Matt's "I see 'em": A Guide by the Perplexed  

  I like an iconoclast, probably more than the next guy.  But one must beware, much crankery does that way lie... 

Science...

"I wonder.  I wonder why.  I wonder why I wonder.  I wonder why I wonder why."

  ~  Richard Feynman ~

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not entirely absurd, indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."
~ Bertrand Russell ~
 
"The nice thing about science is that one gets such wholesale returns of conjecture from such a trifling investment of fact."

~ Mark Twain ~

Cosmology:  Can we really assume a perfect analogue between sound in air and light in gravitational fields?   Not safely.  See Halton Arp's  books:  Redshifts, Quasars, and Controversies and Seeing Red.   In them he makes a very credible, observationally-based refutation of the standard redshift=distance understanding of the scale of the Universe, and offers up some suggested explanations as well. Halton Arp's website.  Read my introductory comments on this subject here, lots more here and here, and here's a little essay entitled Research with Fred by Chip Arp himself that's very revealing.  And is someone fooling us with the Hubble?  Like it's not bad enough that they took the chance for amateurs to point that thing away from us (the pesky bastards kept wanting to look at Arp's objects) but that they've got to actually lie about the observations?   Scandalous...Here's another group of Big Bang skeptic's view of the state of affairs in modern cosmology.  There is a very fine film/dvd by Randall Meyers called Universe: the Cosmology Quest, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in other than Big Bang cosmology.

Cometology:  Comets and ancient civilizations.  Was the sky in ancient times much more active than today?  Yes.  Was God a comet?  Quite likely.  See Bill Napier and Victor Clube's excellent books:  The Cosmic Serpent and The Cosmic Winter.  Their work forms the basis of a talk on this subject I give to astronomy clubs.  And Bob Kobres has an excellent site with very much about all this. Here's another. And another...

Supernova Sun:  Did you know the sun formed on the collapsed core of a supernova? That the planets are congealed debris from that titanic boom?  Neither did I.  This seems really wild at first glance, but who knows?  Dr. Oliver K. Manuel is certainly no unlettered, unachieving crank, and he cites a whole lot of interesting corroboration.  I sure don't have the knowledge to tell where he's wrong, if he is, but it's wonderfully provocative, iconoclastic and creative thinking outside the box, and a great story if true!!!  Strange Xenon, anyone?  Iron Sun

Is We Water Monkeys?:  Did you know that mankind's early ancestor lived in a marine environment long enough to evolve into the naked ape?  Elaine Morgan has done a great deal to advance the compelling notion of the Aquatic Ape Theory.  Many mysteries of human anatomy are easily explained this way, and the AAT hits home runs in places the Savannah Theory strikes out completely.  I'm as convinced as I can be in the absence of some soggy conglomerate made of coral, shell and great-great...great-great-granddad turning up in East Africa.  Here's a guy who's done a nice site questioning this notion, and I'd say he seems rather unconvinced.

Reason and Rationality...

The Skeptic's Dictionary  

Our Christian Founders?  Ever need some ammo against annoying Christers who insist America was founded on Christian principles by Christians?  Check out this book and here's a review: In Reason We Trust

Oooo, verve, or: Aesthetics, Down the Tubes

 

Politics

"Half the truth is often a great lie." ~ Ben Franklin

"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." ~ Eldridge Cleaver

"Because Freedom can't defend itself."  ~ ACLU slogan

  "Any nation which prefers disgrace to danger prepares for a master, and deserves one"                      ~ Alexander Hamilton

" Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. "  ~ George Orwell

"Some things are so preposterous that only an intellectual could believe them - no ordinary person could be so stupid."
-George Orwell

"Lost in the garden of Eden.
Said we're lost in the garden of Eden
And there's no one's gonna believe this
But we're lost in the garden of Eden."
~
Axl Rose

My Political Blog

Lib-anon

A good site for political fact checkers: http://www.spinsanity.org/

Should the World Unite to end Genocide?  Seems obvious to me. "Never Again!", right?  Here's the latest horror demanding action, if we intend to think ourselves any sort of moral civilization, we should send in the troops--pronto!   Article by Samantha Power, New York Times, April 6, 2004. Here's Nat Hentoff from May 24th: UN Disgraces Itself.  Again, and again, and...

Are environmentalists the new imperialists?  Speaking of disgraceful horrors, Paul Friessen thinks so and he's got a hell of a case.   More on The Unnecessary Scourge, malaria and the irrational and lethal Green opposition to development, fossil fuels, genetically modified crops, and DDT.  Then there's this:

"When I helped create Greenpeace in 1971," Dr. Patrick Moore reflects, "I had no idea it would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum.  I had no idea the movement would oppose genetic engineering and other programs that could benefit mankind - and adopt zero-tolerance policies that so clearly expose its intellectual and moral bankruptcy... The environmental movement has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity.  The pain and suffering it is imposing on families in developing countries must no longer be tolerated."

Here is a fabulous background history on Fred Soper, an unsung hero of millions, and his almost won fight to eradicate malaria.     Here it is if that link is broken.

