Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Enemies of the National Academy of Sciences

On 21 June 2010, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper describing global warming skeptics as inexperienced in the field of climatology.  The paper has supporting information referencing a web site of one of the authors with full details and rankings of scientists who are not to be trusted.

It amounts to a "blacklist" of skeptical scientists that are traitors to the new religion of global warming.

The noted physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson is number three on the list.   He is one of the creators of relativistic quantum field theory, but since he is "inexperienced" in climate science, he must be silenced.

Most of the blacklisted scientists are indeed not climate scientists, but many, like Freeman Dyson, are wide-ranging intellects that have made contributions in numerous fields.  Indeed, many are noted specifically for their knowledge of history, psychology, epistemology, and for studying delusional movements in the history of science.

I am of the belief that when a small closed priesthood is in control of all peer-reviewed climate papers, a group of  "inexperienced" outsider-scientists are exactly what we need.

And I would take Freeman Dyson over a bunch of glorified weather forecasters any day.

Another one of these skeptics, Frank J. Tippler (blacklist number 38), has written an article calling attention to the blacklist and his role in debunking global warming.  Here is an excerpt:
As for myself, I’m a cosmologist, with a special interest in the anthropic principle, as my National Academy of Sciences security police dossier correctly notes. Twenty odd years ago, I co-authored a book, published by Oxford University Press, on the anthropic principle. As my co-author and I pointed out, the essence of the anthropic principle is eliminating human bias from the interpretation of observations, and we focused mainly on eliminating such bias from cosmology.

But human bias is human bias. I myself have looked at some of the raw data from surface stations that measure the Earth’s temperature.  The raw data are from selected sites in the USA, in New Zealand, in Australia, and in Sweden. I selected these sites because I’m reasonably sure they will not have bias due to changing human habitation, or human wars, or human politics. These sites show no warming in the twentieth century. So I have to conclude that we don’t even know if there was any warming on Earth in the twentieth century.

Notice that I am not saying that there has been no warming, just that the available raw data that I’ve personally been able to check do not show it. Until all the raw temperature data are placed online, so the data can be checked by anybody, a rational person has to suspend belief in global warming, to say nothing of AGW [anthropogenic, i.e. human-caused, global warming].

The official government adjusted data for these sites do show a warming trend. All the warming is in the “corrections.” Sorry, I don’t buy it. Especially from “scientists” who are known to “correct’ their raw data to “hide the decline.”

There have been calls to silence the 496 scientists on the list. Besides “climate deniers,’ we have been called “traitors.” We all know the penalty for treason.

Read the whole article here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Quote for the Day

Writer and Commentator P.J. O’Rourke, Interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 26 July 2010
RFE/RL: This week Facebook achieved 500 million users. Are you one of them?

P.J. O'Rourke: No, I most certainly am not. Are there 500 million people with computers? I guess there must be.

RFE/RL: But it's a remarkable achievement, right?

O'Rourke: I guess so. You know, had you told me that 500 million people last week wrote their name on the bathroom wall with a magic marker I would be equally impressed by the number, but I don't think that I would be favorably impressed.

RFE/RL: You've been notoriously characterized as a technophobe. Is that unfair? Do you own a computer or do you use the Internet?

O'Rourke: I own a computer. I don't use the Internet very much. I'm not a technophobe. It just doesn't help me very much. Writing is a slow and a difficult process mentally. How you physically render the words onto a screen or a page doesn't help you. I'll give you this example. When words had to be carved into stone, with a chisel, you got the Ten Commandments. When the quill pen had been invented and you had to chase a goose around the yard and sharpen the pen and boil some ink and so on, you got Shakespeare. When the fountain pen came along, you got Henry James. When the typewriter came along, you got Jack Kerouac. And now that we have the computer, we have Facebook. Are you seeing a trend here?"
Read and watch the full interview at the link.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Signs of the ObamaFuture


I have always expected that medical body imaging would continue to follow the natural progression in technology that has been going on over the last 150 years: X-rays, CT scans, thermal imaging, magnetic resonant imaging, positron emission imaging -- and who knows what in the future.

