12/29/2013

The new year is right around the corner. What changes are you going to make in your life?



Everyone believes they need to make big changes but the only big change you need is the change to your thinking. 

Change your thinking and you will automatically change dozens of small things you do every day. That’s because action follows thinking. 

Things to Think About in 2014:

(1) Why?  Why am I doing things the way I am doing them? Why am I using that media? That message? Who suggested it? Am I testing it?

(2) Think of each day as a gift. What you do with that gift is up to you. Will you waste it? Make it productive? Enjoy it?

(3) Consider that who we are is determined mostly by our environment — until we become aware of this fact — then it’s up to us.

(4) Remember that you can’t eliminate all mistakes, but you can stop repeating them. Are you repeating mistakes? 

(5) Just because something has never been done doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Maybe you were meant to do it.

(6) Share what you learn. Share the credit. Share the success. Take responsibility for the flops.

(7) Spin sucks. Do not "spin" mistakes. Apologize for them. Do not "spin" bad news and try to make it look good. Put your best foot forward — but be honest. Geez, who raised you? 

(8) Good communication can solve most problems at home, at work and in your community. Good communication starts with listening. Listening starts with caring about the other person.

(9) A good life has a positive impact on others, even after you are gone. A great life makes your children proud of you and shapes their values.

(10) Finally, Reflect over the past year. Think about things you'd like to do better this year, new things you'd like to try and people you'd like to make amends with or start over with. Have you achieved the things you wanted to in the past year? What specific things would you like to change or redirect? Asking yourself questions about progress, change and where you want to be right now can help to keep your perspective fresh, giving you new motivation to make this year a more fulfilling one.

Anything you regret saying? Anyone you wish you could apologize to? If there is, apologize and make things right with them. You don't want to worry or regret anything when you start the new year.

Was this past year so great you don't want it to be a new year? Great, make a scrapbook or diary entry about how great this year has been. But tell yourself the new year will be even better. Build on the lessons you've learned and keep the good things coming.

Was this past year such a terrible year for you that you worry the new year will be more of the same or even worse? Thinking that way may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nobody expects you to fly when your wings feel broken but it's important for your own well-being to start finding small ways to mend your dreams. Treat yourself with greater compassion and hang out more with folks who have kind hearts. Focus on making this coming year a much gentler, kinder one. This might include letting go of things that are causing you anxiety––scary at first, but really liberating when you finally do it.

12/28/2013

Rep. Trey Gowdy Lectures The Media On Benghazi


The Justice and State departments  cite a year-old FBI investigation and a future criminal prosecution to block access to survivors of last year’s Benghazi terror attack.

The Obama administration is "changing names" of the Benghazi survivors and "creating aliases" to keep them hidden from congressional investigators and the American people.

Rep. Gowdy  said the administration is "dispersing them around the country" to keep them out of sight.

CNN revealed there were "dozens" of CIA operatives on the ground in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, the night of the deadly attack that killed four Americans. Meanwhile, the CIA is taking "unprecedented" steps to keep whatever it was doing in Benghazi a secret, according to reports.

These Benghazi revelations come at the same time that the Obama administration has decided to start referring to the Benghazi and IRS scandals as "phony."

12/24/2013

On Dealing With Sin and Forgiveness


According to a friend of mine, this is biblically accurate:

 
 Matthew 5: 22:24 
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

12/23/2013

Let's Take A Closer Look at Gun Deaths in the United States

This is the kind of emotional rhetoric and propaganda promoted by the progressive liberal anti-gun movement:

"Over 11,000 people died from guns this year, Over 200 were children. 2014 needs to be the year we put pressure on the House to represent our desires to tighten gun safety, background checks, penalties for unsecured weapons and limit weapons of war on the streets!"

But let's dissect the facts, and remove the emotions from the equation, shall we?

There are roughly 32,000 gun deaths per year in the United States. Of those, around 60% are suicides. About 3% are accidental deaths (less than 1,000). About 34% of deaths (just over 11,000 in both 2010 and 2011) make up the remainder of gun deaths. Sometimes the 32,000 and 11,000 figures are used interchangeably by gun control advocates. Clearly, the 32,000 figure is a far more dramatic number and is often used for impact. These numbers are also regularly compared to other countries' gun statistics. But are they true? Here, we will examine some of the most common gun control arguments used and put those figures into perspective.

To hear gun control advocates speak, one would be led to believe that gun violence is a widespread problem whereby the mere existence of a gun is as much a problem as the person who intends to wield it. But the reality is that gun homicides are overwhelmingly tied to gang violence. In fact, a staggering 80% of gun homicides are gang-related. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), gang homicides accounted for roughly 8,900 of 11,100 gun murders in both 2010 and 2011. That means that there were just 2,200 non gang-related firearm murders in both years in a country of over 300 million people and 250 million guns.

The 2,200 figure is perhaps the most relevant of all gun statistics in the gun control debate given that the gun control laws are specifically targeted to this segment.  Most of the gun laws are aimed at a segment of the population that is mostly law-abiding and outside of the gang culture and would likely do little to stop any of the violence.

Suicide is often a secondary reason gun control advocates use for wanting to "control" guns. It is true that roughly half of suicides in America are done by use of a firearm. The suicide rate in Japan (where guns are almost nonexistent) is more than twice the United States' suicide rate. The US suicide rate is about the same as Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, and Iceland and well below France and Greenland. In reality, suicide rates seem to have little to do with the availability or accessibility of guns.

Most gun legislation is politically motivated and not logical. Politics is often a processed-based and not results-oriented exercise, where "doing something" is often rewarded more than actually ever accomplishing anything.

12/20/2013

Good Bye

I still think about you.
I feel badly about how things
didn't work out for us.
But - it wasn't my fault, and
I no longer dwell on it.
You were the one who lied,
and cheated, and betrayed.
You were the dishonest one.
At one point you told me that I was
the only one you were interested in.
But sadly, you lied.
I've cut you off forever
because of that and
I still believe it was
the right decision for me.
There is no room
in my life for
untrustworthy,hypocritical people.
You cannot come back -
You will have to live with
youself, your dishonesty,
and reconcile your betrayal
of my love and my trust.
You lied to me, to your husband,
and to yourself.
I wish you well, but Good-Bye.

12/14/2013

On Intimacy


Intimate relationships play a central role in the overall human experience. Humans have a general desire to belong and to love, which is usually satisfied within an intimate relationship. These relationships involve feelings of liking or loving one or more people, romance, physical or sexual attraction ( but not always) or emotional and personal support between the members. Intimate relationships allow a social network for people to form strong emotional attachments.

