Tag Archives: News

—A Driving Experience in Anchorage, Alaska

As I was driving South from Anchorage, Alaska, I saw some debris on the Seward Hwy. in the right lane. Ahead, a truck stopped completely in the left—the fast passing–lane. I thought he might have blown a tire, so I continued rather than completely blocking the road. Then I saw the large moose on the right shoulder, just before he decided to step into the roadway directly in front of me. I swerved hard into the left lane, then had to swerve hard back into the right lane to miss the truck stopped dead on the left. The center line had a film of ice and compacted snow, and the SUV is a bit top-heavy and has a very soft suspension, which made everything more interesting than I usually prefer. I’m sure the automated traction control helped, but it seemed to compensate a little behind the real-world events. If I had instinctively slammed on the brakes in the process, I probably would have rolled it at least once. I couldn’t see far enough behind me to see if everyone else on the road missed the animal, and the truck driver and I both eventually went on our respective ways.

Thankfully, it has been a somewhat less memorable Christmas Eve than it might have been. At least I didn’t spill the lattes….

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—Or, Why There are No Climatology Rock Stars

Scientists Respond to “Climategate” E-Mail Controversy: Scientific American

U.N. Climate Talks Deadlocked as Clashes Erupt Outside – Europe | Map | News – FOXNews.com

Watch a TV show about Astronomy or Physics, or maybe Paleontology, and you will likely hear a lively discussion about various alternate hypotheses about observed phenomena, witness something of the scientific process of trying to understand the Universe, maybe even see a heated argument or two.  Every time a bird drops a scrap of baguette in the  Large Hadron Collider, it’s front-page news.  Guys like Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson are very popular in their efforts to communicate the discoveries of current scientific explorations to the general public—probably the closest scientists get to being rock stars.

Ask a professional climatologist how he arrived at theories of global warming and carbon trading, and you will likely be branded a knuckle-dragging Republican.  What is the difference?  Why is it okay for a field of scientific inquiry to be conducted by ad hominem tirades and squiggly lines as innocent of demonstrated statistical integrity as a Scientology tract?  

The difference is that the climate debate isn’t about science, or the climate, and it’s certainly not about the welfare of the species or the planet.  It’s about a political opportunity to intimately control people, by restricting their access to energy, by taxing them for living their lives. 

People will not stop eating, breathing, and moving about the world because of a squiggly line that curls up on the end.   If the proponents of anthrogenic climate change theories and radical intervention in energy production and global weather won’t rationally discuss their reasoning and the basis for their findings with the rest of us, we will have to reach our own conclusions without them. 

And if there really is a looming climate crisis, this sneering condescension does the species a grave disservice.

—Thanksgiving…Really!

We are now officially living in “interesting times”.  Everything seems to be in a state of collapse—government, law, morals, ethics, personal judgement, democracy, religion, public trust, and just about anything else people ever placed their faith in, except the one thing which people can put their faith in.  The more we explore with our science and technology, the less sense the Universe makes.  The more we legislate and adjudicate with our “common sense” and “wisdom”, the fouler and more despicable our public institutions become.   The whole world economy is on the precipice of an abyss, at a time when the most powerful government in history is in the hands of people who apparently think its destruction is a good idea—a prelude to some witless notion of a “revolution” which has already failed miserably everywhere else it’s been tried.

It not just that everything humanity depends on is falling apart—-nothing humans depend on ever worked in the first place.   It just that now even our collective delusions of civilization are disintegrating.

And so, I am thankful beyond adequate words that God in His mercy has provided something we can depend on, and hope for, and look forward to, and which we can be joyful in even as we speak:

Romans 8:37-39 (New International Version)

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

–Car DVRs for Driving Safety?

Gizmodo:  Specialized DVR For Cars Could Make Teens Better Drivers

Spy-in-the-cab could improve teenage driving – tech – 08 November 2009 – New Scientist

Some of us had this discussion recently.  I posted a suggestion about something similar some time ago.  Looks like others are thinking about it, too.  But why only teens?  Cars will need full black boxes with 360° video coverage for delinquents of all ages to stop the psychopathic butchery of tens of thousands on U.S. roads annually.  We have become so desensitized to this staggering loss of life that people will probably stall any corrections with squabbling about “privacy”, and so on, but something has to be done.

