The World Held Hostage 6

graphic from Charlie Hebdo web page

Graphic From Charlie Hebdo Web Page

For two days this week the world was held hostage by three terrorists weilding assault rifles in Paris, France. The French police are denied the right to carry fire arms, and were sitting ducks for the terrorists, as were the journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo,  a magazine that specializes in publishing satirical articles and cartoons.

Thirteen people were murdered, including an unarmed French policeman. The terrorist spotted the wounded policeman, and walked up to him and killed him with his rifle. The terrorists, as of this morning, are dead. The French police stormed the terrorists who were hiding in a large printing plant, and they also killed an allied terrorist in a Jewish deli where there were hostages.

One of favorite targets of Charlie Hebdo is Mohammed, the self proclaimed prophet of Islam. Another target of Charlie Hebdo is Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God for Christians. Christians don’t like the defilement of Jesus, but instead of beheading those who do, Christians pray for those who blaspheme.

Muslims treat Mohammed like a god, and in their eyes it is more than a sin to criticize Muhammad. Indeed, our backward Islamic friends consider any slight of Mohammed to be a crime punishable by death.

Islam is steeped in ancient tribal traditions, like cutting off the hand of a thief; executing a woman for adultery while the equally guilty man goes free; and its priesthood (Imams) issuing death warrants for perceived slights by anyone who does not agree with their world view. Islam is all about death, and a dead prophet.

Islam cannot exist in a world of competing ideas and religions without resorting to violence. Christianity has prospered for over two thousand years in this kind of world, even with physical persecution.  There is no negotiating with Muslims, and any words contrary to their belief system are not to be tolerated.

Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

To make matters worse, there is an entire class of people in the Western world who excuse the actions of the misguided world of Islam. Included in this portion of our population is our very own President, Barack Obama. If you remember when he started his presidential campaign, many of us noted that Obama had no professional record of any note, and that his childhood was spent in households where the dominant talk and thought were alternately socialistic and Islamic.

President Obama may be a very smart man, but he has been deluded by the bankrupt ideas of his parents. Now, we see the hypocrisy of the media in not vetting the lackluster man who would become our President.

We can vote out the liberal, politically correct and intellectually dishonest Democrats, but we can do very little about the world wide problem of Islamic terrorism without a leader in our country prepared to meet the challenge. The United States has been fulfilling a leadership role in the protection of democracy and freedom around the world since World War I in the early twentieth century. Backing down from this very important responsibility is exactly the wrong thing to do.

President Barack Obama does not get it.

The Dirty Little Health Care Secret 6

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?

Doom! Gloom! Boom! 6

We get lots of propaganda from union leaders and politicians that capitalism has failed. We hear from the main stream media that climate change is the biggest threat to humanity since Godzilla. The medical community almost daily comes up with a new way you can die if you eat the wrong stuff.

Doom! Gloom! Boom! In the last century with the election of Bill Clinton, the big scare was AIDS. According to the simpletons in the Clinton Administration, AIDS was the biggest threat to the human race since Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt in the aftermath of Sodom and Gomorrah. Spicy language not necessary.

It is true that large populations in Africa are at risk of contracting the AIDS virus, but that is a direct result of a cultural standard of infidelity in marriage. Thanks to President George W Bush, many in Africa are being educated as to what kills people, and are now receiving treatment for that social disease.

How do all these alarmist claims originate? Most alarming, gloom and doom claims are the product of the same set of people that brought forward the last round of alarming predictions. Most famous is Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 book, Population Bomb, where he forecast billions of people in famine by 1980 because of the increase on world population, and the shrinking of the earth’s resources.

None of his predictions even came close to being true, and he has tried the same crap again, and again. His notable fans include Dr John Holdren, co-author with Ehrlich, and personal science adviser to Barack Obama. You will note that crazy people hang together.

