulgence in the present, to be paid for with either long-run economic decline, or painful sacrifices by future generations.

His recent budget proposal, which contains a mix of real spending increases and mostly imaginary “cuts,” is a case in point. It pretends to cut spending and the deficit, but its “cuts” are slated to occur largely in the distant future (and thus may never happen), while its increases kick in almost immediately.
The details are here.

Spending is going up, not down.

What did you expect? When has this guy ever led?
  • The stimulus bill was left to Congress.
  • He never enumerated what he wanted out of the health care bill
  • He left the Iranian protestors to die in the streets rather than face the mullahs.
  • He left the Egyptian government to collapse rather than face the protestors.
Why is his latest budget a surprise? Stop expecting this guy to lead, have a plan, or make anything resembling a hard decision. He's just winging the whole thing, except for the speeches.

For the next two years, we're totally on our own.

Know-Y

... has got a pretty interesting website and some great videos. Like this one.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You Got To Give It To Him, He's A True Believer

I'd been ignoring the release of the president's budget as I pared down my morning political reading list (out: Hot Air), but B-Daddy brought me out of my dream world. I checked out the WSJ on the topic and came to the same conclusion.
This was supposed to be the moment we were all waiting for. After three years of historic deficits that have added almost $4.5 trillion to the national debt, President Obama was finally going to get serious about fiscal discipline. Instead, what landed on Congress's doorstep on Monday was a White House budget that increases deficits above the spending baseline for the next two years. Hosni Mubarak was more in touch with reality last Thursday night.
Obama has been telling us what he believes all along and this budget is the budget of a True Believer. Government is the answer. Jennifer Rubin fussed about Obama's news conference on the topic where there were statements like this.
"You guys are pretty impatient. If something doesn't happen today, then the assumption is that it's not going to happen," Mr. Obama said. "This is not a matter of 'you go first' or 'I go first.' This is a matter of everybody having a serious conversation about where we want to go and then ultimately everybody getting into that boat at the same time so it doesn't tip over."
Other than using a silly metaphor, I'm not sure what the problem is. This is who he is, who he's been and who he said he was going to be. He's never led anything of significance in his life, he's never had to work with a powerful, principled opposition and he is a True Believer in the power of government. A budget of wishful thinking from his administration isn't much of a surprise, nor is the refusal to take a leadership position on this.

And here I thought the Clinton years (1993-2001) were paradise. I guess they were years of oligarchic tyranny and government neglect.

Just as a semi-side note, wouldn't it be surprising for him to change his world view while in office? You'd think that an insular White House (insular for every occupant, not just him) would be the last place you'd change your thinking. He's chosen people who think like he does - from where would come the change?

Adventures in Fine Dining

Previously it had been noted that free-choice feeding our Maximum Leader was probably a bad idea. After doing a little more research, I've decided to make mealtime a bit more exciting for her by feeding her in different places. I hope this will encourage her to get out more rather than being emotionally tethered to her normal feeding spot. In addition, I've taken to removing the food dish once she's finished so she's not continually reminded of it. So far, it seems to be working.

Here, she's enjoying an outdoor cafe.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Expensive Food

My wife and I both have the flu this week. Instead of cooking fresh food as we normally do, we're going for the prepared stuff. We went with Marie Calendar chicken pot pies and some fish sticks. The trip to the store to buy those cost more than any other trip I've had yet, including ones where I've bought steaks or seafood.

Not caviar, but almost as expensive.

Audible Responds

I was whining a while back about how it was difficult to sign up as an affiliate for Audible.com. I wrote to them and whined there as well, complaining about having to fill in all kinds of forms and not being paid in Audible credits. Here's part of their reply:
I'm sorry that you find the sign-up process through Commission Junction to be troublesome, but CJ requires various bits of information because they are the channel through which you get paid. Unfortunately, we cannot pay you in "Audible credits."
My bet is that unlike Amazon, Audible is too small to run their own affiliate program. At Amazon, you just sign up your account with them and start posting links. It's that simple. Amazon, however, is a monstrous company that no doubt controls all of its own accounting and financial management tasks.

Still, it's kind of sad that they've made this so cumbersome when all I wanted to do was tell you how wonderful they are. I spent some time sulking about it, but when I considered the problem, I decided I was much more interested in letting you know how beneficial Audible has been to me than I was picking up a few more credits. So between now and the time I can find an easy way (or I give in to their semi-difficult one) to score some benefits for myself from this, I'll just content myself with posting the links as I mention the books.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Temptation

Lately, I've been tempted to get some aquariums and try my hand at raising Neon Tetras. I know I'd regret it later because of all the maintenance the tanks would require, but ooh, is it tempting!

