Tuesday, November 27, 2007
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Thursday, November 22, 2007
His grandfather taught Clarence about personal responsibility, truth, character and "playing the hand that you are dealt". Thomas started out literally no running water barefoot poor and learned about hard work and stern discipline from his grandfather. One of his major regrets is that he rebelled and due to the makeup of both men, irreparably damaged that relationship. Thomas left the training of his youth behind for a time and dabbled in the "racism / victim hood world" during his Yale years and for some time after. His slow trend to conservatism and essentially back to the training of his grandfather was based on life experience and the influence of people of the right, especially John Danforth.
I find that Bill Clinton and Clarence Thomas provide a very good set of book ends to understand that people one truely can and can't respect and trust. A significant number of the same ones were supporters of Clinton and no difficulty with his actions, yet either at the time, or as time as unfolded have come to think of Thomas as having "poor character". Certainly the facts can't warrant that assessment, so one can understand a lot about the worldview of one on opposite sides of those cases. Biden and Kennedy are two that come to mind as especially good examples.
For me, the biggest insight of the book is how much courage is really required for a black man to hold views on life that don't align with those allowed by the Democratic liberal "proper worldview for blacks". Even conservatives have a hard time believing that blacks can think independently on issues like victimhood, racism and personal responsibility. Thomas makes it clear just how lonely it really is to really be "away from the herd".
I was also impressed with how willing he was to open up and put his self-doubts, fears, drinking, broken marriage and other items that he is clear he isn't proud of, but is willing to accept as part of the life he has lived. It provided an insight into a VERY different human experience of a black man in the old segregated south growing up and making good in life against long odds and a lot of difficulties. It is the kind of story only a liberal could hate!
The question of the book is: "In this modern era of cosmology, evolution and the human genome, is there still the possibility of a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews?" His answer is very much "yes", as is mine. "Whether we call it by name or not, all of us have arrived at a certain worldview. It helps us make sense of the world around us, provides us with an ethical framework, and guides our decisions about the future." Seems obvious.
He lists 3 responses to the Anthropic Principle: (that the universe is uniqely tuned to give rise to humans, or as really good atheists put it "we are here because we are here"):
1). There are essentially an infinite number of universes (the "multiverse theory"), so "we had to be here", all possibilities are. (a current atheist favorite that they had to come up with fairly quickly)
2). We are just ultimately and incredibly lucky ... a string of many known and likely many unknown 10 to the - many 10's and even at least low hundreds of decimal place improbabilites all worked out in our favor. We won the cosmic lottery. No way to prove that the winning lottery ticket for the next 300 million Powerball WON'T blow into your house window. In fact, it would be nearly a dead certainty stacked against the odds that you would be here at all.
3). God did it.
Actually, in the ebb and flow of human history, this hasn't really changed much. We just have a few more specific numbers for just how high the odds against our random existence really are.
After some time wading through angry atheist tracts, the thing I liked best about this book was the tone and humility of the author and a lot less "intellectual grandstanding" than Gould even though this guy is clearly extremely intelligent and accomplished. He seems to be far more interested in his reader understanding the issues and his points than in being impressed with the authors intelligence.
A lot of time is spent on the problems of Creationism and Intelligent Design. I generally agree with his assessment that they cause more trouble than they are worth. I find "fundamental literalists" to almost always be quite brittle and quickly become uncomfortable and judgmental or both when issues of origin and science are discussed. However, I think Collin's fails to understand what I would see as the "the appearance of age problem". God could create the universe as I write this using whatever methods he chooses--how that happens to "look to us" is interesting TO US, but doesn't have anything to do with his "somehow trying to fool us". From a divine perspective, it is all "just stuff"(matter, or the appearance of matter), not of any great importance. The hope we have is that he has chosen to provide us with a "soul in his image" ... no doubt with less fidelity than a low res cartoon, but promised to be eternal.
Sit back, try to focus on the NOW, being as opposed to doing, "say thanks"--there may be more "proof" available than logic would indicate. God wants to know you, shut off your monkey brain and LET HIM!
