Archive for May, 2012

The Cut of His Jib

May 31, 2012

Glenn Reynolds is starting to like the cut of Romney’s jib. After following his links, I’m starting to, too. Mitt Romney may not be as conservative as I would like, but at least he is willing to fight. I think that McCain’s unwillingness to attack Obama was the single biggest reason for his loss. He may have felt he was being a gentleman, but look at the trouble we’ve had for the last three years.Romney, on the other hand is hitting back and actually defending himself. He didn’t let Obama get away with his ad campaign against Bain Capital. He didn’t let David Axelrod get away with attacking his record in his home state

I especially love how Mitt Romney organized a campaign event right outside Solyndra‘s headquarters. If Romney keeps it up, he just might be moving into the White House next year.

Astrologers Predict Win for Obama

May 30, 2012
Horoscope, Astrology

The stars have spoken

It must have been a slow news day at Yahoo News and Reuters yesterday. I can’t think of any other plausible explanation for this bit of nonsense.

NEWS ORLEANS (Reuters) – The votes are in and it is unanimous: Barack Obama will win re-election to the U.S. presidency in November, according to five astrologers who offered predictions at their convention on Tuesday.

Each of the five astrologers on the presidential panel explained how they came to their assessments, with most relying on studies of celestial charts pertinent to both Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney for the date of either the election itself or the next presidential inauguration.

There is more to the article, including an explanation of which planetary alignments make an Obama victory certain but I am not going to bother copying it. I remember when the media made fun of Nancy Reagan when it was revealed that she had consulted with astrologers. Maybe they owe her an apology now. They definitely owe their readers an apology for wasting our time with this foolishness.

Planned Parenthood Spending $1.4 Million for Ads Against

May 30, 2012

They have endorsed Obama, no surprise there, and they plan on spending $1.4 million on a ad campaign against Mitt Romney because he has promised to cut their funding from the government. From Yahoo News.

The political arm of Planned Parenthood officially endorsed President Barack Obama on Wednesday, and simultaneously announced a seven-figure ad buy targeting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

The $1.4 million television ad campaign, which will run in markets in Florida, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Iowa through June 19, criticizes Romney for pledging to end federal funding for the reproductive health group. Planned Parenthood has long been a target of Republicans because it provides abortion services and access to contraception at its clinics.

The 30-second ad, titled “Out of Touch,” is part of a larger effort to cast Romney as a candidate whose policies would be bad for women, a criticism that Obama and other Democrats have leveled throughout the year.

“Unlike President Obama, what Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to understand is that women’s health issues are economic issues for women and families,” said Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards in a statement. “The fact that Mitt Romney doesn’t understand that shows just how out of touch and wrong for women he really is.”

Considering that a majority of Americans now describe themselves as pro-life, it might be fair to wonder just who is really out of touch. It seems a corrupt business to me. Planned Parenthood gets taxpayer’s money, even though a great many tax payers might prefer that their money not go to an organization that provides abortions. They use some of that money to create an ad campaign in order to be able to continue feeding at the public trough. Maybe we should be asking why Planned Parenthood needs public funding in the first place. If their cause is necessary and good, than surely they would have no trouble raising enough money for their operation through private and voluntary donations.

The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization

May 29, 2012
English: Indus Priest/King Statue. The statue ...

English: Indus Priest/King Statue. The statue is 17.5 cm high and carved from steatite a.k.a. soapstone. It was found in Mohenjo-daro in 1927. It is on display in the National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. Deutsch: „Priesterkönig“ gedeutete Steinfigur der Indus-Kultur aus Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The earliest civilizations in history were the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, the ancient Egyptians and the Indus Civilization in Pakistan and India. Quite a lot is know about the first two, but the Indus Civilization is still a mystery. Their writing remains undeciphered so we do not know much about their history. We can’t even be certain of their ethnicity although it is very likely they were the ancestors of the Dravidian Indians. This civilization flourished for centuries but then collapsed quite suddenly from 1800-1700 BC. Evidently most of the inhabitants of the cities migrated eastwards. The cause of this collapse is unknown but this article in Yahoo news indicates that archeologists and historians are finding some answers.

The mysterious fall of the largest of the world’s earliest urban civilizations nearly 4,000 years ago in what is now India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh now appears to have a key culprit — ancient climate change, researchers say.

Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia may be the best known of the first great urban cultures, but the largest was the Indus or Harappan civilization. This culture once extended over more than 386,000 square miles (1 million square kilometers) across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, and at its peak may have accounted for 10 percent of the world population. The civilization developed about 5,200 years ago, and slowly disintegrated between 3,900 and 3,000 years ago — populations largely abandoned cities, migrating toward the east.

