Thursday, January 28, 2021

 Big Numbers Don't Lie!

Some people are easily panicked by big numbers taken out of their proper context. Take "climate change" which was once called "global warming."

Recent NASA and subsequent media stories have said this about Greenland and Antarctic ice: "The two regions have lost 6.4 trillion tons of ice in three decades; unabated, this rate of melting could cause flooding that affects hundreds of millions of people by 2100." 

Big, scary number there! 6.4 trillion tons lost! Our coastal cities are doomed!

But how much ice is there in Antarctica? Wikipedia reports it as 26,500,000 gigatons. Throw in the ice in Greenland, and the total ice loss each year is a nearly undetectable three ten-thousandths of one percent (0.0003%) of the world's ice mass. Despite statements of certainty, this loss is well within the range of measurement error.

So, how much has the sea level risen? Compared to when? And where would it be measured? The continents themselves raise and lower over time because they're floating on the mantle, with tectonic plates slipping over and under each other.

The fact is that while there are ancient cities divers can explore underwater in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the water didn't rise by tens or hundreds of feet. Rather the land sank due to volcanoes and other dramatic local changes.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Fat Lady Has Sung, the 2020 Election Is Over


The Fix Was In

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided not to take up the lawsuit Texas initiated against the “battleground” states despite its clear constitutional issues. For anyone who doesn’t know, the US Constitution requires that the selection of the Electors that will vote next Monday be managed by the various state legislatures. IOW, it’s solely up to them to define the election rules in their states. There is no mention of that process being changed by the governors, secretary of states, or even the state’s courts to do such things as redefine the requirements that the ballots must meet, such as postmarks or signatures. On the basis of the facts, Texas had a case and the court should have ruled in its favor.

But the facts didn’t matter.

So, What Did Matter?

Let’s face it… there are those in the leadership of the Republican party who fear ever upsetting the applecart and allowing the voters see how much fraud there has been in the process ever since Nixon had the 1960 election stolen by thousands of dead voters in Illinois. For them it’s far more important to maintain the illusion that the election process is valid and cannot be stolen. Since it’s Donald Trump who is the victim here, it’s fine to have a “senior statesman” like Joe Biden take the White House. They know him well and can work with him. BTW, the other victim here is the truth.

Anything Else?

Then there’s the matter of the fear factors. The power players in both the Republican and Democratic parties fear several things:

  • They fear the extreme leftists who have shown they can and will loot, riot, and burn down businesses if they don’t get their way.

  • They fear that Trump might prevail in exposing the behind-the-scenes dealing that places family members of elected officials into lucrative positions so foreign funds and lobbying dollars can be funneled into their pockets. Joe Biden isn’t the only person to become a multi-millionaire on a senator’s salary and own multiple mansions.

  • They fear that their own parties may yet turn on them. In this age of the “cancel culture” no one is truly safe. Things that were said or written decades ago can be found and presented out of context to prove that they weren’t always enlightened and totally correct in their beliefs. And with today’s technology, “deep fakes” are an ever present danger. 

What Don’t They Fear? 

They certainly don’t fear us common folks. 

We poor, trusting members of the hoi polloi are supposed to believe everything reported by the mainstream media, buy the advertised products, enjoy the sports spectacles, and leave governing to the experts who know better than we how to live our lives.

During Trump’s presidency the Republicans have repeatedly shown that they aren’t willing to keep their campaign promises. They honestly seem to prefer to be kept out of power and to blame the Democrats for their failures. Having control of the presidency as well as both houses of Congress meant they had to tread carefully and find ways to blame the Democrats for filibustering or otherwise preventing them from fulfilling those inconvenient promises that they never believed in themselves. 

IOW, most elected Republicans seem to be far more liberal than the voters back home. They regard themselves as being better educated and understanding better how to run the country. When Barrack Obama said of us working-class folks, “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations" he revealed what many in the leadership of both parties believed.

Donald Trump has been the first president since Ronald Reagan to keep his promises. I hope he’ll find ways to continue making a difference and serve to inspire other honest people to reclaim our government from the self-appointed elites who gave us the debacle of the 2020 election.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

What If the Curve Cannot Be Flattened

What if everything we've been trying in order to "flatten the curve," to contain or defeat COVID-19 has been pointless and ineffective because the virus behaves in ways that other viruses have not? As an example, contact tracing works wonderfully well with viruses that are passed through intimate, sexual contact with other people. But what if COVID-19 cannot be traced that way?

