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Monday, July 30, 2012

We are not an accident

In the intelligent design debates, the atheist will inevitably argue that if God exists he’s a thorough-going bastard. He’s either uncaring or outright evil, because if he exists why would he allow so much suffering? This argument assumes that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and loves mankind above all other forms of life. However, if one or more of these assumptions turns out not to be the case, it renders the entire argument fallacious.

God may not be all-powerful. Perhaps he had enough power to create the universe, but not enough to go around saving everyone from themselves. He may not be all-knowing. Perhaps he has some kind of big telescope thing and looks around once in a while, but maybe he doesn’t spend all eternity with his eye glued to the lens. Finally, God might not be mankind’s number-one fan. He might instead be more like a referee. Yes he cares about us, but he also cares about rats, fleas, and even lowly smallpox viruses. The fact is that we have no idea what God is, or what he wants.

There’s only one thing that truly seems certain: We are not an accident. That statement encapsulates everything I know about our origins. Everything else is conjecture, hallucination, or outright fabrication. The human form was planned; it was designed; it was created. We were created, and in turn we create. We create meaningful concepts out of words which mean so much less by themselves. We create melodious music out of notes which apart are merely noise. We create delicious meals from various disparate food elements which alone are far from savory. We create useful computer programs out of little bits and pieces of logic which when separate accomplish little or nothing. Every day people around the world create incredible things from ordinary mundane resources. None of this is accidental.

The Sistine Chapel didn’t paint itself. Shakespeare’s plays didn’t write themselves. Beethoven’s symphonies didn’t compose themselves. These facts are self-evident and indisputable, yet the greatest creation of all—the universe with all its wonder and within it mankind who is able to wonder!—is called by the scientists of today merely an accident. How outrageous! How outstandingly arrogant!

Unfortunately, I must categorically reject all the existing religious texts collected and disseminated by the human race. What do they all have in common? They were all written, not by God, but by people. People are liars. People eat mushrooms, lick frogs, and smoke poisonous plants. They have hallucinations, wake from strange dreams, hear voices, and they go insane. People believe in faith healing, astrology, chiropractic, acupuncture, and numerology. People are such great fools, and of course that’s why people are such great liars. For this reason I know that the truth has not yet been written. It’s not that I don’t have faith in God; it’s that I don’t have faith in men. How can I believe the words of a man who claims to speak for God, when we are all of us such pertinatious liars?

Even though I know we are a creation, I don’t know how that was accomplished, nor for what purpose. Furthermore, I also believe that our creator was himself created. I believe this for the same reason that I believe that we are no accident. We are no accident, and neither is God. If we were created, so was God. I realize that my belief has just departed radically from every religious text heretofore ever written by mankind, but consider, something as incredible and amazing as a human being, had to have been created. Man possesses this incredible self-awareness found nowhere else on Earth: sentience is more than just awareness of self; it’s an awareness of our place in the larger universe. Within this all-encompassing term [sentience] comes a litany of connotations which are understood and assumed. A sentient being can empathize, extrapolate, theorize, experiment, understand, create, build, prepare…and finally…self-evolve. Something that is as incredible as the human form had to have been designed. For the same reason—but even more so—God himself also had to have been designed.

We are now very near to the time when what has been called “the technological singularity,” will come to pass. This is an artificial-intelligence event-horizon beyond which no useful predictions are possible. If human beings succeed in creating a self-aware computer that is more intelligent than a human-being, it will quickly and efficiently design for itself, better, faster, more efficient components, a better design. It will grow, learn, extrapolate, theorize, experiment, understand, create, build, prepare, it will—like us—begin to self-evolve. It will do all this at near the speed of light. It won’t require decade after decade, century after century like it did for humans to self-evolve, because this computerized evolution will be carried out at electronic speeds. Within months or at most a few years, it will so far outstrip our own ability to reason and understand that to us it may even begin to seem godlike.

There’s one final thing on the sentience list for our new super-computer to learn: “empathy.” That ability is the hardest thing to imagine a computer being able to do. It’s also the most important, because sentience without empathy threatens evil, and greatly more so if that sentience is vastly more intelligent than mankind.

The argument espousing Darwin’s theory of natural selection relies on random mutation. That is its inherent weakness. It sounds eerily reminiscent of the infinite room full of monkeys argument, to me. That argument states that an infinitely huge room full of immortal monkeys banging away randomly on an infinite array of typewriters would eventually randomly recreate all the plays, all the sonnets, every dotted “i” and crossed “t” of William Shakespeare. There’s a problem with that argument however. We don’t need an infinite room full of an infinite number of immortal monkeys to produce the writing of Shakespeare, we just need William Shakespeare.

Life in all its variety and endless wonder is the greatest masterpiece of all. I don’t need an infinite room full of immortal monkeys, nor for that matter do I need some quasi-slot-machine in the sky, sloshing an infinite array of different chemicals together for all of eternity to achieve life. I just need a creator. As for the question of who—or what—created God…well, it seems as though mankind himself is far along the path of some great creation of his own, perhaps it will be a self-aware computer capable of self-evolution, some kind of Great Omniscient Device…or something.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Leftist opinion pieces always begin with a sad story.

As I usually do in the morning, I started off today with a full mug of coffee and began reading the news on Google's news reader. The headline reading "Insight: Climate of Fear," caught my eye. From the first few words I could extrapolate the rest:
The house looking out over Hawke's Bay was meant to be a dream home for fisherman Mark Lawrence and his partner Tracy Saxton. Right here on the gravelly beach at Haumoana, they planned to bring up their family.
Well, we know this is just going to be a tragedy in the making. It's written in a half-finished variation of the 3rd conditional, for one thing. The half left unwritten by the author but assumed by the reader is: "if it hadn't been for global warming." When you read a construction like "was meant to be a dream home," you know that the dream was inevitably going to turn into a nightmare. When you read the entirety of the article you find out that the couple decided to build their dream house on a beach. Anyone with any familiarity of the Bible knows the foolishness inherent therein. From Matthew 7:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
I wonder whether anthropomorphic global warming was a problem in 75 AD? What we have here is a sad story advancing a particular hypothesis, yet strangely enough, when you examine the actual facts of the story in question, it completely fails to support that hypothesis.
BATAVIA, Ohio — The tumor grew like a thick vine up the back of Eric Richter’s leg, reminding him every time he sat down that he was a man without insurance. In April, when it was close to bursting through his skin, he went to the emergency room. Doctors told him it was malignant and urged surgery.
The article goes on to tell us that the sick man with the tumor about to burst through his skin, tried to get health insurance but couldn't because the tumor was a pre-existing condition. Now that he's sick, insurance companies are refusing to take him on and pay for his treatment. It's just so unfair!
Hello, is this GEICO? Yes, I'd like to purchase a homeowners policy for my house here, which happens to be on fire at the moment. Hello?... Hello?... Is anybody on the line?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tim McGraw describes the quintessential American


