Previous Thoughts

 

 Thought For The Day 02/23/2012

"A man's intentions should be allowed in some respects to plead for his actions."

GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Dec. 1756

 

The World's Smartest Man 

2/14/2012


One night, Airforce 2 was flying a secret humanitarian mission to New Jersey; delivering the President to his latest opportunity to grab the media's attention. There were five people on board; the pilot, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, The Dali Lama, and a 12 year old girl named Susie. Suddenly, an explosion occurred in a compartment down below and the passenger cabin began to fill with smoke. The cockpit door opened, the pilot burst into the compartment and threw all the safety gear on the floor at their feet.

"Folks," he began, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we're about to crash in New Jersey. The good news is that there are four parachutes, and I have one of them!"

With that, the pilot threw open the door and jumped from the plane. The President was on his feet in no time, saying that, "I am the president of the most powerful nation in the world and the smartest man in America - possibly the world; I deserve a parachute." 

With these words, he grabbed one of the remaining packs on the floor, hurtled through the door and into the night.

Nancy Pelosi rose and said, "Folks, I am the most powerful woman in America and I am not leaving the destiny of the country in that man's hands with only Harry Reid to guide him!"

She grabbed a bag and out she jumped.

The Dali Lama and Susie looked at one another and after a brief moment, the Dali Lama spoke. "My dear," he said, "I have lived a satisfying life and have known the bliss of True Enlightenment. You have your life ahead of you - you take a parachute and I will go down with the plane."

Susie stood up and with all the patience and composure of a seasoned professional, grabbed a chute and started to put it on the aging man's back.  With a look of complete surprise on his face, little Susie reassured him that he should not worry.  "Don't worry Mr. Lama, the world's smartest man just jumped out wearing my backpack and the most powerful woman grabbed the life-raft; we'll be ok."

Yes - it's a joke - but I can imagine it happening...

 
02/10/2012 - UPDATED 02/13/2012

Occupy demonstrators target Romney with protest of CPAC speech

Click on the title above to read the story.

Due to reader's feedback, I feel the need to clarify that I am referring to the "Occupy Movement" in general - not just the Occupy Washington demonstrators or the paid protestors sent to CPAC.  I apologize for the confusion. 

I also feel compelled to add the following link to a statistical breakdown of the "Occupy Movement" HERE - though I want to be clear that I completely disagree that it is accurate. I distrust the overall statistics reported at the site, as they require the respondents to answer individually and there is no way to independently verify their accuracy. Ages, education levels, employment status and political affiliation are all subject to debate and common categories of "misrepresentation" in voluntary polling data. I visited three of the rallies in the past 30 days, each in a different region and I take serious exception to the statistics. For example, where is the category for the following?

  1. People paid to hold up signs and shout whatever the audience is shouting
  2. People paid to simply show up
  3. People showing up for the social experience, but have no desire to be a part of the movement
  4. People showing up for the food and give-a-ways

All of the aforementioned made up a very large part of the group I met in Philadelphia. Categories 1 & 2 were very, very prevalent in DC and New York. From my personal interviews, there were a lot of "professional protestors" at each as well, but they did not come anywhere close to the number of 25 and under crowd. I also think the employed full-time number is completely bogus and is an utter fabrication designed to insinuate credibility. The 27% figure for those claiming “democrat” should be the glaring defect in polling data calling the statistical authenticity into question.
 

--- End of Update - Original content below ---

I guess my first comment on that is, "Are there really still 'Occupiers'?"  I thought that America had already forgotten about them and they went away.  Granted, the Huffington Hope Float and the other lefty media sources tried like hell to bring the Arab-Spring to America - but they under estimated good old U.S. apathy and over estimated our attention span.  Silly liberals - tricks are for kids and everyone knows that the youth are hardly ever given much credit for having a point.  As a 40-something with teenagers, I am familiar with the old adage, "Kids should be seen - not heard."  I have to admit, I'm not a fan of it - never have been, but I see a potential (accurate) application of it in the "Occupiers".  Particularly children who have lead such a charmed life as so many have; not wanting for much - not having REAL NEEDS go unattended.  Then, to have these same kids go off to college, where they hardly had to compete (like they used to) to get in, where their life is just as sheltered and attended to as it was - it's just in a different shelter.  What could they possibly have to offer to the ills of society when they don't even know what they are?  Can they really be trusted to speak intelligently when they do not know the difference between a debt and a deficit?  I wondered, so I decided to investigate. 