Or we could start driving sanely, with greater concern for the welfare of others than for our own convenience and egotistical dominance. 

Try an experiment:  The next time you’re in the grocery store, and you’re ready to check out, don’t wait in line—just force your way to the front, and push any elderly people or preoccupied moms with coupons out of your way.  It’s your line, no waiting!  Who gave them the right to be in front of you?!

What would you say if you saw such behavior in public—stupid, inexcusable, should be arrested, or maybe you think nobody would actually act like that?  So why do you drive that way?

—ARES 1-X Test Flight

Ares I-X launches – managers claim successful test flight | NASASpaceFlight.com

The main ascent components seemed to work, although no telemetry results have been revealed yet.  As the dummy upper stage/spacecraft/abort system separated, it tumbled violently instead of coasting along the flight path, as if unguided.  As it appeared certain to swing around and impact the coasting booster, they froze the NASA-TV feed.  According to NASASpaceflight.com, only two parachutes on the booster deployed.  There was no live coverage of the descending booster, and controllers appeared to have lost all live communication with the flight systems.

[nm about the ascent plume business—I suspect it was a view as the nozzle gimballed away, then they switched flight cameras.]

Mostly successful in that it didn’t hit the tower and fly sideways into Atlantis on the other pad, or shake itself to bits on ascent.  But since it was essentially a Shuttle SRB in a manned spacecraft costume, the relevance to future development will be a matter of marketing rather than actual engineering.

—APA: No Choice for Homosexuals

 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV)

9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  [my emphasis]

Psychologists Reject Gay-to-Straight ‘Therapy’ – Health News | Current Health News | Medical News – FOXNews.com

The APA, of course, is speaking from political expedience rather than any sort of scientific or professional rigor.  Like “justice” in America, “science” is whatever makes important people feel more important—almost always at the expense of making some other group feel less important.   

How do you know you’re dealing with charlatans?  It’s the oldest trick in the quack’s little black bag;  the “science cannot prove” dodge:— “There’s no evidence… ” a proponent of the APA report says, that remedial therapy is of any use for those whose homosexual tendencies conflict with their religious beliefs. 

The report advises “…therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development “.  

When advocates of various sorts of sexual “diversity” first began to co-opt the momentum of the Civil Rights movement of the ’60’s and ’70’s (I first heard these sorts of arguments at the U. of Texas, in around ’73), they steered public consciousness down a dark alley.   As far back as the early ’80’s, we were already seeing attempts by advocates of pedophilia to construe themselves as a disadvantaged “lifestyle”.  The collective decision of politically influential people and groups to go in this direction will have—actually already have had— consequences—what sorts of other behavior will receive public acclaim and advocacy next?  There are, in fact, studies which almost reasonably argue that murderers and other criminals are genetically predisposed—have a “natural tendency” —to their “lifestyle”.  I mean, why not? 

Of course, Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians (the Biblical letter, not the South American soccer club) includes all sorts of behaviors, in addition to homosexuality, which are destructive to the Church and society in general;  thieves, swindlers, and even malicious gossipers are included.  Paul also makes no distinction of the degree of evil these behaviors represent, and they all have the same outcome.  Those practicing these things will destroy themselves, unless they repent and pursue God’s way (see also Phillipians 3:12-14 ).  Paul makes it clear that people in the Church at Corinth had been guilty of the behaviors listed, but that faith in Christ had brought them out of those things.  Now they are new people (2 Corinthians 5:17), and the old, destructive ways no longer enslave them. 

Political and social expedience has had its say in the matter, and has proved to be a complete waste of time and peoples’ lives for centuries—“maybe it will work this time”, but it’s not a good bet. 

Jesus gave us a way to set aside behaviors and ways of thinking that can only destroy us, and move toward rescue and rebirth, hope and a new life, safely guided by His Spirit toward an eternal home.   Ignore what the “important people” say—we have a choice!

—Health Care Debate: Morally Bankrupt vs. Habitually Evil

My Way News – Analysis: Obama facing tough choice on health care

Why is everyone missing the point?  Let me try to explain:

My father became seriously ill one night in the late ’90’s, and was taken to the hospital in Orange, Texas.  I didn’t rush over to see about things, because there was no indication of urgency.  I have some experience in the life sciences, and there is at least a remote chance that I might have been able to prevent the fiasco that transpired, if I had the seething distrust and loathing of the medical profession then that I have now. 

