Saturday, December 13, 2008

Strategic Observations and Forecast

After reading various articles and books plus listening to the news, and then observing the economic situation both nationally and internationally, I have arrived at some conclusions. Naturally these could be totally off base and have no relationship to reality, but then maybe not. Certainly it should be clear to everyone that not only are we in a serious economic situation but that we are in the throes of significant change politically, economically, and culturally. So these are simply my personal conclusions regarding what I think are some key areas of change and impact.

The drive within the US for many years has been to achieve independence from fossil fuels, meaning oil and natural gas, but in reality independence from oil imports. The focus has been on electric autos which to date have proven to be overly expensive and hugely unpopular. However, that is basically a technical problem which can and will be overcome so the long term problem is our electrical infrastructure. The Greens have prevented the construction of nuclear power plants while campaigning against coal powered energy. Unless the congress corrects this problem the price of electricity will skyrocket as thousands of electric vehicles hit the road. Even without these electric cars the price of electricity is already increasing and in some areas the supply struggles to meet the demand. My long range forecast is that while the demand for gasoline decreases the cost of gas in the family budget will be replaced by the cost of electricity and there will be shortages in the near term if congress allows the Greens to approve the Kyoto treaty which would reduce our supply of electricity as generating plants are forced to close.

Oil and OPEC
The price of oil is plummeting and efforts by OPEC to drive the price up will probably be futile at least in the near term. The problem is that the oil producing countries of Venezuela, Iran, Nigeria, and the Emirates have virtually no source of income outside of oil. These oil revenues support their socialist programs and as the price of oil drops their spending far exceeds their income. Consequently through OPEC they have tried to increase the cost of oil by reducing the supply. But there is no honor among thieves so while they agree to reduce the supply of oil the reality is only the Saudi’s do so the actual supply of oil continues to exceed the demand. The result of this hasn’t manifested itself yet, but within the next year OPEC will become nothing more than a hollow shell with each member going their own way while giving lip service to the agreements.

Iran & Venezuela
Both of these countries are unstable but perhaps the most unstable of the pair is Iran. The Mullahs have instituted Sharia Law and enforce it capriciously. They execute homosexuals, adulterers, and women who have been accused of “immoral conduct” – usually without trial. They are Saber rattling but as it turns out much of their vaunted military is unreliable. Their missile program turned out to be mostly an Adobe Photoshop exercise. By using Shia Iraqi soldiers as bait the managed to surround an American patrol with the objective of kidnapping them and holding them hostage in order to embarrass the US. Instead, they American officer who was surrounded by Iranian soldiers ordered his men to open fire. The Iranians turned and ran off leaving eleven dead. There is great unrest among the population and the more restrictive the government becomes the more unsteady the population and the more demands for change. In the meantime their principal source of income is oil and with the plummeting oil prices they can no longer fund their social programs much less their military machine. The best course of action for the US is inaction and possibly increased diplomatic contact. The Mullahs need us to be aggressive toward them and they will undoubtedly continue provocations but we must not allow ourselves to be provoked.

Venezuela is a little more stable but Chavez is systematically wrecking the economy with his socialist programs. The black market is rampant and Chavez is looking for some outside force that he can blame for his problems. Currently this is the US but without his oil income and with his socialized businesses dropping like stones he is driving for total power. This country is subject to an internal revolution by the military. The problem with soldiers is that they have parents and families. If they aren’t happy the soldiers become unreliable. Chavez will continue his drive for total power as dictator but as the price of oil declines he will be forced into either curtailing his social spending or continuing to pump oil in an effort to maintain his revenues. Either way Venezuela will be very unstable as well as his future. Once again our best course of action is no action.

It seems pretty clear that China as a communist nation is on very unsteady ground. As they creep more and more into capitalism the communist power structure moves ever closer to Imperial China in practice. Central planning had never worked and is not working in China. Corruption is rampant which has greatly impacted their foreign exports plus weakening the grip of the government on the people. Their exports are declining, unemployment is increasing, and their economy which depends on growth is declining. The Chinese have always been an agrarian economy and the country peasants have always been frugal as well as secretive and prone to ignoring the central government. Nothing has changed and the peasants are not spending so the revenues are dependent on foreign exchange. However, as these decline revenues decline and as these decline the government’s grip on power is threatened since they cannot continue their social programs or control the people who are moving ever more toward capitalism and individual action. It is unlikely the current communist government can continue for any extended period as it is currently structured. Most likely it will become more capitalist oriented with the central government looking more and more like Imperial China with a socialist structure similar to what you see in Europe.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cavemen – White – Blonde

Science is a wonder and sometimes you wonder what they know and what they don’t know and if they know they don’t know it. In fact science seems to follow the patter of observing, theorizing, speculating, repeating, and then converting the speculation into common factual knowledge because everybody knows it. Evolution falls into this category but rejecting any part of Darwin makes you a nincompoop because everybody knows that Evolution is a fact although those “facts” are examples of adaptation and not speciation. And that brings us to the question at hand which is the evolution and descent of man.

We are assured that the Leakey family – who have made a cottage industry out of early hominids have identified the root of humanity and that man evolved out of these hominids. These early hominids are given wonderful sounding scientific names and we are told they evolved into primitive men and migrated north. This migration is necessary because outside of a few bone fragments and some rather primitive tools there is no real evidence that primitive men lived and evolved in Africa. There is some small evidence of “Rhodesia Man” but that is a pretty small reed on which to rest the evolution of man in Africa.

The interesting thing is that modern apes are black skinned with black hair although the Orangutan has orange hair but black skin. Depictions of hominids and early primitive men are shown as black skinned with black hair. The hair is always shown as straight and not wooly which is a characteristic of modern Negroes. Neanderthals are found in Europe and not in Africa or on any other continent. Cro-Magnon men seem to be indigenous to Europe as well. These early men are always shown as white skinned with black hair. There is some evidence of primitive men living in China but once again there is scant evidence and the modern Orientals all have black hair and sallow skin. So some questions seem to be in order.

Where did Negroes come from? Did they migrate from Europe to Africa? If they developed in Africa why isn’t there any evidence of that development outside of a few bone fragments, none of which are from Homo sapiens? Where are the art, the tools, the campfires, and the bones that would indicate that primitive men originated in Africa? When precisely did the black skin and woolly hair develop? If these early primitive men did in fact evolve from these ape like hominids where did the white skin come from? If we assume that this lack of evidence is irrelevant and that man did develop in Africa ( a huge leap in logic) and migrated to Europe then what happened to the black skin and woolly hair? There is no contemporary evidence that while Neanderthals were merrily hunting mammoths in Europe they had any relatives in Africa. Furthermore the Neanderthals and later Cro-Magnons’ are always viewed as white with straight black hair, so where did the blonde hair come from or the red hair or the brown? Of the five races only Caucasians have hair that is some color other than black? Why is that?

We are assured by scientists that the five races developed out of a common ancestor who originally lived in Africa about three million years ago. The fact that there is virtually no evidence of this evolution from ape to man is blithely ignored because it is common knowledge that this is true. However, from that three million mark established by the Leakey’s there is a large amount of time elapsed before Neanderthals appear so this evolution from ape to Neanderthal to modern man must have happened in the blink of the evolutionary eye. But we are still left with the question of where did the Negroes come from? Where did other races come from and why only the whites have different colored hair?

Science assures us that Homo sapiens migrated from Asia to Alaska and drifted down to South America. Unfortunately the Eskimo’s appear to be Asiatic and with brown skin but not related to the Red race or even the Brown race. The South American Indians do not appear to be related to the North American ones and even if they all indeed are related they clearly are not indigenous and certainly not blonde and all are Homo sapiens. There is no evidence that primitive man ever existed outside of Europe and parts of Asia. We are shown bone fragments of hominids, which in fact are simply early ape-like creatures and indeed might actually be apes for all we know. Given this sketchy evidence scientists state that these are really the root stock of the human race and man developed in Africa, migrated to Europe and Asia and eventually to North and South America.

All of these theories and suppositions may be true – or not – but the questions remain – if Negroes came first where is the evidence? If cavemen were white where did the other races come from? While the evolution of man from apes (hominids) is pretty thin the evolution of the races is non-existent. So why are cavemen white? Why is the Caucasian the only race with blonde, brown, and red hair? When did the woolly hair of Negroes develop? In fact – since primitive men seemed to be consistent and successful why did the races evolve at all?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Iran and American Foreign Policy

There has been growing concern over Iran and the possibility that Iran will become a nuclear power. These concerns are well founded, especially since the UN has proven time and again to be totally ineffective in every endeavor but especially in its peace keeping efforts. It is worth pointing out that the USSR developed nuclear capability because of the traitorous activity of some liberal scientists who felt America couldn’t be trusted with such power. Since that time America has continued employing immigrants in sensitive positions because these people have become American citizens. The result has been the spread of nuclear weapons including India and Pakistan. The real threat really isn’t whether or not the Iranians develop nuclear weapons the issue is will the terrorists supported by Iran gain control of them? It is highly unlikely that any nation state will employ nuclear weapons even under attack, but it is an almost certainty that the various Islamic terrorists organizations would use them at the first opportunity, because they would have no fear of reprisal. After all who would you attack?

