Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Next" a review

I just finished reading the novel 'Next' by Michael Crichton. If you like science fiction, I recommend it but with a few caveats mentioned below. This novel is about transgenitics, the crossing of genes of humans with other animals and the consequences of allowing the patenting of genes.

I think Mr. Crichton does a good job of concretizing just what can and will go wrong when genes are patented. There is a family whose genes are "owned" by a corporation who has hired a bounty hunter to extract from them the genes they own. This ownership of course was granted by the government. There is a parrot who is good at math and wise cracks, an orangutan who speaks French and a chimp who speaks English.

Like his previous novel "State of Fear", this one is sprinkled with actual newspaper and magazine clippings on the subject of genetics. At the end of the story is his essay on what conclusions he came to and his recommendations which are:
1]Stop patenting genes,
2]Clearer guidelines for the use of human tissue,
3]Pass laws that make info on gene testing public,
4]Avoid bans on research,
5]Rescind the Bayh-Dole Act.

The things I didn't care for were the many short chapters each one continuing a different storyline. I think some of these could have been combined into longer chapters for a smoother read. It seemed a little herky-jerky to me.

I also was disappointed in the author's increased use of the f-word. It wasn't necessary. I sure hope I'm not seeing the beginnings of a downward spiral of quality here ala another famous mystery writer.

I'm not a scientist or lawyer but I now think patenting genes is a bad idea. Patenting processes whereby genes are modified in some way I would agree with but the whole idea of giving ownership of genes to someone other than the person in which they reside is a violation of that person's sovereignty of self which is guaranteed by the right to life.

In summary, as a work of fiction and advocacy, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars.
If you are interested, there are reviews of it here and here.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Regards

Blogging will resume next week perhaps lightly but hopefully back to normal after the first. In the meantime:



MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!



Mike N

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Anti-Blog Rant in WSJ

There was an opinion article in the WSJ today by Joseph Rago letting us know what he thinks of blogs in general. (Hat tip Michelle Malkin)

I think it is just another anti-blog screed by a MSM elitist. His main objection is to what he percieves as the lack of quality on blogs. Sure some blogs are terrible. So what? So are some newspapers. The idea that people shouldn't be listened to because their "quality" doesn't meet certain standards is an unAmerican idea. Besides, what standards and devised by whom? I think we know the answer to that.

He spends one paragraph criticizing liberal blogs and the rest of the article critizing everyone else, obviously his idea of "quality" balance.

As I read the rant I got the impression he was litterally admiting that the MSM isn't intended to be read by the "mediocre masses" as he put it here:

"People also like validation of what they already believe; the Internet, like all free markets, has a way of gratifying the mediocrity of the masses."

I can't think of a more elitist attitude than that. Does this mean that the WSJ has no desire to communicate with the "mediocre masses"?

My only response to Mr. Rago would be:

"Sir: Your denigration of the blogosphere is off the mark. The internet has given the people something your entrenched media cannot, the freedom to say what they want and be heard by somone. You can't do it because you are not big enough and I think that might be one of the straws in your craw.

There are plenty of quality blogs out there and you should be extolling those not denigrating them. Do I hold up a copy of a sleeze paper as representitive of the WSJ? Of course not and you shouldn't indulge in that kind of package dealing either.

The bottom line sir is that for the most part, Americans understand that you work for a corporation which is in business to make money. In this respect you are no different than General Motors or Exxon Mobil. Americans understand this and that is why they properly refer to you as an opinion editor and not a truth editor."

Mike N

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Of Superheros and Scientists

When I see a steady diet of global warming and other junk science articles in the Detroit papers, I sometimes think mankind needs a new superhero, say, Caveat Man. Caveat Man would fly to all the papers and wire services and place caveats at the end of science articles.

Like the Detroit Free Press article of Dec. 7th titled "In the Alps, weather is warmest in years." Caveat Man would write "There are two facts you need to know. 1) Weather is not climate. Don't confuse the two. 2) The authors admit such warming has happened twice before though slightly cooler than now, CO2 didn't cause it then so what did and how do they know the same forcings aren't causing it now? They don't."