I love these little guys.

I tried breeding Glowlight Tetras before and got them to spawn, but didn't get a big enough batch of fry to make the thing worthwhile. It's not keeping them alive that's the big deal, it's the effort required to get the water chemistry and the food just right to bring them to spawn. San Diego tap water is just about the polar opposite of the water in the Neons' natural habitat.

A Little More On Consciousness

I did a littlle bit more digging and came up with this nice summary of "The Grand Design". Hawking and his co-author Leonard Mlodinow don't claim to know everything, they just claim to do away with the need for God. They weasel word their answers in order to strike at theology without making their readers soil their pantaloons with existential dread.
On September 9, 2010, Larry King interviewed Stephen Hawking and Cal Tech physicist Leonard Mlodinow, who together co-authored The Grand Design. In this book, they propose that “God may exist, but science can explain the universe without a need for a creator.” They go on to say that “The scientific account is complete. Theology is unnecessary.”
Apparently, there are criticisms of the construct they use to create something from nothing (Genesis without God, but with Hawking and Mlodinow), but I'll leave those be for now. Here's an interesting quote.
From out of left field, King asked Mlodinow what happens to us when we die. After recovering from being stunned at the question, he deflected it a bit, but it led to a very interesting response about consciousness and the limits of science to quantify it. He said, “there’s no physics explanation for consciousness. And as far as I can tell, I’ve never seen consciousness defined in a way that a scientist can really deal with.”
So why write books publicized as doing away with theology when you know it does away with consciousness as well? The only answer I can come up with is that it sells. It would hardly do to tell you're readers they don't exist. Apparently, that concept is even too scary for some scientists.
As (Dr. Robert Lawrence) Kuhn says in the episode (of Closer to the Truth), What Things are Conscious?, "when all the great answers of physics have been found, we will not have begun to unravel the mysteries of consciousness."
Why? If you've got physics done and all wrapped up, you've got everything explained, right? After all, we're just aggregate blobs of components described by physics. This is just wishful thinking and an appeal to magic to console yourself that you really exist. Applying logic and experimental method to one existential issue, but deliberately avoiding applying it to another while wrapping yourself in the mantle of SCIENCE! is pathetic.


This is real, too, because I want it to be and I'm a scientist.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chihuahuas Are More Destructive Than Pit Bulls

We used to have a 90# pit bull. She was gentle and, while powerful, relatively non-destructive in the house. We now have two dogs, one of which is a 9# chihuahua mix. She is a whirlwind of destruction, gnawing all manner of clothes and towels to bits. Ferocity* matters more than size, I guess.

That's her, officer! The little one! I'd recognize her anywhere!


* - Well, ferocity or an abundance of nervous energy.

Zig Ziglar Supports Rabbi Lapin

I just finished listening to Zig's "Secrets of Closing the Sale" two times through in a row. It was great. One of Zig's main points is that a good salesman has empathy for his prospect and is there to solve the prospect's problem. Echoing Rabbi Lapin's point about profit, Zig says something to the effect that you will get what you want only after you help lots of other people get what they want.

That sounds about right to me. In my experience, I've known lots of people who have done well in their careers through empathy and kindness. I've known a few who have been utter jerks. For the most part, though, jerks go nowhere because they rapidly burn through their professional and customer relationships.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nietzsche and Hawking

I saw from a friend on Facebook that Stephen Hawking has a new book out, "The Grand Design" in which he claims that physics proves there is no God and the Universe was created by blah blah blah.

Haven't we seen this all before? Nietzsche let everyone know that there was no God and no need for good and evil and that we should all serve supermen who should rule with an iron fist. Of course, Nietzsche didn't, you know, pick up a gun and do anything, because he was, like, busy at the time and anyway he had a bunch of library books that were overdue and the kitchen was really a mess.

Nietzsche was a wimp advocating mass slaughter.


Nietzsche, right before he picked up a gun and ... oh, wait. Hear that? That sounds like the tea's ready.

Nowadays we have Stephen Hawking telling us all that physics can explain the start of the Universe and religion is a waste of time. Of course, he didn't actually see the start of the Universe the way he can see the start of human life with all its physics and stuff. If there's no sky fairy that made the Universe, then there sure as heck isn't any such thing as Stephen Hawking.

