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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Jury Duty

There won't be any bloging Friday Dec. 1st and maybe a lot longer if I'm unlucky.
I have to report for jury duty at the local courthouse in the am. My notice said I should bring a book as it might be a long uneventful day. I've been re-reading "Introduction to Objectivist Epistomology" so I'll be taking that one.

Who knows, maybe the lawyers will see me reading it and decide "I don't want him on my jury." On the other hand, maybe they will think epistomology is the study of epistles and I'm some kind of religious nut. Oh well, I really don't care what they think. My biggest fear is that I will be picked for a long, drawn out murder trial and get sequestered out of existence for months and months.

Mrs. Eyes has been helpful though. She did jury duty about 20 years ago but things were different then. She had to go every day for two weeks. I only have to show up on the 1st and the 15th of Dec. if I don't get picked for a trial. That's it and thank goodness. Mrs. Eyes was picked to serve on three juries. The first was a stolen purse case. The second was a paternaty case and the third was a murder case. This started out like it was going to be a lengthy affair but because of some legal screw up, the case was dismissed and a new trial ordered, which meant a new jury.

So, if you don't see any posts for awhile you'll at least know why.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nov 28th Roundup

Andy at the Charlotte Capitalist posts an article from George Reisman titled "Globalization: What Philosophies are appropriate? Shinto?" about the possible re-emergence of the Shinto religion in Japan. He asks a good question: If this religion is growing again, can we trust them with nukes?

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Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority posts on a liberal who doesn't trust himself with guns and is glad he doesn't have one. Mentioned is the phenomenon of psychological projection. I for one believe many gun control advocates project their own weaknesses onto others in calling for restrictions. This makes sense because most gun controlers are liberals and they gave up on reason back when Kant told them to. So, with nothing but their feelings to guide them, they know (or believe) others are only guided by their feelings also. They sense that feelings--even their own--can't be trusted so they want government controls over themselves and their neighbors. They pretend that the government is populated by people who don't have the same untrustworthy feelings. Is that irrational or what?

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David Veksler at Truth, Justice and the American Way has a post on Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" turning out to be not so unanimous.

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Diana at Noodle Food has a video about a blind 14 yr old boy who echolocates. It's pretty awesome really. I left a comment about how my blind uncle could do something similiar.

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Sarita at The Kalamazoo Objectivist reports on how much oil and gas we really have.

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Rich at Uncommon Sense has a video of a Penn and Teller show on recycling. It's not bad if you don't mind their usual profanity.

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We know that Darwin didn't invent the theory of evolution but rather discovered the process by which it works--natural selection. A closer look at that, at least as it pertains to Evlolutionary Developmental Biology, is provided by Brett Keller as he previews a book called "Endless Forms Most Beautiful."
My thoughts:
No doubt there was once a primative savage who plunged a stick into water and saw that it looked bent but was straight when he pulled it out. He then attributed this phenomenon to spirits in the water (or stick or both) who made it appear bent. But man's mind eventually explained how it was due to the way water bends light rays. Today we still have primatives telling us that the extreme complexity we see in the nature of genes can only be explained by a super spirit called god. Yet man's mind is discovering these secrets daily.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sustainable Development of Fear

Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com links to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about a new movie opening there in Australia that I would like to see played here in America.

"Mine Your Own Business, which opens this week, shows that the "powerful group telling the world's poor how to live, how to work, even how to think" are not the world leaders gathered in Melbourne. They're not even wealthy multinational corporations, but wealthy multinational environment groups such as Greenpeace.

"Upper-class Western environmentalists" are the greatest enemy of the world's poor, says the documentary's maker, self-described left-wing journalist Phelim McAleer, from Northern Ireland."

In part, I blame thousands of businessmen and otherwise wealthy people who have been donating large sums of money to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund and others under the illusion they are doing something good for nature which they wrongly understand to mean the environment.

Liberals have always been in favor of taking from the poor and giving to the rich, e.g. the Poletown and Kelo and other property takings under Emminent Domain. And now the massive Green movement to keep the poor poor. The NGOs are now frantically trying to keep remaining poor people right where they are not only because it is allegedly better for them but because it's better for the environment.


With the spread of capitalism and the lifting of millions out of absolute poverty, and the collapse of the left's ideal, socialism, they have lost the altar on which they had hoped to sacrifice capitalism and individualism, the poor, and have now erected a new altar, enviromentalism.

It is not the rich that will be sacrificed to the gods of the wilderness. (They will be collecting the sacrifices) Nor is it the poor. (They are already where the enviromentalists want them--close to nature.) The real target of ecologists is the middle class. It is their air conditioners, lawn mowers, cars, electric appliances and other technological devices that must go. In other words, it is man's self-made environment that must be sacrificed to a non man made one, which means a natural environment, which means that a man made environment is not natural, which means that man is not borne of nature (or his actions would be natural), which means man is unnatural, which means man doesn't belong in nature.

Whoever buys into these notions is toast, but why are people buying into them? One big reason is fear. Ayn Rand said it best is her essay "The Left: Old and New" in her book The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution:

"Hatred of reason leads to fear of reality; since fear has always been the intense motivational emotion of the leftists, it is fear that they have always used as their chief psychological tool of propaganda, apparently in the belief that it has as irresistible a power in the consciousness of others as in their own.
With the destruction of capitalism as their unalterable goal, they tried, at first, to engender economic fear--by spreading the notion that capitalism leads to general impoverishment and the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. This line was somewhat successful in Europe, but not in this country, where the factual evidence to the contrary was too obviously clear.
The next leftist line was fear of the atom bomb, accompanied by the suggestion that we should surrender to communism without a fight, in order to avoid universal destruction. Do you remember the slogan: "Better Red Than Dead"? This did not go over, either--not in this country, nor among any men or animals with a vestige of self-esteem.
If, after the failure of such accusations as: "Capitalism leads you to the poorhouse" and "Capitalism leads you to war," the New Left is left with nothing better than: "Capitalism defiles the beauty of your countryside," one may justifiably conclude that, as an intellectual power, the collectivist movement is through.
But the leftists may still have a chance--by default. A society cannot exist for long in an intellectual vacuum. Culturally, we are approaching the stage where anyone can take over, provided his doctrines are sufficiently irrational. A cultural vacuum produces its own varients of fishers in muddy waters--and, on such terms, whoever is the muddiest, wins."


The mud being flung at us today is "sustainable development" and the new fear is "Global Warming." But at the end of her essay, Ms. Rand urges her readers not to give up. I take this to mean that I will keep writing to my Reps in Congress and LTEs to the media and supporting ARI's efforts to get more rational professors into our colleges.