The small-town hospital didn’t know what to do, and transferred him to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont.  It was the weekend, and the “B” team  on call made a classical medical blunder—they misdiagnosed congestive heart failure as pneumonia. 

The cardiac team that moved in to clean up—or rather cover up—the blunder went into hard-core damage control mode.  Our attempts to get information on my father’s condition deteriorated into several screaming matches with the cardiac professionals and the hospital administrator.  They punished our insolence by declaring that my father had contracted an antibiotic-resistant bacterial strain so they could put him in isolation and restrict our attempts to visit him.  He was, by this time, on a ventilator and a constant feed of morphine (which is how they keep elderly patients quiet until the insurance runs out).   

Rather than watch my father murdered slowly,  I next attempted to have him transferred to any of several hospitals in Houston, where most of the family lives.  This would have required a physician in Houston to take over his case.  All refused out of hand, including physicians who are prominent in our Church and have known us for years.  It would have required some physician to go against the wishes of a very prominent cardiac group in Beaumont, and nobody would have anything to do with our request.

My mother wanted to take him home to care for him, which would have been nearly impossible.  Thus, I made my second critical mistake in dealing with my father’s final illness.  I suggested that we get a doctor from nearby Port Arthur to come by and see him in the hospital and give us an independent opinion on his condition and recommendations for his further care.  A doctor I called agreed to see him the next day.  I actually thought we had reason to hope that we could then get him transferred to a non-demon-spawned medical institution.

So, still foolishly believing that even the monstrously evil medical professionals we had been screaming at in desperation to stop them from torturing my father to death would have some vestigial level of humanity,  I left my father in that Hell-hole of a hospital for one more night.  Worse,  I actually faxed the hospital administrator to tell him that a doctor outside the Beaumont cardiac establishment would be stopping by to see my father. 

It never occurred to me that they would just murder him.  But they did, and I was told the next morning that he had died—at just about the time they would have arrived in their offices, and read that message on the fax machine, plus—presumably—the time it would have taken to drop by his room and give him a little extra morphine. 

They did suffer a brief period of evident panic when I demanded an autopsy.  (There were nervous phone calls, and threats to make us pay for it.)  My mother couldn’t face the prospect, however. 

Strangely, every law firm I contacted about the situation was somehow involved with the very prominent cardiac care group responsible and couldn’t represent us.  Other family members finally couldn’t take anymore, and the matter was dropped, at least from the standpoint of mere temporal, human justice.

——

In later years, I have visited terminally ill, long-term care patients often enough to learn how you can tell when the insurance coverage is about to run out.  You see, the hospital chaplain comes around, to fret with the family that the patient “just needs to let go”. 

——

Recently, we tried to help a family friend who couldn’t work because of multiple strokes, and has no health care benefits.  Since the friend had to depend on municipal charities for her considerable medical expenses, she had to go to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston on two occasions when she suffered serious psychiatric breakdowns (One involved threatening her clinic physician).  On both occasions, we left her in the care of the alleged charity hospital, only to have her discharged by the staff within hours.  Apparently they deduced some sort of miraculous cure, and dumped her out in the lobby.

——

So it is not without some experience in the matter of health care in America that I have concluded that the Great Health Care Debate is irrelevant and fraudulent at best, and Hell’s joke on the human race at worst.  I said earlier that private health care would leave you out in the street to die if you couldn’t pay, while government managed heath care would leave you out in the street to die if they found you politically unreliable.  Neither is an acceptable model of anything which should be mistaken for humane, responsible, competent medical care.  The powerful will continue to torment and abuse the weak as they have done for centuries, no matter who pretends to pay for the process for whatever political or economic advantage.

The foundation of caring for the sick, poor, and helpless among us is not to be found in actuarial tables or economic-management models, however cutting-edge they might seem at the time.  An evil people will always produce evil results, special professional oaths to the contrary notwithstanding. 

