The Age Of Embarrassment

Seventh of a series

politics-sciencealgoremeltingice

I title this series The Age Of Embarrassment to reflect on our divergence from a different era, which historians now call The Age Of Enlightenment. I mainly concentrate on foolish arguments against anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but I am not required to.

Recently I did an  overview of a book (pamphlet) by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. The short title is How to Debate Leftists, and it deals with what the title indicates. In my review I bore down on some of Shapiro’s comments on AGW. He’s opposed. Which brings him into focus for this discussion.

From Wikipedia, “On September 21, 2015, Shapiro founded The Daily Wire and started serving as its editor-in-chief.” The result was that The Daily Wire appears to be a likely source to mine for Shapiro’s thinking on AGW. A rich vein it turns out to be:

The Most Comprehensive Assault On ‘Global Warming’ Ever

It made sense.  Knowing that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and that our industrialized world is adding a large amount of it to the atmosphere on a yearly basis, I accepted the premise that this would cause global temperatures to rise.  But one day about 7 years ago, I looked at the ubiquitous graph showing the “global” temperature of the last 150 years and noticed something odd.  It was subtle, and as I found out later, disguised so that it would be overlooked.  There appeared to be a period of about 40 years between 1940 and 1980 where the global temperatures actually declined a bit.  As a data analysis expert, I could not ignore that subtle hint and began to look into it a little more.  Forty years is a long time, and while carbon dioxide concentrations were increasing exponentially over the same period, I could not overlook that this showed an unexpected shift in the correlation between global temperatures and CO2 concentrations. Thus I began to look into it a little further and here are some of the results 7 years later.

The author is an adjunct professor of physics and more. From the article:

Mike van Biezen is adjunct professor at Compton College, Santa Monica College, El Camino College, and Loyola Marymount University teaching Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Earth Science.

That should be impressive enough. Let’s see what Mr. Biezen has to say about AGW. There are ten points:

  1. Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.
  2. Satellite temperature data does not support the assumption that temperatures are rising rapidly:
  3. Current temperatures are always compared to the temperatures of the 1980’s, but for many parts of the world the 1980’s was the coldest decade of the last 100+ years:
  4. The world experienced a significant cooling trend between 1940 and 1980:
  5. Urban heat island effect skews the temperature data of a significant number of weather stations:
  6. There is a natural inverse relationship between global temperatures and atmospheric CO2levels:
  7. The CO2 cannot, from a scientific perspective, be the cause of significant global temperature changes:
  8. There have been many periods during our recent history that a warmer climate was prevalent long before the industrial revolution:
  9. Glaciers have been melting for more than 150 years
  10. “Data adjustment” is used to continue the perception of global warming:

I will go though these in turn, but the reader will need to go to the original article to get the complete wording. Start by noting that Mike van Biezen does not have a Ph.D. in any of the topics mentioned in his connection with his teaching at Loyola Marymount University. In fact, he does not appear to have a Ph.D. in any academic field. His current position is program manager for Raytheon Corporation, a company he has worked for since 1984. He is not a full time professor at Loyola. Not having a Ph.D. is not exclusionary. It is not required that Biezen have a Ph.D. for us to take his arguments seriously. All that is necessary is that he be right. He is not. Start with number 1.

Number 1. Contradictory to what Biezen says, temperature records from around the world support the conclusion that today’s temperatures are unusual, higher than in recent history.

science-globaltemperature

The plot and the following are from NASA’s climate site:

This graph illustrates the change in global surface temperature relative to 1951-1980 average temperatures. The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2015 ranks as the warmest on record. (Source: NASA/GISS). This research is broadly consistent with similar constructions prepared by the Climatic Research Unit and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mr. Biezen provides his readers with misleading information:

The all-time high temperature record for the world was set in 1913, while the all-time cold temperature record was set in 1983.  By continent, all but one set their all-time high temperature record more recently than their all-time cold temperature records.

Start with the all-time high record:

On 13 September 2012 the World Meteorological Organisation disqualified the record for the highest recorded temperature, exactly 90 years after it had been established at El Azizia, Libya, with a measurement of 58°C. The official highest recorded temperature is now 56.7°C (134°F), which was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA.

So, Biezen’s record high was recently eclipsed by a new record, which he failed to notice, but which does not matter in this discussion. Biezen’s all-time low record is still valid:

The lowest natural temperature ever directly recorded at ground level on Earth is −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F; 184.0 K), which was at the Soviet Vostok Station in Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. Analysis of satellite data indicated a probable temperature of around −93.2 °C (−135.8 °F; 180.0 K), in East Antarctica, on August 10, 2010; however, this reading was not confirmed by ground measurements.

After all that has been said, this turns out to be irrelevant. What matters to the global climate is the average taken over the entire planet. Individual highs and lows can occur in contrast to record high and low global averages.

Mr. Biezen has deliberately misled his readers, and Ben Shapiro, as editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, has facilitated this subterfuge by promoting Biezen’s scam.

Number 2. I’m not too sure I want to follow up on Biezen’s number 2. He uses the weasel word “rapidly,” as in “temperatures are rising rapidly” However, assuming “rapidly” means “rising,” here is a plot showing the rise, seemingly in contradiction to Biezen’s assertions:

science-surfacesatellitetemperaturemeasurments

Number 3. Here’s what Biezen has to say:

If the current temperatures are compared to those of the 1930’s one would find nothing remarkable.  For many places around the world, the 1930’s were the warmest decade of the last 100 years, including those found in Greenland.  Comparing today’s temperatures to the 1980’s is like comparing our summer temperatures to those in April, rather than those of last summer.  It is obvious why the global warming community does this, and very misleading (or deceiving).

Again Biezen is being intentionally misleading. If his deception is not intentional, then it is a result of gross incompetence. Had he been reading this blog he would have been better informed and not fallen victim to such false and misleading information. I wrote:

This is interesting. Government agencies, NASA (National Aviation and Space Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), have been tweaking scientific measurements to give the false impression that global temperatures are rising. That would be scientific misconduct at best and criminal misuse of governmental authority at worst. If only it were true.

Besides already knowing the background, I picked up on an obvious clue in the last paragraph above. “[T]he hottest decade in the US was in the 1930s.” Taking first that the statement is true, how does this bear on average global  temperatures over the past hundred years or more? The world wonders.

From that point forward this item from Breitbart needs additional scrutiny. The facts may not be as interesting as Breitbart, but they have the advantage of being facts. The NOAA has posted an explanation of the process so recently assailed by that reputable scientific source, Breitbart. Here is an excerpt:

Monitoring Global and U.S. Temperatures at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

There are several factors that are important in monitoring global or U.S. temperature: quality of raw observations, length of record of observations, and the analysis methods used to transform raw data into reliable climate data records by removing existing biases from the data. An additional process takes the multiple climate data records and creates U.S. or global average temperatures.

Yes, this is the same Breitbart news outlet previously involved with Ben Shapiro. Here is a graphic from the previous posting:

science-agw-smith-and-reynolds-2002-001

Number 4. Biezen writes:

Many places around the world experienced a quite significant and persistent cooling trend to the point where scientists began to wonder if the world was beginning to slide into a new ice age period.

And more. Again, Biezen wants to point to regional trends, ignoring that the G in AGW stands for “global.”

Number 5.

It has been shown that nighttime temperatures recorded by many weather stations have been artificially raised by the expulsion of radiant heat collected and stored during the daytime by concrete and brick structures such as houses, buildings, roads, and also cars. Temperature records from around the world do not support the assumption that today’s temperatures are unusual.

For the fifth time, what Biezen says flies in the face of known fact:

Many global warming skeptics have long claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has skewed temperature measurements indicating that global warming is happening. The skeptics argue that efforts to curb global warming pollution are therefore unnecessary, citing their pet theory that surface temperature stations were swallowed by, or moved closer to, cities, thus skewing surface temperature records on the whole.

The BEST papers – which still must go through rigorous peer review – confirm what climate scientists have correctly stated previously, demonstrating without doubt that “very rural” temperature stations miles from any new “UHI” towns or cities have also recorded warming at 0.9 degrees Celsius over the last century.

Number 6.

Contrary to what would be assumed when listening to global warming banter or while watching An Inconvenient Truth, higher temperatures increase atmospheric CO2 levels and lower temperatures decrease atmospheric CO2 levels, not the other way around.  Any college freshman chemistry student knows that the solubility of CO2 decreases with increasing temperatures and thus Earth’s oceans will release large amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere when the water is warmer and will absorb more CO2 when the water is colder.

And more. Really? Consider the Keeling Curve:

875px-Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide_Apr2013

In 1958 Charles David Keeling started keeping a record of CO2 measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This is about 11,000 feet above sea level, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That annual cycle in CO2 levels in the atmosphere is due to the greening of deciduous plants in the Northern Hemisphere on a yearly cycle. The Northern Hemisphere land mass is larger than the Southern Hemisphere mass, and has more plant growth. When trees in the north put out leaves in the spring and begin to take CO2 from the atmosphere, the level goes down. When the leaves fall a few months later the CO2 extraction slows down, and the natural introduction (decaying leaves and dead plants) of CO2 into the atmosphere continues. At no point does the Keeling Curve support Mr. Biezen’s number 6.

Number 7. He says:

The CO2 molecule is a linear molecule and thus only has limited natural vibrational frequencies, which in turn give this molecule only limited capability of absorbing radiation that is radiated from the Earth’s surface.  The three main wavelengths that can be absorbed by CO2 are 4.26 micrometers, 7.2 micrometers, and 15.0 micrometers.  Of those 3, only the 15-micrometer is significant because it falls right in range of the infrared frequencies emitted by Earth.  However, the H2O molecule which is much more prevalent in the Earth’s atmosphere, and which is a bend molecule, thus having many more vibrational modes, absorbs many more frequencies emitted by the Earth, including to some extent the radiation absorbed by CO2.

Which is true, but again misleading. Water in the atmosphere accounts for much more of the greenhouse effect than CO2. This planet’s surface (oceans and atmosphere) would be many degrees cooler without the greenhouse effect of water vapor. As a student in college I was once required to compute the difference,, and I recall it was in the order of 40 C—other sources have 60 C. See the Wikipedia article on the greenhouse effect.

The problem with Biezen’s explanation is that it ignores that water vapor in the atmosphere has been a more or less constant factor for millions of years, and certainly throughout human history on this planet. The natural mechanism of rain removes water vapor from the atmosphere as fast as it is introduced, and the atmosphere is in steady-state with respect to water. This is not so for CO2, which does not have such a mechanism for removing it. Human activity is upsetting the natural level of CO2 by removing carbon from the surface (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) and introducing it into  the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane. The greenhouse effect of these gases is added on top of the existing effect of water, and that’s what the concern is all about.

Number 8. Biezen says:

Even in the 1990 IPCC report a chart appeared that showed the medieval warm period as having had warmer temperatures than those currently being experienced.  But it is hard to convince people about global warming with that information, so five years later a new graph was presented, now known as the famous hockey stick graph, which did away with the medieval warm period.

For the record, here are two plots of Earth temperature records:

science-paleoearthtemperatures-02

 

science-paleoearthtemperatures-01

The first of the above shows temperatures going back millions of years. The second is an enlargement of the right-hand part of the first, and it shows temperatures going back a million years (and beyond). Note the spikes, representing the temperature fluctuations concurrent with the history of the ice ages. Note the more recent period, following the previous ice age. There are fluctuations over a 10,000-year period, terminating in a recent up-tic. The spike at the right margin is a projection due to the effects of AGW. The second plot fairly well covers the Medieval Period.

This one, the so-called hockey stick plot, also covers the Medieval Period.

science-agwrecenttemperaturehistory

Regardless of any report from 1990, the best information available shows the up-tic in global temperatures due to human activity. Mr. Biezen continues to be dishonest in his presentation of the argument. He is lying.

Number 9. Biezen says:

The notion of melting glaciers as prove positive that global warming is real has no real scientific basis.  Glaciers have been melting for over 150 years.  It is no secret that glaciers advanced to unprecedented levels in recent human history during the period known as the Little Ice Age.

Let’s assume without verification that the above statement regarding glacier activity is true. Whenever has Biezen lied to us before? Glaciers are melting, but their melting is not necessary to demonstrate AGW. Biezen’s post is advertised as “The Most Comprehensive Assault On ‘Global Warming’ Ever.” His 9th argument hardly fills the bill, and I will stop here without additional comment.

Number 10. Biezen complains:

After years of painstaking gathering of data, and relentless graphing of that data, I discovered that I was not looking at the originally gathered data, but data that had been “adjusted” for what was deemed “scientific reasons.”

And more. Again, this is another issues that has already been addressed in a prior post, and Biezen completely ignores the facts of the matter. Here is what I had to say before:

Oceans make up more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, and NOAA is increasing its attention to sea surface temperatures. In years past temperatures were measured by pulling a bucket of water from the sea and measuring its temperature. Sea surface temperatures are now routinely obtained by measuring water at ships’ engine coolant intake. What was found when the two measurements were compared was that the bucket method produces lower temperatures than the intake method. In years past temperatures had been measured with a bias toward cooler rather than warmer. The plots show what happened when the measurement bias was removed. The heavy-line plot, showing a greater temperature rise, was replaced by the lighter-line plot, showing less warming with time. The plots are linked to a paper published by Smith and Reynolds, for those interested in reading the complete background.

If Breitbart is to believed, the NOAA has been caught fixing the data to make a warming trend apparent. In this case, the opposite has occurred. None of this is mentioned in the Breitbart news item. We can imagine Breitbart felt it unwieldy to burden its unsophisticated readers with a load of fact.

If these were the only data corrections, the evidence for global warming would be undercut. There is more. The NOAA also adjusted for bias caused by a shift from measuring temperatures in the afternoon to measuring temperatures in the morning. Obviously, temperature measurements are going to be higher in the afternoon than in the morning. The plots show a shift in the percentage of stations from afternoon to morning. See the following plots.

An associated plot, repeated from above, was included:

science-agw-smith-and-reynolds-2002-001

In his book, How to Debate Leftists, Ben Shapiro complains about how liberals (scientists?) put down people like Biezen (and Shapiro), who dispute AGW:

This is a more useful question, and it also avoids the left’s preferred line of argument on global warming, which is a variation on their preferred line on gun control: “Global warming is man-made. Don’t agree? That’s because you’re stupid and hateful.” As a general matter, the left’s favorite three lines of attack are (1) you’re stupid; (2) you’re mean; (3) you’re corrupt.

[Page 24]

Forget about his numbers 1 and 2. Biezen is corrupt. He is lying. By implication, so is Shapiro. With his stewardships of Breitbart and The Daily Wire, Shapiro has abetted the promulgation of lies against legitimate science and the people who support it.

People ask me (maybe they do not) why I am a liberal. My response has to be that one reason, and one only, is that being liberal gets me as far away as possible with what has become a political philosophy underpinned by corrupt thinking. In my younger years I became disgusted with conservative politics, because every time I saw a politician standing in the school house door blocking the entry of a black child, that politician was avowedly conservative. Ever time I learned the identity of racists who killed four black children in an Alabama church or murdered civil rights advocates, those people were avowed conservatives. More recently whenever I have seen a politician promoting the use of tax money and government authority to proselytize for religion, that politician has been an avowed conservative. My personal study of opposition to the modern science of biological evolution has revealed that conservative politicians and those who profess themselves to be politically conservative are the most inclusive of this movement. More recently the conservative contingent in this country has elected a politician who has demonstrated himself to be a habitual liar, and conservatives find no problem with this, even denying he has lied.

What was in the past a political ideal of limited government, individual freedom, and fiscal responsibility, has taken on the baggage of of the lowest levels of American society. Opposition to the science behind anthropological global warming is just the tip of the iceberg.

A pox on your house. Wallow in your ignorance. My aim is to promote your misery as long as I can draw a breath.

And may Jesus have mercy on your souls.