I don't know why I act the way I do
Like I ain't got a single thing to lose
Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy
I guess that's just the cowboy in me

I got a life that most would love to have
But sometimes I still wake up fightin' mad
At where this road I'm heading down might lead
I guess that's just the cowboy in me

The urge to run, the restlessness
The heart of stone I sometimes get
The things I've done for foolish pride
The me that's never satisfied
The face that's in the mirror when I don't like what I see
I guess that's just the cowboy in me

Girl I know there's times you must have thought
There ain't a line you've drawn I haven't crossed
But you set your mind to see this love on through
I guess that's just the cowboy in you
We ride and never worry about the fall
I guess that's just the cowboy in us all

Ever since I heard this song it's been my favorite. You may not be a country fan; most people aren't. When I was a kid I thought country music was for old people and red-necks, especially old red-necks. But there's a funny thing about music that most people never think about. It changes. When I was a teenager I listened to top-forty. I grew up with Stevie Nicks, Survivor, Elton John, Joan Jett, Bryan Adams, the Bangles...etc. So many names, so many songs. They don't make top-forty music like that anymore. I truly hate today's top-forty.

Rap isn't music. Rapping isn't singing; it's just monotone chanting. Music has a melody. You can hum music, or whistle music. If you tried to hum or whistle a rap song, anybody listening to you would think that a fax was coming in. Most of today's music is filled with rap and weird auto-tuner effects and I can never understand the words that the singer is trying to say, anyway.

So I started searching for that music I used to love. Not the same songs. I can listen to an "eighty's station" and hear the same old songs. No, I wanted to hear the same kind of music, but in new songs. I finally found that...on a country station.

What I really love about the Tim McGraw song is the guitar solo at the end. Even though I like eighty's rock, one of the things I always used to hate about it was the weird disassociated guitar solos. You listen to these―admittedly talented―guitarists extemporaneously coming up with this stuff, and you can tell that's what they're doing. This is not a compliment. A typical rock solo sounds like a bunch of arpeggios that are not even in the same key as the song being played. Over and over through the years it seemed like this was how rock bands thought solos were supposed to sound, like a train derailment.

Tim McGraw's band got this one right. The guitarist didn't just extemporaneously improvise some off-the-cuff solo. It's on-point. It ties the music together, wraps it up, and finally winds it down. It's the signature on a masterpiece.

Finally, how about those lyrics? If that doesn't describe me to a "T" then nothing does. It describes the quintessential American. We've got a life that the most of the world would love to have, but don't we all sometimes wake up fighting mad about where we're heading? We ride and never worry about the fall; I guess that's just the cowboy in us all.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

If liberals hate the NRA, wait'll they get a load of the NLA!

Aurora. That one word carries with it a whole lot of baggage. The progressive front, never one to let a national tragedy go to waste, is pushing for stricter gun-control. I just read an op-ed where the writer basically admitted that stricter gun-control wouldn't have prevented the Aurora massacre, but then goes on to say: So what? Let's put stricter gun laws in place anyway because it's the right thing to do. He calls over and over for a national dialogue. He says it's a discussion we need to have: Link

This post is not about "gun-control," per se. This post is about weapons control, or dangerous innovation control. To put it more poetically, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. I'm going to briefly quote the descriptions of a couple of inventions, and then ask a couple of simple questions. The first invention is called a graphene supercapacitor:
UCLA researchers from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the California NanoSystems Institute demonstrate high-performance graphene-based electrochemical capacitors that maintain excellent electrochemical attributes under high mechanical stress.

The process is based on coating a DVD disc with a film of graphite oxide that is then laser treated inside a LightScribe DVD drive to produce graphene electrodes.

“Our study demonstrates that our new graphene-based supercapacitors store as much charge as conventional batteries, but can be charged and discharged a hundred to a thousand times faster,” said Richard B. Kaner, professor of chemistry & materials science and engineering.
It's not hard to imagine a graphene supercapacitor like the one described above discharging many kilowatts or even a megawatt of power in a few milliseconds. Pretty cool! The next invention I want to talk about is called a laser. Here's a brief description of how it works:
Laser light is very different from normal light. Laser light has the following properties: The light released is monochromatic. It contains one specific wavelength of light (one specific color). The wavelength of light is determined by the amount of energy released when the electron drops to a lower orbit. The light released is coherent. It is “organized” -- each photon moves in step with the others. This means that all of the photons have wave fronts that launch in unison. The light is very directional. A laser light has a very tight beam and is very strong and concentrated. A flashlight, on the other hand, releases light in many directions, and the light is very weak and diffuse.

To make these three properties occur takes something called stimulated emission. This does not occur in your ordinary flashlight -- in a flashlight, all of the atoms release their photons randomly. In stimulated emission, photon emission is organized.

The photon that any atom releases has a certain wavelength that is dependent on the energy difference between the excited state and the ground state. If this photon (possessing a certain energy and phase) should encounter another atom that has an electron in the same excited state, stimulated emission can occur. The first photon can stimulate or induce atomic emission such that the subsequent emitted photon (from the second atom) vibrates with the same frequency and direction as the incoming photon.

The other key to a laser is a pair of mirrors, one at each end of the lasing medium. Photons, with a very specific wavelength and phase, reflect off the mirrors to travel back and forth through the lasing medium. In the process, they stimulate other electrons to make the downward energy jump and can cause the emission of more photons of the same wavelength and phase. A cascade effect occurs, and soon we have propagated many, many photons of the same wavelength and phase. The mirror at one end of the laser is "half-silvered," meaning it reflects some light and lets some light through. The light that makes it through is the laser light.
The reason people have never used lasers in the same way that they use handguns, is because it has never been possible to carry around a battery big enough to release the necessary amount of electrical energy―in the kilowatt to megawatt range needed―to punch a hole through a steel plate for instance.

I bet you see where I'm going with this...but just in case...what if, hypothetically, someone were to take one of these new graphene supercapacitors and attach it to a powerful laser? A laser that used to be attached to a massive charging appurtenance?

