Archives for the month of: December, 2013

A Christmas reminder that cold kills. Warmer is better.

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Rather than bringing pine logs to the poor, 21st-century energy policies do the exact opposite. More children now shiver in the cold.

For those of us who live in northern climes, cold weather is not neutral. It is something from which we must protect ourselves.

Exhibit #1 is the marvelous Christmas carol, Do You Hear What I Hear? – sung by Bing Crosby in the video below, 50 years ago this year. The harshest lines in that song accuse wealth and power of ignoring a shivering child.

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king:
Do you know what I know,
in your palace warm, mighty king?
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child, shivers in the cold...

.

Exhibit #2 is another Christmas hymn, Good King Wencelas. It tells us that the snow is “deep and crisp and even,” that the frost is “cruel,” and…

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I set myself a goal of reading Middlemarch in 2014. Ms. Laframboise writes another article worth reading, and she points out something I’ve been trying to point out for years. Environmentalism is the popular radical-fundamentalist religion of our day.

Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

At the heart of the climate change movement is the belief that we will be punished for our sins.

I’ve been re-reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Published in 1870, it is perhaps my favourite novel. Within its pages one finds many pearls of wisdom, including this sentence:

Among all forms of mistake, prophecy is the most gratuitous.

The human tendency to delude ourselves is a huge theme in this novel. Forget predicting the future, we’re apt to totally misunderstand the present. Our knowledge of even the people we are closest to, as well as political trends and historical pressures, is always imperfect and incomplete.

This novel reminds us that, when railroads were first being built, opposition was widespread:

Women both old and young regarded travelling by steam as presumptuous and dangerous, and argued against it by saying that nothing should induce them to get into a railway carriage…

In…

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Mr. Gene M. Van Son has written a couple of articles for American Thinker. Both are good. This second one, http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/business_and_the_gospels.html, is excellent.

He points out how the corporate world is running counter to the principles of good work ethic and good Christian living that used to be the bedrock of Capitalism. He references the Pope and other recent Papal and Catholic writings and emphasis, and points out how it is consistent with traditional Christian and capitalistic thinking.

He mentions Vocation of the Business Leader. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace prepared it. They call it a reflection. It seems appropriate for each of us to reflect upon it.

He mentions the book’s Six Practical Principles for Business. A bit stuffy, perhaps, but I think these are good principles and worthy of emulation. Number 6 sums up well: Businesses are just in the allocation of resources to all stakeholders: employees, customers, investors, suppliers, and the community.

Our corporate world has lost sight of the long run and the breadth of stakeholders and focuses only on the short term and the monetary shareholders (stockholders).

Sooner or later, the long-term interests will require their due and our shortsighted endeavors will fail. This lesson seems to me the one we should take from recent Papal statements, not some sort of anti-Capitalistic notion.

Personal responsibility and long-term thinking, inclusive of as much of the relevant stakeholders as we can know. That is how each of us must pursue our industry, no matter what it is, no matter the level.

It has been a good Christmas.

I have all mine with me. Usually we go to Moms, or Mary’s folks, but this year, we (eight total) are all here at our place. I’ve taken the quite times to read and write.

A couple of articles on American Thinker struck me as worth recommending. (In fact, good selection of articles for Christmas.)

Susan D. Harris writes here at susandharris.com, and American Thinker carried this article here: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/an_evil_world_falls_to_its_knees_once_again.html 

This paragraph struck me as significant: “If He could suffer great tribulations and still overcome the world; we are strengthened in our faith that we can too. So many “feel good” churches and televangelists try to convince us that poverty and unhappiness are the result of a spiritually misspent life. They seem to forget it was the man who owned nothing but the clothes on his back; the “man of sorrows… acquainted with grief,” who brought the greatest hope mankind has ever known.

I think we miss something important when we consider hardship and suffering as bad. 

Glenn Fairman writes at http://www.stubbornthings.org, and American Thinker provided a copy here: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/finding_my_way_to_the_incarnation.html 

Particularly good reading. Personal. Thought provoking. 

Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

Updated. I posted this from my tablet. Didn’t work as expected.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/24/from-the-apollo-8-forty-five-years-ago-god-bless-all-of-you-all-of-you-on-the-good-earth/

Not much to add, but the link is to a post of Anthony Watts commemorating the Apollo 8 Christmas Eve broadcast. Well worth your time to read, listen, and watch the links therein.

May God add his blessings to us all this Christmas time.

What Are We Doing Wrong for Our Schools?

I’ve written about the first problem before, and will again; our first and most fundamental problem is compulsion. We must repeal all truancy laws, or we can expect no reform to succeed.

Perhaps, though, our biggest problem is being overly emotional and protective of “the children.”

It seems so natural to want to protect and hold up the children, but while they are certainly our children, they are more. They are not ours in any sense of ownership. They are only ours because we are responsible to provide that which parents must provide. We do, in fact, take that too far if we start with emotion and the ideal of doing all “for our children.”