I talked to these kids, I listen to them  AND I heard them...  Guess what?  I just wanted them to stop talking.   Holy Moses - they really have no concept of reality.  In case after case the 18-25 year olds I spoke with were of the impression that the government was akin to the "bread-winner" of the family and was "CONSTITUTIONALLY REQUIRED" to support the citizens.  In at least 80% of the cases, the words, "Protect and defend" were translated (in their minds) as, "feed, clothe and employ".  When asked if they knew what a republic was and how it differed from some place like France, Canada, Greece, China and Russia - most said, "It's just bigger."  I almost every case, the kids did not see any issue at all with "socializing the country" to the point that everyone got fed, clothed, possessed a shelter (or access to one) and had access to a job.  When I explained to them that I just described the United States - they were all shocked.  I took the time to explain that poverty in Russia, China, Venezuela and Cuba were far - far worse than in the U.S. and a full 50% accused me of lying.  "How could people go hungry in a socialist or communist country?" a handful of them countered.  How indeed...  These are the occupiers or, at least a large portion of them.  Do we really want to hear their demands?

I recently concluded the college tour cycle with one of my daughters and I have to be honest with all of you:  I was afraid.  My greatest fear was that the stupidity with which many of the counselors, assistants and "mentors" displayed so openly - might be communicable.  These were the "best of the best", the "best and the brightest" and the ones the universities believed were the best available representatives of their institution.  I won't bother with the details, but I have to admit that my excitement that she was granted admission to two of them so far has brought mixed emotions. 

This whole discussion kind of brings me full-circle in my thoughts about the ongoing exposè I have to the left (Obama's road to re-election).  The kids I am referring to are part of the reason we have the antithetical American Dream president we currently possess.  Maybe an I.Q. and current events test prior to voting ain't such a bad idea...  Just bring photo ID please.
 

 

This was a previous "Thought for the Day" That actually ran for about a month.  I thought that it needed to sink in with the public.

"There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government? The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent it's ascendancy."

"I think the best remedy is exactly provided by all our constitutions, to leave the citizens the free election and separation of the aristoi from the pseudo-aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff. In some instances, wealth may corrupt, and birth blind them; but not in sufficient degree to endanger the society."

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams (1813)

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1/15/2012

Ban at U.S. Grand Canyon Pits Tourism Against Mining

READ THE ARTICLE FIRST - It's short

I found this article buried in Businessweek Magazine, but otherwise, no major media outlets have brought this one to light.  Arizona Daily Gazette and Northwest Indiana Times have it...  At any rate - this one gives me pause.  It does so because it details the ACTIONS, not the words of our administration.  It shows us that they are comfortable with abandoning $10 billion in state economic activity to protect $3.5 billion in state and Fed. government activity.  And moreover - willing to sacrifice hundreds of high paying jobs to "maintain" dozens of low-paying service related ones. 

For all of you out there that have had the pleasure of visiting the Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP):  Did you notice that there are mines in the area?  If you did, did it make you not want to come back?  AS many times as I visited the GCNP, I never saw the mines...  Probably because I wasn't looking for them.  So, having said that, the administration is apparently trading on a 10-for-3.5 ratio, losing money as he normally does.  But wait - is there really a need to protect the $3.5 billion?  Was it being threatened?  Let's go back and re-read the article and see if we missed something - go ahead, I'll wait.

Welcome back.  Did you see anything that represented evidence for a threat to tourism?  No - neither did I.  Instead of any evidence whatsoever, we got the following quote from the U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, ".. it was part of an effort to safeguard the $3.5 billion spent by visitors to the national park each year.  Tourism, leisure are very much a part of job creation of the United States...  The jobs associated to the Grand Canyon are not jobs that can be exported anywhere, those are truly American jobs.”  Uhhh....  Ok Ken, but MINING jobs in the nation's richest uranium deposits can't be exported either.

All states in the area are unhappy with this decision, as are the mining companies and only the Grand Canyon Sierra Club is in support of it - but they aren't even certain why!  They threw a line out about "water quality preservation," which is canned environmental speak when they've got nothing.  It also negatively affects our energy independence - something else we are purportedly trying to IMPROVE!  You have to wonder, "Why in the hell are they doing this?"  "Why, with everything else going on, jobs dissolving faster than they can count, businesses leaving en mass, would they intentionally do more harm?"

Then there's the line that sent a shiver down me timbers:  "The company has adjusted its business plan to focus on copper exploration as well as gold and silver activities in Mexico."  And there we have it.

The point that I am trying to get across here is simple: 

WATCH THE BIG PICTURE.  They are sneaky and just when you think there's nothing going on, search the local papers to see what they're doing while no one is watching.

Merl-

1/3/2012

A quick update from the Straights of Hormuz:

Mahmoud Ineedajihad says, "Just kidding" about his threat to shut down the waterway.

Think it had anything to do with the 5th fleet sitting there daring him to try?

 

Chavez muses on US Latin America cancer plot

12/28/2011

And I quote... "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has questioned whether the US has developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America."

"Mr Chavez said this was "very strange" but stressed that he was thinking aloud rather than making "rash accusations".  But he said the instances of cancer among Latin American leaders were "difficult to explain using the law of probabilities".
 