Recently the fear has been that the Israeli’s will bomb the Iranian nuclear sites using American bunker busters and this threat is now increased with the recent election of President Obama who has made it clear his policies will not favor Israel. Therefore the threat of an attack on Iran prior to Obama taking office is greatly increased, but is the Iranian militancy just saber rattling or does it pose a real threat? Deception and posturing is endemic to Islamic culture but generally misunderstood by the West. It was Saddam Hussein who made a big show out of working on nuclear weaponry and developing weapons of mass destruction when as it turned out, most of this was just to impress his Islamic neighbors and to threaten the US. Now Iran is trying the same tactic by leading the West to believe that they are actually developing nuclear weapons and have the means to deliver those weapons. This was evidenced by their release of the test firing of four long range missiles, which turned out later to be three missiles and on even further analysis only one missile and it was not an intermediate range missile. So Iran’s ability to deliver nuclear weapons or any weapon at all is highly suspect and probably non-existent at least in the near term. So the question remains – why is Iran acting is such a provocative manner knowing what happened to Saddam Hussein?

The answer to the question cannot be known outside of Iran but an examination of the current situation in Iran is certainly warranted and may give some insight into why they are provoking the US. The Ayatollah Khomeini was not so much of a religious leader as he was a revolutionary and he was convinced that when the US allowed the Shah to fall that the Islamic world was ripe for revolution and that his revolution would sweep all before it. Of course this isn’t what happened. Instead he found that while Iran was ready for a change it wasn’t ready for his extreme ideas. Nevertheless, much like Lenin, Robespierre and Hitler the people realized too late that they had changed one tyranny for another. Furthermore, Saddam Hussein wasn’t in any mood to allow the Ayatollah’s to take over his country. The result was a war instigated by Hussein on the mistaken assumption that the people of Iran wouldn’t tolerate the religious fanaticism installed by Khomeini. He was wrong, but there is a lesson there should be heeded. Hitler was convinced the Russians would rise up against Stalin when he invaded Russia but instead he ignited a battle that ultimately brought him down. The same occurred with Iran because the Iranians did not rise up against Iraq but instead rallied together to fight the invader.

The situation in Iran today is very unstable and the Ayatollah’s retain only a very tenuous hold on the government. They try to maintain the facade of a democratic government but they arrest opposition leaders or simply disqualify them from running for office, a process historically used by dictators. The result is a highly unstable government which has grown even more unstable in recent weeks as the demand for oil declines along with oil revenues. The current President of Iran – Ahmadinejad has squandered the oil revenues on the assumption that these would continue indefinitely. As the world demand for oil declines and the dollar strengthens the Iranian government finds itself under pressure internally because it can no longer meet the demands of their infrastructure. They have succeeded in suppressing internal dissent but that can only be a short term strategy. Thus is seems that the best strategy would be to provoke the Israeli’s or the US into attacking them and the best way to accomplish that would be to create the belief that they have nuclear weapons and the means to fire them at Israel. This would provoke Israel into attacking them which would entangle the US and rally the people to resist the invaders. At this juncture it seems the best strategy for the west is to do precisely nothing other than to continue economic sanctions as long as Iran continues their provocative behavior, but to do nothing else. The USSR collapsed due to internal economic pressures and it is very possible that the current Iranian regime could collapse for the same reasons.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and God

The scientific crusade to prove the non-existence of God continues unabated with some of the most nagging questions simply ignored or explained with some very labored theories, ranging from multiple universes, multi-dimensions, to permanence and multiple big bangs and big crunches. Unfortunately while scientists feel comfortable that they can explain everything that happened from the first Pico-second AFTER the Big Bang, they cannot come to any agreement as to what existed before the Big Bang or what motivated it without incorporating some idiotic superstition like God.

Of course the first problem lies with space itself. Did space exist before the Big Bang? Some say that it did but then space is expanding and if that is so, then it must have been smaller at some point. This line of reasoning leads to the more popular position that the Big Bang created not just all energy but space itself, because no matter how small that primordial pinprick of energy was it had to have space in which to exist at all. So at some point billions of years ago, there was an enormous explosion of energy that created space, time, and energy, but did that initial burst of energy create light? After all light is composed of photons but then light itself has some mysterious properties since it behaves as both a wave and a particle, but particles did not come until later and this brings us to another serious question.

If the Big Bang consisted of an explosion of energy – precisely what type of energy was that? Apparently it was Electro-Magnetic Energy, Gravity, the Weak Force, and the Strong Force. Of course these last two are rather mysterious but in order to explain was to come these energies had to have been there at the outset. We are also told this explosion of energy was extremely hot with temperatures exceeding those of the Sun. At the precise moment of creation only energy existed but this mega-energy burst very quickly broke apart into Gravity, with the remaining three energy forms continuing for a period before splitting into their respect forms. Once freed the weak and strong forces began immediately to gather up the electro-magnetic energy and form it into atoms. Up to this point there were no electrons, neutrons, or protons, but were there sub-atomic particles? After all we are told that protons and atoms are made up of “sub-atomic” particles which imply that these existed first but precisely what are these and where do they exist? Currently scientists can only tell you where they were because all they can see are the trails they leave behind but precisely where they were before entering our reality and where they went as they exited is simply unknown. But this is where the magic begins.

In this gigantic explosion of energy everything that was ever to be was created thus establishing the laws governing the conservation of energy and mass. Everything in the universe is made up of the same protons, electrons, and neutrons but these were created by the weak and strong forces gathering energy – which had to have been in a wave form since there were no particles as yet – and forming it into various atoms and molecules which in turn formed everything else including all life forms. Somehow all of this energy coalesced into the protons, electrons, and neutrons that make up the universe today but also along the way photons, gravitons, and now the mysterious Higgs-Boson were created, with this last energy (particle?) being the explanation as to why all of these energy forms have mass. It seems that in spite of all of the science and speculation explaining how we got to where we are there remains a little problem regarding mass. It seems that weight-wise a large part of the universe is missing. Space is empty when it shouldn’t be so science has postulated that empty space isn’t really empty it is filled with invisible Jelly Donuts which for argument’s sake we can call “Dark Matter” – flavor unknown. Precisely where this dark matter is, what shape it has, where it came from, and what its purpose might be is unknown.

More than likely it is made up of some particle(s) such as the elusive sub-atomic particles that are traveling at speeds greater than light, which is why they can’t be seen. But accepting the fact that there is such a thing as dark matter, scientists have discovered that the universe is not slowing its expansion but it is actually speeding up with stars on the periphery of space traveling at speeds very near the speed of light – and accelerating. The implication is that there is some great force pulling our universe apart which is why these galaxies are accelerating but this force is also unknown and invisible, so in a burst of scientific creativity this mysterious force has been named “Dark Energy”. I prefer to call it God.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

GOD, Physics, and the Hadron

The world of science is beside itself with anticipation that the new Hadron Collider will finally demonstrate the non-existence of God. This marvelous machine is intended to demonstrate the existence of the Higgs Boson which is a particle that gives mass in some magical way to all other particles. Of course the real problem is that there really are no particles at all, that is none of the particles that scientists like to play with and that are discussed and taught around the world really exist. The Hadron Collider is not only supposed to locate the Higgs Boson but it is also expected to give insight into what happened in the instant of the Big Bang. Unfortunately the real objective is to understand the “science” behind the Big Bang without having to actually come to grips with God, because the truly important questions will remain unanswered.

Prior to the Big Bang there was no space, no time, no energy, no particles, nothing – nothing at all. So what was there? Well no one knows – that is no scientist knows and certainly no atheist knows – there was nothing. So the first question if there was nothing then what triggered the Big Bang? Remember the first thing that the Big Bang had to do was to create space itself because the expanding universe had to fit into something and that was space. Once there was a space then there was a place for all of that incredible energy. So the second question must be what kind of energy was initially created? Well it must have been light (does that sound familiar), heat, and radiation plus other forms of energy but not necessarily gravity, because there was no mass because there were no particles – just energy.

Now this energy was expanding and filling space at an incredible speed, but less than the speed of light. But somehow all of this energy began to coalesce into particles – subatomic particles but precisely how this was done is mostly speculation because there were no particles so there couldn’t be any gravity, but then light has mass because it is composed of photons but were photons created as part of the Big Bang? Light has some really mysterious properties because while it has mass and can be bent by gravity it also acts as a wave so was the light emitted in the Big Bang a wave or a burst of particles? Apparently almost immediately after the Big Bang the released energy began to form particles, a process that apparently remains hidden since it is not ongoing and cannot be duplicated. So once these sub-atomic particles formed they immediately began to join together to create protons, electrons, and neutrons. These are the universal particles that make up the entire universe and everything in it, except of course dark matter—whatever that is- gravity, and the other forces and particles that remain invisible. The really important point is that everything in the universe is pure energy and why that energy has mass is unknown. Of course this what the Higgs Boson is supposed to do – it is supposed to the particle that produces mass in these energy fields called protons, photons, neutrons, and electrons.