Eventually, I thought, we would get to the point where looking inside the body is so cheap and non-invasive that it is done as part of your routine check up.  Cancer is caught early.  Degradation in the structure of the spine is caught before trouble starts.  Even subtle things like endocrine imbalances could be seen.  And then problems would be fixed non-invasively.

I thought it would get to be kinda like Star Trek, with the bad old days of medicine behind us.  As a delirious Dr. McCoy once said:
"Oh, I'd give a lot to see the hospital. Probably... needles and... sutures. All the pain. They used to hand-cut and sew people like garments. Needles and sutures... all the terrible pain!"
Well, our ObamaFuture is starting to look more like Dr. McCoy's nightmare.

The government is already complaining that doctors are ordering too many MRIs for back pain in Minnesota.  They cost too much money, you see.  And now that the government is going to be paying, instead of people and independent insurers, they will be telling all of us, including our doctors, what we can and cannot do.
"While Minnesota hospitals received good marks for the use of CT scans, about 40 percent of outpatients with low-back pain at hospitals here in 2008 had an MRI... 'If a number is high, it may mean the facility is doing too many unnecessary MRIs for low back pain,' the government report noted."
Gee, I figured that actually knowing what was going on would be a good thing. But no, let's prolong the pain and see if it gets better by itself.  That's the future of medicine!

Note that "good marks" from the government means that a hospital is making do with less.  Less technology.  Less medicines.  Less examinations.  And soon it will mean less doctors, less nurses, less patients, less medical care.

You know, I think the problem is that too many hospitals have MRI and CT machines.  If the government would just force them to haul the machines to the dump, we could go back to getting "good marks" in health care again.

 Hauling away a CT machine with a tow truck

Ah, our new ObamaFuture of "limits" and "sustainability".

Lots and lots of change, but no hope at all.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

184 million gallons have been released since the blowout

It sounds like a lot of oil, and there are quite a few comparisons on the web, but I think this puts it into perspective:

184 million gallons

= 24.6 million cubic feet
= a cube measuring less than 300 feet on a side.

Or another way to look at:

If you own a home in a small suburban development, and have a lot size of 100 feet square, and you place a cube on it, filling it to the edges, it would take 27 such housing lots to hold all the oil that has been released.

Heck, we could store the whole spill in my little neighborhood.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oil Spill Perspective

In the scheme of things, the Gulf Oil Spill isn't really very much.  Here is the extent of the oil as of today via Intellicast:

click for larger images

As you can see, tarballs in Key West or on the west coast of Florida are probably just from natural oil seepage -- which occurs all the time, and has been reported for hundreds of years in the Caribbean and the Gulf.

According to NOAA on 16 July 2010, the following sea turtle and marine mammal losses have been recorded so far:

Sea Turtles:  674 have been studied either by seeing them stranded or by capturing them in open water.  468 were found either found dead or died later.  This number is much higher than the average of previous years in the area, but may be due to greatly increased detection and reporting.  Only 162 of the 674 (dead and alive) had evidence of oil on them.  Only 16 of the oiled turtles were dead or have died.

Sperm Whales:  One was found dead and heavily scavenged at sea with no evidence of oil. Analysis is underway.

Dolphins:  65 found stranded, 60 are dead.  4 of the stranded dolphins had oil on them, one of which was alive.  This is a higher rate of stranding than usual, but may be due to greatly increased detection and reporting.  Also, there was an observed spike in strandings last winter, which could be continuing.  Only 3 dolphins died with oil on them.

I really think that our media-government coalition blows these things out of proportion for their own benefit.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Major Snowstorm Hits Alberta Canada

From The Weather Network:

It's the middle of July and heavy snow is blanketing parts of Alberta.

“There wasn't any snow on the ground last night when I went to bed,” says Megan Gibson from the Marmot Basin Ski Resort near Jasper. “I think it started snowing as early as this morning and since about 6:30 this morning, we've had around 18 centimetres (7 inches) fall at the lower chalet.”

Gibson adds that even heavier amounts are expected higher up. Usually at this time of year crews are preparing for the next ski season instead of actually partaking in winter-like activities.

While not completely impossible, heavy snow like this in July is pretty rare.