Hugo is clearly suffering from the chemotherapy, and comments like this could get him on the Snooki Science Achievements List if he doesn't watch out!
 

Iran's Hormuz Threat
An attack on oil traffic would deserve a military response

12/28/2011

Mahmoud Ineedajihad is up to his butt in chili right now.  His threat to close down the straights of Hormuz is pathetic and a thinly veiled disguise of what he really hopes to do: drive the price of oil up. 

Now, here's my message to the insurance companies of the world:

There is no need to increase the bonding fees for tankers in the region - the US 5th fleet is on the job.  I would trust that the boys in blue will protect the oil.  Do not give Mahmoud what he's looking for.  If you raise insurance prices, the costs will go up and he'll win.  Suck it up and grow a set.

Here is my message for the oil speculators:

THE US 5th fleet is on the job and Saudi has promised to make up for any missing Iranian oil.  Between Saudi, Libya and Iraq - Iranian oil is unnecessary.  Don't be a bunch of bastards this time!  Screwing the world's oil consumers just because you're too weak in the constitution to deny Ineedajihad what he desires will ruin your karma.  Karma is a bitch - what comes around goes around.

This guy [Mahmoud] is no different than Chavez, Snooki, Kim Jung Loon or his kid, Kim Jung Uhhhh.... They are all clueless and the only reason they have any influence is because people keep paying attention to them.  Here's what I do when I grow weary of loud, annoying and obnoxious people who love to hear the sound of their own voice:  I ignore them.

Pass the sanctions Barack - institute the financial blockade of the Iranian central bank and let Ineedajihad twaddle on TV like the cartoon character he is.  Trust that our allies in the region will do as they promise (they'll actually make a lot of money doing so) and that the 5th fleet keep the oil flowing. 

 

Snooki makes list of science-challenged celebs for ‘whale sperm’ comment

12/28/2011

And I quote... "I hate the ocean. It’s all whale sperm. Everybody Google it. Because that’s why the water is salty. From the [expletive] whale sperm.”

She is one of those perfect examples that I have referred to in the past of the people that rely on the rest of the world to protect her.  If it were not for the fact that other people keep their eye on her, all of the time, she would get hit by a bus while crossing the street.  Go here and read more about the list of celebrities who have no grasp of [anything] science that she has been added to.


 

AND THEY HAVE THE NERVE TO ACCUSE CHRISTIANS OF SINGLING THEM OUT!

December 25, 2011

Yes, I'm talking about our good friends - the Muslim.

I just finished reading a Reuter's article, Bombs at Nigeria churches kill 27, and I was struck with an odd sense of irony. 

Now I am familiar with the age-old trick by our terrorist supporting friends.  The old "I'm killing yours in response to you killing ours" trick.  But, this is not the gambit this time.  According to the Islamist Militant group Boko Haram, the fundamentally retarded extremists who claimed culpability for the attacks, their reasoning was a little different.  They said, and I quote, "Anyone who is not governed by what Allah has revealed is among the transgressors and the transgressors shall be punished under the law of sharia." Abu Darda, the self-proclaimed Boko spokesman went on to say that, "Infidels (transgressors) under sharia are put to death." 

That's just great...  Another group of mentally-challenged being given weapons and access to the internet.  They probably coordinated this attack at the local Starbucks.  Anyway, for those of you who are wondering, here's a little bit more information on the group itself:  "Boko Haram" which loosely translates to, "Western  education is a sin," is a Nigerian extremist Islamist (terrorist) group that seeks the imposition of sharia law in the country of Nigeria. The official name of the group is Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad.  I think I spelled that correctly.  In Arabic, it mostly translates to : "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad." 

Wouldn't it be special if they walked out of their mosque at prayer time to find a Terry McVeigh-style white moving truck delivering them to Allah himself? 

Happy Eid-al-Fitr Mohammed - enjoy three days of feasting on fertilizer, black powder and fuel oil, served up in a mobile box, set to deliver wherever you dwell.  I am of the opinion that, if the Muslim community wants the alleged "oppression" of their people to end [at the hands of the Jews and the Christians], it would start with getting control of their extremes. 

I know what you must be thinking by now, "Merl's lost his mind! He never takes sides in the nonsense of religion."  Well, you are partially correct, though this hardly resembles a religious issue.  They are targeting everyone that doesn't believe in sharia, a function of their religion.  Kind of like the Catholics during the crusades (and the ensuing 300 years) or like the ancient Hebrew stories of old where they slaughtered all who opposed them (think: Hykos in Egypt).  In both cases - they cared not if you believed in their god, only that you followed their pomp and circumstance. Might be time to nip that in the bud, lest we wind up with repeating the aforementioned nightmares of the other two mythologies...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

 

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Dark Matter is Bogus - But the Higgs Particle is Found!!!