The theory is that in the instant following the Big Bang all of this energy began to take on mass and coalesce into particles and then atoms and then molecules, which produced the various elements, which collected together under the influence of gravity which ultimately created all of the stars and planets. All of this can be explained by science even though parts remain speculative. Unfortunately some very uncomfortable questions remain, not the least of which is what caused the Bib Bang in the first place and where did that pin point of energy come from? Beyond that is why do things that are virtually invisible have mass? If every proton, electron, and neutron in the universe is identical why do some have life? Why do some think and some do not? How did life begin? These are the questions the Higgs Boson is supposed to provide the pathway to answers.

Of course it doesn’t take much of a stretch if you subscribe to the myth of God, to come up with some rather simple answers. When you read the first chapters of Genesis you get a pretty accurate, if somewhat poetic, description of the creation of the universe and life on Earth. Somehow I think the Hadron Super Collider will produce some interesting observations but no answers to any of these questions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oil and Energy 2012

Our dear friends in OPEC have had the world and the US in particular in stranglehold since the 1970’s but they may have finally overplayed their hand. Actually, it isn’t just their greed that may bring them down but the greed of Wall Street Speculators who drove the price of a barrel of oil to an unprecedented $147 / barrel. The price of oil has fallen from that ridiculous high and in all likelihood will continue to fall and some forecasters are predicting $65 / barrel by 2010.

How is this possible? Several things seem to be driving the price of oil down and the slide seems to have begun on a rumor that the US Government was launching an investigation into oil speculation. Note that this was just a rumor but that was enough to drive the speculators into a selling frenzy which drove the price down. If the demand for oil worldwide was rising then the speculators would not have had such an impact when they sold, but the reality seems to be that the oil supply was meeting – if not exceeding – world demand. In effect the speculators were driving the price of oil up to artificial highs. This created a worldwide scare and reaction as the usual left wing politicians got on their demagogic bandwagon and began calling for punishing the Oil Companies for their obscene profits, when in actual fact the oil companies had lower profits than almost any other large company. But the critical point here is that the speculators created a scare and OPEC could not correct it because they were already producing more oil than the demand and that scare may have far reaching consequences.

Although the price of oil may fluctuate in the near term the long range trend will most likely be down as the dollar strengthens against the Euro and other world currencies. This fluctuation according to some analysts will center on the $100 / bbl mark but once that barrier is breached the slide will be steep and within six months the price of a barrel will be $65 or less. But all of this could be attributed to the usual swings in every commodities market, except this time it seems that maybe the realization that oil is a finite resource and an alternative must be found has gotten some traction with consumers. In fact it seems this scare may have actually shocked consumers to the point where they may actually take energy conservation seriously. Auto companies are sharply focused on hybrids and electric cars but more importantly consumers seem to have rediscovered public transportation and the logic in turning off lights when not needed. The day of the SUV seems to be ending as consumers are looking for ways to reduce the cost they pay for gasoline and as this trend grows it drives down demand which in turn drives down price, so the return of low priced (relatively) gasoline may be in the near future and certainly by 2012.

If this trend to develop alternative energy sources and reduce our alliance on oil and oil based products is sustained it will have far reaching consequences. Perhaps the greatest impact will be on the oil producing countries in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Arab countries. These countries have failed to establish any sort of economic base other than oil and they have squandered the billions in revenue they have received on palaces and luxuries. The result is that if their oil revenues decline they really have no way of offsetting the decline. Worse they cannot rely on tourism due to their religious fanaticism and draconian laws. Furthermore they have become highly dependent on foreign workers and if these imported workers leave the over indulged citizens will be unable or unwilling to take up the slack.

Naturally the attitude among many as they see OPEC choking on an oil glut and declining revenues, will be that it is well deserved. Well deserved it may be but if this happens it could have far reaching consequences. Saudi Arabia and the oil producing Islamic countries are all highly unstable and any dramatic decline in revenues that impacts their social programs could trigger massive political change. Certainly the House of Saud could fall and would be replaced by an Islamic government similar to Iran’s, but other governments currently friendly to the west could also fall. This would create chaos in the oil markets but it would also provide massive amounts of cash to various terrorist organizations.

But not all oil producing countries are Islamic and countries like Canada, UK, Russia, etc, would not be greatly affected but some of the poorer countries like those in Africa might weather the storm politically but socially the impact could be devastating. These countries do not have the infrastructures or solid economic base that would allow them to compensate for reduced revenues. In these countries the impact could be reflected in even greater unemployment and reduce the standard of living from its already low level.

So while the price of oil and gas may decline as alternative fuel sources come on the market, the impact may not be all positive.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Science Under Attack

The daily news continues to document the continuing decline of science from a search for the truth into a faith based system where belief and opinion transcend facts and observation. It is hard to pinpoint precisely when this decline began but it was already well advanced when Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” launched its’ attack on DDT. Even though contemporary scientific observation contradicted Carson’s postulations the media and the usual bevy of environmentalists unburdened by facts demanded in the name of SCIENCE that DDT be banned. The irony of this position was totally lost and DDT was banned even though Carson’s work was later proved to be a fabrication if not a complete hoax. Nevertheless DDT remains banned even though Malaria which was largely controlled by DDT is reaching epidemic proportions. Even more ridiculous is the recent report that ties the shrinking population of Polar Bears to the pollutants “like DDT” that are condensing out of the atmosphere and into the food chain affecting everything from plankton to polar bears. Of course DDT hasn’t been manufactured in over 40 years and the actual total population of polar bears seems to be growing. But science is no longer burdened by facts but is being driven by some sort of weird belief system that rests of the premise that humans are a destructive force and must be controlled if not eradicated and at the least reduced to cave man status.

Following DDT the next great assault on science came with the attack by lawyers aided and abetted by a group of “scientists” with a social agenda, on smoking. The initial cry was that smoking caused lung cancer and the lawyers made millions sucking the blood of deep pocket corporations. It is now considered common knowledge that smoking causes lung cancer even though there has never been any empirical evidence supporting that claim. In fact as the number of smokers declined the incidence of lung cancer remained constant. Clearly this could not true and there must be some other connection – hence the attack on side-smoke. The actual EPA report which was widely unread actually stated that there was no connection and even using their A PRIORI starting point (which allowed them to eliminate any contrary finding) there was never any valid statistical correlation and even worse there has never been any empirical connection to tobacco smoke and lung cancer. Nevertheless and undaunted by facts the media and that same group of social reforming busybodies have managed to successfully curtail individual rights which they disapproved even though there is not one shred of physical proof supporting their position. This is faith based science where a belief in a position is sufficient to take corrective action in the form of legislation.

But this attack on science even by scientists or at least those who claim to be scientists has escalated to the point to where empirical science seems to be disappearing altogether. There has always been a level of discomfort between science and religion. This discomfort began to grow with Darwin’s book “Origin of Species”. At the time Darwin was attacked by the scientific community starting with the simple fact that his book did not discuss or even address the origin of species but merely described how a given species adapted to its environment. With the growth of paleontological knowledge several problems arose beginning with the origin of life itself. Then there was the problem with Cambrian explosion of life. Life in the Precambrian was largely very simple life forms and pond scum followed by highly developed and diverse life forms in the Cambrian. Then there remains the problem of speciation. How species develop is BELIEVED to be through mutation and evolution, but no proof of this exists and transitional fossils either don’t exist at all or are believed to exist based on some conclusions and opinions.

However, Evolution and the problems associated with it really pale when the total picture is examined because today science seems to be nothing more than statistical studies, with very little examination of any facts or empirical evidence. So we see statistical studies that show that cancer is caused by such a variety of things that virtually everything is a carcinogen. Statistics are used to justify taking a variety high priced drugs to lower cholesterol and to control type two diabetes but the reality is that some people with low cholesterol have heart attacks and some people with high cholesterol don’t. Virtually everyone today has type II diabetes because the metric for determining the diabetic threshold was lowered from 199 to 100. This was done arbitrarily and precisely what causes diabetes remains unknown, but science marches on.

Beyond these statistical studies are the new “social” diseases like alcoholism and obesity. Precisely how one catches these diseases is unknown but clearly something must be done by the government or science or someone other than the individual in order to stamp out these diseases. The idea that both of these diseases are the direct result of personal decisions and actions by the individual involved is totally rejected. Instead there are calls by the usual coterie of self-described intellectuals and celebrities to stamp our fast food, to force children to eat only healthy food no matter how unappetizing while launching one excuse after the other so individuals no longer have to suffer the stigma of being called a drunk. Why is obesity being subjected to direct action but not alcohol? Well all of those folks calling for action on trans-fats and fast food are almost universally on a diet and only eat tofu and sushi anyway so it only seems right to force the rest of the population to conform to their dietary standard. But those same people drink wine – only good vintages though and then you have the advertising dollars, besides prohibition didn’t work anyway, so rather than address the disease of alcoholism the solution is excuse it as being something out of the control of the individual.