There are those who say that America won't last long enough for Objectivism to take hold. They might be right. But I am optimistic despite the fact that the pro-global warming Dems are about to take power. The Dems will support GW as long as doing so will get them re-elected. But to fully support GW the way the NGOs want, citizens will have to suffer. So the Dems will have to settle for doing their GW duties slowly, piecemeal and that will take time.

The NGOs should be reined in but I don't see that happening anytime soon. No sitting Senator is going to introduce any legislation to restrict the power of NGOs to use the courts as a hammer to get what they want. It would be the kiss of death. The only way that will happen is if someone campaigns on such a promise and then gets elected. But it would take more than just one such person. In the meantime, I for one am going to keep challenging bad ideas and promoting good ones by speaking out, writing and blogging.

(The above mentioned essay can be found in the revised edition called Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution for sale here.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Democratic Happy Family

There has been a lot of talk about how the Republicans have some serious problems. But the Democrats have some of their own as well. For example, in Friday's 11/17/06 Detroit Free Press is a news article which reads "Hoyer wins top House job, but unity takes a hit." It's about the fact that Nancy Pelosi's favorite for number two person in the House, John Murtha, wasn't picked by the rest of her party. She's not happy.

That's problem #1. Right next to that column is another piece under the title "National Political Digest" which is headlined "Carville calls for ouster of Dean." Well whadda ya know! I wouldn't have thought it. "'I would describe his leadership as Rumsfeldian in its incompetence' Carville said Wednesday." The article says Carville thinks the Dems should have won more seats than they did.

Don't these liberals look the other way whenever one of them screws up in any way? Evidently, there is one screw up that is unpardonable--failing to gain or keep power. But is Carville really woried about the party as such?

"Some observers say Carville, former chief political advisor to the Clinton administration, is trying to regain party influence as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton eyes the 2008 presidential nomination.

Said John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California: "Howard Dean is a potential land mine on Sen. Clinton's road to the nomination. James Carville is the Marine who goes in and blows it up first.""

Hmmm. "Land mine"? "Blows [him] up first"? "Rumsfeldian"? Can't you just feel the love? And Dean is only a potential land mine! These people are vicious. Of course, that's not news to anyone. It is a pleasure though, to see the dorsel fins circling around one of their own.

(I couldn't find either of these two articles in the on-line version of the paper so I can't link to them.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

More Good News?

My last post was titled "Good News." Maybe this is good news also. Today's 11/17/06 Detroit News carries a New York Times article by Tamar Lewin titled "Math goes back to basics." The sub-title is "Lagging test scores prompt change in teaching strategy." It starts with:

"SEATTLE -- For the second time in a generation, education officials are rethinking the teaching of math in American schools.

The changes are being driven by students' lagging performance on international tests and mathematicians' warnings that more than a decade "reform" math -- critics call it "fuzzy" -- has crippled students with its downplaying of basic drills and memorization in favor of allowing children to find their own ways to solve problems."

It sure has crippled students' minds. That parents seem to see this after the fact tells a lot about the observationsl powers of teachers. It continues:

"At the same time, parental unease has prompted even more families to pay for outside tutoring. Shalimar Backman, who put pressure on officials here by starting a parents group, Where's the Math?, remembers the moment she became concerned.

"When my oldest child, an A+ stellar student, was in sixth grade, I realized he had no idea, no idea at all, how to do long division, so I went to school and talked to the teacher, who said, 'We don't teach long division; it stifles their creativity.'"

That this is even being admitted in a NYT article and carried in a number 2 newpaper in another major city like Detroit has to be a step in the right direction. I wonder how many other papers carried the NYT article. Objectivists have known for a long time that modern education is not about teaching childrens' minds but rather is about the destruction of teaching. Maybe now the general public will see it also.

The article points out how these education officials happen to be the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics who published a 1989 report "...that influenced a generation of teachers to let children explore their own solutions to problems, write and draw pictures about math and use tools like the calculator alongside of learning algorithms.

But this fall, the group changed course, recommending a tighter focus on basic math skills and an end to "mile wide, inch deep" standards that force schools to teach dozens of math topics in each grade."

So now we know who the culprits are, the NCTM. And who is behind the impetus to make these changes to the shotgun approach to teaching math?

"Grass-roots groups in many cities are agitating for a return to basics."

The point here is that it isn't the so-called concern of teachers but grass-roots efforts by the public that are demanding a return to a more rational method of teaching where the child understands instead of memorizing and guessing and where knowledge is taught in an hierarchical manner. I recommend reading the whole article.

As to why a hierarchical order is necessary I recommend Lisa Van Damme's article "How to teach your child: a necessary order to knowledge" at Capitalism Magazine.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Good News

Steven Milloy at Junkscience.com reports that longtime food, health and nutrition expert Sandy Szwarc now has her own blog called Junkfood Science. I recommend reading the "Introduction" and "About this blog" in the sidebar. She doesn't seem to be an objectivist but she brings to the table the same devotion to objective science as a Steven Milloy or John Brignell at Number Watch and Trevor Butterworth at STATS and Fred Singer at SEPP and many others.

She already has several post on the blog like "Can you really cleanse your way to better health? and "Weighty Issues."

I've read a number of her articles at Tech Central Station (TCS) and was impressed with all of them. My favorite was Bon Appetit. She has an interesting blogroll of links which I'll be checking out soon.

We desperately need more voices speaking out for rational science.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mini Round Up Nov.

Myrhaf has some good insights on the art of acting. I recommend reading his post.

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In a similar vein, Toiler comments on the New Naturalism in writing.

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Jim Woods has a post on how George Washington sought to conquer nature for profit, and how today's government has abandoned that policy.

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At Capitalism Magazine, Lisa VanDamme has part one and part two on "How to teach your child: What It Means To Learn" a four part series with a part coming out every week. Lisa also has other great articles here and here and here. If you like her essay on physics, you'll enjoy David Harriman's essay on that subject here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wondering

I was wondering, do you suppose Bush is angry at his party for what he thinks is a betrayal? I say this because Ankle Biting Pundits has a post titled "Newt rips GOP a new one" which says in part:

"He condemned Bush’s admission that in making last week’s statement about Rumsfeld, he had known he was being misleading.

“It’s inappropriate to cleverly come out the day after an election to do something we were told before the election would not be done,” Gingrich said. “I think the timing was exactly backwards and I hope the President will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor.”"

Now why would Bush lie to his own party about Rumsfeld's dismissel if he wasn't really angry at them? I mean, look at the times Bush tried to get his pet programs through only to have the usual suspects, Arlin Spector, Hagel, Chaffee and Voinovich and others fight him all the way. Whether they were right or wrong on the merits of any given program is irrelevent here. What matters is how Bush percieved the support he was not getting from his own party. Does he blame his party for ruining his agenda and perhaps his presidency? Did he feel "Ok, if you're not going to support me, to hell with you"?

I've wondered why the Republicans didn't make an unofficial invitation to one or two of these guys to get out of the party the way the Dems did to Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman. It seems like the Dems really crack the whip when it comes to party loyalty but the Repubs don't seem to care. That's why I think Bush may very well be mad as hell and has decided in essence what good are they? "I might get more done with the Dems because at least I know where they stand."

Maybe I'm just imagining things but it does sound plausable to me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Anti-Intellectual Detroit Free Press

The liberal Detroit Free Press has an editorial attacking the ban on Michigan's affirmative action policy titled "Prop 2 Sends Divisive Message." It starts out with:

"The passage of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative on Tuesday leaves the state torn by hard and hardened feelings that will not be easily salved."

Noticed what concerns the Freep, not ideas or facts of reality but "feelings" and notice the veiled threat "that will not be easily salved." Then there's this:

"Although a ban on affirmative action might allow at least half the state to see Michigan as a place with a level playing field or some such cliche, enactment of MCRI paints the state as hostile to minorities."

First, I can't count the times when the Freep has advocated "a level playing field" over the years regarding many different issues. But now that that term is used to support the ban on AA, it is denigrated as "some such cliche." The two-faced hypocrisy of the Freep is astounding.

Secondly, the ban does not "paint the state as hostile to minorities." Racist policies like Affirmative Action are what are hostile to minorities by forever consigning them to the status of lesser beings who can't make it on their own and therefore need the aid of their great white benefactors. That is being hostile to minorities. It continues:

"Now that they've won, Proposal 2 supporters should not continue to pursue divisive challenges. When opponents raised concerns over the viability of gender-based health programs and domestic violence shelters that accommodate only women, MCRI leaders dismissed such arguments as red herrings. They must not now come back and challenge sensible programs."

This is an obvious attempt to silence opposition by smearing it as "divisive." As far as calling certain arguements for Affirmative Action red herrings, they
were red herrings. The supporter of the ban have no intention of challenging other sensible programs. This is just an attempt by the Freep to invoke a sense of fear in their readers' minds. Then this:

"Michigan's playing field, especially in education, remains woefully uneven. {A few paragraphs ago the concept of a "level playing field" was just "some such cliche." But now is a serious and valid concept. Like I said, the hypocrisy of the Freep is astounding.--ME} It will take a fortitude and an investment -- and it's not clear this state has the capacity for either -- to fix the ills that beset poor, largely African-American schools here and give those students an equal chance at success."

The "ills that beset the poor" are the result of a mind crippling curriculum which some richer schools can overcome but poorer ones can't, and a total public school system that needs overhaul. (Preferably, privatization) Looking at peoples' minority status only insures these problems won't get addressed. Another ill beseting these minorities is the perception that they have not earned and cannot earn their own way. With Affirmative Action gone, future minorities will be seen as having earned their status and this will result in an earned respect. There is no other kind. On the other hand, the existence of affirmative action encourages more racist attitudes.

The editorial ends with:

"In the big picture, a ban on affirmative action sends an irreparably unfriendly message to minorities, as well as to the businesses Michigan needs to lure and that need to reach all audiences.

This is hardly progress."

The ban on affirmative action does not send an unfriendly message to minorities. It says in essence "welcome to our world." On the other hand, if guilt-ridden white liberals want to keep minorities in their place, they will try to convince those minorities that such programs as affirmative action are in their interest.

Affirmative Action is a progress killer.

This election has everybody talking about a new political direction. But what is really needed is a new intellectual direction based on reason.

With it's appeals to feelings, smear tactics, fear, and contradictory positions, the Free Press is failing to provide its readers with any intellectual leadership. It should have been editorializing on the real nature of racism--a form of collectivism--and its only true antidote--individualism, which in politics means individual rights. Unfortunately, I don't see the Freep changing its intellectual stripes anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Post Mortum

Well, it's going on 10:30 PM in Michigan and I see that Dem Governor Jennifer Granholm has retained that office and Dem Debbie Stabenow kept her Senate seat. These were not surprises. So far, just watching TV, it looks like the Republicans will lose the House and there's a good chance they'll could lose the Senate too. However, it's also pretty obvious there will be no landslide victory for the Democrats. Even if the Dems win both houses, it won't be by much. Despite that however I just know the Dems will claim a "Thundering mandate" as the NYT called Clinton's 43% plurality win in 92, (or was that 96?)

Traditionally, the party out of power picks up seats in both houses in off year elections. It didn't happen for the Dems in 2002. So it had better happen this year or they might as well jump into a casket and close the lid. But, it happened for them and they can give a big thank you to the Republican Party for making it happen.

I do like the idea of keeping the Republicans close to the Dems if for no other reason than as a reminder to the Dems of their possible replacements. Even though the Dems can't wait to bring total socialism to this country and do away with private enterprise, at least they are a little more open about it. The Repubs have been lying about being for private enterprise, small government, and property rights.

They are unwilling to defend individual rights--when was the last time you heard a Republican even pronounce the words individual rights? I don't expect the Dems to say those words. They abandoned that concept in the 30s.

It seems like the Repubs have decided that the Dems keep getting elected precisly because they have abandoned 'rights' in favor of 'needs' and they, the repubs, should do it too. When the elephants have power they hasten to implement all the plans of the Dems. They are no longer a viable option to the nihilistic, socialistic Democrats.

The future of course will be interesting.

P.S. I just found out that the proposal to ban afirmative action in Michigan passed. There is hope.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Final Thoughts On The Election

This will probably be the last post I will do on the election until after the election. I just want to give my 2 cents on Dr. Piekoff's position. I do not purport to speak for him in any way but in one way I can see his point clearly.

It seems to me that in Atlas Shrugged, America did indeed collapse. It collapsed into a chaos of primitivism. Yes there was an increase in religion and mysticism during the collapse but it was this chaos that allowed Galt and the producers to step back into society and reclaim it.

However, had there been a powerful, well organized religious right to step into the void and establish a new religious order, there would have been no producer reclaimation. Civilization would have died right there. Mankind would have to endure another dark ages until another Renaissance happened. To me, Piekoff is saying yes this will happen later but to prevent it, it needs to be nipped in the bud now, not later. If he is saying this, I agree.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Moral Minds(less)

In today's 11/02/06 edition of the Detroit News is a science report titled "Morality May Be Instinctive" by New York Times writer Nicholas Wade.

It looks to me like they are saying that human morality evolved from animal feelings.

"Primatologists like Frans de Waal have long argued that the roots of human morality are evident in social animals like apes and monkeys.

The animals' feelings of empathy and expectations of reciprocity are essential behaviors for mammalian group living and can be regarded as a counterpart of human morality."

So it's ok to equate the instincts of animals with the choices of humans? Nope. Choice isn't even mentioned.

"Marc D. Hauser, a Harvard biologist, has built on this idea to propose that people are born with a moral grammar wired into their neural circuits by evolution. In a new book, "Moral Minds" (HarperCollins 2006), he argues the grammar generates instant moral judgments which, in part because of the quick decisions that must be made in life-or-death situations, are inaccessible to the conscious mind."

What is moral grammar? My dictionary says grammar is the study of the structure of words and their usage within a language, but this report treats grammer as if it is not dependent on language. Also, how can grammar generate "instant moral judgements which"..."are inaccessible to the conscious mind"? The article continues:

"The proposal, if true, would have far-reaching consequences. It implies that parents and teachers are not teaching children the rules of correct behavior from scratch but are, at best, giving shape to an innate behavior. And it suggests that religions are not the source of moral codes but, rather, social enforcers of instinctive moral behavior."

Wow! Not only do these folks not understand human nature, they don't even understand instincts. Instincts don't need enforcers! The idea of innate behavior means that no one is born tabula rasa. Parents, teachers and religions are merely "enforcers" of a thing I suppose we could call original grammar. Anyway:

"Both atheists and people belonging to a wide range of faiths make the same moral judgments, Hauser writes, implying "that the system that unconsciously generates moral judgments is immune to religious doctrine." "

How does one go about making moral judgements unconsciously? Does this mean Muslims' moral judgement systems are immune to Islamic doctrine? Really? Where are these ideas coming from? Of course:

"Hauser argues the moral grammar operates in much the same way as the universal grammar proposed by the linguist Noam Chomsky as the innate neural machinery for language. The universal grammar is a system of rules to generate syntax and vocabulary but does not specify a particular language. That is supplied by the culture in which a child grows up.

The moral grammar too, in Hauser's view, is a system for generating moral behavior and not a specific rules list."

Reading this article you would think a thing like human free will just doesn't exist.
There is so much cognitive fog in this article it's intellectually tiring. I'll just close by adding that Mr. Hauser is probably causing Darwin to roll over in his grave.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Little LTE That Could

I had a slightly pleasant surprize today. I had written a short two sentence LTE and sent it to the Detroit News. It was actually the last two sentences from my post "Diversity, An Anti-concept." It said simply:

"Dr. King said he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Diversity is the attempt to make sure that kind of judgement doesn't happen."

Well, the Detroit News printed it today (Wednesday). Later my son called me to say that it was read on air on the Drew and Mike Show on WRIF radio and that they said the LTE made a good point. They were talking about afirmative action and were reading a few LTEs of which mine was one. (Last time I checked, WRIF was the most popular radio morning show in Detroit.)

So, the moral is; keep speaking up. You never know when your words will be seen or heard by the right pair of eyes or ears.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

To Vote Dem of Repub? Part 2

In my last post on the election "To Vote Dem or Repub" I said another post would be coming. In that first post I linked to Dr. Leonard Piekoff's article at Capitalism Mag. and Gus van Horn's post.

Since then there has been numerous discussions in Objectivist circles. I highly recommend the articles at The Objective Standard blog Principles in Practice by John Lewis and Craig Biddle. Also see Diana Hsieh's in depth article at Noodle Food and for more thoughts, checkout the lengthy comments section.

I haven't modified my original position much. I'm in agreement 99% with Dr. Piekoff and will vote heavily Democratic this election. But beyond that I'll be voting for gridlock. We don't have gridlock now because Republicans control everything. Perhaps things wouldn't be so bad if we had a little more of it. The Repubs however have not earned the right to be re-elected and are bending over backwards to adopt the altruist, collectivist, socialist policies of the liberal Democrats.

I prefer gridlock because I really don't want the Dems to have all the power. With all the power I believe they will immediatly start their censorship schemes one step at a time. There are two issues over which the Dems scare me. One is censorship and the other is nationalization of industry which they will call for as soon as there is a recession while Dems are in control. They will cry that capitalism and free markets have failed and it's time for the government to take control ala FDR and beyond.

It is this kind of evasion and blame game that will not result in the American people putting the blame for Democratic disasters squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats as some think will happen. I'm not so sure. It didn't happen in the 30s. Even though some intellectuals pointed to the facts, the public followed FDR anyway.

So, I will vote for Dems this election to get Repubs out of total control. I might even vote for Dems in 08 for president. But I think gridlock will buy the most time for Objectivism to grow. If anyone can show me how gridlock is a bad idea, well, I will consider it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lil' Science Roundup

Dennis Chamberland at Quantum Limit.com tells of the launching of a new project to develop a diving habitat called Leviathon. It's for diving to about 25 feet and spending the week ends there, or it can be used by professionals.

"The Leviathon is an underwater dwelling that features a command and control center, a sleeping, entertainment room and kitchen as well as a shower, bathroom and wet room. The Leviathan also features a refrigerator, air conditioner, a full suite of interior and exterior lighting enhancements as well as a fully enhanced audio and visual entertainment center."

(But does it get ESPN?)

Dennis also has a post on climate change down under and takes a look at the UN's idea of sustainable development.

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Paul Ashton at the Global Warming is Good site is saying goodby. At least he is going out on a positive, mission acomplished note. He says he started the site to combat GW irrationality, but now thinks the public opinion has turned around and is now moving more toward the rational. I hope he's right.

Anyway, I recommend readers visit his site and read the archives while available.

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While browsing around at the Sierra Times, I found a link to this report on the astonishing fact that if you lose weight you will save gas mileage. A quote:

"Want to spend less at the pump? Lose some weight. That's the implication of a new study that says Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline each year than they did in 1960 because of their expanding waistlines. Simply put, more weight in the car means lower gas mileage."

This will no doubt, be the next 'crises' that government will have to step in and solve. The report doesn't say who funded the study but it's a good bet our tax dollers were involved.

New Global Warming Authorities

Simondo at Capitalist Solutions in Hong Kong had a post earlier this month on how Greenpeace is using a consensus of government janitors to support claims of catastrophic global warming. The key quote from Greenpeace campaigner Francis Yeung in the South China Morning Post:

"More proof of global warming's effect on Hong Kong comes from a survey conducted by Greenpeace and the Government Mod 1 Staff General Union last month. Nearly all of the 201 government janitors interviewed for the study reported that it was getting hotter working outdoors. More than 90 per cent said they had suffered dizziness, suffocation and heat exhaustion. Serious cases such as shock and heatstroke were also reported."

Looks like Al Gore and Arnold Schwarzenegger can rest easy now that the global warming debate has finally been settled; the janitor said so.

Monday, October 23, 2006

To Vote Dem of Repub?

Capitalism Magazine has a post by Leonard Peikoff giving his reasoning on how Objectivists should vote this fall. I discovered this via Gus Van Horn who has his own ideas on this.

Evidently, Mr. Peikoff advises everyone to vote for Democrats on the ground that the left has no real power or appeal anymore and is not as dangerous as the religious right which has the appearance of having ideas on its side even though it doesn't. Gus also points to the contrary arguement by Robert Tracinski who advises everyone vote against Democrats and for Republicans. There are links to other sites on this subject as well.

My own incling is to do both. That is, to vote for some of each in order to achieve some degree of gridlock in the hope that neither side will achieve enough power to ram its agenda down our throats. The left can't wait to bring censorship to this country and will do so if given the power even if only peacemeal. They need censorship in order to mute the religious right and conservative ideas. In my opinion, the right would oppose this but only up to a point. They would be willing to compromise because they want censorship for their own reasons.

It's hard to predict which poison is most fatal. Both sides are appealing to different receptors. The left appeals to the public's feelings under the guise of an unprincipled practicality, pragmatism, which means, it's intelligent to rely on one's feelings to guide one's actions instead of principles. The right appeals to both the mind and the feelings by pointing out that a morality is a set of principles (which it is) which is derived from an all knowing and all powerful god, which means, if you join my religion you can't go wrong.

So the left says you must sacrifice yourself to the whims of the common good as a matter of practicality. The right says you must sacrifice yourself to the whims of god as a matter of principle. In this light, I would have to say that for Objectivists, the religious right is the more formidable foe and Peikoff is right--Objectivists should not be voting for Republicans.

Peikoff is saying that the Democratic poison may be toxic but the Republican poison will be fatal. In a sense we are building the ovens into which we will be required to leap when the inevitable sacrifices are demanded. Therefore we must elect the least competent builders we can find and hope that allows enough time for the medicine, Objectivism, to work. The least competent of course are Democrats.

Naturally, I leave it to my readers to sort this out for themselves. But I hope the links above and my two cents have helped in some way.

Another post on this subject will be forthcomming.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Diversity, An Anti-Concept

The Detroit free Press had pro and con guest op-eds on 10/17/06 regarding the issue of Afirmative Action. The pro arguement is by Scott E. Page, professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan and author of a book promoting Diversity in all aspects of society.

After Mr. Page tells us how we value individual ability, he then says:

"An employer who wants boxes packed should hire people who are good at packing boxes.

But that logic does not hold for most jobs in the modern economy. Suppose, for instance, that our employee will help design a car or develop a vaccine. These are hard problems, and when a team confronts a hard problem, it needs people with different ways of thinking. Hence, the team's performance depends as much on its members' cognitive differences as it does on their individual abilities. Put simply, effective groups and teams need cognitive diversity. Ability alone is not enough."

First of all, what are cognitive differences? He doesn't explain. He just says "different ways of thinking." To me, that means different psycho-epistomologies, and it is true that everyone has their own psycho-epistomology or method of thinking. However, if you have say one white man and you add another you will have cognitive diversity. If you have one black (or Hispanic or Asian) man and you add another, you will have cognitive diversity. But cognitive diversity is not what Afirmative Action is or was about. Afirmative Action is about racial and gender diversity not cognitive. (Or there'd be a bunch of conservatives in every university.)

So, what he seems to be saying is that cognitive diversity depends on racial and gender diversity, which means that the content of one's mind is determined by race and gender. While such things may influence one's opinion on certain aspects of reality, they should not have much of a cognitive effect. Discovering that 2+2=4 or E=MC2 requires the same cognitive process regardless of race or gender.

Notice how he was first talking about a repetitive manual labor job of packing boxes, and now he is talking about creative jobs like designing cars and developing vaccines. Well, there are a lot more people employed in making and selling cars and working in hospitals and clinics than there are designing those cars and developing vaccines. Claiming that "most jobs" in our economy are of a creative nature is just plain false. Anyway, he still hasn't explained how the pigment of your skin or your gender will help you develop vaccines. But he tries:

"Capturing a person's cognitive ability with a single number (or even two) should strike us as odd -- "this is my son; he's a 116." Better that we think of people as collections of cognitive tools -- as bundles of ways of seeing, interpreting and solving. Better that we see them in their fullness.

Thinking of people as possessing bundles of tools doesn't deny the concept of ability. An individual's IQ score depends on the number and types of tools a person possesses. If Sarah has 60 tools and Kevin has 53, she probably outscores him on an IQ test. Nevertheless, when we put Sarah and Kevin in a group, what matters is not how many tools each has, but what unique tools each brings to the group."

What are "bundles of tools"? I would agree that an IQ score doesn't tell you much about a person's ability to think, but I cannot think of a better description of the cognitive content of many of today's intellectuals--a contextless, haphazard "bundle of tools."

But how do race and gender affect these "bundles"?

"If diversity is good, how do we find it? One source is experience. The person who grew up on a farm sees the world differently than a suburbanite. Other sources include schooling and training -- mathematics is a tool, as is knowledge of how to bore a cylinder -- as well as our cultures and identities. Our identities shape how we see the world, what analogies we draw, and what rules we apply in a given situation."

"Our identities shape how we see the world..." In other words, the color of our skin and our gender determines how we use reason. Reason then is a "tool" that doesn't have a specific nature whose rules and requirements must be learned and followed. Reason comes in "bundles" of different sizes and and types.

Actually, the concept of diversity has no meaning outside the context of that which one seeks to diversify. Diversity could be a bad thing. My car could have a diversity of breakdowns. Low imunity could lead to an attack by a diversity of pathogens. The USA is hated by a diversity of irrational ideologies.

The concept diversity is used today as an anti-concept. An anti-concept is an invalid concept used to destroy a valid one and smuggle into the mind of listeners an invalid meaning. In the context of afirmative action 'diversity' is used to destroy individual merit by holding that one's "bundle of tools" is determined by external influences like culture, race, gender, and other "experiences." See what's missing here? Individual merit. When Mr. Page says "Thinking of people as possessing bundles of tools doesn't deny the concept of ability.," he's right, it doesn't. But it does make ability take a back seat to the intrinsic theory of values known as racism. In short, diversity says a person's value is determined by how different he is from others. That's racism.

Homogeneous societies like China and Japan and others have existed for centuries without any serious diversity. Presumably then, these cultures are evil and immoral.
Of course they are not evil (at least for that reason). To point to the lack of diversity as a bad thing in America, the most diverse society on the planet, is asinine.

Dr. King said he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Diversity is the attempt to make sure that kind of judgement doesn't happen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Laugh and a Smile

A Laugh...
On Friday the 13th I was watching TV and decided to give my thumb a rest by watching the TV Guide channel to see what's on. As you know the TV Guide channel likes to show game shows and self-help and other shorts above the scroll of what is on now.

They then went to a commercial which you may have seen, but if not, it showed a man dressed in what might be a toga. He spots a small critter (I forgot what kind) out of its natural surroundings. He scoops it up with his hands and places it back in its habitat. He then sees a goldfish flopping around out of water so he picks it up, again with his hands, and places it back in a body of water. Next is a spider crawling along the floor. He gets the spider to crawl up on a piece of paper then goes outside and deposits the arachnid on a bush.

Now he goes into the house to get a tissue I think to blow his nose. As he takes a sheet from the top of the Kleenex box his eyes open wide as he reads in big bold letters "KILLS 99.9%" while a voiceover says "Thats right! KILLS 99.9% of germs, and that's a good thing too."

I laughed out loud at that commercial and have decided to send Kleenex an email praising that ad.

But, I pondered, what would be the right moral of the story?
Saving some critters is a good thing but killing others is a good thing too?
Buying Kleenex will help you save the right kind (and kill the right kind) of critters?
Enviromentalism tempered with reason?

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and a Smile,

Driving home Saturday 10/14/06 morning from a local mall, I was listening to a black, conservative, Detroit radio talk show called Joshua's Trail on WDTK AM. I've only heard this show about 5 times so far but the two gentlemen who host it are religious for sure. Anyway, they sometimes have a unique way of making a point.

On this day they wanted to take a moment to give credit to President Bush for his amazing powers. You see, last year Bush was responsible for the number and intensity of all the hurricanes and the resulting damage. So this year they wanted to give Mr. Bush credit for making sure not one hurricane threatened the USA. What a man!

Friday, October 13, 2006

My Favorite Search Engines

Andy at The Charlotte Capitalist posts on a USA Today article about the search engine Ask.com. which used to be Ask Jeeves I guess. Andy says he uses Ask.com as his primary engine. I got to thinking maybe I should let my readers know what my favorite search engines are.

Although it isn't my favorite, I sometimes use Ask.com too. I prefer their map service to Map Quest which I no longer use.

I also have been known to use Snap.com and have no complaints with it.

But my favorite lately has been Goodsearch.com which is powered by Yahoo. This engine will donate half its profits to your favorite charity which amounts to about a penny per search. The home page has two boxes. The top box is the search box and the bottom box is for your favorite charity. When I emailed them asking if the Ayn Rand Institute was listed, they sent me a comfirming email which also said in part:

"Did you know…….

The Elephant Sanctuary has already earned more than $1400 just by using GoodSearch!

The Bubel Aiken Foundation has earned nearly $700 just by using GoodSearch!

As you know, GoodSearch is a Yahoo-powered search engine with a unique social mission. We give 50% of our advertising revenue to the nonprofits and schools that our users choose. You and your supporters can make a difference in the lives of many just by changing the way you search the Internet!

Here's an example of how much your organization can earn:

· 100 supporters search the internet just twice a day = $730/year

· 1,000 supporters search the internet just twice a day = $7300/year

Spread the Word!

While the press has done a great job in featuring GoodSearch, in order for your cause to earn as much money as possible, it’s important that you spread the word to your supporters.

GoodSearch.com is a new search engine that donates half its revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. You use it just as you would any search engine, and it’s powered by Yahoo!, so you get great results.

Just go to www.goodsearch.com and be sure to enter (my charity) as the charity you want to support. Just 500 of us searching four times a day will raise about $7300 in a year without anyone spending a dime! And, be sure to spread the word!

Put a logo and link to GoodSearch on your website
http://www.goodsearch.com/Logo.aspx

Encourage everyone you know to download the GoodSearch toolbar.
http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/

Make GoodSearch the homepage on all of the computers in your company or school.
http://www.goodsearch.com/MakeHomepage.aspx"

Write about GoodSearch on blogs and message boards.

You can see examples of what some other organizations have done at: http://www.goodsearch.com/About.aspx#faq16 "

With Goodsearch I now use Google rarely.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Detroit Tiger Correction

Earlier this year I said I didn't think the Detroit Tigers had the talent or skill to hang with the big boys. They could not beat the Yankees and had trouble beating the White Sox. I said they would be at or below 500 for the season.

Well, I have never enjoyed being this wrong before. Even if the Tigers don't beat Oakland for the AL Pennant and fail to go to the World Series, they have still proven they can hang with the big boys, probably because they are now one of the big boys.

I happily stand corrected.

Go Tigers!!!!!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Afirmative Action and the New Segregation

There have been some Public Service Announcements on TV here in Michigan recently campaigning against the Afirmative Action Initiative on the Nov. ballot. The Initiative would ban the use of racial and gender discrimination in the hiring and selection processes. These PSAs show people who have ostensibly benefited from afirmative action laws. They testify that now that they have these laws, "We are not going back."

What these people are really saying is "In a free society where people deal with each other on a voluntary basis, I did not have access to some things I wanted access to, but I did have access to governmental force through the afirmative action laws. These laws enabled the government to force other people to give me access to the things I wanted. Now that I have this power, I'm not giving it up." (The real meaning of "We are not going back.") Nice people.

Unable--or unwilling--to think in terms of principles, these people fail to realize that if discrimination is wrong, it is wrong not only when practiced against certain people, but when practiced for certain people as well. To practice discrimination for certain people is to practice it against all others.

Actually, discrimination is a normal cognitive function and should not be outlawed as such. We discriminate every time we go to the store to buy goods like food or clothing. The process of evaluation requires discrimination. When buying tomatos we may discriminate in favor of the ripest ones and against those not yet ripe or for the cheapest ones against the more expensive ones.

This process of discrimination is always done according to some standard of value. What then was the standard of value being used to determine justice during the civil rights movement? Our Constitution gave us that standard when it recognized that each person has an unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, i.e. individual rights.

But that was not the standard being applied to black people back in the 60s. I witnessed that era and I knew the issue wasn't being framed in the proper context to achieve justice. Few were talking about protecting black peoples' constitutional rights.

White racists had been telling blacks that as an individual they had little or no value because of their race. White civil rights activists were telling blacks they did have value but only because of their race, and that the solution to discriminating against blacks and other minorities lies in passing laws that discriminate for those minorities. In other words, the standard of value was still the collective (race) and not the individual. This allowed the white liberals to remain loyal to their core philosophy--collectivism--of which racism is a form.

Staying loyal to collectivism was absolutely essential. It laid the groundwork for getting blacks, and whites for that matter, to accept the next twist on collectivism--diversity--the New Segregation.

Diversity teaches people not to focus on their individual traits, but on their collective differences. Thus it becomes virtuous for schools to have seperate cafeterias, seperate dorms, seperate graduating ceremonies and who knows what else is coming? White southern racists might very well be rolling over in their graves today saying "Damn, why didn't we think of that"?