Unhhhh...  Not so fast....

12/8/2011

The article reads:  Latest Fermi studies find no trace of dark matterAnd then there's the kicker, "The results appear to go against recent direct evidence for low-mass dark matter, although some physicists believe there is no conflict."

Yep - that's what it says...  Go here to read it for yourself.  It reads just like a fairy tale being used to disprove the existence of faery tale creatures...  No, I did misspell - look it up.

Then we have the other half of my title, the elusive Higgs.

And I quote: "The particle-accelerating machine on the French-Swiss border was built with the hunt for the Higgs as a key goal."

Then it goes on to say, "The two teams of scientists work independently, using two separate detectors - called ATLAS and CMS - each relying on different technologies. This way they provide an independent cross-check for each other. How closely their results agree will be an important measure of how significant a finding they can claim."

So what they are saying is, the hope of any sort of objective review - dashed...  But let's soldier forth and see what else might be said.  And I quote, "I think we are going to get the first glimpse. The LHC experiments have already looked high and low for this missing piece. It could be that it weighs several hundred times the proton mass, but that seems very unlikely, then there's a whole intermediate range where we know it cannot be, then there's the low mass range where we actually expect it might be. There seem to be some hints emerging there... "  What the hell did he just say?  Did I miss something necessary for the message to take shape in my brain?  "It ain't where we predicted it, it ain't where it should be and we can't explain why it might be where it shouldn't be - no - CAN'T be, but we're going to get a success.  Next week!"  That's what it sounded like when I read it. 

Well - let's see what the boss says, and I quote: "It's too early to say…I think we may get indications that are not consistent with its non-existence."  -- director of Cern research, Sergio Bertolucci

Wow...  What can be said to that...

Go here to read it for yourself, gulp, if you dare.

-- UPDATE ALERT --

One week later, it comes out that they didn't find squat...  All this over Nada, Zip, Zilch

 


50 + 1, 50 plus one or Simple Majority

March 4, 2010

Call it what you want, it is still Reconciliation This is pure political spin and your President isn't being honest with you.  He, himself, for the past four years has claimed that he did not want a "50 plus one administration" and that things couldn't continue [in Washington] the way they had been.  See the link to hear his words, in the context he meant them in.  I would hate for anyone to claim that I was taking utterances and twisting them.. 50 plus one

Now, I realize that the white house has fought back by saying that, "..The House bill passed with a 60% majority, as did the Senate bill...and that should be enough to convince the public (and pundits) that this is not just a simple majority situation."  Agreed - debate was cut off on both bills with the necessary 60%.  Unfortunately, that sleight-of-hand they are trying to pull doesn't tell the whole tale.  What's true and what's pertinent is that the bill being offered by the President is not the same bill; it requires an entirely new vote.  Also, they aren't telling you that they have not the votes to pass the House version in the Senate, nor do they have the votes in the House to pass the Senate version; hence why they are trying to employ Reconciliation

Reconciliation is, unfortunately, not to be used for passing legislation other than budget issues.  It was designed by Senator Byrd in 1974 to push through necessary budgetary legislation in the face of a contentious majority.  And, though it has been used 20+ times since it's inception, it has never been used for something that meets the level and scope of this.  In fact, Bill Clinton tried ramming his healthcare program through with it in 1993, but the Senate shot it down, claiming it was out-of-bounds for reconciliation.  The history of reconciliation's use is pretty clear and well-documented.  Wikipedia has amassed pretty decent Historical Use & Examples sections showing past attempts; successful or not.  Even given the challenges to bias, I have been working furiously to keep the information fair and unpartial.

Ok, so I've done my due-diligence and I've made my point.   Here's why it bothers me that Washington's organized crime family  is about to pull the trigger on reconciliation:

BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TO!  They are going to alienate the bulk of their constituency, ruin any credibility they have left (not much) and set a new legislative precedent all for the purpose of expediency.  In the end, they will have played Russian roulette with many of the weaker senator's and representative's careers when all they had to do was:

 

 

Write a simple bill: Remove maximum benefits, remove pre-existing conditions clauses - pass it bilaterally. 
Write a simple bill: Implement portability, address limited tort reform in the form of maximum punitive damages claims and implement intellectual property rights improvements for the pharma industry that actually protects them here and abroad - pass it bilaterally.
Write a simple bill: Require all employers (5 or more employees) to either offer or contribute to insurance for their employees, direct the creation of "pools" of employers to mass bulk insurance purchasing - pass it bilaterally.

In other words, "eat the elephant one bite at a time."

It just doesn't seem that hard.

 

 

Bail Who Out? II

October 12, 2008

I've had a fair amount of feedback on this one, and it suffices to say that there is absolutely no one who agrees that the bailout package made sense.  A full 100% of you would have chosen to wait, study the problem in greater detail and offered a solution that would have addressed the problem instead of the side-effects.  The running answers are listed in yellow.  We'll keep going with this for another week I think.