Abuse of science for political ends:   This has always been a problem from the political right, but now the left has taken the crown.  Michael Crichton gave a pair of speeches in 2003 in which he lambastes scientists, politicians, and activists for perverting the scientific method for their own peculiar paradigmatic purposes.  These are insightful damnations of the current state of science in the West, with a proposal for a fix that has been proven to work.  Crichton on: Environmentalism as the new religion, and Crichton on: Junk Science.  Here's Dr. Malcolm Ross, a very distinguished geologist, on "The Most Massive Abuse of Science I Have Seen."  And here's atmospheric physicist Fred Singer reviewing a famous psuedoscientist's  Failed Predictions

Global Warming and Cassandra  Is the Earth warming or cooling?  Does it matter?  Is there any useful scientific consensus about Global Warming?  Do human activities affect climate meaningfully?  Can a climate hotter than today's actually be good for floral and faunal fecundity, as the fossil record records?  Cassandra was right about that damned Greek Horse, after all...  So, have we certainly doomed ourselves climatically, as I used to believe?  Well, Sallie says hold on a minute...and then, take a look at Earth's actual temperature record.   What about that Hockey Stick temperature record?  Are we really as bad off as we're told?  No!   What's a good libertarian ecologist to believe in now?  Dr. John Christy has an interesting point to make about the fecundity of a warmer world and the beneficial effects of CO2.  The Harvard center for Astrophysics has an analysis in which they find 20th Century Climate Not So Hot.  Then there's the thousands of atmospheric research scientists who've signed the Oregon Petition, (originally 2660, now apparently many more) which states: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.”

    Cassandras are not always right: anyone remember that consummate fraud, Paul Ehrlich, of Population Bomb, and The End of Affluence fame?  The man has never been right yet, and I'm sure glad that he has he fizzledSo why can't we trust the media to get these stories out? My theory is because they have no interest in settling hot topics that keep their consumers tuning in.  Their interest is in the volley, not the smash.  Here's another view:  Jack Kelly knows why media sucks...

"Computer modelers of the next thousand years of climate could take a lesson from Sir Robert Boyle and his Royal Society. If you can't actually measure something, or make an accurate prediction from a theory, and present it to a group of your fellows, be good enough not to disturb us about it."
    --Kary Mullis, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of polymerase chain reaction.

Was Reagan Great?    A letter from a friend, and my reply.

Bush a greater threat to our nation than Osama?  Worried about that NSA "domestic eavesdropping story"?

Economics

Public Choice Theory  Jane S. Shaw has an excellent article about this undeniable fact of life, an immensely useful corollary of:

The Tragedy of the Commons   A great socio-economic theory based in basic mammalian behavior and Darwinian processes.  Both of these concepts are very important if you think you're even partly a Marxian.  But the golden keys to democratic capitalism's success are locked up in franchise, free speech, free enterprise and property rights, which brings me to: 

What are the real problems plaguing the Second and Third Worlds?  For starters, see the second and third articles in the Politics section, on the Greens inhumanity toward Third World peoples in re: malaria and fossil fuel development. Environmentalist absolutism is wasting money and lives in a world of plenty which they would have you believe is running out of everything.  Corruption of all public agencies is a huge deficit for them to overcome.    George Soros has had much to say on the issue of good governance in the Third World with which I concur.  His insider's insight into the excesses of free marketism are penetrating as well.   Another crucial perspective, regained over 200 years after Adam Smith first revealed it, is in the thinking of Hernando de Soto, of Peru, in his revelatory book, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere ElseHere's his article length treatment of the subject, The Citadels of Dead Capital (lifted from Reason magazine, May 2001). Something important might herein have been achieved for huge numbers of propertyless people, but if so it was yet another stillborn people's revolution in the Second World once all our agendas were changed by religious assholes, who are yet another huge obstacle to the Second and Third World's progress.  Because after two decades of ignoring the problem, we must now in this age wage...

The Wars on Terrorism

" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. " ~ George Orwell

"The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved." ~ Confucius ~ 500  BC 

In Defense of the WestWhy Western Civilization, specifically, Democratic Capitalism, is not only worth defending, but why it is right to fight aggressively for the wider dissemination of its principles.  It is ineluctably the fundamental model of human governance for the future, whatever the cultural face that may adorn it.  Not only is it technologically a forgone conclusion, it is also politically and philosophically inevitable.  Those societies which have not yet learned the lessons of Adam Smith, John Locke, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, which, for one horrible historic tribal curse or another, have not seen their own paradigmatic moral leadership arise from within, deserve, on a fundamental humanistic basis as brother beings, to be physically lifted out of their dark ages.  When you look around and see how few in number the men of honor and dedication to their fellow men actually are, the period of the American Revolution, Constitutional founding, and on thru George Washington's terms as president begins to loom as large over other history for its rarity as its rightly vaunted magnanimity, foresight, and ultimately positive effect on global political and human rights. 