Where is the science behind all of this? Where is the outcry from the scientific community about this distortion of science? The silence is deafening as science slowly slips away from empiricism and into beliefs, opinions, and excuses.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Perspective on Big Oil

Even as the Bush Administration fades into history, the poisonous rhetoric continues. We continue to hear the calls by one demagogic politician after another to tax the oil companies and their “windfall” profits. Of course the sums being reported are indeed huge but these are big companies and like all big companies their revenues are truly large but no larger than any other large company. Then there is the idea America is being held hostage by the Arabian States. Well not exactly. The fact is that country that holds the place as our largest importer is Canada who sends us 1902K barrels of oil per day. Saudi Arabia is second with 1519K barrels and Mexico third with 1230K barrels. Fourth place falls to Nigeria and Venezuela is in fifth place. Then there is the blather coming from those who opposed the Iraqi War but feel that we should just take the oil because after al “they owe us”. Talk about a mixed message! But Iraq already is in sixth place as a source of oil. So it seems we are already getting oil from Iraq and will undoubtedly get more as that country stabilizes. It is worth noting that Iran, Dubai, the Arab Emirates, Yemen, and other sunny and delightful places peopled by colorful natives are not on the list of the top 15 suppliers.

It is also worth noting that in general that the oil these countries are exporting are government owned and controlled by OPEC, an organization that is illegal in the United States. But it is this organization that sets the price for oil and that price can be set arbitrarily according to what the market will bear. So they could charge $200 a barrel and drive the cost of gasoline to $20 a gallon if they chose. So if the oil companies are behind this and they are only after bigger and bigger profits why don’t they set the price higher? Outside of what it would do the world economy, the reality is that the oil companies don’t control the price of gasoline.

So what about those HUGE oil profits that Obama and Hillary want the congress to take (steal) from these oil companies who are gouging us at the pump. No one seems to have actually looked into these HUGE profits and oil company profits have historically run between 7% and 12%. These irresponsible calls for robbing the oil companies on the basis of their ‘OBSCENE” profits are simple demagoguery.

But what about those OBSCENE profits the oil companies are making?. A little perspective seems to be in order. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) calls oil company profits obscene and at first blush many – if not most people – agree. Over the past 12 months, for example, ExxonMobil has made pre-tax profits of $164 billion on sales of $369.5 billion. That’s a lot, but is big oil company profits behind these increases in pump prices?
First, Big Oil can't dictate gasoline prices. Markets determine the price of oil. It's supply and demand that sets the price at the pump. So what you pay at the pump is the market price not a price set by the oil companies. This issue was resolved by the Supreme Court decision last year when they ruled unanimously that oil companies have not been colluding to set prices.
So once again I say that oil prices are high today because the economies of huge nations like China and India are developing rapidly. More oil is being demanded in the world market and there are few new sources of supply, like ANWR or the California Coast. Also if you remember Hurricane Katrina destroyed a lot of oil processing capacity around the Gulf of Mexico so not surprisingly less oil is being processed. .Econ 101 tells us that when less oil is supplied, gasoline prices rise. WOW – what a concept!!! Do you think any of the liberal community has grasped this simple fact or are they ignoring it in hopes of getting a vote??
But let’s get to the nub of the matter. What does the average oil company get out of your $4.50 gallon of gas – ten cents!! The federal tax on gasoline (hello Obama and Pelosi) is nearly twice that (18.4 cents) but then the states get a share also. The price on a gallon of gas in New York is 68 cents and roughly the same in California but virtually every state gets a cut larger than the ten cents the oil company gets. Do any of these politicians call for a reduction in taxes on gasoline – don’t bet on it. That would reduce their income because the government feeds on tax revenues so they want to take more from you and from business – especially oil companies and their “windfall” profits.
So if Exxon made $369B in revenues and $164B in “profits” where did the money go? Well there is a difference between gross profits and net profits. Exxon must spend billions on exploration, billions more on development, and further billions on refining and transportation. When all of these operating costs are figured in those OBSCENE profits evaporate pretty quickly. So when you actually examine where the money goes it becomes evident that these oil companies are hardly making money hand over fist. In fact earnings at Exxon rose 9% last year but fell 4% in the fourth quarter, underscoring the challenges of rising costs and lower commodity prices. The reality is Exxon's profit margins are only 10.7%, while profit margins at Microsoft, on the other hand, are 26% -- so who is gouging whom?
Perhaps we should pass a windfall profits tax on software companies because what the liberals want with their windfall tax on oil companies is to fund the search for alternative sources of energy, such as ethanol and nanotechnology. But when John McCain offered $300M as a reward for anyone who could come up with a viable electric battery operated or other viable alternative he was scorned. The reality is the liberals love throwing money around on in federal research grants to create alternative energy sources and satisfy the academics who live off of those research grants and vote liberal. So given that these giveaway grants are to be used for alternative sources of stuff why shouldn't Uncle Sam give grants to:
• Dell… to create more powerful computers?
• Boeing… to build faster aircraft?
• McDonalds… to make low-fat French fries that taste good?
This won’t happen of course because companies are profit driven and will do better on their own. A little less demagoguery about big oil would go a long way to solving the energy problem. Trust me, we will have alternative energy sources eventually. Many scientists believe that near incredible advances in nanotechnology will allow us to solve all our energy needs with solar power within 20 years.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Silly Science or Pseudo-science

I continue to despair over the continuing erosion of science and critical thinking, by various pundits, academics, and alleged scientists. It seems there has just been some sort of definitive study linking smoking and deaths. This study was conducted by examining approximately 30,000 death certificates. At first glance this would appear to be old news and in fact it is and for the same reason – there is no proven link. No death certificate has ever listed the cause of death as “smoked too much” or as “smoking related”. So studying death certificates by themselves is meaningless and any connection has to be made by interviewing friends, family, or neighbors who may or may not have any accurate view of the deceased habits. The entire argument against smoking lies not on any empirical evidence but entirely on statistical analyses which frequently rest on the A Priori assumption that there is a link, which permits the “scientist” to throw out any contradictory findings.

The total silliness of this sort of science seems to escape the media, the government, and even what passes for the scientific community. This same study based on death certificates could easily find a direct correlation between people who ate lettuce and who died of cancer. So where is the hue and cry to ban lettuce, to stop serving salads, and to force McDonald’s to stop putting this very dangerous item on their hamburgers? Obviously this is just a silly argument because eating lettuce doesn’t have any connection – other than statistical – with cancer, but this is the precise argument used relative to tobacco and smoking. The causation link is totally missing in both of these arguments but crusade against smoking and smokers marches on because “science” says so. Is this really science or pseudo-science?

More recently the crusaders and elitists having won the smoking war have moved on to the obesity band wagon. In fact the Social Security Administration has stated that “Obesity is a complex chronic disease”. Not only are Americans FAT but it is an epidemic disease. An NYU scientist has stated that purveyors of food products (read fast food sellers) should be subject to the same scrutiny and control as sellers of tobacco. In fact the hue and cry is for the government to tax all food products which these elitists deem to have little nutritional value. Clearly Americans are FAT because they are too ignorant and stupid to make proper decisions regarding their diet and since they have demonstrated this irresponsible behavior the government should force them through government restriction just like tobacco.

But what triggered this epidemic disease of obesity? It seems that from 1960 until 1980 about 45% of all Americans were classified as over weight but from 1980 until 2000 that percentage jumped to 64% or roughly two thirds of all Americans are overweight. How can this be? What has caused this “disease” to become an epidemic infecting over half of the population and rising? Well like all silly and pseudo science some critical thinking is in order. The reality is that the federal government – acting on your behalf and not on the behalf of purveyors of dietetic products changed the definitions of over weight and obesity. So at a stroke of the bureaucratic pen people who were not overweight or obese yesterday became obese and overweight over night. But has anyone challenged this change? Of course not because some other bureaucrat has determined that there is a direct correlation between fat people and healthcare costs.

The argument is that fat people are driving health care costs up because they require more medical attention. What is missing from this statistical argument is any comparison between the healthcare needs of those people who were previously not overweight or obese and those who suddenly became overweight and obese without gaining an ounce. This is a statistical shell game because the healthcare needs of those were suddenly reclassified and now be used to justify the conclusion that obesity is growing, that it is an epidemic, and that it is driving up healthcare costs.

What is missing of course is the other side of this argument, which is fat that people die sooner so the best way to reduce healthcare costs is to encourage people to eat more so they will die sooner. After all thin people live longer so they actually require more health care over their lifetime – statistics support this scientific conclusion. This argument would be funny if it weren’t so ridiculous, but this love affair with statistics doesn’t stop with health issues, it is permeating science at all levels.

Perhaps the real issue is not how statistics is replacing science but rather how critical thinking seems to be on the wane. For example there is a trend to establish various behaviors as “diseases” rather than as consequences of those behaviors. Thus we have alcoholism as a “disease” rather than the result of poor decisions. A French study concluded that rats could become addicted to cocaine. In this study 17% of the rats showed symptoms of addiction, meaning that the rats couldn’t control their need or desire for cocaine. Obviously what is missing here is that 83% didn’t become addicted and that the 17% who showed signs of addiction might just have been more tenacious than those rats that gave up. The conclusion was that addiction could be classed as a “disease” and thus the addict is not responsible and should not be held accountable. By this rationale virtually all anti-social behavior from an addiction to speed, sex, coffee, or even beer can now be excused on the basis that the individual is powerless to stop his compulsion. Those who have the temerity to challenge these diseases are subjected to the same intolerance now reserved for those who think that Evolution is a THEORY.