Is this an organic process, or is it occurring because it is being driven? If it is organic, can we actually affect it? If it is not, who stands to benefit from it?  Why do Goldman, Morgan and Buffet's names keep popping up when there is a fire-sale, bankruptcy or seizure?  So far, most think it's organic and a product of greed.  Also, most think repairing the damage will only stave off a depression, leaving a recession in full effect. How come the financial system is melting down?  If the players are all dirty already, why are they afraid to play the game with dirty players?  Who decided that commercial credit needed to tighten?  There is no bone of contention here, all of you think the tightening occurred because many of the players know pretty well how dirty each other is in this.  All-in-all, this is a byproduct of everyone being guilty; so say you all.
Who knew it was coming, when did they know, why didn't they say/do something?  Is it possible that this is a side-effect of "designer securities" or is it a result?  Most were unable to answer this one in a clear and concise way, though many believe that the upper echelon in the Fed & Treasury have seen it coming for 2 years.  Should we blame the people making money on the bogus securities or the people benefitting from the mortgages (they could not afford) that were funding the funky paper?  Blame them all is the consensus, but punish the ones who should have known better.  The educated folks on Wall Street should take the hit according to the masses. Is this the only monster in the closet?  What's looming under the bed?  If the hokey-pokey is what it's all about, then why do we care how much wood a woodchuck can chuck; assuming he can chuck wood at all?  Again, you all seem to be in heated agreement:  There probably are more monsters waiting to pounce.  Just another weight on the shoulders of the commercial credit market.
Is it just me, or are there people making money in all of this?  Maybe the collapse and eventual consolidation and rebirth is a natural process that should be embraced?  Who's to say that this is a bad thing after all?  Could this be a "course-correction" in the global economy required to adjust the playing field?  Too many of you lost your objectivity on this one and read that I believe it could be a good thing.  None of you saw any potential benefit to this melt-down, which leads me to believe that emotion whooped logic's butt.  Try again. Define the "bubble" that purportedly burst, then, explain who or what popped it.  Musical chairs anyone?  If someone did buy the London Bridge, who do we fault - the crook selling it or the idiot buying it? {Philosophical question, but not to be taken rhetorically}  Some of you misread this as a re-read of a previous question; it was not.  Others argue over the term "bubble".  The media coined the phrase - not I, so I tried to convey the question with the familiar vernacular.  Define the situation however you choose, but answer the question - stop debating the proposition of it.
In a closed system (such as our economy), does transferring wealth ($700B) from one area to another without removing the underlying debt only delay the inevitable?  Is "Top/down" funding of the problem the best/only way to steady the market, or could erasing the underlying debt do the same thing?  Which would cost more (ignoring the complexity of either)?  Split 50/50 on where to put the funding.  A majority believes that the top-down trick will not protect against a depression since it isn't actually fixing the problem and thus far hasn't even slowed the meltdown.  A minority thinks we need to suspend trading until the emotion wears off.  A very vocal minority thinks the best solution is to redistribute mortgages in a socialist fashion and tell Wall Street to suck it up. How do the securities, based on commercial "paper" and backed by mortgages that have a finite value, manage to generate revenue 30-100 times the asset value?  Isn't Wiley Coyote running in thin air as soon as the value exceeds 1:1?  Should we now be investigating the whole of the market for similar activities - BEFORE they wind up leveraged beyond saving?  1,000 different answers to this one.  I need more time to sift the data.  Facts and figures are being discussed here and many of you are working from generalizations.  I invite you to spend the necessary time to find good, solid data and avoid media outlets.  This isn't a race - let's get it right.

So far the bailout hasn't worked...  It's obvious and now the question is, "What do we do about it?"  I'm concerned that we have not addressed the underlying issue(s) nor are we working on quelling the emotional content that seems to be driving the bus.  I'm in favor of McCain's idea, though I think much more needs to happen for it to work properly.  Let's work to get the information sent in this week so we can work on an idea together.  Who knows, maybe McCain's camp visits this site...

 

 

Bail Who Out?

September 27, 2008

Alright students, who's been paying attention to the patterns in our economy?  With all due modesty, I think it's rather obvious that I predicted this.  Let's not dwell on that though.  Instead, we should ask some questions to get the discussion moving.  I'll do my best to try and start it off without steering it.

