Sunday, September 30, 2007

Good Post on Ozone Holes

Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame has a post that pokes holes in the Ozone hole scare. When the hole was discovered in 1985 it was assumed to be a bad thing, all man's fault and an omen of doom if evil humans don't change their capitalistic, wealth producing, life extending, freedom loving, rights respecting, pursuit of happiness encouraging ways.

It sure seems that everytime scientists make some discovery about climate, it always is man's fault and portends imminent doom if governments don't take bold and decisive actions to reduce their citizens' influence on the problem whatever it is. Those calls for governments to institute such 'effective measures' are nothing but calls for forced sacrifices, not to achieve some benefit, but sacrifices in their original meaning: the surrender of a value--technology, freedom, etc--in return for no value whatsoever; citizens sacrificing their standard of living to the ants and allegators, who have an absolute right to exist which humans obviously don't have.

As long as people think that someone's good can be achieved by someone else's sacrifice, they will always see the issue as man verses nature instead of man as part of nature and compatible with it. It will take the banishment of the concept sacrifice from the language and culture before people can see man's proper role as obeyer and master and protector of nature.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Grampa again

Well, I became a grampa for the third time Thursday afternoon. The little guy was almost 2 months early. He weighed 3 pounds and 4 ounces but the doctor said his vital signs are strong. Mom is doing fine and all seems to be working out for the better.

He is in the NICU with 4 others. You know it's amazing how they can keep those little babies alive and growing with modern technology.

Man, the grand kids are coming fast; I'm supposed to be a grampa again in April of 08. Guess I better stock up on film.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blogroll Additions

The Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) has a new blog here run by climate scientist Fred Singer of the University of Alabama at Huntsville. I recommend visiting it often and have added it to my blogroll. (hat tip of Sept 24th.)

I've also added WoPSR, an objectivist blog, moderated by Qwertz and company. Right now they're featuring u-tube videos of I-mean-dhimmitude giving his speach at Columbia U.--a university I would urge you to avoid if you're looking for a good college.

Pedagogically Correct

For those who haven't visited the website "Pedagogically Correct" I urge you to do so and add it to your favorites list or blogroll. Here is a sample of a recent article.

Pedagogically Correct Volume 2, Issue 1
September 25, 2007

"Pedagogy": The art and science of teaching.
:: The First Day of School: VanDamme Academy Style
:: Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog

The First Day of School: VanDamme Academy Style

I have often been told that, when asked what was special about their VanDamme Academy education, graduates say, "We always understood why we were learning what we were learning." This important effect has many causes, the most significant among them being that what the students are learning is, in fact, important, and that the teacher always makes a purpose of conveying, implicitly and explicitly, why it is important.

In a discussion of the distinctive VanDamme Academy history program, Andrew Lewis said that the little history that is taught in today's schools typically addresses five questions: Who? What? When? Where? and How? Mr. Lewis recognizes that the answers to those questions are inadequate without answers to two more: Why? and So what? The story of history must be causal and explanatory, the explanations must be relevant to the students' lives, and the students must understand the relevance.

It is this principle that defines the first day at VanDamme Academy. In each class, the teacher begins with the questions: What is this subject? and Why do we need to study it? Here is what I glimpsed walking through the school's halls on that inaugural day:

In Mrs. O'Brien's grammar classes: She discussed what grammar is (principles concerning the proper use of language), and answered the cliché objection, "We don't need grammar; we just need to make ourselves understood." She demonstrated that we cannot consistently make ourselves understood without the rules of grammar, presenting humorous examples from Eats, Shoots, and Leaves and Anguished English of the problems and ambiguities that result from the placement or misplacement of a comma (e.g., "Slow, children ahead," and, "Slow children ahead.") or from an amphibolous construction (e.g., "Customers who find the waitress uncivil ought to see the manager."). She introduced a theme to which she can refer throughout the year: that a mastery of grammar is vitally useful.

In Mr. Travers' literature classes: He began with a discussion of the personal value of literature. He explained that a great plot presents an extraordinary sequence of events that is purposeful and has an abstract meaning, differentiating it from the story of an ordinary day, which is full of the mundane, accidental, and meaningless. He showed how that abstract meaning can illuminate the world around them, and referred to the inspiration they had drawn from the themes of works they had previously studied (e.g., the virtue of independence in An Enemy of the People.) He showed that great works of literature present people who have been distilled to an essence, that they highlight the nature and consequences of certain traits of character, and discussed how this could help the students in understanding and evaluating qualities in others and in themselves.

Educators often wrestle with the question: How do we motivate the students? Many resort to the carrot and the stick, dangling rewards or threatening consequences. But the technique employed by Mr. Travers, Mrs. O'Brien, and Mr. Lewis, and the way they will make good on their promise to present what is important and show why it is important-that is the essence of motivation, and a defining feature of the VanDamme Academy curriculum.