These are scary scary times folks. I'm not the only one thinking about this stuff. I don't have the technical savvy to repair a toaster, but I promise you some people a whole lot smarter than me are thinking about the same thing. So what are the consequences? Most people would blow this idea off with some disdainful sort of Star Wars reference, and they'd be in the majority―the woefully unprepared majority. In the history of the world mankind has built what he's imagined, as soon as he's figured out how to do it. Weapons-grade hand-lasers are coming, and we need to prepare for that day.

Why are lasers a bigger threat than handguns or rifles? First off, there is no limit to their range. If you had a telescope and a megawatt laser you could easily knockout a satellite. If your telescope was powerful enough and your aiming system sophisticated enough you could theoretically punch a hole through an astronaut standing on the surface of the moon. When you think about it in those terms, it's child's-play to project geopolitical consequences. World leaders will no longer be safe. Airplanes will no longer be safe. When thinking about disastrous possibilities, with a powerful laser, if it can be seen it can be destroyed.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, traditional police and military armor is designed to defend against flying chunks of lead. That armor is not going to stop a beam of light that can put a million degrees of heat on a spot smaller than a dime.

We're simply not prepared for this new technology, and it's my belief that people had better start thinking about it right now. This is a discussion we need to have.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

With the Internet even a blind squirrel can easily find a nut!

Enough doom and gloom! The world is a beautiful place when you stop and take a look. My wife was not exactly what you'd call a green thumb before this summer. But for whatever reason, she decided to take up gardening. She's succeeded incredibly! Take a look.




Before Google and the Internet, there's no way she could have accomplished something like this, not without a whole bunch of classes anyway. Here's a before shot:

This admirably illustrates an intriguing concept that has not yet been fully understood by our society. We don't need formal education anymore to learn how to do something. We don't need to pay thousands of dollars and sit in a classroom with thirty or forty other people, just to find out how something works. A massive amount of information is available for free; all we have to do is just reach out and take it! Pick your subject, history? calculus? photography? music? If you want to learn how to do it, there's hundreds of videos, thousands and thousands of websites, millions of pictures, billions of words, all about the subject you want to study.

Unfortunately [the powers that be] are not going to just sit back and allow this transfer of knowledge [and power] to proceed uninterrupted. Lawsuits will be filed. Patent holders and copyright holders will sue. The pedigreed pampered pets in their ivory towers will scream bloody murder and demand more government control over content.

None of that matters, though. In the short term society will flail about and misguided laws will be passed, but people will always do what is in their own best interest, even if that means breaking a few misguided rules. And in the end, college professors—like buggy-whip makers of yore—will eventually be forced to look for more profitable employment. Pandora's box has been opened, for good or ill, anyone can learn to do anything for the price of absolutely free. Everyone will just have to learn to deal with it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Liberals want you to suffer. That's how they get their kicks.

In a world where a lunatic in only a few moments can slaughter at least 12 people and injure 58 more with a variety of pistols, a shotgun and a rifle, it’s a good thing we have the right to own guns of our own. In a world where more people go on disability in June of 2012 than people who get a job, it's a good thing our economy is based on free-enterprise, and our government is based on democracy.

People are not good at heart. I’ll start there. I know they’re not good at heart because I grew up with them. I went to school with them. I saw them at their worst, before they learned to hide their delight when causing or witnessing suffering. I heard their laughter, I endured their jeers. That old lady on the bus—the one who’s now a millionaire—I took far more abuse than she did, day after relentless day. Of course I was young, and resilient. My skin grew thick and one of the first things I learned was that you never cry. To this day I don’t cry. Not at weddings, not at funerals, not even when Old Yeller dies.

The Bible outlines some old-school truths about human nature, some very frank and unpleasant facts about us. To take one conspicuous passage in particular, the Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to a group of Christians in Rome his opinion of our human nature—Romans Chapter 3:
  • Every man is a liar
  • Both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin
  • There is none righteous, no, not one
  • There is none that doeth good, no, not one
  • Their throat is an open sepulcher, with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips
  • Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness
  • Their feet are swift to shed blood
You probably wondered where I was going with all this? It’s really very simple. If people are basically good at heart then certain truths may be assumed. However if people are basically selfish and mean at heart then the reverse may be assumed.

In a world where people are basically good at heart, if they’re able to work, then they’ll work as hard as they can for as long as they can. They’ll never pretend to be sick or infirm merely to get out of doing work. They’ll give unstintingly and unselfishly to those who’re in need. They’ll never grow angry or jealous when others seem to have more. They’ll never talk negatively about others behind their backs, in a vicious and treacherous betrayal of trust.

Yes, in this world full of good people there will never be a need to own a gun, which could accidentally kill someone. They’ll never be a need to lock our doors. They’ll never be a need to amass wealth, to worry about college tuition, to concern ourselves with our retirement, because the good people of the world will take care of us, just as we take care of them.

Socialism makes perfect sense in a world full of good people. Owning a gun is pointless and perhaps evil in a world full of good people. We don't live in a world like that.

I’m writing this today after spending an evening re-reading one of my favorite books, the first book in the Dark Elf Trilogy. It’s called Homeland by R. A. Salvatore. Here’s the opening passage:
Station: In all the world of the drow, there is no more important word. It is the calling of their―of our―religion, the incessant pulling of hungering heartstrings. Ambition over-rides good sense and compassion is thrown away in its face, all in the name of Lloth, the Spider Queen.

Ascension to power in drow society is a simple process of assassination. The Spider Queen is a deity of chaos, and she and her high priestesses, the true rulers of the drow world, do not look with ill favor upon ambitious individuals wielding poisoned daggers.

Of course, there are rules of behavior; every society must boast of these. To openly commit murder or wage war invites the pretense of justice, and penalties exacted in the name of drow justice are merciless. To stick a dagger in the back of a rival during the chaos of a larger battle or in the quiet shadows of an alley, however, is quite acceptable―even applauded. Investigation is not the forte of drow justice. No one cares enough to bother.
The evil drow that Salvatore imagines, evoke eerily similar reminiscences from my own childhood: the delighted smile when a child witnesses suffering, the pointless acts of opposition from both children and adults, the smug gloating demeanor evinced by the winner of any contest, and finally the unfair yet ubiquitous ganging-up and piling-on to demoralize the already weaker foe.

