Month: August 2013

Every Thing Is Normal

Mother Earth is still in her orbit around Sol, and the crickets are still doing their job in the Georgia nighttime symphony. Football season has arrived, and Barack Obama has done the absolutely predictable thing of dodging responsibility for his actions.

I am watching the Georgia football team get whipped by a hot Clemson team and Alabama beat an over-powered Virginia Tech. The really big news in other locales is that President Obama will put the question of Syrian military strikes to the US Congress.

Wow! His stated reason for doing so is because it is a really important decision, and it is important for the US Congress to have their say in the situation, regardless of the fact that Obama has already decided to kill some Syrians whether we have a vital interest in the Syrian situation, or not.

The time to worry about our interests in Syria are long past. Like melons and other fruits of the field, the longer you wait, the more ripe and rotten things get. Obama was not capable of ascertaining our interests in Syria, or who we should support. Now, all options are bad options, and the fool will wind up supporting a bunch of radical Islamist terrorists in the agency of Al Queda, and other terrorist groups. What a loser Barack Obama has turned out to be.

The Syrian revolt has been going on for about three years, and Barack Obama has made the huge mistake of not identifying our goals in that part of the world. Could it be that he thinks we have no legitimate place in the affairs of the Middle-East? That would partially explain his initial ass-kissing tour after his first election.

The news Sunday morning will be, Alabama wins, and Obama flounders.

What If Jesus Doesn’t Come Again?

If Jesus doesn’t come again that would mean a broken promise. That would un-hinge the entire Christianity thing. Big problem.

This brilliant subject came to me this morning, and it occurred to me that I had never doubted the scriptures at all. As far as I was concerned, Jesus is coming again. This promise was made about two thousand years ago, but we have not seen our Redeemer since.

So, if we are waiting for the Second Coming and it never happens, just when will we as individual Christians figure it out? Yeah, I know this is some pretty loose philosophical thinking, but it is my thinking.

If Jesus does a no-show, does that mean no eternal life? Does it mean that He doesn’t sit at the right hand of God? What about those pearly gates. Will they still be there? Will St Peter get tired of waiting and go out to a permanent lunch?

Christians take everything on faith. That’s a pretty important concept. Everybody, every day takes much of life on faith, like faith the banking system won’t fail, or faith the old Ford will start once more to get them to work, Some people say they don’t believe in God, but put their faith in science. Science gets an overhaul every few years as new discoveries are made, and old beliefs are trashed. I don’t think it would be smart to put one’s faith in science.

Is the Second Coming  just a ruse to keep little guys like me going to church, giving money, and witnessing my faith to the world? If when year after year Jesus doesn’t come, does this mean that I have fallen for a Jesus trap? Am I like the misbegotten souls who hide away in caves waiting for the end of the world?

When I became a Christian I didn’t do it for insurance on the off-chance that God exists. When you become a Christian, you are in it lock, stock, and barrel. You are in for real. That’s why we believe the second coming will be real, even if it happens long past our lifetimes.

We know what to expect.  That is what our faith demands.

The Dirty Little Health Care Secret

In reading the book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I learned about a field of study called, iatrogenesis.

Iatrogenesis is the degree of harm committed on patients by doctors and the health  care systems. In other words, iatrogenesis is all about how many people die because of errors by physicians and hospitals. The numbers are staggering.

According to one source, the number of deaths in the United States due to medical error is approximately 98,000! Remember, this number is from reported deaths, and may or may not be correct depending on how or whether errors are reported within a given hospital system.

The 98,000 to 100,000 number is supported by the references in this Newsweek article.

Other sources credit the number of deaths as over 225,000 patients. This is the number that brings iatrogenesis deaths up to the third largest killer in the nation. Even if this number is not correct, the 98,000 to 100,000 number is roughly equivalent to the deaths that would have been caused by a jumbo jet crashing, everyday.

One thing we do know is that the 100,000 level of iatrogenic deaths is conservative. Some say it is very conservative.

So, how does this affect us today? How does this affect Obama care? Here is my reasoning.

1. The mortality numbers published for the United States show our health system to be more deadly that many other countries. This difference is in large part attributable to our much larger number of doctors, hospitals, MRI and CT Scan machines per capita than any other country in the world.

