Archives for the month of: April, 2016

Interesting.

Watts Up With That?

Recently declassified documents on the USS Independence freely available online in the Journal of Maritime Archaeology

The newly declassified images show the World War II aircraft carrier which was one of nearly a hundred ships used as targets in the first tests of the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Here, Sailors watch the 'Able Test' burst miles out to sea from the deck of the support ship USS Fall River on 1 July 1946. Image: Naval Archives The newly declassified images show the World War II aircraft carrier which was one of nearly a hundred ships used as targets in the first tests of the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Here, Sailors watch the ‘Able Test’ burst miles out to sea from the deck of the support ship USS Fall River on 1 July 1946. Image: Naval Archives

The April issue of Springer’s Journal of Maritime Archaeology (JMA) focuses on a single shipwreck as the lens through which maritime archaeology assesses the advent of the Atomic Age and the Cold War. The wreck is the World War II veteran aircraft carrier USS Independence, which was one of nearly a hundred ships used as targets in the first tests of the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll in the summer of…

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We must consider the big picture, thousands, ten-of-thousands, of years. Then things are easier to sort out.

Watts Up With That?

Guest Opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

In this age of specialization, it is very difficult for scientists to integrate information and create a wider cross-discipline understanding of how the Earth works. Three scientists, Alfred Wegener, Milutin Milankovitch, and Vladimir Köppen, had such abilities and their work profoundly impacted our view and understanding of the world and climate. Sadly, because of the glorification of specialization and denigration of generalization, and control of knowledge and education by the government they are little known or understood today. As always happens with a history they are accused of saying things they never said, or not saying things they did say. It is why in all my classes students were required to go back to the source and not perpetuate the practice of what I call “carping on carping.”

Assignment of the three to the arcane backwaters of the history of science and climate reflects the…

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Government persecution worthy of the worst totalitarian regimes, unbecoming of the USA.

Watts Up With That?

exxon_tiger

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Exxon has just challenged attempts by Al Gore’s climate witch hunt to “investigate” them, by demanding to know what crime they are supposed to have committed.

Exxon Fires Back at Climate-Change Probe

Argues subpoena represents unwarranted fishing expedition into its records that violates its constitutional rights

Exxon Mobil Corp. went to court Wednesday to challenge a government investigation of whether the company conspired to cover up its understanding of climate change, a sign the energy company is gearing up for a drawn-out legal battle with environmentalists and officials on the politically charged issue.

The company filed court papers in Texas seeking to block a subpoena issued in March by the attorney general of the U.S. Virgin Islands, one of several government officials pursuing Exxon. Wednesday’s filing argues that the subpoena is an unwarranted fishing expedition into Exxon’s internal records that violates its constitutional rights.

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Ooo, so awesome!

Watts Up With That?

This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The black region in the center represents the black hole's event horizon, where no light can escape the massive object's gravitational grip. The black hole's powerful gravity distorts space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars skim by the black hole. CREDIT Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI) This computer-simulated image shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy. The black region in the center represents the black hole’s event horizon, where no light can escape the massive object’s gravitational grip. The black hole’s powerful gravity distorts space around it like a funhouse mirror. Light from background stars is stretched and smeared as the stars skim by the black hole. Credits: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI)

From NASA Goddard:

Behemoth black hole found in an unlikely place

Astronomers have uncovered a near-record breaking supermassive black hole, weighing 17 billion suns, in an unlikely place: in the center of a galaxy in a sparsely populated area of the universe. The observations, made by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii, may indicate that these monster objects may be more common than once thought.

Until now, the…

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Speak up.

Contact senators and representatives!

They are coming, and they will not stop until there is no one left to speak up.

Watts Up With That?

CEI-logo

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just been subpoenaed, as part of Al Gore’s Climate Witch hunt. This is a move which so blatantly reeks of McCarthyite abuse of power, even some proponents of climate action are horrified at the attack on freedom which this subpoena represents.

The following is the statement of the Competitive Enterprise Institute;

CEI Fights Subpoena to Silence Debate on Climate Change

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) today denounced a subpoena from Attorney General Claude E. Walker of the U.S. Virgin Islands that attempts to unearth a decade of the organization’s materials and work on climate change policy. This is the latest effort in an intimidation campaign to criminalize speech and research on the climate debate, led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and former Vice President Al Gore.

“CEI will vigorously fight to quash this subpoena. It…

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Skeptical. Hardly room for hope.

I see nothing changing here. If the basics of it started in 1977, and Nobel saw it as established enough to award in 2000, 2016 does seem a long time coming. Especially since a quick internet search reveals nothing promising, especially nothing concrete.