The state of science is unfortunately in sad repair. The idea that people should bear personal responsibility for their decisions and be accountable for the results of those decisions has virtually disappeared. Universities no longer seem to be centers of learning and bastions of critical thinking but have somehow evolved into propaganda machines spewing out graduates who accept virtually anything that they read or hear and believe that science based on statistics has the same value as science based on the scientific model. Silly science and pseudo-science are on the rise and empirical science seems to be in decline.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Science, Statistics, and Social Engineering

It is unclear as to when the decline of science began, but the decline was already underway when Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” was published in 1962. This book was used as a driving force in the international ban of DDT, even though after four decades of research DDT has never been shown to be harmful to man. In fact in order to bolster her case Carson cited cases of “acute exposures” to DDT as proof of its cancer causing abilities. She cited the case of a woman who sprayed DDT for spiders in her basement and then died a month later of leukemia. In another case she cited the case of a man who sprayed his office for cockroaches and a few days later was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. Of course these laughable examples show no empirical connection between DDT and the cancers and no responsible scientist would accept these as proof and to do so would be irresponsible. Yet no one questioned Carson or her conclusions at the time even though the actually observed results indicated DDT was not harmful to humans and the ban continues. But then there was the case of the impact of DDT on bird reproduction. The study Carson cited stated that DDT “may seriously affect reproduction of birds”. Of course the operative work here is “may” and the actual article indicated that DDT had only a minor negative impact on Quail but actually helped in the reproduction of pheasants.

But the real impact that DDT had was on human health, specifically malaria is immense. The World Health Organization credited DDT with saving 50 million to 100 million lives by preventing malaria. . In 1943 Venezuela had 8,171,115 cases of malaria; by 1958, after the use of DDT, the number was down to 800. India, which had over 10 million cases of malaria in 1935, had 285,962 in 1969. In Italy the number of malaria cases dropped from 411,602 in 1945 to only 37 in 1968. Since DDT was banned the number of cases of Malaria has increased and since the ban the number of cases in South Africa alone has increased 400%. So here is a case where no real science was used to further an ecological cause at human expense and what real science was available was ignored by Carson and the advocaes social engineering. Carson was convinced chemicals, like DDT were poisoning the environment and so used faith based "science" to create a problem with no real scientific basis. This was one of the early examples of Faith Based Science, but there were earlier ones.

In 1892 the Senate Committee on Epidemic Diseases concluded that cigarettes were a public health hazard. In 1964 the Surgeon General issued a report that cigarette smoking CAUSED lung cancer. Since that time there has been more than two dozen similar reports and the number of diseases related to smoking is now so high that virtually every disease is included and it is a wonder that anyone who smokes or who has even been around a smoker is still alive to tell about it. However, NONE of those reports has offered any proof that connects smoking to any disease and ignores the actual fact that the majority of smokers do not get lung cancer. To this day there is no empirical evidence that smoking causes cancer. This entire anti-smoking campaign is based on a statistical correlation and the side-smoke conclusions are not only statistical but based on an A Priori hypothesis which means any contrary findings were discarded. This is another and egregious example of Faith Based science because there is no scientific evidence showing smoking as the cause of cancer.

But given the success of their attack on tobacco the non-science scientists took that as a license to forego all of that tedious lab work and move on to data mining and this opened the door to pseudo-science based on statistics. We now see on a regular basis “scientific” claims that cancer is caused by Saccharin, Styrofoam cups, red meat, Oreo cookies, vasectomies, cotton swabs, orange juice, eggs, and the list goes on and on but it is not limited to cancer. Statistical correlations are being offered almost on daily basis to show some truly ridiculous claims. These are duy reported by the media even though there is no science or any real empirical evidence to support these statistical claims. The most recent example of a statistical "disease" is obesity.

Americans are overweight and the culprit is sugar, fast food, large portions,video games, lack of excercise, or whatever is currently in vogue. Everybody is on a diet, or at least everyone in the Northeast and West Coasts where appearance is everything. Of course much of this brouhaha is a direct result of a restatement of what constitutes “overweight”. The National Health Institute declared that 55% of Americans are overweight and the Social Security Administration declared “obesity is a chronic disease”. Did you get that? When you over eat and you gain weight it isn’t because you have no will power, nosiree – you have a disease and this disease is epidemic in America today. Note that the cry isn’t for science to find a cure for this disease – the demand is for the government to attack this epidemic through social engineering. The government should force Ronald MacDonald out of business, to stop people selling candy to kids, and in general to force people to eat healthy foods and a to eat a lot less so restaurants must reduce their portion sizes. Does that sound like science in action or do-gooders telling everyone else how to live? Where is science in all of this? We are assured that obese people have more medical problems than thin people – the statistics show that so there is no necessity to do any real lab work showing there is a direct connection between a disease of the body and the “disease” of obesity.

Science is definitely in decline and seems to becoming more of a belief system than any thing seriously based on the hallowed scientific method. Perhaps the best example of this erosion of science into social engineering is the declaration that alcoholism is a “disease” and not an example of irresponsible behavior. Precisely what the germ is that causes this disease or how you catch this disease is not described. It is enough to know that people who drink to excess and cannot control their behavior cannot be held accountable by society because that would require them to be personally responsible for their situation. Instead we call it a disease and that excuses them from accountability. Where is the science? Where is the empirical connection? Science is clearly in decline and quickly disappearing. I think I need a Big Mac.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

HALLELUJAH -- I Believe in Darwin

I have generally used this space to write about various things ranging from science to politics but previously I have not addressed things at a personal level but I feel I must respond personally because my comments on Intelligent Design have prompted the usual attacks from the Dawkins and Darwin true believers. The latest attack cites this WEB site, which purports to describe transitions but it looks like this is more of a description of adaptation rather than transition.

After reading this I truly wonder about the ability of the Dawkins / Darwin crowd to think critically. They seem to be on a crusade to prove that God does not exist, that Evolution, as stated by Darwin, is 100% accurate, and that anyone who even mentions Intelligent Design is some sort of a yahoo. The recent film by Ben Stein (EXpelled) cites example after example of the intimidating attacks launched against anyone who has the temerity to question Darwin. I never thought my humble little blog, which I admit is more an exercise in ego than anything else, would come under such emotional attack. I feel like I have violated some sort of unwritten law by challenging Darwin and equating what passes for Evolution as adaptation. So I would like make some personal comments in an effort to explain my position and defend myself as an intelligent person who simply is looking critically at Darwin.

First I believe in God. I truly think we are divine creations and not the arbitrary product of some random event that began with pond scum and ended with Homo Sapiens. I believe that God created us in his image but then God is pure energy as are we so God does not exist in some heaven floating above the clouds and has a long white beard. This means that our human form is not the exact image of God and how we came to be may indeed be a result of a line of Homininds. Secondly, I believe in Evolution and I think Darwin got much of it right and when you consider the state of science at the time, his achievement was remarkable. However, I also believe that Evolution as described is incomplete and contains some inconsistencies. The reality is that Darwin's book "The Origin of Species" doesn't really explain the origin of species. The examples cited for Evolution (which are accurate) demonstrate adaptation to changing enviroments and the link referenced above is an example of that. Fish are fish, dogs are dogs, and one species does not change into another -- at least that has not been demonstrated and I don't think the link shows that.

Then there is the issue of the origin of life. This has been a sticking point for science and while they have actually been able to create a replicating non-organic molecule the point that seems to escape the Darwinists is that this is really an example of Intelligent design. In fact the Darwinists are showing increasing signs of religion and religious intolerance in their attacks on anyone who even questions their God Darwin. The demands for the creation of life seem to be mathematically impossible (I am grounded in math and know how to manipulate numbers) so why not look to alternatives -- like Intelligent design. Apparently the Darwinsists are actually atheists so the cannot even consider any challenge to Darwin or the possiblity of an alternative because that alternaitve might lead to God. So instead the Darwinists have postulated Pan Spermia -- life from outer space. Who know's this might be possible but then if this is possible isn't that a form of Intelligent Design and even so why isn't God possible?

From there we go to the problem of speciation and this has never been explained and efforts to breed across species has failed. Since Darwin never actually addressed how species came to be, this had been a problem for the Darwinists and they have generally turned to mutations or cosmic particles creating mutations but these have largely been unsatisfactory so Stephan Gould came up with his "punctuated Equilibria" theory. Essentially Gould was trying to solve two problems the lack of transitional fossils and speciation. His theory may be right although it seems to have a number of holes in it. Essentially his theory states that for some reason one species will go through a series of rapid changes over a period of time measured in thousands of years and not millions and this accounts for a lack of transitional fossils. Gould himself stated that transitional fossils would probably never be found but now he is moving away from that statement, no doubt because to stand by it would threaten his career.

However, let's accept that Gould's theory has merit, so how many thousands of years are necessary for one species to morph into another? Ten, twenty, a hundred, a thousand -- oops that's a million, so it must be less. But we have evidence of animals and even humans that go back a million but still no evidence of those annoying transitional forms. Now Gould like virtually all of the Darwinists equate anyone who challenges Darwin as a "creationist", which really is an example of their towering ignorance as well as intolerance. The Creationists are different than those who ask for a hearing about Intelligent Design. All we are saying is that Evolution is incomplete, that the origin of life is unknown, how life on Earth began is unknown, and that alternatives like Intelligent design should be explored and if wrong demonstrated. Why this meets with such hostility is beyond me.