Intimacy generally refers to the feeling of being in a close personal association and belonging together. It is a familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other. Genuine intimacy in human relationships requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity. It does not have to be sexual in nature. It also requires honesty and trust.

I've met a lot of people on Google+ and the vast majority of them are friends, but we are not intimate in the above sense. Of the married  people I have learned to trust and confide in, the number one reason they state for not being happy in their marriage is "a lack of intimacy".

I think this underscores just how important achieving and preserving real intimacy is -- in any kind of interpersonal relationship.

Robert Sternberg said, "Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still." When you can achieve true intimacy with either a friend or a lover, it is something to be cherished and protected.

12/04/2013

Why Minimum Wage Hikes Increase Unemployment

There is no clearer demonstration of the differences in the two major political parties than their position on the minimum wage. Democrats generally are in favor of a higher minimum wage, Republican generally oppose it, although in recent times they have certainly caved.

In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment. The law says: it is illegal, and therefore criminal, for anyone to hire anyone else below the level of X dollars an hour. This means that a large number of free and voluntary wage contracts are now outlawed and hence that there will be a large amount of unemployment. Remember that the minimum wage law does not provide any jobs; it only outlaws them; and outlawed jobs are the inevitable result.

All demand curves are falling, and the demand for hiring labor is no exception. So laws that prohibit employment at any wage that is relevant to the market must result in outlawing employment and causing unemployment.

If the minimum wage is, in short, raised from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour, the consequence is to disemploy, permanently, those who would have been hired at rates in between these two rates. Since the demand curve for any kind of labor is set by the perceived marginal productivity of that labor, this means that the people who will be disemployed and devastated by this prohibition will be precisely the "marginal" (lowest wage) workers, e.g. blacks and teenagers, the very workers whom the advocates of the minimum wage, such as president Obama, are claiming to foster and protect!

The advocates of the minimum wage and its periodic boosting reply that all this is scare talk and that minimum wage rates do not and never have caused any unemployment. Okay, if the minimum wage is such a wonderful anti-poverty measure, and can have no unemployment-raising effects, why are you helping the working poor by such piddling amounts? Why stop at $9.00 an hour? Why not $20 an hour? $100? $1,000?

It is obvious that the minimum wage advocates do not pursue their own logic, because if they push it to such heights, virtually the entire labor force will be disemployed. In short, you can have as much unemployment as you want, simply by pushing the legally minimum wage high enough.

The fact is that they have always been shrewd enough to stop their minimum wage demands at the point where only marginal workers are affected, and where there is no danger of disemploying, for example, white adult male workers with union seniority. When we see that the most ardent advocates of the minimum wage law have been the AFL-CIO, and that the concrete effect of the minimum wage laws has been to cripple the low-wage competition of the marginal workers as against higher-wage workers with union seniority, the true motivation of the agitation for the minimum wage becomes apparent.

This is only one of a large number of cases where a seemingly defective persistence in economic fallacy only serves as a mask for special privilege at the expense of those who are supposedly to be "helped."

Once in a while, AFL-CIO economists and other knowledgeable liberals will drop their mask of economic fallacy and candidly admit that their actions will cause unemployment; they then proceed to justify themselves by claiming that it is more "dignified" for a worker to be on welfare than to work at a low wage. This of course, is the doctrine of many people on welfare themselves. It is truly a strange concept of "dignity" that has been fostered by the interlocking minimum wage-welfare system.

Unfortunately, this system does not give those numerous workers who still prefer to be producers rather than parasites the privilege of making their own free choice. Minimum wage laws guarantee more unemployment. Period.

sources: Murray Rothbard, Thomas Sowell, studies

11/21/2013

On Morality and how to conduct one's life properly


Pete's Nuclear Bomb Sriracha Gandules Verdes


Some More History on Israel's Right To Exist

In an era in which the main battlefield against Israel is the campaign to delegitimize the very existence of the Jewish state it is important to challenge the false narratives that are being thrown into the public discourse and gradually being accepted, not by governments, but by a wider audience.

The narrative tells of a dispossessed Palestine whose rights have been usurped by colonial invaders who have conquered their land through the Zionist enterprise. They are, in is claimed, made to suffer by the imposition of a European Holocaust which has left them paying the price. Driven out of their land by Jewish interlopers the remnants have been occupied and oppressed by a brutal ‘Nazi’-like regime.

No country has a greater legitimacy, under international law, to exist than Israel. If Israel does not possess that legal right to sovereignty then no nation on earth can claim greater legitimacy than Israel. To fully understand this, one needs to understand the unfolding of modern history and the international resolutions that give Israel its full and exclusive right to sovereignty.

There are legal rulings that give clear status to disputed territories.

Central to the Israel-Palestinian issue is the matter of Jerusalem. Khaled Mashal, the Hamas representative in Damascus, said that “Jerusalem’s fate will be settled by holy war.” Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, said in Bethlehem in 2009 that East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine and that this is a red line that no Arab may cross. President Obama has declared that East Jerusalem must become the capital of Palestine and Jewish settlements there are illegitimate. The Arab League has said that all the territory up to the 1967 border must go a new Palestinian state. The United Nations has stated that all the territory is not Arab but Palestinian territory. Iran says that all of Palestine must be liberated. Hizbollah’s Nasrallah has declared that Palestine is part of the Islamic nation and jihad is the only way to redeem it.

All these statements are false in legal terms.

To say that the West Bank is occupied is correct. It was occupied by the British as part of their obligation as a Mandated power. It is today occupied by Israel as part of the Jewish territory *legally bestowed upon it by international law*. To understand the legal implications that have been swept under the rug we need to go back in history and review the unfolding of events.

If you go back to the maps of Jerusalem from Roman times, when the might of Rome defeated the Jewish kingdom, you will see the outline of the Old City of Jerusalem not dissimilar to today’s contours. Examining maps and lithographs throughout the ages show a remarkably similar pattern. There was virtually no construction outside the ancient walls of Jerusalem for centuries. True Jerusalem is the Old City of Jerusalem.
For those that say that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (and this is an essential part of the Palestinian and Islamic narrative) not only defies Judeo-Christian history and heritage, it also defies concrete evidence to the contrary. One need not believe the findings of centuries of archeologists and historians to justify the claim of Jewish Jerusalem dating back to Roman times. Simply go to Rome and visit the triumphant Arch of Titus. There, carved into the stones, are scenes depicting the removal of the Jewish menorah, stolen from the Jewish Temple, being brought by Jewish slaves, defeated and exiled from their homeland, to Rome.

The Balfour Declaration was a pledge from the British Government to support the creation of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, given in 1917 at the time of the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Those that say that the British did not have the right to give what was not theirs to give would be correct. The Balfour Declaration was not a legally binding document.

