Thursday, November 17, 2005

Space Cadets

Ok, to be honest, I don't think I have ever watched reality Tv, as they call it. But this one has me interested. The idea is this. Convince 9 people that they are really taking a trip to space and see if they catch on. It is a british show, but I hope they will bring it over here.

The article to read is in the Independent Online.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Tinfoil Hats - the REAL conspiracy

It seems that some engineers at MIT experimented with tinfoil hats just to see how effective they actually were.

Oddly, for certain gov't. control frequencies, it amplified the signal.

The paper is a must read.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fishy Influenza

Something funky is going on with this bird flu and it isn't making me laugh. All of the sudden, we are warned, threatened, and sacred that this particular virus will jump to humans and become this ultra-deadly killer, that must be stopped at all costs.


Why should I expect this particular flu to be a threat, more so than others? Suddenly, the flu is a huge public health hazard. What about years past? Why is it suddenly a health hazard? Is it just pharmacutical companies selling vaccines? or is it government planning something? I have to confess, I think it odd, that we suddenly need a flu pandemic plan. There have been plans worked out before for national medical emergencies, for small pox for instance. But now they are preparing us to get used to travel restrictions, and other things 'necessary' to stop the flu, "for our good".

If it wasn't essential for real pandemics in the past, ie. the 1918 flu pandemic, why now? Simple, because now they can get away with it. Is it that simple? We shall see.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The problem with random guesses

The problem is that it is soooo easy to be wrong. I have never played with the guess the future game. I may have to try that again. But if you have read predictions from 60 years ago, you would see that the present is nothing like what they guessed.

Here is the NOAA hurricane tracking and prediction center; enjoy.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Ok, I have not posted in over a month.... awful isn't it? I have had 'scandal fatigue'. Well, I still have it, but I wanted to post my prediction on Hurricane Wilma. I will talk about scandal fatigue later.

The few mega-storms we have had this year have been odd. They don't seem to be behaving like normal hurricanes. Wilma is almost what a class 6, would be, if such a classification existed. I don't want to jump on the weather-control bandwagon yet, but I am suspicious.

My prediction is that Wilma will strengthen, and go north instead, or at least not along the simple path they have predicted so far, weakening and heading for the Florida Keys. I think we will see something significantly different. This is just a random guess, but I thought I would "get it on paper", so to speak, so I could say, "I told you so!".

Let's give it a few days.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Build Your Own PVR :: Why Tivo When you can Freevo?

Great site I found here. I need to build myself one of these... at least if there were more television I wanted to watch, I would. What is a PVR? It is a recording device that records shows for you, often without the commercials, from the TV, so you can watch them at your leisure. The commercial versions are getting more expensive and are restricting features in order to please media companies. But it can be done on your computer.... if you are willing...

Solar can't do it all

I got this from It seems that getting solar to replace conventional levels of power looks problematic. One bright point though, was the relative importance of firewood. I can do that.

Tremors may mean 'Big One' on its way

While I think that the inhabitants of New Orleans were living in a precarious situation, it seems that the west coast in not immune to trouble either. The east coast may have hurricanes every year, but we have earthquakes and volcanos.

Not that we have had one yet. They are very hard to predict, if not impossible. It is not at all like watching a hurricane approach. Even a red-neck can point out the co-rotating cloud bands as one comes closer.

But we do have this. A major slip event around Vancouver and a growing bulge next to Bend, Oregon. The first news story I read on this mentioned it was close to Bend an then said, it was just a good thing it wasn't close to any population centers. I remember when I thought Bend was the big city.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pulled from Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country

A temporary flight restriction has been issued by the FAA for a major North Pacific air corridor, covering air routes R-222, R-580 and A-590. The restriction covers the dates September 10-15. The cloture of these major routes is highly unusual, is said to be due to a Department of Defense Strategic Defense Initiative, but the nature of that initiative has not been revealed.

Dang, it makes me wish we got the full story from the news. Shoot, I wish the news would have talked about it at all.

More later... it has been busy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Thursday, September 01, 2005

regrowing limbs

Just a quick post:
Appearently regrowing entire limbs is not just the providence of lesser lifeforms. Reptiles and amphibians can do it, but the first recorded example of a mammal doing it just happened. In a mouse. Of course getting this to work in humans is a ways off yet. But jumping the hurdle from reptile to mammal is in many ways larger than mouse to man. This could really be great.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

seeing (infra) red

This is fascinating. If I only knew how to do it myself. I would love to see in infrared. I shamelessly pulled this from MindHacks.

It's an experiment done by the army and cited by Rubin, M. L., and Walls, G. L. (1969). Fundamentals of visual science. Springfield, Ill.: Thomas, p. 546, which is in turn cited Sekuler, R., and Blake, R. (1994). Perception (3rd ed.). Springfield, Ill.: Thomas, pp. 62-63:

The following story dramatizes how photopigments determine what one can see. During World War II, the United States Navy wanted its sailors to be able to see infrared signal lights that would be invisible to the enemy. Normally, it is impossible to see infrared radiation because, as pointed out earlier, the wavelengths are too long for human photopigments. In order for humans to see infrared, the spectral sensitivity of some human photopigment would have to be changed. Vision scientists knew that retinal, the derivative of vitamin A, was part of every photopigment molecule and that various forms of vitamin A existed. If the retina could be encouraged to use some alternative form of vitamin A in its manufacture of photopigments, the spectral sensitivity of those photopigments would be abnormal, perhaps extending into infrared radiation. Human volunteers were fed diets rich in an alternative form of vitamin A but deficient in the usual form. Over several months, the volunteers' vision changed, giving them greater sensitivity to light of longer wavelengths. Though the experiment seemed to be working, it was aborted. The development of the "snooperscope," an electronic device for seeing infrared radiation, made continuation of the experiment unnecessary (Rubin and Walls, 1969). Still, the experiment demonstrates that photopigments select what one can see; changing those photopigments would change one's vision.

FREE Bullshit Deflector!

What more can I say? A 73-year-old veteran, Bill Moyer, wore these over his ears at Bush's speech in Idaho yesterday. What a great guy. Here is a link to some DIY protecters.

Monday, August 22, 2005

East is East and West is West

It appears that Easterners and Westerners really do see things differently, literally, according to psychologists at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, US. These psychologists examined the eye movements of Chinese and American students as they looked at a photograph. The western group, looked at the central object in the photo, while the eastern group looked all over the photo, seeing the context.

This is interesting because, it has been noted for a long time that we look at things differently. Chinese philosophy tends to emphasize harmony, and how things work together, while the West tends to be very analytical, and look at things a part at a time. Curious.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Homeland Security: your tax dollars at work

Homeland Security is even more inept than the sum of its components. It seems that HS is investigating a renowned puppeteers group in San Francisco. That have frozen their finances and generally made life hell for them, because they suspect them. Nothing they can do about it either. For cryin out loud... a puppeteers group some kind of threat? The same group where Jim Henson met Frank Oz and Jerry Juhl? THis country is in Bad shape.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hydrogen result causes controversy

It always makes me marvel when I disregard a particular fringe idea, and then it comes back and bites me. I never considered the hydrino hypothesis very much, never enough to decide yea or nay. But it appears to have some new life breathed into it.

The idea is this: when electrons in atoms drop an energy level, they give off energy. The suggestion was that perhaps, you could get the electron in hydrogen, the simplist atom, to drop a level below ground state, its lowest state. That should be impossible.... shouldn't it? Scientists are generally agreed it is just silly... but reasons so far are a bit weak. Time for me to pull my Quantum text out.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Experimental Hybrid Cars Get Up to 250 Mpg - Yahoo! News

What do I say here? I am at a loss. Sheer stupidity, or conspiracy? Here we have a case of ordinary people making cars that are highly efficient, yet the automakers can not do it. Granted, it comes at the expence of electricity, but still.... what is up?

In Defense of Common Sense - New York Times

It is gratifying, to see in print, an opinion that one has long held, even if it is merely an editorial, namely that the common mans common sense is worthwile, not only in day-to-day life, but in science as well. The unfortunate effect of denigrating common sense, has been to denigrate common people's opinions and observations. Only scientists are qualified to pass judgements on such things, they would tell you. Of course, there are many things that run contrary to common sense, but that is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Groups Slam FCC on Internet Phone Tap Rule

I saw this on Wired yesterday but I am glad to see that the indignation is spreading. The FCC declared that internet telephony services must include low-security backdoors for law-enforcement. Doing this would both be onerous, and completely cripple security. And those aren't even the additional liberties it compromises.