And another article in the same paper on Dec. 13th titled "Study: Ice-free Arctic summer by '40." Caveat Man would point out that all this is pure speculation based on the assumption that the Arctic will keep on warming at the current rate for the next 33 years. He would also show that there is no evidence in the factual, historical, observational record to support the idea that the warming will continue. He might even point to European scientists who claim that the arctic will be ice free by 2080 which is 40 years later than the study just mentioned above. Yet these same people want us to trust them in that they know what the climate will be like in 100 years!!

There also was a story "Neatherlands warmest in 300 years" in one of the papers. Caveat Man would have alerted readers that 300 years ago was in the Little Ice Age so it should not be a surprise that it's warmer now.

Since we don't have a real Caveat Man, a reasonable facsimile thereof is:

Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com posts on the Top Ten Junk Science Moments of 2006.

While I was in Steven's archives I found this video on probability and uncertainty by Peter Donnelly. TEDTalks (Stats) I found this 22 minute long video interesting because I'm now reading "Fooled By Randomness" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Other heros pinch hitting for Caveat Man are:
Fred Singer at SEPP,
Roger Pielke Sr. at Climate Science,
The Idso brothers at CO2 Science,
Hans Erren at Global warming Comments,
Dennis Chamberland at Quantum Limit,
The folks at the New Zealand Coalition,
Patrick Michaels and crew at World Climate Report,
Trevor Butterworth at STATS,
Sandy Szwarc at Junkfood Science,
John Brignell at Number Watch,
Philip Stott at Enviro-spin Watch,
Philip Stott again at A Parliament of Things,
Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit,
Roger Pielke Jr. at Prometheus,
Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame,
Warwick Hughes at Warwick Hughes,
Benny Pieser at Liverpool,

A Canadian site Friends of Science has 5 short videos ranging from 3 to 5 minutes on what you are not being told about climate change. I recommend it.

For lots of data showing global cooling, Ice Age Now,

For a good history of climate, Paleoclimatology,

Ecology with a smile at Eco-enquirer.

There are other unsung heros not mentioned here but can be found in the blogrolls of some of the above.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Blogversary to Mike's Eyes

Mike's Eyes is one year old today. I started it on Dec. 15th 2005 and have had 7,626 visits and 18,127 page views. Not setting anything on fire but I am happy with those numbers. Happy enough to try it again for another year.

Thanks to all my readers.

Jury Duty Update Dec 15th

Well, jury duty only lasted 4 hours today. Good thing too. I was getting hungry. They were talking about not breaking for lunch. We were looking at the prospect of the judge going to lunch while the lawyers did the selection thingy then the lawyers would go to lunch while the burping judge read us our preliminary instructions, and then the lawyers would come back and gloat about how good their quesedillas tasted. (Sigh)

Happily though it didn't come to that. As the last defendent was escorted past the jury room, full of growling stomachs, on his way to the courtroom, we chanted "We want to hang somebody." He copped a plea and we all went home.

Seriously though, I talked to a few jurors who were picked for a jury at the circuit court level (we were in district court) and they all said it was a positive experience. So, I'm not recommending you sign up for jury duty and I'm not recommending you avoid it either. I guess I'd say what my doctor said when I asked him if green tea was good for me. He smiled and said "It won't hurt you."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Recommendations

I haven't blogged much this week due to busy bee me. Friday morn I have to report for jury duty again. I'm hoping it'll be a short day like last week in which case I should return to blogging Fri night. Otherwise, if I get picked for a jury, there's no telling what my schedule will be.