“Antiquity knew about Egypt and Mesopotamia, but the Indus civilization, which was bigger than these two, was completely forgotten until the 1920s,” said researcher Liviu Giosan, a geologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “There are still many things we don’t know about them.”

Nearly a century ago, researchers began discovering numerous remains of Harappan settlements along the Indus River and its tributaries, as well as in a vast desert region at the border of India and Pakistan. Evidence was uncovered for sophisticated cities, sea links with Mesopotamia, internal trade routes, arts and crafts, and as-yet undeciphered writing.
“They had cities ordered into grids, with exquisite plumbing, which was not encountered again until the Romans,” Giosan told LiveScience. “They seem to have been a more democratic society than Mesopotamia and Egypt — no large structures were built for important personalitiess like kings or pharaohs.”

Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and ex...

Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and extent of Indus Valley Civilization (green). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My high school history textbook theorized that the people of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro had a “Bronze-Age totalitarian” system of government because the cities and buildings were so similar to each other. It seems the authors were wrong.

The researchers’ conclusion is that the Indus Valley Civilization collapsed because of changing climates. If I am not mistaken, about this same time period, or somewhat earlier, the Sahara Desert was also becoming drier.

Some had suggested that the Harappan heartland received its waters from a large glacier-fed Himalayan river, thought by some to be the Sarasvati, a sacred river of Hindu mythology. However, the researchers found that only rivers fed by monsoon rains flowed through the region.

Previous studies suggest the Ghaggar, an intermittent river that flows only during strong monsoons, may best approximate the location of the Sarasvati. Archaeological evidence suggested the river, which dissipates into the desert along the dried course of Hakra valley, was home to intensive settlement during Harappan times.

“We think we settled a long controversy about the mythic Sarasvati River,” Giosan said.

Initially, the monsoon-drenched rivers the researchers identified were prone to devastating floods. Over time, monsoons weakened, enabling agriculture and civilization to flourish along flood-fed riverbanks for nearly 2,000 years.

I guess they should have paid more attention to their carbon footprint. Actually, the cause of the changing climate was entirely natural.

“The insolation — the solar energy received by the Earth from the sun — varies in cycles, which can impact monsoons,” Giosan said. “In the last 10,000 years, the Northern Hemisphere had the highest insolation from 7,000 to 5,000 years ago, and since then insolation there decreased. All climate on Earth is driven by the sun, and so the monsoons were affected by the lower insolation, decreasing in force. This meant less rain got into continental regions affected by monsoons over time.”

Eventually, these monsoon-based rivers held too little water and dried, making them unfavorable for civilization.

“The Harappans were an enterprising people taking advantage of a window of opportunity — a kind of “Goldilocks civilization,” Giosan said.

Eventually, over the course of centuries, Harappans apparently fled along an escape route to the east toward the Ganges basin, where monsoon rains remained reliable.

“We can envision that this eastern shift involved a change to more localized forms of economy — smaller communities supported by local rain-fed farming and dwindling streams,” Fuller said. “This may have produced smaller surpluses, and would not have supported large cities, but would have been reliable.”

This change would have spelled disaster for the cities of the Indus, which were built on the large surpluses seen during the earlier, wetter era. The dispersal of the population to the east would have meant there was no longer a concentrated workforce to support urbanism.

“Cities collapsed, but smaller agricultural communities were sustainable and flourished,” Fuller said. “Many of the urban arts, such as writing, faded away, but agriculture continued and actually diversified.”

They did have to put in a little something about global warming/climate change at the end of the article.

It remains uncertain how monsoons will react to modern climate change. “If we take the devastating floods that caused the largest humanitarian disaster in Pakistan’s history as a sign of increased monsoon activity, than this doesn’t bode well for the region,” Giosan said. “The region has the largest irrigation scheme in the world, and all those dams and channels would become obsolete in the face of the large floods an increased monsoon would bring.”

But this is an important point and I think a whole lot more research needs to be done on changes in climate in the past. I suspect that the rise and fall of empires has as much to do with the energy output of the sun and changing winds and currents as anything humans can do.

 

First Gay President

May 29, 2012

I think this cartoon explains a lot.

 

It is as though actual facts don’t matter.