“This is totally out of the blue. To receive this much snow in July and have it stay on the ground is unheard of,” says Gibson.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Iran and Iraq

Arnaud De Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large, is reporting some interesting things lately.  Here is a short summary:


Ever since the Iraqi election in March, which did not result in either of the rivals receiving enough votes to govern alone, discussions of forming a coalition government have gone nowhere.  This weakness combined with the reduction in US troops has resulted in a power vacuum in Iraq.  Iran is filling it.  Iran has always provided munitions to the insurgents.  Now they effectively control certain sections of the country.

One recent sign or Iraq falling into the Iranian sphere of influence is the long lines of trucks shipping refined gasoline into Iran from Iraq.  Iran has oil, but little refining capability, so they must import most of their gasoline.  With the US and European trade sanctions, they really needed to find a new source of supply.  No one is stopping the shipments.  There appears to be a sub-rosa deal in place.

 Long lines of trucks shipping gasoline from Iraq to Iran

Another sign is that suicide bombers are ramping up their activities in Iraq to promote sectarian violence.  And when Joe Biden flew into Baghdad over the Fourth of July to plead that the Iraqis form a government, he was saluted by five mortar rounds landing in the "Green Zone" with loudspeakers blaring "duck and cover".

With Saddam Husein in power, Iran had a enemy that kept them in check.  With Saddam gone, and the US on the way out, Iran already has more influence in Iraq than we do.

On the nuke front, M. De Borchgrave shows that Obama and company were planning to just accept the fact that Iran will have nuclear weapons -- but the Arab states in the region, and Israel of course are pushing hard for a strike.

Such a war could be very costly. M. De Borchgrave says:

...Iran has formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities, from the narrow Straits of Hormuz that still handles 25 percent of the world's oil traffic; to Bahrain (U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters where the population is two-thirds Shiite and the royal family Sunni); to Dubai, where some 400,000 Iranians reside, many of them "sleeper agents" or favorable to Tehran; to Qatar, now the world's richest country with per capita income at $78,000, which supplies the United States with the world's longest runway and sub-headquarters for CENTCOM, and whose LNG facilities are within short missile range of Iran's coastal batteries; to Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanura, the world's largest oil terminal, and Abqaiq, nerve center of Saudi's eastern oilfields) all are vulnerable to Iranian sabotage or hundreds of Iranian missiles on the eastern side of the Gulf, from southern Iraq down to the Strait of Hormuz.

Officially, all the Arab rulers of the Persian Gulf and other Arab leaders are strenuously opposed to any Israeli or U.S. airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. But that opposition is eroding rapidly.

Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Colorado last week, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said publicly -- before denying it -- "I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion, there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."

And he added, "If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran, my answer is still the same -- 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.'"
An attack on Iran would also divert the American public from the failures in Afghanistan.  De Borchgrave suggests that Obama may attack Iran in order to retain both houses of Congress in November.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Obama, House Flies, and the Dark Side of the Force


Does anyone think it odd that numerous house flies seem to be attracted to Obama during speeches and interviews?  He manages to kill or catch them with astonishingly fast moves. 

My brother mentioned to me that when you type the words "Obama Sith Lord" into Google, you get roughly 36,000 hits -- which may explain this recent photo of Obama dispatching yet another fly:


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Making everything illegal (almost)

Back in the days following the American Revolution, virtually nothing was illegal except murder, theft, fraud, assault and battery, and libel (at least at the Federal level).  As far as I have been able to tell, no physical objects of any kind were illegal to manufacture or to own.  I am sure that if you asked any of the Founders, they would say that the Constitution simply does not give the government the power to make property of any kind illegal.

It was called freedom.
The march of modern liberalism can be defined as simply putting the word "illegal" in front of almost any other word.  For example, we now have:

Illegal drugs
Illegal chemicals
Illegal trash
Illegal pesticides
Illegal guns
Illegal emissions
Illegal fireworks
Illegal lumber
Illegal trade
Illegal business practices
Illegal investments

I could go on listing hundreds of thousands of things that are now illegal.  Then there are the millions of little regulations that control every aspect of every product from cars, to food, to computers.  If violated, the object becomes illegal.

It is kind of odd when you think about it.  Back in the early 1900's, it required a Constitutional Amendment to give the government the power to make alcohol illegal.  Nowadays, it doesn't even require the passage of a law to make something illegal -- just a new regulation from some government agency that is run by unelected bureaucrats.