2. It is obvious that the more health care you get, the greater you are at risk for being killed by the system.

3. According to Nicholas Taleb, the life expectancy of Americans will get longer as our medical care becomes rationed more and more like European health care.

You will notice that I have found one of the only positive things about Obama care. Even though everybody will pay more for healthcare, and everybody will get less healthcare, more people will live through the experience.

We will get the shaft from Obama in our healthcare system. Simply by the principles revealed in iatrogenesis, we should benefit.

How do you like them apples?

Rainy Days And Sundays Are For WordPress

OK. I did the rainy Saturday blog, yesterday. So why am I doing the rainy Sunday thing, today? Easy peasy! It is Sunday and it is raining in Georgia.

As I was running Fox News in the background, today, my attention was claimed by a guy whom I recognized. Shannon Bream was interviewing John Saddington about an iPhone (IOS) app his company is publishing.

John is a member of the WordPress users group here in the Atlanta area. He was a co-organizer of the last Atlanta Word Camp (regional WordPress Conference), and an entrepreneur in his own right. He started as a blogger, and then discovered WordPress. After getting into WordPress, he discovered just how cool the WordPress platform really is. However, John is making WordPress better where all I do is use it and preach about it.

Understand that I am talking about the free software platform (from WordPress.org), not the service (WordPress.com) which is also great although not as flexible as the “.org” package.

WordPress powers about 17% of all the web sites in the world because it is easy to set-up, simple to use, extendable, and scalable to make large web sites. For example, I use WordPress.com for this blog because I get free hosting, but sacrifice the flexibility of add-on modules called plug-ins. Georgia State University uses the downloadable WordPress package to publish all 37,000 web pages a modern university requires.

The reason John was being interviewed is because of the iPhone app. It enables iPhone users to publish photos from their iPhones to WordPress blogs. This may not sound like much, but users will still own the pictures instead of giving up personal ownership to a Facebook or other web service.

This is the ultimate cool for the blogger, and for WordPress blogs.

Thanks to John Saddington and Fox News Sunday for making a rainy Sunday a bit brighter.

Rainy Saturdays Mean An Idle Mind

It’s a rainy Saturday in Atlanta. Now, nothing is wrong with this as I can’t go outside to do yard work. Nor is it an attractive option to get in the car to do some shopping.

So, I did the best thing one can do on a Saturday morning. I cooked breakfast. Now, this was not oatmeal, nor was it some sort of toast and jelly breakfast. I fried up some bacon and eggs, and toasted a bunch of English muffins to go with it.

Bacon is important. When I buy bacon, I always try to get the thick-sliced variety. Plus, I don’t want any sugar cured bacon. Bacon should be smoked, as in hickory cured, or apple wood cured. When in the frying pan it needs to look like ham slices.

Eggs are the one thing where you can ruin a good breakfast. If you buy the regular store brands you will be disappointed. Stores like Publix and Kroger have some great prices on their eggs, but believe me, they are substandard. I have learned to look for cage-free eggs by pretty much any brand. I don’t know what the magic is, but cage free eggs have yellower yellows, and taste one heck of a lot better. It is almost as if you got them from your grandmother’s farm. Cage-free is that good in comparison to the generic store brands.

Cage-free eggs cost at least 30% more, but they are worth it.

Shame on me for not preparing biscuits. It ain’t  grandmaw’s  breakfast without grandmaw’s biscuits. But, I am not grandma, and I can’t do biscuits from scratch. We did miss the biscuits, especially with gravy, but we will soldier on.

I am full, and happy. How’s your Saturday going?

My New Math Career

Yes, I did it. Even though I am officially retired, I have started college almost all over, again. Well, not exactly all over. I do have a couple of college degrees, and I wanted to take a couple of math courses at a local university.

Part of the entrance requirements is that I had to enter a degree program, no matter how many degrees I already have. So, I signed up to be a mathematics major just to take a course in Linear Algebra.You see, I have a latent interest in things statistical, although I have not harbored any ambition to be a statistician. However, after starting this particular gambit I just may become one.

Most people think math is infinitely boring, and I thought so when as an undergraduate I did the minimum work to get passing grades. Now, I know better. Mathematics is important because we live in a world of numbers. If you really want to be smart, you need to understand numbers.