So why do liberals want me to give up my ability to protect myself? Why do they want me to give up my ability to support myself? Why do they want me to entrust my freedom, my security, my future, my life itself, to the whim of Big Government? Obama knows what's best for me, and I should trust him to actually do what's best for me? Sorry, but I spent too many hours taking horrible abuse from people just like him, to ever put any faith in people just like him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our chances are slim and none...

My doom-and-gloom pessimism has been derided by friends and family, often. They remain cautiously optimistic, certain that everything will work out for the best. No matter how cataclysmic the impending disaster seems to be, they just blithely carry on with their daily lives with this oblivious and fatalistic fool's paradise kind of mentality. I sometimes want to just grab them by the shoulders and shake them like a rag-doll while screaming WAKE UP! But it's no use, they've been irredeemably brainwashed by television and movies for their entire lives. The good guys always win, the disaster is always averted, and everybody always lives happily ever after.

Just for the sake of form I'll list a few old-school mankind eliminators:
  1. War: As Iran and Egypt feverishly develop nuclear capability
  2. Famine: As the Ogallala Aquifer dries up
  3. Pestilence: As insects become ever more resistant to pesticides
  4. Plague: As scientists deliberately create Armageddon killer viruses and as bacteria become ever more resistant to antibiotics 
I can add to this list some new threats which modern man faces: hackers taking over air-control towers, elevators, cruise ships, or subway trains and crashing them. Effete and civilized humanity is not used to hardship, so what will modern humanity do when air-conditioners and iPads are rendered inoperable due to a large-scale electromagnetic pulse caused by solar activity, planetary plate tectonics, or nuclear airburst? Go crazy I expect. They'll panic and turn a bad situation into a large-scale disaster.

Well, for those with an ounce of foresight, the answer is simple: get away! Get as far away as possible. The problem is that there are no more frontiers to get away to. There is no more undiscovered country to explore. There are no more pioneers. We're bounded by the sea around us and the sky above us.

I suppose a more sensible answer than growing gills or building a rocket lies in basic education, like taking some foraging classes for instance. Moving away from high density population centers seems like a wise move. Learning how to build a simple solar still to generate water might one day save your life. These ideas would help in a sudden disastrous collapse, but what about the soul-draining withering impending bankruptcy of our society? We're much more likely to go out with a whimper than we are with a bang.

If we keep going in the current direction, under the leadership of the current President, then soon the number of people who don't work for a living will outnumber those that do. Those who are retired will expect to be taken care of. Those that are disabled will expect to be taken care of. Those who've got to stay home to watch the kids will expect to be taken care of. Even complete morons will expect to be taken care of by screaming raacism! to get their way.

You don't have to have the economic smarts of a Milton Friedman to tell that we're on an unsustainable path that will lead only to a level of nationwide poverty which today is unimaginable to us. When we go though, so goes the rest of the world. The resulting economic calamity of a bankrupt America will cause the kind of nightmarish living conditions around the world which haven't been seen since the dark ages.

There is one small ray of hope. It's a candle guttering in the wind. In November of 2012 you can vote to at least give that slim chance a try, or you can vote for extinction.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Intelligence causes unemployment

I had a strange dream the other night, and I’ve been unable to get it out of my head. I was having a conversation with a woman who wanted to talk about economics. For some reason I was making the self-evident argument that religion was not a requirement in any profession except the religious ones. The lady agreed but further stipulated that belief in God was not necessary in any profession at all, including the religious ones. I thought to myself, how cynical she is! Next she gave me a lesson, which while seeming obvious, left me filled with troubling questions. Her lesson:

“If you were an employer who wanted to run a successful business, you’d want to hire the best workers possible for the budget you had available to pay these workers, correct?” “Yes, of course.” I replied. “You’d want them to be smart, efficient, and industrious, correct?” “Right.” “Now, imagine that at a particular factory you’ve replaced all the less-intelligent employees with really smart ones. They’ve analyzed the process required to produce the product and they’ve figured out innovative new ways of producing the same product with less steps, and in less time. The result of course is that now you, the employer, can reduce payroll by downsizing unnecessary staff.” “So, Intelligence causes unemployment?” I asked. She smiled an enigmatic Mona-Lisa-like smirk while nodding, yes.

I woke up wondering: Does intelligence really cause unemployment? I was troubled, and at first skeptical. After all, smart people would be smart enough not to innovate themselves out of a job wouldn’t they? There’s even a law regarding this concept.
Parkinson’s law: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
The problem with Parkinson’s law is that it doesn’t seem to conform to established reality. In fact we’ve been witnessing the reality of intelligence-caused unemployment throughout our economy. As innovation proceeds apace, the need for manpower will decrease further and further. President Obama made exactly this point recently.
President Obama explained to NBC News that the reason companies aren’t hiring is not because of his policies, it’s because the economy is so automated. ... “There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”
Here’s the troubling thing about it, businesses are producing as much as ever, they’re just doing it with fewer people. We can expect this trend to continue in the future, and it will do so even more dramatically than what has been seen thus far. As robots become more advanced and more sophisticated it seems almost certain that most industries will be dramatically changed as workers are replaced by robots, just as has alreadly happened with the automobile manufacturing industry.

All of this economic pondering about employment and intelligence caused me to recall an entertaining anecdote that I’ve quoted below:
Here is an account from the economics writer Stephen Moore that was printed in the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Moore stated that he used to visit Milton Friedman and his wife, and together they would dine at a favorite Chinese restaurant [MFSM]:
At one of our dinners, Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which Milton replied: “Oh, I thought you were trying to build a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”
As I sit here typing this while sipping my morning coffee, it occurs to me that there are two professions that will never be replaced by robots. The first is that which lies within the purview of the various religious orders. People will never agree to bend their knee before a robot priest. I can’t imagine anybody coming forward, weeping and begging for salvation at the hands of some computer.

The other profession that will always be staffed by living breathing people is the area of politics, because people are not going to vote for a robot, and additionally and not to put too fine a point on it, the existential threat that increasingly intelligent solutions pose to other areas of endeavor will never be felt in this one.