Jesus knew us for the evil beings we were in His day, and how much more evil we would be able to accomplish later when augmented with superior technology.  He gave us the Law which actually works, from the God Who Actually Exists, and His Life in our place, so that a relative handful of us might avoid the most permanent consequences:

Matthew 22:37-39 (New International Version)

37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

—Robert McNamara dies

My Way News [AP] – McNamara, defense chief during Vietnam War, dies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_McNamara

Controversial and occasionally infamous Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Robert S. McNamare has died.  THe Vietnam War was a constant feature of life and news when I was growing up, and so was McNamara. 

He was involved in many infamous decisions of the 1960’s,.  I especially remember the micro-managed war itself, and the mismanagement of the Army’s M-16 rifle.   I recently saw “Fog of War“,  a documentary on his life, including the peculiar “bean-counter”  business-analysis approach he seemed to typify.  In the documentary, he discussed his involvement in analysis of strategic bombing of Japan in WWII under Curtis LeMay, leading up to the low-level fire bombing attacks that, in some cases, killed more people in a night than the atomic bombings.   The historical context and experience he provided in this way would be invaluable for current and future policy makers, if they took the time to review them.

He seems to have spent much of his later life repenting of his involvement in war and politics, and advocating projects to combat poverty.

—Celebrity Medicine?

Extremely famous people don’t seem to fair well when they get sick, especially when they fail victim to mental illness. 

Howard Hughes, for example, suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder, together with an addiction to codeine.  [The Aviator]  [Howard Hughes – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]  But instead of obtaining treatment for the underlying causes of his bizarre behavior, his associates simply went along with Hughes’ demands. 

By some accounts, the examiners who conducted Michael Jackson’s autopsy were alarmed by the amount of scar tissue in his face.  Someone in a position to know better has been regularly reinforcing Jackson’s obvious,  pathological obsession with self-mutilation, eventually transforming the singer’s appearance into that of a hideous marionette. 

The motives in these cases can only be guessed, but they were not the welfare of the patients. 

—Internet Surveillance: Links

I’m just beginning to look for information about how this stuff works,  inspired by efforts to maintain communications with citizens of repressive regimes, such as Iran and China.  There is a lot of information about proxies, relay systems, encryption, and so on, but in many cases the authors start by telling you why the stuff you just spent thirty minutes reading about can’t possibly work.  Each approach to defeating surveillance appears to have serious limitations and dangers.  Eventually, run-of-the-mill Internet criminals, spammers, and hackers will jump into this melee and find new ways to exploit people that use these external web-based defenses, sometimes in defense of their lives.

General summary of how surveillance defenses work, maybe:

Internet Surveillance And Iran: A Primer – The Atlantic Politics Channel

More general information:

Outsmarting the Online Privacy Snoops – PC World

Then there’s:

Can you ever be anonymous on the Web? – ZDNet.co.uk

Tor, which is apparently a network of open relays to allow users to disguise their original IP address  [which used to get you in all sorts of trouble with your ISP] : 

Tor: anonymity online

Some of the anonymizing systems apparently intend to profit from the misfortunes of repressed citizens.  Freegate’s description says, for example, “Without license, user may be able to use it for a few minutes.”  If you’re trying to post a video clip to YouTube of your family being clubbed and dragged away , this is going to be inconvenient, at best:

The Privacy Blog Freegate – Free software downloads and reviews – CNET Download.com

One of numerous accounts of how to set up proxies.  There are also numerous accounts of why proxies aren’t working against the Iranian regime—at some point, you have to tell someone inside Iran where the proxy is.   Encryption, likewise, requires the key to be available to the target audience.

Ubuntu Tutorials : Dapper – Hardy – Intrepid – Jaunty / Create Anonymous Squid Proxy For Iranian Election Protestors

A forum with specific discussions of anti-surveillance tactics in Iran:

Why We Protest – IRAN – Keeping Your Anonymity In Iran

Change IP Address » Blog Archive » Change IP Proxy – Leave No Footprints

Since the Internet is essentially amoral, however, the usual crop of thieves, spammers, and salesmen have already started to invade the discussions and Twitter hashtag groups.  Whether the stuff they offer even works is a matter of speculation.  Meanwhile, actual information from inside Iran seems to be drying up.

[The claim by the Wall Street Journal—which I quoted earlier—that Nokia/Siemens had provided Deep Packet Inspection technology to the Iranian government has been vigorously denied by the company: http://bit.ly/2HMFet  There doesn’t seem to be anyone trying to refute the denial, either.]