The Paris Peace Conference at the Quai d’Orsay changed this, and was the setting where all the claimants to territories held by the Ottomans could state their case before the principal Allied Powers. The Arabs were led by the Hashemite family, father and three sons. The Jewish claim was put by the Zionists led by Chaim Weitzman. Feisal met with Weitzman in Paris and they entered into an agreement. They agreed that the Jewish and Arab claims were national and not imperialist. The Arabs wanted a large contiguous Arab state. The division of land to be agreed was that the Jews would receive Palestine from the Mediterranean Sea and including what is today Jordan, and the Arabs would receive the Arab Peninsular and what is today Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.  This, in effect, converted the Balfour Declaration into a binding legal document. It was no longer the whim of a British Government with no rights but now incorporated into international law by the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers.

When the Mandatory administration passed into the hands of the State of Israel, the restriction of not allowing any ceding or leasing of any territory to any foreign power could be defined as including a Palestinian Authority that had no existence at the time of the enacting of this international law and, therefore, could be construed as being a new foreign power.

The second clause clearly gives legal rights for the Jews of Israel to establish settlements of all lands defined as Palestine, the national home of the Jewish people. It certainly contradicts all claims that Jewish settlement is illegal.

This, in itself, gives sufficient grounds to prove that Israel possesses exclusive sovereignty rights to the territory under international law, a law that has not been rescinded since. But there is more, much more, that strengthens Jewish legitimacy to all the territory that was known as Palestine.

The Jewish people have never renounced their rights to Jerusalem. They have never formally abandoned their rights to title and sovereignty.  The Jewish people have the legal right to live and remain in every part of the territory which was part of the Mandated territory of Palestine, now Israel.  They have the right to give up what is legally theirs, but they cannot be forced out. Any other claim to legal title is fraudulent and has no standing in international law that can replace the existing Jewish claim. Nations may refuse to accept Israel’s legitimate rights because of other political or vested interests but these defy Jewish justice and legitimacy. Neither is it possible to retroactively apply legal principles that remove prior standing in international law. The nations have reneged on the obligation they embraced at the 1922 League of Nations. Under the law of nations, under international law, Israel has a solid, valid, claim which ought to be honoured by the nations of the world today.

Sources:
Barry Shaw: http://goo.gl/W713F1
Wikipedia:   http://goo.gl/hi4w
David Phillips: http://goo.gl/oYoEGB

11/05/2013

How to Tell If You Can Trust Someone

1) Observe their behavior. Look at the way they act. How do they treat others? Are they inconsiderate and/or rude? Are they quick to join in on gossip? Are they quick to judge people? Do they continuously concern themselves with what other people are doing? There's a difference between someone who wants to be helpful and someone who's just being nosy and wants something to gossip about. However, that alone is not enough to determine whether someone is trustworthy. Someone that seems to be involved in a lot of drama is someone that you need to be cautious of - there is a reason why they don't get along with so many people.

2) Listen to them, communication is important. When they talk to you, do they redirect their conversation towards other people - and if they do, are they saying negative things about them? If this person is telling you things about other people's private lives for the sake of having an "interesting conversation", you should take that into consideration when determining their trustworthiness. It doesn't matter if they give out their name or not; someone who talks about the business of others (with strange intentions) after they have been personally confided in is someone that you should be wary of and you should begin to question whether you can trust them or not. If they feel comfortable with talking to you about their own personal business (e.g. things that are bothering them, asking for guidance/advice etc.), it could be a sign that they somewhat trust you. Perhaps you should take a chance and trust them too.

3) Reliability, can they keep promises? Everyone lets someone down from time to time, but if someone is continuously letting you (or anyone else) down at the most important times with little-to-no excuses, then they aren't very reliable. Part of having trust in someone derives from being able to have faith in them and rely on them no matter what your situation may be.

4) Honesty. Someone who constantly lies is probably doing so as a result of trying to save themselves. Once again, intentions are another thing to consider, but someone who constantly lies about themselves in order to look good may have something to hide. If they can lie about their own life, then imagine what else they are willing to lie about. Someone who has to lie to get themselves out of a negative situation isn't trustworthy, just like someone who maliciously spreads lies about other people is spiteful.

5) Personality. Other things to consider are whether they are a self-centered person or not. Self-centered people only care about themselves and are more likely to let you down on more than one occasion than anyone else. Some people will make exceptions for the very few people that they care about, but if they constantly make themselves top priority then those people have the potential to betray you when given the chance.

Source: Wikihow

11/02/2013

What's wrong with the abortion debate?


Science tells us unequivocally that as soon as the first embryonic cell division takes place, we have a human life - separate and distinct from the mother. This is not a religious issue - it is one of biological scientific fact. Any biologist in the world can tell you that a mammal’s life begins when the sperm from the father unites with the egg from the mother.  This fact is very inconvenient for those who want to treat embryonic and fetal human beings as property. The real argument in the abortion debate is whether or not this human being is a "person," with all the legal rights and protections of  "personhood".



Those who traffic in human tissue argue that he or she is not. This is the same argument used in the Dred Scott decision in which the Supreme Court of the United States declared that black Americans, though human, are not "persons" under the law. As long as "personhood" is denied to human beings in their embryonic and fetal stages, the holocaust of abortion will continue.

You are, of course, free to believe anything that you want. But you will not convince me that there is a distinction regarding personhood between an 8 hour old fetus and a 30 week old one.

But the real problem is much bigger even than the many fallacious arguments being put forth by the progressive left. My conservative friends are mostly expressing outrage, both moral and religious, but this has little effect on the actual dynamic of what is happening in society. It certainly has no effect on the progressive liberal left.

We could have new legislation tomorrow that makes it 100% illegal for a woman to have an abortion, and yet the issue would still be far from solved. The challenge is to deal with the societal beliefs that allow and even encourage young people to have sex without worrying about the consequences, the socio-economic ills that cause so many babies to be born out of wedlock,  because today the woman can easily get an abortion, paid for by Obamacare. The challenge is to educate young people to be willing to take responsibility. And the challenge is to provide a system where not only can a developing human being be safely brought to term, and the family unit be supported, but if the mother and father are unable or unwilling to keep the baby, we will have structures and programs in place that will enable that child to be adopted, to grow up in a loving and nurturing environment, and to become a productive human being.

So we can rant on with the outrage over baby killers and other abortion atrocities. We can talk about how abortion is morally wrong and reprehensible. And I'll agree. But until we start actually tackling these real issues, none of this is going to make much difference at all. If anything, it will simply make the left's eyes glaze over.