How can that be Constitutional?  Why do we have to obey laws that are not passed by the Congress?  Why do we have to obey laws that are well beyond the powers given the government by the Constitution?

The regulations that businesses must obey are now so numerous and complex -- and so changeable --  that if the government doesn't like you, they can always find something that you did wrong. And with this administration, if you are in business at all, they don't like you.

Very soon we will have "illegal health care providers".   As the government ramps up the controlled medical care bureaucracy, I expect a huge outbreak of "health crimes" that will require a whole new breed of enforcers.

But I must admit that liberals are working to remove the word "illegal" in some areas.

Soon there will be no such thing as an "illegal alien".


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rationing Medical Care in Our New Era of Limits

Obama's soon-to-be-announced Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (appointed during a Congressional recess, because he would not be approved otherwise), Donald Berwick, has this to say about controlling health care:

"[The] decision is not whether or not we will ration care -- the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open. And right now, we are doing it blindly."

"You can say, 'Well, we shouldn’t even look.' But that would be irrational. The social budget is limited -- we have a limited resource pool. It makes terribly good sense to at least know the price of an added benefit, and at some point we might say nationally, regionally, or locally that we wish we could afford it, but we can’t. 

He is right in one point.  Medical care is rationed right now based on what you want to spend.  He calls this "blindly", because there is no central government monitoring and control of your medical decisions.

In our new Obamafuture, the Homeland Health Care Czar will determine what is and what is not available to you.


The Decline of Liberty

I was asked recently whom I blame for the decline of the United States.  Here is my response:


The proximate cause is Mr. Obama, but he is just the final result of a very long trend of increasing government power and decreasing freedom, which, as Thomas Jefferson noted, was inevitable:
“Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless. A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims. It can never be too often repeated, that the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”
                      -- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 157—61, 1784

I blame politicians for using crises to amass power, and for making people believe that the federal government should solve all of their problems, when the people themselves should solve their own problems locally and in their state. I blame them for buying votes by promising “free” unconstitutional services. And I blame them for pandering to the poor and disadvantaged, promising them the world, to be paid for by “rich corporations”, and “evil” capitalists on Wall Street.

I blame government employees at every level for believing that they should be given more and more of our money, and more and more power, and for believing that they are ennobled by it, and therefore have free license to re-make the world in their own image, because they “know” they are doing “wonderful” things. It becomes a religion for them.

I blame the judges, for interpreting the Constitution in bizarre ways, that were never intended by the Founders, in order to advance their own peculiar agendas and increase governmental power.

I blame the voters, for being deluded that they can get something for nothing – for believing that largess from the treasury is their right.

But mostly I blame school teachers for failing to teach the tenets of liberty to children. I had a few teachers who made the attempt, but even back then they were shouted down by the self-righteous liberal teachers who taught us that “if it saves one life” or “allows one more child to be fed” we should institute taxes, and institute restrictions, and ban products and behaviors – and in so doing create uncountable numbers of laws and regulations, enforced by vast and costly bureaucracies that then grow unchecked.  That vision of “progress”  was poured into the heads of children for several generations.  These children now have become the so-called leaders of today.
“I know, (there is) no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of society, but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
              -- Thomas Jefferson in an 1820 letter to William C. Jarvis

Even back when I was a kid, I knew that raw theft of a person’s rightful property, no matter under what pretenses, or for a seemingly noble purpose, is nonetheless wrong, even – or especially – if done by a mob masquerading as a government.

We are now getting to the point where our capitalism, despite its enormous strength, is starting to show symptoms of the vampires that have been sucking away more and more of its blood every year.

With nationalized health care, large new taxes, vast and complex regulations that companies spend enormous sums trying to obey, even more difficult hurdles for small businesses, and politically driven mandates for “social justice” and re-distribution of wealth (including mandatory home loans for people who can’t afford them, which was the cause of the current economic crisis), we have reached a point where the economy has become very fragile indeed.

Further crises will engender further government interventions, causing even more problems. And Mr. Obama knows that. And Mr. Obama will continue to use it to his advantage.
“…the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary."
-- H. L. Mencken, In Defense of Women, 1918
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
                      -- Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Interview with the Wall Street Journal, 2008

Our standard of living is falling drastically. I have very little hope of creating a large enough nest egg to retire on, as my parents and their peers in the 1960’s were easily able to do – and that on a single income. Young people today will have an even more difficult time amassing wealth.