Update: I've been linked by IMAO! Thanks Harvey!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The 2012 Campaign so far and some advice

If Obama successfully attracts the majority of votes from the following groups, he will almost certainly win the 2012 election. This has been his strategy from the very beginning. You'll notice that he's hit each group in turn this year.
  1. Women:
    Obama kicked his campaign off with the "Republican War on Women." His poster-child for this mythical war is named Sandra Fluke. Sandra and her girlfriends just want to party, but unfortunately they can't afford all the birth-control such partying will necessarily entail. Luckily for them, the Catholic law school they attend―Georgetown University―will be required by Obama to pay for something that the Catholic religion forbids, namely contraception. Even though this idea that Republicans are waging a war on women is patently false, the compliant mainstream media conspired with Team Obama to keep the drumbeat going long enough to put Obama solidly in the lead with female voters, according to a variety of polls conducted since.
  2. Blacks:
    Next on the agenda for Team Obama was getting out the black vote. In 2008 the black voter turnout was the highest seen since records of these statistics have been recorded. Obama needs an equally high turnout in 2012, so it's important to emphasize to all blacks that all whites―especially Republican whites―are racists. Obama's poster-child to prove that all white people are racist is Trayvon Martin. Obama knows that he's definitely going to bring in almost the entirety of the black vote, but he also knows that if black people are pissed-off at whites, they're going to again vote in record numbers.
  3. LGBT:
    While the LGBT community is a fairly small demographic, they have a disproportionally loud voice in the national narrative. In a recent Gallup Poll, it was discovered that Americans estimated that 25% of the U.S. population is gay or lesbian. The reality is that the percentage is actually closer to 2%. The simple reason for the mistaken impression is that the mainstream media has a much higher proportion of LGBT personalities than does the population as a whole. When Obama announced that he was now in favor of gay marriage, he won the heart of every drama-queen in Hollywood. They're not just voters, they're completely free nationwide pro-Obama publicity.
  4. Hispanics:
    The Hispanic demographic is the most rapidly expanding one. While it's true that a great many of them are ineligible to vote by virtue of their illegal alien status, they may still vote anyway―provided that Eric Holder is able to overrule the efforts of the various states to verify voter eligibility through requiring possession of legal ID at the polls. In further efforts on this front, Obama has also attempted to attract the Hispanic vote by use of Executive Order. He has forbidden the deportation of millions of young illegal immigrants. Finally, Obama is continuing to call on congress to pass the Dream Act.
  5. Young:
    One could argue that the centerpiece and kick-off of the 2012 election campaign season was the young demographic. Even though the Occupy Wall Street movement has fallen by the wayside, its impact is still being felt. Young people under 29 are still consistently polling on the side of Obama. In 2008 Obama received 66% of the votes from the 18 to 29 demographic.
Some projections going forward: Obama will continue this strategy. We can expect a resurgence of Occupy as Democratic operatives whisper class envy in the ears of naive unemployed college graduates. Obama may try to gift young college students with additional time to pay-off student loans as well as lower interest rates via some kind of executive order. He will continue to campaign by waging class-warfare and demagoguery using the politics of envy, a well-worn race-card, and an army of accommodating Hollywood celebrities.

Obama may go after the elderly crowd by claiming that Romney would End Medicare as we know it etc. However, those with a full life-time under their belt are much more difficult to fool than the other demographics discussed, so he may not even bother.

That in short is the Obama battle plan in full. What tactics can Romney use to prevail? He has to get women back on his side. Of all the groups listed, this is the largest; this group will prove to be the clincher. Romney should study the Hilary Rosen effect. When Hilary Rosen insulted Ann Romney's stay-at-home mom career, suddenly all the effort put into the elaborately developed "Republican War on Women" narrative was undone, literally overnight.

Ann Romney, much like a trial attorney, is going to have to make her husband’s case to American women on behalf of Mitt. She should continue on the theme that has already been developed, that Democrats don't understand traditional families, don't value the work of stay-at-home moms, don't care about morality or decency, and that they don't believe in, nor understand, the American Dream. The American Dream starts by being raised in a loving home by two caring parents and then reaches fulfillment by becoming successful and having a family of your own. She should elaborate on the fact that single-parent homes cause more criminals and more societal failures than any other circumstance, and that therefore a stay-at-home mom is perhaps the most important career there is.

Romney should also seek the votes of the elderly demographic. If he campaigns on traditional American values like respect for the elderly, morality, decency, love of God, and patriotism he's going to win these voters to his side. Taking this stance will necessarily eliminate Romney's chances of getting the LGBT vote, but honestly he was never going to get those votes anyway. Romney should stand in stark opposition to gay marriage, as well as to the lawlessness typified by both Occupy Wall Street and illegal immigration.

Above all, if Romney is to be successful, he must convey his American values, like patriotism, love of God, hard work, honesty, and integrity. Most important of all, Romney must throw down the gauntlet. The American people are not going to vote for a coward. We all know where our Community Organizer and Chief is weak. Hit him Mitt! We want to see you knock his dick in the dirt. We would love you for that, more than for anything else you could ever do.

Friday, July 13, 2012

So you say you're not political?

Did you ever go to a football game to see vast swaths of the audience neither cheering nor booing? Wearing no team colors, waving no pennants, sitting quietly and passively, apparently completely disinterested? I've never seen that, either. Why do you suppose that it's socially acceptable to be passionate about your sports, but not about your politics? Honestly, which affects you more? If your team wins the Super Bowl you whoop and holler and tailgate. You high-five all and sundry and probably talk about it the next day. Ultimately however, it just doesn't matter. Your gross pay looks the same. The taxes coming out of your check remain unchanged. Your health insurance still costs the same. It's true that football is fun to watch, but when the game is over, you have to admit, your life is completely unaffected.

Compare this absolute lack of any consequences in sports to the very real, very dramatic consequences of political battles. If your team loses at the polls there are usually very grave consequences. To be perfectly clear, the Obama victory in 2008 resulted in Obamacare, which resulted in massive increases to the cost of health insurance for every American who has health insurance. My own insurance in 2008 was $544.12 per month. This year it is $680.84 per month. That's a 25% increase. The inflation rate in this time period has averaged 2% annually, so I would have expected my health insurance to increase perhaps 8%. Instead it was three times the inflation rate. Here's the kicker though; Obamacare doesn't even really kick in until 2014!

People will claim that the high price of gasoline is not Obama's fault, but to a great extent, that's not really the case. Some cases in point: Obama's veto of the Keystone pipeline. Canada is not waiting on us to get our political house in order; they will begin selling their oil to China instead. Another example of Obama's war on energy is his complete intransigence over issuing off-shore oil-drilling permits, and finally his unreasonable and unachievable new EPA regulations threaten a total shutdown of the coal industry in this country.