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The Fractured Portfolio

A continuation

politics-sciencealexjonesclimatechange-02

This came up in a previous post (see the link above). As all should know by now, Alex Jones is Texas’ own authority on dealings devious and facts spurious. On Saturday The Alex Jones Channel featured an interview with wannabe scientist Timothy Ball, Ph.D. Ball is a retired professor of geography at the University of Winnipeg. From Wikipedia:

Ball rejects the scientific opinion on climate change, stating that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas.

Before I dive into some of Dr. Ball’s major absurdities, I want to lay out a partial transcript of the interview by Millie Weaver for infowars.com:

Weaver: Reporting for infowars.com I’m here in Phoenix, Arizona, where just this last weekend the Freedom Force International group held a conference here on the subject matter of climate change and the inconvenient lie that’s being perpetrated by the mainstream media and other people, such as Al Gore, that man is responsible for climate change and that we need to hurry up and take action in this. Well, Donald Trump just met with Al Gore, and we have all these mainstream media leftist outlets touting that Donald Trump is going to veer from  his campaign pledges and keep some of these regulations on the basis of man made climate change.

[There is a short clip of Al Gore discussing his conversation with Donald Trump. Weaver continues, aiming to refute any implication that Trump will back off on climate change.]

Weaver: Well, I have information that counters that, and I just met with the man this weekend named Timothy Ball that spoke at that conference, who is scheduled to meet with Donald Trump’s VP. This is very important because this man has evidence that counters the policy opinions of Al Gore. So let’s go ahead and hear what he has to say.

You’re scheduled to meet with Trump’s upside advisor soon. Isn’t that correct?

Ball: Yeah.Well, one of the things that… About 25 years ago I appeared before Congress on the climate issue, and I was also invited to speak at a place called the Competitive Enterprise Institute. I met Myron Ebell and then at the Heartland or climate conferences or around. I met him several times. About a month before the election date he was notified by the Trump people that he was going to be put in charge of deregulating EPA, so and was invited to go and meet with Myron in Washington on the 12th of December and will lay out the issues, and he knows a lot of it. But one of the things I think I can contribute is providing his ways of explaining to the politicians and to the public the complexity.

When you burn ethanol, which of course is plant-produced, and the government was telling people when you burn ethanol there is less CO2 produced than from fossil fuel. Not true. It’s simply not true. When you burn ethanol you get far more CO2 produced, okay. But what they said was, well growing the plants takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, so we’re giving them a net taker. But with the actual car going down the road, so the ethanol car’s putting out far more CO2 than the fossil fuel car.

And of course the government shifted the subsidies to corn-producers, that they got far more money if they produced the corn, and it went to the ethanol plan than if it went to the food plan. That led to a massive increase in basic food costs around the world. And I’ll show you how that links. When corn is basic and the price went up, all the other basic food supplies went up. That led to food riots in Egypt. OK. Obama said, “Oh no, that’s Arab spring. That’s democracy.” No it wasn’t. It was the food riot. But Obama, of course, said we’ve got to get to get rid of Hosny Mubarak, because he wanted to put the Muslim Brotherhood in. So he exploited the situation that his own policies in the corn market had created. But this is the kind of clever and devious games that they use.

Weaver: What are some of the health or environmental effects that these supposed green energy projects can do?

Ball: What did the alternative energies, of course, are in terms of the bird kills, the bat kills, the environmental damage, the noise that they produce, the footprint. And in order to replace a 1000 megawatt coal station you need acres and acres of land. The turbines need to be spread out because they interfere with each other. If you go by a wind farm there is always one turbine turning. That’s being driven by electricity off the grid, because you need that energy to to get the other wind turbines started. Okay. Plus once you’re using wind power as a source of energy into the grid, you can only use about twelve percent of your total energy production from  wind, or solar, because if it disappears, the system will draw on the grid, so the grid has to pick up that power demand instantly. So what people don’t know is when the wind turbines are turning, the coal plant is also running. So again this goes back to this problem of doing proper cost-benefit analysis. And that is just missing in every phase of this whole environmental scam. And that needs to be looked at. And particularly if it’s a project like the wind project, the government don’t want  to hear about the problems with it. They suppress all of that. But there are so many side effects. One of the things that concern me for a long time is noise pollution.

At this point Ball goes on to discuss what he considers to be more matters more critical than CO2 emissions. These include the real issues of flooding and droughts and clean water. He agrees the Flint, Michigan, water crises is real and needs to be addressed. He assures us that the Trump administration is not going to dismantle the EPA. The EPA is still needed, but it needs to be refocused [my words]. Then he concludes with a final shot at CO2 emissions.

Ball: The real issues have been pushed aside by these phony issues. And they talk about fake news, this is fake science. But for a political agenda.

Ball is a real college professor, having taught at a real university. His problem is that he wants to proclaim outside his field of expertise. I am reminded by others, and I agree, that it is not who is saying something that counts, but whether what is said is true. In Ball’s case, a lot of what he says is outside his professional field and also is not true.

Let’s examine what Ball has to say about burning ethanol in an automobile engine. Some Skeptical Analysis is in order. I have college degrees in engineering and physics, and I have taken courses in thermodynamics, chemistry, and physical chemistry. That said, I am going to pull on the Internet for my information here. We all know how reliable Internet sources are. Here is one:

The energy of ethanol relative to gasoline
A. 76,000 = BTU of energy in a gallon of ethanol
B. 116,090 = BTU of energy in a gallon of gasoline
C. .655 = 2/3 = GGE of energy in a gallon of ethanol. A / B. (GGE =energy in a gal. of gas)
D. 1.53 = Gallons of ethanol with the energy of 1 gallon of gasoline. D = B / A.

Let’s take the above as true. I have another source from the United States government that agrees much with those numbers. Yes, your mileage burning  ethanol will be much lower. So, what does that matter? Examine the carbon impact.

Here is gasoline. Assume the octane molecule:

C8H18

Here is ethanol:

CH3CH2OH

Here I am going to make a wild assumption. The density of the liquid form is proportional to the molecular weight. That gives:

Gasoline → 8 carbon atoms
Methanol → 2 carbon atoms

Burning a gallon of gasoline injects four carbon atoms into the atmosphere (in the form of CO2) for every  one carbon atom injected into the atmosphere for a gallon of methanol. But gasoline gives you more miles per gallon. Even so, methanol wins. Where is Dr. Ball getting his numbers? Is Inforwars.com a fake news site?

There’s more. Dr. Ball is shown saying:

But what they said was, well growing the plants takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, so we’re giving them a net taker. But with the actual car going down the road, so the ethanol car’s putting out far more CO2 than the fossil fuel car.

Tadaa! The car running on ethanol is putting more CO2 into the air than the car running on gasoline (not true). Therefore the car running on ethanol is worse. Dr. Ball has either slipped a gear in his thinking, or else he is trying to pull a switch on his listeners. In the case of ethanol, all the carbon the car is putting into the atmosphere was just weeks earlier pulled out of the atmosphere. There is no net introduction of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Others have pointed out to me that ethanol production is not carbon neutral. Restated: planting, raising, harvesting the crops and producing ethanol from the crops requires the use of fossil fuel to the extent of rendering ethanol a net gain in CO2 (more CO2 into the atmosphere). What needs to happen for ethanol fuel to be carbon neutral is for all the fuel used by farm machinery and all the energy used in the production of ethanol from  the crops be carbon neutral. The process must be able to rely solely on its own product. Can this be done?

An examination of Internet sources would confirm that producing ethanol from corn is not carbon neutral. An item from Scientific American magazine is typical of findings:

California regulators, trying to assess the true environmental cost of corn ethanol, are poised to declare that the biofuel cannot help the state reduce global warming.

As they see it, corn is no better – and might be worse – than petroleum when total greenhouse gas emissions are considered.

Such a declaration, to be considered later this week by the California Air Resources Board, would be a considerable blow to the corn-ethanol industry in the United States.

Corn growing has been subsidized for more than 20 years by the mandate to include ethanol in gasoline fuel mixes. This subsidy is not likely to go away soon, due the powerful lobbying interests of regions producing corn.

This is not scientific evidence against ethanol fuel, however. With politics out of the picture, the ethanol solution may still be viable. Brazil is significant:

Brazil is considered to have the world’s first sustainable biofuels economy and the biofuel industry leader, a policy model for other countries; and its sugarcane ethanol “the most successful alternative fuel to date.” However, some authors consider that the successful Brazilian ethanol model is sustainable only in Brazil due to its advanced agri-industrial technology and its enormous amount of arable land available; while according to other authors it is a solution only for some countries in the tropical zone of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

The significant drawback to ethanol production as a substitute for fossil fuels (gasoline) is the ecological impact of farming. Certainly growing corn on farm acreage and then using only the kernels to produce fuel is inefficient. Corn stalks and leaves represent a significant load of carbon that is removed from the atmosphere while the plant is growing and then returned to the atmosphere when these parts are used as animal food, burned, or composted. Using farm  land to produce fuel instead of food impacts the ability of the planet to feed its human population.

The good news is that it’s not necessary to grow crops in order to remove carbon from the atmosphere to produce fuel for cars, planes, and trains. While nothing can compare to the efficiency of thousands of square miles of green leaves soaking up sunlight and carbon  dioxide while no human hand is laid upon the process, other means will become necessary in future economies. They are being developed. Here is one:

A pilot project to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and turn it into pellets that can either be used as fuel or stored underground for later has been launched by a Vancouver-based start-up called Carbon Engineering.

While the test facility has so far only extracted 10 tonnes of CO2 since its launch back in June, its operations will help inform the construction of a $200 million commercial plant in 2017, which is expected to extract 1 million tonnes per day – the equivalent of taking 100 cars off the road every year. It plans to start selling CO2-based synthetic fuels by 2018.

Required for consideration is the total cost of such an operation. What needs to be considered are:

  • Initial construction (total costs)
  • Maintenance of the machinery
  • Cost of operating the process (total cost)
  • Environmental footprint of the process

But this post is about Dr. Ball and his apparently off-track remarks about AGW (anthropogenic global warming). Dr. Ball boasts of his engagements at such scientific confabs as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute, and his association with the likes of Myron Ebell. That’s a bit of sarcasm, in case you missed it.

The Heartland Institute I have covered previously:

A big deal with Heartland Institute was global warming. I highlighted the phrase because, as all know by now, it has a special meaning. The term has come to represent the apparent fact that human activities are causing a precipitous warming of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. More specifically, the burning of fossil fuels is causing an increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to more effectively trap solar energy. The consequences range from melting of polar ice, which will result in a devastating rise in sea levels—not so devastating maybe to Orlando, Florida, which promises to become a seaside resort—to possible crop damaging climate change. Mitigating action seems to indicate reduced use of fossil fuels, an action opposed to those who own stock in the industry.

A lot of science gets lost in organizations such as Heartland. Here is what fell out of some documents pilfered from Heartland’s inner sanctum:

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.-Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. [Update: Apparently even the Koch brothers think the Heartland Institute’s climate denial program is too toxic to fund. On Wednesday, Koch confirmed that it did not cut a check for the $200K mentioned in the strategy memo after all. A statement released on KochFacts.com and the charleskochfoundationfacts.org states that “…the Charles Koch Foundation provided $25,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2011 for research in healthcare, not climate change, and this was the first and only donation the Foundation made to the institute in more than a decade. The Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland.”]

The Competitive Enterprise Institute also seems little concerned with real science:

In May 2006, CEI’s global warming policy activities attracted attention as it embarked upon an ad campaign with two television commercials. These ads promote carbon dioxide as a positive factor in the environment and argue that global warming is not a concern. One ad focuses on the message that CO2 is misrepresented as a pollutant, stating that “it’s essential to life. We breathe it out. Plants breathe it in… They call it pollution. We call it life.” The other states that the world’s glaciers are “growing, not melting… getting thicker, not thinner.” It cites Science articles to support its claims. However, the editor of Science stated that the ad “misrepresents the conclusions of the two cited Science papers… by selective referencing”. The author of the articles, Curt Davis, director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said CEI was misrepresenting his previous research to inflate their claims. “These television ads are a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate”, Davis said.

Additionally, Myron Ebell’s science aversion is well  noted:

Myron Ebell is Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. He is also the chairman of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a loose coalition formed in 1997 which presents itself as “focused on dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”. In these organizations, Ebell has been central in promoting climate change denial, distributing his views to the media and politicians.[Ebell, who is not a scientist, has been described as a climate change skeptic, a climate contrarian and a climate change denier.

In September 2016, Ebell was appointed by then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to lead his transition team for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This last part is something many find deeply disturbing. Whether Mr. Trump’s coming administration decides to run athwart modern science may depend on whether some level heads get his ear.

Timothy Ball’s scientific standing is another matter. Although Ball has a Ph.D. in climatology, he has never worked in the field. He is a scientist in the sense that geography is a science. Geography rightly deals with human populations and the effects of climate and terrain. This means his comments regarding the economics of ethanol production are within his realm. Clearly his thinking and his commentary regarding the science behind AGW remain contrary to known fact, allowing us to classify him as a fake news source. Some of the controversies surrounding Dr. Ball indicate a person not dedicated to scientific rigor and matters of fact. Again from Wikipedia:

Ball claimed, in an article written for the Calgary Herald, that he was the first person to receive a PhD in climatology in Canada, and that he had been a professor for 28 years, claims he also made in a letter to then-prime minister of Canada, Paul Martin. Dan Johnson, a professor of environmental science at the University of Lethbridge, countered his claim on April 23, 2006, in a letter to the Herald stating that when Ball received his PhD in 1983, “Canada already had PhDs in climatology,” and that Ball had only been a professor for eight years, rather than 28 as he had claimed. Johnson, however, counted only Ball’s years as a full professor. In the letter, Johnson also wrote that Ball “did not show any evidence of research regarding climate and atmosphere.”

In response, Ball filed a lawsuit against Johnson. Ball’s representation in the case was provided by Fraser Milner Casgrain. Johnson’s statement of defense was provided by the Calgary Herald, which stated that Ball “…never had a reputation in the scientific community as a noted climatologist and authority on global warming,” and that he “…is viewed as a paid promoter of the agenda of the oil and gas industry rather than as a practicing scientist.”[45] In the ensuing court case, Ball acknowledged that he had only been a professor for eight years, and that his doctorate was not in climatology but rather in geography,[39] and subsequently withdrew the lawsuit on June 8, 2007.

In February 2011, it was reported that climate scientist Andrew J. Weaver had sued Ball over an article Ball wrote for the Canada Free Press, an article which was later retracted. In the article, Ball described Weaver as lacking a basic understanding of climate science and stated, incorrectly, that Weaver would not be involved in the production of the IPCC’s next report because he had concerns about its credibility.[49][50] Ball contended that the lawsuit was nothing more than an attempt to silence him because of his skeptical position on global warming, despite Ball’s own 2006 defamation lawsuit against Dan Johnson.

Ball found himself at the center of controversy again later that year, when he told an anonymous interviewer that Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, “should be in the State Pen, not Penn State,” due to Mann’s role in the Climatic Research Unit email controversy. Mann then sued Ball for libel, and stated that he was seeking punitive damages and for the article to be removed from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy’s website, on which it was originally published. James Taylor, senior fellow of the Heartland Institute, defended Ball, arguing that what he had said about Mann was merely a “humorous insult.” Fred Singer made a similar argument in a 2012 article, saying that what Ball had written was written as a joke and that Mann was “improvidently” suing him.

The positions and statements of Dr. Ball are representative of those I see from various global warming deniers. Here is a snippet of a conversation with somebody terribly interested in AGW but owning nary a clue regarding the associated facts:

Daniel G. Kuttner I’ll concede the context, I should have said “as I recall.” I will correct the above comment.
You must be kidding, though, about CO2 not being heavier than air. You’ve used a CO2 extinguisher, right? You have to know molecular weight, right?
Here’s a part of the calculation (didn’t want to buy the paper):
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/…/JZ062i003p00351/epdf…

In any case, most of the air at sea level is composed of mostly N, about 15% O2, and only about 1% being other gases. Its average molecular weight is 28
A molecule of CO2 has a molecular weight of 12 + (16)2 = 44. So CO2 is about 1.4x the weight of air.
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/molecular-weight-gas…
Your rebuttal?