There is an excellent discussion over at Slashdot. Here is one comment: "And it gets worse yet. Essentially, all 'anti-terrorism,' 'anti-drug,' etc. laws are useless for the purpose for which they're supposedly enacted. Terrorists, drug dealers, and other criminals are, by their very nature, breaking the law. Making their tangential activities (like communicating, meeting, transferring funds...) illegal isn't going to stop them!

In short, attempts to legislate terrorism out of existance are doomed from the start and should be suspect. You can damned well bet that lawmakers are smart enough to know that these laws aren't going to do anything to stop the Bogeyman of the day. They're being passed as 'feel good' measures at best, and as attempts to control the law-abiding population at worse.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Colliding stars

It seems that one mystery of astronomy may have been cracked. For years, no one has been able to explain the source of some mysterious gamma-ray bursts. Some were determined to have come from especially violent supernovae, but the shorter ones, were an enigma. Now is seems that we may have a better answer. From a recent observation, it was determined that the source was colliding neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole. This is great news for many astronomers, but it may be a problem for others.

For years, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory or LIGO, operated by Cal-Tech, has been either under construction, or fine-tuning its instrument to detect. As of May 2005, it was within a factor of 2, of its designed sensitivity. And yet, and yet.... nothing has been detected. It was built to detect the gravitational waves from events exactly like this. Now, in all fairness, it may well be that the ones we have had lately have been too far and we need to give them some time. It may be that some errors were made in the calcuation of what to expect.

This is the kind of thing that physicist both love and dread. They dread it because it tears up old theory and says, 'You were wrong, wrong, wrong.". But they love it also, because it lights the way for newer and more complete theories - for deeper understanding. And modern physics has been poised for just the kind of change and chaos that started off the last century... and ushered in Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

The Epoch Times | Dragons in the Tibet Sky

It seems that the Chinese still take the idea of dragons seriously. At least many of them do. It seems that a guy flying back from Tibet took some photographs of something that appears to be two dragons. I have no particular comment on it. I just found it interesting.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Will rolling down windows save fuel or not?

Ok, I have heard this one for a long time, but I was never satisfied with the common wisdom. So, will rolling down windows save fuel or not, when driving? It turns out the answer in not merely, AC is more efficient than windows. If you are just driving around town, rolling down the windows will not affect the drag of a vehicle sifnificantly. AC only becomes more efficient once you get above 45mph. At 55 mph, windows can increase a car's drag 20% or more. So, below 40 mph - Windows, and above 45 mph - AC.

Monday, August 08, 2005

New cosmic look may cast doubts on big bang theory

It looks like defenders of the Big Bang have a new spot to patch. It seems that a recent analysis of the cosmic microwave background has yeilded cool regions exactly the size predicted by theory.... but very little variation. In fact, too little variation. This might be a fixable problem by tweaking parameters, but that is not very satisfying and only so useful. We will see.

And as the article ends, it mentions two other recent problems, views of what should be the very young universe shows both stars and structures like galaxies much older than they should be.

Personally, I don't care for the Big Bang theory one way or the other, but it nice to see the traditionalists forced to consider things they would rather not.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Free Speech is a Terrorist favorite tool

This article would never be so bold as to actually say "free speech", but the Washington Post article, Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations did say as much for the internet. And the suggestion behind it all it that we need to regulate and watch the internet... which is of course impossible. Not impossible in principle, but logistically. There is just plain too much information. But it would be possible to eliminate major sources of dissenting opinion. That is relatively quite easy and very doable.

Do people really prefer security to freedom, this badly?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

New police guidelines: shoot suicide bomber suspects in head

An international group of police chiefs recently expanded its guidelines for use of deadly force, instructing officers to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head. Details were printed in yesterday's Washington Post.

Granted, this was an international body, but recent histiry suggests that our own country may follow suit.

Quoth the newspaper:
According to the newspaper, the guide recommends that if lethal force is needed to stop someone who fits a certain behavioral profile, the officer should "aim for the head." The intent is to kill the suspect instantly so the person could not set off a bomb if one is strapped to the person's chest, the newspaper said. Among signs to look for listed in the police organization's behavioral profile are wearing a heavy coat in warm weather, carrying a backpack with protrusions or visible wires, nervousness, excessive sweating or an unwillingness to make eye contact, the Post said.

So, we can't hardly get a death penalty in this country, but you can be shot for wearing the wrong coat. Like I said, this is not official policy over here yet, but the word that worries me is 'yet'.

Not that this will fix the problem anyway. It will only make suicide bombs slightly more complicated, not that suicidal people lack either motivation or the will to disregard saftey issues. Now they would just need to include a kill switch instead of a simple detonator switch.

'Health Chips' Could Help Patients in US

I think that the paranthesis in the title ought to be around help and not just health chips. I mentioned a little while ago that Tommy Thompson, the former Bush Health Secretary had gotten himself chipped. Now he is pushing for the rest of us. The original story is at RedNova News - Health - 'Health Chips' Could Help Patients in US and you will find an excellent discussion at Slashdot.

I hate to sound paranoid- I really do- but the Orwellian possibilities here far outweigh the vauge chances for good. One poster on slashdot went into a presention on National ID, thinking it was a good idea, then left realizing it was about population control. The 911 terrorists had good papers. The London Bombing suspects were all legal citizens. Nothing in these chips would have prevented any of this - but it would give the government virtually unlimited power over its citizens. "Unreasonable Search and Seizure" would have no meaning because search would mean opening a computer file. And if you believe that that will be used responsibly, I have a bridge to sell you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dissident Theorists have their Day

Wired News: They Sing the Comet ElectricDissident scientists advocating a controversial theory of the universe are having a field day in the wake of NASA's Deep Impact comet collision earlier this month.

Ok, I will have to eat my words on this one, but the unexpected result is more enjoyable than having to eat my own words is. The gist of this article is this. There has been a theory around for a while, that electric forces play an important role in solar system dynamics. The first one to propose such a theory was the Immanuel Velikovsky. Now, I have a great deal of respect for Velikovsky, though it is evident that he didn't get everything right, and I thought that this was one of those things that he got wrong. After all, it goes against about all I learned about interplanetary plasma physics. This theory was even denied a place in Wikipedia, because enough people argued against it.

Well, the results from NASA's Deep Impact comet collision earlier this month seems to validate the heretic theory, and challenge current theory. Things happened just as the 'Electric Universe' theorists called it. Like Rodney Dangerfield, they still aren't getting any respect, and scientists can be incredibly stubborn about their pet theories, but even this is not keeping them from getting their noses smeared in the new results. Now, a few of the more important results, the really decisive ones, are not available yet. Until then, I am going to try to remember to check the dissident's website,

Friday, July 29, 2005

Planet X.... again

Ok, I don't have a lot of comments to be made here, except for, "Cool". It seems that a group of astronomers have found new planet in our solar system. It is unusual in that it quite bright, well, brighter than Pluto at any rate, which suggests it may even be bigger than Pluto. Much of this has significant uncertainty until further observations can be made. But it is certain to reignite the debate about exactly what the difference between an asteroid and a planet is. And that can be a contentious topic. One girl I had classes with in college explained about the debate over planet status, "We astronomers only have so many things to get upset about".

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Loose Screw Awards

Ok, I have always thought that psychologists were a bit off the deep end. Richard Feynman, the celebrated if somewhat quirky physicist, said that if you have a choice between a psychologist and a witchdoctor, choose the witchdoctor because he uses the scientific method. As you may guess, he was not very fond of them. Fraud scandals involving the likes of Frued and Kinsey certainly have not helped matters.

Well, it appears psychology is not completely unaware of it failings. Enter the The Loose Screw Awards. Here we have the top ten discredited ideas, and many still have a lot of life left in them.

Rorschach blots and other so called projective tests land in number one, but number two, really should have been there, with recovered memories. Mozart for babies, while perhaps ineffective, was really quite innocent (#6. The P.T. Barnum Medal for Mass-Market Potential) while on the other hand, trying to boost self esteem (in at #4) by trying to convince yourself just how wonderful you are, is more insidious and damaging.

The only one I can find some fault with is enabling (#5) because I realized I had done that to some degree during my marriage. However, to their credit, I think that they are talking about extreme cases and reactions. Worth taking a look at.

I need a word

I have needed a word for some time now... and I am stymed. I need a word that means you come to the opposite conclusion after hearing someone's argument.

Case in point, it was reported today on the news, that the largest age segment of people viewing porn, was teenagers. Possible, I though, but rather suspect sounding. And what was the porn industry's response? Well, if they aren't doing it, they aren't interested. That has to be among the lamest bits of logic I have heard. Do these people not know what a nerd is? Or... ok, ok, I am not going to spend half an hour dissecting everything wrong with that argument. I don't know if the original study has merit or not, but I can tell you that the response to it incriminates them more, in my mind. BUT I NEED A WORD FOR IT!