10/21/2013

General Blog vs Programming Blog

There seems to be a bit of confusion from some commenters. This is not my programmning blog, although in the past I have posted technical content. This is my "everything" blog - I write about politics, science, psychology and other subjects here. If you want my programming blog, it is at peterbromberg.net - there is only technical content there.
Thanks!

10/20/2013

Why Obamacare Will Never Work, and How We Got It All Wrong

A refusal to look abroad to see what systems actually work is the major failure of Obamacare. It was rammed down our throats from behind closed doors. Ill-conceived, politically motivated, you name it.

For example: the Danish health care system is the nightmare of any anti-government free market believer: it's a tax-funded state-run universal health care system.

Denmark provides "free" health care to all residents, funded through taxes.
There is an optional private health care sector, but it is tiny compared with the vastly larger public system that is used by most of the population. Users pay for a few procedures, such as fertility treatments (from the third attempt onwards) and non-essential cosmetic surgery, as well as most of their own dental care and a portion of prescription medication.
Apothecaries are privately owned, but doctor's visits and hospitalization, including tests, treatment, follow-up care, and some medication, are fully covered.
The Danish health care system is not cheap. According to OECD's Health Data 2009, Denmark's health cost per person, public and private, was $3,512. But in the US the cost is *more than double* at $7,290! And it's increasing every year. In 2013, costs are estimated to increase by over six percent.

In addition, Danish health care covers everybody - 100 percent of the population-while in the U.S. fewer than 80 percent of citizens are covered, and often only partially. Even under Obamacare, millions will still go uninsured.

So basically the U.S. system costs more than twice as much and still leaves nearly a quarter of the population in the lurch if they need any medical care.
In fact, the U.S. could get universal coverage and still save about 1 trillion dollars per year on health care!

What makes Danish health care so cheap? It's not because it's of poorer quality. According to international surveys, more than 90 percent of Danes are totally satisfied with their health care, and it uses the most advanced methods available anywhere. And per capita there are more hospital beds and doctors than in the U.S.

It's mainly cheap because it's a lot simpler to manage. There are *no insurance companies or lawyers operating for profit*, or financial background checks. There are no uninsured, so there is no paperwork if you get sick or injured.
Some proof of identity-citizenship or residence status - is all you need. And Danes are still free to pick their own family doctors, as long as they choose one within their own geographical area, and they have a choice of hospitals and in certain cases can even opt for treatment abroad.
Of course Denmark's universal health care means a higher overall tax bill and that healthy people are paying for the treatment of sick people through their taxes. But because the system is simpler and less profit-oriented, it ends up being cheaper for everybody.
U.S. health care is the most expensive system on earth and incredibly wasteful. Of course I'm not advocating the wholesale adoption of the Danish or Scandinavian welfare system. Those countries have a radically different social model. Bur our failure to examine these systems and employ their best ideas is, at best, a total failure of leadership on the part of both the president and Congress.

Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries clearly prove that a government-run system can provide its population with superior care without being inefficient, bloated, or costly.
Stronger state regulations ensure that the money pouring through the system ends up where it's supposed to: with doctors and health care providers. There are no lobbyists. No greed lawyers.
The pharmaceutical industry still gets its fair share since medication is still bought on the free market. This rewards innovation.
In the U.S., health care financing is siphoned off by lawyers, administrators, and insurance companies; the cost of lobbying lawmakers and advertising is astronomical.
The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world that does not support universal health care for its citizens. A greater degree of government involvement in health care might be un-American, but when the American system has abjectly failed, a refusal to look abroad for better models is simply self-defeating.

This is why Obamacare will NEVER WORK, and must be repealed so that we can start over and do it right. And it starts with controlling unit costs.

10/18/2013

The Debt Limit is a Cruel Joke On Us



So right now the Senate (and the House, which voted to approve) doesn't increase the dollar amount of the debt limit - all it does is suspend enforcement of it until February 7th, when the limits are supposed to go back into place and will have to be raised. What that does in the meantime is give Obama and the Democrats a blank check to accumulate as much new debt as they want until then.



Essentially what has happened is our lawmakers have gotten away with allowing the country to rack up more debt and avoid the threat of default without actually voting for debt limit increase.

We're in to 17 trillions of dollars in debt; what I'd like to know is, what are we going to do when we're in the hundreds of trillions of dollars? What's the number after that? What happens when we are so far into debt that we can't possibly repay in hundreds of years? Because at the rate we're going, our grandkids will be right in the middle of it. Have these spineless turds in Washington even thought about that? Do you think they even care?

10/17/2013

Drunk Florida man sets self on fire while lighting Halloween cross-burning ‘prank’

A Florida man is recovering from burns on up to 50 percent of his body after he reportedly set himself on fire while trying light a cross-burning decoration for Halloween.
According to Florida Today, Palm Bay police identified 50-year-old Ron Nielson as the man being treated for burns by Palm Bay Fire-Rescue crews on Tuesday evening.
“He was conscious and alert but he had second-degree burns over 40 to 50 percent of his body, including his chest, arms, upper torso,” Palm Bay Police Department spokesperson Yvonne Martinez said.
Palm Bay police described the incident as a “prank” that included using candles and gasoline to light a wooden cross along the side of his home.
“It started as some kind of prank apparently and involved a wooden cross,” Martinez explained. “We don’t know if he was trying to light the cross or the candles but when he did, his clothes caught fire.”
WFTV reported that Nielson had been drinking when the fire occurred. His wife tried to douse the flame with a garden hose.
Nielson was recovering on Wednesday at Orlando Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay police were continuing their investigation.
Watch this video from WFTV, broadcast Oct. 16, 2013.


Why ObamaCare is History

10/05/2013

Are We a Democracy Or A Republic?

The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October of 1787 and August 1788. A compilation of these and eight others, called “The Federalist” or, “The New Constitution”, was published in two volumes in 1788 by J. and A. McLean. The series' correct title is The Federalist; the title The Federalist Papers did not emerge until the twentieth century. Though the authors of The Federalist Papers foremost wished to influence the vote in favor of ratifying the Constitution, in Federalist No 1 they explicitly set that debate in broader political terms: It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question: whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.

founders1

There are 178 separate uses of the word "republic" in the Federalist, and 83 separate instances of the word "republican". Obviously this word and it's meaning were very important to Hamilton, Madison, and Jay. There are many highlights among the essays of The Federalist. Federalist No. 10, in which Madison discusses the means of preventing rule by majority faction and advocates a large, commercial republic, is generally regarded as the most important of the 85 articles from a philosophical perspective. The Pledge of Allegiance includes the phrase: "and to the republic for which it stands." So is the United States of America a republic? I always thought it was a democracy? What's the difference between the two? Often I hear or read from people that America is both a republic and a "representative democracy". Many claim that the Framers lived in the 1700's and that since then "times have changed". I disagree with that stance. The ideas of the Framers are universal ideas and concepts, and they are truly timeless. That is why Federal judges today, when interpreting the Constitution, frequently use the Federalist Papers as a contemporary account of the intentions of the framers and ratifiers.