Friday, November 16, 2007
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007
1). The idea that someone would need to be a "stealth conservative" at a paper is funny and sad. We know that 90% of media people self-assess themselves as "liberal" when given the chance and whine loudly about ANY sort of "conservative view" ever showing up in the media. It is just amazing to see the need for stealth by someone with a conservative view so prominently displayed.
2). Keillor is a great example of the constant liberal mixing of fact and fantasy to make their points. Hollywood for example is a master of the technique. The left loved to bash Reagan for allegedly "mixing up the movies with reality". Why does one have a humorist (Al Franken) running for Senator and a "Radio Humorist" writing a weekly column largely on politics for a major newspaper? Because for the left, "mixing" is never a problem as long as it is effective!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Oh, and Al Quaeda interrupting oil shipments at the Straights of Hormuz, or another attack on US soil? "Free" I assume.
Of course, entitlements are over $1.5 TRILLION every year and the "futures" if done with same the pessimism as the Iraq analysis would run that "family of four" something well over $100K. According the the MSM or the Democrats though, no question about "affording" THAT.
Monday, November 12, 2007
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Sunday, November 11, 2007
Having a lot has never prevented people from being envious. Jimmy Buffett with only a Cessna Citation jet is envious of someone with a Gulfstream. The US "poor" are envious of those that have more, and typically so is the middle class-envy is fun! No matter what you have, you can always want more-especially if you don't look at the "costs" in effort, risks or other changes that would get you to that "more" that you desire.
In the US however, if you ARE willing to look at that other side of that coin, the evidence is strong that you can move up that income ladder, and in fact have a 30% chance of moving into the TOP 1/5th from the bottom. None of this will ever be good enough for the lefties though. Like suicide bombers, they don't really care if their policies take EVERYONE down including themselves and the poor they are supposedly helping.
To a lefty, it is worth seeing an honest poor person actually hungry if that will get some upper 1/5ther to have to vacation in FL rather than taking a cruise this year. It makes no difference if that poor persons problem without the "help of the left" would have been "buying a smaller color TV than they wanted" vs going hungry. The important issue is for that upper 1/5ther to feel some "sting", then mission accomplished! What's a little collateral damage if the "rich" have to "pay the price"?
As study after study as shown, if you are able to get and stay married and work reasonably hard, success in the US is as close to a guarantee as anywhere in the world.
What do you think distinguishes the high and low poverty populations? The only statistical distinction between both the black and white populations is marriage. There is far less poverty in married-couple families, where presumably at least one of the spouses is employed. Fully 85 percent of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed household.
Poverty is not static for people willing to work. A University of Michigan study shows that only 5 percent of those in the bottom fifth of the income distribution in 1975 remained there in 1991. What happened to them? They moved up to the top three-fifths of the income distribution -- middle class or higher. Moreover, three out of 10 of the lowest income earners in 1975 moved all the way into the top fifth of income earners by 1991. Those who were poor in 1975 had an inflation-adjusted average income gain of $27,745 by 1991. Those workers who were in the top fifth of income earners in 1975 were better off in 1991 by an average of only $4,354. The bottom line is, the richer are getting richer and the poor are getting richer.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Gould is considered by many to have been the foremost expert on Darwinian evolution of the late 20th century (he is recently deceased), and his expertise shows through in the book. He writes well, but feels that a huge amount of detail on personalities, latin names and classification jargon is required to tell the story. I disagree; the book, while significant, borders on the unreadable to all but someone VERY interested in paleontology, evolution studies, and minutia of Gould's ways of thinking of the people involved in science.
The actual message is very simple; If one would "rewind the tape of evolution" (he says that a lot) to the point of the Burgess Shale and start again the odds that any of the rewinds would result in human consciousness are infinitesimal. Darwin, Charles Walcott, and most every textbook have an erroneous idea of the "cone of increasing diversity" in evolution that leads by "design" to man. I give Gould credit for not harping on the relationship (although it is mentioned) that Walcott still believed in a "designer" (God), so that influenced his thinking that "evolution was part of the mechanism", and therefore "directed". A more apt description might be "the wastebasket of evolution" and the "graveyard of creative destruction" as much of the massive diversity of the early Cambrian simply ceases to exist, and it the reasons for the destructed and the selected are unknowable to us, and probably much more "contingency" than "order".