But before I close this post I have a few recommendations:

About 6 weeks ago I purchased the book "Objectivism; the Philosophy of Ayn Rand" also called OPAR by Leonard Piekoff from the Ayn Rand Book Store. I'm about half way through it and can't recommend it highly enough. I also purchased a 4-CD audio set called "Clarity in Conceptualization: the Art of Identifying 'Package Deals'" which can be ordered here. I've listened to them three times and urge everyone to get one. The set is not expensive when you consider you get an in-depth analysis of what package deals are, how they are formulated, how they destroy valid concepts and leave their victims knowing less than before.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Media Generated Scares

I had to shake my head as I read this AP article in today's Detroit Free Press titled "Bird flu panic has calmed; worry remains" by AP writer Maria Cheng. The only panic that exists is between the pages of media reports. The whole bird flu campaign was a media generated effort. Most of the reports this year contained nothing but weasel words like could, might, may, etc. mutate into a human virus. In other words, pure speculation designed to get more grant money for scientists and to sell newspapers by scaring the hell out of people. The panic wasn't among the American people, but their so-called intellectual leaders.

Another scare is the psuedo-science directed and media supported obesity scare. Reporting on how media, government and industry (at the behest of gvmt.) tv ads are harming children Sandy Szwarc at Junk Food Science says:

"Increasingly, childhood weight and eating experts are cautioning that nutrition rules are beyond children’s understanding and do not consider children’s mental and emotional development. Children cannot grasp the complexities of dietary guidelines, which most adults don’t even comprehend. The messages children take away are largely negative. Children are black-and-white thinkers and highly impressionable. When certain foods, such as fat, are restricted or they are told to eat them in moderation, they take it to mean all fat is bad."

Yes. This is pure indoctrination and has nothing to do with education. When you visit the above site I recommend reading the "previous posts" sidebar. She has more good articles on how the obesity fear mongers and do-gooders are hurting children.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Global Warming Hysteria Attacked

1)Daniel Rigby at University Suckers posts a brief review of Al Gore's book "Inconvenient Truth" called "Convenient Lie." A key quote:

"...Gore's 325 page book has a grand total of 37 in-text citations. Thomas Sowell's book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, has exactly 289 in-text citations within the first 63 pages alone; Gore's book has two."

2)Dennis Chamberland at Quantum Limit also posts today on "Global Warming and The Emergent Ignorant Class" He has a 3 paragraph quote from Barry Hearn which says in part:

"If the alarmist hypothesis is correct it destroys rather than supports all the nonsense about anthropogenic emissions causing 10 °C warming by Thursday next, or whatever the latest hysteria may be, since large increases in atmospheric carbon loads are estimated to have occurred with a net warming rate of 0.05 °C per century (5 °C/10,000 years) some 55mya, when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were 2-3 times higher than they are today but only about one-half to one-third what they were when the Earth was cooler. The atmospheric carbon dioxide-driven catastrophic warming scenario is a dog that just won't hunt and yet people are obsessed with it -- extraordinary!” (From Barry Hearn)"

(Barry Hearn is the editor of Steven Milloy's website Junk Science.com)

3)Gus Van Horn reports on eco-nut Jimmy Wright who put up on his lawn a crucified Santa Claus because he thinks Christmas is too commercialized.

"A Vancouver Island artist has put an effigy of a crucified Santa Claus on his front lawn, causing some neighbours to complain it's traumatizing their children.

Jimmy Wright said the figure is intended to be a comment on society's growing appetite for consumer goods."

Gus nails it when he points out:

"Jimmy Wright is not attempting to start a dialogue. He is engaging in psychological warfare, and targeting children at that. But then he is merely the most shocking example of what is going on daily in public schools across the industrialized West."

Amen

James Bond

I went to see Casino Royale today. I liked it. Not a great movie but good entertainment. I recommend it to anyone who likes Bond movies. I think Daniel Craig did a good job of portraying James Bond. My favorite Bonds were Connery and Brosnan. I think however Craig has now moved into my #2 slot. So, my favorite list now is Connery, Craig, Brosnan with all the rest tied for 4th.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Media Slanting and Iraq Surrender Group

Check out these two posts on the web today. I'll start with Andrew Dalton at Witch Doctor Repellant who reports on media bias and slanting this time making cough syrup out to be deadly.