Like · Reply · December 3 at 5:55pm

My rebuttal was this:

John Blanton Dan, I do not deny that CO2 is denser than air. However, you did not say, in your argument, that CO2 is denser. You said that CO2 is so many times heavier than the rest of the atmosphere. It’s not the same thing, and it’s not the kind of statement you want to make when arguing a technical point. Apparently your field has been in communication, and taking care what you say is a big part of communicating clearly. You are a non scientist, and you are arguing technical points with scientists, including me. You need to have at least as much knowledge about the subject as the scientists in order to make a successful argument. I get the impression you are pulling text from questionable sources and passing it off as knowledge. You need to pull from reliable sources if you hope to make headway in this kind of discussion.

Like · Reply · December 3 at 6:40pm

Then the conversation began to get really weird:

Daniel G. Kuttner I never said it was denser. I still don’t. It is heavier. My link shows that.
Density is a function of altitude and temperature.
Part of my proof also involves a thing called Partial Pressure. At altitudes of “greenhouse” effect, CO2 is less abundant, as is Oxygen and other heavier gases. This is one reason why humans require supplemental oxygen at altitude. CO2 is heavier than O2, so it’s even less abundant at altitude, resulting in a lower partial pressure of the CO2.
Just add the molecular weights in the table I linked.
Gosh, I’m beginning to sympathize with that religious guy. Can you please stay on topic and not change the argument each time? Maybe even answer a question or two?
Try to stay off the ad hominem, too. Calling someone a “non scientistt” and oozing condescension while YOU’re being non scientific doesn’t bolster your argument, nor refute theirs.
OK.. You get the last word.

And I did get the last word, but only because at some later point Dan and I  both concluded that further discussion was pointless. Dan came back with additional comments after I had this to say:

John Blanton Dan, calling somebody a non scientist is not ad hominin. It is not an insult. It’s just a fact of life in your case. You never made a serious study of science, and you never obtained a degree in science. I’m merely pointing out this fact as a precaution you need to take when wading into a discussion of matters scientific with one who does have considerable training and experience in the field. When you make these kinds of remarks, such as the ones regarding weight, density, carbon dioxide, the mixing of gases in the atmosphere, the problem becomes apparent. Your discussion of concentration variation illustrates you are not acquainted with principles of gaseous diffusion, for example. It’s high school science. As a result, your assertions regarding the distribution of carbon dioxide are completely wrong, and undermine the remainder of your argument.

Like · Reply · December 4 at 3:43pm

Daniel G. Kuttner You have no idea of my qualifications. You throw your ample supply of tomatoes at me, rather than my assertions, which are backed BY science (e.g. that engineering reference link). Thus, you were replying ad hominem, literally.
I could be a bum on the street and still report correct – or incorrect – science. My lack of a white lab coat has no import.
If you are so full of science, where is your scientific refutation of my numbers? All I see from you is condescension and sarcasm.
Saying something is “clearly wrong” is not refutation, it’s disagreement; an opinion. You are, of course free to have those.
This has not been a learned debate or even a discussion, in my book. Sad, actually, because I’m convinced you DO have the capability. It just appears you have an agenda you accept, and won’t accept anything that conflicts with or undermines that belief.
That’s not Science, that’s Scientism; a religion, of which there are many practitioners on the talking-head box.
Your political positions I’ve seen are supported the same way: Talk down to the opposition and question their credentials according to some amorphous standard.
Again, I await your analytical critique of my numbers. Maybe you can also support why the key members of the Global Warming “science” supporters have been caught THREE TIMES falsifying or cherry-picking their data.
That’s the only type of refutation I’ll answer hereafter on this subject.
PS: I was also hoping at some point you’d reply to my IM about your inventions. I am definitely interested in those!

Like · Reply · December 4 at 5:49pm · Edited

John Blanton Additionally, I am working off-site and am forced to keep my responses brief. Details later.

Like · Reply · December 4 at 3:45pm

John Blanton Once again, I’m on a short leash here. I don’t have access to my computer, so I will respond as I can for the time being. You are conflating weight and density. Keep the two straight. CO2 is denser than air, as you have discovered. You are wrong in concluding that CO2 is unevenly distributed. Below 90 km the gases remain evenly mixed. The remainder of your argument falls apart from there.

It’s much like the dialogues I have had with creationists. Those denying AGW and Darwinian  evolution give all the appearance of being driven  more by ideology than by hard facts. It makes for a weird world when these people get into  the upper reaches of government.

May Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Fractured Portfolio

Some more of the same

politics-sciencealexjonesclimatechange

President-elect Donald Trump is noted for pointing out that, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

politics-trumpglobalwarmingchinesehoax

That was four years ago, before Donald Trump ran for President of the United States. Now that he has won, this message is not working so well. Stuff like this got him elected, but now he has no further use for it, or the people who bought into it.

Not so fast. Mr. Trump is not ready to throw over something that has done him well for so long. He made an effort to set the record straight in an interview yesterday:

Washington (CNN)The reality of climate change is an open question, President-elect Donald Trump said in an interview aired Sunday.

“Nobody really knows” if climate change is real, Trump said in the “Fox News Sunday” interview, when host Chris Wallace asked the incoming President where he stands on the environment.
“I’m still open-minded. Nobody really knows. Look, I’m somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast.”

The operative wording here is, “Nobody really knows.” I am not a linguist but I have had a few beers with one, and my translation of that phrase is, “Somebody doesn’t know.” I’m thinking Mr. Trump is one of those who does not.

The image at the top is from a YouTube clip posted on The Alex Jones Channel. It features an interview with Timothy Ball, Ph.D., a retired professor from the University of Winnipeg:

Ball rejects the scientific opinion on climate change, stating that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. He has worked with the Friends of Science and the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, and is a research fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

politics-sciencealexjonesclimatechange-02

Interview with Timothy Ball

I will diagnose the interview with Professor Ball in  a later post. In the meantime, I am guessing we have a candidate about to  take over the highest elected office in this country who suffers a colossal misunderstanding of some basic science. That said, regardless of what Professor Ball and some others may think, Mr. Trump could possible overcome this lapse and throw some government weight toward dealing with this 21st century problem. In that event, there is a passel of voters who are going to be disappointed. How they will deal with it is going to be interesting to watch.

Tattered Justice

Nuremberg-01

It was the morning of 15 April 1945 near Bergen in northwestern Germany. When Clara Greenbaum woke it quickly became apparent something was wrong. Nobody came to bang with sticks on the bed frames in the barracks where she had spent the night, and many nights in the previous months, along with her two children. And there was something wrong. The guards who had tormented, brutalized and murdered 100,000 others were now gone. In the middle of the night, while their victims lay sleeping under threat of death, guards at the notorious Bergen-Belsen prison camp fled into the darkness. Soldiers of another army were approaching.

It was hours before anybody in the barracks summoned the courage to open the door and peer out. Then, in ones and twos, prisoners filed into the light of an overcast day. The guards were gone. But where? Then there was a sound. More soldiers were coming.

Hours passed and then the mass of people stirred. They could hear the unmistakable sound of heavy vehicles approaching from behind the low hills to the north. A moment later a column of tanks and trucks appeared. The vehicles were rumbling across the ploughed fields towards the barbed wire. Panic went through the crowd like a bolt of electricity . This was it. The Germans were going to machine-gun them and then roll over their bodies to eradicate the evidence of their crimes. Then someone saw the Union Jack flying from the turret of one of the tanks. They were British! To the prisoners’ amazement the column circled the camp twice before drawing up in formation at the front gates, where the vehicles’ engines were turned off. Presumably they had been checking to see if any SS troops were prepared to make a final stand. And there they waited. Not a word was spoken. No orders were given. Clara estimated that as many as 500 troops were standing in complete silence, staring through the barbed wire. What were they waiting for? And then one of the soldiers doubled up and retched. Another vomited and then another. So that was it. They had been staring at the inmates in disgust. Hardened soldiers were sick to their stomachs at the sight of them . At that, many prisoners turned away. They were ashamed of what they were, of what they had become.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 117-126). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Slave labourers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, one of the first camps to be liberated by US soldiers in April 1945. The camp’s first commandant from 1937 to 1941, Karl Otto Koch, was himself imprisoned here for corruption and was tried and executed by the Nazis shortly before the camp’s liberation. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 190-192). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Slave labourers in the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, one of the first camps to be liberated by US soldiers in April 1945. The camp’s first commandant from 1937 to 1941, Karl Otto Koch, was himself imprisoned here for corruption and was tried and executed by the Nazis shortly before the camp’s liberation. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 190-192). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

But there was no reason for these people to be ashamed. They had not caused this. An organized gang of criminals had instigated the deaths of millions of people and had brought a modern, industrial, cultured nation to absolute ruin. This was a criminal act, and somebody would have to pay.

Fifteen days after Clara Greenbaum woke to a new era, the man who had orchestrated this travesty was dead, having shot himself in the head rather than face the justice he deserved. In the following days a number of the other principals in crime would also be dead. Some at their own hand, others before the muzzles of the guns of vengeful armies.

In other camps Allied officers found it difficult to maintain discipline among their men – in some cases captured SS guards were summarily executed. This was soldiers’ justice, meted out by men who had seen their share of death, but who could no longer restrain themselves when confronted with the cold-blooded slaughter, or brutalization, of innocent civilians.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 140-142). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

By the ninth of May formal hostilities were terminated, and German forces were surrendering all over Europe. Troops were going into P.O.W. camps, Nazi government leaders were being identified and arrested. Joseph Goebbels and his wife had murdered their children and killed themselves in the government’s bunker in Berlin. Heinrich Himmler was identified and apprehended, but as he was being searched for means of suicide he chomped down on a poison capsule and died. It was later determined that Hitler’s secretary, Martin Bormann, was killed in a Berlin street while attempting to escape the bunker. A few, including Adolph Eichmann and Joseph Mengele, escaped to other countries beyond the reach of the Allies. For those firmly in the grasp of Allied forces, the future was for a moment uncertain. Some in the Allied camp wanted swift retribution.

The Allied leaders realized that something had to be done with the captured Nazi elite – and soon – because the will to pursue those guilty of perpetrating atrocities was swiftly evaporating. Furthermore, the Allied troops were exhausted after five long years of war and they just wanted to go home and put the horrors behind them. It was well known that the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, favoured the immediate execution of the captured Nazi leaders, in order to avoid the ‘tangles of legal procedure’, and certain elements within the American administration felt the same. They had managed to persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt that a cursory hearing followed by a firing squad was the most economical method of dealing with the problem. The British Cabinet had discussed what to do with captured war criminals as far back as June 1942. Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary, had reminded them of the embarrassment caused by their failure to deal decisively with Kaiser Wilhelm II after the First World War.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 194-201). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Interestingly, the Soviets, who early had been complicit in Hitler’s war of aggression and ultimately suffered terribly from a German invasion, now favored a public trial.

Ironically it was the American secretary of war, the elderly Republican Henry Stimson, who vehemently opposed Morgenthau’s plan. He found an unexpected ally in the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who had told Winston Churchill that if the leading Nazis were summarily executed the world would say that their enemies had been afraid to put them on trial and had put them to death to silence them. Stimson added that to deny the defendants due process would be to risk making them martyrs in the eyes of their people, which is exactly what had happened after the British had executed the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. Stimson recalled that the citizens of Dublin had initially jeered at the plotters for the destruction they had brought upon their capital city, but that their mood had altered after the British authorities had ordered the rebel leaders to be shot without trial.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 213-219). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Where to hold the trial was a problem of some proportion. We, the Allies, had bombed Nazi government institutions to rubble, with one notable exception. Here irony piled on top of irony. Spared from destruction was the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg.

The Palace of Justice

The shell -scarred Palace of Justice resembled a besieged fortress in bandit country. It had been the site of the final battle for the city. The courtyard was still strewn with pieces of shrapnel and spent cartridges where the remnants of two SS divisions had held out until they had been shelled into submission. Now five Sherman tanks squatted at key points around the main building, their gun barrels loaded with 76 mm shells, while GIs crouched behind sandbags at the entrance to the court.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 500-505). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

From Google Images. Apart from the Palace of Justice, the rest of Nuremberg was a bombed out mess. That's what you get for starting a World War that kills +50 million people.

From Google Images. Apart from the Palace of Justice, the rest of Nuremberg was a bombed out mess. That’s what you get for starting a World War that kills +50 million people.

This is the place of some of the Nazis’ notorious transgressions against justice. The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 stripped German Jews of their citizenship and of all basic human rights. Here was subsequently the site of continued judicial insults, including the trumped up trial of Leo Katzenberger.

Leo Katzenberger was a Jewish businessman who had seen his chain of shoe stores stolen from him by the Nazis under the Aryanization decrees of 1938, which legalized theft from German Jews. The elderly man had no hope of emigrating so he continued to live in an apartment in one of his properties. During 1941 his friendship with a teenage girl, Irene Seiler, was reported to the authorities, who accused Katzenberger of violating the race laws, which forbade relationships between Aryans and Jews. At his trial, 67-year-old Katzenberger repeatedly denied that there was anything of a sexual nature in the relationship, but his protests were shouted down by the presiding judge, Dr Oswald Rothaug, who called Katzenberger a ‘syphilitic Jew’ and ‘an agent of world Jewry’. Katzenberger was sentenced to death.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2719-2725). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Writer Paul Rolland tells the story in The Nuremberg trials in The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity.

Among the principal Allied governments, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States, the Americans picked up the heavy lifting for the trials. The vast bulk of the expense, logistics and legal work was provided by the U.S.

Seated in the back row are the eight members of the tribunal representing the four main Allied countries: the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 278-280). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Seated in the back row are the eight members of the tribunal representing the four main Allied countries: the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States and France. Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 278-280). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Paul Roland is not an academic historian, but he has produced a number of historical writings, including The Crimes of Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Murders Re-Examined. Books related to the Nazi phenomenon include Nazi Women: The Attraction of Evil and Nazis and the Occult. His book on the Nuremberg Trials is an excellent brief that draws from authoritative sources and gives a good account of the development of the legal case against the Nazi principals. Courtroom drama abounds.

Robert H. Jackson had been United States Attorney General under President Roosevelt. He led the American prosecution contingent. His duel with former Reichsmarschall Herman Goering presented a most interesting moment.

Goering Signs His Own Death Warrant

‘Did you not also sign a decree in 1940 ordering the seizure of all Jewish property in Poland?’

‘I assume so if the decree is there.’ The defendant was now visibly squirming in his seat.

‘And another saying the Jews would receive no compensation for damage caused by enemy attack or by German forces?’

‘If the law bears my name then it must be so,’ Goering conceded.

‘Is this your signature?’ asked Jackson, pointing an accusing finger at the next document that had been laid before the accused.

‘It appears to be.’

‘Is it or is it not your signature?’ Jackson’s tone betrayed his growing impatience. Goering sensed that a trap was being set. He took a moment to answer.

‘It is.’

‘It is your signature on a document dated July 1941,’ Jackson explained for the benefit of the court, ‘asking Himmler and [Reinhard] Heydrich to make plans for the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.’

Goering exploded.

‘That is not a proper translation! I said total solution, not final solution.’

‘These are your words to Himmler,’ continued Jackson, warming to the task.

‘“ I charge you to send me before long an overall plan for the organizational, factual and material measures necessary for the desired solution of the Jewish question.” Is that an accurate translation of this order?’

‘That had to do with the evacuation and emigration of the Jews,’ Goering protested.