It isn't just bad logic, or a non sequitur. It is so bad it makes you arrive at the opposite conclusion. But what is a word for it?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

FTL part 2

Ok, last time I mentioned that the main problem with FTL, Faster Than Light travel, is that, according to Special Relativity, all frames of reference are equivalent, none are preferred. That means that there is no way to define what is simultaneous in SR.. This means that every place defines its own past, which means that if you go faster than the speed of light in one reference frame, it may be seen as time travel in another.

So, we have two possibilities. Either (1) FTL inherently means time travel and there is no such thing as simultaneity OR (2) there is a preferred frame of reference, which means we can define simultaneity and time travel is not required. But #2 is not generally considered an option. After all, aren’t simple basic things like that already proven? You would think so....

What is considered to be the first proof, were a series of experiments involving precision interferometers, preformed by scientists Michelson and Morley. This was about a hundred years ago and it was thought that we understood everything. The last experiment that needed to be preformed was measuring the speed of the luminiferious aether. Well, any old text on relativity will tell you that his experiment was a bust. He didn’t measure the speed he was looking for and that paved the way for Einstein and his theory.

Only, that isn’t the whole story. What is not commonly known, and certainly not in the textbooks, is that Michelson did not have a null result – that is to say, he did measure something, only it wasn’t as big as it should have been.

However, that experiment has been performed many times and the latest and greatest have been vacuum sealed and they have most definitely been null. That settles it then, doesn’t it? There must be no aether, and no preferred reference frame..... if the experiments were done correctly. It seems that there have been a number of them done.

Dr. Reginald T Cahill made a fascinating analysis in one of the latest issues of Infinite Energy, he shows that the fringe shifts (that is actually what is measured in a Michelson Morley Interferometers) were related to the density. Proportional to the third power of the index of refraction, actually, but I will leave the technical details to those who wish to read the paper- well worth it. His own page is at here, and a lengthy list of papers and interferometer experiments may be found here.

Appearently, most of the new experiments all used vacuum sealed apparatuses. Normally, you would expect that to make it more accurate, but in this case, the signal strength is related to the amount of material you go through.

What his work suggests to me, is that rather than space-time being a fabric of sorts, it is closer to a fluid. And while the speed of light may be finite in any given space, that space it self may flow much faster than light’s limit.

I wish to walk a fine line here. While I would like to point out all the evidences against Relativity, I don’t want anyone to think Einstein is a waste. He is no more of a waste than Newton. We all know Newton is not technically correct, but that does not mean he is not useful.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Faster Than Light - part 1

Ok, this is a subject that needs to be examined more closely than it has been. Oh, sure, I know that some sci-fi geeks (not unlike myself) have considered it carefully. There have even been some mainstream scientists, but it still has not gotten the attention it needs. The problem is that of so-called Faster Than Light travel, or, simply, FTL.

I have always believed this is possible, though I certainly have no proof. And being the kind of person I am, I don’t just want proof, I want a full fledged hyper-warp-FTL drive attachment for my car. But this is going to take some work, I think. I suppose that a proper treatment of FTL demands that I treat two things, why it is not supposed to be possible, and why it might. Now, I think that before one goes about smashing idols, one ought to know exactly how, and why each of these idols exist.

Thus, today’s topic is, what prevents FTL Travel? If you can’t answer this, there is no sense in looking for loopholes. You got to know the rules before you can break them.

The first problem with faster than light travel is relativity. Not the nasty mathematics of General Relativity, the relatively simple stuff of Special Relativity. This is the main problem, though there are others. If all frames of reference are equally valid, then it doesn’t matter which one we use. And for any speed less than light, it will be less than light in any other reference frame. BUT, once we exceed the speed of light, there will be a reference frame where it appear we are going backwards in time. And you don’t have to rewatch “Back to the Future” many times to know that that makes trouble. A good place to see this is here, though admittedly it was meant for a game.

Another problem is that relativistic mass is related to speed. And going the speed of light means your mass is infinite, which means the rocket fuel needed is infinite, which means....

The last real problem that I see is that our atoms are held together by the electrical force. On the quantum mechanical level, that force is mediated using virtual photons, which move at the speed of light. In other words, if we exceeded the speed of light, then we would be moving faster than the force that holds us together.

I think that those are all the critial problem. If I missed any, someone let me know. But it was on the basis of reasons like this, many have concluded FTL would never be possible, never considering how limited our knowledge is. I think it is possible.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Heat_of_Moment.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Ok, started on that large PDF on the effect of porn on the brain. But it occurred to me that I did know a little about what she was saying. Partly because I am a man, and I know how easily my brain turns off when I see pretty, or more especially a sexy woman. A while ago, I copied this off of Netscape.
Pretty Women Make Men Stupid!

Women have known this since the beginning of time. Now psychologists at McMaster University in Canada have figured it out, too. A beautiful woman can make a guy stupid.

According to New Scientist, pretty women scramble men's ability to assess the future. Scientifically, it's known as "discounting the future." Seen frequently in animals, it means preferring an immediate, lesser reward to a greater reward in the future.

Here's an example: If someone offered to give you $10,000 now or the same amount five years from now, you would choose to take the money today because there is no value in waiting. But if someone were to offer you $10,000 today or $50,000 in five years, you would probably opt to wait for the higher amount. This is called "rational discounting." If you were to take the $10,000 today, it's called "irrational discounting."

The study: McMaster University researchers Margo Wilson and Martin Daly wanted to find out if sexual mood influenced discounting behavior. They showed 209 male and female students pictures of attractive and not-so-attractive people of the opposite sex. Each was then offered a chance to win a prize. They could accept a check for between $15 and $35 tomorrow or one for $50 to $75 at some point in the future.

The results for the men: After a man viewed pictures of women who were of average attractiveness, they made a rational decision about the prize money and accepted the larger amount to be received in the future. But when they had just seen pictures of beautiful women, they discounted the future value of the reward in an irrational way and opted instead for the immediate and smaller cash outlay. In other words, after seeing a very attractive woman, the men were more likely to make dumb choices.

The results for the women: Viewing the photographs of men--whether they were sexy hunks or just run-of-the-mill guys--had no effect on women's ability to make rational decisions.

Why the difference? Wilson and Daly don't know, but they suspect that viewing pictures of pretty women is mildly arousing for men. If that's the case, it would activate neural mechanisms associated with cues of sexual opportunity. Tommaso Pizzari, an evolutionary biologist at Leeds University, offered another possible explanation to New Scientist: "If there's the prospect of getting a very attractive partner it may pay a man to take more risks than if an average partner was available."

The research findings were published in the journal Biology Letters.

There has actually been some study done on this. One good paper on how our
decision making changes when aroused. I simple presentation on discounting which looks like it was done by the same guys may be found here.

what do we call a mind on Porn?

Well, this is an interesting question. Anything the brain enjoys, changes it. Can we quantify the change porn makes as damage then? There is one lady that is trying that. Of course, the mere idea sends some people into a tizzy, especially those that can not distinguish between porn and sex in its own proper place. We know that there is such a thing as sex addiction, so I think it makes sense to look for real damage. Her name is Dr. Judith Reisman and her paper is called, "The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech".

I think most people just hear the premise and laugh, because that is what they want to. But there is a lot to sort out here. I am not even sure how you would quantify damage, other than observing addiction behaviors. I have not attempted to study it out yet, but here are some links. Adult Christianity (more 'adult' than christian, you are warned) trys to tear it down and make it simply a power play by an ideologist, but does not really examine the question before them. Frankly, casting aspersions is much easier than tackling the science. The Deseret News does a nice objective piece while the Guardian mostly makes fun it.

I am going to need to study this out before I can give a worthwhile opinion. The problem with things like this, is most people think with their emotions and prejustices, and not look at the issue at hand. Who wants to? If she is right, there is an awful lot we have to give up.

New Periodic Table

Ok, I have seen things, and thought of things similar to this. But this guys found the right final details. And that is what makes it good. Here we have here is a more natural, organic way of looking at the electron structure of the elements. It even has a place for Neutronium, which is a first for me. It is worth taking a look at.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

We would never do that, and look, it doesn't hurt either!

Ok, this RFID thing just refuses to die. They talk like they would never do it to us, and then they have a former government official showing how harmless and painless it is. Then they make a point of talking about what good things it is capable of. None of us are denying that. It is the possible abuses, and whether it is even possible to stop the abuses.

How would you like it if, for instance, one day you realized your underwear was reporting on your whereabouts?
— California Senator Debra Bowen, at a 2003 hearing [9]

And would the positive points even happen?
Katherine Albrecht and a few others oppose it. And so, do I believe, do I.