I have read article after article as the scientific community struggles to prove that Darwin and Evolution are totally correct and they are mostly right,but it is these aggravating details that they can't answer. They can't accept that God exists so rather than even examine that possibility they launch these attacks on anyone who even appears to be something other than a true believer.

This argument over Evolution is simply another manifestation of how science has become increasingly degraded as the requirement for empirical evidence is replaced by belief and statistical analyses. I think a little tolerance and a lot of critical thinking is in order.


Monday, May 19, 2008

The New Management Paradigm

Managing is an experience, but then so is a root canal and the two experiences seem to have much in common. That is both are some times painful but both have certain rewards once the pain is over. Still there are many people who desire to lead the band. To members of the band this seems like a great and enviable position but anyone who has stepped up front knows that if you want to lead the band you have to face the music. The reality is that the manager – or in the more contemporary term leader – is the focal point for dissatisfied customers, team members and superiors and that the actual ability to control or influence events is much less than what may be perceived and the larger the band the more this is so. Consequently some days the manager might prefer to set his hair on fire rather than go to the office, but then there are those other days when things actually go as planned. True the number of days when this happens is woefully few, but they do occur and in the long term that usually makes everything worthwhile. Leading may be a lonely business but it is also fun in the long run and can be rewarding even though it frequently means hours of wading through tedious details and listening to complaints and problems that would tax a saint.

And this brings us to one of the great unanswered questions, which is – why does anyone want to take on the task of managing much less leading. Of course no one really knows why anyone wants to subject themselves to the stresses of leading an organization but there is a huge gamut of reasons ranging from power to “some one has to do it” or to inheritance. But there really is a larger question and that is what the difference is between management and leadership. Even though it is generally acknowledged that there are differences between managers and leaders these differences are generally ignored as organizations strive to keep up with the current trends in management style. The old management style – that is planning and directing-- is now considered old fashioned and companies are moving to the new leadership style of inspiring and governing. This trend can be observed everywhere as organizations morph into teams and leaders replace managers and management is replaced by governance. The result is that the concept of managing an organization is disappearing as organizations melt into teams staffed by team members both real and virtual and management is transformed into governance. Of course when challenged very few executives can make a clear distinction between these terms. The terms manager and leader are used interchangeably just as management and governance are used interchangeably. It appears that our corporate executives have come to believe that with the stroke of their administrative pen they can update their organizations and transform their unwanted and outdated managers into leaders who govern the organization. It all seems so simple but alas contrary to what Shakespeare might believe there is more to it than just a name.

But those of us who must live with these changes know how it actually works. One day you are the Department Manager happy as a clam in your little bureaucratic heaven and the next day you are the "Leader" of a new downsized, reengineered, and streamlined team, ready for action and poised to meet the future. As if by magic your department has disappeared and in its place is this newly constituted team armed with processes and acronyms prepared to battle the reactionary elements who thought things were working fine and no change was necessary. Of course that’s because down in the trenches the new team looks suspiciously like the old department--except smaller. You find that at the stroke of the pen you have been transformed from a manager of resources into a leader of men (in the generic sense of course). But most of us have found that following this metamorphosis very little has changed in reality. The downsizing has left you with a smaller staff and a new title but with the same responsibilities. Well -- almost the same responsibilities because as the leader you are not only expected to manage this team but also be a part of the team (translation: do the work). You and the smaller staff must now do everything you did before plus work more hours to compensate for the reduced staff. Furthermore, as the leader you are expected to lead by example, which means that you have retained all of your old duties, taken on direct responsibilities for certain tasks formerly done by the staff, and added more hours to your work schedule. You find that you not only are doing everything you did before but you are also an active contributor with tasks of your own. Essentially as a leader in this new paradigm, management has become "an extra duty", something to be done in your spare time as a "background" activity.

This magical transformation of managers into leaders and the associated trimming of "excess" employees is then touted to the (those that are awake) board-of-directors and stockholders as an example of how the company executives are up-to-date and have the vision necessary to lead the company into the next century. They have eliminated all of those high priced middle managers and over priced workers and replaced them with highly trained professionals in low labor cost countries. They have created a virtual organization staffed by motivated leaders and enthusiastic "A" players. The company is now poised to meet the future head-on, but is it really?

The problem is that changing titles and reducing staff is an age old management strategy that may have an immediate impact on the bottom line, but without a change in operational methods it is at best an organizational band-aide. What is required is fundamental structural, cultural, and philosophical change, plus an understanding of the purpose/ reason for the changes and a clear vision of the future. The new managers (leaders) must have a clear understanding of how their position has changed and what is expected of them. Without these real changes and an understanding of the impact of the changes reducing staff and changing titles are merely euphemisms and administrative exercises that may actually hurt the performance of the enterprise more than they help. Therefore, magical transformations of managers to leaders won't work. Unfortunately, this hasn’t seemed to stop many executives as they struggle to meet cost reduction mandates. What is needed are new approaches to management and organization complete with new processes, uniformity, and standards, but most of all a clear mission. Perhaps the lack of a mission statement is really the problem but one rarely recognized in the race to reduce costs. In any event, reducing heads and moving work offshore is rarely the only answer and certainly not the first one to choose.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Climate Change Hypocrisy

There seems to be some really bad news for those uneducated and over educated alarmists who jumped on Al Gore’s self serving Climate Change Bandwagon. It is amusing watching the political sponsors backpedal and distance themselves from this “important” issue that they were so recently extolling. Both Barrack Obama and John McCain drank the Al Gore Kool-aide on Global Warming but now are suffering from the effects of unintended consequences as their support for ethanol as a fossil fuel replacement is causing alarming rises in food prices and creating worldwide food shortages. Apparently the politicians along with many of the trendy fashion setters on the East and West Coasts fail to understand that corn is not just eaten, it is used in a wide variety of ways – like corn syrup. John McCain has joined other GOP politicians in proposing that the Environmental Protection Age (aka We know what’s best for you agency) in loosening federal mandates on ethanol in the fuel supply. Barrack Obama in his usual breathtaking grasp of problems and solutions stated that “this is just something we are going to have to deal with”. Very decisive and I’m sure he HOPES that someone somewhere will come up with a solution while he is focused on CHANGE.

It is understandable that Al Gore has led the charge to de-industrialize the Western Powers, the US in particular, because after all he has admitted at a March 1st conference that he has a financial stake in various “green” companies that are pushing alternative energy sources. But this must be placed in context with his alarmist warnings “that what is at stake here is our ability to live on planet Earth, to have a future as a civilization.” But it seems that in light of recent developments both McCain and Obama are moving away from Gore and his “inconvenient truth” which was never the whole truth and certainly self-serving. What are these “recent developments?” Well it seems amidst the dire warnings from the Goreacle that the Earth was in imminent danger of becoming the “scorched Earth “ due to global warming, we are now faced with a cooling planet.

What science has learned from that old fashioned scientific standby – observation – and not easily manipulated computer models – is that temperatures on Earth have been cooling since 1998. Arctic sea ice is growing and the Antarctic summer thaw began later because of colder temperatures. Furthermore a report in Nature projects that cooler ocean currents are going to cause at least a decade of colder weather. This projection follows two straight mild hurricane seasons. This last winter was the worst that has been experienced in the US and Canada in some time and the snowfall in Michigan was the worst they have experienced in the last 50 years. And all of this happened in spite of a rise in carbon dioxide emissions.

These are facts which the Goreacle and other alarmists would rather not consider even though reputable climatologists have been sounding the warning that the Earth’s climate is a great deal more complex than a self-serving oracle like Gore realizes and that these dire warnings are very pre-mature. Nevertheless this debate is far from over but the spike in food prices and growing food shortages worldwide show the folly of premature action and a failure to understand the ever changing Earth and the scientists who study the Earth and its climate. Recently there was a great deal of media attention over a large calving glacier but what was not given the same amount of media attention was the explanation offered by a University of Alabama scientist (Roy Spencer) who dismissed all of the concerns by pointing out that this “happens every 150 years”. This is very indicative of the way the whole climate change hysteria has been handled by the media. In the early 19th Century Charles Lyell postulated the “Theory of Uniformitarianism” which essentially says that the geological processes that we see today are the same processes that have always existed. This means that it is very rare – if it occurs at all – for something to happen that has never happened before.