What I'm asking is how do you track and control a virus that doesn't cause symptoms for several days after contracting it... and what if 86% of those who do get it never have any symptoms? How do you corral that? And the only contact needed between a host and a new victim can occur at a distance of a few feet... or even by touching something a host has sneezed or coughed on hours, or even days, earlier?

If you're wondering about the 86% figure, that's been known since April and was published in the peer-reviewed professional journal, Science, in May 2020. It's the reason we cannot contain the virus; no one believes they're sick (no symptoms at all!) and so unknowingly pass it on. We can scan everyone entering a building with a fever scanner and make them wear masks, but it's too little too late. This virus isn't going away unless, as we have with influenza, convince enough people to take the vaccine when it becomes available that it fades into the background. Indeed, we may end up needing new vaccines for new strains of it just as we do with influenza each year.

The good news is that at least 2 unusually effective vaccines are on the horizon. On this Thanksgiving weekend, I hereby thank those that have worked so diligently on the vaccine and those who cut through the red tape to make it possible.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Who Controls the Information We Use?


On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his presentation making the case for war with Iraq at the United Nations. He was armed with satellite photos showing the movement of weapons of mass destruction! He had numerous intelligence reports supporting that narrative. His claims were supported by intelligence agencies both here in the US and by those in the allied countries.

And yet... The charge has been since been made that "Bush Lied, People Died!" After all, Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, either during or after the War. So was Secretary Powell lying to the U.N. in 2003?  Those who wanted to believe Secretary Powell was truthful tried to argue that in the long buildup to the war that Hussein had somehow successfully hidden or smuggled those weapons out of the country.

But what if there's another explanation that never occurred to us at the time? Have we learned anything since then that would clear Secretary Powell of that charge?


On November 8, 2016, Donald J Trump was elected President of the United States. His election was certified by Congress on January 6, 2017. A few Democrats in the House of Representatives protested, but because they had no support from the Senate, the certification passed.

Between those two events a rumor started that somehow Trump had had outside help from Russia to win the election. A few months later, on May 17, 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to investigate that claim. That happened amidst an avalanche of news stories in the New York Times and other papers, as well as on CNN and other networks, that supported the Trump-Russia collusion story... and every report was from anonymous inside sources.

Finally, on March 22, 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr received Mueller's report, marking the end of the Mueller's investigation into possible Russian collusion with the Trump Campaign. While Mueller had discovered some ancillary events resulting in indictments for a few Russian operatives for buying ads on social media to spread misinformation and some of Trump's people for crimes unrelated to the campaign (for example: tax issues years before the campaign, perjury for not telling the same story, word-for-word, each time they answered questions by investigators, and so forth), there was NO EVIDENCE FOUND to support the collusion charge. Also, there was no definitive proof of obstruction of justice, just a few instances of Trump, in the privacy of the White House, losing his temper and shouting things about the "witch hunt." But note: Trump never withheld any documents or claimed executive privilege during the investigation as did President Nixon.


What do these events have in common?

  • Both involved Republican presidents who were elected amidst controversy since they didn't win the popular vote nationwide, but did win in the electoral college. And let's just say that they were not popular with Democrats or with the media.
  • The materials that Colin Powell used at the U.N. were provided by the intelligence community. The avalanche of reports condemning Trump were coming from unnamed sources...

More Questions:

What if those unnamed sources were also in the intelligence community? What if there were people in those organizations who were leaking misinformation to reporters who chose to believe them without corroboration? What if those leakers resented President Trump because of things he had said about not needing daily briefings from their agencies? (

A Possible Conclusion:

Republicans are not just viewed as political opposition by member of the Democratic party, many of them also view Republicans as evil, as mortal enemies to all that's good. Therefore anything you can do to oppose a Republican is thereby ethical! The end justifies the means... even if that involves lying, creatively charging them with imaginary crimes, or anything else. And this POV may exist in the intelligence community!

So, creating satellite photos and providing a false narrative to Bush's Secretary of State was permissible in order to embarrass Bush... never mind the lives the war cost. "Leaking" false information to reporters wouldn't be a crime if it brought down the detestable Donald J Trump.

What This Means to Us:

In our lives we rely on certain sources to inform us so we can make wise choices. That includes things like Consumer Reports to warn us off buying bad products, and news networks to report the news accurately, using multiple sources to confirm their stories.

What if those sources are not accurate? What if they're deliberately lying? Who do we trust? And why do we trust them?

