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PostHeaderIcon Foxes & Henhouses

John posted this link to the Ayn Rand Center’s analysis of our current fiscal crisis on the old RR Forum last night. It included a cogent quote from Ayn Rand, circa 1975:

“One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.” –Ayn Rand, 1975

I am still working my way through the many on-point articles there; but I just got a YouTube link from Troy that is a devastating indictment of certain members of the Democratic Party. It has clips from old C-Span broadcasts of hearings of the House banking committee, where regulators and Republicans were calling for reigning in Freddie and Fanny Mac, to the chagrin of Democrats who thought their loaning 100% to their ghetto constituents for housing loans was precisely why they existed. I had no idea there was such a racial component to this mess. No wonder nobody in DC is willing to discuss the truth about how it happened. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Thin Air?

This is a test post to try the “Blog Post” feature in MS Word 2007. This is a really nice feature that allows one to use the word processer to make a post to a blog without even having a browser open, much less the blog. While the internal WordPress editor works fine, I am quite impressed with the utility of ScribeFire for making a quick post in response to something while surfing without having to open the blog; but for essay type posts, this feature of Word is awesome. It even automatically went out and imported the “Category” list so one can categorize the post as it is made. Sweet.

By some estimates, one trillion dollars was lost in the stock market yesterday. Where did it go? The same place the “value” in our homes went in the past year? The same place the new $650 bn of credit came from that the FED made available to the financial markets yesterday, perhaps? This demonstrates how worthless our currency actually is. 34,722 Tons of gold didn’t just disappear at the Wall Street casino yesterday. Nor did 22,569 Tons of the stuff suddenly materialize over at the FED. No wonder it seems like every other commercial one hears on radio and TV these days is for some gold trading company. (I miss my forum emoticons… eyes should be rolling here.)

The thing to notice is that the value of individual savings denominated in U.S. Dollars took yet another enormous hit yesterday. Those invested in the stock market took a double hit. On average, their stocks, mutual funds, and retirement accounts lost 7% of their value in a single day. Then, the buying power of what is left was diluted by the introduction of another $650 bn of brand new funny money, representing nothing but thin air, by the FED. One way to understand the effect of that mindboggling figure is that it is the equivalent of adding another 21,666,667 welfare families to our population overnight. Then giving them each an unearned $30K tax-free income for a year, to compete with us in the marketplace for exactly the same amount of goods and services that existed yesterday, none of which they helped produce. The market is rational, even if the government is not. Supply and Demand are always balanced by Price. In a free marketplace, it could not be otherwise. Is there any question that prices will soon increase accordingly?

That is why, when I could not buy silver with it, I went and bought another $1K worth of coffee, tobacco, and beans. It is interesting to note that back when I was earning that money just a few years ago, a three-pound package of Jose’s Columbia Supremo coffee beans at COSTCO was under $7. I buy some every trip I make there and have watched the price steadily climb the past couple of years. I had to pay almost $11 a bag for the two cases I bought yesterday; but I have no reason to think it will ever be cheaper. As an imported commodity, assuming that COSTCO survives, it will be interesting to see how much it costs a year from now. If they don’t, it may be more valuable than gold.

Today, I am thinking of going to buy some more ammunition. Not that I need it; but since I can’t find any silver, it will undoubtedly conserve the value of my ready cash better than all these worthless green pictures of Franklin. Besides, if we do spiral into unfettered hyperinflation, bullets could come in handy for bartering. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Going to Hell

I saw this years ago, so it may in fact be a true story. In any case, it earned another chuckle when it just popped into my in-box:

I figured those of you strong scientific/math minds would appreciate the logic of this answer.