Besides, a battery twice as good and half as expensive (which seems overly optimistic in this case), won’t change the game. It will make the procedures rich, but phones that last two days instead of one and weigh a few grams less is changing nothing. Same for computers. A ten-hour laptop will sell, but nothing has changed.

Cars? I just don’t see a new, unproven battery technology starting in cars, unless maybe Elon is betting the farm on it. If so, he and the battery folks will lose. It is a bad bet.

And stationary industrial applications? Heck, that is hard with proven technology. And weight is not a factor. If cost is truly cheaper, eventually it will take hold, but Edison couldn’t improve on lead-acid significantly, and no one has done it yet. For transportation and industrial energy storage, lead-acid rules. It doesn’t seem likely to change until a better, cheaper battery is proved for many years, in many applications.

Starting a new-technology battery in transportation and grid-scale applications seems impossible, truly insurmountable.

Start small, prove it, and then grow.

This battery promise may prove beneficial, but it is far from game changing.

Game changing batteries will be 100 times better at comparable costs.

Until then, we burn carbon-based fuels in vehicles and power plants, with nuclear fission taking over within a few decades.

I’ll close commenting on wind power: Industrial fans are a fad. They won’t work if batteries prove trivial in cost and simple in engineering with currently unimaginable advances. Windmills just do not work. They are too hard to deal with just as a rotating mechanism, and complicate that with constantly varying winds. They will never work. Wind will never supply a significant portion of society’s energy needs. Never.

Winds blow, but windmills suck.

Over and over for over 3,000 years, we have abandoned windmills. We will this time too, and who do we think will clean up the mess?

Watts Up With That?

Lighter Cheaper More Powerful Battery Changes Renewable Economics
Guest essay by Roger E. Sowell, Esq. Marina del Rey, California

It is not often on SLB that I use the phrase “game-changer.”  Most things progress, if they progress at all, in small increments.  This time, though, is one of those that deserves the phrase game-changer.

The innovation is the low-cost, light-weight but powerful battery developed by Nobel prize-winner Alan Heeger, PhD of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).  The company is Biosolar .  see link to http://www.biosolar.com

The battery is suitable for mobile and stationary applications such as cars, trucks, grid stabilization, home power storage, and others.   The innovation is the use of the Nobel prize-winning plastic-that-acts-like-a-metal, haologenated polyacetylene.

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2000: Conductive Polymers (see link) is lengthy but has this to say about the discovery:

” In 1977, however, Shirakawa, MacDiarmid and Heeger…

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Truth, worthy of acceptance.

Pointman's

Science and sensibility.

In the ordinary way of things, I steer clear of the science debates over global warming. I served my time in those trenches many years ago and though it’s an important part of the overall push back, I concluded I could be of more use elsewhere and in different and perhaps less virtuous ways. However, I do keep an eye on the topical issues by lightly following a few sciency blogs and the twitter feeds of people evenly placed along the way stations to climate skepticism.

It’s just passive sigint, something I monitor. I never get involved and just leave them to handbag away at each other. It gets a tad bitchy at times but mostly they all seem to be enjoying themselves in a dry academic sense and on occasion it’s not a bad spectator sport. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble, I suppose.

One of the…

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What is God? I think that is a good question.

It seems necessary to assume God is who rather than what, but we think of ourselves and others with regard to what we are.

A man I look up to likes to refer to God in the feminine. I’m good with that. I don’t suppose masculine/feminine applies to God, so either convention works for me.

So that is a bit of the what. God transcends gender, and sex certainly doesn’t apply to spirit. However, it is not attributes like that which are prompting me to write. Sometimes we have to write to know what we think.

God is good, just, and merciful. That seems impossible to balance, so the omni-attributes seem essential. I’m still stuck with trying to figure out what that might mean.

I suppose I have an understanding of what is good, and what justice is, and what mercy is. I have to be on guard (thus the title) that I don’t start assuming I really know these thing. Moreover, I must not assume I can figure out God based on these things, and I must not presume in any way with regard to God.

It does seem that there are some things I have to expect, and accept.

God is the reason and the meaning. There just isn’t much point in worry about the notion otherwise. There are several atheistic tenets that assume no ultimate reason or meaning. And, that is what has me writing.

The orthodoxy of Christianity seems mostly required in order for me to hold a cogent and coherent foundational concept of God. The way other religions frame God leaves me flat. I find very little worth supposing. I can see how to build a thorough concept of God from some religions, but Christian orthodoxy seems to come closest. Note that I’m referring to orthodoxy primarily to identify the heterodoxies, the heresies.

When I think of God in the way Calvinists have tried to explain to me, I find a capricious God that fits justice so poorly as to judge it no different from simple atheism in the practical world. The God of Calvin doesn’t actually lead me any better than Richard Dawkins. Either way, nothing I do matters. Since I hold God as the meaning, things have to matter. Unless I want to suppose I’m just a puppet, robot, automaton for God, I cannot accept that what I do ultimately means nothing. What I do means something, even to God.