We see mathematics being applied all around us everyday. When you read a news article about a new study, the authors of that study depended on some math magic to get their numbers to work out so they can continue to get government grants. Government grants are academic welfare. Somebody has to fund all those stories claiming to show that watching Fox News can turn you into a Republican.

I have started looking into some of these studies, and you don’t have to be a mathematician to see that some basic assumptions are BS. Indeed, many times the arithmetic is done correctly, but the assumptions are all wrong. There was one psychological study, recently, that proposed that people who didn’t totally buy into catastrophic climate change also believed that the NASA moon shot never happened, and was filmed in movie studios on earth. This particularly idiotic study was dubbed the “Moon Hoax Study”.

Maybe with my new math skills, I can do some studies and make some of that government money, too. All I have to do is make up some stuff, and then throw in some impressive statistical math for looks. Maybe I will be published by Rolling Stone magazine.

Nate Silver – Lost In The Noise

The book is, “The Signal And The Noise: Why Some Predictions Fail – And Some Don’t”, by Nate Silver. This book is about the art and science of forecasting, and how some predictions are fairly accurate, and some are not. Being a self-proclaimed statistician and economist, Nate Silver has been a successful predictor in baseball, political elections, and on-line poker. Just winning in poker is impressive to me, but Silver managed to put his expertise into computer programs, and that’s where he makes his money, now.

The first part of the book is filled with stories of his salad days in the poker business, and how when the field got over run with players, he found it tougher to earn money. He has been successful in predicting political elections, using his own methodology.

Although being good at mathematical statistics, he comes up short when addressing scientific issues. It is not that Silver is incapable of the science, but he is an economist, and has misinterpreted noise as signal, a common problem that Silver is supposed to be writing about.

Climate Consensus – Silver realizes that the so-called consensus of climate scientists is defined from a very simple statement. I accept the so-called consensus view, and so do most climate skeptics. My cat would accept the consensus view which says,”The greenhouse effect is real. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Increasing carbon dioxide causes additional warming in the atmosphere, and mankind is the source of some of this carbon dioxide.”  OK. That’s it. Silver recognized this.

Extreme Weather – There is no evidence that accumulating carbon dioxide, or global warming will cause weather to become more extreme. More correctly, the available evidence shoes that global warming DOES NOT cause extreme weather. Period. That is an easy research project, The data is readily available on NOAA web sites. Silver did not do his homework.

Climate Models – Silver argued that climate model predictions are within a reasonable error, and if several are averaged, a more accurate forecast is achieved. Averaging forecasts is a theme that runs throughout other chapters. He argues that averaging several climate forecasts results in more accuracy. I think Silver seriously misreads the science on this one.

Climate models need to be reasonable models that can stand on their own. There are parameters in the model input that need to be realistic, but instead are just assumptions. They have shown over time that assumptions about clouds, aerosols, and sensitivity to carbon dioxide are significantly incorrect.

It is widely agreed among climate scientists (not modelers) that the models are running hot, meaning that their forecasts of global temperatures are out of bounds on the warm side. Silver interviewed Gavin Schmidt, a well know NASA modeler and political activist, but did not investigate the actual record and physics of the models. Schmidt makes his living running models for NASA, and is known to suffer from a political bias in his science. Silver scores a fail on science.

ClimateGate – Nate Silver really struck out on this one. He thinks that Climategate was all about a monthly published global temperature record called HADCRUT. This stands for the Hadley Center in Britain, and the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Sadly, it is obvious that Silver never researched Climategate, and has totally missed the mark. Climagegate had nothing to do with the global temperature product.

Climategate was all about prominent scientists from the University of East Anglia fudging data; publishing fraudulent academic studies; endeavoring to silence skeptics by controlling the peer review process with well known scientific journals; and illegally conspiring to refuse Freedom Of Information Act petitions for data paid for by the public. These rogue British scientists did so in league with some American scientists, guilty of the same scientific crimes. The most infamous American was Dr Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University.

Silver defended Mann by saying that Mann had been cleared by a group of his peers. You should remember that academics are rather like cops and doctors. They do not squeal on their  buddies. Penn State actually gave Mann a  whitewash, not an investigation. Not once was a complainant questioned, and the Climategate emails were not introduced into evidence. All this information is available, and Silver believed Mann instead of doing the work necessary to find the truth. Mann is a bad apple.