The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed)or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, ” it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you, and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct…leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”

THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY “A”

I wonder if this could explain the Expanding Earth Hypothesis? 🙂 ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Housekeeping

I have done some rearranging of the forum. First, I did away with the Essays forum to consolidate and spread out the lopsided topics. Nothing is lost, and all links to individual posts still work, but I have moved all the Essay topics to other forums. Those that could be classified have been put where they are topical. Older essays that don’t fit the classifications have been moved to the Miscellaneous Forum. The Reason vs. Tyranny forum has been renamed Galt’s Gulch in honor of Ouray, Colorado and the second most influential book ever written, “Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand. The Reason vs. Religion forum has been renamed a less formal Atheist’s Corner. The Science vs. Skepticism forum has been renamed Science & Such and the subject “metaphysics” added to the description, for it will surely turn up.

That accomplished, along with the addition of the FREETHINKERS? essay, now I am ready to go trolling for some more libertarian thinkers. 🙂 ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon FREETHINKERS?

In my new FREETHINKERS? essay, I define what “freethinker” means to me:

Freethinker (n.) one who forms opinions as a result of thoughtful independent inquiry, rather than unquestioned acceptance of established views or teachings of others.

I discuss how my atheism plays a much less central role in my life than some I met while exploring the atheistic ‘Freethinker Movement.’ I challenge some usages of the term, and discuss how my inability to suppress my anti-Marxist libertarianism, and my politically incorrect respect for traditional American values (by which I mean nothing religious), made me a square peg in a sea of round holes. Comments welcome. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Crash Report

OK, Scott, I had to take that ignoble pile of balsa out of the Jeep yesterday to go shopping. I got tired of looking at it this afternoon, so I stripped it. The aluminum prop adapter was tweaked; but I guess that saved the motor shaft, because the motor itself is fine and runs true. The motor controller, receiver, and all the servos are undamaged. I suppose that one of the additional advantages of the new 2.4 GHz radio control system is that I don’t have to worry about a faulty VHF crystal now either.

The cowl was history, but the canopy was unscratched. That, the magnetic hatch, carbon fiber spar, and misc. hardware was all I bothered to save. Even though everything aft and one of the wings was perfect, I just don’t have room for saving spare airframe parts anymore. It is just as well; back when I had a garage full of them, I rarely used them. Now all I need to do is glue up the new model, and reinstall all the electronics. I am on it, buddy; but don’t expect to be ready by Sunday. L

Btw: The problem we were having last night with the laptop was the mapping software desperately trying to get a GPS fix even though I had unplugged the receiver to bring it out to the picnic table. I am glad it happened, for I had been blaming Vista in my mind for my ever-busy and thus power hungry processor, and certainly don’t need to load it when I am sitting still. I also download a new Vista compliant driver for the touchpad which I hadn’t bothered to do yet because I use a wireless mouse on the desk. The sudden shutdown at the end was just a depleted battery, which Vista recovered nicely from. I guess we spent more time viewing Adams’ animations than I had thought. J Meanwhile, I have added some additional remarks on the subject to the forum debate on it HERE.◄ Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Flying and Recruiting

I am back from a pleasant day of model airplane flying with some old friends I haven’t seen in over a year, even though their club field in Paso Robles is only 50 miles north of my home base here at Pismo Beach. I lived in an Amazon world for so long during my Montessori preschool days, and had forgotten how much pleasure I got from the male bonding opportunities the modeling club offered when I took up the hobby several years ago. I have been basically living a hermit’s existence for the past year and need to get out of that rut. I look forward to my travels this spring and summer.

Unfortunately, I did crash my newest airplane, which my friend Scott had generously given me for the only Christmas present I received this year. I liked the way it flew so much, (before my dumb and/or rusty thumbs pulled when they should have pushed while it was inverted too close to the ground to recover) that I stopped at the hobby shop and bought an identical replacement kit on the way home. That should keep my pen out of trouble for a few hours at least here and there as I put it together. Too bad Scott was there to see me auger it in, or he wouldn’t know the replacement wasn’t the original he gave me.