Is this an organic process, or is it occurring because it is being driven? If it is organic, can we actually affect it? If it is not, who stands to benefit from it?  Why do Goldman, Morgan and Buffet's names keep popping up when there is a fire-sale, bankruptcy or seizure? How come the financial system is melting down?  If the players are all dirty already, why are they afraid to play the game with dirty players?  Who decided that commercial credit needed to tighten?
Who knew it was coming, when did they know, why didn't they say/do something?  Is it possible that this is a side-effect of "designer securities" or is it a result?  Should we blame the people making money on the bogus securities or the people benefitting from the mortgages (they could not afford) that were funding the funky paper? Is this the only monster in the closet?  What's looming under the bed?  If the hokey-pokey is what it's all about, then why do we care how much wood a woodchuck can chuck; assuming he can chuck wood at all?
Is it just me, or are there people making money in all of this?  Maybe the collapse and eventual consolidation and rebirth is a natural process that should be embraced?  Who's to say that this is a bad thing after all?  Could this be a "course-correction" in the global economy required to adjust the playing field? Define the "bubble" that purportedly burst, then, explain who or what popped it.  Musical chairs anyone?  If someone did buy the London Bridge, who do we fault - the crook selling it or the idiot buying it? {Philosophical question, but not to be taken rhetorically}
In a closed system (such as our economy), does transferring wealth ($700B) from one area to another without removing the underlying debt only delay the inevitable?  Is "Top/down" funding of the problem the best/only way to steady the market, or could erasing the underlying debt do the same thing?  Which would cost more (ignoring the complexity of either)? How do the securities, based on commercial "paper" and backed by mortgages that have a finite value, manage to generate revenue 30-100 times the asset value?  Isn't Wiley Coyote running in thin air as soon as the value exceeds 1:1?  Should we now be investigating the whole of the market for similar activities - BEFORE they wind up leveraged beyond saving?

Here's a rhetorical question for the group as well:  If money market mutual funds have "broken the buck", shouldn't there be an investigation?  If they are "loss-proof" and they've now lost money, does that not indicate criminal activity?  I find it a little disconcerting that we used that benchmark for the oh-shit status of the financial community, but we're not motivated to find out who the bastard is that was behind the failure.

Let the thought begin!

 

 

 

A Reality Check

April 25,2008

In the words of the White Stripes, "You can't be a pimp and a prostitute too..."  Ain't that the truth.  Sometimes, no matter how much we think we can tip the scales of universal equilibrium with all of our technology and intellect, the universe just puts us quietly back in our place.  Sometimes we are taught a painful lesson, but others, we just wind up back where we started - no worse for wear.  Thankfully, the universe isn't judgmental and doesn't hold a grudge.  Even having said that, I can't help but put a bit of an anthropomorphic spin on it.  Often times, at least in my opinion, it acts awfully organic and even sends us signals to get our attention prior to sanction.  Let's take a look and see if we're ignoring a message or two right now.

After the last posting on Superbugs, we'll look now at the issue of GM crops.  Keep Complexity in mind during this so that you might see the pieces coming together.  There are a couple of more topics to touch on prior to assembling the picture puzzle of the real specter stalking mankind.

First, let's get a decent (easy-to-understand) definition of what genetically modified crops are: 

The term GM foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms) is most commonly used to refer to crop plants created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. These plants have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content. The enhancement of desired traits has traditionally been undertaken through breeding, but conventional plant breeding methods can be very time consuming and are often not very accurate. Genetic engineering, on the other hand, can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy. For example, plant geneticists can isolate a gene responsible for drought tolerance and insert that gene into a different plant. The new genetically-modified plant will gain drought tolerance as well. Not only can genes be transferred from one plant to another, but genes from non-plant organisms also can be used. The best known example of this is the use of B.t. genes in corn and other crops. B.t., or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces crystal proteins that are lethal to insect larvae. B.t. crystal protein genes have been transferred into corn, enabling the corn to produce its own pesticides against insects such as the European corn borer.

 

There, we're all on the same page now.  I have to admit to being just a little bit concerned about the prospect of creating a whole host of this & that unintentionally.   I'll have to get back to this soon.

Continuation

May 18,2008

My sincerest apologies for the delay.  No matter how I attempt to paint this picture I wind up making it so complex that it becomes an exercise to read.  Clearly - this is not what I strive for here so I've changed direction a bit.  Thank you to all who proof read the prior attempts and took the time to extensively comment; you will be rewarded in the afterlife for your selfless dedication.  I'm going to try to use a single analogy to make my case; I hope it works.

 
1.  Information/ disinformation overload where the public loses track of what to keep an eye on.  A form of mental malaise develops where the public is numbed to all but that which affects them directly.

2.  Capitalism as a sociopolitical system ensuring that "the right thing" falls victim to "the profitable thing".  Ignoring that which makes us no money, though it may save our life.

 

The stage is now set for the final three items to effect change without ever having signaled their arrival.

 

3.  Overuse of antibiotics & antibacterials in all venues, creating a menagerie of problems across the spectrum.  Resistant strain creation immune response depression.

4.  Genetic alteration of everything possible: crops, medicines, feeds, pests, pesticides & herbicides.  Creating a supermarket of genetic variability for opportunistic organisms to scavenge.