Stephen, of course, knows all of this. Still, he's taking the time to write books to convince arbitrarily connected collections of subatomic particles of this or that. Doesn't that sound a bit Nietzschean? I mean, if you believe in this stuff, shouldn't you live your life based on it? Doesn't writing books seem like a contradiction here? After all, his books are written with the underlying assumption that what all the rest of us think matters. But why does it matter?

Update: I revised this post to remove a lot of sneering at Stephen Hawking. It was unnecessarily unpleasant and Dr. Hawking, unquestionably a brilliant man, doesn't deserve such treatment.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Reason For Optimism

... is that people are more adaptable than doomsayers expect. Dig this.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday declared that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or ex-leaders who have condemned it.

"We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him," he said in a television interview in which he declared the concept a "failure."
For all those who thought* that Europe was fated to knuckle under to the more confident Islamist subculture in their midst, this just goes to show that it's possible for people to learn from experience and discard the ideas that don't work. We'll see how far this goes in terms of real implementation, but it's a concept that any right-thinking person wouldn't have uttered even a year ago.

Good on ya, Nick!

* - Count me in this group. I'll admit I was seduced by the pessimists.

Cheezburger of the Day

The Best Argument Yet Against Free-Choice Feeding Your Cat

I've been wrestling with a decision about whether or not to free-choice feed our Maximum Leader. I had been giving her measured amounts of food in the morning and at night with a snack or two in between. Our relationship had become completely defined by food to the point where she was crabby with me if I didn't come up with more food and hovered near her dish all day, constantly anticipating being fed.

On Tuesday of this week, I decided to pull the plug on this and just leave dry food out for her all the time. That seemed to work well. She relaxed quite a bit and I knew that the times she came up to me for loving had nothing to do with trying to coax some more food out of me. She also seemed to be spending more time outside of the Catican, away from the food dish. The downside was the amount of food she ate. She wiped out at least twice as much food as she'd been eating previously. I became concerned for the health of her digestive system - could she really process that much dry food?

It turns out my concern may have been well-founded. I did some clicking around the Interweb Tubes today and came up with two sites that recommend against free-choice feeding. The first suggests that food-anxiety is a good thing.
The best comparison we can make is that free-feeding would be like a person having a full buffet in your house, stocked with food 24 hours-a-day. When you think of it this way, it’s not hard to understand why pets that are free-fed tend to be sluggish, lethargic, and passionless about their pet food...In a dog or cat’s life food is the #1 motivation they have...A pet should have a unbridled passion for food. They need to look forward to their next meal with anticipation and excitement. This lays the foundation for a well-tempered, happy pet.
The best argument of all is based on the natural life of a predator.
Physiologically, the cat sitting on your lap is not much different from a lion. A lion has to hunt for its food...Cats are designed to gorge on a meal, then not eat again for many hours or even days. This allows for proper digestion and elimination of the toxins associated with a meat-based diet...A cat's digestive system needs a good long break on a daily basis. A 24-hour fast once a week is a good thing for a healthy adult cat. In the wild, this would most likely happen more than once a week. As efficient a hunter as the cat is, more hunts are unsuccessful than successful.
That's a convincing argument for me. I'm going back to measured meals, but I'm going to do some things to make them more interesting for her. My goals here are to:
  1. Make sure she has a healthy diet.
  2. Keep her as active as I possibly can.
  3. Maintain a loving relationship with her.
#1 is easy to do with the right food and some willpower on my part. I've got some new ideas for feeding that will help achieve the others. More about that in a later post.

Letting her gorge several times a day and then retire to her yurt is not an option.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hating the Past

Theodore Dalrymple makes an ancillary point in this tour of England's ghastly housing projects that is worth noting.
First among the reasons for this large-scale architectural vandalism was the prolonged revulsion against all things Victorian. In Britain this was particularly pronounced after the war because for the first time it was unmistakably clear just how far the country had declined from its Victorian apogee of world power and influence: a decline made somewhat easier to bear, psychologically speaking, by the consistent, unabashed denigration not only of the Victorians themselves but of all their ideas and works as well.