I also stopped at a Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of Neil Boortz’s latest book “Sombody’s Gotta Say It” on Troy’s recommendation so we can discuss it in the forum. Speaking of libertarians, I invited a libertarian flying friend I reconnected with today to visit here and hopefully participate. I do hope you all are inviting any simpatico minds to join us here to create a nice group dynamic. They don’t have to be libertarian as long as they are thinkers, not emoters. It is only the tyranny bound bed wetters, hand wringers, and bible thumpers I hope to avoid. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Patriotism Redux

I just initiated a new topic in the forum that might generate an interesting discussion. In Patriotism Redux I address the issue of patriotism lost or abandoned over disagreement with government policy and how it can be recaptured when one thinks of his country in terms of his Fatherland, rather than any modern government or politicians attempting to rule over it. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Global Warming Hype

It only took a year for them to catch up to the alternative media, but finally the New York Times had to publish “From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype” calling Al Gore on his “global warming” hype.

“But part of his scientific audience is uneasy. In talks, articles and blog entries that have appeared since his film and accompanying book came out last year, these scientists argue that some of Mr. Gore’s central points are exaggerated and erroneous. They are alarmed, some say, at what they call his alarmism.”

“I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,” Don J. Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. “But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.”

“Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.”

“Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.”

“Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”

“Typically, the concern is not over the existence of climate change, or the idea that the human production of heat-trapping gases is partly or largely to blame for the globe’s recent warming. The question is whether Mr. Gore has gone beyond the scientific evidence.”

“He’s a very polarizing figure in the science community,” said Roger A. Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist who is a colleague of Dr. Vranes at the University of Colorado center. “Very quickly, these discussions turn from the issue to the person, and become a referendum on Mr. Gore.”

This, of course, brings to mind my essay: “Dark Ages II” where I discussed the subject of junk science, the “Environmental Movement,” and mentioned these many dissenting scientists to the conventional wisdom about “global warming.” As I pointed out, the Kyoto treaty is nothing more than Marxism on a global scale and essentially a wealth transfer scheme from the “have” nations to the “have not” variety.

For those who have read my “Sacred Cow Science” essay and investigated the link at the end, another thought is almost inescapable. When one ponders the incredible geological history of our planet, the notion that somehow “man” could have much effect on its future is the height of arrogance. A cyber acquaintance once said it best:

“I am also amused when I read how mankind is destroying the Earth. We are not capable of any such thing and it only shows our arrogance and our ignorance to think we might be. Yes, we may be capable of hastening the extinction of humans but I really doubt the Earth would care all that much, given that it existed for billions of years before we came on the scene. Seems to me we humans are not only arrogant, we really enjoy scaring the poop out of each other with our doomsday stories. Darned if I can understand why when most of Earthly existence is so totally delightful.” – Troy Robinson

I couldn’t agree more. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon NYC Flyover

I composed NYC FLYOVER in early ’06 after getting sick and tired of having the news media grinding the photos of the Abu Ghraib affair into my consciousness day after day. The montage is compelling, if nothing else, and everyone ought to have to look at it occasionally so we never forget that day. I know I sure won’t. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Clueless Academics

Having spent the past ten years in the private education industry, including owning and managing a Montessori preschool, I have a very low opinion of our public education system in America. We could enroll a child at 2 ½ to 3 years old and have them reading, writing, and doing four-figure mathematics by the time they were five, when they would normally just be entering Kindergarten.

Alas, only a very few public schools in America have adopted the demonstrably superior Montessori Method of education. Dealing with the anguish of the parents of those about to graduate from our program, with few alternatives in our community to traditional public education where teachers didn’t even hope to be able to teach them to read before the third grade, was always difficult.

Many were eternally grateful for the educational head start we had given their children, the behavioral problems that had evaporated in our program, and many times the nascent cases of ‘ADD or ADHD’ that we averted without (shudder) the use of drugs. Nevertheless, they were faced with the conundrum that their perfectly normal children would now be considered precocious and ‘difficult’ in the teacher-centered classrooms they were about to enter.