5.  Diversion of attention to the wrong causes.  Focus on the "tree"; ignoring the "forest".

It's a sad fact that this sort of thing happens all of the time; albeit on a smaller scale for the most part.  A recent example of this level of complexity can be found in the death of millions due to HIV/AIDS.  From Ryan White to the mother of 15 in Nairobi, the story remains sadly unchanged.  The stigmatism of the disease played a major part in the needless death of so many, for so long, that it's almost embarrassing.  It wasn't until the "innocent" were afflicted that the media got serious and when the rich began to contract it - research began in earnest.  We are now in a situation similar to the opening days of AIDS - long before Magic Johnson was infected.  No one is paying attention and people are only mildly concerned when reports of MRSA (and the like) appear in the press.  Stories of dying bat, honeybee and frog populations merely illicit a mild curiosity while people are digging through the couch looking for money to buy gas, food and supplies.  Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria) floats in our oceans, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy ((BSE) - mad cow disease) appears to be present within our food supply continuously,  and the beneficial bacteria Escherichia coli (E. Coli) - found within most warm-blooded species guts - has begun to more rapidly morph into deadly versions (serotype O157:H7). 0157:H7 is a great example of the analogy above as it possess the ability to transfer DNA via bacterial conjugation, transduction and transformation, allowing horizontally aligned genetic alteration through an existing population.  "Evolution" moves quickly in this environment as beneficial "mutations" are not required to take millions of generations.  A simple exposure to an organism with, say - flagellum - makes the bacteria motile!  In the case of "bad" E. Coli, it is believed that this process of horizontal borrowing (stealing) led to the spread of shiga toxin from Shigella to E. coli O157:H7.  Viola - we have a fully functioning bad bacteria in one generation.  Imagine the monster we could create if we expose an equally entrepreneurial bacteria to Necrotizing fasciitis, Shigella, E.coli 0157:H7 and give it the DNA handling ability or and RNA virus.  Then it could borrow all of the best parts of common and rare viral diseases as well. 

That's Pandora's Box, not just a disease, not just a bacteria or virus - a complete organism grown by us in the absence of understanding the ramifications of all of our action's combined effects

 

Hopefully this makes more sense to those of you who were lost with the last rambling dialog.


 

Fearing (popular) Disinformation when the Truth is killing us.

March 25,2008

Here is something I rarely, if ever do - link to something elsewhere.  You really must read this article before you continue; otherwise, this will make no sense to you..

Once you read the article and understand what this picture is - you'll be as disgusted as I am (I hope).

Yep, that's right - it's really what you think it is:  We are creating the superbugs ourselves.  These are not examples of millions of years of evolution or  fluke spontaneous evolution; they are meticulous and methodical generational advances occurring due wholly to our activities.  I have often wondered what the cumulative effects of our various technologies (genetic, chemical, biological) might be, and I think we are beginning to see them.

To be surprised by this, given the data contained in the article, is not all that surprising.  I doubt that the vast majority of the population had any indication that most of this was happening.  I always suspected that something like this could occur, but I never had enough information to form an educated opinion. 

I find the specter of Global Warming (GW)  to be rather mundane in comparison to this obvious threat to civilization.  In fact, to overlook it in favor of GW would be no different than bypassing cancer treatment to have a boob job.  It's like crossing the street during heavy traffic to avoid a suspicious looking fellow, only to be hit by a bus.

I fear the boogeyman I see, not the one I'm told I should see - but don't.


 

A Generation of Hypocrites

March 1,2008

What the current generation has managed to not do is unprecedented in history.  Given enough time (and space) I could go on ad nauseum making my case, but for the time being, we'll have to just cover the highlights.

The "X" generation is just beginning and the "WHY" (Y) generation is only half started.  The Boomers are hanging on like a bunch of uninvited guests at the end of a party, and I have a message for them:  "Go away - you had your time and you used it."  "Abused it" is more like it, given that they have managed to spread their influence across 2.5 generations and are still contributing {defective} offspring in the current one.  They are hangers-on that need to hit the road. 

The drive to fuel their own egos created helicopter parents and latch-key kids and we appreciate it...  Luckily for all of us who are now tasked with supporting them, the generation(s) they spawned are ever-increasingly worthless.  I'd like to thank the boomers for: not raising their children themselves, driving the economy to the point that every family needed dual incomes and choosing their own prosperity above that of their children.

The adverse influence of the "Boomers" is now only just beginning to rear it's ugly head - so get ready to be under whelmed for the next 20 years.  The economy is tanking, but it will eventually rebound - the environment is suffering, but we'll get it right eventually and politically...  Well, we'll fix that too - eventually.  The heritage they're leaving for us is much appreciated.