I can’t accept nothing, and I have to be on guard that I don’t accept my rejection of such as evidence of my beliefs.

To me, the God explained by the Calvinists is devilish and against me. I’ll be better off in hell than with a God like that. Or, if Calvinism is as close to the truth as religion has gotten, then it seems to me that atheism must be even closer to the truth, and I just cannot accept such as possible. Calvinism and atheism are not reasonable.

Similar results obtain when considering universalism. This notion has always been around. Jesus seems to have went out of his way to indicate there are some people he never knew, and since I accept Jesus as an aspect of the triune God, and utterly timeless, the statement indicates eternal damnation in the traditional, orthodox, sense. Some people don’t make it to heaven, and never even tried, even though some pretend to try, even doing what they suppose to be mighty works for God.

Jesus talked of hell a lot, and how the torment there never ends.

People rationalize however they want, but Jesus seemed to be trying to make a point that not everyone enters into eternal life, not ever.

Free will is not an illusion. We are finding at all levels that the nature of the universe is not deterministic. We are finding that if anything at all is real, we have a freedom of will and choice. Being finite and nearly powerless, our choices are limited. I think that is why some rebel against the responsibility of free will. Some seem to find it unbearable that they cannot choose whatever they want, so they reject freedom entirely.  Some prefer to think that a random confluence of strings and quarks happened to interact such that we have an ongoing fluctuation disturbance in the nothingness that seems to give us a momentary illusion of something. In other words, the answer to the ancient question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” gets answered as, “It is all an illusion. There is nothing, never was.” I reject that notion as nonsense. It assume there is no such thing as reason, and that is not reasonable.

When I try to consider all we know, physical and spiritual, scientific and religious, it is all too much. There is more to it than we can discover. Much more than any one of us can know. It is foolish, simplistic, shallow, and worse to suppose we understand God, but I do think we can know enough to know it matters. Nonorthodox views substitute the meaningful mystery for meaningless platitudes.

If God ultimately, through punishment, or persuasion, or some set of processes and procedures reconciles all souls to Himself, what has been the point?

This life is too small in all regards. What use does an omnipotent creator have for us? We trust that He loves us, and we argue that this life lets us see that for ourselves. Yes, but if we ultimately cannot reject what He gives us, what is the difference of not having it at all? Why have this life-but-a-vapor-vanishing-away, if the end result is the same as not having experienced evil and suffering? Is there some wisdom in knowing how to harm your brother? I don’t see any possibility for it.

I believe there is a reason for this life, and I believe we all get to do with it as we please. I believe God will judge. I believe God will judge based on our choices, not on our sins. There is no choice if there is ultimately only one option. Accordingly, we would could never be judged on choice. There can be no judgement is if there is only one possibility. I choose to view God’s judgement a just, not imaginary. If there is such a thing as good, there is such a thing as evil, and there will be a day of reckoning.

Ultimately, there are two, and only two, possibilities. God, reason, meaning, purpose, reality, are real, or not. If yes is assumed, then two conditions must be real and eternal possibilities, with God, or not with God. None of it makes any sense otherwise. Of course, nothing hinges on whether or not it make sense, to me or anyone, but I just have nothing else to go on. If I assume God gave me this mind, and that reason is real, then I must do my best. My best rejects universalism at all levels.

To suppose the universe is only a few thousand years old makes God out to be a deceiver. I reject that notion and all that leads to it. To suppose universalism makes God out to be trivial and triffiling. Again, I reject that notion and all that leads to it.

There is only so much time. We’ve already used up about 13 billion years worth. That raises all sorts of questions. We don’t know how much more time there is, but a few hundred billion more years, something less than 100 times what has already passed, seems reasonable from what we know so far. And that is an unimaginable amount of time when considering less than a century for us humans.

Eternity is unimaginable even in light of hundreds of billions of years. And orthodoxy has assumed that eternity starts somewhere near the end of this brief moment of breathing. Nearly all of the greatest minds have agreed for two millenia now. Yet some think they know better. They have an easy way, and they are sticking to it. No, nothing is easy.

I believe in justice; I believe in God’s justice, and I do not think anyone is judged unfairly or without all that was needed for a favorable judgement. I don’t believe non-Christians all receive unfavorable judgements. I don’t believe the innumerable souls who died before Jesus, before Abraham, all receive unfavorable judgements. I believe each of us knows what is right, and if we choose to do it, I trust God’s mercy and judgement. Justice will be served, and that judgement comes at some point and eternity follows. There is no more time. No more possibility of appeal or commutation. The preliminaries are complete at that point, and with God or without, the real journey begins. Like the rich man in Jesus’ story of Lazarus, no one can cross over from one side to the other. Distance obviously didn’t matter, but the divide was immutable. Eternity must be immutable, or it is not eternal. (Thus, time, for now.)