In our child-centered environment, they were allowed to progress at their own pace, and encouraged to do so as quickly as their minds were capable of absorbing whatever subject they took an interest in at any given moment.  Now they were about to encounter the stultifying public school arena where subjects are taught in unison on an arbitrary ‘lesson plan’ schedule, whether a child is ready or interested in them or not, at the pace of the slowest student in the class; so “no child is left behind.”

This is no less than child abuse. Boredom is the mother of mischief, and unless these parents were willing to supplement their child’s education at home, if not provide the entire process there, they risked their children’s future in more ways than one. Peer pressure is insidious, and public schools are breeding grounds for out of control youth.

I have added a rant entitled Clueless Academia I wrote almost a year ago. You may be intrigued by the picture, if nothing else.  Enjoy… or wince, as the case may be. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Sacred Cows in Science?

I have noticed a tendency among many referring to themselves as freethinkers, to have perhaps too much faith in the pronouncements of renowned scientists. This seems odd considering there are usually raging debates going on within the scientific community itself over most of the hypothesis that are accepted as conventional wisdom by the general population. I would like to suggest a little mind-expanding (pun intended) exercise for your consideration.

I have prepared a mindboggling experience for you at:Sacred Cow Science.  Enjoy. ◄Dave►

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PostHeaderIcon Synchronicity?

Well, how is this for synchronicity? I am still adding old essays to the main THOUGHTS ALOUD website, and only this morning added URBAN VARMINTS that I wrote over a dozen years ago. I was just over at Powder’s Blog to see if she had added anything today. She hadn’t, but I decided to follow her link to “Google News” to see what was happening today and look what popped up!

Court to D.C.: Bring on the Guns

Basically, they struck down D.C.’s ban on private ownership of firearms. Better yet, while doing so, they finally made a Federal ruling that the Second Amendment protects a right of individual citizens, not just a Dead Letter right of individual States to have armed militias. Stay tuned, this one will go to the Supremes. Let’s hope they bite; it would be nice to have that simple understanding as precedent for future rulings. It is good to see that there are at least two Federal Appeals Court judges who don’t have visualrectumitis. -Dave

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PostHeaderIcon Mind over Matter

The question is, to what extent are our minds, whatever they may be, able to exert executive control over our body’s autonomous systems? We know we can hold our breath, relax tensed muscles, resist urges, avoid flinching, and consciously “suppress” body language. But, what about our immune system and the healing process? Is there any validity to the idea that the “will to live” plays a part in recovery from a life threatening trauma or illness? Specifically, could our minds have any effect on the progress of a cancer or be in any way accountable for scientifically unexplainable “remissions?”

I have usually written off the anecdotal evidence for the “power of prayer” in medical miracles to the power of one’s own mind. Now, I find that there are skeptics who seriously doubt even that. Apparently, since they cannot explain them with hard science, they are simply dismissed as random and unremarkable occurrences that are best left to mystery. That seems odd and devoid of intellectual curiosity. These things do happen. Why wouldn’t a real scientist be curious as to why and at least propose a hypothesis to explore?

This subject is up for discussion in the forum at:

http://www.thoughtsaloud.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=11

You need a valid e-mail address to register to comment, but not just to read what is there. -Dave

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PostHeaderIcon Welcome Thinkers

Why should I care what others think?
Too many can’t and don’t.
And more who could and clearly should;
Believe or feel and won’t.

If this little ditty of mine resonates, you may like it around here.  Rational thinkers, who might enjoy a respite from the ubiquitous emoting do-gooders, are welcome to come inside out of the cold.  Other thinkers and I are anxious to meet you and mull over your interests.

You’ll enjoy the open and unfettered atmosphere where we share our ideas, not our feelings.  We can use your help in the forum where we BBQ all sacred cows that wander in.  This is a temple for the rational mind, and nothing else is worshiped hereabouts.

You will find mine uncommonly open.  All my ideas and opinions are open to challenge, and few things give me as much pleasure as having my mind changed by a cogent argument. –Dave 

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