The Spat

Ok, I give up. I have to comment on this. I hate to do so because it smacks of celebrity worship, which I generally mock, but it is still interesting.

It seems that Tom Cruise has strong opinions of his own and has been speaking his mind. That in and of itself is quite unusual. I admit, I happened, by chance, to see the much talked about interview with Matt Lauer. And I can honestly say, I don’t remember when I found an interview half as amusing. Matt Lauer, of the Today Show is attempting to have a normal, don’t-upset-anyone interview and Tom Cruise is talking about the history of modern medicine and what works and doesn’t. It was hilarious as Matt trying to steer thing back to conventional waters and common wisdom and pretty-boy Cruise was dashing it all to pieces. Celebrities who are well informed and have unconventional opinions.... wow, what next?!? Frankly, many of his opinions I agree with. I am not sure I would take quite as strong stand as he does. I think that many of these drugs are crutches. And crutches are fine for a little while if you can get back on your own feet. Brook Shields, who was bickering with Tom on this, I think was right; she said she used them with post-partum depression and it worked for her. Perhaps there are better solutions, but I think these things to have a place. I think Cruise is right, however, about the relative importance of vitamins (and minerals, I would say) in actually curing people. Far too much time is spent simply on ‘treatment’.

Frankly, I expected this to die down, but it isn’t. It seems that other celebrities are joining the fight. How well informed they are, I don’t know, but I am a bit pessimistic. Still, debates on real subjects with unconventional ideas. What next? The Britney Spears guide to semiconductor physics was actually done by Britney?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Slashdot | Ethanol More Trouble Than It's Worth?

Hmmm.... this is troubling. This is not what I expect, nor is it what I wanted. What ever reality throws at you, you have got it take it like it is. I have found that trying to force things my way doesn’t work well. The best solution to a problem is simple, and not necessarily the one you want. When it isn’t the one you want, let it go, and you will find while it may be painful, it is a good pain.

Ok, what is this all about? This is what I know, there is a debate brewing on the subject of whether Ethanol is feasible. An earlier study showed it to be moderately so, but a new study from what appears to be a pretty unbiased source, disputes that.

Certainly we can make it. That is well known, but is it an energy source or sink? There is a debate at Slashdot

And I had such hopes for ethanol. Here is the current article against... and the old arguement for.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Concerning Magic and Technology.... and Harry Potter

I read once, that there is no accepted definition for magic that distinguishes between religion, science, medicine and superstition. And what has been called magic has by no means remained constant throughout the ages. While I do not intend to write a lengthy discourse on the history of magic, I did think that this was a good time to get some of my notes online. A very good time considering the recent release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”.

Now, many zealous people have opposed Harry Potter because of a scriptural prohibition against magic. I have no intention to force meaning onto the scriptures. First, I want to understand what they actually do say, and then I want to put things in context.

To begin with, anciently, magic was not separate from religion. If you wished to have magic powers, you had to get them somewhere. Spells would involve prayers to such deities as Eros, Pan, Hekate, or Aphrodite. These are of course Greek deities. In Old Testament times, they would have used others, such as Baal, Molech, or Ashtoreth. Many of these were grossly immoral and downright sick, but nothing that does not happen today under one guise or another. Thus, a prohibition against magic was really a warning against idolatry.

So what was the real problem with it? Many of their practices led people into sin. One of the main ‘sacraments’ of the Philistines involved sex with a priestess. This was tempting. The prophet Isaiah condemned the people for “the oaks ye have desired” - ie, they desired to perform adulterous pagan rituals, which were done in groves or next to an oak tree.

And off equal or greater significance was that they suggested that they could live without the true and living God.

Not only did they think to receive blessings by by-passing God the Father, they sought to do it by sin. The Lord said, by the prophet Jeremiah said, My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jer. 2:13

They thought to have success and salvation, both earthly and eternal, independently of God, without exercising faith or righteousness. The sin was idolatry.

There are a number of examples in the Old Testament period, but two in particular stick out. The last of these was King Saul. He desired revelation from God desperately, though not desperately enough to repent. And so, instead of seeking for revelation from legitimate sources, he consulted the witch of En-dor. 1 Sam. 28 He was not helped by it.

Earlier in his life, he had been commanded to perform a certain military action and bring nothing back. Saul thought it a shame to just destroy all this perfectly good wealth, and disobeyed, in order to do sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel the prophet was furious and spoke some thing never to be forgotten. But the one that catches my attention best was “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Sam. 15:23 In case you are not familiar with it, this literary form is called parallelism and the second part essentially restates the first part in different words. The result was a peculiar kind of poetic clarity. Also of note, while Saul was here condemned to lose his crown, yet far earlier in history Jacob was not condemned for what we would consider a simple silly superstition, in deed, he was blessed. Gen. 30

My point in all of this, is that the central sin of magic and witchcraft anciently was idolatry, neither more nor less. Jacob had a simple superstition concerning cattle. And it was a moot point with God. How many simple meaningless false beliefs do we have? Those little errors we have are of little import to God if they do not affect our salvation.

Well, other than a few oddballs, we would NEVER fall in that same trap.... right? Maybe and maybe not. Let’s talk about Harry for a minute. In the strange world that Harry has found himself in. If potatoes need to be peeled, they would usually use a wand instead of a peeler. If they are in a darkened room, they would likely say, “Lumos!”, as opposed to use a flashlight. For them it is a matter of technology. Does this make for a perfect utopia? Not any more than our modern conveniences have. On one hand you have the wicked and wealthy Malfoy’s and the poor and humble Weasley family. For them it is a matter of technology.

Technology... Science... Surely those are entirely different from magic, aren’t they? Well, we need not pray to pagan gods, but we rely on science and technology just as much as any pagan did to their gods. Many people feel like we don’t really need god at all. We are self-sufficient, or so we feel. If we need protection from foreign nations, we build missiles, in stead of seeking the Lord. If we need better crops, we use fertilizer. Surely, there is nothing wrong with technology itself.

Remember the words of Samuel, rebellion is the sin of witchcraft. That sin is also sometimes a sin of technology. For instance, look at StarTrek. You have a perfect utopian society in the Federation, except at the edges where the Enterprise tends to stay. Many references have been made to not needing religion, or treating it as inferior to science. The scene I remember best was one of the last movies made. The Enterprise had gone back in time, and ended up being on Earth when the Vulcans first arrived. The Vulcans made the point that they recognized the warp signature of our first space ship and therefore realized that because we had this technology that we must be mature enough as a society.

For most people, technology is magic anyway. How many people can really tell you how a transistor works? Or a whole computer? I can’t entirely, and I have a degree in Physics. For all most people know, all of our electronics could work on magic smoke. (Let the smoke out and it stops working!)

In summary, because a thing is mysterious or even wrong, does not make it sinful necessarily. What does, is sin itself, and rebellion against God. Therefore, if we condemn Harry Potter, we condemn much of modern society and media. That, and you can’t use a computer until you can properly explain how a transistor works.

Friday, July 15, 2005

CBC North - Sasquatch sighting reported in Yukon

CBC North - Sasquatch sighting reported in Yukon

Ok, I try to be careful what I make fun of. It certainly isn't that I don't disbelieve in Bigfoot. I see no compelling reason too. I think that most people who laugh at it, do so to feel superior. I know there is some evidence for it, and most wildlife people here are unfamilar with the habits of the great apes. But then, many significant others have doubts. Science, however, does not work by majority rule. That is politics.

In any case, it looks like there was a very high quality sighting up in Canada. Nine people, some good tracks, and fur. And some fur... that is not something usually get. I will have to keep an eye on this. The jury is not out yet.

I knew you were going to say that

Gravity doughnut promises time machine - Movement into the past gets one step less improbable.

To be perfectly honest, I have always considered Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster more probable than time machines or time travel. At least these don't involve grandfather paradoxes. But, in physics, you have to look at what the evidence says, and be prepared to disregard all your old prejudices.

In this case, it appears that the evidence is weighing more heavily toward honest time-travel. This is the quick summary of the story. A recent paper shows that according to Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the building blocks for a 'time-machine', are a lot more simple and attainable than previously thought. Not that we are going to be able to build one soon. It might be possible to investigate it in astrophysical circumstances.

On the note of time travel, some recent work involving resolution of time-travel paradoxes involving quantum mechanics.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Beware of the Common Cold of Death!!!!!!!!

Something funky is going on. Maybe it was just an illusion that I harbored; a satisfying little fantasy, that the CDC (Center for Disease Control)was less corrupt than other government agencies. I have a hard time imagining a good reason for all of their recent scaremongering. Today on the news, they were warning of the dangers of mosquitos and how trouble from West Nile can afflict you for life. What are they talking about? West Nile isn’t that bad. It is the new Chicken Pox. I am sorry. There is no reason for us to live in fear. I refuse to do it. I am not going to do it for any Cold War, terrorist, asteroid or alien. That isn’t living.