I witnessed a striking example of this revulsion in my own household, My father, a communist and therefore predisposed to view the past in a lurid light, especially by comparison with the inevitable post-revolutionary glories to come, had bought several Victorian paintings at Sotheby's during the war for ten shillings each. (Communists are not necessarily opposed to taking advantage of a temporary depression in prices.) He kept them in the loft of the house. Then, one day in 1960, quite arbitrarily, he decided that they were taking up too much space—unlike the tins of fruit he had stockpiled during the Korean War in the expectation that it would escalate into the Third World War, and which were now beginning to explode, but which he kept forever. He took all the paintings except one and put them on a bonfire, an act which I knew even at the age of ten to be one of terrible barbarism. I begged him not to do it to give the paintings away if he didn't like them—but no, they had to be destroyed.
This is an echo of the war against traditional morality, one that might achieve greater venom as the hip and modern crowd compares the world they've created - massive debt, higher child abuse, babies stabbed in their spines by abortionists, sex slavery supported by Planned Parenthood, rampant addiction to porn, etc. - to the one of our prudish ancestors.

It's easier to hate the past than to admit you made a mistake.

A new and glorious future awaits us.

The Price of Cultivating Paranoia

... is being paid by Arianna Huffington right about now.

She just sold the Huffington Post to AOL for $315M. Her readers have been marinating in anti-business paranoia for years and are reacting predictably.

Profit is evil and dooms free thought and ideas.
I liked coming to the Hufftingto­n post...It was a place of free thought and ideas. It saddens me about the deal and seeing how much the Hufftinton has change. I will be going back to Need to Know and The news Trust a social news network. Both of them are nonprofit and relay on the commuity and people to help them grow...Maybe you could build thier commuity the way you built the Huffington and help them stay a independen­t nonprofit progressiv­ely visionary news organizati­on and social news network.
Profit kills honesty.
Said it before and will happily offer it again.. Democracyn­ow.org is dignified, honest, and does not pull its punches.

Watch this video to get a taste of the level of awareness they are making available.

http://www­­.democrac­y­now.org/­20­11/2/7/­the­_empir­es_b­agman­_us_a­mbas­sador_­fra­nk”

The show is hosted by Amy Goodman and co-host Juan Gonzales, real heroes of the independen­t media world.
Money is evil.
CONGRAT$$
Corporations kill things.
Great. Another great media concept watered down and ruined by this particular large corporatio­n. Tragic.
It goes on and on and on. They took all this time to convince their readers that corporations were ruining the Earth, enslaving the poor, cheating customers and devoid of any sense of decency. How else could this have been seen other than as a sellout?

This a scene from the past as the nonprofit Huffington Post guard will no longer stand at the gate, defending the Proletariat.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bullet Trains: Cash for Clunkers II

President Obama wants $53B for high speed rail.
The White House on Tuesday announced plans to spend $53 billion over the next six years to build high-speed railroads, bringing California's massive bullet train project closer to reality.
It's so fundamentally stupid that it makes me think it's some kind of political payoff. It's like Cash for Clunkers all over again. I almost want it to be corrupt. At least then I wouldn't be thinking that this administration was completely divorced from reality.

Who's going to ride a train to go between cities that are only a hundred miles apart? I guess if you're talking about the congested Boston-DC corridor, that might make sense, but here in California? Are you crazy? Where I live, if I wanted to take the train north to LA, I'd have to drive south to get to the train station and then time my trip according to the train schedules. Once I got to LA, I'd either have to take a cab or rent a car to get where I wanted to go.

It would be absolutely impossible to make this trip take less time than driving. The whole idea is staggeringly dumb.

Gluttony and Envy

Gluttony from the cat and envy from me at the brilliance of this video.

A Two Zig Prospect

I'm coining a new phrase here and now. I've got a sales prospect that is just kicking my butt. The sale is terribly important to me, but I just can't get the deal done. I've been going at it for over a year and every time I think I've got the thing sealed, it slips away. This guy is a "Two Zig Prospect." You not only need Zig on closing the sale, you need Zig on motivation.

Here's Zig hitting the nail of my problem right on the head in the first two minutes of this video, just in case you've got the same kind of problem.

One of the Best Things in the World

... is coming downstairs in the morning to a coffeepot that is primed and ready to go. All you have to do is turn it on and dark, delicious goodness begins to brew.

Mmmmm.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Gorgeous

I wish I'd thought of doing this. In it's 60 frames per second mode, my Kidak Zi8 could definitely produce this kind of material.

Argh! Audible's Affiliate Program Is Driving Me Crazy

I had a post written in my head about making a huge sale at work after listening to most of a Zig Ziglar book I got on Audible.com. Having met some of the Audible team at Blogworld 2010, I tried to joint their affiliate program so I could get a few shekels if someone clicked on a link in a post. The signup process was a proctology exam delivered in 4pt font. Gaaaaahhhhhh! Now I'm totally out of the positive-blogging mood.