Announcement: Pedagogically Correct Blog
Check out our new 'blog, which will contain much (but not all) of the material we sent out in our newsletters. Spread the word!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Models of Error

One of the main points of contention of global warming critics is that all the gloom and doom predictions of the warming alarmists are found in a single place--computer models. Another piece of evidence demonstrating the fact that such models cannot be trusted to make predictions of the future comes to us via of Sept. 24th. which links to an article about a press release from the University of Arizona. It says in part:
Drought-stricken regions of the Amazon forest grew particularly vigorously during the 2005 drought, according to new research.

The counterintuitive finding contradicts a prominent global climate model that predicts the Amazon forest would begin to "brown down" after just a month of drought and eventually collapse as the drought progressed.

“Instead of ‘hunkering down’ during a drought as you might expect, the forest responded positively to drought, at least in the short term," said study author Scott R. Saleska of The University of Arizona. "It's a very interesting and surprising response."

UA co-author Kamel Didan added, "The forest showed signs of being more productive. That's the big news."
Even bigger news is that there is no evidence to support the idea that global warming will result in any kind of catastrophe for life on earth and that there is plenty of evidence for the opposite--the historical record--which shows that whenever the climate warmed, life flourished. We absolutely cannot trust those who say that "computer models predict...." Maybe someday, but we're nowhere near that day now.

Remember When

In the Detroit area there are often free newspapers usually found in malls and some restauraunts. Mrs. Eyes spotted one, Senior Living, which had an article titled "The Price is Right" about what things cost in 1942. Knowing that that was the year of my birth Mrs. Eyes correctly thought I'd be interested. So here's a few comparisons:

1942: A 6oz bottle of coca cola--5 cents.
2007: $1.55 for a 20oz bottle.

1942: 1.25oz Hershey bar--5 cents.
2007: 2.10oz bar--55 cents.

1942: loaf of bread--9 cents.
2007: $3.59 (Pepperidge Farm).

1942: Gallon of milk--60 cents.
2007: $3.38.

1942: postage stamp--3 cents.
2007: 41 cents.

1942: New car--$1,100. (average)
2007: $28,400

1942: gasoline--19 cents/gal.
2007: $2.771/gal. (U.S. average--last week)

1942: average anual salary--$2,400.
2007: $36,276.

As far as I can tell, these numbers do not take into account inflation of the money supply.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Two Recommendations

I haven't posted lately because I've been quite busy. I hope to get back to posting more often soon.

In the meantime, I have two recommendations. Sandy Szwarc at Junkfoodscience has another informative post in which she looks at the so-called studies that claim that over 60% of us are two sedentary. She masterfully exposes the tricks used to fool the public and granting agencies, i.e. the government.

And, if you read nothing else, I urge you to go to The Objective Standard where you can read in its entirety the essay "The Morality of Moneylending" by Dr. Yaron Brook.

I'll be back! (couldn't resist)

Monday, September 10, 2007

More Good Videos on GW and Other Stuff

Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame has a good video titled Global Warming: Unsettled Science. It's only about 4 1/2 minutes long and I really like the dramatic music of Holst; the Planets-Mars. Lubos has a number of links to other similarly critical videos ranging from 5 to 8 minutes long. I liked the music to most of them especially the song Die Sonne (The Sun) by Rammstein, sung in German I think.

Grant Jones at The Dougout has a humorous 2 minute video of a freshman sex orientation class at Ohio State University. Heh. If you ask me, such classes are like trying to persuade a compass needle not to point north.

Andrew Dalton at Witch Doctor Repellant has a 2 1/2 minute video about a Mandelbrot set song, if you like jazzy math.

This isn't a video but a photo of-wait for it-a fake sunroof for your car? Yep. Now you too can pretend to have something you don't. Are we really getting into makeup for cars? Some of the comments are funny. (From Boing Boing.)

Man's Mind in Focus

Tired of all the irrational news in politics and the culture in general? Well, if you'd like to see an image of man the thinker and achiever, man the rational animal, Ralph Buttigieg at Quantum Limit has a 20 minute video of a speech by explorer-inventor Bill Stone which I highly recommend.

If you realize that in a laissez-faire economy funding would come from private science corporations and not the government, this is an informative and inspiring video.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Sorry State of Modern Anthropology

Since my last post was on a toddler learning to walk, I thought this article in the Friday Sept. 7th edition of the Detroit News is interesting by way of contrast. It's an AP article by Lauran Neergaard which starts with these two paragraphs:
WASHINGTON -- Toddlers may act up like little apes, but researchers who compared the species concluded a 2-year-old child still has the more sophisticated social learning skills.