But the question that intrigues me more, is ‘Why is the CDC doing it?’. Another thing that they have begun to fearmonger with is the flu. Now, all of the sudden, it is a major health hazard. The numbers they quote aren’t even remotely legit. The only semi-legitimate threat is the bird-flu from Asia, and even there, it was blown out of proportion. Is it merely to sell more flu vaccination shots? Or is it political control. I sure don’t know- I really don’t. But historical comparisons are not comforting

"The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might, and the Republic is in danger. Yes - danger from within and without. We need law and order! Without it our nation cannot survive." - Adolf Hitler, 1932

He was quite successful with fearmongering. And you know what they say about history.

"The CDC would be the last place in the world to go for information regarding health. The CDC is a government bureacracy funded by theft (taxation that has reached confiscatory levels) and run by white collar criminals who regularly misinform and misdirect the public while creating pandemonium in the marketplace (unnecessary destruction of livestock, recalls etc) and conspiring to incite public panic on an almost daily basis, in violation of the constitution of the United States."--Dr Duffy DC

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Third of study results don't hold up

I have listened to pundits and analysists on web, on the radio, and elsewhere be nothing but critical because there is so darned much to criticize. I am going to have to be careful that I do not end up in that trap. There is cause for great hope of our future. It just won’t come from watching the news or relying on man.

And that is what I was going to mention today. The Associated Press reports that “New research highlights a frustrating fact about science: What was good for you yesterday frequently will turn out to be not so great tomorrow.”

Gads, if we can’t even trust science, how can we believe anything we hear from anyone? Wasn’t Science supposed to be the firm and unyielding pillar that thrust our society from Dark Ages ignorance to Modern Intellectual Illumination? Yikes, as much as a sometimes pessimist as I am, I had no idea that there was this much shoddy work going on. And why? Partly it is pride in having more papers than others. Partly it is the ‘Publish or Perish’ mentality of academia. But regardless of what the reason is, this is a bad problem. Something is deeply wrong and I don’t really know what.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

With a Bang?

How did the universe come into existance - is the BiG Bang a viable theory?

I am not an iconoclast just to be an academic rebel. However, when I see a question that needs to be asked, and isn't, it bugs me. However, just recently, mainstream astronomers considered a heretical question of sufficient importance, to justify an entire conference (though as far as I am concerned if the location is right, any reason is good)

The question is, Did the Big Bang happen? Contrary to popular conception, not everyone believes it, and there are some questions that need to be addressed before we can rest with confidence - if such a thing is ever truly proper in science.

The 3 most important questions are the horizon problem, the smoothness problem and the flatness problem. These are the ones that about every admits are somewhat problematic, though this is currently explained away by precision variable setting. In other words, if we set things up just exactly right, then we get a usable universe, otherwise life would be impossible. So either, we find a compelling reason for things to be exactly this way, we involve God, or we find a more robust theory. Personally, I suppose God could have done it, but I suspect He would agree we need something more robust. Perhaps some of these will go away with better observations, but that is ignoring and not really addressing what observations we have.

The Horizon Problem
The universe has a very isotropic temperature, but the speed of light limits how much a region can interact with other regions. It is like a cup of hot chocolate that is thrown into the air. As the spray from the cup expands out, each drop will cool down slightly differently. But what we observe is too uniform.

The Flatness Problem
The universe is almost exactly, if not precisely flat, within one part in 10^15. That is what the measurements say, any way.

The Smoothness Problem
The Structure of the Universe is unusually constant. While there are some dense regions, and some voids, for the most part, it is pretty uniform.

That isn't all. I could post a lot more. Other problems include, the (lack of) existence of antimatter and magnetic monopoles, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy. Now, I have not given the opposition space to rebutt my arguments, and remind us of what evidence there is for the Big Bang - there is evidence. Alas, in Science we get evidence and never proof, and don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. So I am going to leave a few links for interested readers.

Wikipedia Nice balanced discussion

Top Ten Problems with the Big Bang
Here are ten problems considered significant by this author.

The Big Bang Never Happened I have not had time to investigate this one, but it looks interesting.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Alas, the learned high priests of Science have sometimes gone astray

Allegations of Fake Research Hit New High

Ok, this officially is beginning to get worrisome. I knew that there was a good reason I didn't want to get into academia. The summary of the news story is that many researchers succumb to the many pressures around them and cheat to get ahead, or even to just get by. From experience, I can say that it is a daunting feeling, to be expected to know something your don’t. What really alarmed me was

He testified that he was working 80 to 90 hours a week, seeing patients two days a week, doing surgery one day a week, supervising medical residents, serving on as many as 10 different committees at the hospital and the medical school and putting on national medical conferences.

He did seek help, both from a psychiatrist, who counseled him to cut back, and from his boss, who demanded Friedman increase his research and refused to reduce Friedman's patient load.

The poor guy has broken laws to keep up, and his boss’s solution is to work harder. something is seriously wrong here.

Granted, in a survey taken, only 1.5% admit falsification or plagiarism, but about a third did admit some kind of misconduct- and that are those who responded to the survey. Science has taken the aura of infallibility by many, and yet, this shows just how very fallible, both it is, and its adherents.
I say this not to denigrate Science, but to remind us not to blindly rely on it.


Well, I have not really be blogging very well the last few days, have I? Perhaps I need to put together a group so I can team blog. In any case, I have been busy the last few days with a personal hurricane, no not Dennis. This one has not abated yet, though it does seem to have moved on. And so, as a result, I have ended up trying to do things in just a few days, that should (and I sense will) take a lot longer, if my knee-jerk reactions to the unexpected winds haven't made the situation worse. I suppose now is a good time to take the time I ought to have taken in the first place.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Alternative Medicine Links

My philosophy of medicine is that God gave you your body and He intends that you take care of it. Shifting all the responsibility to anybody else, even a good doctor is not right. It is our responsibility and any attempt to shunt it to somebody else will only result in disaster. Here are a few of the many alt medicine links I have and use. (If you need medical help, by all means get help. Used doctors if you need, but think for yourself. The responsibility is yours)

NewsTarget has current news on the alt medicine scene and is a good resource.

However, if you are trying to home in on just what is wrong with you, and how to deal with it, this is the place to go - Diagnose Me. I am hard-pressed to praise this site too highly. If you are not right on target, it will help you figure it out.

Now, if you want to use homeopathy, then an excellent resource, is Homeopathy International. The Books section is particularly worthwhile as many, many of the best and most useful titles are now in the public domain and have been put on computer. I have used these texts many times.


Texas Man Arrested After Heroic Rescue - Yahoo! News

Texas Man Arrested After Heroic Rescue

OK, I am really getting sick of hearing trash like this. A man disobeys police orders, by swimming out into dangerous waters and saving a guy - and so the police put cuffs on him before he even gets out of the water.

There is a grossly excessive idea in society, and more especially in government that we ought to be obedient to all that government tell us. Not that I advocate anarchy, or civil disobedience, but we need to put government in its place. Heaven forbid people think and act for themselves. That could be dangerous.

Monday, July 04, 2005

A Few Good Links


I have been meaning to do this for a while. So much of the material I examine isn't ideally cut-and-pasted into a blog, but they are still worth looking at.

Today, I have added a few links that regard non-mainstream searchs for energy sources.

ZP Energy is a good place to look for news, especially as regards zero-point energy. Zero-point Energy (or simply ZPE) would be removing excess energy from space-time itself. This would not really be perpetual motion (though that accusation is used alot) because it would have real effects, like changing space around it. It sounds strange, but it just may work.

LENR/CANR - Now, this is a place to go if you are serious about cold fusion. I would work on it myself, but I know enough to know I don't know enough (ok, the first thing) about comdensed matter physics, much less nuclear physics. But, if you want good scientific papers by the truck load on cold fusion, this is the place to go. And properly, it is called Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, or Chemically Assisted Nuclear Reactions.

And if you want your news printed on a dead tree, you want Infinite Energy. This was the creation of the late Eugene Mallove and has many good articles on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to alt. energy. I don't agree with all of them, but you will see opinions and ideas here that you would never in a mainstream journal.

And more to come!!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Dark chocolate seen healthy for arteries

I may seem like a pessimist, with as many bad news gripes as I post, but the truth is, I am actually quite upbeat. There is simply a lot more bad news to talk about than good. But this one is good, if a bit confusing. I say confusing, because it seems hard to believe that it can really be true.