The people are becoming more and more dependent on government. Like animals in a zoo, we are forgetting how to take care of ourselves, and expect the government to keep us safe in our persons, in our homes, in our communities, and in our finances. I fear we will never see the kind of freedom we had in the 1800’s, where people could head west, make a new life, and not be charged with child endangerment for traveling the Oregon Trail.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals. "
              -- C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock, 1948

The primary way government grows is not by taking away our freedoms, but by assuming our responsibilities. This makes us dependent. With government providing health care, and with an economy in decline, more and more of us will become serfs, living only by the good grace of the government. As such, our votes are already bought and paid for. It then becomes to our advantage as individuals to vote more and more entitlements for ourselves. The government is thus rewarded with more power as more people are pushed into poverty.

Of course this can’t go on forever. Or maybe it can. Most African countries have similar governmental systems, and have been living in poverty ever since they gained their independence from the colonial powers. Our decline faces that kind of end.

The question is how we can stop the decline. The first step is voting the Dems out in November, rescinding the health care law, and then making Obama a one-term president. But more importantly, we have to teach the American people about what Liberty really means, which includes the freedom to run your own life and business free of any interaction with the federal government (except maybe at the post office).

This is a hard road to follow with a people steeped since elementary school in socialist big government philosophies. Primarily, the older people are the ones who still remember freedom, and they are slowly dying off – or are being converted by government payments. The younger people are products of the school propaganda. They are the ones coming more and more into the majority.

But people in rural areas are still freedom-oriented because they still run their own lives. The people in the cities are the main drones of liberalism – dependent for years on government infrastructure and hand-outs.

You can see this in the 2008 Obama election results chart below that shows county-by-county percentages of votes for Obama and votes for McCain as shades of blue and red respectively:

Note that if you look at the blue areas as big cities and poor minorities you can realize that the vote for Obama was a vote from people simply expecting more free money. This is the demographic that Obama has been mining his whole career.

I see the blue as cancer eating in toward the heart.

I have but little hope that a re-institution of the philosophies of freedom can be effected without a calamity occurring first. And even then, a calamity would make it even more difficult to get our liberty back.

Perhaps the saving grace will lie in those outside of cities. Walt Whitman would be proud of his inland Americans, glowing still, in the map above, more than 140 years after he wrote:
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and command, leading not following,
Those with a never-quell'd audacity, those with sweet and lusty flesh clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and governors, as to say Who are you?

Those of earth-born passion, simple, never constrain'd, never obedient,
Those of inland America.

I don’t recognize Obama as my President. Not because of the birth certificate thing (although God only knows what his original, hand-written birth certificate says, if it even exists anymore). I deny him because his major precepts are un-American, take away my God-given freedoms, and are unconstitutional -- and are thus illegal and immoral. In the rational world of say 80 years ago, when the Constitution was the law of the land, he would have been impeached and thrown out of office within two months of his inauguration.

I’m with Walt Whitman.  It is time for true Americans to look Obama in the face and say, “Who the Hell do you think you are?”

Baltimore hits record high temperature...maybe

Yesterday, Baltimore recorded a new record high of 105 degrees F.  This beat the old record high of 101 set in 1999.  Ah, global warming.

But wait.  While the "official" sensor measured 105, most of the other sensors around Baltimore measured less:
  • Columbia hit 102F at Clemens Crossing ES.
  • Ellicott City hit 100F at Veterans ES.
  • Owings Mills hit 100F at The Harbour School.
The official Baltimore measurement is clearly an outlier.

At the Baltimore airport, the sensor that measured 105 is located between runways, was downwind of an air conditioner exhaust at the time, and has significant asphalt pads around it.  According to an article here, the asphalt at the Albany NY airport reached 192 degrees yesterday.