Banned on Youtube

May 28, 2012

Youtube has banned this video.

http://widget.newsinc.com/single.html?WID=2&VID=23628338&freewheel=69016&sitesection=breitbart

I think that they were right in doing so since the content is full of extreme, hateful, and homophobic statements regarding gay marriage. This young women actually has the strange notion that marriage should be only between a man and a woman. Even worse, she believes in God and that the Bible contains rules that ought to be followed. Such bigotry and hate speech must not be tolerated. Clearly, the public schools of North Carolina have failed to indoctrinate her properly with the correct opinions.

Come to think of it, I bet she was home-schooled. They need to ban that sort of thing. Otherwise we might have a generation of Americans who are capable of thinking for themselves and who knows where that might lead?

She is not the only one they are trying to censor.

Update: I notice that her video is back on youtube, for now. Since I can’t seem to get the embed from breitbart to work properly here is the embed from youtube.

 

The left are like a bunch of cockroaches. They thrive in the darkness but when a light is shined upon them they scatter. And yes, she is home schooled.

Memorial Day Weekend

May 27, 2012
Arlington National Cemetary

Arlington National Cemetary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Memorial Day is tomorrow. Unfortunately, for me, the most significant aspect of this weekend and the preceding week leading up to it is that it is one of the weekends of horror. I have been working 10-12 hours every day this week, including today.

Memorial Day first started to be observed after the Civil War. That war was the bloodiest in American history and the casualties of that war were unprecedented. The number of killed and wounded in the three previous declared wars, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War, were insignificant compared to the slaughter house that the Civil War became. After the war people in both the North and South began to commemorate the soldiers who died for their country. The date of this commemoration varied throughout the country until it settled on May 30.

In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill. This law moved the dates of four holidays, including Memorial Day, to the nearest Monday in order to create three-day weekends. This, I think, was unfortunate. I believe that converting the day on which we honor our fallen heroes into a long weekend tends to diminish the significance of this day. It becomes no more that day to take off work and for businesses to have sales. There should be more to Memorial Day.

The Dark Side of Walter Cronkite

May 24, 2012

It seems that there is a new biography of Walter Cronkite out. It was written by Douglas Brinkley and presents Cronkite in less than a flattering light. it would seem that he didn’t always tell it the way it was. This comes as no surprise to many Conservatives who already noted his biases and untruths. Here are some excerpts from a review by Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast.

In reading this first major biography of Cronkite, I came to realize that the man who once dominated television journalism was more complicated—and occasionally more unethical—than the legend that surrounds him. Had Cronkite engaged in some of the same questionable conduct today—he secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 GOP convention—he would have been bashed by the blogs, pilloried by the pundits, and quite possibly ousted by his employer. That he endured and prospered, essentially unscathed, until his death in 2009 reminded me of how impervious the monopoly media were in those days, largely shielded from the scrutiny they inflicted on everyone else.

But he was far more liberal than the public believed, and he let it show in unacceptable ways. Had Cronkite pulled such stunts today, I would probably be among those calling for him to step down.

Barry Goldwater distrusted him from the start, and with good reason. On the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Cronkite nodded his head in thinly veiled contempt when handed a note on air that the Arizona senator had said “no comment.” Goldwater was attending his mother-in-law’s funeral that day.

“Whether or not Senator Goldwater wins the nomination,” Cronkite told viewers another day, “he is going places, the first place being Germany.” Although Goldwater had merely accepted an invitation to visit a U.S. Army facility there, correspondent Daniel Schorr said he was launching his campaign in “the center of Germany’s right wing.” During Goldwater’s speech at the 1964 convention, some conservatives fed up with the networks gave Cronkite the finger.

Four years later, after Cronkite had belatedly turned against LBJ’s Vietnam War, he met privately with Robert Kennedy. “You must announce your intention to run against Johnson, to show people there will be a way out of this terrible war,” he said in Kennedy’s Senate office. Soon afterward, Cronkite got an exclusive interview in which Kennedy left the door open for a possible run—the very candidacy that the anchor had urged him to undertake. (Kennedy announced three days later.) I am shaking my head at the spectacle of a network anchor secretly urging a politician to mount a White House campaign—and then interviewing him about that very question. This was duplicitous, a major breach of trust.