Monday, April 8, 2019



Whom do you hate? And why do you hate them? How does it feel to hate someone? What does it cost you?

The Political Divide

Much has been said since the 2016 presidential election about the increasing rift between parties. The truth is that there are multiple fissures that have been developing and widening for generations. This isn't new! Even the rift between President Trump and the Republican leadership isn't really new; that one is just a new facet in the divide between "insiders" and "outsiders" within the party.

On the Democratic side of things there's a similar rift between elements in their party. This was visible during their 2016 primary when Senator Bernie Sanders won primaries in state after state but lost in the total delegate count when "super-delegates" chosen by each state's party leadership went mostly to their eventual nominee, Hillary Clinton. Since the election of 2018 another rift has appeared between younger Democrats, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the older ones, like Nancy Pelosi.

The Cost of Hating

Hating is an expensive hobby! It excites the hater with an adrenaline rush and the heady feeling of a righteous anger, but consider the costs:
  • Time and Energy--While you're busy hating someone, perhaps plotting against them, or only daydreaming about your eventual revenge, or visualizing seeing them being carted off to jail, you're not working towards your other goals. 
  • Exhaustion--Living on adrenaline simply wears you out! Your body isn't capable of running on it 24/7... and your health will decay.
  • Bitterness--Your monomaniacal focus on the object of your hatred affects your other relationships. You may soon neglect family and friends; you may even judge them as unworthy of your time and attention unless they share in your hatred. And the longer it takes to "make things right" in your eyes, the more they'll wonder why they even put up with you. A hate-filled heart has little or no room for love!
  • Regret--As your other relationships fall apart, as you discover that you've failed to live up to your potential, you learn the truthfulness of the poet's observation:
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”
― John Greenleaf Whittier

Your Legacy

How will you be remembered by the people in your life? Do you want your tombstone to read, "A dedicated hater"? Will you have spent your time and energy on social media explaining why you hate someone? Or will you be known for acts of love and service to others?

If You're a Hater...

If you're into hating, please make the world a better place and give it up! Find ways to build people up, not tear them down. Take care of yourself and those around you.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Math Isn't PC, It's White Privilege?

Sometimes words fail me. I can't begin to describe my mixed emotions when I read articles that tell me things like:
  • algebraic and geometry skills perpetuate “unearned privilege” among whites
  • math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white
Then there's
  • "all knowledge is “relational,” because “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively"

These quotes are from an article about Rochelle Gutierrez, a professor at the University of Illinois, who argues that teachers must be aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” in society.


BTW, her bio shows her degrees as follows:

Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Chicago, 1995
M.A., Curriculum and Instruction, University of Chicago, 1995
B.A., Human Biology, Stanford University, 1990

"The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stepping Up My Stargazing Game

  1. On April 4, I received my early birthday presents: A decent pair of Celestron astronomical binoculars with a tripod adapter, a set of Plossl eyepieces, a Celestron NexStar 102SLT refractor telescope, and a Celestron Lithium Phosphate (LiFePO4) PowerTank. Of course the skies didn’t cooperate until, finally, Friday night, but we were out for the evening (watching Casablanca on a big screen at a local university). Saturday was still decent, so I finally got to play with the telescope.
    My wife was more impressed with the binoculars than the telescope, I think, because there weren’t any electronics involved and she knows how to use them. ;)😉
    For anyone bemoaning the fact that I’m skipping over the steps of learning the night sky, I’d like to offer a few reasons for going with the computerized (GoTo) system the telescope uses.
    First, I’m turning 65 this month and I’ve already found out what it’s like to survive a cardiac arrest. I don’t want to spend too many hours studying how to find things by star hopping.
    Second, I’ve already had the experience of having what I’m trying to view slide out of sight before I can drag family members out to see anything. With the GoTo it tracks, so that’s no longer a problem.
    Third, I’m wanting to play around with astrophotography, so tracking is important. Without tracking the stars’ apparent motion turns them into light trails within a few seconds. With it, I can get exposures of up to 20 to 30 seconds before other problems interfere (such as field rotation).
    Finally, with the light pollution we have here I can only see perhaps two dozen of the brightest stars without a telescope. But once the GoTo has been aligned to 3 of the brightest, it can point itself to anything in its catalog of over 4,000 stars, nebulae, galaxies. Through its 102 mm lens I can then see so much more… and that’s easier and quicker than driving for 45 minutes each way, not to mention loading up the car, setting up the scope, and reversing it for the return home.
    Ad astra!