‘You ordered all government agencies to co-operate with the SS in the final solution of the Jewish question. Did you not?’

‘There is nothing in there about the SS!’ The colour was coming back to Reichsmarschall Goering’s flaccid cheeks.

‘This document states that you ordered all government agencies to co-operate with the SS. You sent this letter to SS Gruppenführer Heydrich.’

‘That does not mean that the SS had anything to do with the solution of the Jewish question!’

The words were barely out of his mouth when Goering realized that he had placed the noose around his own neck. There was an audible murmur in the court as Jackson leaned in to face his most formidable adversary.

‘Would you mind repeating that?’ he asked calmly.

‘I must say this clearly. I did not know anything about what took place in the concentration camps or the methods used there. These things were kept secret from me.’

But Jackson was already striding back to the bench where his colleagues sat, jubilant in the knowledge that the murderous nature of the Nazi leadership had finally been exposed for all to see.

‘I might add that even the Führer did not know the extent of what was happening.’ Goering was rambling, desperate . But no one was listening.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 1723-1753). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Twenty-four people were charged:

Martin Bormann
Karl Doenitz
Hans Frank
Wilhelm Frick
Hans Fritzsche
Walther Funk
Hermann Goering
Rudolf Hess
Alfred Jodl
Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Wilhelm Keitel
Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach
Robert Ley
Konstantin von Neurath
Franz von Papen
Erich Raeder
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Alfred Rosenberg
Fritz Sauckel
Hjalmar Schacht
Baldur von Schirach
Arthur Seyss-Inquart
Albert Speer
Julius Streicher

Only 21 stood trial. Bormann was by then already dead, though this was not demonstrated until years later. He was tried and convicted in absentia. Gustav Krupp, head of the German industrial empire that fueled, and collaborated with, Nazi aggressions was deemed too ill to stand trial. Robert Ley, who had ruled over slave labor for the Nazis, killed himself in his cell at the Palace of Justice prior to the trial.

Proceedings began in November 1945 and concluded in September 1946. The judges handed down the verdicts on 1 October 1946. Three defendants, Hans Fritsche, Hjalmar Schact and Franz von Papen, were acquitted and walked free, but only with protection from angry mobs. Of those convicted, seven received death sentences and sentenced to be hanged. Principal of these was Goering.

Hermann Goering

VERDICT: Guilty on all 4 counts. Sentenced to death by hanging.

The Judgment against Goering concluded: ‘From the moment he joined the Party in 1922 and took command of the street fighting organization, the SA , Goering was the adviser, the active agent of Hitler and one of the prime leaders of the Nazi movement. As Hitler’s political deputy he was largely instrumental in bringing the National Socialists to power in 1933, and was charged with consolidating this power and expanding German armed might. He developed the Gestapo and created the first concentration camps, relinquishing them to Himmler in 1934… The night before the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the absorption of Bohemia and Moravia, at a conference with Hitler and President Hácha he threatened to bomb Prague if Hácha did not submit… He commanded the Luftwaffe in the attack on Poland and throughout the aggressive wars which followed… The record is filled with Goering’s admissions of his complicity in the use of slave labour… He made plans for the exploitation of Soviet territory long before the war on the Soviet Union… Goering persecuted the Jews, particularly after the November, 1938, riots and not only in Germany… Although their extermination was in Himmler’s hands, Goering was far from disinterested or inactive despite his protestations from the witness box… There is nothing to be said in mitigation… His guilt is unique in its enormity. The record discloses no excuses for this man.’

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2303-2315). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I have posted a separate review of Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader [Kindle Edition]. That post concluded:

The hangman never got to Hermann Goering. Although the prisoners awaiting execution at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg were not told in advance of the execution date, Goering may have sensed that the final hour had come. He was scheduled to be the first taken by the hangman, but two hours before his time he took poison and died in his cell.

Goering’s death did not interrupt the proceedings. Ten convicted Nazis went to the gallows in a period of less than two hours beginning at 1 a.m. on 16 October 1946. Following the executions Goering’s body was brought from his cell to the gallows room and formally identified for the death certificate. Writer Paul Roland relates the final journey of Hermann Goering.

Just before dawn the bodies were taken away in two trucks under heavy guard and driven to Dachau concentration camp, a short distance northwest of Munich, where the ovens had been relit for their cremation. The ashes were scattered in a nearby river.

There was no sense of triumph among the victors, only relief that this tragic and violent era had finally come to an end.

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2648-2651). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The First Nuremberg Trial was not the last. The Allies followed up with prosecution of lesser lights of Nazi evil. There was a Doctors’ Trial, December 1946 to August 1947, and there was a trial of Nazi judges, March to December 1947. The Judges’ Trial was the subject of a motion picture Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961, staring Spencer Tracy as an American judge in a fictional case that reflects the injustice inflicted on Leo Katzenberger.

Poster from IMDB.com

Poster from IMDB.com

Ozone Depletion

I have been accused in the past of going to great length to explain the obvious. Then perhaps I have not, but I should have been. Anyhow, here is another go at explaining the obvious.

Science-OzoneDepletion

To be sure, I’m not doing original writing here. Most of what I’m putting out is straight from Wikipedia. If you want the full story, then you should go to the Wikipedia article. This is my Schaum’s Outline version of the ozone layer depletion story.

The image above, from Wikipedia, is an excellent condensation of the ozone depletion process. The story goes back a lot from there. It starts with the invention of chlorinated fluorocarbons, CFCs. CFCs have some useful properties:

  • Chemically inert (almost)
  • Low vapor pressure—boil within a useful temperature range: −51.7 (CF2H2) and −128 °C (CF4).
  • Complex molecular structure.

The complex molecular structure gives CFC molecules multiple quantum energy levels. Put another way, they are far from “ideal gases.” When you compress an ideal gas its temperature does not rise. The energy you use to compress the gas gets stored in the pressure-volume combination. When the pressure is released an ideal gas springs back, returning all the energy as mechanical energy. They make an ideal spring.

Complex molecules, such as CFCs, do not make for ideal gases. When you compress them, the energy of compression gets stored in the multiple quantum energy levels of the molecule. This is the definition of increased temperature. Absolute temperature of a system is proportional to the logarithm of the number of occupied quantum energy states. Compressing a CFC gas raises its temperature by storing energy in multiple quantum energy levels. With increased temperature, it is now possible to drain energy from the compressed gas by allowing heat to flow from the compressed gas into cooler surroundings. When the pressure is released the gas now contains less energy than before it was compressed and is colder. This makes CFCs useful in refrigeration systems. Freon-12 is a trade name for dichlorodifluoromethane by DuPont.

A problem was discovered with Freon-12 and other CFCs. First, they are very stable. When released into the atmosphere the substance does not readily break down. The molecule persists for a long time in the atmosphere. It persists long enough for the molecule to migrate into the stratosphere, where it begins to cause trouble. Refer to the diagram again.

From Wikipedia I get the following chemical reaction:

CCl3F → CCl2F. + Cl.

This cleaving of the CFC molecule is driven by ultraviolet radiation in the stratosphere. A product is the free chlorine atom. This chlorine atom interacts with ozone in the stratosphere and catalyzes its breakup. The chlorine is not consumed in the process, and a small amount of chlorine has the ability to do a lot of damage.

The damage done is the conversion of ozone to O2. Ozone absorbs ultraviolet radiation strongly. Very little ozone has the ability to block much of the ultraviolet coming from the sun. When this high-energy radiation reaches the surface it is a hazard to human health (skin cancer) and to other life forms. The depletion of the ozone layer was recognized in 1974 through research at the University of California at Irvine conducted by Frank Sherwood Rowland and Mario J. Molina. In 1995 Rowland and Molina, along with Paul Crutzen received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for their work on stratospheric ozone.”

Since it’s the chlorine that’s doing all the damage, many have questioned the culpability of CFCs in the ozone depletion quandary.  Why don’t other sources of chlorine reach the stratosphere and do the damage? The answer is they do, but to a much lower extent. Chlorine is a highly-reactive element, its strong bond with sodium being an example. It’s difficult for chlorine gas to make it into the stratosphere before it’s washed out by rain and other mechanisms. Massive injections of chlorine into the atmosphere by natural sources, such as the eruption of Pinatubo in 1991, have little effect compared to that produced by CFCs.

The good news is that, after years of political opposition, the climate changed when anti-science elements were replaced in office by more pragmatic elements. Production of CFCs has been curtailed world wide by law. The flow of CFCs into the atmosphere has been dramatically reduced, and these measures are bearing fruit. Recent measurements are indicating the science has been vindicated:

My observation over the past decades has been that political conservatives have not so much been troubled by science as they have been troubled by the consequences of scientific discoveries. When scientist observe a problem that can be addressed by government action, conservatives look toward discrediting the science rather than toward implementing a solution that will require government involvement. In the case of AGW, the government solution would be to impose measures to curb the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In the case of ozone layer depletion government action was to ban the production and sale of certain fluorinated hydrocarbons. This amounted to direct interference into people’s private lives and into the conduct of profitable business practices. In the case of ozone layer depletion, the scientist prevailed, governments worldwide stepped in, and the problemstarted to be resolved:

And that’s the ozone depletion story in just a few paragraphs.

Vindicated Science

This is being cross-posted from the North Texas Skeptics blog.

A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. Russian scientists are close to drilling in to the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

A satellite view of Antarctica is seen in this undated NASA handout photo obtained by Reuters February 6, 2012. Russian scientists are close to drilling in to the prehistoric sub-glacier Lake Vostok, which has been trapped under Antarctic ice for 14 million years. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

This is something that’s been going around for over 20 years, and it’s been an issue atThe North Texas Skeptics. The NTS is neither a liberal-leaning organization nor a politically conservative organization. We have always hosted a political spectrum, and some of that is apparent.

A former member is unabashedly conservative and early on announced his opposition to environmentalism, which term I will not define further. This member is an excellent writer and during his tenure supplied our newsletter with a wealth of professional quality material. Often enough, a tilt to the right was glaringly apparent:

Since my last column was run, we have finally gotten some reputable scientists weighing in on the “pro” side of global warming. A group of meteorologists brought together by the U.N. agreed (not unanimously, but in a majority, anyway) that man-made pollutants have altered the Earth’s temperature (I’m assuming here that the U.N. picks meteorologists more carefully than they pick military strategists). It’s not quite the Apocalypse that many environmental alarmists would like: the consensus was that the Earth’s temperature has risen, on the average, one degree Fahrenheit since 1900 … but what the heck, it’s something!

Of course, this could be connected to changing rainfall patterns, etc., but it seems a stretch to blame Chicago’s killer heat wave on that one degree uptick. Having lived for awhile in the northeast, I think I have an idea of why so many people died from the heat in Chicago, and the concerned citizens in the environmental movement have it in their power right now to prevent it from happening again. They don’t even have to lobby Congress or drive one of those dorky electric cars.
Most of the victims of the Chicago heat wave were elderly people in poor health, living alone, without air conditioners or the money to buy them. They weren’t acclimated to the heat, they weren’t able to overcome it, and they had nobody to look in and help them (many of the victims were buried by the city because nobody claimed the bodies). It wasn’t so much ozone breakdown that killed them as it was societal breakdown.

I do not recall whether at the time I called Pat’s attention to an odious misunderstanding of basic science on display, but here it is now:

  • While Pat is on the mark regarding the measured rise in global temperatures, he passes over the consequences of such a small increase. My guess is he never went much farther in his reading.
  • Pat correctly recognizes that a degree rise is not the basis for the deaths “environmental alarmists” hoped for. However, he incorrectly, through lack of diligence or else deliberately, absolves the notorious heat wave. The fact is, these victims would have been in the same situation regardless of the heat wave, but the heat wave made the difference between life and death.
  • The reference to ozone cannot be explained. Whether Pat is being facetious or whether he was at the time unaware there is no connection between ozone layer depletion and anthropogenic global warming is something I never explored.

Anyhow, during the time Pat contributed to the newsletter I looked forward each month to reading his column. Good writing is always a pleasure. Eventually, Pat lost interest in bashing the issue of ozone layer depletion. This was about the time some real scientist won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in studying the problem:

Press Release

11 October 1995

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to

Professor Paul Crutzen, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany (Dutch citizen),

Professor Mario Molina, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and Department of Chemistry, MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA and

Professor F. Sherwood Rowland, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA

for their work in atmospheric chemistry, particularly concerning the formation and decomposition of ozone.

THE OZONE LAYER – THE ACHILLES HEEL OF THE BIOSPHERE

The atmosphere surrounding the earth contains small quantities of ozone – a gas with molecules consisting of three oxygen atoms (O3). If all the ozone in the atmosphere were compressed to a pressure corresponding to that at the earth’s surface, the layer would be only 3 mm thick. But even though ozone occurs in such small quantities, it plays an exceptionally fundamental part in life on earth. This is because ozone, together with ordinary molecular oxygen (O2), is able to absorb the major part of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and therefore prevent this dangerous radiation from reaching the surface. Without a protective ozone layer in the atmosphere, animals and plants could not exist, at least upon land. It is therefore of the greatest importance to understand the processes that regulate the atmosphere’s ozone content.

My observation over the past decades has been that political conservatives have not so much been troubled by science as they have been troubled by the consequences of scientific discoveries. When scientist observe a problem that can be addressed by government action, conservatives look toward discrediting the science rather than toward implementing a solution that will require government involvement. In the case of AGW, the government solution would be to impose measures to curb the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In the case of ozone layer depletion government action was to ban the production and sale of certain fluorinated hydrocarbons. This amounted to direct interference into people’s private lives and into the conduct of profitable business practices. In the case of ozone layer depletion, the scientist prevailed, governments worldwide stepped in, and the problem started to be resolved:

Bright spot: Antarctica’s ozone hole is starting to heal

I learned about it early this morning when my electronic issue of Science magazine arrived by the magic of the Internet, another intrusion of government into private industry:

Ozone layer on the mend, thanks to chemical ban

Since it was discovered in 1985, the Antarctic ozone hole has been a potent symbol of humankind’s ability to cause unintended environmental harm. But now comes a glimmer of good news: The void in the ozone layer is shrinking. “It’s a big surprise,” says Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “I didn’t think it would be this early.”

Although the hole will not close completely until midcentury at the earliest, the healing is reassuring to scientists who pushed for the Montreal Protocol. The 1987 international agreement phased out the industrial production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): chlorine-containing chemicals that help trigger the destruction of stratospheric ozone, which screens out cancer-causing ultraviolet light. “You want to be sure that the actions we’ve taken have had the intended effect,” says Solomon, who led the study published online by Science this week.

When I mentioned previously that the NTS is a cross section of the political spectrum, I failed to mention that liberals predominate in this science-oriented group. This is not to say that science always comes down on the left-wing side of matters, as evidenced by the truth about genetically-modified organisms and the vaccination controversy. A requirement of the NTS is that we are always going to take the direction pointed by the evidence. It is tragic that a sizable block of elected officials consistently put politics over fact. It may be no coincidence that conservatives largely make up this block.

[This writer is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science magazine.]

Bat Shit Crazy

Second of a series (unfortunately)

Todd Akin

Todd Akin

 

What is this thing called love
This funny thing called love
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?
Lyrics by Cole Porter

Of course, it’s not always thus. There are times when love is not involved. But some politicians hold out hope. Sort of. Idaho State Representative Pete Nielsen of Mountain Home was speaking in support of a proposed bill. It would “require women seeking abortions to be given a list of providers of free ultrasounds, and to be told they have a right to such a procedure and to hear a fetal heart monitor.” My guess is that Representative Nielsen is among those who believe abortion should be avoided in all cases. Lacking the legal means to block abortions, bills of this kind are designed to dissuade women who have decided to abort a pregnancy from going through with the procedure.

But “in all cases” includes rape and incest, two instances in which women are very likely to need an abortion. Fortunately for these women, Representative Nielsen has some good news:

During the hearing Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit.”