In the past week Obama has renewed his demand that taxes be increased for individuals and businesses with earnings above $250,000. Take a look at the chart below. It's the Labor Force Participation Rate during the Obama administration. The Labor force participation includes those who're working and those reporting themselves as unemployed and looking for work. Notice that 2% of American workers have dropped out of the labor force. They're not working, nor are they even looking for work. Folks, that's about 6.2 million people who are no longer in the work force! That's on top of the more than 40 consecutive months of unemployment above 8%.

The economy is teetering on the brink of a double-dip recession and Obama's plan is to raise taxes on the very people who are the private sector job creators. It's not just misguided, it's downright evil! It's a cynical class-warfare scheme that―if it were allowed to happen―would cause great harm to our already gravely ill economy.

Maybe you're not political, but if you saw a great wrong being perpetrated by an evil person, would you just walk blithely away, or would you get involved? It's high time you started getting political.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Justice for Chief Justice John Roberts

I keep going back to the Roberts decision. It just didn’t make sense to me. Congress did not intend for the Shared Responsibility Penalty to be a tax, and Justice Roberts―using this fact for purposes of easing past that pesky Anti-Injunction Act―temporarily agreed that is was in fact a penalty, not a tax. Below I’ve quoted the words of our Chief Justice:
The affordable care act describes the payment as a “penalty,” not a “tax.” That label cannot control whether the payment is a tax for purposes of the constitution, but it does determine the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. The Anti-Injunction Act therefore does not bar this suit.
However, once Roberts had oozed his way past the Anti-Injunction Act, he needed the penalty to be a tax again. So below, please note the simple explanation that he used to explain why the Shared Responsibility Payment was both a tax, and not a tax:
(a) The Affordable Care Act describes the “shared responsibility payment” as a “penalty,” not a “tax.” That label is fatal to the application of the Anti-Injunction Act. It does not, however, control whether an exaction is within Congress’s power to tax. In answering this constitutional question, this Court follows a functional approach, “[d]isregarding the designation of the exaction, and viewing its substance and application.” United States V. Constantine, 296 U. S. 287, 294. Pp 33-35.

(b) Such an analysis suggests that the shared responsibility payment may for constitutional purposes be considered a tax.
See? That was easy, wasn’t it? No sophistry and dishonest weasel-wording here, ladies and gentlemen, just plain speaking and Constitutional justice by the book.

John Roberts, you’re almost like my hero! You’re similar to this incredible paragon of a trait that’s kind of like virtue, or perhaps something similar to honesty, and not only that, but I’m also impressed by your vast font of this thing you keep in your head that’s sort of like knowledge. I think we can all just sort of look up to you in a sort of amazed reverence kind of thing, even perhaps awe…or something. Now that you’ve explained it to me so perfectly, I finally get it! It’s just so simple really:

The Shared Responsibility Payment is not a tax for the sole purpose of allowing Chief Justice John Roberts to make the ruling that it is in fact a tax.

Welcome one and all to the world of John Roberts! A world where congress may tax you for not buying something from a third party. A world where words mean whatever happens to be the most convenient for your argument at the time you're making it, and later mean something completely different if that happens to be convenient. With this decision Robert's has sown the wind; if there is any justice in this world he'll reap the whirlwind:

When John Roberts goes out to dinner if he parks his car himself, instead of using the valet parking, there will be a shared parking responsibility payment due at the entrance. In addition, the restaurant will tack-on a shared dining responsibility surcharge to his bill if he passes up the appetizer and another if he neglects dessert.

When he goes to the movies and approaches the door without the mandatory popcorn and soda, he'll have to fork over a shared concessions responsibility payment to the usher.

The list of things that Robert's will be penalized―or taxed―for is infinite, because the things we don't end up purchasing, comprise literally the rest of the universe. Door to door salesmen will have a field day standing on the Roberts welcome mat. You don't want to buy a subscription? That'll be ten bucks. You don't want to buy this vacuum cleaner? Ok bub, that's a fifty dollar shared vacuum cleaner responsibility penalty.

Once Roberts is bankrupt and homeless, we can tax him for failing to own a home―shared domicile responsibility payment―and for failing to have money in the bank―shared banking responsibility payment...penalty...tax...kind of thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TIME's defense of Obama's Class Warfare

So what’s the big practical difference between $1 million and $250,000? It matters a great deal if you care about reducing the federal deficit to sustainable levels. It is, in real ways, the difference between tax increases that make a dent in the budget deficit and tax increases that just make a scratch. That’s because its easier to raise revenue by raising taxes on a larger group of people, and there are a lot more families making more than $250,000 than making more than $1 million. According to the Joint Committee On Taxation, the Obama plan, to return to pre-Bush rates on all income over $250,000, would raise $829 billion over the next decade in new revenue. The old Pelosi plan, to return to pre-Bush rates on all income over $1 million would raise about half as much, around $463 billion.
Wow! over the next ten years, TIME argues, we'd raise an additional 829 billion dollars, by hitting those making more than $250,000 with a tax hike. That's vs. a tax hike for those making more than 1 million which other Democrats are in favor of which would only raise 463 billion. That's a 366 billion dollar difference! What do these numbers mean when compared to expenses and debt? Let's look at the United States annual budget  first.

Right now annual spending is at 3.8 trillion, while tax receipts are at two and a half trillion per year. Meanwhile the national debt is at 16 trillion dollars. These ratios can be expressed as spending = 152% of income, while debt = 640% of income. Meanwhile the Obama tax hike will raise 83 billion per year. That additional revenue will change the numbers considerably. With that increase to revenue, spending will be 147% of income, while debt will be 620% of income.

If we project those numbers forward for ten years as TIME magazine likes to present things, our national debt without the tax increase will be 29 trillion dollars in ten years. With the tax hike, in ten years the national debt will be 28.2 trillion. Obviously those numbers assume we don't increase spending at all, and furthermore that we continue to receive income at the rate we're now receiving it. Those are some mighty big assumptions, however.

These colossal numbers are too hard to wrap my head around. I think it's more useful to reduce them down to ratios which are easy to grasp. If the Federal Government was me, it would make $50,000 per year, its comparable ratio of spending would be $76,000. Furthermore its comparable ratio of outstanding debt would be $320,000. That's a mighty big millstone around its poor ol' middle class neck. What if it magically kept this process going for ten more years? Under the Bush rates it'd owe $580,000, but under the more fiscally responsible Obama tax hike plan it'd owe only $570,000! What a huge difference! Finally if we decided to take the middle ground as some moderates like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer espouse, we get a debt of $575,000.