It doesn't surprise me that ABC news would try to paint the cough syrup as the bad guy instead of the drugs. Anything created by capitalism to relieve human suffering has to be demonized. News people like many others, believe that virtue requires sacrifice which requires suffering but if you're not suffering, how can your sacrifice have any moral import? After all, during the hearings of the oil company CEOs I think Nov. of 05, Barbara Boxer declared: “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing.” The appearance of sacrifice and suffering means everything to today's educated class whether they are newspeople or politicians. Actual merit be damned.

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Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority takes a look at the Iraq Surrender Group's report. These guys seem to have a knack for discovering that which everyone else has known for some time. The press gushes over the Group but only because it is willing to call a Republican administration's number one project, Iraq, a failure. I think the honeymoon will be over soon though since they are also saying things like we shouldn't withdraw now and we're not losing either. Some senators have already began criticizing the Group.
Should be interesting.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This and That Dec.

I don't know how I missed this living in Michign but Software Nerd posts on a Michigan House bill that would make it a crime to divorce or withhold financial support from a pregnant girlfriend who does not want an abortion. The bill seeks to make it a crime to put pressure on a woman to get an abortion.

I don't think the bill will go anywhere but I'm not surprised it is being attempted given the low level of intelligence of Michigan leaders. Michigan voters haven't learned that once you allow the government to regulate one aspect of one person's life, you have given the government the moral right to regulate all aspects of everyone's lives.

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Thinking about giving someone a gift of chocolates but aren't sure what brand to buy? Well, Victoria at dePlume Daily took her Oracle staff (college paper) and did a review of popular brands so you and I don't have to. The reviews were down to earth honest as well as having a fair amount of artistic sophistication, like:

"Although raspberry truffles are typically considered run of the mill chocolates, the raspberry truffle offered by Soleil was unique in the sense that it was a shaped like a heart and appeared almost airbrushed; its outer shell faded gracefully from a deep purple hue to bright red."

Damn! Gimme two boxes!!

Enjoy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Anti-Sprawl Myth Exposed

In the Detroit News of 11/29/06 is a news report "Suburban isolation myth busted" by LA Times writer Roy Rivenburg. I always knew that those anti-sprawl studies purporting to show that suburban life was miserable were wrong. If they were true, people would not flood to those burbs. Now there is this study which says:

A professor at the University of California-Irvine has uncovered evidence to support the proverb "Good fences make good neighbors."
In a study of 15,000 Americans, economist Jan Brueckner found that suburban living is better for people's social lives than city dwelling.

The less crowded a neighborhood is, the friendlier its residents become, the report says.

For every 10 percent drop in population density, the likelihood of people talking to their neighbors once a week goes up 10 percent, regardless of race, income, education, marital status or age. Involvement in hobby-oriented clubs also soars as density falls, the study found.

This of course reaffirms the old adage that everyone needs some "elbow room," arrived at without an expensive study. Anyway, this flies in the face of conventional wisdom:
Such behavior contradicts a widespread criticism that suburban sprawl causes social isolation and anonymity.

The article ends with:
The idea that generous amounts of personal space help people get along has been under assault for years.

Author Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" and a chorus of sprawl critics have argued that the steady creep of cookie-cutter housing gobbles open space, thickens traffic congestion and damages the social fabric.

Sprawl historian Robert Bruegmann, a professor of art, architecture and urban planning at the University of Illinois in Chicago, called Brueckner's study a welcome antidote to "the endless drumroll of criticism of suburbs," although he cautioned that he hadn't read the report and couldn't vouch for its reliability.

Suburban living isn't paradise. It has its drawbacks like traffic and travel time. But so far at least, the pros far outweigh the cons in the minds of many people.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Jury Duty Update

Well, what a let down. I went to the courthouse this morning as scheduled. There must have been 30 of us total. We were there only a little over an hour. While we were being prepared by an officer of the court as to what is expected of us and what to expect ourselves, a judge came in and announced that all 4 of the cases scheduled for trial by jury today were just settled out of court and we were all free to go home.

The tears were flowing, the sadness was unbelie--just kidding! The only broken hearted people were those who took this Friday off from work who now face the prospect of going back to work for half a day. Patriotism can be rough.

I will have to try again on Friday the 15th and see what happens then.