It is no wonder that the American people are viewing so-called climate change with a jaundiced eye. The reason is that none of the well publicized increases in long term global average temperatures, extreme weather, or other signature global warming events have ever come to pass. There is not only no evidence of extreme weather events due to global warming, but the evidence NOAA has refutes that claim, altogether.

You can’t fool all the people all the time. However, Paul R Erhlich and others of his ilk also believe that if you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.

Not only are these predictions of doom, gloom, and boom false, they are the product of a political scam. Who will benefit, you might ask. The politicians, socialists, and people who want to ruin your life are the first ones in line to nationalize you retirements savings, your bank accounts, and your thoughts.

All this stuff is a scientific and political scam.

Downton Abbey And Asheville’s Biltmore Estate 6

Highclere Castle - Television's Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle – Television’s Downton Abbey

My wife and I are currently enthralled with the PBS television series, Downtown Abbey. It is a series about an extremely rich English family at the turn of the century. We are currently watching Season 3.

The story is multi-generational, but centers on the Earl of Downton, his wife and mother, and their three daughters. Of course, the entire servant staffs’ stories are intertwined with the upper class, and one daughter even runs away with the chauffeur. The stories about the daughters are not those of a randy bunch of girls, but are told in a realistic and sensitive way.

You get into the whole turn-of-the-century English Lord and Lady thing. It is very entertaining.

The unspoken star of the series is the house, itself. The actual structure used is Highclere Castle, a famous and picturesque castle in its own right.

Picture of Biltmore House

The Biltmore Estate – Ashville, NC

This last week, we made the trip to Asheville, North Carolina and visited the Biltmore House. This is the house built by George Washington Vanderbilt II, grand-son of the fabulously wealthy shipping magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt. G W received about $2 million after granddad’s death in 1877, equivalent to almost $40 million in today’s dollars.

The Biltmore estate was originally composed of 125,000 acres in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. It is only about 8,000 acres today. There is the Biltmore House itself, a winery, several gardens, and other attractions on the grounds. Having consumed a couple of bottles of their house brand of wine since the visit, I can say that the wine is generally good. Specifically, the Pinot Grigi0 and Cabernet Blanc are good, and the Cabernet Sauvignon is drinkable. The prices ran about $15 to $20 per bottle, which was a bit high for the quality received.

On the other hand, what do you expect from a tourist operation like the Biltmore House? Certainly, many of the visitors know about wines, but I have a suspicion that many do not. It certainly seems to me that they could profitably operate a whiskey distillery, or at least a brew pub. The laws in North Carolina may prohibit those activities, though.

The Biltmore house contains 175,000 square feet, divided into 250 rooms. Thirty-five are guest rooms and forty-three are bathrooms. When visiting, you must use public restrooms in another structure. So, take care of details before entering the house.

We didn’t allow time to get down to the basement which houses the servants quarters, the swimming pool and the engineering spaces. When the house was constructed, the electric power world had not matured, with Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse fighting for supremacy between Edison’s Direct Current standard, and Westinghouse and Tesla’s Alternating Current. The Biltmore House was therefore wired for AC and DC. The first electric service was a DC generator in the basement. When an AC generating plant was built in Asheville, the Biltmore’s DC generator was changed out for a bank of mercury vapor rectifiers to change the city’s AC to DC for the house.

When you tour the extravagant rooms of the Biltmore House, you cannot but help to compare it to the house in Downton Abbey. George Vanderbilt had provided not only comfortable rooms for guests, but he also provided three kitchens to feed them, libraries for reading and intellectual pursuits, stables to care for polo and carriage horses, an indoor swimming pool, and numerous gardens and walking paths to keep those guests entertained. The house itself is a beautiful structure, and from almost any part of the house you have breathtaking views of the North Carolina mountains.

The designer of the house was Richard Morris Hunt, an architect of note who had designed several of the Vanderbilt houses. The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who numbered the landscape design of New York City’s Central Park among his successes.