The United States is, indeed, a republic, not a democracy. Accurately defined, a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly--through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums. A republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf. The Framers of the Constitution were altogether fearful of pure democracy. Everything they read and studied taught them that pure democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths" ( from Federalist No. 10).

By popular usage, however, the word "democracy" has come to mean a form of government in which the government derives its power from the people and is accountable to them for the use of that power. In this sense the United States might accurately be called a democracy. However, there are examples of "pure democracy" at work in the United States today that would probably trouble the Framers of the Constitution if they were still alive to see them. Many states allow for policy questions to be decided directly by the people by voting on ballot initiatives or referendums. (Initiatives originate with, or are initiated by, the people while referendums originate with, or are referred to the people by, a state's legislative body.) That the Constitution does not provide for national ballot initiatives or referendums is indicative of the Framers' opposition to such mechanisms. They were not confident that the people had the time, wisdom or level-headedness to make complex decisions, such as those that are often presented on ballots on election day. Writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is "the delegation of the government [in a republic] to a small number of citizens elected by the rest." The primary effect of such a scheme, Madison continued, was to: . . . refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the same purpose (Federalist No. 10). Later, Madison elaborated on the importance of "refining and enlarging the public views" through a scheme of representation: There are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth can regain their authority over the public mind(Federalist No. 63).

In the strictest sense of the word, the system of government established by the Constitution was never intended to be a "democracy." This is evident not only in the wording of the Pledge of Allegiance but in the Constitution itself which declares that "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government" (Article IV, Section 4). Moreover, the scheme of representation and the various mechanisms for selecting representatives established by the Constitution were clearly intended to produce a republic, not a democracy. To the extent that the United States of America has moved away from its republican roots and become more "democratic," it has strayed from the intentions of the Constitution's authors. Whether or not the trend toward more direct democracy would be smiled upon by the Framers depends on the answer to another question. Are the American people today sufficiently better informed and otherwise equipped to be wise and prudent democratic citizens than were American citizens in the late 1700s?

By all accounts, the answer to this second question is an emphatic "no."

Sources: Wikipedia, Federalist No. 10, and other portions of The Federalist, U.S. Constitution

10/02/2013

Paid Obama For America Supporters Flooding My Google+ Post

Have a looky at the unusually large number of "BlueHeads" - people with no profile photo - making negative comments on my post. Most of them, when you look at their profiles, have never made a post and have little or no followers. Draw your own conclusions:

9/21/2013

Thoughts on Abortion

Windows 8.1 Travails

Well, I've finally relented and installed Windows 8.1 on one machine in the house. Frankly, I'm not in a big hurry to do it on the other two PC's I use, including my main development machine. First of all, if you are planning on upgrading to Windows 8.1, be aware of a couple of things:

 1) You cannot upgrade directly from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. Microsoft has, in their infinite wisdom (at least for now) made that impossible. No, you have to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 first. Only then can you do ANOTHER upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1.

 2) On my bedroom laptop, which is a very fast HP quad core with 8 gigs of RAM, the total time involved ran into the 3+ hour range. Not fun at all!

 3) On Windows 8.1 you will get back your "Start" button and menu, but it won't be what you think you were told. In order to get something that looks like the classic Windows 7 Start Menu and features, you'll need to download something like Classic Shell. This is free, and it really is nice, and highly configurable. 

Otherwise, Windows 8.1 has some nice features and seems to be very fast. It also will mount ISO files as a "drive" natively, which is nice if you are a software developer. One last caveat: Before you embark on this little venture, I'd highly recommend running the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant which can save you a lot of trouble in advance. Happy computing!

9/19/2013

The betrayal of Trust in America

When our great nation was started, Americans had a high degree of trust in their government. They felt that it genuinely represented the interests of the people.

Government policy in developed countries is relatively stable and predictable, and, for the most part (at least relative to less developed countries), promises made are promises kept. Governments keep their promises despite the fact that policymakers face a well-known time-consistency problem. That is, it is seldom in the short-run best interest of a government to keep capital taxes low, honor its debt obligations, or inflate the currency only by the expected amount. Much of the theory on credible government policy concerns itself precisely with accounting for this ability of governments to make and keep promises. In these good scenarios, households trust the government and the government does not betray this trust because a deviation by the government causes a reversion to a worse equilibrium.

Depending on your point of view, the last few weeks and months have sounded either a very loud wake-up call for the death knell of democracy in the United States, at least for the foreseeable future. For the first time in generations, American citizens have been betrayed, and indeed, attacked, not merely by one over-reaching branch of government, but by all three. The actions of President Obama and the Congress as revealed in the the Snowden Affair, and the revelations of the NSA's activities it has brought to light, and now the governments handling of the Syrian fiasco, show conclusively that Americans today can no longer trust their government to protect their most fundamental rights, either in principle or against the abuse by one or more arms of the state.

Every American child learns about the unique set of "checks and balances" laid out in the US Constitution, which established a tripartite division of power between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government. This balance of power, whose history returns (in a much simpler form) to ancient Greece and Rome, was established precisely because the "Founding Fathers" held a deep distrust of the ability of those with political power to use it fairly and according to law, and not arrogate it or otherwise abuse it for their own individual or corporate benefit.

The separation of power and the checks and balances between the three branches of government it established ensured that the functions of making, executing and interpreting the law remained the provenance of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches respectively. Each branch have always had, as a core responsibility, checking any over-reach by one or both of the other two. At the same time, by placing supreme power at the Federal level, the Constitution (as laid out in Article VI), ensured that individual states could not act to ignore, undermine or violate Federal laws by enacting their own laws that either superseded or contravened them.

State power

The Civil War was fought in good measure over whether the Supremacy Clause, as laid out in Article VI of the Constitution, or the 10th Amendment, which declared that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," was the ultimate authority in the land.

The US experienced a strong and activist Federal government in the middle two thirds of the 20th century, roughly from FDR's New Deal till the Reagan Presidency. In the last two generations, and particularly under the Bush II presidencies, Republicans have acted both to restrict the power of Congress and the Courts in favour of a reinvigorated "states' rights," and to assert an unprecedented power of a "unitary executive." The focus on states rights was ostensibly intended to "return power to the people" by reining in the "morally zealous and apparently unconstitutional" actions of the Federal government.