Any sacrifice seems warranted when we know it is for the good of the children, when it increases their chances for success. Of course, taking that a little too far and adding a bit of sentimentality leads inevitably to claims and demands that help only the few in control, in power. Sometimes, the motives of those in power are supposed to be pure, and sometimes they are not intentionally malicious and greedy. But sometimes their motives are even worse, yet they proclaim, “Don’t you want to support the children?” Guilting us with the skill of the most manipulative mother.

Fundamentally, our children our people, persons, citizens, humans in their own right, each an individual entitled to all the rights, privileges, protections, and responsibilities of each of the rest of us.  Read the rest of this entry »

I came across this news byte: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/12/25/va-hospital-refuses-to-accept-merry-christmas-cards/

The VA refused children when they wanted to distribute their own handmade Christmas cards to the veterans therein. Wow. Doesn’t that offend everyone?

The VA gatekeepers feared the cards would contain inappropriate religious references, like, “Merry Christmas” for instance. I mean, seriously, they are Christmas cards. What else would one expect?

I understand the argument about government even-handedness. Yes, there are circumstances where it makes sense to refuse any religious symbolism to avoid the inevitable conflict over other conflicting religious symbolism, but this one is from the kids to the veterans. A smiling child just about assures no possibility of offense.

If a group of Buddhist immigrant children prepared cards for American Veterans, I’d be thrilled, with no concern for whether their cards included religious references. How could I be offended that a Buddhist child thought it right to bless me with some traditional Buddhist blessing?

I think the refusal is sad. I really wish we’d all grow up and be just a bit more understanding. We can all get along. Love is required. We are all capable.

I hold firmly to free will as an absolute and defining aspect of human kind. Each of us is a free moral agent, responsible and accountable.

Recent study results and other data have led some to assert that free will and decision-making is illusory, that our choices are simply response to stimuli and our perception that we acted intentionally and independently is just an illusion. Philosopher Eddy Nahmias calls proponents of this thinking “willusionists.”

BioLogos (a worthy blog) has presented an article by Dr. Tim O’Connor where he argues effectively that the new science in this regard is a work in progress, hardly worth more than evidence of things to come, and that the arguments are entirely inadequate for denial of free will.

http://biologos.org/blog/human-moral-responsibility-and-the-sciences-of-the-mind

While I don’t see willusionist thinking altering anything practical in the near future, I do see it as another tool for self-serving progressives to use for justifying their actions and the ever-present unintended consequences, which invariably result in more hardship and suffering than the idealistic well-intended programs were to solve.

The human conscience is problematic for most of us because it makes us feel guilty when we fail to live up to our own standards, even the perceived standards of others, especially when morality is involved.

Sometimes the guilt floods us, and sometimes we think we just can’t swim after forty days, or worse. It is problematic.

In response, most of us turn inward and to religion. This is good. This is history.

Scoffers point to religion and claim it is at the root of the conflicts throughout history, but they miss the obvious. The conflicts are a result of free will and the ever-present drive in us all to control our surroundings and secure our well-being. One can control most aspects of life by planning, hard work, and good-faith effort. One can even build up defenses and plan contingencies against the forces of nature. However, one cannot plan for and control the actions of free moral agents. If someone will not act in good faith, nor in good will, there is a problem.

The only way to control us humans is by coercion with adequate force of power and arms to back it up. The fact that such immoral actions have been draped in religious trappings from time to time is sad all around.

The short version of the willisionist thinking is that there are no morals and no justification for guilt. When we start saying that, we have totally lost the bubble.

The reality is, we have free will. We can choose anything we will. We can choose well or poorly. We can choose right or wrong. It is all on only one, me, the chooser. I am liable once I do it. I will reap accordingly sooner or later. God doesn’t set it. Heisenberg doesn’t set it. I do. You do. It is what we are. I am the choices I make.

Own up to it, and do better. Move forward, and trust God to fulfill His promise to eventually perfect you. (I happen to think that will be long into the next life, whatever long might mean in that context.)

 

I don’t know most of these:

http://www.heavyblogisheavy.com/2013/12/17/farewell-2013-xenochrists-top-20-metal-albums-of-2013/

BUT, The Burial, was the best band I came across this year! Awesome! The Taking of Flesh is a great album, and the band is super talented with mad skills. I got to see them here in OKC with Becoming the Archetype. Great night of musical bliss and great meeting the band members.

Not my list. Listener discretion advised.

nuff said

http://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/top-ten-2013-albums

Here is a good article showing a couple of examples of EPA absurdity. The sad part is any politician opposing anything the EPA tries to do is labeled antienvironmental. Overly alarmed activists start hollering about the pol wanting to kill our babies and make them breath dirty air.

Nope, that ain’t what’s going on. Our environment in the US is cleaner than it has been in a century. How clean do they think is necessary? The facts are clear. We succeeded. EPA is now a scourge on society inflicting pain and abuse, inflicting direct harm, and causing cost and waste, not to mention their direct fraud and waste.

As pointed out in the article, all these legal actions and court cases against EPA show that Congress is not doing its job reigning in the beast EPA has become. Congress needs to eliminate it. Repeal the laws it stands on. Write and pass sensible, targeted, limited scope laws that establish adequate but limited enforcement agencies, and put limits on their scopes and size.