The book drives home the point that there isn't any such "assumption of progress" or even idea that "progress" means getting to something like humans. Gould's "watchmaker" is not only blind, but purposeless. There is no thought that "a watch" is a worthy outcome. Gould seems to think that life showing up was "inevitable" (oddly, he provides no scientific basis for that, and nobody has gotten close to creating even the simplest of life in the lab).
Other than that "inevitability", even the development of the eukaryotic cell (the type we are made of, with the wall and structures in the cytoplasm) doesn't show up until 1.5 billion years ago. Gould suspects that this is another major league accident in planetary development that often wouldn't happen soon enough before sun depletion (something like 4 billion years) to give a decent chance at consciousness like ours. There is very little chance of the undirected, completely random evolutionary accident arriving at us (uh, "news at 11 I guess" ... this wasn't exactly a surprise).
I'm struck by how often very intelligent people find a flaw in one item that someone else had asserted for evidence of God, and immediately jump to the "SEE!, it isn't created!". Meanwhile, they almost always expand the odds against their own existence by some astronomical factor. Gould never provides an imagined "10 to some huge negative decimal" odds against humans showing up, but over and over he indicates how at MANY points in the random dance of evolution, if one "rewound the tape", there is no way we ever happen.
He brings up the "anthropic principle" that says "this is the universe we see, because we are here" as about the only possible explanation a dutiful atheist scientist can be left with. This explanation is pretty much "it is because it is", or "we did a lot of study, discovered that the odds against us defied explanation, so we decided that we are just here because we are".
Say you are on Death Row and I'm your lawyer. I come in and tell you that we have exhausted all appeals, but you will be released before you are executed because "I've never lost a capital case". Are you comfortable? Turns out that in the real world, I've never lost a capital case nor had one of my patients die in brain surgery! Therefore, by the sorts of odds of us being here in this universe, you ought to find me as a "reasonable choice" for a lawyer at a murder trial, or your brain surgeon if you need one! "We are here because we are" has just as much to suggest it as a wise answer philosophically.
I suppose if you are betting against God, then any explanation that lets you live without that concern is comforting. Gould allows us to stack yet another giant but unstated number against us being here on top of a stack from physics with the wonderful cosmological constant of 10 to the -120, not estimated by man, but DISCOVERED in the fabric of our universe saying, "It could be ANY number, none of the others allowing your existence.How do you like those apples?".
I find that simple premises in life tend to work best. The old "If you are in a game of chance and you don't know who the patsy is, it is probably you" has a lot of truth. That is also heavily related to "the house wins"-you just have to figure out who "the house" is. In Vegas, that is pretty easy, in the US, lots of folks would like you to believe "corporations", and I falsely went with that, thinking it was a good idea to "work for the house". Unfortunately, it is Lawyers. If you look closely at our system you find they are all the politicians, judges, and BOTH sides in any dispute. Take a look at John Edwards-oh, and BTW, how many Lawyers are running for President vs CEOs or even long term corporate employees? But I digress.
Lots of scientists and atheists seem to think that they can explain to God just how he can run his house. "If evolution doesn't look ordered to US, then it can't have INTELLIGENCE behind it"! Uh, and exactly what would it be that would give us the perspective to decide that as little more than pond scum orbiting on obscure rock on the outskirts of one obscure galaxy out of what we believe to be 100 billion galaxies in at least this universe?
If one wants to believe string theorists, that would be out of 10 to the 500 universes. Is even the definition of "intelligence" that simple? Isn't even defining what our yet not understood to ourselves consciousness does as "intelligence" in some universal sense a pinnacle of hubris WAY beyond the simple idea that the earth was the center of the universe? We have decided we KNOW the parameters within which an ultimate power can decide to create? We believe God wouldn't play dice, it looks random to us, ergo, there is no God.
I was glad to finally read a Gould book since I've heard a lot about him and seen him quoted by many atheists as a comforting; "See, he is a really smart piece mass of protein, he has done a lot of study and decided God didn't create life, so let's commit the unforgivable sin and maybe set up a website where teens can do it, because we are scientists and only think RATIONALLY".