Below is a Bing photo of the Baltimore temperature sensor:

click for a larger image

And here is a zoomed in view showing the problems, including the hot air-conditioner exhaust from the Instrument Landing System building.  ASOS is the sensor.
click for a larger image

The only similar record high nearby was in Frederick Maryland.  Not surprisingly, it was at an airport too, surrounded by hot asphalt and near the hot ILS exhaust.  (In this case AWOS is the sensor.)

click for a larger image

Over the last 20 years, more and more rural stations have been shut down, and most have been replaced in the world-wide database with stations at airports.  This is one of many problems with the ground temperature record, biasing it toward an indication of global warming.

See the post at Watts Up With That? for more information.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Fourth of July


I wrote the following item in July 1991.  It is even more valid 19 years later.


The Fourth of July

I have always loved the Fourth of July. Some of my earliest memories are about firecrackers, sparklers, and Fourth of July cookouts with family and friends. When I was a kid, the Fourth was kind of like Christmas -- a transformation of my world into something magic and new. I still enjoy it today, but over the years some of this magic has disappeared. At first I thought it was just because I have grown up; the magic of childhood has been replaced with adult rationality. But no -- our national celebration of independence has very definitely changed over the last 30 years.

We went to the fireworks in the city of Corona this year. We spread out a blanket in Lincoln Park and ate a late Carl's Jr. dinner (a really tasty Santa Fe chicken sandwich, for me) while we waited for the 9:00 show. A neighbor couple came with us. The kids were highly charged. At about 8:30, Nathaniel started an every-two-minute "how much longer" recitation, that didn't stop until we finally saw the first shell go up. Caryn, who is two years old, was sitting in my lap holding on to both of my hands. At every large burst her grip would tighten. She would then turn half around and whisper haltingly, "No...beeg...one...again...." Nathaniel explained to me that the star burst effect gave him the impression that it was rushing toward us, or that he was rushing toward it. I had never really thought of it that way before. It was exciting for them; a little bit scary, but fun.

I reflected that most of the fireworks we saw were probably made in China. Do the Chinese celebrate anything with fireworks? Well, the New Year, of course. Not their liberty, certainly. No fireworks were used to celebrate the June 3rd Tienanmin Square anniversary. Some Chinese students did remember their aborted attempt at freedom, but in a furtive fashion, always on the lookout for the authorities. Some of them quickly placed small protest signs -- that were soon removed. Other citizens sympathized; they did not report the protestors to the police.

But at least WE remain free.


When I was growing up in Tulsa, all fireworks were legal. On the Fourth, we would wake up to the bang of firecrackers. From sunup until late in the evening, a minute didn't go by when you didn't hear explosions. Flags were everywhere, and the radio stations actually played Independence Day music like "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

My father would take my brother and me to the fireworks stand. We would buy pinwheels and Black Cats, strings of Lady Fingers, handfuls of cherry bombs, smoke bombs, fountains and Roman Candles, bundles of pop-bottle rockets. They all had colorful, magical labels. (Today, some people even collect these labels.) If you un-rolled the firecrackers you would find another wonder: they were made of Chinese newspapers! With real Chinese writing! To me it was astonishing to have a relic, something I could hold in my hand, that was from China. What other place was so far away that the shortest route would be to dig straight down? It was delightful!

When we were small, we were only allowed to place the firecracker. My dad would light it. No injuries ever occurred. We excavated craters in mud, blew up small boxes, and blew the bugs out of the clothesline pipes. We took some of my mother's aluminum drinking glasses (known as "tumblers"), inverted them and placed Black Cats and cherry bombs underneath. They would fly high into the air and, of course, "tumble" back to earth. I don't believe my mom really appreciated this. Afterward, my dad would have to pound the bottoms flat again so they would stand up.

Even as kids, we knew we were celebrating our dual freedoms won in the Revolutionary War -- our country's freedom from foreign domination, and the individual freedom that is a hallmark of self-government. The Fourth was an individual celebration of our way of life.

Perhaps the most memorable Fourth of July occurred when I was about 8 or 9 years old. We had a picnic at Mohawk Park with the Martins, my parents' best friends. Mohawk Park, north of Tulsa, is no ordinary park. It is large -- nearly 4 miles long -- and contains the zoo, two large lakes, and a golf course. Parts of it are heavily forested and overgrown. Oklahoma, at least in the northeast portion, is not entirely the flat grassland that people seem to envision. Rivers and streams have cut hills, bluffs and deep valleys. The vegetation in these areas is more like Missouri or Arkansas. It is possible to get seriously lost in the forests of Mohawk Park, especially if you are a kid. I used to have nightmares about it.