There has been concern over the Great Lakes and their falling water levels. This has been viewed as another example of global warming and environmental destruction brought on by irresponsible human activity. However, the Army Corps of Engineers who monitors these things has reported that Lakes Ontario and Erie are closer to record high water marks than they are to their low water marks and this is after just ONE snowy winter. Perhaps it is time for the environmental alarmists to re-examine their position now that it seems that so many of their concerns seem to be unfounded or at least not demonstrable based on empirical data. Computer models can be manipulated and must be verified based on actual observations. Instead of supporting his “Inconvenient Truth” self-serving hype and the de-industrialization of America based on the Kyoto Protocol, maybe it is time for Al Gore to listen to scientists specializing in the climate rather than psychology, sociology, or other unrelated disciplines.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

America and the UN

John Bolton the former Ambassador to the United Nations recently gave a speech in Phoenix Arizona, where he made some very pertinent comments regarding America and the United Nations. After reading his speech it is easy to see why the ultra-left hated Bolton and eventually forced him out once they controlled congress. Bolton makes it very clear that the UN does not meet its initial objectives but is truly a useless organization. I think most Americans realize this, or at least those who think critically think that the US would be better off leaving the UN altogether. It seems that Jeanne Kirkpatrick another former UN Ambassador when asked why the US didn’t pull out of the UN said “Because it is more trouble than its worth.” Bolton exacerbated the left by adding that at times the UN can be an effective instrument of American foreign policy. While that statement may seem accurate but innocuous to most of us, it is like throwing gasoline on to flame for the left, because the real devotee’s of the UN think that everyone’s foreign policy should be subservient to the UN. Of course no one’s is and every UN member tries to further its own interest but the only country criticized for that is the US.

However, Bolton points out a much more serious activity of the UN and one not really visible or even discussed in the US and that is what our European “friends” call “norming”. It is likely that you have not ever heard this term used although it is essentially what Al Gore and the liberals worldwide condemn America and President Bush for not doing. “Norming” is the belief that the US should base its decisions on some sort of international consensus, rather than making its decisions according to the democratic procedures established in the US Constitution. In fact at an international conference on law, a European University professor stated “That the problem with the United States is its devotion to its constitution over international norms”. This is a typical attitude found in Europe where they despise American strength as a dependent relative despises the one who supports him in his self-inflicted poverty. But exactly what is “norming” according to the UN?

Essentially the advocates of “norming” describe it as “one nation, one vote” which sounds very democratic, except what that means is that America and American laws would be subservient to the UN and it would be the UN resolutions that would prevail over the American Constitution, for example the question of the death penalty. This has been a subject of controversy in the US for decades and opinions have swung both ways. Some states have death penalty laws while others do not and this subject has been taken to the Supreme Court which has modified the laws so the death penalty can be handed out in appropriate cases. Regardless of whether you are for or against the death penalty the fact is that this has been handled within the Constitutional framework of the US. But with “norming” this case is closed and no discussion is either needed or allowed, the UN has decided against it. When the current Secretary of the UN General Assembly Ban Ki-moon stated that the question of the death penalty was up to each country to decide he was almost run out of town on a rail because this question had already been decided by the UN – meaning no country in the eyes of the UN could inflict the death penalty. Is it any wonder why the UN acts against American interests or why so many Americans want us out of the UN?

This was the same kind of response the US received regarding gun control. The UN wants to control the flow of light weapons and as part of this they want to forbid individuals from private ownership of guns. When it was pointed out that the US could not go along with this resolution because it violated our Constitution this was treated as some sort of specious notion and that the US Constitution had no relevance to UN resolutions. While the UN can quickly come to agreement on resolutions that control the actions of the US, they are much less capable – in fact totally incapable – of reaching consensus on such things as “terrorism”. Of course the fact is that the majority of the members of the UN are Islamic, have large Islamic populations, or sympathize with Islamofascism so it is no surprise to find that the UN believes there is “good terrorism” and “bad terrorism”. This is no surprise since many of the members see the US as a terrorist country and the Islamofascists as “freedom fighters”.

The fact that the UN is totally corrupt organization is really no surprise and the oil for food program under Kofi Anan was a vivid example of the endemic corruption in the UN. When Kofi Anan was forced into examining the UN program Paul Volcker found that the oil for food scandal was only the tip of the iceberg and he recommended a whole series of reforms not the least of which was an independent audit of UN Programs. Well the UN Budget Committee voted 2 to 1 against any kind of independent audit. The countries voting for it provide 90% of the UN funding (the US provides 22%) but were out voted.

The UN was supposed to have provided support and guidance toward peace and liberty but it has simply failed on all fronts. It has not prevented any war, it has not been successful at peace keeping, just as it has not been successful in enforcing any of its resolutions. It failed to enforce the resolutions against Saddam Hussein just as it has failed to enforce its resolutions against Iran. The UN is a failed organization and to continue funding it is not in America’s best interest. John Bolton maintains that the US should only fund what we want and then insist that we get precisely what we pay for. This is unlikely to happen so if the US cannot withdraw from the UN at the very least we should no longer just give them a bucket of unencumbered money to siphon off into the hands of corrupt bureaucrats.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Atheism, Dawkins, and Intelligent Design

The Atheist Community has launched an all out attack on Intelligent Design by equating it to “Creationism” which it is not and categorizing “Religion” as superstition, which – at least to some – it is not. It is also worth noting that when attacking religion and religious people the examples seem to always be Old Testament examples and not Jesus and the New Testament, but this is really beside the point. The point seems to be that the Atheists take the position that those who believe in God must demonstrate through the scientific method that God exists while they feel they have no responsibility to prove through that same method that He does not. However, that argument is really moot because the issue really pivots on the accuracy of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Any challenge to Evolution is seen as an attack on the theory per se and an effort by religious zealots to introduce religion into the study of science, but this really isn’t the case. The reality is that evolution as stated by Darwin has some issues and nagging questions, questions that science has not been able to explain. Of course the Darwinians take the position that just because science doesn’t have an answer that doesn’t mean they won’t have one in the future and therefore, Evolution is factual as stated by Darwin and no questioning of it is permitted. Those who have the temerity to challenge the Darwinians are subjected to intimidation, humiliation, and risk losing their careers. Those non-academics who question Darwin are simply dismissed as a bunch of religious zealots or ignoramuses. But it seems that the Darwinians are really not defending Evolution as much as they are denying God, these are actually atheists who see Evolution as a method to substantiate their belief so Intelligent Design must be denied at all costs, but it is the Origin of Life that is the rub.

The origin of life is a fundamental problem with the Theory of Evolution, because Darwin’s theory only addresses how life changes not how it began. Therefore the challenge for scientists is to demonstrate how life evolved from inorganic matter. This study has been named “Abiogenesis”

Experiments using inorganic components have been conducted for many years and these have been successful in creating organic molecules from inorganic materials but unfortunately these experiments have either started with components toxic to life or yielded results toxic to life. Much of the controversy rests on the primordial atmosphere of the Earth, which is unknown and must be assumed for the experiments. The mathematical probability of DNA being randomly generated is so great as to be impossible. Because of the failure for Abiogenesis to succeed in demonstrating the origin of life the Darwinists have postulated “Panspermia”, a theory which Dawkins supports or rejects as an explanation depending on his audience. Essentially Panspermia states that life originated elsewhere in the universe and landed on the Earth either via comets, meteorites, or even Aliens – Aliens whose technology is far superior to ours and so superior that they would have solved the question of life itself. Of course THAT solution would not be Intelligent Design because no advanced society could possibly arrive at such an unscientific explanation.

Bypassing the very serious question regarding the origin of life, Darwin himself stated that for his theory to be demonstrated three tests would have to be met. The first of these was that the fossil record would have to yield transitional fossils. To date the fossil record has been unyielding and while it shows various animals adapting to their environment it hasn’t shown any of these transitional forms. The second test is Natural Selection: The belief here is that nature will weed out those least able to survive in their environment and through time new species would evolve, through mutation or gradual improvements through genetic inheritance. This would be demonstrated in the fossil record. New and improved forms would exist in the newest strata with the original and more primitive forms being found in the older strata. This has not been the case and there are examples of the older forms coexisting with the newer and these all remain the same species and not new species.
The third requirement for Evolution is Random Mutation: This postulates that new species appear through a series of mutations that gradually change into new species. How this happens is never explained or demonstrated but mutations do occur but how they result is new species has not been demonstrated either in the lab or in the fossil record. To overcome this problem Stephan Gould postulated “punctuated equilibria”, as a means to explain how one species morphs into another taking place over thousands of years and not millions. This theory neatly eliminates the need for the fossil record to show any transitional fossils.

The fossil record also shows that life in the Pre-Cambrian to be very simple –akin to pond scum but with the Cambrian the oceans teem with life. These Cambrian creatures are complex organisms with eyes, mouths, and bodies –some of which are shelled. This is a fact and an inconvenient one that the theory of Evolution has not been able to explain other than to resort to punctuated equilibria, except that no new species have evolved in the recent period and if more than a few thousand years are involved then the fossil record should show the fossils, which it has not. It is important to understand that no one questions evolution in the form of adaptation, what is being question is the failure of the Darwinians to address speciation and the origin of life itself.