Maybe so; if it happens that randomly generated protein arrived at the proper definition of "rational" then my hopes are in vain and life has the atheist desired lack of meaning. Strangely, it seems like other than really large odds against OUR existence, it is going to be hard to have any evidence for or against God.
Tommy Franks was against putting more troops in Iraq mostly because more troops meant more targets and more deaths. In retrospect, that was probably wrong thinking, but it is a pretty easy sentiment to understand. When Bush was effectively backed into doing the surge, it resulted in more deaths as those more soldiers acted against the enemy, but it also resulted in the tide being turned and the locals finally beginning to pick up more of the load as well.
Can it keep working? Well, not if the Democrats and MSM have anything to do about it. The Democrats fabricated a resolution on asserted genocide in Turkey in the 19th century and successfully created a diplomatic and potentially shooting crisis in Northern Iraq. In the MSM, it is nearly as hard to find information on the surge working as it is on the stock market going up or the economy being good. Most people have no idea. Now, rather than reporting "the death of the day", we are going to report "a new record number of deaths for the year" as long as we can in order to keep the war news negative.
"Success" at this point for the Democrats and their supporting MSM involves defeat in Iraq being as clear as possible. The last few months it has looked like success in Iraq was a very real possibility, although not one that there was likely to be any significant reporting on. They appear to be making progress on a move back to defeat at this point.
The video is worth taking the time to watch, because it suggests a lot about Hillary as a person. She strongly feels that she ought to have any group of positions she wants and never have to be pinned down to anything. For a Republican front-runner, a ham-handed gaff of this level would have the MSM talking "unfit", but as we charge on to the coronation, it gets barely a whisper.
Monday, November 05, 2007
It only took until age 51 to finally get a deer. Fourteen years of hunting prior to getting married, a 21 year "break", and then the last couple of years with my youngest son. I always enjoyed "the hunt", especially now that I've had the chance to spend some time in the stand with my son. There are a number of pictures out here.
The first 14 hunts I was younger and generally hunting with older hunters in NW Wisconsin farm country. I tended to be pretty impatient and unable to stay on a stand for a long while, so was usually "driving" (walking to move the deer to others). I covered a lot of brush country in those days, and did a fair bit of "road hunting"; driving around to find deer and then shoot from the road (illegally, but it was sparsely populated and not a lot of enforcement). Through a combination of poor skills, badly suited personality traits and no doubt a little bad luck, I just never quite downed a deer even though I had a number of what seemed like "golden opportunities" over the years.
One thing that likely contributed was my tendency to enjoy technology may have hurt me in deer hunting. I purchased a 30-06 semi-automatic rifle while I was in college with a 3-9X scope that I really couldn't afford. I never spent enough time shooting it to be comfortable since the ammo was also very expensive. Worse, I was usually trying to shoot at a deer 200 yards away with the scope cranked up to 9x in order to be sure of seeing antlers. A really bad combination for accuracy.
Some tendencies hold in life, especially if they at least seem to be beneficial, so I bought a 3-9x scope to put on my smooth bore 12ga for hunting this year, but the fates spared me. After 2 attempts to get sighted in I was unable to hit the target at all and was starting to panic that I'd have no gun on opening day of hunting in my new stand. I decided to purchase a cheap 20ga rifled barrel single shot open sights as a "backup" as I launched on my last ditch attempt to sight in the 12ga.
The second shot with the single was the best target shot I've ever made-completely center, and moving out to 50yards, I was able to shoot a 3in group. As things usually work, the 12ga also sighted in with ease on that outing BUT, I came to the conclusion that "simple was better" in this case. I didn't get a shot Saturday with that gun, and if I had, yet another piece of "bad luck" would have played out. Although the gun shot perfectly so I never touched the sights, apparently they weren't tightened at the factory and the perfection was random. Saturday PM I noted that the rear sight was ready to fall off the gun.
My son however decided to head for home Saturday night, so I was able to hunt with his 20ga pump open sights on Sunday AM and for a change I had a standing shot out the window of my stand, braced, through open sights, and hit the deer in the heart. Surprisingly (to me) he ran about 25 yards directly at the stand before simply falling over.