It was a typical Oklahoma Fourth of July -- hot and humid. We had come to the park to have a picnic. We probably ate hamburgers that my dad liked to grill on little trays made of folded-up pieces of aluminum foil. The adults talked and laughed. The kids played and laughed. Evening approached and it was beautiful; comfortably warm and very still. After the stressful heat of the day, the trees let out a misty sighing that could be smelled, but not really seen. Looking for places to set up pinwheels, the two dads and the kids wandered over to an empty baseball diamond, surrounded by trees. Moths and June-bugs clouded around the lone street light.

In the far distance, we could periodically hear the muffled bang and pop of other fireworks. When full darkness arrived, we lit fountains and fired a pinwheel on a telephone pole. We were in no hurry. We still had Black Cats, so we placed one in the chainlink of the backstop and were amazed by the noise. Booomm! The shape of the backstop seemed to focus the sound, sending it out over the dark forest, across the valleys to the horizon. Multiple echoes returned through the thick air. The sound seemed to be resonating back and forth, high against the dome of the sky. We fired another one. Booomm! It was a beacon -- a message for all to hear. Booomm!...I'm here! Booomm!...I'm here! Booomm!...I'm alive! To me, the boom was reaching out thousands of miles, concentrated by our backstop/dish antenna. I was on the edge of the universe sending out a desperate, important message into the infinite darkness. I was traveling with the wave at the speed of sound, down into the creekbeds, over the bluffs, touching the tree tops as I passed.

We stayed late that night and, on the way home, I slept contentedly in the car, dreaming of sulfur-smell.

On the fifth of July, there were always signs to remember the day by: burned-out smoke bombs, pop bottles coated with rocket exhaust deposits, black marks on the concrete from the snakes, aluminum glasses that kept tipping over....


Last Thursday, when we got back from viewing the Corona fireworks show, I decided to set off a few spinning flowers in the cul-de-sac before we put the kids in bed. I was a little worried though, because a sheriff's car had driven through earlier in the day -- the first time in almost a year and a half of living at Horsethief Canyon that we had seen a law officer in the neighborhood. Fireworks suppression must be high on their list.

It was a quiet night. The flowers spun and whizzed. One zipped high into the air and landed smokily in the neighbor's lawn. People started to take notice. A 12-year-old and his younger brother came out to watch. People peered out of their curtains at this fool defying the authorities. Then more of our neighbors came out. One guy brought out some firecrackers, hoarded from years past. I brought out some real Black Cats that my brother had imported from some free state. Boom! Boom! Another man walked out of his house with 10 or 12 boxes of illegal sparklers. The kids delighted in them, waving them around in circles and marveling at the halos of sparks surrounding their hands. Most of them had never seen such a thing before. We spent a half hour just keeping sparklers going. We talked of past Fourth of July's, fireworks, and friends.

We were wary, though. We remembered the Fourth in a furtive fashion, always on the lookout for the authorities. Some people were bold enough to celebrate with us; others sympathized enough not to call the police. A man had been arrested the week before in Los Angeles for having fireworks in his garage. He had been charged with child endangerment. His children were being kept in foster homes.

Yes, some of the magic of the Fourth of July has been lost in the last 30 years. We used to joyously celebrate our freedom. Now we passively, meekly, watch our government celebrate its independence. We submit to warrantless searches of our cars and belongings as we enter the parks and stadiums. If we celebrate individually, we fear being caught and having our houses searched.

Is watching a celebration the same as celebrating? When was the last time you lit a real firecracker and made a deafening boom heard all over your neighborhood? Why are you afraid to? Why has "control" become the main purpose of our fellow citizens serving us in the government?

Some of the Fourth of July magic IS gone.

And maybe something else has been lost, too.

Six Months to Go Until The Largest Tax Hikes in History

The following is from the Americans for Tax Reform website.