In practice, however, states rights has meant the weakening of rights and protections of citizens in favor of religiously conservative social and economically corporate-dominated agendas. Ironically, back in the 1980s, when the great rightward shift in American politics was first solidified, it was the judiciary that was considered by Republicans the most overly zealous branch of government. Today, after nearly two dozen years of broad Republican control over the appointment of Federal and Supreme Court judges (through their broad control over the Congress), the Judicial Branch is no longer the main problem.

The theory of the unitary executive, pushed by Bush administration officials and their neoconservative allies in the midst of the War on Terror, argued that the President has authority not merely to execute laws passed by Congress, but also to interpret the law, particularly when it comes to actions taken by the Executive Branch. As far back as 1803, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall argued that only the Judicial Branch has the authority to interpret and declare "what the law is."

Not that the Supreme Court is, on crucial issues, firmly in conservative hands, but the Executive Branch is in the hands of a Democrat who on crucial issues related to the most fundamental power of government is following the path laid by his Republican predecessors.

A Perfect storm of disempowerment

What exists now in the US is a perfect storm of disempowerment of Americans by all three branches of their government when it comes to the most basic rights citizens can possess. For three presidential terms the Executive Branch has been firmly in the hands of presidents and officials who believe that the government can contravene the most basic rights of any person - citizen or foreigners - as long as they can justify such actions in the guise of "protecting the American people" and other raisons d'Etat.

Congress, in theory, should be checking such untrammeled Executive Power, most recently revealed by Edward Snowden's leaking of NSA and other Executive Branch surveillance and spying policies. But what the Snowden affair reaffirms instead is the reality that Congress has little will to oppose such policies and indeed by and large supports the military-industrial-intelligence behemoth that so threatens the rights of all. Given the corporate control of the Congress and the political process more broadly, there is little incentive for legislators to draft and/or support any kind of legislation that would protect and enhance the rights of individual citizens at the expense of state power or its corporate sponsors.

The question remains as to what Americans will do in response to this tripartite aggression against them by their government. Almost 36 months ago the tactics and bravery of the early Arab uprisings helped inspire the Occupy movement globally, and particularly in the US. But however powerful the initial outburst, the movement has lost virtually all of its political and cultural momentum. Today protests sweeping across countries as diverse as Turkey and Brazil serve as another reminder of the power, and at times, obligation, of "the people" to take to the streets in order to force their governments take their core needs and concerns into consideration as part of the normal practice of governance.

With no where to turn politically, and an economic system that despite all the scandals and damage of the last half decade still remains firmly in the grips of the hyper-corporate forces that led the country into the "Great Recession," Americans have no one but themselves to rely on to reassert control over a political system that was designed precisely to ensure this kind of stacking of the deck against citizens by their government wouldn't happen. Occupying public or virtual spaces will not solve our problems unless it is done on a far greater scale and level of intensity and perseverance than were exhibited by the first incarnation of the Occupy movement. Shutting down the government over the debt limit and Obamacare defunding is probably never going to happen - and if it did, the repercussions would most likely hurt the perpetrators more than any other group.

It's hard to know how Americans can actually "take back their government," as Republicans and Democrats routinely urge them without a hint of irony, utilizing any of the political and cultural tools presently available to them. But at least with the events of the last few weeks they can no longer say they didn't understand the full spectrum of forces arrayed against them. If that doesn't generate enough urgency to produce the kind of conversations and grass roots practices that can lead to new political models emerging, then the death knell of democracy as most Americans have for generations understood it has most definitely sounded.

This government is hardly in any position to lament someone else’s betrayal of trust. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has emerged as a beacon of civil liberties in this troubling time. I support Sen. Paul’s effort to mobilize as many as 10 million Americans to protest the government’s spying on us. He plans a class-action lawsuit, as well as legislation enforcing our Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable and warrantless searches.
Paul calls the domestic spying "an astounding assault on the Constitution." He’s right. And, noting that all that spying didn’t prevent the Boston Marathon bombing, he says burying national security officials in a billion calls a day, not to mention emails and Internet records, is "just bad police work" - and it is extremely costly.

Paul says "this much power is too much power to give any government, as he reminds us that all that intelligence on us is currently in the hands of "a government that appears to target people based on their political beliefs. I don’t want my phone records being given to an administration that I can’t trust."

Paul sounds very much like a former Senate colleague of his who, in the mid-2000s, bitterly decried domestic spying under President George W. Bush, saying his administration acted like "violating civil liberties is a way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no shortcuts to protecting America." That senator was Barack Obama – who, back then, warned against "undermining our Constitution and our freedom."

Obama also once said:
• "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."
• "No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens."
• "No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime."
• "We need to find a way forward to make sure that we can stop terrorists while protecting the privacy and liberty of innocent Americans."

Congratulations, Mr. President. After the Boston bombing,the NSA scandal and Syria, we can truthfully say you’ve done neither. You've only served to increase the betrayal of trust in America.

Sources: Al Jazeera: http://goo.gl/hsSM2y , Subrealism: http://goo.gl/vngSX8, Promoting Good Governmance: http://goo.gl/huVGX7

9/07/2013

Why Did Obama Suddenly Decide to Go To Congress?

The Wall Street Journal reported that "The U.S. has intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American interests in Baghdad in the event of a strike on Syria, officials said, amid an expanding array of reprisal threats across the region."

The date when our intelligence agencies intercepted the Iranian message on Iraq has not been publicly reported, but the Journal said that it was “intercepted in recent days.” So the timing fits: it seems probable that Obama became aware of the threats of retaliation that have been reported (and, perhaps, others that have not been made public) last week; most likely, late last week. Experts say that this is the reason why Obama suddenly changed his mind last Friday and decided to have Congress weigh in on the Syrian attack decision. It appears there was a possibility of major blowback, not just from an isolated terrorist or two but coordinated by Tehran itself.

In the event of a significant retaliatory response, Obama would not want to be out on a limb by himself on Syria.He would want it to be clear that the Syrian intervention was a decision for which the entire U.S. government was responsible, including some Republicans. This conclusion is even stronger given the risk that a significant retaliation traceable to Iran would escalate tensions and could lead to a broader and far more substantial conflict. 

If the U.S. does bomb Syria and Iran does retaliate, this administration will suffer greatly for having discounted Iranian threats during the debate on whether to intervene in Syria.

There remains the question that some reports, not all from totally credible sources, indicate that it was not Assad who launched the chemical attack of Aug. 21 but opposition forces, possibly aided by the United States itself.