If free will means anything, and nothing else can mean anything at all without it, then these are the things I must hold. This is what I must accept if I am to be honest.


Ms. RJS was addressing a specific topic, worth reading, but I’m thinking in general.

“Commitments. He suggests several steps and commitments we should take. First, the commitments quoted from pp. 189-191.

Methodological Commitments.

· We must allow the text to pursue its own agenda, not force it to pursue ours.
· We must be committed to the intention of the author rather than getting whatever mileage we can out of the words he used.
· We must resist over interpreting the text in order to derive the angle we are seeking.
· We must be willing to have our minds changed by the text – that is at least part of the definition of submitting ourselves to the authority of the text.
· We must be willing to accept the inevitable disappointment if the text does not address or solve the questions we would like answers to.
These are all important guidelines to keep in mind. We shouldn’t hijack the text, commandeering it for our own purposes. I would temper this, though, with the realization that the New Testament authors did feel free to reinterpret texts based on what they knew of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While it is essential to understand the intention of the author, the gospel can change our understanding.

Personal Commitments.

· We must be willing to preserve a godly perspective on the issue and accord Christian respect to those we disagree with, refusing to belittle, degrade, accuse, or insult them. Ad hominem arguments and other varieties of “negative campaigning” should be set aside.
· We must not allow our differences of opinion to overshadow and disrupt the effectiveness of ministry and our Christian witness.
· We must decry the arrogance that accompanies a feeling of self-righteousness and portrays others as somehow less godly because of the position they hold.
This is an outstanding list of commitments — the kind of commitments that we attempt to maintain on this blog when discussing a wide variety of issues, from the age of the earth and evolution to women in ministry, male headship, to hell, Calvinism, and more. But the next list is even more important.

Values Commitments.

· We must determine that individual “rights” and the pursuit of them will not take precedence over more important values, as they have in our society at large.
· We must resist any desire to hoard or attain power, though our society and our fallenness drive us to pursue it above all else.
· We must constantly strive to divest ourselves of self, though we live in a “What about me?” world.
· We must accept that ministry is not to be considered a route to self-fulfillment; it is service to God and his people.
John completely won me over with this list. Whatever conclusions we come to concerning women in ministry, if these values are not at heart we are wrong. Period. Christian leadership, teaching, and “authority” is only for the benefit of others as we follow the call of Jesus. It is grounded in self-sacrifice and love. There is nothing in this about rights or power. No alpha males or flaming feminists here. This is the heart of the matter.”

 

I think there are points in here I have to work on. I think we’d all be better off if we keep these points in mind whenever we discuss, especially when we disagree. It applies to all of life’s aspects, everything we may discuss.

Musings on Science and Theology

John Walton Explaining Lost WorldsJohn Walton has an interesting analysis of the question of women in ministry included in the Contemporary Significance section of his commentary on Genesis 2 (The NIV Application Commentary Genesis). This is worth some serious thought and discussion.

Commitments. He suggests several steps and commitments we should take. First, the commitments quoted from pp. 189-191.

Methodological Commitments.

  1. We must allow the text to pursue its own agenda, not force it to pursue ours.
  2. We must be committed to the intention of the author rather than getting whatever mileage we can out of the words he used.
  3. We must resist over interpreting the text in order to derive the angle we are seeking.
  4. We must be willing to have our minds changed by the text – that is at least part of the definition of submitting ourselves to the authority of the text.
  5. We must be willing…

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Weighty, insightful, straight, I could add more.

I found the article and many of the comments well worth my time.

We engineers tend to focus on what works. What doesn’t work is Green policy and politics, as Willis has so often pointed out.

I found it worth reading, and worth rereading. It is good to think things through deeply.

As to morality, I think the Hebrew prophet Micah got it best:
You know, meer mortal what is good. God has shown it to you. So, live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Honesty and openness follow from that. Liberty and minding own business follow from that. In short, it works.

Watts Up With That?

Guest essay by Leo Smith

Introduction

I decided to pen this, not because I am a ‘philosopher of climate change’ like the esteemed Rupert Read, whose self styled ‘philosophy of climate change’ is really a thinly disguised justification for Green politics, but because it appears to me that very very few people in the climate change business, actually understand why they need to understand a little philosophy to enable them to judge the climate change phenomenon – the social phenomenon that is – in a suitable context.

I am not a trained philosopher. I am an engineer, by training, but that was just a job. I have always retained a curiosity about other things, and part of that curiosity led me to try and understand the issues of philosophy as a part of something else I was engaged in, which has no bearing here.

I was moved to write this…

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