There were more serious infractions as well. In what would likely be deemed a firing offense today, Cronkite blatantly manipulated an interview with LBJ shortly before Johnson died. According to Brinkley, his producer spliced the footage in unflattering ways, reshooting Cronkite asking the questions so it appeared that he was nodding or raising his eyebrows in disgust when Johnson talked about Vietnam. LBJ saw a rough cut and pronounced it “dirty pool”; I would call it a video version of lying. Under pressure from the former president’s team, CBS undid the misleading editing, so the public never learned of the deception

Brinkley’s book will undoubtedly tarnish the Cronkite legacy. But my admiration for the man is only partly diminished. Perhaps it is too easy to judge him by today’s standards, any more than we should condemn Thomas Jefferson for owning slaves. Perhaps he simply reflected his times, when some journalists and politicians quietly collaborated, when conflicts of interest were routinely tolerated, when a powerful media establishment could sweep its embarrassments under the rug. Cronkite thrived as television came of age, always protecting what we would now call his brand. That’s just the way it was.

The news media really hasn’t changed all that much from Cronkite’s time, except to become more trivial and even more blatantly partisan. They actually have competition now, and they haven’t adapted very well to the new world in which they are no longer the sole gatekeepers of information. There will never be another man as trusted as Walter Cronkite.

On the whole, I think that a good thing. Whatever you may think of Cronkite, and I didn’t think much of him, I do not think it healthy or desirable to have one man with so much influence on public opinion. I much prefer the brave new world of media diversity.

The Deep Things of God

May 21, 2012
The Shield of the Trinity is a diagram of the ...

The Shield of the Trinity is a diagram of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Evangelical Protestants generally put more emphasis on the saving message of the Gospel than on abstract points of theology.  As the name might indicate, (evangelion is the Greek word that translates as the Gospel, or the Good News), they have been far more interested in proclaiming the Good News than in engaging in speculations on the nature of God that are not immediately relevant to the Gospel. Among the doctrines, that they do not emphasize is the doctrine of the Trinity.

 

The Trinity, the doctrine of three persons in one Godhead, seems to be the Christian doctrine farthest removed from the concerns of everyday life. It would be fair to say that very few Christians spend much time thinking about this sort of theology, especially since it is a doctrine that is somewhat counter-intuitive. Evangelicals, like every other branch of orthodox Christianity accept and believe in the Trinity, but it does not seem all that urgent to try to understand, or explain.

 

Fred Sanders in his book, The Deep Things of God, asserts otherwise. The doctrine of the Trinity is of immense importance in understanding what might be called “the Economy of Salvation”, that is to say why and how God chose to give up His Son to die for our sins. He explains that the story of the Gospel is but a small part of the greater reality of the Three in One God, who has existed from all eternity.  This truth, whether we acknowledge it openly, or understand it implicitly, shapes the Christian’s understanding of God, the Scriptures and our prayers.

 

In general, I liked this book and found it encouraging and informative. I also found it a bit dull and repetitive in places and it took me longer to read this book than it might have for books of similar length. This is more of a matter of personal taste than a judgment of the quality of the book and the ideas contained in it.

 

Civil Rights Outrage in Florida

May 21, 2012

Once again the Republicans are trying to suppress the voting rights of minorities. I read that the Secretary of State of Florida has purged the voter rolls of 53,000 voters whose only fault is that they happened to be dead. Here is the story at Breitbart.com.

The Florida Secretary of State has discovered 53,000 dead voters registered to vote. The Secretary of State has also flagged thousands of potential non-citizens who are also registered to vote. This discovery is indicative of a wider national problem with dead and ineligible voters on the rolls heading into the Presidential election.

In the 2012 legislative session, Florida finally passed a law requiring the use of the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) to determine if dead people are registered to vote in Florida. Secretary of State Kurt Browning and then-State Election Director Don Palmer proposed this idea in the previous legislative session, but the bill did not pass.

Florida discovered the dead voters by matching voter rolls against the SSDI.

The SSDI is the list of Americans who have died and applied for death benefits. Because an application must be submitted by the next of kin and carries criminal penalties for false statements, it is considered the most accurate list of dead voters available.

Yet most states don’t use the SSDI. Instead, they use a hodge-podge of other information, usually compiled from the state bureaus of vital statistics. But state bureau reporting is slow and incomplete.

Three counties in Florida have reported more citizens registered to vote than people alive eligible to vote – St. Johns, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa – according to the most recent Election Assistance Commission report.

Having dead people infesting the rolls is the first step to voter impersonation.

This is America and the right to vote ought not to be denied because of race, sex, national origin, creed, orientation, or status of life. The dead, or Necro-Americans have the right to vote too.I am sure the Necro-Americans especially resent terms like “infested” or “corrupted” to describe their presence on the voter rolls. I am just glad we have an Attorney-General who is willing to fight against this kind of discrimination.

 

Necro-Americans


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