Except for the “little bit” part, this means victims of these crimes may not have to worry about becoming pregnant, meaning the proposed legislation would not apply to them. Representative Nielsen knows of what he speaks, due to his extensive background in gynecology and human reproduction.

Actually, that last part is not quite true. Other than attending Brigham Young University and Utah State University, Representative Nielsen seems to have no medical background at all:

This leaves us wondering at the source of Representative Nielsen’s deep knowledge. Apparently some questions are never meant to be answered.

This is not the first time a feckless politician has offered up sage advice on the mysterious workings of human reproduction. During the election cycle four years ago the world swooned at candidate Todd Akin’s amazing grasp of detail:

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – Todd Akin, the Republican candidate in the closely watched U.S. Senate race in Missouri, released a new advertisement on Thursday featuring a woman who says she was raped and had an abortion but supports Akin’s anti-abortion stand.

The TV commercial comes in the closing days of a campaign that has drawn national attention because of Akin’s remark in August that women’s bodies could ward off pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

As it turned out, voters did not appreciate candidate Akin’s insight. Some, I am sure, thought he was bat shit crazy. He lost the election to Senator Claire McCaskill.

The election years is just rolling into gear. There will be, I am sure, much more to come. Keep reading.

Politicians Say The Darndest Things

One of a continuing series

ObamaSyrianRefugeesTerrorists

Who is the most recent politician saying the darndest things? How about Congressman Steve King representing the Iowa 4th District? Here is what he had to say recently:

While chatting today with Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News, Rep. Steve King took issue with the claim that the mounting hostility to refugees is undermining American values. The Iowa Republican said that “the argument that ‘that’s not who we are’ is just one of the mantras that they put out, it’s not supported by logic or rationale.”

“Who we are? We should not be a suicidal nation,” King said. “My wife said this morning, ‘If you had 100 grapes and you knew that two of them were fatally poisonous, would you sit there and eat the grapes until one of them killed you? Or would you decide, I’m not going to take that bunch of grapes at all?’ That’s what we’re dealing with here with the Syrian refugees.”

This is, of course, interesting logic. Pause for a moment to review a bit of irony:

WASHINGTON, March 14 [1989]
Food stores around the country pulled tons of grapes and other fresh fruit from their shelves today as the Food and Drug Administration broadened its investigation of a possible attempt to poison Chilean produce with cyanide.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it had joined the inquiry, which has so far turned up traces of the poison in a small batch of grapes shipped last month from Chile to Philadelphia.

There have been no reports of death or illness from Chilean fruit.

To be sure, Congressman King did not have this particular incident in mind when he made his remarks. It is possible he had in mind the image at the top of this post. That image is from the Facebook site titled Political Correctness Gone Wild.

PoliticalCorrectnessGoneWild

Supposedly all of this is about political correctness, popularized as “PC.” PC is supposed to be a poke at overly ingratiating politeness—specifically, politeness where politeness is not due. What often happens is that opponents of something wholly pragmatic stick on the PC label to knock off some of the shine. It’s apparent in this instance that is what is happening.

A cold look at the matter of the Syrian refugees reveals some inconvenient facts. See additional details from The Christian Post:

  • The vetting process for refugees, including those from Syria, appears to be comprehensive and as exhaustive as can be made.
  • “The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001.” “[T]hree resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities — and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”
  • “About 70 percent of refugees who participate in employment-training no longer need public assistance six months after resettling.

But, back to the poisoned grapes. Can I promise Congressman King that no Syrian refugee accepted under the current plan will commit crimes in this country or even plot terrorism. I cannot, and I do not need to. Further, I will guarantee that based on reliable population statistics, some will eventually run afoul of the law, and some will even be convicted of homicide while living in this country.

Does Congressman King want to keep people out of this country on the off chance, credible or not, they will pose a threat? He needs to think again. Such a restriction would have trapped any number of conservative Americans:

TIMEcoverTimothyMcVeigh

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff's Office, File)

This undated photo provided by the Erath County Sheriff’s Office shows Eddie Ray Routh, who was charged with killing former Navy SEAL and “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range southwest of Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Erath County Sheriff’s Office, File)

Knock Knock. These were your neighbors.

We are not finished with politicians saying the darndest things. Keep reading.

Candidates Acting Stupidly

One of a continuing series

RickSantorumOsamabinLaden

A Facebook friend recently provided a list of preferred Republican candidates. Ben Carson and Donald Trump topped the list, but the list included others. I made note of the list and pinged back recently when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal dropped out. I suspected the next to go would be former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

So, what has Senator Santorum been up to recently? Interestingly enough, he has some bad things to say about the sitting President. Here’s something from an interview on Fox News Radio:

Rick Santorum on the way President Obama is portraying opponents of allowing Syrian refugees into the country without proper screening: Do you think the president is accurately portraying the concerns of Americans and 30 plus governors and even senator Schumer when he says widows and orphans have you guys afraid?

“It’s despicable. You wonder how low this president can go in his mischaracterization, his depiction of anybody that opposes him, and taking the most extreme and lowest form of rhetoric. He’s despicable, he’s delusion and what’s causing the problem? ISIS isn’t fighting us because we won’t take Syrian refugees; ISIS is fighting us because they hate everything we believe in. ISIS is fighting us because in their holy book it says their job is to conquer the infidels in which we are one. That’s why ISIS is fighting us. But we have a president who won’t even say the word Islam, or even say the word jihadist. This is a president who uses the term ISIS and he doesn’t even realize he’s talking about the Islamic state when he says the word ISIS. He even admits in his own rhetoric that Islam is part of it, but again it’s a delusional disconnect so what he has to do in his fantasy world is accuse people of things that they’re not advocating. No one is afraid of widows and orphans. Widows and orphans did not blow up or kill people in Paris a weekend ago. It was an ISIS plant within these groups of refugees who are coming to kill, and destroy, and pursue terror among the west to destroy the infidel. That’s what they’re doing.”

The first section is just Rupert Murdoch’s media empire talking. The president, implies Fox, wants to allow Syrian refugees into this country without proper screening, something known to be contrary to fact. The second part is pure Santorum.

Here’s more:

Kilmeade: Are you concerned that France had to go to Russia for help?

Santorum: I’m not surprised. Russia is at least leading. This president has been following, this president makes excuses for not acting, and if you look at what this president has done with ISIS it’s the worst foreign policy in the history of America. The president’s policy toward ISIS is to contain ISIS, ISIS’s policy in order to gain credibility as a caliphate in the Middle East and around the world is to maintain their territorial integrity. Let me repeat that. The president’s policy is to keep ISIS within their bounds. ISIS’s objective is to keep their territorial integrity. What does that sounds like? It sounds like president Obama is in cahoots with the strategy of ISIS to maintain their territorial integrity. And he doesn’t realize by having this strategy he provides the greatest recruitment tool for ISIS, which is- America is fighting us and we are maintaining our territorial integrity and we are winning this battle. The president is helping ISIS every single day by the policies we have and he doesn’t even know it because he refuses to accept the reality that ISIS is a caliphate. ISIS is using a seventh century text book to operate this war and unless we understand it and we find a strategy against it we are going to lose this battle.

Kilmeade is Brian Kilmeade, co-host of Fox’s morning show, Fox & Friends. What is interesting is what Santorum has to say: “The president’s policy is to keep ISIS within their bounds. ISIS’s objective is to keep their territorial integrity. What does that sounds [sic] like? It sounds like president Obama is in cahoots with the strategy of ISIS to maintain their territorial integrity.” President Obama’s strategy is to help Daesh (ISIS) keep its territorial integrity. Really? The president is going about it in a strange way:

ISTANBUL — Intensifying pressure on the Islamic State, United States warplanes for the first time attacked hundreds of trucks on Monday that the extremist group has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria, American officials said.

According to an initial assessment, 116 trucks were destroyed in the attack, which took place near Deir al-Zour, an area in eastern Syria that is controlled by the Islamic State.

The airstrikes were carried out by four A-10 attack planes and two AC-130 gunships based in Turkey.

Plans for the strike were developed well before the terrorist attacks in and around Paris on Friday, officials familiar with the operation said, part of a broader operation to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, to generate revenue to support its military operations and govern its territory.

Senator Santorum may be excused for being unaware in this case, his excuse possibly being he does not read The New York Times, or any other newspaper, for that matter. It would be better for Senator Santorum’s standing if President Obama would immediately cease all bombing of Daesh’s oil facilities, providing them better means for maintaining their territory. Unfortunately for the Senator, events do not always follow his creative mind.

This is not Senator Santorum’s first flight into fantasy. The history is rich and colorful. His dance with creationism is long and storied:

The Santorum Amendment was a failed proposed amendment to the 2001 education funding bill (which became known as the No Child Left Behind Act), proposed by Republican Rick Santorum (then the United States Senator for Pennsylvania), which promoted the teaching of intelligent design while questioning the academic standing of evolution in US public schools. In response, a coalition of 96 scientific and educational organizations wrote a letter to the conference committee, urging that the amendment be stricken from the final bill, arguing that evolution is, in the scientific fields, regarded as fact and that the amendment creates the mis-perception that evolution is not fully accepted in the scientific community, and thus weakens science curricula. The words of the amendment survive in modified form in the Bill’s Conference Report and do not carry the weight of law. As one of the Discovery Institute intelligent design campaigns it became a cornerstone in the intelligent design movement’sTeach the Controversy” campaign.

Intelligent Design is a quirk in the scientific creationism ploy creationists have been pushing for several decades. The idea is to claim a scientific basis for creationism, thereby getting around various court rulings that creationism, including Intelligent Design, is a religious concept that has no basis in science.

Santorum’s passion for religion education at public expense is at odds with United States law as well with good sense:

“The reason Bibles are no longer in the public schools is because we let them take them out,” Santorum said to amens and applause at The Awakening conference, hosted by the right-wing Liberty Counsel. “You say, ‘Well, we can’t get them back in?’ Yes we can! Yes we can!”

“How much are you willing to sacrifice?” the former presidential candidate continued. “One person got the Bibles out of the schools. We have more than one person here! But you’ve got to have the same passion in preserving our country as they do to transform it.”

Senator Santorum, who has a degree in law, is apparently unaware of that part of United States law which prohibits government entities, including public schools, from working to advance religion. He may also be unaware of some of the real consequences of introducing Bibles into public schools. Some of the material would get this book on any library’s ban list:

Ezekiel 23:15-20King James Version (KJV)

15 Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity:

16 And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.

17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.

18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister.

19 Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.

20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

It’s possible candidate has given this matter as little thought as about his current proclamations. How far his thinking will continue to carry him this campaign season is to be seen. There will be more to this story.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

The Loose Cruz

How long has it been since I posted anything on Texas Senator Ted Cruz? Well, that’s too long:

So, who is it campaigning for office, all the while keeping a lid on their intellect. Why, it’s Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Who would have thought?

TedCruzPray

That’s all? Fortunately not.

Sen. Ted Cruz had sharp words for President Barack Obama over his comments regarding Republican rhetoric on Syrian refugees, saying his statement “is utterly unbefitting of a president.”

“If you want to insult me, you can do it overseas, you can do it in Turkey, you can do it in foreign countries, but I would encourage you, mister president, come back and insult me to my face,” the Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate said this on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Unfortunately for the President, when it comes to insulting Ted Cruz, he is a day late and a dollar short. That task has been ably managed by the senator from Texas. To wit:

“President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America—it is nothing less than lunacy,” Ted Cruz said on Fox News, the day after the attacks on Paris. If there are Syrian Muslims who are really being persecuted, he said, they should be sent to “majority-Muslim countries.” Then he reset his eyebrows, which had been angled in a peak of concern, as if he had something pious to say. And he did: “On the other hand,” he added, “Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them. But President Obama refuses to do that.”

The next day, at a middle school in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Cruz spoke even more openly about those whom he considers to be the good people in the world. He told reporters that we should accept Christians from Syria, and only Christians, because, he said, “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.” This will come as a profound surprise to the people of Oklahoma City and Charleston, to all parties in Ireland, and to the families of the teen-agers whom Anders Breivik killed in Norway, among many others. The Washington Post noted that Cruz “did not say how he would determine that refugees were Christian or Muslim.” Would he accept baptismal certificates, or notes from pastors? Does he just want to hear the refugees pray?

Of course, the foregoing from The New Yorker is a tad snarky. A coarse reading would give the idea that Senator Cruz wants only Christians from Syria allowed in. Come to think of it, that is what the senator said.

Let’s take it from there and do some Skeptical Analysis. Suppose we wanted to let in only Christians. How would we do it? Congress could make a law. The law would be worded something like this:

Only Christian refugees from Syria will be admitted to the United States.

Or, the deed could be accomplished by a simple memo:

From: His Holiness the President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

To: Ms. Fatima Noor

Special assistant in the Office of the Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Ms. Noor:

From this date forward, only allow refugees of the Christian faith from Syria to enter the United States.

Yours truly,

Barack Hussein Obama

President of the United States

P.S. Don’t forget to pray five times a day.

Between Congress passing a law, and President Obama sending a memo, the task can be accomplished by any number of means. The problem is that any and all of these means would be in direct conflict with United States law:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…

Yes, that’s the part. There’s not going to be any of getting around that. Unless…

Unless you could set up something back-channel. Maybe a special signal. I don’t mean an applicant would need to kneel and cross themselves as they approach the review board, all the while shouting “Allah is a fag!” It could be something more subtle. A slight movement of the eyes. A particular color of socks. A quantity of unmarked bills. Those with some experience will know ways of getting around the law, any law. A sharp lawyer will know how. Such as Ted Cruz.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Darwin’s Doubt

One of a continuing series

DarwinsDoubt

I have acquired a copy of Stephen C. Meyer’s most recent book, Darwin’s Doubt. Meyer is Program Director for the Center for Science Culture, the Intelligent Design arm of Seattle-based Discovery Institute. I previously reviewed Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell, and I will be reviewing his new book shortly. In the meantime there is a lot of discussion going on related to the book on the Discovery Institute’s blog, Evolution News. Here’s an excerpt, also posted on the North Texas Skeptics site:

Denying the Signature: Functional Information Is the Fact to Be Explained

Stephen C. Meyer November 19, 2015 3:53 AM | Permalink

Editor’s note: Readers of Evolution News likely know the central thesis of Stephen Meyer’s bestseller, Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. Meyer argues that the functional biological information necessary to build the Cambrian animals is best explained by the activity of a designing intelligence, rather than an undirected, materialistic evolutionary process. Most reviews of Darwin’s Doubt curiously omitted to address or even to accurately report this central claim. However, a review by philosophers Robert Bishop and Robert O’Connor in Books & Culture was a welcome exception. In this series, adapted from Debating Darwin’s Doubt, edited by ENV‘s David Klinghoffer, Dr. Meyer responds to their critiques. This is Part 2 of the series. Look here for Part 1.

Philosophers of science analyzing scientific arguments make a clear distinction between what needs to be explained (the relevant facts in question) and the competing explanations of those facts. They call the former the explanandum and the latter theexplanans. Bishop and O’Connor do not offer a competing explanation (another explanans) for the origin of biological information. Instead, they dispute my characterization of what needs to be explained (theexplanandum). They do so in several ways, which I will discuss in the next two articles in this series.

First, they question my characterization of DNA and RNA as molecules rich in functional digital information and my characterization of the gene expression system as an “information processing system” — in so doing, presumably raising questions about the need to explain the origin of these features of living systems. Specifically, Bishop and O’Connor assert that “talk of ‘genetic codes’ and ‘information processing’ with respect to the origin of life… can be very limited if not misleading.”

They argue that “abstracted notions of programs and processing seem inadequate to capture the exquisite precision and reliability of these processes.” In order to describe the process of protein synthesis more accurately, they argue that I should abandon an “information processing metaphor.”