In one test, preschoolers who wanted a toy hidden in a trick tube copied a scientist's movements to retrieve the prize. Chimps watched the lesson but then mostly tried to smash or bite open the tube.
Exactly what is a social learning skill is not defined at least in this article. As evidence of the anti-mind nature of this study, notice how the researchers preferred to use the words 'learning skill' instead of thinking skill. Evidently, learning is something that is done without thought, like a conditioned social reflex perhaps. More anti-mind evidence:
In a novel study, scientists lured 106 chimpanzees, 32 orangutans and 105 toddlers to sit through five hours of testing over several days.

Researchers were trying to tell which innate abilities are distinctly human.
So, abilities are innate. I've always thought that if skills are innate, they are not learned and if they are learned, they are not innate. So what did these researchers learn?
"Human children are not overall more intelligent than other primates, but instead have specialized skills of social cognition," concluded the lead researcher, Esther Herrmann of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "They learn in a way that chimpanzees don't learn."
What way? Can you define this 'way'? What is the nature of this 'way'? Any clues at all Ms. Herrmann? Well since you didn't identify it I will: it's called concept formation. Only human beings can do it and it is anything but innate, humans must choose to discover then use this ability.

This is the kind of knowledge upon which policymakers are basing their social engineering legislation aimed at regulating you and me. Sad.

(A longer reuters version can be found here.--hat tip of Sept. 7th.)

Another Grampa Observation

Last week my son proudly told me how my grandson took 4 steps without holding on to anything. I took the opportunity to urge him to observe how the toddler-to-be has to learn every aspect of walking one aspect at a time. For example, he first has to learn how to balance himself without holding on while while stepping forward. Then he has to learn how to stop his forward motion. When babies take their first steps they usually crash into whatever is in front of them, if nothing, then fall down. This may put a temporary dent in their self confidence, but from which they usually recover in a few days. This happened to my grand daughter, trying to take more than 4 steps she crashed into a chair (no harm done). For about a week she would only take about two steps, then sit down and crawl the rest of the way. Once they learn how to stop they then must learn how to do turns without falling over. What we adults do without a thought is what babies have to learn one step at a time and each is a major accomplishment for them. Still, fun to watch.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Save Lives, Use DDT

I've been intending to post on the need to recind the American ban on DDT and encourage its use around the world, but this recent op-ed from ARI says it better than I would have. Reprinted with permission.

"It's Time to Silence Silent Spring
By Ayn Rand Institute: Keith Lockitch on Sep 03, 07

Environmentalist ideology demands opposition to DDT despite the millions of malaria deaths its use could prevent.

This September marks the 45th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s anti-pesticide manifesto credited with inspiring the environmentalist movement.

But this anniversary is no cause for celebration. The legacy of Silent Spring includes more than a million deaths a year from the mosquito-borne disease malaria. Though nearly eradicated decades ago, malaria has resurged with a vengeance because DDT, the most effective agent of mosquito control, has been essentially discarded--discarded based not on scientific concerns about its safety, but on environmental dogma.

Published in 1962 at the height of the worldwide antimalaria campaign, Silent Spring sparked a crusade against DDT. The widespread spraying of DDT had caused a spectacular drop in malaria incidence--Sri Lanka, for example, reported 2.8 million malaria victims in 1948, but by 1963 it had only 17. Yet Carson’s book made no mention of this. It said nothing of DDT’s crucial role in eradicating malaria in industrialized countries, or of the tens of millions of lives saved by its use.

Instead, Carson filled her book with misinformation--alleging, among other claims, that DDT causes cancer. Her unsubstantiated assertion that continued DDT use would unleash a cancer epidemic generated a panicked fear of the pesticide that endures as public opinion to this day.

But the scientific case against DDT was, and still is, nonexistent. Almost 60 years have passed since the malaria-spraying campaigns began--with hundreds of millions of people exposed to large concentrations of DDT--yet, according to international health scholar Amir Attaran, the scientific literature “has not even one peer-reviewed, independently replicated study linking exposure to DDT with any adverse health outcome.” Indeed, in a 1956 study, human volunteers ate DDT every day for over two years with no ill effects then or since.

Abundant scientific evidence supporting the safety and importance of DDT was presented during seven months of testimony before the newly formed EPA in 1971. The presiding judge ruled unequivocally against a ban. But the public furor against DDT--fueled by Silent Spring and the growing environmental movement--was so great that a ban was imposed anyway. The EPA administrator, who hadn’t even bothered to attend the hearings, overruled his own judge and imposed the ban in defiance of the facts and evidence. And the 1972 ban in the United States led to an effective worldwide ban, as countries dependent on U.S.-funded aid agencies curtailed their DDT use to comply with those agencies’ demands.