Similar to the story in Downton Abbey, I could not help but be struck by the sheer extravagance of the two houses, and the wastefulness represented by those estates of the very rich. Indeed, the Vanderbilt houses in America represent what has become known as the guilded age. We may think that the American guilded age and the lavish British Victorian age are long gone, but the very rich are still with us.

Similar to lottery winners, even the Vanderbilts ran the risk of running out of wealth because of their extravagant ways. The estate is still owned by the family, but is operated as a business. Since it is in private hands, I don’t know how well the business performs, but you can see everything for about $50.00, US currency. Or, you can buy a pass good for one year and unlimited visits for $130.00. Equestrian activities cost more.

Who Pays For Scientific Research? 5

Every day we read news releases about new scientific developments, and about how the current administration is entranced with protecting the climate, and pushing “green” technology and jobs. The problem is that many of the news releases are just that, news releases meant for publicity and do not herald the great break-through they promise. You can know this by making a note of these extraordinary pieces of scientific news, and by consulting your notes six to twelve months after the news release. If you do a Google search you will learn that a significant portion of those announcements did not mature into their promise.

This is not unusual. Scientists, universities, foundations, and government officials who have approved massive funding for some of these projects are under pressure to produce, so they put the pressure on the institution that got the funding. From there, the scientists are pushed to announce something. Of course, these scientists are basically dishonest in the first place, and would do anything to keep getting government grant money for their nefarious and various projects. They have to make a living, too.

The Federal Government funds the lion’s share of scientific research. The following graph shows the Federal funding for research in fiscal years 1995 – 2011.

File:U.S. research funding.png

As you can see, the spending on research in 2011 was about $60 Billion. That spending includes Defense, NASA, National Science Foundation, and about a dozen other departments and offices of the United States Government. Most of these offices dispense these funds to other institutions like universities and think tanks in addition to funding internal programs.

The Federal Government supports a huge amount of university scientific research in this country. In 2009, that amounted to the Federal Government supporting about $33 billion of universities’ total annual R&D spending of $55 billion. As you can quickly calculate, this is sixty percent of the research done at our universities.  About seventy percent of science and engineering graduate students are funded by these Federal funds. This is an important fact.

President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget included $2.56 Billion for climate research. Since the science of global warming and climate change is settled (according to a large number of people in the research business), why does the Federal Government continue to spend billions of dollars in this field. Could it be that they still don’t know what is going on?

If you are a cynical character such as I, you will consider the facts as outlined. Climate scientists education are paid by the Federal Government. Climate scientists swear that global warming is a threat to society if we don’t do something about it. The Federal Government says it can do something about global warming by establishing carbon taxes and strangling the US economy by implementing inefficient energy sources, i.e., wind power and solar power. The Federal Government pays for climate science PhD’s education, and it gets the research it demands from the academic community. University programs cannot exist without Federal funding, and the Government cannot implement a carbon tax without the questionable climate research being done.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the university system and the Federal Government. This relationship results in an insidious culture with corrupt science, money, and the power.

I would be overjoyed for someone to tell me how government funding of science can have any good result. The fact is that the government simply cannot manage an economy, much less the broad and complex world of science. Do you remember Solyndra?

The citizens and taxpayers of the United States pay for all this research. Some of it is over the top. Some is useless. When the Federal Government funds academics, things are unavoidably political, and science becomes a charade that makes losers of us all.

So, What’s In Your Future? 3

You have the same future as I. You will not make it out of this world alive.

I went shopping at Walmart this afternoon for some odds and ends, including some anti-acid stomach medicine. Walmart usually has good prices for this kind of stuff, and I will occasionally find some other bargains while just roaming around the store. While I was perusing the shelves in the pharmacy area, I began to wax a bit philosophic about all the products and their uses.

There were medicines to take care of indigestion and other digestive problems. There were some prominent displays of medicants to take care of the other end, too.

Then there was the big pharmacy counter where there was always a line of people waiting to pick up their prescriptions. I was musing that these drugs would be meant for mitigating high blood pressure, correcting heart rhythms, combating cholesterol, prohibiting conception, helping to expel waste, correct coughs, and make things generally upright. Medical science has come a long way in the last fifty years, and now there is a medication for almost every possible ailment, and some conditions that are not ailments.

Of course none of this is surprising to anyone at all. I realized that people rarely die from insanity or other mental problems. The brain can become diseased, i.e., tumors or Alzheimer’s. Generally speaking, the brain probably has a wear mechanism such that it, too, will quit working after a while. It seems that if the brain, like the rest of the body, is exercised continually, that organ most likely will last longer than otherwise.

What kills people is that our bodies wear out. We are like automobiles that are being driven varying distances under varying conditions. Along the way, cars get tune ups, but we don’t . There is no way to replace our spark plugs. However, there are ways to clean our fuel lines, but they are not very safe. You can replace a fuel pump on an automobile, but we have yet to learn how to reliably replace hearts. Kidneys, livers, and other organs can be handled, but they are in perpetual short supply.

So, we find ourselves wearing out and running down with one system after another in partial or total failure. Our internal computer does not automatically understand what is happening to our hearts, bellies, or kidneys. It only feels what the sensors were designed to tell us. We only know about the pain, and we sometimes don’t know the source of that pain.

Internal organs don’t usually have nerve endings like those on the skin. I am not sure how pain is signaled to the brain, but I do know that my former cancerous kidney was almost asymptomatic. There was no pain, and there were no symptoms.

Our hearts wear out. Our abused livers and kidneys falter. Our mufflers develop problems, and our emissions become critical.

What does not change for many people is how they think, and how they look at life. I have often said that attitude is everything, and sometimes it is. When we face life and our progression into eternity with a positive attitude, treating others as we would wish to be treated, then we can say that life is worth living. Life around others has a synergy. We feed off each other, positively or negatively.

We are important to each other.

How About Helping The Mentally Ill? 5

I cannot account for the propensity of some people to kill their brothers and sisters. We can all understand hurting and killing done in times of passion, but cold-blooded killing has no explanation. For thousands of years men have murdered their peers, and their wives for different reasons. Also, for thousands of years men will occasionally murder other people without apparent reason. When people are murdered in quantity, we call it a massacre.

In the case of the Newtown massacre we will never find a reason, just a maladjusted young man who for years the system has known as a problem. It seems this is a recurring theme, and we never connect the dots.

The truth is that we know who these people are in our society, we just don’t choose to do anything about it. Their parents know they have a problem, yet, there is no help offered those parents even when a young person who shows all the signs of being a danger to himself or to others.

They have been in and out of special programs all their lives. They have gotten the attention of school teachers, counselors, and psychologists all their lives. Yet, we see it as an invasion of the child’s rights and the family’s privacy to do something about the problem.

Most of all, we are too cheap to do anything about the problem.

It is time to do something for our mentally ill. We owe it to ourselves, and the murdered kids at Newtown.

Florida Turns Education On Its Racial Head 9

The Florida State Board of Education thinks they are taking the easy way out with their latest set of goals for students. They have arrived at a race based set of goals that sound sort-of racist. Or are they?

This is it in a nutshell:

By the year 2018 the goals for the state of Florida are for students in the following racial groups to achieve as follows. There are other goals, but these are the salient ones related to race:

In percent at or above grade level:

Asian students: 90%  reading:/92% in math.

White students: 88% reading/86% math. Current reading -> 69% 

Hispanic students: 81%reading/80% math. Current reading -> 53%

Black students: 74% reading/74% math. Current reading -> 38%

It is pretty obvious that nobody thinks the Asian community is in trouble. From what I have seen of these hard-working people, they make fine American citizens, assume individual responsibility, and become leaders in our communities.

The current figures made available in the article let us know the degree to which the students in the Florida public schools are getting the shaft. Those numbers are awful for every group for which I have data.

The problem is not a lack of effort or money to educate those kids. The problem is not the teachers, or the Florida State Board of Education. The problem is the culture of the kids and their families. The kids are capable of learning, but get no help at home, or worse, their cultures, i.e., gangsta & prison wannabes, are anti-education. Sometimes it is not cool to be educated if you are in certain sub-cultures.

As a matter of fact, the Florida educators have set goals that may be impossible to achieve with their five-year plan. Given the state of things, today, I would say that there’s not much hope for the Florida public schools simply because of the education-scoffers and anti-education attitude prevalent in many cultural sub-groups.

Now we know why so many people in Florida vote Democratic. They are not educated enough to understand the real issues, but they do understand liberal and socialistic handouts.

Hat tip to Instapundit & Small Dead Animals

Should Convicted Felons Be Allowed To Vote? 6

Your answer to this question depends on your race, ethnic background, cultural heritage, and whether you got enough sleep last night. Everybody has an opinion

In today’s Washington Post there is a story about the NAACP (National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People) running to the United Nations ( Oh, my!) to squeal on us for some states not allowing felons to vote. Now, the twist is that most states don’t allow felons to vote, but most restore that right after a person has served out their time.

The states that do not restore these rights are Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia. These states are highly contested battle ground states, and activist organizations like the NAACP know full well that most of the felons in and out of prison in these states can make the difference in this Presidential election if they vote for the Democrat.

Thugs traditionally vote for the Democrat candidate. Strange, isn’t it? The common ground between felons and the Democrat Party is corruption. Think, “Birds of a feather…”, and all that.

OK. The NAACP says the whole thing is racist, but that’s not necessarily so. It just happens that most people in some jails are black, but not because they are black.

There is no evidence of racism to support that thesis. What we have is a statistical correlation, and there is no evidence of racial discrimination that puts these people in their situation. Witness the millions of successful black entrepreneurs, academics, and professionals who are doing well by anyone’s standards.

How did they stay out of jail? We don’t read about their statistics. There are lots of very successful black people in the USA.

Race is seen in almost every facet of life, but that in itself is not racist. We all know it when we see a black person, or a white person, or a person with Asian features. Recognizing these things is not racist. It is natural, and we should rejoice in our differences and likenesses.

The NAACP will see race in everything, therefore everything is racist. That is how they raise money. If your only living is made by going around screaming, “Racism!”, “Racism!”, that is what you will do.

The question was, “Should convicted felons be allowed to vote?” My answer is, no.

However, once a person has paid their debt to society, they should be invited back to live like the rest of us, with a complete set of rights.

The funny thing about this situation is that if the laws were different in those states under discussion, those felons that become ex-convicts would probably not vote, anyway.

Well, maybe they would if somebody paid them. Nah! That could never happen in the Democrat Party.

Do Old Folks Pass More Gas? 6

Yes, we do. I hate to admit it, but it is true. Some people even get the walking farts as proclaimed by Larry The Cable Guy. Life is not all roses.

A conversation arose in my household as how we treated our children about those little gaseous events. I am a big proponent of MANNERS. My parents were insistent that their children were courteous to others. If you are a advocate of farting in public, you didn’t make the grade. There was something wrong with your upbringing.

The problem comes when you have grandchildren. Suddenly, farting is funny. Yes, our children are working on manners for these little animals. Somehow, it is not as important as it use to be to for the little ones to manage their farts.

One of the impediments of teaching kids to not fart in public is grandparents. You see, we remember the agony of our kids inability to contain their gaseous effluents. It is downright funny, now. It was not funny for kids to let one a loud one go in church, or in school. Other, more lowly born children do those things.

So, you get a blog about farts instead of about the old farts running the country. I better quit, now, before my wife discovers what I have doing online.

Remember, keep your kids in line over the farting issue. Have fun with your grandkids. That’s what life is all about.