It seems that chocolate is good for you. I know that this news has been out for a while, but some more research has come out. I was well know that chocolate had some very nice anti-oxidants, but now it seems that its effect on the elasticity of arteries is far beyond what one would expect from them alone.

I won't try to detail all the good stuff we know about this odd delight. There is some good references here, and here, but beats them both.

It is a strange matter that I think needs pondering, perhaps over a bag of Dark Chocolate M&Ms

-update: Bad news, I got an email from Mars, inc. that says that they are no longer distributing dark chocolate M&Ms, but that they will again when the movie comes to video. And after that? Anyones guess.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Vitamin Supplements

Global Battle Erupts Over Vitamin Supplements by Bill SardiIn an unprecedented action, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UNICEF), and an AIDS activist group that promotes drug therapy in South Africa, joined forces in opposing vitamin therapy that exceeds the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), and in particular vitamin C in doses they describe as being 'far beyond safe levels.' These health agencies suggest nutrients primarily be obtained from the diet and warn that supplemental doses of vitamin C that exceed a 2000 milligram per day upper limit could cause side effects such as diarrhea. The AIDS activist group also suggests patients receiving doses beyond the RDA should undergo proper counseling and informed consent before being placed on high-dose vitamin C.

The weirdness just goes on. As if the Codex Alimentarius wasn't draconian enough. Though at least it appears it might be severely injured. Hopefully.

Nevermind that a two-time Nobel prize winner (there are only 2 two-time winners) put his full weight behind vitamin C. Because it was contrary to prevailing belief, he was considered a quack.

Enough of that griping. Why is it that certain people are so concerned about herbs and vitamins being available. There are only two possibilities, either they don't work and they are sincerely concerned for our saftey, OR they do work well enough to threaten the bottom-line of those with financial interests. I am not going to worry much about any altruism here. Call me a pessimist, I don't think that they honestly have our best interests at heart.

Maybe they are sincere, (blinded by their own greed) but sincerity will not make the chains any lighter.

As for me, I intend to fight this, and learn to wildcraft as much as I can in the meantime. But that is hard, and not all herbs are local. I am reminded of the old Chinese curse, 'May you live in interesting times'.

Autism treatment opposed "Debated autism therapy gives hope to parents"

Ok, I will seriously consider conspiracies. I regularly contemplate things that most people laugh off. But what is up with this? Why is it doctors are so opposed to anything they do not consider proven to their satisfaction? Even if it can be done safely?

The issue at hand is chelation therapy applied to autistic children. It seems to have a significant effect on a large percentage of people who try it. Are doctors just that convinced of their own expertise? Do they feel threatened by real cures to a real crisis? I have a hard time believing that, but then this is a strange situation. One doctor even lost his license because he was using this.

We haven't heard the last word on this.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Beware of car keys

TSA confiscates folding car key, calling it a 'switchblade'

Likewise, I will keep this one short.

The TSA is out of control. The weird variety of things that the TSA has confisgated is deeply annoying. A little while ago I heard that they confiscated a purple sombero. Never heard an explanation for that one.

Today, however, it is a car key that they thought looks like a "switchblade". It was just a folding Audi car key ($300 replacement cost). Of course, there is no recourse. (The government doesn't want the burden of responsibility.)

We got problems.

Back when I was a boy, we had checks and balances....

Supreme Court Rules Cities May Seize Homes - Yahoo! News

Ok, I will not bore you with a long diatribe on this one. Perhaps there is a place for Eminent Domain. I will grant that. But its place most certainly is not to displace the poor in favor of the rich, which is what this is in essence. It was passed with the purpose of increasing tax revenue. (hint: maybe it is time to start spending less instead) Thus, tax revenue possibility is more important than the property rights of citizens.

Government is out of control. Even the states are chaffing under Federal control. Witness states that thumb their nose at Washington and pass laws about gay marriage, medical marijuana or importing drugs from Canada. But that is a whole other story for another day.

We need a new re-enforced Bill of Rights. More on that later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Engineered Crisis

Ok, something is rotten in the state of Denmark, so to speak.

Why are we suddenly getting this rash of identity theft? Suddenly our ID and ability to spend and access our money is being stolen from people who don't even have any business having it. Something is not right here. This has been an ignored problem for a long time, but suddenly, it is all over the national news. And then the scandals start up, with numbers like 145,000; 13.9 million; 40 million and names like MasterCard, ChoicePoint, LexisNexis, Bank of America, Wachovia, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Why is it that

Erik Norlin on C| Net asks just why were these companies keeping all this information anyway. The companies try to talk about better encryption, or security, and so on, but that is merely a red herring.

The stories have been legion, Slashdot, C|Net and more stories than I can count in mainstream media, as found in a Google search.

The modus operandi of the power elite has been to engineer crises, and then to provide their solution to the problem they created. I have mentioned on here before, how a federal ID card is being introduced. This will be the solution; a new secure federal electronic ID - the mark of the beast. I hate that term, because it has been so abused. I can hardly use it and still take myself seriously. But it is coming and we had better be ready.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Big Tobacco and Big Pharma: same tactics, different chemicals

Big Tobacco and Big Pharma

Ok, I belabor this one, because this article goes into PLENTY of depth. As much as I am opposed to the present state of the medical establishment, this article showed in depth part of just how bad it is and it was startling just how similarly they worked. That said, it is not a perfect article, and not all points are shown conclusively. However to fault it for some shortcomings while ignoring the other excellent points brought up, would be both a mistake and a disservice.

Both relied/rely on doctors approval. Yes, that is right, doctors used to recommend cigarettes for all sorts of stuff. Just like they do for drugs now. Sure we have studies now, but the drug companies have permission to pick and choose which studies llok good to them.

The goal of both are to get people stuck on them- for Tobacco is it is addiction, for Big Pharma it is a drug that treats, but does not cure. There is no incentive to cure. It would be "bad for the shareholders". Partly, it is the fault of modern corporate organization that puts the blame on no one, but to a large degree it is simple greed.

Now days we have drugs like statins, that are unproven in increasing health, and have been shown to be highly dangerous. But I will gripe about statins, and bad corrolation later.

And while we tend to look down on people for being in poverty and smoking, spending money they need, we don't look down on people who take the doctors advice hook, line and sinker, and then have to declare bankrupcy.

These are not all carefully researched things. They come out too fast for that to happen properly. We have seen a large number of drugs have to be recalled because some side-effects (and usually they already knew something about it) ends up killing or maiming a large number of people. And we can't even expect the doctors or scientists to give us the answer we need because they are the ones accepting money and trips to Hawaii.

Are all drugs bad. No, that can safely be answered 'No', but they are the minority. And even the good ones are not prescribed carefully. Consider for a moment the careless overprescription of antibiotics and the upswing in resistent bacteria. And all this while other good treatments and remedies languish or are actively persecuted.

Like Deep Throat said.... Follow the Money

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Review: The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler

Ok, I have been promising this, but it is time I carried through. I will tell you what I thought of James Howard Kunstler’s ‘The Long Emergency”.

Mostly, I liked it. I points out how our world will change as the peak oil crisis emerges. Mobility for both ourselves and for the things we buy and sell will dramatically increase. Wal-Mart, for instance, has dire prospects become everything is shipped.

Our problems come down to this.

Oil is finite.
He disregards T. Gold’s case for a geologic origin of oil, but this is a moot point, because the issue is not how much is there, it is how fast we can get it.

Oil is not in our country. This was the same problem that plagued so many civilizations in Jared Diamond’s Collapse. Because we rely on imports vital to our well-being, if our supply were cut off, we would face our own collapse, not unlike the Norsemen in Greenland. We need to be locally self-sufficient.

Other forms of alternate energy can not pick up the slack, especially for transportation.

Other problems such as climate change and biologic plagues will kick us while we are down.

Much of our wealth is NOT in the form of actual material
, but in investments and the stock market, which is mostly running on expectations and hopes. It has collapsed in the past, and will most certainly in the future.

Finally, he looks at the prospects for different parts of the United States. Parts of it are thought provoking. Others are good for some laughs.

His condemnation of suburbia is also harsh out of measure, but I will deal with that later.

I say that this is a good book in spite of its failings. He writes in such a way that he shows himself to be an Eastern (American) Elitist. About the only place in the United States that has a ghost of a chance is, by coincidence, his native New England. Those of us in the Mountain West are religious and individualist fanatics who can not survive when the oil runs out. (Ok, I mean, it becomes too expensive.) And those poor people in the Southwest will all die when the air conditioners stop running. Alas, it is sad to see an otherwise fine book flawed with the same defect he condemns America for, narcissism and not understanding issues around them. I think that the things people are most likely to condemn in others are the things that they themselves are the most guilty of.