Addendum: In the signup process, it asks you how many hits you get a month on your site. Like most bloggers, I'm in the lowest, "less than 99,000 hits a month" category. Thanks for rubbing my nose in the fact that I'm a pipsqueak. That was great.

Dear Audible: I love your products and wanted to sell them. I apologize for that. It was rude of me to try to help you make some sales. Thank you for letting me know that you didn't want me to do this.


No time for my shenannighenz or my attempts to boost sales, apparently.

Update: Upon reading this a day later, this comes across as a lot of whining, but there it is. Whine whine whine!

A Little on Rabbi Daniel Lapin

I just started Rabbi Lapin's book, Thou Shall Prosperafter hearing Dave Ramsey recommend it over and over again. In the first section, the Rabbi makes a very interesting point.

You should try to make more money for the good of everyone around you.

For the most part, you can't make money unless you provide something someone wants. Making money is an indicator that you have provided good things for the rest of us. For example, I want to drive a car to work, so I bought one. When I bought my FredMobile, the seller made money. That was good because without him trying to make money, I'd be walking. Dittos for the food we eat, the clothes we wear and the houses we live in. All came from someone's desire to make money. Therefore, the desire to make money is good.

Hmmm. I like it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

Super Bowl Musings

Being a lifelong Packers fan, I loved the results, but I was a bit surprised. The Steelers looked like they had it all together in the second half. Even after the Packers' 70-yard drive at the end for the field goal, I still thought the Steelers would pull it out. Their total disorganization on their final drive was pretty shocking. You wouldn't think that a veteran team would muff what was a relatively straightforward 2-minute drill.

I wonder if the pressure of the game is what got to them.

Lichens

"All lichens are an alga and fungus living in a symbiotic relationship."

I did not know that. More here.

Link of the Day

Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings muses miscellaneously in this post. A little more than halfway down the post, there's a video that's worth watching. I had considered posting it here, but I just wasn't in the mood at the time for the depravity of the thing.

After watching it, I think you'll agree that we can all stop hearing about the Right's "Climate of Hate" now. The racism canard can stop, too, particularly the stuff about "code words".

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Highlights from the Big Game

Who can forget this electrifying moment?

Update: The video was taken off YouTube, but there's another with the same amazing moment. Unfortunately, embedding is disabled.

The Super Bowl Pregame Show

... exists to give you highlights to watch while you drink your first beer. That way you're all loosened up for the Big Game.

Over at our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings, they've got a Super Bowl Open Thread going.

If Your Eye Causes You To Sin ...

From Matthew 18:
Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come! If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna.
Colbert King cares deeply for the plight of black children born to single mothers, but he's not willing to pluck out our eyes to stop the tidal wave of destruction crushing blacks in America today. Elsewhere, Davy Rothbart writes about how his addiction to porn is damaging his life, but he's not willing to cut off his hand.

It's an old addage of Peter Drucker's that any strategy that requires superstars to carry it out is no strategy at all. Both Colbert King and Davy Rothbart want the abuse to go away - the children to be given a loving home and the girlfriends/wives to be cherished, but they want to do it still awash in a sea of porn. You just can't expect the average person to be exposed to it day and night, have it available at a moment's notice on the Internet or on TV and successfully fight it endlessly.

Would you put a heroin addict in a room full of needles and heroin and expect them to stay clean?

It's possible to entertain ourselves without immersing ourselves in a slime that results in wrecked relationships and abused children.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Just a Thought

If a strategy doesn't work in a time of crisis, then it's not a good strategy. If it requires above-average people to carry it out, it's probably not a good one, either.

Whatever You Do, Don't Get Labeled With The "P" Word

Colbert King, columnist for the Washington Post, writes in sadness about celebrating MLK day while the black family is still in shambles. He links to his 2008 column where he cried out about the same exact thing. He also links to the website of the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy where they post a map superimposing juvenile arrests upon teen births. It looks like this.

There's an obvious correlation, but that's just the way it goes, I guess. Let's turn on Two and a Half Men and take our minds off the problem.

Colbert draws all of the right conclusions, but can't bring himself to make the crucial last step. He tries to thread the needle, talking about responsibility without demanding an end to our culture of self-gratification. He won't advocate for a return to traditional morality and traditional values. He won't use the word "sin" or "immoral" or anything else that might get him labeled as the worst kind of pariah.