So if scientific facts are not what has driven the furor against DDT, what has? Estimates put today’s malaria incidence worldwide at around 300 million cases, with a million deaths every year. If this enormous toll of human suffering and death is preventable, why do environmentalists--who profess to be the defenders of life--continue to oppose the use of DDT?

The answer is that environmental ideology values an untouched environment above human life. The root of the opposition to DDT is not science but the environmentalist moral premise that it is wrong for man to “tamper” with nature.

The large-scale eradication of disease-carrying insects epitomizes the control of nature by man. This is DDT’s sin. To Carson and the environmentalists she inspired, “the ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy.” Nature, they hold, is intrinsically valuable and must be kept free from human interference.

On this environmentalist premise, the proper attitude to nature is not to seek to improve it for human benefit, but to show “humility” before its “vast forces” and leave it alone. We should seek, Carson wrote, not to eliminate malarial mosquitoes with pesticides, but to find instead “a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves.” If the untouched, “natural” state is one in which millions contract deadly diseases, so be it.

Carson’s current heirs agree. Earth First! founder Dave Foreman writes: “Ours is an ecological perspective that views Earth as a community and recognizes such apparent enemies as ‘disease’ (e.g., malaria) and ‘pests’ (e.g., mosquitoes) not as manifestations of evil to be overcome but rather as vital and necessary components of a complex and vibrant biosphere.”

In the few minutes it has taken you to read this article, over a thousand people have contracted malaria and half a dozen have died. This is the life-or-death consequence of viewing pestilent insects as a “necessary” component of a “vibrant biosphere” and seeking a “reasonable accommodation” with them.

This anniversary of Silent Spring should be commemorated, not with laudatory festivities, but with the rejection of the environmental ideology the book inspired."

Keith Lockitch is a PhD in physics and a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

(I was alerted to this by of Sept. 5th.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Anti-American Cancer Spreads

Nicholas Provenzo at Rule of Reason has a post on how colonial Williamsburg is being corrupted by political correctness. It is also another verification of the principle identified by Ayn Rand that "Government encouragement does not order men to believe the false is true, it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth and falsehood."(--From her essay The Establishing of an Establishment now in the book "Philosophy: Who Needs It" available in most bookstores.)

First Nick reminds us:
For decades costumed "interpreters" or actors have roamed the streets of Colonial Williamsburg, regaling visitors with tales and stories from the period, while inside many of the restored or rebuilt structures they introduced visitors to life in the 18th century, from peruke making to 18th century cooking to gardening to the contradance.
Less emphasis was put on the explication of the political principles that animated many of the town's more famous residents and visiting burgesses, and more on "life as it was." Which is not to say that visitors did not go away without a better knowledge of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and the rival Randolph and Lee families, to mention a few of the men who once were familiar with Duke of Gloucester Street, the mile-long thoroughfare between the College of William and Mary and the colonial Capitol.
But things are changing:
Today, however, in 2007, visitors go away with less of a knowledge of those men, their causes, and their time, and a skewed one, as well - a politically correct one. The rot began to set in and spread late in the last century. What has helped to accelerate the decomposition, among other cultural and political influences, is that Colonial Williamsburg now receives federal money.

When it was a purely private, "not for profit" foundation, depending on donations, endowments, bequests and tourist revenue, it did not need to abide by the Civil Rights Act, or the Equal Opportunity Act, or any other egalitarian legislation intended to usurp and regulate private dealings between individuals and organizations, between employers and employees.

For example, now visitors leave with the impression that there were indeed female footmen and coach drivers, women coopers and carpenters, women fifers and drummers, female "militia persons," and so on, without any attempt by the Foundation or its employees to correct that impression or to even hint at the true, male-defined character of the period.

This is one consequence of taking federal bread - and having to sing the federal song. And it illustrates just one way in which the policymakers of Colonial Williamsburg contradict and ultimately betray the Foundation's decades-old mission and watchword: "That the future may learn from the past." To be willing to falsify the past is to be willing to falsify the present. George Orwell dramatized the motive behind and the consequences of that policy in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Unfortunately, there is going to be a celebration of and wallowing in, all of the political correctness.
The climax of the celebration of the beginning of what the Founders more than 150 years later would deem a republic, however, will not be a recognition of that unprecedented political feat, but the "World Forum on the Future of Democracy," to take place between September 16 and 18.

According to the August 14th Colonial Williamsburg Newsletter, an employee in-house publication, "The World Forum will bring together noted international and national scholars on democracy, as well as leading government officials, political practitioners, advocates and commentators who have played a role in democracy's advance.
He then provides a list of these invitees which include some of the most collectivist and statist intellectuals on the planet.

I recommend reading the whole thing for it also discusses the rewriting of how America is supposed to be a democracy instead of a republic. Nick also identifies another principle: "To be willing to falsify the past is to be willing to falsify the present."

Update: corrected a typo.