Dawkins and other atheists like him would have you believe that they speak for all of the scientific community but they do not – they may speak for the atheistic community which is undoubtedly composed of some scientists but not all scientists are atheists. They cling to Darwin with the same blind faith that others cling to God. They are convinced that science will ultimately answer how life began and that answer will not be Intelligent Design, even though their fall back position is Panspermia, which either avoids the issue altogether or is an example of Intelligent Design because the aliens from space are presumably intelligent and had some objective in mind when they seeded life on Earth. In any case, the complete failure of these academics to explore Intelligent Design is an example of their religious commitment to Darwin and closed mindedness to any explanation that might have metaphysical implications.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Intelligent Design and Modern Science

Since universities were first founded in the Renaissance they were supposed to be places of dialog and controversy, but almost from the outset the university faculties were not open to challenges or input from outsiders, they were closed societies. Nevertheless, science and learning progressed even as the minds of the scientific community quietly closed. Early in the 20th Century Physics was declared finished as a field of study because Newtonian Physics was all there was – until Einstein and Relativity, but then that in turn was replaced Quantum Physics. But the scientists didn’t seem to have learned their lesson from the debacle in physics instead they have with absolute certainty declared that all psychic phenomena, astrology, ESP, Reincarnation, and Intelligent Design are simply superstition and pseudo-sciences. They have made these statements even in the face of some rather impressive supporting observations, but these are topics that are simply out of bounds as topics for a serious discussion but the resistance to these is nothing compared to the commitment the scientific community has toward Evolution and the Big Bang.

Even though the Big Bang is widely accepted by many scientists, it carries some very unfortunate implications, which makes in unacceptable to many in the academic and scientific community. The problem stems from the fact that if all of the energy in the universe was contained in some primordial pinprick or speck of something. It could not exist in space or time because the Big Bang actually created space and time. It could not have had tangible mass because there was no space for it to occupy, so this singularity really has no scientific explanation although the scientists BELIEVE that one exists. Those who BELIEVE the creation of the universe was an act of God are scorned as yahoo’s but the fact that both beliefs are FAITH based is lost on the scientists and those who scorn anything that cannot be demonstrated except when they believe at some point in the future science will find the answer. Of course these are the same people who accept Psychology, Economics, Philosophy, and even some science without demonstrable proof or repeatability so they seem to have a double standard when it comes to Intelligent Design and God. People like Richard Dawkins and other atheists challenge religion to prove there is a God without accepting that they cannot prove there isn’t. They fail to see that their position is as much a faith based belief as the belief there is a supreme being.

The other topic that academia and many scientists reject as a topic of discussion is Evolution. Evolution is not in their view a THEORY but a FACT so no challenge is allowed and no contrary opinion or questions can be raised and to do so is to be ridiculed and exiled from the intellectual community. However, there are some significant flaws in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, not the least of which is that his seminal work “The Origin of Species” does not address the origin of species but merely reflects how existing species adapt to their changing environmental conditions. However, it seems relatively obvious that adaptation is factual and demonstrable but precisely how a new species arise remains a mystery but even that might eventually have a scientific answer. The real problem lies with the origin of life itself and this is where Intelligent Design enters the picture and where the Darwinists get the vapors. They not only get the vapors their explanations sound like they are coming from a stand-up comic.

Richard Dawkins when challenged to explain the origin of life, stumbled and mumbled and admitted that he actually doesn’t know how life began but that he is absolutely sure it began through some scientifically explicable process, a process that was random and absolutely positively did not reflect Intelligent Design. In the Darwinian World life began as a single self-replicating molecule that led to a single cell which led to pond scum and we are direct lineal descendants of pond scum. When Dawkins was confronted with the fact that science has not been able to create a self-replicating molecule so this theory of his fails the first test of the scientific method which is that the hypothesis must be demonstrable and repeatable, he simple says that we don’t know everything but THAT is how it happened. The similarity to those who believe in Intelligent Design never even enters his head.

When Dawkins is then confronted with the mathematical fact that for the 250 proteins necessary to form the DNA strand for a simple cell to form randomly is 1 in a trillion trillion trillion or to anyone other than Darwinist – zero chance of happening, he resorts to the Theory of Pan Spermia. If this Theory were described by a stand-up comic he would have the audience laughing but the Darwinists and Dawkins really take this theory seriously. Pan Spermia is a theory that aliens from outer space came to the Earth and started life or alternatively some space debris crashed into the Earth and brought simple life with it. The fact that this does not explain the origin of life but merely turns it into a geographic problem is totally wasted on Darwinists who insist that this explains the origin of life on EARTH, ignoring the original question which was how did life originate.

As hysterically funny Pan Spermia is, there is even one that is crazier and that is that life originated on the surface of CRYSTALS. In this case man is descended from rocks, which I presume explains why some people are hard headed, others hard hearted, and some are just diamonds in the rough. Nevertheless, this is actually a serious theory being put forth by Darwinians in their efforts to avoid Intelligent Design. In this theory molecules on the surface of crystals began replicating themselves and evolved into bacteria and thus life began. Precisely how the molecules became self-replicating is attributed to – and I quote “some mysterious force” sort of like “May the Force be with you”. How this “mysterious force” is distinguished from God is not allowed as a topic of discussion because as any Darwinian knows – God does not exist and Intelligent Design is just a code word for Creationism.

The reality is that the more science explores life and the origin of life the more difficult it is to avoid Intelligent Design as an explanation. Quantum Physics as well as Molecular Biology are leading us ever closer to Intelligent Design as the only logical conclusion. Whatever the ultimate answer will be it is certainly clear even now that the Darwinians do not have the answer and that the Theory of Evolution does not have the answers.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Science and Astrology the Meta-Science

Science continues to scoff at Astrology as anything more than superstition while continuing to insist that what they do and speculate about is real science. Thus we are treated to dark energy which no one is really sure what it is, dark matter which must exist because our equations don’t work otherwise, a big bang which must have happened although no one knows exactly how or why, evolution without any understanding of how life began and certainly no way of duplicating it which is the “real” test of science. Instead all examples of life after death are dismissed as endorphins in a dying brain, reincarnation as wishful thinking, and astrology as nothing more than a parlor game at best. Therefore, science is really not as exact and precise as they would have you believe and much of it is really as dependent on faith as religion and other meta-physical studies. For this reason Astrology can be called a meta-science because it doesn’t meet the rigors of the scientific method but then it offers some startling examples of accuracy so how it works or even if it works remains shrouded in mystery – just like the big bang and the origin of life.

Astrology is the study of how conditions in the universe affect everything in the universe, but especially the Earth and the people and events on the Earth. This study and the Zodiac go back to the earliest recorded histories and may actually go back even further given that Atlantis pre-dates most ancient history. Astrology was dignified as a serious study for thousands of years prior to falling out of favor in modern times when “science” became the answer to all questions and the “scientific method” became the litmus test for reality. That is, if the postulation could not be repeated or demonstrated mathematically, then it didn’t exist or was in fact – false. In the parlance of modern science 2 + 2 always equals 4, but then science also says that nothing can travel faster than light, but how do they know? If something is moving faster than light how would they know? Recent studies seem to indicate that things exist beyond the speed of light – imagine that? Perhaps one of these things is ESP or even Astral Rays ???

Astrology can be thought of as a study of events in space-time that consider the Sun, the Moon, and the Planets as the astral-harmonic of a particular moment that marks that event (birth) with a pattern that persists permanently. It is this effect of the stars that is challenged by science because it cannot be demonstrated, but is that really true? A research scientist was working with oysters to see how they would adjust to a changing environment. He had these oysters flown from the Atlantic Coast to Illinois laboratory. At first the Oyster’s attempted to open and close in time with the tides on the East Coast but within two weeks they were opening and closing with high tide in Illinois had Illinois been next to the ocean. Since the Moon is the driver of the tides, the Oysters seemed to be influenced by the Moon as it passed over Illinois.

Michel Gauquelin a French Scientist conducted some statistical studies of the positions of the planets at a person’s birth and their subsequent professions. He looked at the planetary positions when rising and when overhead. He found statistical correlations that people with Mars rising tended to become doctors, scientists, soldiers, or athletes rather than painters or musicians. His study was attacked because other studies did not confirm his findings but the subsequent studies looked at the general population rather than just professional athletes. The assumption was that everyone in the general population with Mars rising should have been an athlete. This represents a fundamental flaw in how science views Astrology and what makes it a Meta-Science. Astrology does not fix people into a set groove because there is no such thing as “destiny” there is only free will. Therefore, a person with Mars rising might be a doctor, soldier, or a scientist and not an athlete at all or none of these things. However, the potential for the person to succeed at any of these things is present. It is this potential that cannot be measured because individuals may choose to go in a totally different direction and decide to do things where they will have to work harder at being successful.

Ironically many of those skeptical scientists know their sun sign and check their horoscopes. Of course they explain that this is just “fun” and they don’t believe in any of it and will cite examples where their daily horoscope in the paper was wrong. This isn’t surprising because the Sun is only one of the astral sources that influence us each day and any reading that attempts to encompass everyone cannot be as accurate as one that looks at all of the planetary influences for a specific person. Even then a daily horoscope can only show the potentials for that day and these may or may not come to pass due to daily decisions and events. For this reason any meaningful study must be conducted using the natal charts because these can be analyzed over the life of the subject.

Is Astrology a science? The answer on the basis of repeatability ala the scientific method must be no, Astrology is NOT a science. But then it isn’t a pseudo-science either because it has some demonstrated predictability, so it falls into the realm of Meta-science. It is more than philosophy because it is more practical and demonstrable but it is less than Chemistry. It falls into a category similar to psychology which is more than guess work but not totally fixed either.