A prude.

Apparently, We Still Haven't Exhausted All Governmental Options Yet

Dig this gloomy assessment of the most recent jobs report.
If Barack Obama were looking for a further boost in his popularity from the new jobs data, he'd be disappointed. Yes, the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent in December to 9.0 percent last month, in part due to a decline in the labor force participation rate to the lowest level since March 1984, and in part due to a statistical glitch that the Labor Department says makes the December 2010 and January 2011 non-comparable. But a somewhat different and more closely watched survey shows that the economy added only a paltry 36,000 jobs in January, a gain of 50,000 in the private sector offset by a decline of 14,000 in the public sector ...

However you want to characterize these dismal data, unemployment remains “stubbornly above” the level that Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke says he finds acceptable -- so he will continue to buy government bonds and print money to pay for them. The recovery is neither robust enough, nor creating enough jobs, to satisfy him.
Presumably, they taught logic at the fancy-schmancy schools Barack and his minions attended. Despite that, there's a connection they don't seem to be making.

Increasing regulations and government spending has not resulted in more jobs.

What's so hard about this? The government is spending more than it ever has in the history of the country. The Federal Register is larger than it's ever been. If this was the answer, why isn't it working? Why do they continue to think that the solution is more spending and more regulations? In essence, they're saying that $3.5T wasn't enough, but $3.6T will get us over the hump. 8,532,101 pages of regulations* was too little. 8,721,771 will be the key to new job creation.

If it was going to work, wouldn't it have worked by now? Does anyone ever ask that question in the White House or Congress?


A fancy-schmancy school where logic goes to die.

* - I'm guessing here. I didn't feel like looking anything up this morning. I don't think knowing the exact number changes the logical construct of their argument.

Friday, February 04, 2011

San Diego Bay

... taken yesterday with my Droid 2.

This Is Totally Cool

... and part of an inside joke we have at work.

Elections Were Held In The Confederacy, Too

As we rush to embrace democracy in Egypt, it's worth noting that the results of democracy are only as good as the society practicing it. If, for example, your society believes that Sharia Law should play a key role in politics, you might end up with something quite different than the liberal, enlightened democracy we all crave here in the West.
According to the survey, majorities in Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan and Nigeria would favor changing current laws to allow stoning as a punishment for adultery, hand amputation for theft and death for those who convert from Islam to another religion. About 85% of Pakistani Muslims said they would support a law segregating men and women in the workplace.

Muslims in Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria and Jordan were among the most enthusiastic, with more than three-quarters of poll respondents in those countries reporting positive views of Islam's influence in politics: either that Islam had a large role in politics, and that was a good thing, or that it played a small role, and that was bad.
Infidels beware.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hilarious!

Egyptian Unrest Spreads to England

Thanks to my daughter playing club soccer and us watching the World Cup games last year, I've become a big soccer fan. We subscribed to foxsoccer.tv and have been watching English Premier League games. Upon consulting a friend who's an experienced fan, we decided to root for Newcastle United as their colors are black and white, just like our Maximum Leader.

Honestly, what else could we have chosen?

Newcastle play decent football and are in the middle of the pack in the league. They recently traded one of their top goal scorers and then yesterday had another of their strikers go down with an injury as they lost to an inferior team. Naturally, this set off a firestorm of criticism on the Newcastle United blog, leading to this suggestion that fans use techniques honed in Egypt on the owners ...
agreed dan we need these 2 cockney spivs out cairo style
Cairo style?!? The rioting hasn't even played itself out and already there's a term coined. Meanwhile, in Newcastle, it looks like they're ready to storm the gates.


Or maybe not.

Planned Parenthood as Scavengers

It's like they're maggots feeding on the rotting parts of society.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Cheezburger of the Day

Spilled Milk

A previous post regarding the EPA regulating milk spillages seems to have had some errors (as astutely pointed out by Kelly, our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands), so it's been removed. You can see the Thomas Sowell article it came from here.

Over at that link, commenter diehard raises the same objections as did Kelly. I'm very disappointed in Mr. Sowell and will read his articles with a rather jaundiced eye from now on.

Winning the Future

Wouldn't government support for telecommuting be more futuristic and environmentally friendly than high-speed rail? Wouldn't it be better for office buildings to be unnecessary and instead of people being moved about in big boxes, not having them move about at all?

Win the future!