Personally, I am both more pessimistic in the short term and far more optimistic in the long term. I do not believe that we live in a universe of scarcity, but one of abundance. I understand that many people think nothing of it, but I put great stock in the words of the prophets. Frankly, many of the prophecies in the scriptures can not be properly fulfilled if we that desperate for mere survival. Temporal salvation is thus tied to spiritual salvation. There will be no New Jerusalem, or Millennium for that matter, if struggle for mere food. I am NOT suggesting that the economic side of things is primary, or that we ought to devote all our attention to making money. If it were that easy, the Kingdom of God on Earth would have been established a long time ago.

But today is not the day for a proper analysis of future energy prospects, though it does make one hunger for it. Personally, that is one of my goals.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Day of the Amatuer

The Day of the Amatuer

Experts and professionals are the modern equivalent of false priests. They hold themselves up for our worship and adoration and we are expected to believe their every word, because after all, they are experts, right? I am not so much in the mood right now to condemn these know-it-alls, as I am interested in the solution.. the common man, your everyday Joe. Some people have said that the blogging phenomena has peaked and will one day be much smaller. I hope not. What we need is to think for ourselves, and cease this worship of easy answers and those who preach conventional wisdom.

quoteth Nibley:
Someone (this writer, in fact) has said that anyone can become a dean, a professor, a department head, a chancellor, or a custodian by appointment -- it has happened thousands of times; but since the world began, no one has ever become an artist, a scientist, or a scholar by appointment. The professional may be a dud, but to get any recognition, the amateur has to be good. To maintain his amateur status, moreover, he has to be dedicated, honest, and incorruptible -- from which irksome necessity the professional, unless he cares otherwise, is freed by an official certificate.

Do Americans have to apologize for generations of ingenious amateurs from Franklin to Ford who fathered their modern technology? Or for Ives and Carpenter, their best composers? Or for Parkman, Motley, Prescott, H.C. Lea, and the rest of their excellent historians? Is science ashamed of Descartes or Priestley, or Sir William Hershel or Father Mende Is science ashamed of Descartes or Priestley, or Sir William Hershel or Father Mendel? Arts, science, and scholarship would be in a sorry way today were it not for patrons who were also first-class practitioners in their own right, e.g., von Bissing, H. Carter, and A. Gardiner in Egyptology.

Of course there has always been protest from the professional side: the greatest discoveries in classical scholarship were made by a German merchant and a young English architect, each of whom in his time was ridiculed by the professors. Emerson, "the wisest American," was banned from the campus of Harvard for his famous "American Scholar" address, which proclaimed that one did not have to be a professional to be a true thinker and scholar.

Not long ago one of the world's greatest violinists was barred from the music faculty of a west-coast university solely because he did not have a degree, while the head of the department gave whole seasons of concerts and got away with it, because he did have a degree.

Amateur generally means a person without a degree to prove they know what they are talking about. But their opinions are just as much worth listening to. Dare I say, to be otherwise is snobbish? I am well aware that many people out there have ideas that are complete bunk. Nevertheless, I still think more highly of those people than I do of those who merely accept conventional wisdom and do not think for themselves. We need more amateurs.

There is more material in this next quote than I can reasonably comment on today. But the thought that strikes me the hardest, is that our current educational system and philosophy are geared to make paper degrees and actual learning is second. Further, it is contrary to promoting genius, primarily genius that runs contrary to conventional wisdom. More on my thoughts on that later.

Professionalism is the child of the universities. Its modern rule began with the Sophists of old. Preceding the Sophists were those wise men called Sophoi, ancient traveling teachers who gave the modern world its moral and intellectual foundations. They were, to a man, amateurs.

They had to be amateurs, for the same reason that the greatest athletes in the world, the Olympic victors, ancienetes in the world, the Olympic victors, ancient and modern, were required to be amateurs; and for the same reason that the people who wrote and directed and acted and danced in the greatest dramas the world has ever seen were required by law to be amateurs: because what they were doing was holy business and not to be contaminated by ulterior motives and ambitions.

Then the Sophists, imitation Sophoi, took over and professionalized everything to the highest degree. They were the great professors, and since they professed publicly and for a fee, Socrates, the champion of the independent mind and not one of the Sophists, advised students to examine every prospective teacher's credentials very carefully and critically before enrolling with him. That indiscretion cost Socrates his life, for the whole point of professionalism is that one's credentials should never be challenged.

Rashdall has shown how the medieval universities, beginning with wild elan and spontaneity in the days when anyone could get into the act, "quickly hardened into the mold of the university system" as administration took over.

Official credentials, a foolproof shield against criticism and scrutiny, were naturally coveted most by those who needed them most: it was the poorly qualified who clamored for the status symbol of the degree. As in the days of the Sophist schools, the great demand for this valuable commodity caused factories or this valuable commodity caused factories to spring up everywhere, competing for degree-seeking customers by making their product ever easier and cheaper to get. At the same time the degree became the object -- the sole object -- of "education." And when it reached that point, it was, of course, worth nothing.

Learning, forgotten in the universities, was revived in academies, salons, societies, courts and coffee houses where amateurs came together to revel in things of the spirit and make the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the high point of western civilization. It was the Age of the Amateur.

Beginning around the mid-nineteenth century, the university staged a comeback, culminating in elephantine growth as twentieth century technology sends everyone to school. During the first half of the present century, college teaching offered a safe birth for mild and mediocre souls who in time, by the sacred rule of seniority, ended up ruling their institutions.

Here they jealously perpetuated their own kind in office and shut out those talented students who might threaten their own supremacy in any way. The more intelligent students had always seen through professorial sham, but as the university population soared into the millions, the tension between the two mounted dangerously. It is no paradox that some of the most intelligent students at the best schools have been causing the most trouble. In fact, most students have been galled by the artificial restraint of professional status.

If the only way to get a professional certificate was to deserve one, there would be little trouble. But there have always been many ways of winning a prize for which the incompetent are willing to pay almost any price. The time-honored devices for beating the game are legion, but the most reliable one, since the days of the emperors, has always been appointment.

Everyman needs to make himself a scholar and an expert, and stop relying on others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I am about ready to scream at myself. I was posting quite regularly until that last trip. I am bound and determined to get back into the groove. That said, there has been a bit of a reason why I have not posted. I have recently read two things that I wished to comment on, that expressed my feelings quite well, but both would have taken some time to type to properly explain. I will get to it as I can. The two things were “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and “Day of the Amateur” by Hugh Nibley. This is rather ironic as Emerson upbraids us for quoting other people. Oh well.

My book reviews on “The Long Emergency” and “Freakonomics” will have to wait.

I will start with Emerson. Emerson is, in most circles, the better known of the two. He has been called ‘the wisest American’, banned from at least one ivy league campus for his views and wrote something that has haunted me since my freshmen days. Haunted not unlike Ebenezer Scrooge, voices whispering that I could do better. I know I can, but, like a word I can’t quite remember, it seems to stay stuck, where my mind can’t quite grasp it.

Quoteth Emerson:

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.

Shame indeed! Forced to take with shame my own opinions from another! I has happened too often!

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

If I am to do anything great, it will not be by imitation. In my younger days, when I had the opportunity to put my heart and soul into my studies, I was at the top of my class. For too long now, I have lost that spark, that excitement, being driven by the mere busyness of homework, or work to be done. What is it I need to do to leap Mohammad-like, from the terrestrial straight into heaven? I know I can do better, but how is not always obvious. As much as I have sometime criticized Covey, perhaps it is time I humbly eat my words, and learn from his success literature.

There is too much dumbing-down in society these days. Why start off with the seeds of genius and godhood, but end up as boring lifeless people. I shall have to comment one of these days on the movie, “Joe vs. the Volcano”. Life is meant to be lived, and not sold for ‘rent money’ in a rat race.

I do not care for glory, but I do want to have lived so I have done some bit of good in the world, that only I could have done, because that bit of good was my little work of genius. I don’t want or care for the spotlight, I just want to become what God put Man on Earth to become, like Him. I have a long way to go.

Friday, June 10, 2005

#%! Spanish Inquision

It is not often for me that a Star Trek quote accurately summerizes my feelings. The lines delivered were the movie where our heroes had gone back in time to save the whales. Silly green plot, but a fun movie anyway. At this particular moment, Bones was standing in the elevator with a couple of physicians discussing chemotherapy (or was it radiation?). "Do you have a differing opinion, Doctor?" And old Doctor 'Bones' McCoy says with usual tact, "God Damn Spanish Inquision".

Perhaps many of you know this story anyway. There is a girl in Texas with cancer. Some doctors, who think very highly of themselves, think she needs radiation therapy. Her parents disagree. In a normal sane society people can respect others opinions. It is not as if her parents are neglectful. They simply disagree.

And so what does the state do? It steps in 'to save her life'. After all, it is 'for the children'; who could disagree? Think of the children! Never mind that this precident give the power to the government to give you (at the moment, just our children) whatever medical treatment it sees fit, just as long as it is for our good. Well, for our good in their opinion.

Since when are any who disagree with a common opinion second-class citizens? Are dissenting opnions not allowed? Freedom of speech is offically protected, you just aren't allowed any dissenting opinions.

Honestly, this is a huge worry to me. What if the government wants to give my children some vaccines I do not consider safe, or drugs I disagree with, or some little RFID chip I am opposed to? Would they then turn my kids over to my neglectful ex? Just because I did not give into their desires? What ever happened to the 'land of the free'?

Thus far, the state has seized the child, and used the "Amber Alert" to do it. At least there is some public outcry. Let us see if she is returned and if she continues to improve.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

When a theory is not a theory

Pharyngula::A historian disgraces himself Well, supposedly at least.

Why is it that otherwise rational people forget what the scientific method is, because of prevailing public opinion? Ok, what is all this about. We have one guy arguing against evolution and another guy maiking fun of him. I am not going to get into the particulars because I have not made it a point of serious study. There are some serious problems with the prevailing theory, and some anomalous data, but I am not concerned with that at the moment.

What is wrong here is the fact that some things in science have been evalated about theory to fact. When does a theory become so well established that it becomes fact? Either when we have performed every possible experiment and excluded every alternate explanation, OR when God tell you so. In a word, that isn't going to happen to society anytime soon. Let's think about theories for a moment. Copernicus had revolutionary idea. It made calcuation easier, though the old way did work just fine. However, the authorities of the day saw no need to look through Galileo's telescope, because they already knew.

Around the turn of the century physics had been solved, with a few very small exceptions. Albert Michelson had data that told him otherwise, but he could not believe it. A few years later, Relativity and Quantum Mechanics blazed onto the scene and upset everything.

Right now, we have theories that no one would dare argue with. And those are the ones most likely to be in need of revision. Being a physicist myself, I have understand why it is said that the only thing that allows new theories to gain acceptance is the old generation dying off. I am going to mention a few theories that have had societies Final Judgement.

Gravity - At this point, it is called Law, but at least there are many that are looking for cracks in its armor. Einstein has become the patron saint of scientific knowledge. Not many people, certainly not many without pre-existing credentials, dare to critize him. And yet, there are problems. The gravitational constant is the most poorly measured constant of all the fundimental constants and some have argued for a whole new theory. Fascinating stuff, but the details are not the point at the moment.

Cold Fusion - NOBODY takes this seriously, except a few crackpots, right? Well, some of these crackpots have better credentials than I and have done some detailed research. This story is not over yet. If you want to read papers, check this out.

Evolution - Unless you just don't care what people think, don't even think of arguing against this one. Note that I am not specifically arguing, at the moment, that it is wrong. I may try to have a nuanced argument one of these days, but not today. The problem here that makes me want to scream is that no one will even take the opposition seriously. No one will think about it. Ok, I have to admit that some creationist are kooks. They take an overly literal reading, and don't even try to understand how God did it. And too many of them take intellectually weak positions like Intelligent Design, in some perverted attempt to merge both positions. Some of you will argue at this point that I am one of THEM, this guy is a Creationist. Yes, I am. And I don't pretend to have all the answers. But it really bugs me when other people without all the answers act like they do. The particular argument that I mentioned at the top is two people, neither of which are taking a proper look at the evidence. Yes, that is right. NEITHER. Is there some evidence for Evolution? Sure. Does that make it a sure thing, even if there were no evidence for Creation? (And yes, there is evidence) No, it does not. It takes a very honest man or woman to admit it is just a theory. Yes, folks, just a theory. And will it ever become a fact? Not by the scientific method it won't. It can't. We can not do every experiment and God does not seem to be in the habit, lately at least, of talking to large groups of agnostics. And until he says yay or nay, it will be a matter of faith.

That is why such arguments are generally so vitrolic, it is a matter of faith for both parties, but one sides denies it and the other doesn't like to admit it. How many people honestly search out the evidence and can clearly give you the arguments for and against? Almost no one. No one I can remember having met at least. The Evolution position is an act of faith in Authoritarianism and in certain pieces of evidence. Yes, an act of faith. Are all authorities worthy of being ignored or condemned? Certainly not. Should contrary evidence be ignored? No. Should we bare in mind the strengths and the weaknesses of the scientific method before we condemn religious positions, Always.

For your own saftey, ignore the Authorities

Wired Article

Yikes, the trip I took has seriously broken my blogging pattern. But no more! I have sworn to return to the blogosphere to add a voice of reason to some things on the fringe. But do not worry, if I have not been blogging, I have been reading. And I have some good stuff to talk (ok, type) about.

But for starters, this article in Wired impressed me. The people who escaped the twin towers during the 911 attacks, were those that ignored the authorities telling them to stay put. People didn't panic. They exited orderly and helped others along the way. There was none of this panic we are taught that happens under such circumstances. Many people broked the cardinal rule of emergencies and fires, don't use elevators. Braking that rule saved many more people. The lesson learned is that the people on the scene had better information than the so-called authorities had.

God has given each of us a brain and he expects us to use it. We can't delegate thinking to experts and authoritiies without losing some of our humanity. Reality gives security to no man, and any man that thinks that he can merely trust others to keep him safe, is hiding in ignorance. God insists on freedom and responsibility for each soul. The Devil on the other hand, desires people to have neither; he wants us controlled, and for others to be responsible for us. Of course, that just doesn't work. Ultimately, neither Communist societies, nor even socialist regimes like Hitler's, provided real security. Security does not come from experts.

Full article from Wired

For nearly four years - steadily, seriously, and with the unsentimental rigor for which we love them - civil engineers have been studying the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, sifting the tragedy for its lessons. And it turns out that one of the lessons is: Disobey authority. In a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do.

Proof can be found in the 298-page draft report issued in April by the National Institute on Standards and Technology called Occupant Behavior, Egress, and Emergency Communications. (In layman's terms, that's who got out of the buildings, how they got out, and why.) It's an eloquent document, in many ways. The report confirms a chilling fact that was widely covered in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. After both buildings were burning, many calls to 911 resulted in advice to stay put and wait for rescue. Also, occupants of the towers had been trained to use the stairs, not the elevators, in case of evacuation.

Fortunately, this advice was mostly ignored. According to the engineers, use of elevators in the early phase of the evacuation, along with the decision to not stay put, saved roughly 2,500 lives. This disobedience had nothing to do with panic. The report documents how evacuees stopped to help the injured and assist the mobility-impaired, even to give emotional comfort. Not panic but what disaster experts call reasoned flight ruled the day.

In fact, the people inside the towers were better informed and far more knowledgeable than emergency operators far from the scene. While walking down the stairs, they answered their cell phones and glanced at their BlackBerries, learning from friends that there had been a terrorist attack and that the Pentagon had also been hit. News of what was happening passed by word of mouth, and fellow workers pressed hesitating colleagues to continue their exit.

We know that US borders are porous, that major targets are largely undefended, and that the multicolor threat alert scheme known affectionately as "the rainbow of doom" is a national joke. Anybody who has been paying attention probably suspects that if we rely on orders from above to protect us, we'll be in terrible shape. But in a networked era, we have increasing opportunities to help ourselves. This is the real source of homeland security: not authoritarian schemes of surveillance and punishment, but multichannel networks of advice, information, and mutual aid.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The world is not enough

US wants to be able to access Britons' ID cards

Ok, I am back in town, and the world has not completely fallen apart. But this is a weird bit of news. It seems that an easy to read National ID card is just not enough for the elites in power. It has to be compatible with new cards in Britain. The argument used is that we don't want a compatibility battle. From the article...

Mr Chertoff said yesterday that it was vital to seek compatibility, holding up the example of the "video war" of 25 years ago, when VHS and Betamax were in fierce competition to win the status of industry standard for video recording systems.

"I certainly hope we have the same chip... It would be very bad if we all invested huge amounts of money in biometric systems and they didn't work with each other.Hopefully, we are not going to do VHS and Betamax with our chips. I was one of the ones who bought Betamax, and that's now in the garbage," he said.

Why is it that we need to avoid any kind of a compatibility issue? Why is it we care about compatibility with anywhere other than home? Really, the only funny part is in the lameness of the VHS-Betamax argument used here, because the real reason is evident. They want compatibility because the elites do not merely have domination plans for just this country. I can see no other compelling reason, not one sufficient to coordinate the loss of security and privacy between two countries (or all of Europe rather).

It is all too much to take sometimes.