Sources: http://goo.gl/52CsXY  http://goo.gl/ihwuRS

8/30/2013

A little more on Fair Use for my friends who believe quoting someone else's work without attribution is always "plagiarism"

The fair use defense to copyright infringement was codified for the first time in section 107 of the 1976 Act. Fair use was not a novel proposition in 1976, however, as federal courts had been using a common law form of the doctrine since the 1840s (an English version of fair use appeared much earlier). The Act codified this common law doctrine with little modification. Under section 107, the fair use of a copyrighted work is not copyright infringement, even if such use technically violates section 106. While fair use explicitly applies to use of copyrighted work for criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research purposes, the defense is not limited to these areas. The Act gives four factors to be considered to determine whether a particular use is a fair use:
the purpose and character of the use (commercial or educational, transformative or reproductive);
the nature of the copyrighted work (fictional or factual, the degree of creativity);
the amount and substantiality of the portion of the original work used; and
the effect of the use upon the market (or potential market) for the original work.


The Act was later amended to extend the fair use defense to unpublished works.


There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission, and is not used in determining "fair use".

Allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. When you quote a short portion of some news article or blog post - either with or without attribution to the source -  especially if you are using it on social media for criticism, comment, or to make a point, this generally falls under the Fair Use doctrine - especially if it does not affect the market for the original work.

On the other hand, plagiarism is when you copy or republish all or a substantial portion of someone's work and attempt to pass it off as if it were your own original work. There is a very big difference between fair use and plagiarism.

8/21/2013

How Google +1’s Improve Search Engine Rankings

Cyrus Shepard reports on the Moz Blog that this year, for the first time, the  Moz Data Science Team measured the correlation between Google +1s and higher rankings.

They discovered that after Page Authority, a URL's number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, “the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.”

In addition, Searchmetrics, another firm, used a slightly different methodology and found Google +1s to be the highest-correlated factor they studied. 

They also make some recommendations about how to use Google+ to optimize SEO. Included in these are to follow great people, comment on posts, and share great content, making longer Google+ posts, as well as adding the  rel="author" meta tag to your website or blog.

Another important factor is to post public.  Posts shared privately don't pass the same juice as publicly shared post. Shepard concludes by saying that the point is not to go out and accumulate a bunch of +1s, but that earning a link on Google+ is like earning any other type of editorial link, and these links have actual value with real benefits.

8/20/2013

Why I Am Pro – Life

 
This subject comes up repeatedly, and because I have a number of liberal friends who challenge me on it from time to time, I thought it would be appropriate to summarize my views again.

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First and foremost, I do not base my pro-life stance on religion. I am about the most unreligious person you will ever meet. I'm not an atheist, but my beliefs in a Supreme Being certainly didn't come from attending church or synagogue. They came from science.


Science - that is biomedical science - tells us that once the very first cell-division takes place in a fertilized ovum, it meets all the scientific qualifications for a developing human life. Period. You don't need to wait until it develops a heartbeat. In the very first hour, it's a developing human being completely distinct from the mother, with it's own DNA. Therefore, as caring human beings, we must provide it with the same protections and rights as any other human being.


To me, this renders all these progressive liberal claims of a woman's "right to choose" or "reproductive rights" complete and total bullshit right from the git-go.


My son Andrew, who is now 24, autistic, and lives at home with me, was adopted at birth. I have the utmost respect for the woman who carried this wonderful young man to term, knowing full well that she would not keep him. Andrew has provided much joy to me as a father, and is a fantastic, intelligent, caring human being.


So please don't try to tell me that you have the right to determine when and under what circumstances abortion is legitimate. It's never legitimate to take a human life, even one that is only one hour old.

8/16/2013

Don’t Lose the War

The insanity of American foreign policy is on display everywhere in the world.

When you go to war against anyone, especially against extreme cultures and nations, you must bomb Dresden into smoking ruins, or you cannot win the war. You must drop The Bomb on Hiroshima, or the price will be a Pyrrhic victory at best. Just as in a personal fight against an armed mugger, you must fight for your life and when your opponent goes down, make sure he stays down, by whatever means are necessary -- or you will simply die.

In the struggle against Muslim extremism and against extremist cultures overseas, we have, instead, as Republicans, conservatives, Democrats and liberals, abandoned most of The Constitution and denied most of our own right and freedoms in the name of "security."

When you go to war, there are some enemies who must be utterly destroyed.

Americans no longer have the stomach to destroy their enemies. They no longer even have the stomach to fight for their own freedom. Both sides of the ideological divide in America keep electing and re-electing people who take their freedoms from them. Then, we all pay those same politicians to take our freedoms from us. We're paying them to steal from us and to kill and imprison our family members, friends and neighbors. We're paying for their corruption, cronyism and nepotism.

None of this will change, until we, as American citizens, are willing to change.
(Adapted and enhanced from Warren Bonesteel comment on PJ Media article)

Betrayal

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Betrayal is most often associated with love, though it can also happen between friends and so on. C.S. Lewis once said betrayal can happen only when there is love. Betrayal and deceit are two qualities that are abhorrent because they have a very bad effect on the other person, the relationship between them and their future.  The scar of betrayal can last for a very long time. It takes a long period of time to build trust, friendship or relationship but only an uncaring, insensitive moment to betray someone. Betrayal usually involves lying, deceit and hypocrisy. A betraying friend or lover can be many times worse than an enemy. You can forgive your enemy but it is extremely difficult to forgive someone who has betrayed you. The heartaches do heal, though.

Some people view betrayal as a deliberate act and deceit as something convenient --  the latter being just a little less evil.

If you have been betrayed by someone – either a lover or a friend, the smartest thing to do is to break off all contact with the person. That can be hard – but it is usually the best choice.

8/09/2013

The Founders, Atheism, and Deism


None of the Founding Fathers were atheists. Most of the Founders were Deists, which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity.
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If the U.S. was founded on the Christian religion, the Constitution would clearly say so -- but it does not. Nowhere does the Constitution say: "The United States is a Christian Nation", or anything even close to that. In fact, the words "Jesus Christ, Christianity, Bible, Creator, Divine, and God" are never mentioned in the Constitution-- not even once. When the Founders wrote the nation's Constitution, they specified that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." This provision was radical in its day-- giving equal citizenship to believers and non-believers alike.  They wanted to ensure that no religion could make the claim of being the official, national religion, such as England had.

Christian Revisionists often attempt to rewrite history, in much the same way as holocaust deniers do. The men responsible for building the foundation of the United States were men of The Enlightenment, not men of Christianity. They were Deists who did not believe the bible was necessarily true. They were Freethinkers who relied on their reason, not their faith.