So, there you have it! With Bush revenue and Obama spending we go bankrupt. With Obama revenue and Obama spending we go bankrupt, and finally if we take the middle road, with Pelosi revenue and Obama spending we go bankrupt. Hmm....I feel like there's a common thread floating around here somewhere...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Why are people so gullible?

Chiropractic is a hoax, and a dangerous one. Acupuncture, Fung Shui, Santa Clause, Faith Healers, all are fallacies and fables. Yet we are convinced, and once convinced almost impossible to be set straight.

Daniel David Palmer, a failed bee-keeper and "magnetic healer" dreamed up a completely asinine theory, and the world has been saddled with Chiropractic quacks ever since.
A subluxated vertebra ... is the cause of 95 percent of all diseases ... The other five percent is caused by displaced joints other than those of the vertebral column."
I have a friend who sets great store in the "science" of chiropractic. He pays his quack to adjust his spine regularly and at this point will never accept that he is the victim of a scam that's 115 years old. Is there any truth to the claims of chiropractic practitioners? Obviously the idea that 95% of all diseases are caused by misaligned vertebra is patently absurd, yet still chiropractors rake in the dough from rubes and their insurance providers.

In Great Britain they have a phrase they use often to imply that a person's story is completely unbelievable. They say: "pull the other one." What they mean by that is that you've been pulling their leg all this time, so go ahead and pull the other one. Which brings me to an ironic observation: A chiropractor will invariably tell you that you have one leg shorter than the other. Then he'll put a magnet on your heel or something. This will supposedly cure your leg-length disparity. Go ahead I say, pull the other one. Undercover Investigations of Chiropractors

This post wasn't meant to be an attack on chiropractic, however. It was meant to ask a question: Why are people so gullible? It's not like we aren't lied to every moment of every day. If someone's lips are moving it's pretty likely we're hearing some version of the truth rather than the truth. William Jefferson Clinton famously claimed that he did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.
He was lying of course, and doing it quite well. Those are the ones you really have to look out for. Everybody lies, but some people are so good at it that we're unable to tell through any external cues whether the story is true or not. Jay Carney, Eric Holder, Barack Obama, they're all such perfect liars that only recorded evidence and a paper trail will ever catch them out. This is who leads our country, a bunch of...sorry but this must be said...Goddamned liars!

The sad part, is that in spite of the fact that liars are caught out time and time again, still we keep believing their lies. I just don't get it. Eric Holder's Department of Justice in a 2011 letter to Congress denied any knowledge of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, then later when irrefutable evidence came out that this was a lie, the Justice Department rescinded that letter. People keep lying and we keep believing it.

The individual mandate is not a tax. Okay it's a tax. A trillion dollar stimulus will stop the recession in its tracks and keep the unemployment rate below 8%, unless it doesn't work of course. Shovel Ready Jobs really means public sector union jobs. Energy Independence means burning wads of dollar bills to stay warm. Yes means no, depending on the definition of "is." When we ask why people tell so many lies, the answer is obvious, because people are so gullible. But this only begs the real question: "Why are people so gullible?"

As I grow older I believe less and less. When I was a young man and I got my first pay check they took out taxes and these other fees called Social Security and Medicare. When I asked what it was for, they told me all about how the Social Security Administration and Medicare were going to take care of me when I became too old to work any longer. So today I say: go ahead, pull the other one.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What if I lost my job today?

The big news today is of course all about the results of another dismal employment report, this time for June. We hear that there's still 8.2% unemployment, which of course doesn't count all the people who've already given up looking for a job and I assume plan to live in momma's basement for the foreseeable future.

Well it's sad of course. It's sad that after four years we're no better off. It's sad that after more than five trillion added to the debt, we're no better off. It's sad that after all the promises, which turned out to be lies, all the hopeful people, who walked away disillusioned and hopeless, all the glorious change, which turned out to be change for the worse―after all of that!―at least half of the American people apparently still haven't learned their lesson!

Logic or even sanity apparently has nothing to do with politics. I say this because the ones who are doing the worst under the Obama administration―black unemployment at nearly 15%―are going to return to the polls in November and 90% of them will vote for more of that hope and change.

Well it got me thinking. What If I lost my job, today? What are my options? If I was laid-off, I'd suddenly win the right to receive what amounts to practically endless unemployment benefits like the 5 million who've now been getting them for three years. If I was willing to take a big pay cut and could bend my stiff neck low enough to pay for all my food with an EBT card, then losing my job would be wonderful. Instead of momma and daddy, Uncle Sam would take care of me. In return, I would help get out the vote. I would endlessly dun family and friends about corporate raider Romney, and when the time came I'd faithfully pull the Obama lever.

I couldn't do it, though. I'd take any job to avoid that. Gainful employment is more than just providing for your family. It's a way of life. It's that feeling that you're a part of society, that you're useful, that you're needed, and that what you do is valued. Take a look at the results of the study below. It's about early retirement, but honestly when you've been on unemployment for three years, it sounds like early retirement is the plan.
ZURICH — Early retirement can kill you. Or, at least, it can feel like a part of you has died. A new study from the University of Zurich looking at workers in Austria found that each year of early retirement causes an increase in the risk of premature death of 2.4 percentage points (a relative increase of about 13.4 percent)

But before you go and decide to work for another 10 years to save your life, first off, it only applies to men. Secondly, they were blue collar workers — people who likely did physical work. Thirdly the worst effects seem only to happen with men who were forced into early retirement. These men would go home take up more drinking and smoking and basically do nothing but die sooner.
There it is in scientific black and white. I'm not telling people what they want to hear, I'm telling people the truth. You want to retire early, it's likely to lead to drugs, alcohol, a sedentary artery clogging lifestyle, and early death. Same thing goes for long-term unemployed, I guarantee it. So if I was let go, I'd get a job. I'd get a job the next day. I would take any job when it comes down to it, because living my life as a useless sack of skin watching the boob-tube and munching on a bag of Doritos sounds like hell to me. I don't care if I was rounding up shopping carts or asking if they want fries with that. Anything is better than nothing at all.

Lee Greenwood gave some thought to this same question that is the title of my post: What if I lost my job?
If tomorrow all the things were gone I'd worked for all my life,
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife,
I'd thank my lucky stars to be living here today,
'Cause the flag still stands for freedom
And they can't take that away.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The future will change everything!