So ends my deer curse. Hopefully I will be like Boston and be able to show a new trend pretty rapidly in future years, but no matter, I will still enjoy the hunt. It is very much about the activity rather than the result, just like fishing. It is also another of those "great equalizers". The stands may be a bit nicer than my youth, the "shack" much nicer, but cool stands, guns, clothes, or camp technology won't really bring the deer in. Being able to afford expensive sabot ammo for targets is nice, but the deer have to show up AND, the accuracy has to be reproduced with a live creature out there.
Rather, senior corporate management and technical people are pretty much identical to farmers, construction workers, college kids and mechanics in deer camp. Difficulty rolling out of bed in the AM, the cold, the need for naps at noon, the appetites in high gear due to the time out of doors, stories of "the one that got away" or the "big one", just glimpsed through the brush or more imagined than real. All those memories and more translate over the 21 year gap with perfect continuity. Most of the things that the masses believe make a difference really don't, but many that they assume don't count, really do.
The hunt is one of those experiences that ties one rather closely with reality. The planning and calculations to arrange for deer and projectile to come to the same point at the same time and of course the facts of "life and death". The steak or burger on the plate is quite abstract, the connection to the living thing it came from tenuous at best. The still-warm gut sack that one can't help but realize is very much like the "power pack" that gives us our motive power is much more connected with reality. Our species is significantly better equipped for a small group to venture out in search of game than it is to conceive, design and build computer systems. True, we are ABLE to do the latter, but our natural adaptation is much more to the former. To those willing to relate to reality, hunting is almost certainly "familiar" at some basic human level.
There are of course very few "liberal hunters". The concept is very close to an oxymoron. To interact with reality in real vs imagined and ideal nature, using guns, a potent symbol of "individual rights and power" is something that isn't going to sit well with many on the left. The idea that people are allowed to have guns for any purpose is only given lip service in the interest of political calculation. Guns are one of the hated "dividing issues" as in "God, Guns and Gays", the "false issues" that the evil right uses to divide the country according the the MSM. The existence of hunting is part of the "barbarism" of the right, the left has "evolved beyond that".
Calling hunting "barbaric" in one breath, holding up human kind to be worshiped, and then explaining natural selection as taking "millions of years" in the space of a few paragraphs of thought would make perfect sense to most liberals. However, it seems pretty undeniable that we were fully adapted to hunting and it was our main manner of survival up to 10K years ago when we began the farming task. Not much in the way of natural selection happens in 10K years, so we have exactly the same human nature that we had at that point. If hunting was "barbaric" then , we are still very much "barbarians" and there is nothing the left can do to change that.
I've succeeded in the hunt. Long live the barbarians.
As I've said before, if the MSM covered Republicans like they are covering Gore, I'd have no problem with this not being covered. Anytime humans try to adhere to a higher standard, some level of hypocracy results, since humans, especially humans in leadership positions, are going to fall short; because "leadership" means trying to push beyond what everyone else is doing.
Gore wants to be an "environmentalist", but he falls well short. He happens to fall well short of even the "Evil George Bush". It would seem that anyone that is in the "story business" would find a story that the "supposed non-environmentalist horrible President" actually does BETTER in his personal life environmentally than the "Author, Oscar Winning and Nobel Prize winning" ex-VP Gore. Naturally, those that believe that "the press is unbiased" will see no difficulty at all with this.
The following is from an e-mail being passed around ...
A 20 room mansion ( not including 8 bathrooms ) heated by
natural gas. Add on a pool ( and a pool house) and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2400. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not situated in a Northern or Midwestern "snow belt" area. It's in the Sout
Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university. This house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house is 4,000 square feet ( 4 bedrooms ) and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat-pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground.
The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas and it consumes one-quarter electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from sho! wers, s inks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Surrounding flowers and shrubs native to the area enable the property to blend into the surrounding rural landscape.
HOUSE #1 is outside of Nashville, Tennessee; it is the abode of the "environmentalist" Al Gore.
HOUSE #2 is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas; it is the residence the of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.