And they accepted that even those who did not believe in a Supreme Being were qualified to hold office.

8/07/2013

Global Warming Alarmist Consensus Obliterated by Facts

 

A new, peer reviewed study published in “Energy And Environment” comes to the conclusion that global temperatures have actually been dropping since 1986.  This conclusion, at best, obliterates the claims that there is a global warming consensus.

The  “Meteosat Derived Planetary Temperature Trend  –  1982-2006” study took satellite derived temperature data from 1986-2006 that was collected using a European satellite system which measures thermal infrared radiation (similar to those red to blue heat maps that weather.com uses.) 

“The amazing finding of the present study is that we do not observe global warming in the period 1982-2006, but significant cooling. What could be the cause?

The satellite data are from a reliable origin supported by the European
meteorological community. Their accurate calibration has received due attention and efforts from Eumetsat. Our processing of these data has been simple and straight forward, involving only noon and midnight image composition, averaging and a filter to eliminate cloud effects. We have created similar planetary temperature change images for the unfiltered, 10, 20 and 30 day filtered data, clearly showing convergence towards the longer filters, indicating that cloud influences were effectively removed.
Moreover, we do observe significant temperature increase at some locations which are due to human interventions, and which are quantitatively in line with the theoretically expected effects of these interventions. Therefore we believe the observed planetary temperature decrease for most of the hemisphere to be real.


The cloud filtered temperature change patterns, in figure 2c, indicate that the largest decrease occurs in the more cloudy regions of the hemisphere: the tropics and the temperate zones, while in the desert belt the temperature decrease is much smaller. This suggests that cloudiness changes could be the mechanism behind the observed global cooling since 1982: an increase in cloudiness would decrease global radiation and increase rainfall and evapotranspiration. Both effects tend to decrease the surface temperature.”

LINK TO PAPER (PDF):

On Betrayal


When the people we love or with whom we have a deep connection stop caring, stop paying attention, stop investing and fighting for the relationship, trust begins to slip away and hurt starts seeping in. Disengagement triggers shame and our greatest fears - the fears of being abandoned, unworthy, and unloved. What can make this covert betrayal so much more dangerous than something like a lie or an affair is that we can’t point to the source of our pain - there’s no single event, no obvious evidence of brokenness. 

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Have you been betrayed? Are you still in a relationship with someone who seems like they've stopped caring, stopped investing, stopped paying attention? Do you feel hurt because you still love someone and you’re no longer getting evidence that they love you back?

Sometimes you just have to disengage and stop trying. Free yourself  -- and jettison the baggage for good.


The most difficult part of dealing with obvious betrayal is not just to let the other person go - but to be able to come back, be able to  love again, and have the self-confidence to not be afraid of being vulnerable.

Because betrayal can only happen to those who love.

8/06/2013

How I roll On Google Plus

Everyone has their own individual style on social media. Here is mine, in a nutshell, for whatever it may be worth to you:

First, my life is an open book, so virtually everything I post is public. The other reason I do this is because I think I have a message to deliver, and I want to be able to broadcast it effectively to a large audience.

For circle management, I really only have two main circles -- "friends" - which is where everyone goes initially, and "close friends", which is a circle you earn your way into. More on this in a bit.

When somebody circles me (which happens anywhere between 10 and 20 times a day), if time permits, I check your profile. A complete profile, with a photo of a real person, and at least a couple of posts so I can figure you out, will generally get me to circle you back.

To get into my "close friends" circle - which is the only one I am really interested in, because that is the only one of my circles that has the notifications feature turned on all the way, you need to meet the following general criteria:

1) You need to make posts. People who are inactive or who post rarely hold no interest for me.
2) You need to be an "engager" - That means not only that I see you interact with people on your own posts, but you also actively seek out and interact with people on their posts.
3) You need to be unique in some way - post original or interesting content, engaging, thoughtful content, commentary, etc.
4) I need to see that you are honest, ethical,  and sincere. People who I find out are dishonest, who lie, who are hypocrites, or who hurt others in any way are quickly dumped - as they should be. This includes people who I have gotten close with who later turn out to betray me.

For the remaining people who earn their way into my "close friends" circle, which now numbers about 70 and which I'd like to take up to 100 or so, I am fiercely loyal to you as a friend, even though you may only be a virtual friend and we actually may never meet IRL.

There you go! A complete social media strategy! It works great for me.

8/04/2013

Can There Be Morality Without Religion?


Despite religious rhetoric to the contrary, morals, ethics and laws do not necessarily derive from the Bible. In a group, there are selective pressures that tend to keep people in line. If a member of your tribe is killing other members of your tribe, then the tribesmen will not trust him, and will either kill him, or force him to leave the tribe (banishment), thus making it very difficult for the murderer to pass his genetic/ideological values to the next generation. This is just an example, but there are many more. There is no need for God to sit at the ethical bar; society does that for us as an emergent property of living in large groups.

Religion provides ethical laws given by someone else which are followed out of faith. There is nothing wrong with that. Organized religion can be a powerful force for good. One test of a good ethic is to switch the roles of the individuals and see if the situation is still fair. Another important realization is that there are many valid ways people can live and the freedom of choice is extremely important, because people seeking power and profit over others frequently do so by creating fear, anger and unnecessary laws designed to shift power towards a controlling minority. We do need social laws and we do need an ethical code, but as a race we may be in danger of the masses losing their free will as technology gives governments the power to read minds and manipulate thoughts; technology which will be functionally developed within this century.

I know some atheists who are some of the nicest people I know. Morals can be put in place by religion because you feel a need to please your god, but these people have good morals because they see what makes others happy and feel good, and they've learned to respect others.

Penn Jillette said, "The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn't have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine."

I grew up in a very non-religious liberal Jewish household. I didn't go to temple. It wasn't until much later, when I was married to the same woman, a Christian, for 23 years, that I went to church.

But I didn't learn and aquire my set of moral and ethical values from religion at all. I found God through a personal spiritual path of study and meditation. I suppose you could call that religion, but I do not. A part of my moral belief system tells me to respect the religious faith of my friends without being judgemental. Another part tells me that abortion is morally wrong. But I base that on science, not religion. Science tells us that when an ovum is fertilized by a sperm, we have a human life, and I believe that life must be protected. It does not matter if the fetus is six hours old or six months old.

So, in sum, yes - I believe and know that there can be morality and ethics in the absence of religion. Religion can certainly help, but for people who are able to think, it is not required. You of course may disagree, and if you do, that is fine, because it does not diminish my respect for you as a fellow human being in any way.