PA Pundits - International

caruba_alan20080111By Alan Caruba ~

Barely a week goes by these days without hearing of some new demand by the Environmental Protection Agency that borders on the insane.

Increasingly, EPA regulations are being challenged and now reach the Supreme Court for a final judgment. This marks the failure of Congress to exercise any real oversight and control of an agency that everyone agrees is now totally out of control.

Recently the EPA ruled that New York City had to replace 1,300 fire hydrants because of their lead content. The ruling was based on the Drinking Water Act passed by Congress in 2011. As Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) pointed out while lambasting the agency, “I don’t know a single New Yorker who goes out to their fire hydrants every morning, turns it on, and brushes their teeth using the water from these hydrants. It makes no sense whatsoever.” Reportedly, the Senate is…

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I don’t know if this can do any good, but I know what can. Our Congress must eliminate EPA and repeal the Clean Air Act and other laws providing the standing for environmental regulations. We must enact new laws, targeted and narrow, that will keep us from fouling our nest, but that make sense. ALARA is now more harmful (actually) and dangerous (in potential) than the hazards targeted.

Eliminate EPA and the laws they pretend to stand on; problem solved.

Watts Up With That?

It has not been a good week for the EPA. After wide media coverage yesterday put sunlight on the massive fraud of one of their top climate officials, now today, there is a challenge filed in SCOTUS.

I have been given the amici curiae brief. The cover reads:

amicus_epa

And the question posed is:

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I’ve thought for a long time that we need to get back to the original method of establishing the number of representatives. I think we need to amend the Constitution to set the number of representatives at equal to the number of [legal] state residents divided by 100,000, round up to the nearest whole number.

For instance, Oklahoma has a little over 3.8M people, so Oklahoma would have 39 representatives. My birth-state of Kansas, with 2.89M would have 29 representatives, and Texas, with just over 26M, would have 261 representatives. Of course, California would end up with 381 representatives (with statistics from 2012), and Wyoming would be apportioned only 6 representatives. (Keep in mind, that is five more than they have at the moment, and they have the highest proportional representation, with less than 600,000 of them being represented by that one Rep. Our Reps here in Oklahoma represent a whopping 762,964 (approximately) of us Okies each.)

I think we can make this work with electronic communications and telepresence. I think we could push the numbers even lower, to, perhaps 50,000 per representative, perhaps even to the Constitutional 30,000. Still, 100,000 seems a good number to me. That would put us near 3,500 total representatives, and we can easily accommodate annual full conferences of the House [in DC] with electronics. Better yet, we can have our representatives run their day-to-day legislative duties from right here in our own back yards, close to us people, their constituents, and close to their families. Those families that we hope they hold in slightly higher regard then they do us. I suspect all our representatives would be better off staying near home, and their families, and especially we the people. We would be better represented not only because they would have only 100,000 of us clamoring for attention, but they’d spend so much more time here at home with us, staying in touch, and not being infested with the culture of big-government and beltway politics.

American Thinker published this article, http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/12/did_rush_limbaugh_just_endorse_icongress.html, by C. Edmund Wright. He points out how Rush explained well the problems even the best of our politicians have when they get close to the power of politics.

Mr. Wright asserts it will be hard to move our representatives out of DC and back home. It will only be hard to make the rules and laws and start. Once we start, it will be easy.

Once our elected representatives are used to staying at home, seeing their families everyday, and having regular contact with us constituents, they will all wonder how they ever did it remotely in DC.

See, that is the key aspect of this vision to see. We are currently trying to be represented remotely. We have it backward. That was the only option possible until recently. Now, we can keep our representatives here, at home, with us, and let them represent us locally. Their interactions with each other may be remote, but their representation will be local.

Let’s get started. Suggestions?

I suspect this will not receive the news coverage it deserves. We need to be rid of EPA, the most dangerous thing known to mankind. The alarmists are like this. Thankfully, not all, but most, and far too many.

The news outlets seem to have an article or so each (Google finds it if you use the right key words), and American Thinker covers it here: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/12/prosecutors_demand_at_least_30_months_in_prison_for_fraud_by_epas_highest-paid_employee_a_global_war.html

Government regulation is killing us. We must cage the monster before what we thought would help us, devours us.

Watts Up With That?

This is stunning, yet not surprising. We know people get caught up in “the cause”, and that there are massive egos involved in some of the more visible climate advocates that lead them to irrational excesses of word and deed, but this one takes the cake.

This NBC News (coverage of the EPA internal*) investigation reveals that the highest paid individual at the EPA, John C. Beale, bilked the agency out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits  over a decade.

The EPA’s highest-paid employee and a leading expert on climate change deserves to go to prison for at least 30 months for lying to his bosses and saying he was a CIA spy working in Pakistan so he could avoid doing his real job, say federal prosecutors.

Beale perpetrated his fraud largely by failing to show up at the EPA for months at a time, including one 18-month…

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