I would like to pick at one particular scab though:  That herd mentality that the Boomers instilled in the generations that followed has really turned out to be a boon for society.  We now have a ready made flock of zombies willing to believe anything and everything popular.  Well done!  I have spent so much time discussing and worrying over this side-effect, but I have come to appreciate it now.  Thankfully, we'll soon have computers to do the thinking for us since the collective I.Q. of the generation(s) is right around room temperature.  Now, all we have to do is figure out how to get them to use logic instead of emotion to drive their decisions...  Somehow, given that critical thinking was surgically removed from X & Y, that might be a tall order.

More to come on this subject.


 

Scientific Progress, The Economy & Global Warming OH MY!

February 5, ,2008

Let me start out by saying that academic circles, particularly in science, have a long tradition of respecting long traditions.  I know this only too well and I trust that most others do also.  This is as much a scientific fact as the Law of Thermodynamics.

I am often amazed by the length of time that it takes "the status quo" to be uprooted, even in the light of overwhelming evidence.  Steadfast in their resistance to change, I am consistently amused by how quickly the community will adopt anything which appears to support their paradigm.   The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes that scientific advancement is hindered by irrationality.  Irrationality of humans fearing having their positions undermined for positing/supporting/adopting a theory proven incorrect.  I believe that very little - if any,  progress would occur if it were not for human mortality.  With our egos, frailties and insecurities, I can only imagine how stunted our science would be if we lived longer.  Perish the thought that we may achieve immortality someday!

Anyway, moving right along...  Most of you that have spent time with me know my thoughts on the science behind the Global Warming debate.  As a quick recap:  I think it's a hysterical science and I doubt the researcher's veracity and accuracy of their results.  On the other hand - I do acknowledge that the planet is changing, I do agree that we are polluting it at an ever-increasing rate and I do whole-heartedly accept that we are to blame for crapping in our own bed (so to speak). 

I have been a "dyed-in-the-wool" environmentalist since I received my first degree in electrical engineering.  It was at that time that I realized that fossil fuel was unnecessary for Humans to achieve their needs.  With wind, water, solar, geothermal and nuclear energy - mankind could easily eliminate oil and coal from their primary diet.  Granted, some oil would still be necessary for lubricants and plastics, but that would have only been until synthetics were perfected.  Today, in fact, if it were not for conventional power-plants, coal would be a thing of the past.  For the past 20 years though, we have moved increasingly away from such a possibility.  With the cost of fossil-based fuel waxing and waning over the years, economics has reigned supreme over logic and foresight.  So much for environmentalism for the right reasons.

Now comes 2007-2008.  The price was spiraling out of control, the Congress was threatening to punish the oil companies for profiteering, the fair-weather environmentalists were buying Priuses and even the administration adopted a Global Warming policy...  It was like watching a Muslim man being brought to Jesus.  Suddenly, every American began thinking about conservation, alternative fuels and the environment.  Bio-fuels and ethanol additives were finally competitively priced and people welcomed them due to their "Global Warming Friendly" label.  Welcome to environmental awareness at gun point.

Global Warming has now been fully adopted by the masses, thanks to the existing crisis, and people are talking carbon footprints over the water cooler.  Bio-this, Eco-that and GW-friendly whatnot have to be good; right?  Don't be so certain - hysteria often breeds bad science.  I'm betting that most (if not all) Bio-fuels turn out to be worse contributors to carbon loading than fossil fuel equivalents do.  Mark my words.  Take note here, consumption has still not decreased - it has merely been considered.  This is hypocritical environmentalism at its boldest.

The price of oil rose to the point that, when coupled with the housing crisis in America, the economies of the world stalled.  Inflation spiked in many areas forcing the bulls to go bearish; adding to the recession's haste.  Subsequently, oil prices are now dropping in proportion with an increase in recessionary selling and will ultimately level off at a point which we (Americans) will be able to tolerate it.  This will, again, marginalize radical efforts to wean ourselves from the Middle Eastern teat.  This was a sure bet when OPEC insisted on maintaining supply levels even as demand dropped - driving the price down artificially.  China will (if it hasn't already) begin dumping Treasury Bonds and start sucking up brick & mortar businesses in an attempt to protect the trillion (or so) they have invested here.   Again, people will consume oil incessantly, return to consuming low cost disposable (high waste) products and stop contributing to savings; each of which will only make things worse.  So much for environmentalism at all. 

Logic can get us out of this mess, but it will require that our science progresses un-naturally - within our lifetime and in conflict with long standing traditions.  Paradigms need to be cast off, hysterical meanderings of an unproven (though popular) theory need to be shelved and economics need to take a back seat to practicality, reality and necessity.  I am certain that we will emerge at the end of a serious push to eliminate oil from our diet as the world's scientific and economic leader.  We need to take the time to prove to the world that oil is not the future.  Environmental awareness, proper planetary stewardship and economics will all fall into place naturally once the yoke of fossil fuel is lifted.  Even Global Warming proponents will be happy.