Some thoughts on anti-Americanism, by Victor Davis Hanson, Christopher Hitchens, and Jean-Francois Revel

Victor Davis Hansen's devastating column on   "The Brink of Madness"

Losing their way in IraqInstead of fighting the good fight over the abuses of unrestrained capitalism, this generation's liberals fought the bad fight: against liberating some of the most oppressed people on Earth.  How does something like that happen?  I don't really know, but I do know why the world-wide political left should have supported the war in Iraq, because it's very old news that:  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,"  ~ Edmund Burke

   Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, wrote: "14,000 'writers, academics, and other intellectuals'—many of them my friends—published a petition against the war . . .[they] condemned the Iraqi regime for its human rights violations and supporting 'efforts by the Iraqi opposition to create a democratic, multi-ethnic, and multireligious Iraq.' " But they say that waging war at this time is "morally unacceptable."  And he asked the obvious question: "I wonder what their support for the Iraqi opposition amounts to?"

   Howling gales of hollow hypocrisy and cold cowardice, smothered in fear sauce, would be my ungenerous suggestion.

   This was Michael Kelly's way of putting it: [the peace marchers are not taking] "the position of profound morality, but one that stands in profound opposition to morality."  After analyzing the matter from the perspective of the people of Iraq, the security of America, and the idea of order itself, Kelly concludes that "to march against the war is not to give peace a chance. It is to give tyranny a chance. It is to give the Iraqi nuke a chance. It is to give the next terrorist mass murder a chance. It is to march for the furtherance of evil instead of the vanquishing of evil. This cannot be the moral position."  Here's the whole piece.  His death while covering combat was a terrible loss for the future of clear thinking and fair-mindedness in journalism and liberalism, both.  He was the rare man unconcerned about alienating friends and losing jobs by calling a spade a spade.  He is sorely missed...His widow has published a collection of his best, which has been very widely hailed, called Things Worth Fighting For.

Which leads me to: War for Peace? It Worked in My Country By JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA   Hear firsthand how Might can make Right from someone who's recently benefited from exactly that, and incidentally, won a Nobel Peace Prize.  Is war terrible? Of course.  Are some things worse?  Absolutely.  Perhaps the most fundemental perversion of logic and denial of history has occurred among those who glibly and ingorantly hold that no good can come of war.  There are millions alive today who would not be, from African-decended slaves in the American South, to British and French and others in Two World Wars, to the Kuwaitis and Kosovars, to Iraq today.  Consider Sr. Ramos-Horta's words very carefully, ye who would summarily deny the efficacy of humanitarian force against the barbarous.  The ancient moral principle of the Good Samaritan requires us as a moral society, whether the US of A or the (dis)United Nations, to come to the aid of those who desperately need it.  To the extent that successive American governments in any way supported Saddam, for instance, we owe a plain moral obligation to the citizens of that country to remove his cancer when the threat became intolerable.  (Which it did during the Clinton administration, several times, but of course, he could not bring himself or his party to actually lead a war.  Indeed, given his discomfort with all thinks military, his low credibility with the troops, and his party's beholdenment to its radical wing, it is impossible to imagine Bill Clinton ever doing the right thing, even before he fatally handcuffed himself to Wag, the Dog, when Monica Blewhimsky.)

Here's more from Nat Hentoff, Elie Wiesel, Michael Ignatieff, William Schulz, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair, each of them notable liberals and lifelong Civil and Human Rights activists, on why the Iraq war was just and even overdue, and why the left needs to get its head on straight about it and terrorism generally.  And just for grins and to prove I'm neither alone (I'm not) among unknowns (I am) nor a total liberal apostate (I'm not) here's a nicely indignant column I found on how right the war was and how wrong its protesters were from a self-professed "Chomsky-reading Bush-hating ultra-liberal", a resident of the House of Diabolique, whatever that is!  I am pretty sure it's in the Village. : }

   I highly recommend the thinkings of Christopher Hitchens, Tom Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, Niall Ferguson, Victor Davis Hanson, Tammy Bruce, and Samantha Power to anyone wondering how on Earth Bush's war could be a good thing.    Here's Hitchens from October 8, 2001 on Sin, the Left & Islamic Fascism, and here on the case against the case against the Iraq warHere's his answer to the empty critique that we're not any safer today on account of Bush's Iraq adventure, and this is an adress to the No Blood for Oil folks.  This is Hanson from January '04 on Iraq's Future -- and Ours, and here's Hanson pointing out how wrong the anti-war crowd was: Thicker than Oil.  More from Niall Ferguson and Krauthammer, and here's an admiring piece on Nat Hentoff, long time civil liberties avatar and jazz writer.

But when it comes to fighting totalitarians, nobody gets more props than George Orwell, who said this: "Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist.  This is elementary common sense.  If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other.  Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me. "  Sounds familiar...who else said sumpin' like dat?

In sum:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing," ~ Edmund Burke

"Shall I tell you what the real evil is?  To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering." ~ Seneca, Letters to Lucilius

"The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself," ~ Robert Ingersoll

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not themselves." ~ Abraham Lincoln

"Peace is not God's gift to his creatures. It is our gift to each other." ~ Elie Wiesel

In summar:

Do for others as you would have them do for you.  Other than that, leave them the fuck alone. ~ Me

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