Bishop and O’Connor are correct that, if not carefully defined, the term information can be misleading and lead to equivocation. But in both of my books I not only acknowledge this, but take great pains to avoid such confusion. I carefully define the type of information that reliably indicates the activity of an intelligent agent (functional or specified information, also known asspecified complexity) and distinguish it from a type of information that does not, namely, Shannon information (or mere complexity) — in the latter case, information that may not perform a function. I also distinguish functional information generally from a special type of functional information (semantic information) in which meaning is conveyed to, and perceived by, conscious agents. (See Signature in the Cell, Chapter 4, and Darwin’s Doubt, Chapter 8, for definitions.)

In so doing, I make clear that DNA contains functional information but definitely not semantic information. Bishop and O’Connor completely ignore this crucial discussion in their review and, consequently, express unfounded worries about the use of the term information as a “metaphor” in biology. Indeed, had I implied that the information in DNA conveyed semantic meaning, my description would have been inaccurate — and, at best, metaphorical. Nevertheless, both books clearly state that DNA contains functional or specified information and argue (based upon our uniform and repeated experience) that such information, as opposed to Shannon information, reliably indicates the activity of a designing intelligence.

As my colleague Casey Luskin has established, no serious biologist post-Watson and Crick has denied that DNA and RNA contain functional information expressed in a digital form — information that directs the construction of functional proteins (and editing of RNA molecules). Thus, contra Bishop and O’Connor, my characterization of DNA and RNA as molecules that store functional or specified information is not even remotely controversial within mainstream biology.

Nor is my judgment controversial that the gene expression system (the system by which proteins are synthesized in accord with the information stored on the DNA molecule) constitutes an information processing system. That is what the network of proteins and RNA molecules involved in the gene-expression system do: They process (that is copy, translate, and express) the information stored within the DNA molecule. The information processing systems present in the cell may well be much more precise than those that human computer engineers have designed, but that does not mean that describing the gene expression system as an information processing system is inaccurate. Describing the gene expression system as an information processing system is not to employ a metaphor. It is to describe what the system does — again, to process (or express) genetic information.

As I mentioned in the Skeptical News post:

I’m not going to quote the remainder of Meyer’s argument, but I will summarize the substance. Creationist Stephen C. Meyer is Program Director of the Center for Science and Culture, the arm of the Discovery Institute that manages Intelligent Design. I have previously reviewed his book, Signature in the Cell. His most recent book is Darwin’s Doubt, with the subtitle The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. That’s what this Evolution News post is all about.

Read it. Comments, please. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

The Ever-Diminishing List of Those Who Cannot Obtain Life Insurance at any Price

One of a continuing series

I apologize. These come in faster than I can keep up with them. Here’s the latest. There will be more.

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Yes, that was the exalted loser formerly known as “Jihadi John.” His claim to fame was cutting off the heads of civilians who had been scooped up by his Daesh organization in Syria. His victims included journalist James Foley, journalist Steven Sotloff, aid worker David Haines, aid worker Alan Henning, and American Petter Kassig.

Mohammad Emwazi was born in Kuwait and raised in England. He was part of a group some Daesh hostages called “The Beatles,” due to their English accents. John Lennon would not have been amused.

All that came to an end a week ago today:

On 12 November 2015, two United States drone aircraft[76] along with a British drone reportedly conducted an airstrike in Al-Raqqah that targeted Emwazi as he left a building and entered a vehicle.[77] US officials stated he had been killed, but his death has not been confirmed and data was still being analysed.[15][78][79] A senior US military official was quoted as saying, “we are 99% sure we got him.”[76] A US official called it a “flawless” and “clean hit” with no collateral damage and that Emwazi was “evaporated.”[78]

“Evaporated” was not the finish I had hoped for Mr. Emwazi, but being the easy going person I am, I will take what the world offers. To my knowledge he carried no life insurance policy. Nor was one offered.

Once Upon A Tidy Mind

I’ve been messing around with Facebook the better part of 10 years. I don’t particularly care to share with others what I’m doing, but I do love to see what’s on other people’s minds. What a person posts on Facebook can tell a lot. The channel opens up a world to me a world I would ordinarily miss. Some of it makes great fodder for the blog.

Take the case of Caroline Cronin:

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Cronin is not a Facebook friend of mine. I don’t even know her. My attention was directed to her timeline by another Facebook friend. One item posted was so intriguing I determined the need to explore further. What a treasure it was to behold. Cronin’s timeline bespeaks a mentality so compelling I feel the need to share it. Behold, a few postings:

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All right! This establishes Caroline Cronin as a Donald Trump fan. Forget about secret ballots. We know who Cronin is going to vote for. Personally, I don’t think the Donald is going to make the finals, in which case I will return to find out who Cronin’s second choice is. Not Ben Carson apparently.

 

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She notes, “This man is not capable of the force required to keep us safe…” Try again next time, Dr. Carson.

 

What does Cronin think about other people. It’s not hard to tell:

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How about that. Fatima Noor has been appointed Assistant Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration. “Isn’t that precious! A Muslim in charge of U.S. Citzenship [sic] paper.” I need to pause a moment to get my head around this. There must be some reason Caroline Cronin of Bayville, New Jersey, wants to highlight this. We should all read it again. Wait! I think I see it. Fatima Noor is a M****m! That is what has Caroline Cronin up in arms. Somebody who is not a Christian (OK, not a Jew, atheist, Buddhist) being given a position of responsibility in the United States government. Wait, there’s more:

In 2005, my whole family reunited in our new home: Memphis, Tennessee. We soon adapted to Southern living (and yummy Memphis barbecue). We bought a house down by the Mississippi River. My brother even attended the same middle school as Elvis Presley. I graduated from the University of Memphis.

On the morning of April 29, 2013, I returned to the same auditorium where I had received my high school diploma a few years earlier. Now, I was among 500 people. We each went up on stage, before a panel of immigration judges, and stated our full name and country of origin. In the audience, we all stood, raised our right hands and recited the Oath of Allegiance.

On July 28, 2014, I was sworn in as special assistant to the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS naturalizes more than 700,000 new U.S. citizens each year, along with processing millions of other immigration-related requests. USCIS is the very agency that made it possible for my family to immigrate, and for all of us to become citizens.

How utterly boring. In all of this there is no mention of Ms. Noor’s religious affiliation. However, anybody photographed wearing a hijab is worthy of suspicion to such a tidy mind. But not that tidy. This tidy mind from time to time gets things wrong:

The announcement stirred up consternation in some circles because Noor appears Muslim in pictures: She does not identify her religious affiliation on her LinkedIn profile, but she was photographed wearing a hijab for her profile on the Muslim Media Network. This circumstance prompted the disreputableBefore It’s News web site to publish an article titled “ALERT! Obama Appointment Fatima Noor Asst Director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration! WHAT!” on 31 August 2014. The article quoted directly from the University of Memphis announcement but incorrectly identified Noor’s position at USCIS as “assistant director.”

To illustrate that Caroline Cronin is not totally down on Muslims, she points out one who sometimes tells the truth. “At least one Muslim is telling the truth.” The rest can likely go suck an egg.

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Did I mention Caroline Cronin is a fan of Donald Trump? Is Donald Trump a fan of Muslims? Caroline Cronin apparently thinks not. She illustrates. “TRUMP: We need to look at mosques in the USA… Consider shutting them down.”

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I’m still trying to figure the next one. “Stop the insanity!” (?) Please do.

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By now I’m beginning to wonder just what kind of people Caroline Cronin would prefer to live in this country. The following does not suggest an answer, but it does suggest what kind would not be welcome. She shared the link. The caption reads, “Around 50,000 nationalists demonstrated today in the city center of Warsaw against the nonwhite invasion of Europe and the European Union—and in particular the latter’s demands that Poland ‘absorb’ …” Absorb some nonwhites, I suppose.

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You may have guessed by now that Caroline Cronin is no fan of the sitting president. Your guessing days are over. Here’s something pertinent from Caroline Cronin’s timeline.

 

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Cronin asks whether the President actually said what he’s not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning’ or whatever other slogans they come up with. Then she comments, “So wtf is he interested in? That’s pretty much the whole job douche bag!”

That’s the whole bag? I was hoping the whole bag was actions and not appearances, which is what the President was talking about. What he is talking about might become clear were one to read the entire quote:

“What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning’ or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people,” Obama said as part of an extended response to a reporter’s question.

You can quit salivating. There are additional out-takes of similar quality concerning the President. I will save them for later. Not to be save for later is something typical of these Facebook rants, typical being those got-it-completely-wrong links. Such as this one.

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Yes, she says “Boycott Coke!” With an exclamation mark! Why? Coke wants you to share one with ISIS. Really?

Although the name “Isis” does not appear on Coca-Cola product labels shown on the United States’ “Share a Coke” page, the above-displayed photographs are indeed real. A company spokesperson told Snopes in an email that the “Share A Coke With Isis” cans were available in the Netherlands during the 2014 campaign:

This is not one of the 1,000 Share a Coke names available in the U.S. It is a popular name in the Netherlands and was used in their 2014 campaign among 2,500 of the most common Dutch names. It is unfortunate that it took on another meaning while the campaign was in market. The name is no longer available in the Netherlands.
It should also be noted that the word “Isis” depicted on the bottle is written with an initial capital letter followed by lower-case letters, while the terrorist organization’s name is an acronym (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and thus is rendered in all capital letters. Since the above-displayed photos render “Isis” with lower case letters, they reference a person named Isis (similar to the Egyptian goddess) and not a militant Islamic group.

Yeah. It sometimes helps to read to the end of the paragraph.

Finally, in case you have acquired the conclusion that Cronin is a blind shill for Republican Party causes, this should disabuse you of that notion. Here is one even liberal Democrats crow over. It’s from Cronin’s Facebook timeline dated 17 November 2015 about 7:00 a.m.

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Yes, all those 41 senators who voted to block a veterans benefit bill were Republicans.

Keep reading. And keep a tidy mind.

The Junior Varsity Team

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One of a series

A few months ago the President called Daesh—formerly ISIS—a “junior varsity team:”

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”

He got a lot of push back from that. So did I when I cast my vote for that sentiment. One person compared Daesh to the Viet Cong of 50 years ago. It was pointed out that we failed to defeat the VC. I begged to differ:

  • The VC were effectively finished in 1968. We fought the NVA from that point on.
  • The NVA  was not a JV team. They had SAMs and jet fighters. North Vietnam was a client state of the Soviet Union. Even though, like Daesh, North Vietnam did not produce its own weapons of war, it received a steady supply, apparently gratis.
  • To the contrary, Daesh does not have territory of its own. It currently occupies territory claimed by two well-armed nations, Syria and Iraq. One, Syria, is unable to combat Daesh effectively. The other, Iraq, appears unwilling.
  • Additionally, Daesh, unlike North Vietnam, does not produce anything on its own. Everything must be imported.

If Daesh does not qualify as a JV team, who does?

That does not mean Daesh lacks teeth. Evidence the downing of a Russian airliner last month followed soon after by a massive bomb attack in Beirut and a highly successful attack on the city of Paris. These actions do not elevate Daesh to the varsity level. In case nobody has noticed, this is exactly what we can expect from a JV team. Efforts to promote them by media wonks and various political candidates are just that much rhetoric.

The President’s comment that Daesh is now contained came just hours before the Paris attack and provided him considerable embarrassment. Comments were in the order of, “If that’s contained, what do they look like free reign?” Lest somebody ask me whether I would require Daesh attack with a fleet of supersonic bombers before I declared them ready for prime time, I will answer yes. They would need to give the appearance of a 20th century (not 21st century) military force. They are far from that.

In the mean time the President continues with the serious work of putting action before rhetoric.

Barack Obama talks to Vladimir Putin during a break of the G20 summit working session in Antalya, Turkey, on Sunday. Photograph: Cem Oksuz/EPA

Barack Obama talks to Vladimir Putin during a break of the G20 summit working session in Antalya, Turkey, on Sunday. Photograph: Cem Oksuz/EPA

I perceive Obama as a person for whom being president is job one. He’s the one who directed that resources be applied to hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden, a task previously neglected. My observation is he is applying the same attention toward a new enemy, absent the military showboating we have witnessed in the past.

What, then, is needed to defeat Daesh, at least in Syria and Iraq? I answered that question last year. When the presumptive Muslim caliphate in Syria erupted to headlines and began to gobble up territory in Iraq, the question came up during a discussion at a freethinker’s group I attend regularly in San Antonio. I had already shucked through the thought process and didn’t need to catch my breath before responding. I ticked off the points and later posted a summation. Here’s what it takes to defeat somebody like Daesh:

  • You really have to get control of the surrounding territory. ISIS cannot be allowed to make new conquests. This goal is feasible in principle. To advance toward anywhere in Iraq they are going to have to take to the roads. This has not been a good idea for an advancing army for the past 70 years. We can do this in Iraq, but Syria remains a problem.
  • ISIS is fighting battles, and fighting consumes resources. You need to keep ISIS engaged and continue to drain it. Again, Syria is a problem. In Syria ISIS is up close to its supply of captured weapons (Syrian army plus other insurgent groups) and also to its supply of purchased and donated weapons.
  • You are going have to keep ISIS from obtaining additional funding. ISIS gets money from donations and also from countries willing to pay ransom for hostages. When this money heads toward an arms purchase it should be tracked and confiscated.
  • You are going to have to put pressure on nations and individuals that provide aid to ISIS. ISIS may be immune to military attack, but their outside friends are not. Arms that are seen heading for ISIS can be confiscated. You are going to lose some friends with such high-handed tactics, but these are not the friends you want to keep.
  • Make sure ISIS has nothing to sell. If they produce some oil, do not buy it. If somebody buys it, confiscate it. Lose some friends, defeat ISIS.
  • Bottle them up. We are talking, at least for the coming five or more years, of an army of occupation. Nobody in, nobody out. ISIS does not yet have an airline. If it does, then make sure it has no airfields.

That was August of last year. This is still recommendation. By some coincidence, this also seems to be the path followed, with some side excursions, by our government. Is it possible somebody has been reading my blog posts?

Is this going to defeat Daesh in Syria and Iraq? I say yes. Will this forestall future attacks on other countries, including France and the United States? Absolutely not. Recall that 20 years ago two American ex service men launched an attack on the United States government, killing 168 in a single attack.

Unless you manage to kill every single person with a grudge against the government, you are going to have more of these. And some of these are going to be carried out by Daesh fighters who manage to escape the coming apocalypse in Syria/Iraq. And some of these are going to be home-grown Daesh sympathizers who are reacting to the defeat of the caliphate.

And all the rest is bullshit?

That Old Time Religion

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Just like old times:

Give me that old time religion
give me that old time religion
Give me that old time religion
It’s good enough for me

Makes me love everybody
Makes me love everybody
Makes me love everybody
It’s good enough for me

It was saved our fathers
It has saved our fathers
It has saved our fathers
And it’s good enough for me.

Makes me feel good all over. I’m so very wrapped in the warmth and the love. It brings to mind this:

After interviewing both Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal at his “National Religious Liberties Conference” this morning, radical right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson returned to the stage to discuss the issue of how Christians are to live in an increasingly debased and secular society.

During his remarks, Swanson reiterated his view that both the Old and New Testament require the death penalty for the crime of homosexuality, as well as his position that any Christian who attends a gay wedding can only do so in order to hold up a sign informing the couple that they ought to be put to death.

He drove home his point with a passionate declaration that if he ever found out that his own sons was gay and that son invited him to his wedding, he would show up covered in “sackcloth and ashes” and then smear himself in cow manure as he sat on the steps of the church and wailed lamentations.

Bear with me; my heart is momentarily overcome with love, and I must pause till it come back to me.

It’s back. Praise the Lord. Here’s more:

Let it be known: Pastor Kevin Swanson is no Harry Potter fan. In fact, Swanson is so opposed to J.K. Rowling’s iconic series, he’d prefer that parents would drown themselves than let their children read it.

Swanson, who is a pastor at the Reformation Church of Elizabeth, Colorado and also hosts a weekly radio show, blasted Harry Potter and “How to Train Your Dragon” in a convoluted speech at the National Religious Liberties Conference on Nov. 7, Right Wing Watch reported. His issue with Potter, it seems, stemmed from Rowling’s 2007 revelation that she always thought of Dumbledore the wizard as a gay man.

“America, repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter, that Hiccup’s mentor in ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ emerged as a homosexual himself in order that history might repeat itself one more time,” Swanson said.

The pastor went on to suggest that it would be better “that a millstone be hanged around [the parents’] neck[s] and they be drowned at the bottom of the sea” than allowing their children to be “raised to be stumbled by the Dumbledores and by the mentors of Hiccup.”

He said, “My friends, America needs to repent…of our culture!”

I feel like repenting already. Thank you, Pastor Swanson:

Homeschooled himself in the 1960’s and 70’s, Kevin Swanson and his wife, Brenda, are now homeschooling their five children. Since graduating from his homeschool and then serving as student body president of a large west coast university, he has gone on to other leadership positions in corporate management, church, and other non-profits. Kevin has 43 years of experience in the homeschooling movement and serves as the Director of Generations – a ministry he founded to strengthen homeschool families around the country. As a father who wants to leave a godly heritage for his own five children, Kevin’s passion is to strengthen and encourage the homeschooling movement all over the world, and to cast a vision for generations to come. For the last 10 years Kevin has hosted a daily radio program – Generations Radio – the world’s largest homeschooling and Biblical worldview program that reaches families across the US and in over 100 countries.

Kevin has also served as the Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado for the last nine years. He has also authored several popular books for homeschoolers, including Freedom, Apostate, Upgrade-10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child, the Family Bible Study Guide Series, and others.

Kevin Swanson also serves as a teaching elder at Reformation Church of Elizabeth (reformationchurch.com).

Pastor Swanson has not been idle. The above includes only a partial list of titles under his name. One is Apostate: The Men Destroyed the Christian West. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One, Apostasy:

Western civilization is over. Everybody knows it. There may be a few remnants from the old order that wish it were not so. Here and there, reforms are still working to salvage small pieces of it. However, 21st century Western man cannot help but see that the old order is over. He must also realize that for now there is no new order set to take its place.

It should go without saying that cultural Christianity has faded in both Europe and North America. This means that the majority of people in these lands have given up on both the Christian faith and the culture that must always accompany faith. Culture is religion externalized, so a loss of Christian faith means a loss of Christian culture. People always live out their fundamental beliefs. They may say they believe one thing while their lives reflect some other creed. In a world of a thousand hypocrisies and lies, there is only one way to determine the true creed of a man: observe his life and culture.

Pastor Swanson’s words cause me to pause and to consider what we may have lost. Then I am reminded:

[I]f he ever found out that his own sons [sic] was gay and that son invited him to his wedding, he would show up covered in “sackcloth and ashes” and then smear himself in cow manure as he sat on the steps of the church and wailed lamentations.

Thank you, Pastor Swanson. We needed reminding. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Flak Jacket Mentality

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Last week Tom Boggioni posted an item on Raw Story that mentioned, in part:

So when the owner of a popular Delaware haunted house was quite adamant that nobody — including off-duty cops — pack heat while visiting his attraction, gun nuts reacted as if the amusement park operator dug up Zombie Reagan and dressed him up in a Mao jacket and let people throw poop at him as part of the Halloween hi-jinks.

The story is not so much about the man in Delaware operating a Halloween haunted house, which donated money to leukemia research. It’s also not so much about the operator not allowing people to bring their lawfully-owned and lawfully-carried firearms into the establishment. It’s is neither those nor a host of other possibilities. For me the story turned into one about the comments received from responsible gun owners. Here’s for example:

Aaron Christolph: “@Frightland, I personally find this as a slap in the face to all those who serve. And can say with 100% certainty that you have just lost the business of several hundred families (police, military, and civilian), just here in DE. You can make what ever excuse, that make you feel comfortable, and it is 100% your right to make this as your policy. Just as it is ours to voice our disgust, with it and choose to refrain business with you.”

Here’s another:

John Walczak: “If your not 2A friendly then you will never see a dime from me . Gun free zones are the last place I wanna be and the first place criminals seek.”

And some more:

Jeremiah Miller:  “FZs are not safe zones at all…look how wonderfully they don’t work in schools (family friendly, right?) and private establishments where shootings have occurred. All they do is disarm the law-abiding citizens, not the criminals who’re intent on doing harm to others. I will absolutely speak out against ALL establishments that revoke anyone’s right to be able to defend themselves and their families. Make absolutely no mistake about it, those rules are not in place to ensure the safety of their patrons at all.. they are there to limit any liability and due to insurance reasons for their business. Yeah they may have an inkling of a human concern for the general well-being of their patrons but it is not the driving factor for the rules they put in place.”

Herbert Krebs: “Just don’t bring your constitutional firearm with you or they will hate you and ban you for it. So all law enforcement stay away from this place. Even in an emergency let them fend for themselves. They seem to have it,under control.”

James Chubb: “Was going to visit this year. Your gun free policy has made me change my mind. Thanks for saving me the expense.”

Mike Richardson:  “Another ‘gun free zone’ what could possibly happen there?!? No thanks I’ll spend my money elsewhere where I can protect my family.”

Karen Wood: “Might add, you can get in there many ways, without going through that gate if you know the area and are determined. A nut who wants to create a name for himself, will be thrilled to read this. Hope your perimeter security is armed.”

Rick Williamson: “Yeah, didn’t expect damage control from your B.S anti Second Amendment rules! If you deny us our rights, then you don’t need our money.”

John Craig: “Correct me if Im wrong but arent these shooters targeting ‘Family Establishments’??? Wake TFU!!!!”

By now you have gotten the message. Blogger Boggioni unkindly posted the comments of responsible gun owners for the world’s enjoyment. And the message is…

The message seems to comprise several parts:

  • The presence of guns makes an area safer.
  • A person needs to keep his gun handy at all times to protect his family.
  • Criminals target areas where guns are known to be absent.
  • Anybody who requires visitors leave their guns at home is against the Second Amendment.

There could be more, but these are sufficient. I will review the points. This is Skeptical Analysis, after all. Start with the first—guns make safe.

Who has ever been in the military? Who has ever been in a combat unit? Who has ever been in combat? When you were pulled back from the FLD, besides taking a shower, what was the first thing you did? You turned in your weapon. Military commanders are not stupid. They know that when there is no combat imminent, a gun in the hand represents more of a danger than enemy attack. Examples abound. My own military experience involved being told by drill instructors of deaths by loose firearms. Stephen Ambrose, in his book Band of Brothers, recounts the case of Corporal Hoobler during the siege of Bastogne. Hoobler took a Luger pistol off a dead German officer and killed himself with it before the day was out. This was a combat-hardened soldier in a combat zone, and he shot himself in the leg.

Second item—a person needs a gun to protect his family. A person needs a gun to protect his family, if his family is being attacked by a hoard of Taliban fighters. Otherwise, the gun in the home is more of a danger than outside forces. I tend to side with the conclusions of this observer:

Unfortunately, guns can’t discriminate between criminals and innocent bystanders. Studies have shown that unintentional shootings are four times as common as occurrences of gun use in legitimate home defense situations. 5 You’d actually be more likely, statistically speaking, to shoot someone by accident than you are to shoot a home invader.

My personal experience reinforces this belief. I often cite the example of Dickie Martinettes. I last saw him alive on a Friday evening in 1967. He and his date were headed out for the night. They wound up at his cousin’s house, where the cousin shot him in the forehead when he knocked on the door. The pistol was supposedly not loaded.

Then there is the case of the person I was named after, my father’s father. He was also shot by a cousin, but he lived. Which is why you are reading this post. Besides these, a high school classmate was killed in a shooting accident during a celebration on the town square. I know of two other people who killed themselves with guns—suicides.

The article cited above does not depict scientific research. Here is a link to a more serious discussion:

Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.

So much for “Your Friend, the Gun.”

Do criminals target areas where guns are present? Not necessarily, of course, unless their object is to steal guns. But do criminals avoid places where people have guns? A quick search seems to confirm criminals avoid gun shows and gun shops. Criminals do not purchase guns legally. Do criminals avoid homes where there are guns? If Fox News is correct they do:

Reformed crooks say the New York newspaper that published a map of names and addresses of gun owners did a great service – to their old cronies in the burglary trade.

The information published online by the Journal-News, a daily paper serving the New York suburbs of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, could be highly useful to thieves in two ways, former burglars told FoxNews.com. Crooks looking to avoid getting shot now know which targets are soft and those who need weapons know where they can steal them.

This good news seems to be double-edged. Gun advocates object to having gun ownership publicized. But if you have a gun in your home, how is the criminal going to know not to come in if he doesn’t know you have a gun? Being facetious, I suggest if you have a gun, then you should post a sign on your door announcing the situation. That way criminals will avoid your house and go to your neighbor next door. Your neighbor will appreciate it. Or you could just get rid of the guns and get yourself the sign.

On a serious side, I have known of houses with guns, and the crooks broke in and stole the guns. That’s where criminals get guns.

Requiring people to leave their guns at home is a violation of the Second Amendment? Does somebody want to read the Second Amendment for me?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I can’t be sure, but I think that wording is directed toward the government. People in a free society can do pretty much what they want. The operator of the haunted house has other matters of concern that are ignored by the responsible gun owners who commented on the blog post. He has responsibility for the safety of the people who patronize his operation. Were he to allow guns on the property, and were somebody be killed or injured by an accident or deliberate act involving a gun, then he could face some serious civil action. Absent such precautions, serious consequences have been inflicted:

Parrish was off-duty, but wearing his gun. While Miller was dancing with him that night, the weapon accidentally discharged, puncturing her lung and striking her in the heart. She died after she was taken to a hospital.

Going to a movie? Want to take your gun for self protection? Don’t forget the popcorn:

DADE CITY — In the dark of the theater, Alan Hamilton saw the kernels fly. Then, the muzzle flash and a loud bang.

“I’ll teach you to throw popcorn at me,” an eyewitness recalled the shooter, retired Tampa police Capt. Curtis Reeves, saying.

Yes, there are many sides to this matter. One theme, however, runs throughout. It’s a theme of misplaced paranoia. Disregarding the nuts who think they should be allowed to dress for armed conflict wherever they go, there are serious people who are concerned more with the threat they can see than with the threat they cannot. Vis a conversation I once had:

“You’re going to patrol your neighborhood?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re going to take a gun, right?”

“Absolutely not.”

“What if you’re attacked?”

Who remembers George Zimmerman and the kid who would otherwise be alive today? In jail, maybe, but alive.

I hear another theme. That theme is having a gun on your person for protection in public places. Really? Somebody informed me that nobody could get the drop on him while he was carrying his gun. Somebody has not been reading the news. President Reagan was surrounded by a number of highly-trained bodyguards, all armed to the teeth. John Hinkley got off six rounds from a cheap revolver, wounding the President and two others. The Secret Service operatives subdued Hinkley and took away his gun. They never fired a shot.

Do you feel safer now?

Keep reading.

Update

Steve didn’t comment on this post, but he did comment on Facebook when I linked there to this item. Here is the exchange:

Steve: Think of it like this. Suppose the proprietor of the hh had insisted that everyone entering remove their shoes and socks. If you ask him why, he says it’s for everyone’s safety. You say, well okay, it sounds silly, though. Then you ask where can I put my shoes and socks while I’m inside? He doesn’t have a place for them and doesn’t seem to think he should supply one. So you go back to your car and put your shoes and socks there, then walk back barefoot to the hh. You ask him if he keeps the floor inside really clean because you’ve already stepped on some grit in the parking lot and you even saw some broken glass there. He says yes, it’s clean and hurries you along because others are waiting.

John Blanton: Steve, thanks for reading.

Also, thanks for the likening of shoes and socks to deadly weapons. It makes for good reading. I should have thought of that.

Notice, as well, the post was about selective paranoia. Can I now expect a hoard of responders flooding my comment box, accusing me of endangering lives and violating the Constitution. I can only hope. At an average 150 hits per day, I can use the extra traffic.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Steve: The comparison is more apt than you may realize. CCL holders carry for the same reason they wear shoes — to protect themselves. Firearms are an active defense while shoes are passive, but the principle is the same. The hh owner is probably acting out of a counterfactual belief that the likelihood of a firearms mishap (either an accidental discharge or an illegal shooting) is higher than it really is. There is probably some selective paranoia in that belief.

No additional comment is required.

Breathtaking Inanity

One of a continuing series

Yes, readers, we have seen a lot of this stuff before. This one is going to have more sides than a game of dodge ball. We need to start with some background.

Let me tell you how stars are formed. In the cold of (nearly) empty space between stars and between galaxies clouds of hydrogen gas exist. The gas is so thin, like a molecule per cubic meter or even less, that you can’t tell it’s there. But it’s there.

Hydrogen molecules, like all particles of matter, have mass, and mass attracts mass. If the hydrogen molecules are distributed exactly evenly throughout space, then nothing much happens. Any hydrogen molecule experiences the same gravitational attraction of all the other hydrogen molecules from all different directions. And nothing much happens.

Except there are variations in the distribution of the hydrogen molecules, and the attraction is greater in some directions. The result is that molecules are disproportionately attracted in the direction of the nearest and greatest density. Positive feedback occurs. Regions of concentration become even more concentration, attracting more molecules from regions farther away. The process snowballs, and eventually billions of tons of hydrogen cascaded into a giant ball and form a star.

Much the same thing happens with jake leg. Jake leg attracts more jake leg, and presently you have a huge concentration of jake leg. Where does this lead. Let me explain.

For several years I worked for a company in Irving, Texas. That’s a suburb of Dallas. The Dallas Cowboys football team used to have a huge, domed stadium there. Where I worked was across the freeway. And when going to and from work I was always careful driving in Irving, Texas. Why? Because I wanted to avoid any possibility of a newspaper headline that read, “John Blanton Killed in Irving.” I did not want my name and “Irving, Texas,” to be in the same sentence.

I always considered it too bad that an otherwise decent city like Irving, Texas, came to be associated with jake leg. It was an unfortunate circumstance of nature that jake leg attracts jake leg, and it kind of concentrated in this suburb of Dallas, no stranger to jake leg, itself. Evidence? Sure:

  • I worked with and came to know a number of people living in Irving. “Jake leg” applied.
  • Pseudo scientist Carl Baugh apparently gave himself a Ph.D. from a center of learning that he, himself had established—in … You guessed it.
  • In regional elections citizens of Irving, Texas, could always be counted on to provide the jake leg vote.

This is my personal perspective and should be taken for what it’s worth, the observation of someone who worked eight years in the town.

More back history is helpful. My youthful behavior is within reproach. My buddies and I did some things that would land us in Guantanamo in the current century. In our defense I must state that through all of that there was only one incident that required hospitalization. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

My walk on the wild side continued past high school.

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Now you have the background. Move forward to the summer of ’15. Jesus Christ, what’s going on in Irving, Texas?

Irving’s police chief announced Wednesday that charges won’t be filed against Ahmed Mohamed, the MacArthur High School freshman arrested Monday after he brought what school officials and police described as a “hoax bomb” on campus.

At a joint press conference with Irving ISD, Chief Larry Boyd said the device — confiscated by an English teacher despite the teen’s insistence that it was a clock — was “certainly suspicious in nature.”

School officers questioned Ahmed about the device and why Ahmed had brought it to school. Boyd said Ahmed was then handcuffed “for his safety and for the safety of the officers” and taken to a juvenile detention center. He was later released to his parents, Boyd said.

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Full disclosure: I have played tennis at this high school.

Yes, that’s a 14-year-old high school student in handcuffs. This is a contest, readers. How many different ways are there to spell “jake leg?” And what did young Ahmed Mohamed do to get himself detained and cuffed? You are going to have as much difficulty believing as I am. He built this:

IrvingJakeLeg-01

IrvingJakeLeg-02

And he took it to school.

