Why We Fight


Posted on : 2/04/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , , , ,

Today in Afghanistan, young women can learn to box.

Have their photo taken.  Sadly, reflections of Afghan women appear to be the dominant photographic mode.  This is an improvement of sorts, I suppose.

Be rescued from life threatening living conditions...caused by husbands and their families, sadly enough.

Learn to play music!

And here is the price we pay for their liberation.

There is a price for freedom.  When we free others from bondage, we ensure freedom for ourselves.

Let us be grateful for their service and for the freedom they bring the world.

The Taliban created the conditions where a woman could not be photographed without her husband or father's consent.  Where no woman would have learned boxing....or reading or writing or mathematics.  Where women were considered property on par with livestock and often treated with less consideration than livestock with the approval of the former government.  Where music was banned.

Let us not abandon those who teeter on the edge of being the victims of oppression before their oppressors have accepted liberty as the legitimate objective of humanity.
All the photos may be viewed here.

Fresh From The Sea


Posted on : 2/03/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

"Fish, and plankton, and sea greens, and protein from the sea. It's all here. Ready! Fresh as harvest day!"  Box - Logan's Run 1976

Scientists have discovered a way to generate ethanol by designing a custom e. coli that breaks down seaweed at temperatures that are close to ambient.  Other ethanol processes require the application of large amounts of heat.  This reduces that energy benefit from the resulting fuels.  There are some studies that indicate that creating ethanol from corn actually consumes more energy than is present in the resulting fuel.

As the story indicates, algae is still a better alternative to seaweed processed by e. coli.  But if we can come up with seaweed based fuels, then what other options can we discover?

We Are From The Government...


Posted on : 2/02/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

...and we are here to screw you over!

At least, that seems to be the case when Freddie Mac, a wholly owned subsidiary of Uncle Sugar chartered to improve the opportunities for people to buy homes, decides to invest in complex derivatives that would pay Freddie Mac more if homeowners were unable to refinance at lower interest rates.

Stop and think about that for a second.  The people that run Freddie Mac make millions of dollars.  Their Congressional chartered organization is supposed to improve accessibility to market rate mortgages.  They then take the investment position that pays more money to Freddie Mac (and thus the Freddie Mac executives) if people are not able to refinance their homes from higher interest rates into the much lower current market rates.

Conflict of interest?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Any folks wonder why I distrust the government and want it reduced in size and scope.

Spike Lee Or Bill Cosby


Posted on : 2/01/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Words to heed, but Via Meadia wonders.  Will the people who mocked and scorned Bill Cosby for trying to help families and kids do better now turn on Spike Lee?
See what Mr. Lee had to say at the link.  Or the link at the link.  Or something.

The larger point being that the pursuit of education is the single most successful activity that one can perform.

Baby It's Cold Outside


Posted on : 1/31/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

One of the most significant reasons for my skepticism regarding human induced global warming is data.  More specifically, that there is data that suggests that our climate is less sensitive to changes in CO2 than the more pessimistic climate models suggest.

She argued it is becoming evident that factors other than CO2 play an important role in rising or falling warmth, such as the 60-year water temperature cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

‘They have insufficiently been appreciated in terms of global climate,’ said Prof Curry. When both oceans were cold in the past, such as from 1940 to 1970, the climate cooled. The Pacific cycle ‘flipped’ back from warm to cold mode in 2008 and the Atlantic is also thought likely to flip in the next few years.

Pal Brekke, senior adviser at the Norwegian Space Centre, said some scientists found the importance of water cycles difficult to accept, because doing so means admitting that the oceans – not CO2 – caused much of the global warming between 1970 and 1997.

One of the other reasons for my skepticism is the evident lack of "science" being practiced by some of the more vocal "scientists" that are hyping the potential impact of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  The seem to prefer dismissing legitimate skepticism rather than to offer a serious response.

Natural Rights


Posted on : 1/30/2012 10:06:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

"Ah yes, [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness]... Life? What 'right' to life has a man who is drowning in the Pacific? The ocean will not hearken to his cries. What 'right' to life has a man who must die to save his children? If he chooses to save his own life, does he do so as a matter of 'right'? If two men are starving and cannibalism is the only alternative to death, which man's right is 'unalienable'? And is it 'right'? As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost. The third 'right'? - the 'pursuit of happiness'? It is indeed unalienable but it is not a right; it is simply a universal condition which tyrants cannot take away nor patriots restore. Cast me into a dungeon, burn me at the stake, crown me king of kings, I can 'pursue happiness' as long as my brain lives - but neither gods nor saints, wise men nor subtle drugs, can ensure that I will catch it."

- Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein

Don't Ask, Don't Tell


Posted on : 1/29/2012 09:31:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Powerline has a great follow up to my recent post about Warren Buffett's tax-paying habits.

Mr. Buffett's rejoinder? Shut up.

Apparently, when a successful billionaire investor like Warren Buffett demands changes to the tax code, the rest of us are expected to bow, scrape, and make the usual subservient intonations.  We aren't supposed to ask questions about the purported facts in support of those proposed changes.  We are supposed to defer to our "betters".

Screw that!

First Mr. Buffett and his secretary can release all of the tax information that supports...or not...the current rhetoric.  Then we can have a discussion about how whether the facts support...or not...the proposed policy.  Then we can have a discussion of how that policy change would affect the rest of the country.

If Mr. Buffett wants to be a personal example for policy change, then he can accept all of responsibility that goes along with being such an example.  And that does include more than a modest amount of scrutiny regarding his personal life.

The other option is that he could pay the $1,000,000,000 he currently owes the federal government.  He could write an additional check because he thinks he should be taxed more.  And he could write a bigger check for his secretary so that she isn't one of those "people who got the short straw in life" in his eyes.

Until that comes to pass, I have some advice for Mr. Buffett. He should be familiar with it.

Shut up.