In just six months, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect.  They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families.  These will all expire on January 1, 2011:

Personal income tax rates will rise.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

- The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
- The 25% bracket rises to 28%
- The 28% bracket rises to 31%
- The 33% bracket rises to 36%
- The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.  The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax.  This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors.  The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

Second Wave: Obamacare

There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011.  They include:

The “Medicine Cabinet Tax”  Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The “Special Needs Kids Tax”  This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit).  There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year.  Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike.  This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired.  The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year.  According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear.  Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or “depreciate”) equipment purchases up to $250,000.  This will be cut all the way down to $25,000.  Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment.  In January of 2011, all of it will have to be “depreciated.”

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses.  There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place.  The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others.  Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced.  The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available.  Tax credits for education will be limited.  Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.  Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.  Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.  The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.  Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA.  This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.”  This ability will no longer be there.

PDF Version

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A New Hope

Frequently, I end my blog posts with this simple question: “If Obama wanted to destroy the United States, what would he be doing differently?”

My contention is that his behavior is perfectly directed toward such destruction. Whenever there is a choice, he always picks the solution that will later result in the greatest problem for our country. He is building a backlog of issues that, as they come to fruition, will again be “solved” in ways that engender even greater disasters later on. This is the Alinsky-Cloward-Piven cycle. Crises and their “solutions” are used to mold public opinion and add to governmental power. The public sees larger and larger problems arise, then they clamor for more and more governmental control, until the whole system is overloaded. The economy crashes, and normal business grinds to a standstill. And then the capitalist system, having “failed”, is replaced by a completely government-run economy of “social justice” and equal pay.

Here is a possible scenario for the health insurance “crisis”, and how it will likely play out in the future.  Health care was suddenly defined by the media and the administration as a horrible problem, requiring a government solution.  A law was passed (Obamacare) that takes effect over several years, but has a tax that starts immediately.  Its likely result will be increased health care costs (more people in the system, plus more inefficiencies due to bureaucracy), and restrictions on what the insurance companies can charge. This will set up desperate monetary losses for the insurance companies by 2014, which will occur amid accusations that they are trying to use “loopholes” to “take money from poor people who deserve health care”.  The new crisis will be "solved" by setting up a program that provides very inexpensive government health insurance. The old insurance companies will not be able to compete.  They will fail, and the government program will then be expanded to take over payment for all health care in the US. The quality of care will decline. Innovation will decline. R&D for new drugs and procedures will be eliminated to cut costs. There will be no motive to create anything new. People will clamor for the take-over of the drug companies and all of health care by a new government agency. “Capitalist greed” will be blamed.

Now extend this to every “public service” industry. Then, to every business in the US. People are not satisfied. The government can never provide the number and quality of products and services that were available in the past.  People want more and more and more from the government, thus setting up the ultimate crisis. Freedom and capitalism are then branded as “unsustainable in this new era of limits,” and vast new regulations are implemented.  Our whole system of government, now grown into a vast overloaded monster, falls and is replaced.  We all become serfs in a feudal “utopia”.  Welcome to the Brave New World.

Supporting this path are Obama’s efforts to diminish US power in the world, allow foreign courts to have sovereignty, restrict the military so they can be defeated, encourage the rise of Islamic law, and destroy the dollar and our whole financial system.

Obama’s presidency is a steady and purposeful march to destruction.  In the coming 20 years, as you see failure after failure, increasing in severity, do not blame it on “greed” or “capitalism” or “unsustainability”.

Blame will rest on us all, for abandoning freedom and looking to the government for solutions to every “problem”.

Blame will rest on us all, for listening to the propaganda of the media.

Blame will rest on us all, for freely electing our own destroyer.

But we still have a choice. We still have hope, if we leave this path and undo what Obama has done.  Rollback government takeovers and controls.  Reduce the power of government.  Return to the Constitution, which really only gives the government the power to have a military and a court system.  Cut the government down to size, so that taxes can be reduced. Reject government funding and government “help”.   Let the people themselves be responsible for their own states, and cities, and neighborhoods.  Encourage charity that builds relationships and communities, not government payments that isolate people, making them dependent on an impersonal system.

A fork in the road is ahead.   In November, we can move off this path to destruction, and choose a new path to freedom and prosperity.

A new hope will come with change.

 Yeah, and same to you buddy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

These guys like tea


First, there is Hugh Jackman:

Then there is this lunatic who styles himself  "Elemental".  I am not sure why I like this vid, but I really do: