Friday, July 28, 2006

Sulfur to slow down global warming?
Injecting sulfur into the atmosphere to slow down global warming is worthy of serious consideration, according to Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego.
...He adds that his experiment should only be used as an emergency measure: “the possibility of the albedo enhancement scheme should not be used to justify inadequate climate policies but merely to create a possibility to combat potentially drastic climate heating.”

But it is easy to predict that some people will use it to justify inadequate climate policies. And what are the side effects? Eg., will this sulfur end up as acid rain when it falls back to earth on forest fires?

Digital TV coming

Legislation passed by the Senate ... would require broadcasters to end their traditional analog transmissions by Feb. 17, 2009, and send their signals digitally.
...Under the converter box program, consumers with analog sets would be able to request two, $40 coupons to help buy the set-top boxes, which are expected to cost $50 to $60 each.Democratic lawmakers and consumer groups say that the $1.5 billion would fall far short of helping pay for every set eligible for a converter box.
...There is no income cap for those who may request the coupons. GOP supporters such as the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, have said that lawmakers do not expect to subsidize wealthier homes.

There are several things easy to predict:

1) If an income cap is not instituted, wealthier homes will grab up the converter coupons, resulting in not enough for the poor. Even if Congress decides to allocate enough funds and safegurads to provide for a converter for every poor family, they will probably not institute an effective information system, and many of the poor will not know about the program, or will not know have the means to get the coupons.

2) Crime will go up. The poor depend heavily on TV for their entertainment. They can watch it in the relative safety of their homes. It costs less to buy and operate than a car, which many poor people don't have. In many parts of the country, they don't even have access to public transportation. Once they have paid for a used TV, or paid off the layaway cost, has negligible costs.
For a minority, this will lead directly to crime, to steal a converter or digital TV or acquire the money to do so. Mostly, crime will increase because a few will steal large numbers of converters to sell cheaply to the more honest poor people.

Let the punishment fit the crime

In regards to the Boston Big Dig tunnel that is falling apart because of poor construction and materials, which came to light when part of the ceiling fell down on a car and killed a passenger:

Attorney General Tom Reilly has also launched a criminal investigation into the construction to determine if involuntary manslaughter charges are warranted.

It seems to me that involuntary manslaughter is too light a charge if it is found that inferior materials were knowingly used in order to improve profits.

economic results corrected downward

updated 10:18 a.m. ET, Fri., July. 28, 2006

Along with the latest GDP report, the government issued annual revisions that showed economic growth was slightly less than previously estimated for 2003, 2004 and 2005.
As a result, the economy last year grew by 3.2 percent, rather than 3.5 percent. In 2004, economic activity expanded by 3.9 percent, instead of 4.2 percent. And in 2003, the economy’s growth was 2.5 percent, versus 2.7 percent.

Wealthy Republican politicians and financial people keep saying they don't understand why the public pessimistic in spite of all the reports of a rosy economy. As has been noted, much of this is due to the fact that the rosy economy has benefitted only a small percentage of the super-rich.
Now we find that the economy was not really as rosy as some thought; so the public was right.

childhood roots of conservatism

A study published late last year in the Journal of Research in Personality reported a link between certain childhood personality traits and adult political orientation in a test group followed over two decades. As nursery schoolers, the future conservatives were described as easily victimized, indecisive, rigid, fearful and inhibited. The budding liberals were described as self-reliant, prone to developing close relationships, energetic and somewhat dominating.

I read a study several years ago of adopted children that found evidence of a inherited component to conservatism.
I have a disagreement with some comments on the research study in the second link I gave. They talked about left-wingers in totalitarian regimes. I would say that if a regime is totalitarian, it is not liberal, regardless of what it calls itself. President Lincoln is said to have commented "How many legs does a horse have if you call a tail a leg? Four, calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

welfare by any other name;_ylt=Am7hwTW27f4bDfhw7V2DOUes0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OTB1amhuBHNlYwNtdHM-

Shortsighted planning and faulty computer equipment led to long delays by the Small Business Administration in approving loans to companies that were slammed by Gulf Coast hurricanes last year, congressional investigators say.

In my experience, small business owners are usually Republican. The Federal government is currently dominated by Republicans. These people don't believe government should help the disadvantaged - unless, of course, they are the ones who become disadvantaged.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

? lowest bidder

I wonder if the Massachusetts Turnpike that is falling apart was built by the lowest bidder? In such projects, if the lowest bidder is chosen, it may result in unacceptable work. On the other hand, if the project is not required to choose the lowest bidder, it increases the possibility of graft and/or favoritism. I would expect this would be the case whether it be a government or private project.

our government hides cancer risk

Growing scientific evidence suggests the most widespread industrial contaminant in drinking water — a solvent used in adhesives, paint and spot removers — can cause cancer in people....TCE, which is also widely used to remove grease from metal parts in airplanes and to clean fuel lines at missile sites, is known to cause cancer in some laboratory animals. EPA was blocked from elevating its assessment of the chemical's risks in people by the Defense Department, Energy Department and NASA, all of which have sites polluted with it.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Let us eat cake

Firefighters who want to live in high-priced cities can work two jobs, said W. Michael Cox, chief economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. “I think it’s great,” he said. “It gives you portfolio diversification in your income.”

This attitude shows why the Republicans' goal of doing away with inheritance taxes is so importance. We need to make sure we continue to have people like W. Michael Cox in power, who are not contaminated by ideas of the common masses.

Woman scorned?

Headline of an article I didn't waste my time opening :

Coulter: Clinton a 'latent homosexual'
Maybe she made a pass at Clinton and he turned her down.

Recruiting chutzpa

Don't you love it when a recruiter tells you he doesn't have work for you, but wants you to give him leads to other people for the jobs for which he's rejected you.

Stay cooler and save money

In the summertime, turning off lightbulbs will keep the room cooler while also saving money. And of course, when we save energy, we are keeping the local (urban heat islands) and global climate a little cooler. If you don't think a light bulb gives off heat, try touching it after it has been on briefly. Even flourescent bulbs will have an effect. I worked in a building where the owner of the building had the janitors turn the lights off at night, unless it was going to be below a certain temperature in the winter, when they were left on, because they added heat.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Earth dropped from NASA mission statement

NASA has reportedly eliminated the promise "to understand and protect our home planet" from its mission statement.

The statement now proclaims the agency's mission is "to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research."

Another example of the Bush administration's interference with the reporting of scientific news they don't like? Such as :

U.S. space agency NASA says 2005 was the warmest globally in more than a century and that the preceding three years were also the warmest since the 1890s.

I think we should continue exploring space, but what's the use of doing that if we continue to devastate our own home planet.

Congressional cost-of-living pay hike legislation passes for 7th straight year

On June 13, 2006:

House lawmakers Tuesday embraced a $3,300 pay raise that will increase their salaries to $168,500.

Congressional retirement

From the July 23, 2006 Q&A column of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, concerning Congressional retirement pay:

The amount of pay depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary, according to the Congressional Research Service report. By law, the starting amount cannot exceed 80 percent of their final salary.
Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at age 62, upon completing five years of service. Those who served only two years would only be eligible if they had five years of civilian federal service, including their time in Congress. But one could become eligible for retirement pay at age 50, if 20 years of service has been completed or at any age after completing 25 years of service.
Members elected after 1984 participate in the Federal Employees' Retirement System, unless they decline. They also contribute to Social Security.

There are members of Congress that are calling for increasing the age at which we can get Social Security retirement. I haven't heard any of them advocate doing the same for their own pensions.

Friday, July 21, 2006

breakfast fundamentalists

Why are some people so rigid about what is proper to eat at what meal? If a person is happier sticking to the food that is common their culture for a particular meal, fine. But, why should they make a big deal about what other people eat? Breakfast cereals didn't even exist all that long ago. When I eat at home, I eat the same things for breakfast that I eat at other meals, and guess what - nobody's ever arrested me for it! Just another example of how some people are really threatened by anything different, no matter how innocuous. But they are happy to benefit from the creations, such as air conditioning and cars, of those who did think differently from others.

potential life

Some people who are opposed to using human embyos for stem cell research because they are "potential" humans. Well, when a cell is taken from a fetus to test for birth defects, that cell is a potential human. Eggs and sperm are potential humans. So if you are a virgin, look at all the potential humans you are preventing from existing! Of course, any time you become pregnant, that precludes many other humans from ever existing, because of all the combinations of sperm and egg which will not come to pass.

more tips on staying cool

If you are w/o air conditioning in your car, you can carry one or two of those frozen blue gel packs, and lean it against your leg, or put it on your lap. It really does help.

If you are w/o air conditioning at home, after you shower/bathe, don't dry off, except your hands and feet.

If you are using a window fan to bring in the cooler night air, it works best to have it blowing out one window, and having one or more windows open in another part of the house. That will cool all the area in between.

simplified Shakespeare

Some people have gotten hysterical over simplified versions of Shakespeare. A man in a poetry group I was in wrote a very funny poem about it. Some of the examples I have seen have had pretty graceless language. But I see nothing wrong with the concept of introducing students to Shakespeare with a version more understandable to today's people. My first introduction to Shakespeare was versions by Charles and Mary Lamb. They made me interested in reading Shakespeare in the original.

I've never seen anybody complain about translations of Chaucer, or translations from a foreign language. English has changed enough since Shakespeare's time to be a semi-foreign language.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

not getting money's worth

I have been at concerts few times with friends, where the sound was way too loud. At that volume, it was no longer music. When I told my friends we should leave because we weren't enjoying it, their first reaction was that we should stay, so we wouldn't lose our money. But what we spent our money for was enjoyment. Not only were we not getting any enjoyment, we were miserable; we were getting negative enjoyment. The longer we stayed, the more in the hole we got. Also, life if short. The time you spend at a concert that is making you miserable is time out of your life that will not be available for actual enjoyment, or at least non-misery.

not a bleeding heart liberal


"The unexpected storms that swept through St. Louis Wednesday night left the region stewing in sweat this afternoon, as nearly half a million AmerenUE customers coped without power. ";_ylt=Alj87fLH3MVDNbdtCBBS6RoDW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTBhcmljNmVhBHNlYwNtcm5ld3M-

"NEW YORK (Reuters) - Temperatures will average above normal in most of the United States in August, extending what has been the warmest year on record so far, the U.S.
National Weather Service said on Thursday."

I sent the following letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It may be harsh, but I am really fed up. Just a few weeks ago, at a political forum, a Democratic candidate said he is an expert in water quality "but, I am not an environmentalist", as if being an environmentalist were something to be ashamed of.

I'm sorry for people who were affected by the storm in your area, and in other areas of the country and world that are being devastated by weather unprecedented disasters. But we reap what we sow. This is exactly the type of problem weather scientists have been warning about for years, and that environmentalists have tried to forestall, to no avail. If you have not been trying to reduce your use of energy, you have gotten what you deserved. Unfortunately, the few who have tried to be good citizens of the country and world have to suffer along with you. But at least you can be happy, because Congress and the President are working hard to pass a constitutional amendment banning a handful of attention-seekers from hurting your oh so delicate feelings by misusing the American flag.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ignorance not bliss

It is said that ignorance of the law is no defense. I don't know if that is always true legally; it may be. But, if it is true in an absolute sense, it is unjust. (For those who remember the subjunctive tense, this is not it, because I don't know whether or not it is true.)

Eg., suppose the speed limit is reduced from 55 mph to 25 mph with no signs to let people know. I would consider it unjust to give drivers traffic tickets for not slowing down when there is no way they could know that the speed limit had changed. Also, if a sign were posted, but hidden by bushes, or blacked out by vandals, drivers should be ticketed (assuming, of course, that they were not the ones responsible for the sign not being legible.)

Any absolute statement should give pause for thought on whether it really makes sense.

Snake with eating disorder?

Surgery removes electric blanket from python
12-foot snake inadvertently swallows blanket, including cord, control box

Statute of limitations too limited

CHICAGO - Special prosecutors investigating allegations that police tortured nearly 150 black suspects in the 1970s and ’80s said Wednesday they found evidence of abuse, but any crimes are now too old to prosecute.
In three of the cases, the prosecutors said the evidence was strong enough to have warranted indictments and convictions.
“It is our judgment that the evidence in those cases would be sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Robert D. Boyle and Edward J. Egan wrote.

The statute of limitations for this is only 3 years. That is way too short. I would like to know if all assault crimes have a statute of limitations of 3 years, or only those in the "law" and "justice" fields.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

positive thinking?

"Norwegian scientists study hypothermia"

I found it amusing to see this article posted today, when almost the whole country is sweltering under a heat wave. Especially because I don't have air-conditioning in my car or home. Luckily, I do have air conditioning at work. Besides fans at home, I have a spray bottle with water in it that I spray myself with if I get to hot. I try to remember to carry it in my car when I go out in the heat. Well, at least I'm not contributing as much as most people to global warming! I'll try to think of this study on hypothermia when I'm driving home in a few minutes. It's after 8:35pm, and 92 F.

An example of positive feedback is that the hotter it is, the more power people use for air conditioning and water, which causes more local and global warming. Presumbably, it causes less power to be used for heat in the winter. I wonder whether it balances out.

An example of how schools don't educate people in many areas of importance is a lady I knew a few years ago. She was a college graduate, and didn't know that using water uses power. She thought you just turn on the tap and the water comes out. Of course, it takes energy to purify water before and after it is used, and to move it from one place to another. I would say a lot of history instruction could be replaced with more useful courses. We should have basic history instruction, but being required to memorize dates and names long enough to pass a test is really useless. I occasionally use algebra and even calculus in everyday life, but I have never found it harmful that I don't know the names of most of the kings of England and when they ruled. Besides, if schools tried to teach history which was true enough to be of possible use, traditionalists would raise a firestorm of protest, thus adding to global warming :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Why math scores are low

U.S. students habitually score poorly in math and science when compared with other industrialized countries. A conversation with a secondary math teacher a year or two is an example of some of the problem. I was working at Waffle House at the time, and mentioned that some people were not qualified to work as servers because they didn't know how to do percentages. He said he taught his students percentages by starting with 10 % (which of course just involves moving the decimal one place to the left), and taught them to "estimate" other percentages. This is not good enough. Eg., when computing sales taxes and doing your income tax, you need to know how to get the exact answer. People do need to know how to estimate, so they can know if their answers are reasonable. Some people who wanted a job would come up with totally riduculous sales taxes, and have no idea that they weren't anywhere near the right answer. But knowing People do need to know how to estimate, so they can know if their answers are reasonable. I expect we have all accidently hit the wrong key on a calculator. Some people who wanted a job would come up with totally riduculous sales taxes, and have no idea that they weren't anywhere near the right answer. But knowing only how to estimate is not sufficient.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

unexplained symptoms
"Treatment Developed For Patients With Medically Unexplained Symptoms"

"Smith and his colleagues devised the treatment plan which involves a combination of behavior modification and pharmaceutical treatment, as well as a good dose of improved communication between patient and doctor. "

There is merit in this approach. But just because someone has a symptom that their doctor can't explain doesn't mean it is unexplainable. Some years ago, I was feeling so bad for several years that I was sure I had a fatal disease. At least five different doctors did the standard blood tests, and told me I was in perfect health. When my leg gave way while shopping, so I almost fell to the floor, tests were finally done that showed my my asthma was causing my bronchial tubes to spasm 24 hours a day, so I wasn't getting enough oxygen. Luckily for me, I had a problem that proper medication was able to alleviate. But it is common for people with diseases such as multiple sclerosis to go undiagnosed for years. What is needed is for doctor's to have respect for their patients.

take it like a man;_ylt=AgV8udYXh36gDwtAciiT08rVJRIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-
"The systematic circumcision of all boys in sub-Saharan Africa could potentially prevent nearly six million new AIDS infections over the next two decades, a research team says in a published study. "

This puts the religious right in a predicament. To be consistent, they should be against this because they think it will lead to more extra-marital sex. On the other hand, I would expect them to be for it because it causes pain and is said to lower pleasurable sensations.

I think that men who do not oppose sexual mutilation of women in their societies should be forcibly circumcised w/o anesthetic.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How to make record deficits sound good;_ylt=AuBGWju3x70OueX1_SrK9uWyFz4D;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-
"U.S. deficit estimate drops to $296B"
Typical headline in the so-called "liberal" MSM (main-stream media) for this non-news.

Why is it big news that the U.S. deficit figures are below what Bush predicted?
I predict that I will spend $10,000 this month. So if I only spend $5,000, far more than I make, I guess that will mean that I've done good?

Friday, July 07, 2006

terrorist wannabees

Now that there have been arrests of what appear, from news reports, to be serious terrorist wannabees, there don't seem to be any more mentions of the young men who were arrested in Miami for talking about being terrorists. It sounded like the Miami group were like a lot of young people, talking about things they would probably never do, blowing off steam and trying to imress each other. Even the government said they didn't present a credible threat. So why were they arrested at this time? It is likely that after being arrested and imprisoned for such flimsy reasons, some of them will be even more angry and dangerous. I'm sure many people have joined me in wondering if the fact that this is an election year triggered the highly publicized arrest of the Miami group.

Sorry for the blog's appearance

After I changed a couple of settings yesterday, my blog lost it's left marging/padding. I changed the settings back, but no change. So I changed them to the way I want them. I hope to get it looking better soon.

Recovered memories

People are still arguing over whether traumatic memories can be forgotten, and later remembered, even though it has been shown that it can happen; I know it is so from first-hand experience. Other people deny that there are such a thing as false memories, even those these have also been shown to exist.

Why do so many people have trouble with the fact that in much of life, there are no absolutes? If the sky is cloudy, sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't. I wonder if part of it stems from our education, where we are rewarded for getting the one right answer? I'm sure some people are born with varying levels of such characteristics as curiosty and openess to learning new things, just as we are born with a tendency to be varying heights and body builds. This is good, as we need a variety of capabilities.

But of course, almost any extreme characteristic can be a problem. Both extreme dogmatism, and the acceptance of any flaky idea that comes around, are not good. I expect that education and educators have an effect, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Indeed, I have tutored people in math who were clueless on how to solve problems involving very large numbers. When presented with the same problem with small numbers, they had no problem at all. They knew how to solve the problem, but were intimidated by large numbers. Almost everybody I know who hates math can trace it back to an elementary school teacher.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

fiddling while Rome burns;_ylt=AqlCgNc0lgbpX8gOcPdvHEkPLBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Wildfires may be linked to global warming

Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist Kerry Emanuel "linked global warming to the trend of increasingly stronger Atlantic Ocean hurricanes observed in recent decades."

"Meanwhile, other new research by Purdue University scientists supports Emanuel’s original finding and extends it to the entire globe. "

profits more important than sight

A colon cancer drug being successfully used in Britain to combat blindness may be yanked from the market and replaced with a version 100 times the price.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

ignorance is bliss

In a 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, 60% of Americans agreed with the statement: "Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others."
This placed Americans in the bottom third of the 43 national publics
surveyed, far behind counties such as Indonesia (90% completely or mostly agreed with the statement), South Korea (90%), Egypt (88%), Mexico (86%), India (85%), Mali (80%), Uzbekistan (77%), Bolivia (77%), Tanzania (77%), and Bulgaria (74%).
Among the publics of Western Europe, on the other hand, there was even less inclination to assert cultural superiority than in the United States. Just 55% of Italians agreed with the statement; as did just 40% of Germans; just 37% of the British; and just 33% of the French, the smallest percentage among any of the 43 nations surveyed. (So much for the arrogant French!)

It is easily observable that the people who are most sure that they know everything about everything are the most ignorant. The more I know, the more I know I don't know. I would say that these poll results tend to show the same holds true for attitudes about the superiority of one's culture.

flag burning vs global warming

According to a Pew Research poll of Americans, more people think that flag burning is more important than global warming. I would that is the result of ignorance of the facts of global warming. That's disheartening enough. The thought that Americans think that flag burning, which is very rare anyway, is more important than the life of large numbers of people, would be truly horrifying.

resume cops?

This article discusses a product that can supposedly tell if a person's resume has been altered. "They can even tell if the cover letter or resume has been recycled from a previous job hunt."

Is this a joke? Or maybe a test to see how many people read the paper w/o buying it, because it would be sure to generate a lot of letters? It was on the first page of the business section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 21, 2006; it would have been more appropriate to April 1.
I won't discuss the stupidity of this idea, because it's obvious to anybody who has looked for a job. I would just like to say that I would like a list of any companies who do this, because I wouldn't want to work for anybody that stupid.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash's wife had just died. Diabetes had cost him much of his sight, and he needed a wheelchair.

The unnamed AP writer commented : "The one selection that seems ill-conceived is Hank Williams' "A Legend in My Time," with a jarringly self-pitying tone."

I can see why the writer is unnamed; he should be ashamed of saying such a jerky thing. In our society, people who have suffered severe loss, and who may be in physical discomfort, or even severe pain, are often expected to be cheerful, and not discomfort the more fortunate. What a sadistic attitude.