Americans have been betrayed by their intellectual leaders who have abondoned individualism in favor of collectivism. Adolf Hitler once said "Du bist nichts, dein volk ist alles", "You are nothing, your race is everything"--from Mein Kampf. A lot of real, living, breathing individuals died in his ovens because they did not belong to the right collective.

Dr. Martin Luther King said in his "I have a dream" speech that he wanted his children to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. While Dr. King did not come right out and say "individualism" he nevertheless was focused on its manifestation: respect for the individual on his own merits and not those of his collective.

If racism is to be ended, it is it's source--collectivism--that must be rejected. But this will require the American people to demand our universities purge themselves of the multicultural and diversity dogmas. I think that alumni refusing to donate until universities abandon their collectivist curriculum and begin to study individualism anew, would be a good start.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Busy Week

I have been very busy this week. Blogging will resume probably by Friday. Hopefully.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sad Commercial

There is a sad commercial appearing on Michigan TV these days. It is a commercial by Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield and it says that everyone has a right to health care.

I say it's a sad commercial because it demonstrates how even educated people today do not have a clear understanding of the concept "rights."

"The concept of a "right" pertains only to action--specifically to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men." (Ayn Rand from her essay Man's Rights in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

There can be no such thing as a right to a thing, like health care or education or anything else for that matter. There is only the right to earn a value or create it yourself. To have a right to a thing means that someone must be forced to provide it.

Blue Cross isn't advocating anything new. They are just cashing in on the intellectual disintegration of our time. If leaders like to tell the American people they have a right to health care, can we blame the Blue Crosses of the world if they try to make it their health care? If newspaper pundits tell the public that they have a right to a product or service, and politicians agree to make it happen, can anyone blame businesses for clamoring "Can you make that my product or service"?

(For more info on Ayn Rand see here.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Few Recommendations

Last weekend Mrs. Eyes and I went to see the movie The Illusionist largely based on recommendations by Objectivists. Well we both enjoyed it very much and are now recommending it to anyone who hasn't seen it.

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Gus Van Horn has a link to a Senate speech by Sen. James Inhofe on global warming. I recommend reading the whole thing.

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Steven Milloy at Junk science.com has a link to a report that air bags and seat belts may not be saving more lives. A key quote:

**The behavior responsible for this seeming paradox is called the offset hypotheses, which predicts that consumers adapt to innovations meant to improve safety by becoming less vigilant about safety, said Fred Mannering, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue University.

"When antilock brakes were first introduced, insurance companies noticed that the accident rates for those cars increased," he said. "We decided to see whether the offset hypothesis could explain this phenomenon."**

They had to spend money on a study to tell them something most people with common sense already knew.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Geneva Conventions

Another inane Detroit Free Press editorial appears in the Sunday editorial section titled "Don't Bend rules of War, Even if Enemy Does." A subtitle reads "The United States must hold to high standards, not give terrorists more recruiting tools."

First of all, war is not a game with rules that must be followed or you are a bad person or nation.

Second, what is meant by "high standards"? Standard of what?

Third, our enemies don't rely on what we do to recruit more terrorists. Even if we had never humiliated or discomforted a single detainee, our enemies would claim we did and would have doctored photos to prove it just like they have done with the Jews. Plus, our enemies wouldn't have any idea what we were doing with detainees if we didn't have a news media eager to give our enemies those recruiting tools.

The editorial is about the Geneva Conventions which the U.S. signed onto in 1949 and basically how they are noble standards to which we must adhear according to 3 Republican senators who opposed Bush's desire to bend the conventions by giving interrogators more lattitude in extracting information. The fourth paragraph says:

"When dealing with an enemy that crashes planes into skyscrapers full of people and appears to delight in beheading civilians on camera, it is indeed tempting to toss the rules and bring in professional sadists."

I don't agree. To a rational nation and most Americans, the temptation would be to completely destroy the enemy's ability and will to fight. The Free Press must have a low opinion of Americans to assume they would give in to the temptation of becoming savages. The next sentence is "But the United States must be better than that." If the Freep means better than mindless savages, I agree, but the Geneva Conventions will not make that happen. Americans' own sense of morality will keep them from becomming sadists. But why is the Freep worried about how America retaliates against its enemies?

"Congress must ensure the compromise reached last week maintains a high standard. While the proposed law bans some specific actions as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions, it otherwise lets the president interpret the rules without further oversight. That leaves a lot of gray areas that could continue to tarnish America in the world's eyes."

So we must be concerned not with the facts of reality but with world opinion! Not with substance but with appearance!

"To stoop to the savagery of the enemy is to sink to its level, to cede the moral high ground in the righteous war against these international outlaws and to further imperil Americans who might fall into enemy hands anywhere in an increasingly hostile world."

Exactly how is stooping to the enemy's level ceding the moral high ground? When an enemy attacks you it has already ceded any claim to morality. No matter how an attacked nation retaliates it cannot cede any morality. It is always moral to defend oneself. Always.

The U.S. never should have signed the Geneva Conventions. For one thing they are unenforceable. If a nation refuses to abide by them, who is going to do what against them? We need to recind our signing of those conventions and stop trying to make war the civilized game it cannot be.

The Free Press's contention that without the Conventions Americans will automatically become sadistic savages is false and a confession of how it views Americans.

Noah Stahl has a good op-ed at the Iowa State Daily on this very subject. Judging by the hostile comments he must have hit a nerve with those who advocate the conventional academic dogma.

Detroiter Matt May also posts on this editorial.

Friday, September 22, 2006

More Government Worship

The Thursday 09/21/06 edition of the Detroit Free Press carried an awful editorial titled "Recall Power Can Mean Safer Food." It starts with:

"Contaminated spinach's link to one death and 131 illnesses in 21 states makes a strong case for Congress to empower the Food and Drug Administration with recall authority."

Why? Because:

"While grocers nationwide have heeded the agency's prompt and sensible request to remove the product from stores, food safety is too critical to trust compliance to an honor system."

We can't trust men who deal with each other on a voluntary basis but we must trust an institution vested with a monopoly on the legalized use of force and trust them to use it "sensibly." A hatred of the free market and capitalism can't be made much clearer (though the editorial tries to make it clearer below). Despite the fact that individuals acting voluntarily did the right thing, we can't trust them to do it again. We must give the FDA the power to start the use of force against them. Aside from the fact that Americans can't be trusted, the Free Press has other reasons for relying on government force:

"Many experts believe it's only a matter of time before the food supply is subject to terrorism. So the FDA, and related agencies such as the U.S Department of Agriculture, must be able to swiftly order that products be pulled."