Pause for a moment here. Look at the photo byline in the first of the two above. That’s Pulitzer Prize-winner David Woo for the Dallas Morning News. I and at least one other reader of this blog will recall having him present at meetings of our camera club back in Dallas.

Now look at the bottom photograph. This is what had an Irving, Texas, school administration so alarmed. This is what got young Ahmed arrested. Now take a closer look. Look very closely. What is it that you see. Actually, what is it that you don’t see. That’s right. You do (not) see it. It’s the principal ingredient of any bomb. It’s the explosive. Where’s the Torpex? Where is the PETN? Where’s the TNT? Where’s the black powder I and my buddies made back in Granbury sixty years ago? Where is the bomb? Where is the right thinking that is expected of 21st century adults? Gone to jake leg apparently.

Pile it on. Irving, Texas. The jake leg just keeps coming:

To her supporters, Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne is a tough-as-nails politician who’s not afraid to take on Islam.

To her critics, Van Duyne is a fear-monger who stokes the flames of Islamophobia.

So both Van Duyne’s fans and foes can surely find a talking point in the Monday incident where Irving police arrested 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed for bringing a homemade clock to school that they thought looked like a “movie bomb.”

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne at a job fair Thursday, July 19, 2012, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne at a job fair Thursday, July 19, 2012, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Mayor Van Duyne is no accident. Remember, jake leg attracts jake leg:

Irving, Texas Mayor Beth Van Duyne is defending law enforcement and school officials who were involved in the arrest and suspension of Ahmed Mohamed, a Muslim 14-year-old ninth-grader who brought a homemade clock to school that teachers mistook for a bomb.

“I do not fault the school or the police for looking into what they saw as a potential threat,” Van Duyne wrote in a statement posted to her Facebook page Wednesday.

Van Duyne said school and law enforcement officials were simply following school protocols when a “possible threat” or “criminal act” is discovered.

“To the best of my knowledge, they followed protocol for investigating whether this was an attempt to bring a Hoax Bomb to a school campus,” Van Duyne wrote. “I hope this incident does not serve as a deterrent against our police and school personnel from maintaining the safety and security of our schools.”

Breathtaking inanity. Rest easy, dear readers. Jake leg is still alive and well in some parts of our country.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Candidates Acting Stupidly

CarsonStupid

One of a continuing series

No surprise. We get these all the time. This time it’s retired Dr. Ben Carson. We’ve seen him before:

If that were all of it there wouldn’t be much to write about. Of course there is more:

On October 11, 2013, Carson spoke at the conservative Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., where he called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery”. He claimed that the ACA originated with Vladimir Lenin, and quoted Lenin as saying that “socialized medicine is the keystone to the establishment of a socialist state”. Lenin did not actually say this, but the purported quote appears on a number of conservative websites. After an onslaught of criticism, Carson denied that he was “equating Obamacare with slavery” in a October 15 Washington Times column and denounced the “PC police” for attempting “to discredit and…silence” him.

We’re seeing him again:

“I know there are a lot of people who say ‘overwhelming science,’ but then when you ask them to show the overwhelming science, they never can show it,” Carson told the Chronicle reporter. “There is no overwhelming science that the things that are going on are man-caused and not naturally caused. Gimme a break.”

Carson was in California Tuesday last week and made the remarks in an interview with a San Francisco Chronicle reporter. His public position indicates a preference to expediency over reality:

“Whether we are experiencing global warming or a coming ice age, which was predicted the 1970s, we as responsible human beings must be concerned about our surroundings and what we will pass on to future generations. However, to use climate change as an excuse not to develop our God-given resources makes little sense. Expanding our wealth of energy resources, as well as encouraging development of new renewable energy sources, can provide an enormous economic lift with obvious benefits. But it can also bolster our role as a formidable player in the struggle for world leadership.”

His latest comments cement the observation that for this candidate facts are secondary. His statement “when you ask them to show the overwhelming science, they never can show it” is uncharacteristic of a person serious about the issue. California Governor Jerry Brown has come to Dr. Carson’s aid. He sent the candidate a letter along with a flash drive holding a quantity of the science “they never can show.” A serious voter will wonder whether candidate Carson is being sincere in his statements regarding the issues. To date I have seen no response from Carson or his organization.

Governor Brown’s letter contained the following:

Dear Dr. Carson,

I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to the Golden State. It’s come to my attention that while you were here you said the following regarding climate science:

[quoting Carson’s comments above]

Please find enclosed a flash drive with the complete United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “Synthesis Report,” the concluding installment of the Fifth Assessment Report, published earlier this year. This report assessed over 30,000 scientific papers and was written by more than 800 scientists, representing 80 countries around the world, who definitively concluded that: “…human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed across all continents and oceans.”

This is just one of the thousands of reports authored by the world’s top scientists on the subject, including a study published just last month by Columbia University, University of Idaho and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientists that found climate change has intensified California’s drought. These aren’t just words. The consequences are real.

Please use your considerable intelligence to review this material. Climate change is much bigger than partisan politics.

Sincerely

[Governor Brown’s signature]

Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Governor Brown’s operative phrase is “Climate change is much bigger than partisan politics.” Depending on the candidate, it may not be.

 

Wacko Right Wing Religious Fanatics Say The Darndest Things

Michelangelo: Adam and Eve Talking to a Snake

Michelangelo: Adam and Eve Talking to a Snake

I’ve done so many of these, I’m beginning to lose count. The joy!

Over a billion people base their faith on the Quranic text. Among that billion would be legions of scientists and other scholars who regard the motion of the Earth as a well-established fact. Bandar Al-Khaybari would not be among these.

Enough of that. Who’s next?

After claiming that a man would meet his masturbating hand “pregnant in the afterlife” and “asking for its rights,” a Muslim televangelist has set Turkish social media aflame.

Self-styled televangelist Mücahid Cihad Han dived into some delicate matters on May 24 when he answered his viewers’ questions on private television station 2000 TV, Turkish media has reported. Han initially looked puzzled when a viewer said he “kept masturbating, although he was married, and even during the Umrah,” a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims which can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to the Hajj.

After repeating the question a few times, Han claimed that Islam strictly prohibits masturbation as a “haram” (forbidden) act. “Moreover, one hadith states that those who have sexual intercourse with their hands will find their hands pregnant in the afterlife, complaining against them to God over its rights,” he said, referring to what he claimed to be a saying of Prophet Muhammad.

There is a temptation to bet that nothing like that exists in the Quran. I have been wrong before.

The holy scriptures aside, on what basis does Mücahid Cihad Han believe:

  • There is such a thing as “the afterlife.”
  • A part of the human body completely devoid of any reproductive function can become pregnant.
  • Given the foregoing, that masturbation can in anyway induce pregnancy.

The world wonders.

The Muslim world wonders:

“Istimna,” the Arabic term for masturbation that Han also referred to, is a controversial issue in Islam, as there have been varying opinions on its permissibility throughout history. The Quran has no clear reference to masturbation and the authenticity of many hadiths is questionable.

Despite Han’s assertive religious stance, only a limited number of Islamic interpretations categorize masturbation as “haram,” while most of others call it a “makruh” (disliked) act. Many of the mainstream Islamic interpretations even allow it in certain conditions, like if the act could be used to avoid the temptation of an extramarital affair.

Yes, it’s not likely anybody will ever see their hand in the afterlife, much less a pregnant hand. The more real danger is your palm will grow hair. Or you will go blind.

Keep reading. And may Allah have mercy on your soul.

They Vote

TheyVote

Yes they do, readers. And you know it. This information is about a year old. I’m sure things haven’t changed much since:

Southern Megachurches Pay Pastors The Highest Salaries: Survey

(RNS) Large churches in the South tend to pay their senior pastors the highest salaries, a new survey finds.

That’s one of the conclusions on churches and finances released Tuesday (Sept. 9) by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based church think tank, and the Vanderbloemen Search Group, a Houston-based executive search firm for churches and ministries. A total of 727 North American churches with attendance ranging from 1,000 to more than 30,000 answered questions, more than double the number of congregations featured in previous studies.

More so, it would appear these congregations include some of the least rich:

The higher pastor salaries in the South contrast with lower-than-average wages for the region. The Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics reports average annual wages of workers in all the states in the Deep South — Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina — are lower than the U.S. annual wage of $49,804.

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There may not be a strict correlation between congregation poverty and salary of pastors. The size of individual donations should be an indicator. Five donations of a million dollars each is not an indicator of poverty. Fifty thousand donations of 100 dollars each is indicative. Let’s look at some of the top churches in Texas. Only California has more:

Take me to the megachurch. These super-sized Protestant houses of worship are strewn across the country and especially the South. The Hartford Institute for Religious Research, which compiles data on megachurches (defined as having a weekly attendance of more than 2,000), shows 1,643 megachurches in the U.S.

Houston has 37. Here is one:

Lakewood Church is a nondenominational charismatic Christianmegachurch located in Houston, Texas. It is the largest congregation in the United States, averaging more than 43,500 in attendance per week. The 16,800-seat Lakewood Church Central Campus, home to four English language services and two Spanish language services per week, is located at the former Compaq Center.Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church with his wife, Victoria, who serves as co-pastor. Lakewood Church is a part of the Word of Faith movement.

JesusDiedJoelOsteen

43,500 attendance does not speak of a host of millionaires. This is likely to include many below the $49,804 number. Church financial records are private, and we can only surmise from what is public:

Lakewood Church relocated to the Compaq Center on July 16, 2005. It is a 16,800-seat facility in southwest downtown Houston along U.S. Highway 59, that has twice the capacity of its former sanctuary. The church was required to pay $11.8 million in rent in advance for the first 30 years of the lease.Lakewood renovated the new campus at an estimated cost of $75 million.

On March 31, 2010, the Houston City Council voted 13–2 to sell the property to Lakewood for $7.5 million.

$11.8 million spread over 30 years is not scandalous. It’s about $390 thousand a year. That the sum was paid in advance indicates something of the church’s finances. Perhaps Senior Pastor Joel Osteen exemplifies matters best:

He married Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Iloff on April 4, 1987. They have a son, Jonathan, and daughter, Alexandra. His older siblings, Paul, Lisa, and Tamara, and his younger sister, April, are also involved in full-time ministry. His half-brother Justin does missionary work out of New York. As of 2012, his net worth is reportedly $56,508,500, and he lives with his family in a $10,500,000 mansion.

But this is not about pastors such as Osteen, and it’s not about the churches and their finances. It’s about the people who support the facade. This is from more than six years ago, but it should still be representative. Frank Greeve writing for the McClatchy Newspapers finds charity comes disproportionately from the poor:

The generosity of poor people isn’t so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, America’s poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What’s more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

“The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity,” said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. “The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give.”

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America’s households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

This trend extends into church giving. Arthur Brooks has written Who Really Cares. It’s an analysis of generosity in this country:

Faith probably matters most, Brooks — who’s the president of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington policy-research organization — said in an interview. That’s partly because above-average numbers of poor people go to church, and church attenders give more money than non-attenders to secular and religious charities, Brooks found.

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And the churches give back. Maybe not so much. A hearty example from Dallas is the much mourned Word Of Faith Family Church. It was founded by Robert Tilton, who told worshipers that poverty derived from sin. He had a ready solution:

Tilton’s ministry consisted mainly of impressing upon his viewers the importance of making “vows”—financial commitments to Tilton’s ministry. His preferred vow, stressed frequently on his broadcasts, was $1,000. Occasionally, Tilton would claim to have received a word of knowledge for someone to give a vow of $5,000 or even $10,000. When a person made a vow to Tilton, he preached that God would recognize the vow and reward the donor with vast material riches. The show also ran “testimonials” of viewers who gave to Tilton’s ministry and reportedly received miracles in return, a practice that would be used as the basis for a later lawsuit from donors charging Tilton’s ministry with fraud. A Dallas Morning News story published in 1992 observed that Tilton spent more than 84% of his show’s airtime for fundraising and promotions, a total higher than the 22% for an average commercial television show; other sources put the total fundraising time during episodes of Success-N-Life closer to 68%. Some of Tilton’s fundraising letters were written by Gene Ewing, who heads a multimillion-dollar marketing empire writing donation letters for other televangelists like W.V. Grant and Don Stewart.

All well and good, but did Word of Faith give back? You can see for yourself:

Trinity Foundation members, acting on this information, started digging through dumpsters outside Tilton’s many banks in the Tulsa area as well as dumpsters outside the office of Tilton’s lawyer, J.C. Joyce (also based in Tulsa). Over the next 30 days, Trinity’s “garbologists”, as Anthony dubbed them, found tens of thousands of discarded prayer requests, bank statements, computer printouts containing the coding for how Tilton’s “personalized” letters were generated, and more, all of which were shown in detail on the Tilton segment within thePrimetime Live documentary, now titled “The Apple of God’s Eye”. In a follow-up broadcast on November 28, 1991, Primetime Live host Diane Sawyer said that the Trinity Foundation andPrimetime Live assistants found prayer requests in bank dumpsters on 14 separate occasions in a 30-day period.

Ole Anthony at the time headed up the Trinity Foundation based in Dallas.

Could it be that Robert Tilton and Word of Faith are anomalous? No. Here is some additional representation:

Joel Osteen:

Osteen’s sermons and writings are sometimes criticized for promoting prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel, a belief that material gain is a reward for pious Christians. On October 14, 2007, 60 Minutes ran a twelve-minute segment on Osteen, titled “Joel Osteen Answers his Critics”, during which Reformed theologian Michael Horton told CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts that Osteen’s method of teaching is heresy. Horton stated that the problem with Osteen’s message is that it makes religion about us instead of about God.

W.V. Grant:

Atlanta television station WAGA-TV conducted an investigation on Grant and found that Grant liked to arrive at his revivals early, hours before they were supposed to begin. WAGA reporters showed up early as well, with hidden cameras, and watched the preacher talk to several people already in the church. As it turned out, many of them were people Grant would later pick out of the crowd and “miraculously” announce their name and their disease.” The report concluded that of three people Grant claimed to heal, two were in worse condition after, and one assisted Grant with the setup with no sign of the condition he claimed during the service. In addition, “healing the short leg” was a magic trick demonstrated on a reporter by magician James Randi.

Kenneth Kopeland:

By the end of the decade, more than 600 stations were airing his broadcasts. Today, KCM reaches 189 countries across the globe. Beyond his influential televangelism programs, Copeland’s in-person healing ministries filled arenas across the planet. Copeland has touched countless people both through healing works and moving sermons. And with the astounding reach of KCM’s media programs, Copeland’s powerful message continues to have a truly global impact.—Jeremy Burns

Benny Hinn:

Hinn’s teachings are Evangelical and charismatic, accepting the validity of spiritual gifts, and Word of Faith in origin, with a focus on financial prosperity. Some doctrine and practices that Hinn teaches would be thought unusual in mainstream Christianity. The charismatic Christian community (who, according to a recent study by The Barna Group, make up 46% of United States Protestants and 36% of United States Catholics), is very diverse, and Hinn’s ideas are not universally accepted.

Hinn conducts regular “Miracle Crusades”—revival meeting / faith healing events held in sports stadiums in major cities throughout the world. Tens of millions attend his Holy Spirit Miracle Crusades each year. Benny Hinn claims to have spoken to one billion people through his crusades, including memorable crusades with attendance of 7.3 million people (in three services) in India, the largest healing service in recorded history. Evander Holyfield, who was diagnosed with a non-compliant left ventricle, has credited his healing to Benny Hinn, stating that through God working through Hinn, he was healed as he had “a warm feeling” go through his chest as Hinn touched him.

And there are more. Again, this is about the people who give to this host RichReligion-512 RichPreachers-512of charlatans and expect miracles in return. And they vote.