That's right. Without government force, us ignorant unwashed masses will just keep on buying and eating the food poisoned by terrorists. The editorial continues:

"Lawmakers have been skittish about extending recall power. Companies that need to remain competitive balk at anything that might betray trade secrets, including how and where they distribute their products.[Obviously, the Free Press suffers from no such skittishness--ME] Even with one of the safest food supplies in the world, more than 76 million Americans a year contract some sort of food-related illness, with 325,000 serious enough to require hospitalization. An estimated 5,000 people die. [It doesn't occur to the Freep that 76 million sick people every year just might be a good reason to get rid of or at least question the existence of the FDA--ME] Food producers and merchants will play a role in protecting the public health.[You bet! It will be a slave to master role.--ME] But the government can't afford simply to trust these companies to do the right thing."

I said they would try to make their hatred of capitalism clearer, there it is. Despite the safest food supply in the world, despite only 5000 deaths a year from food poisoning out of a population of almost 300 million, despite the fact that private individuals handled the spinach scare promptly and sensibly, "these companies" and us ignorant masses can't be trusted "to do the right thing." More government power is "in order":

"Recall authority is in order, and it's a logical step. [This last is for sure!--ME] The FDA already sends inspectors to farms and cooling and packaging facilities to monitor safety. The visits are part of the agency's "lettuce safety imitative," launched last month to deal with resurfacing of E. coli outbreaks." And:

"The fieldwork will no doubt make FDA officials more knowledgeable about tracing problem produce, maybe even pinpointing a source. Congress must work with equal diligence to ensure that knowledge is paired with the overdue power for the FDA to act quickly so suspected problems don't grow into public health nightmares."

In other words, without government force, "suspected problems" will "grow into public health nightmares." Throughout the editorial, the Freep never does explain why the market can't be trusted, or why governemnt should be. The Free Press's attitude toward the initiation of government force reminds me of Yogi Berra's promotion of Aflac insurance in those TV commercials: "If you don't have it, that's why you need it."

Philosopher Ayn Rand once said "Do not, however, make the error of reversing cause and effect: the good of the country was made possible precisely by the fact that it was not forced on anyone as a moral goal or duty; it was merely an effect; the cause was a man's right to pursue his own good." (From "What is Capitalism" in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal." p-29)

The Freep would probably contend that it is not advocating a moral goal or duty, but only a practical solution to a practical problem. But there is nothing more impractical than the unprincipled use of governmental force.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DDT Malaria Update

Pursuant to my last post below on DDT being approved by the Word Health Organization, I have found no mention of it in either the Detroit News or the Detroit Free Press. You'd think that something that could save the lives of millions of people a year would be front page news. Evidently it's not newsworthy in the Detroit area.

As far as I can tell, this story was available since Friday the 15th of Sept. when
the BBC carried the news.

Also, on the 16th, the New York Times carried this article.

Writer Celia Dugger says:

**Dr. Kochi’s new policies and abrasive style have stirred the small world of malaria experts. Dr. Allan Schapira, a senior member of the W.H.O. malaria team who most recently oversaw its approach to insecticide spraying, resigned last week.**

And:

**“He was professionally insulted by me,” Dr. Kochi said.

In answer to a question, Dr. Kochi acknowledged that he had indeed told members of the staff in meetings that they were stupid. “They are very inward looking, and they do not communicate outside the malaria field,” he said. “It’s ridiculous.”**

It sounds to me like Dr. Kochi is the right man for the job because he seems to be reality oriented. The claim that "They are very inward looking...", tells me these people were probably emotionally oriented rather than reality oriented; that they relied on their feelings to guide their thoughts and actions rather than using their thoughts to guide their actions and feelings.

Andy at The Charlotte Capitalist has a good post on this as well.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Finally, the slaughter may be over

Steven Milloy at Junk Science.com. posts that the BBC, the NYT, and the Wall Street Journal are reporting on a World Health Org. press release saying the the WHO now endorses the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying (IRS) in Africa. It's about time. Only about a million people a year died because of the decision of William Ruckelshaus, then head of the EPA, to ban DDT in 1972 despite his investigating committee finding that DDT was harmless to humans and animals. I place the responsibility for all those deaths squarely on his shoulders.

Steve also has "100 things you should know about DDT", here.

I will look at the Detroit newspapers tomorrow to see if there is any mention of this. Both papers have been anti-DDT for a long time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Housekeeping and Pluto

I apologize to my readers for the less than neat appearance of my blog. It was a little messy and I'm trying to organize it better. My most time consuming task was updating the blogroll. I've eliminated a few links and added some and put them all in alphbetical order. I have resolved to maintain and update my blogroll more often and hope that my site will be slightly more pleasant to visit.

How about poor Pluto. According to a sidebar in the Detroit News 09/15/06 Pluto has been given a number to reflect the loss of his status as a planet. (You'll have to scroll down)

Word is he's taking it pretty hard. I hear his mom is trying to console him:

"There, there now Pluto it could have been worse."

"Yeah how?"

"Well they didn't name you Uranus. Look at him. Earthlings have been laughing at him ever since they discovered him. He doesn't get any respect. Why he's been the butt (see what I mean) of an endless stream of jokes. But you Pluto, you get genuine respect. Now doesn't that make you feel a little better?"

"No, but nice try mom."

Planet, ahem, dwarf planet watchers speculate that this last move will push Pluto into therapy. It's true then, there is a lot of sadness in the world, er, solar system, universe?

The Plain Truth

Sometimes our Islamic enemies tell us in plain and simple terms what they are all about. In Monday's 09/11/06 Detroit News is an AP article by Calvin Woodward about 9/11. It ends with this quote taken from a tape posted on the internet Sunday night about what al-Qaida loves:

**"Planning for Sept. 11 did not take place behind computer monitors or radar screens, nor inside military command and control centers, but was surrounded with divine protection in an atmosphere brimming with brotherliness ... and love for sacrificing life," an unidentified narrator said.**

Doesn't get any plainer than that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Science--Kinda Sorta

The 09/12/06 Detroit News has an AP report by Randolph E. Schmid titled "Study links warming, hurricane strength." The part that struck me was this quote:

**"The work that we've done kind of closes the loop here," said Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., a co-author of the paper.

"The important conclusion is that the observed (sea-surface temperature) increases in these hurricane breeding grounds cannot be explained by natural processes alone," Wigley said. "The best explanation for these changes has to include a large human influence."**

Please understand what using this kind of criterion for establishing truth means. It means that, in practice, "We don't have any proof that Mr. Walker murdered Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith's death cannot be explained by looking at any other people. The best explanation is that Mr. Walker had a large causal influence."

Such is the depth to which government funded science has sunk. Ayn Rand said that "Governmental encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true, it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood." This study is a glaring example of just such indifference.

There are lots of other things wrong with that report, like how do you "kind of close a loop"? and why are they using link instead of correlation?, but I think I've made my main point.

(The quote is from Ayn Rand's essay "Establishing of an Establishment" which is now in the book "Philosophy Who Needs It?" page 162 and can be found at most book stores or here.)