It's difficult not to become depressed when every day things look more and more bleak. We look around and the impending collapse of civilization looms over us like some massive hurricane just off the coast. Some days, just reading the news makes me want to climb back into bed and pull the covers over my head. I find escape from the constant doom and gloom in today's news by contemplating future possibilities.

For instance, if I went back in time to before the Industrial Revolution, I would probably have been truly appalled at the suffering and poverty that was the plight of men in these ages before our modern one.

The Industrial Revolution was unimaginably transformative. For the first time we harnessed the laws of science and used them to accomplish in hours what before had taken weeks if not years. So even though it looks like America will go bankrupt, what hasn't been considered by all the gloomy economic prophets of the world is the transformative power of innovation. Isn't it possible that the collapse can be prevented by sufficient technology? Everything is going to change pretty soon. I've blogged before about the coming Technological Singularity, but this time I'm exploring likely possibilities coming soon.

If you're mingling at a party and you're a guy you're inevitably going to be discussing sports. Guys talk about the weather, women, and sports. And that's pretty much it. So let's talk about these three areas so near and dear to our hearts.

If I told you that they're now using computers to help analyze sports plays, that wouldn't surprise you would it? What if I told you that soon they'll be able to run the gestures and body signals of players through a computer, to determine what's coming next? This is almost where we are today. Tomorrow, simple body signals from one player to another will be a thing of the past. They won't work any longer because a computer will decrypt these rudimentary signals almost immediately. Therefore, players will not be able to signal their intentions to their teammates using these traditional methods.

One can easily imagine a Kinect like device capturing a baseball catcher's signal to the pitcher and decoding it. Immediately the other team's coach signals to the batter that a fastball is about to come over the plate. The only solution to this impending problem is true encryption. A player's glasses or helmet-visor or similar device will decrypt encrypted signals from their own team's signal board. Something like this is the only thing that's going to work. And it's coming soon.

What about afterwards? What else can that nifty computer do? Can it analyze the strategy of the other team to determine which response is most likely to be effective? We're almost at the point where computers are sophisticated enough to start doing a coach's job perhaps better than the coach. The computer will be running the plays through its algorithms or whatever and finding areas of weakness which can be exploited, and automatically calling the next play by displaying the encrypted signal on the team's signal board. This also, is coming soon.

Sports won't be the only thing changed forever by the impending intelligence of computers. This kind of artificial intelligence is not only believable, but we're at the cusp of achieving it within this decade. Ever more powerful computers are also hard at work analyzing our weather. Weather predictions are more accurate today than they were in the past. Our ability to accurately predict where a hurricane will make landfall, for instance, will enable people to evacuate affected areas with plenty of time to spare. Is it going to rain? Don't you hate it when you water the lawn and shortly thereafter comes a prolonged downpour? One day very soon―thanks to more accurate computer predictions―that problem also, will be a thing of the past.

Finally to round out the topics most guys discuss, there's the singular problem that all guys face that until now was completely unsolvable. The problem is with that most alien of creatures, the female. What does she mean by that reference? What do I say in response? One can easily imagine a pair of Google glasses feeding a guy pick-up lines for instance, or jokes, or suitable compliments. This will be sort of like an electronic Cyrano de Bergerac. Suddenly, guys will become romantic geniuses. Ask for a suitable wine, ask her about her favorite book and then astound her by quoting a passage from it. Finally, entrance her with some elegant poetry:

BEAUTY
John Masefield
I have seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills
Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain:
I have seen the lady April bringing in the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.

I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea,
And seen strange lands from under the arched white sails of ships;
But the loveliest things of beauty God ever has showed to me
Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes, and the dear red curve of her lips.

Yikes, Kidney Stones!

You may be someone who's gone through this. I found out yesterday I have two kidney stones. Several weeks ago I went through a period where I had a strong urge to urinate but when I went to the bathroom, only a very small quantity of urine would be released. Then, that symptom went away. A couple of weeks passed, and then this past Saturday night I woke up to extreme pain in my left kidney area. Researching the symptoms online led me to believe that it was most likely kidney stones. So I controlled the pain by taking long hot baths, aspirin, and Ibuprofen that night and Sunday. I made an appointment with my doctor on Monday and was sent to get a CAT scan yesterday. Last night my doctor told me that I have two stones. One is 7mm and the other is 4mm.

I told my boss that this Thursday was going to be iffy, because I don't know what the Urologist will be doing. If I was betting I'd go with Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) But really there's no telling at this point. The boss let me know that he'd also had them, and that I was probably in for some serious pain, on the order of natural child-birth, or worse. Thanks boss! Nothing will cheer a guy up more, than the prospect of unimaginable agony.

What's intriguing to me, is that my diagnosis would most likely have been fatal to a person one hundred or more years ago. Life-spans have increased dramatically since the invention of modern medical techniques. I count myself lucky to have been born in this modern era, but it makes me wonder...maybe I'm not so lucky. What does the future hold? One-hundred years ago I probably would have died from these stones, but one-hundred years from now, I probably never would have gotten them in the first place, because I suspect that the  future will be worlds better at prevention than we are today.

By the way, while I'm on the subject of the future for both this post and the next one, I should tell you that I'm a science-fiction fanatic. Since I was six years old I've been reading sci-fi. Here's my best book tip: Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. If you have a Kindle you can start reading it immediately. I've read literally thousands of sci-fi novels and the Enderverse is the one I keep going back to.

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's not cancer, it's DNA reform!

In the health care debate, the new ObamaCare law is often characterized as "health care reform." Now if that isn't gilding the lily, I don't know what is. To use the word "reform" to describe what the Obamacrats have done to health care, is the same as using the phrase DNA reform, to describe the onset of malignant cancer!

What causes cancer?
The abnormal behaviors demonstrated by cancer cells are the result of a series of mutations in key regulatory genes. The cells become progressively more abnormal as more genes become damaged. Often, the genes that are in control of DNA repair become damaged themselves, rendering the cells even more susceptible to ever-increasing levels of genetic mayhem.

For almost all types of cancer studied to date, it seems as if the transition from a normal, healthy cell to a cancer cell is step-wise progression that requires genetic changes in several different oncogenes and tumor suppressors. This is one reason why cancer is much more prevalent in older individuals. In order to generate a cancer cell, a series of mutations must occur in the same cell.
"Key regulatory genes?" ....hmm, I'm starting to see a pattern here. "Progressively more abnormal"... "Transition from normal" and healthy to diseased and dysfunctional is a "step-wise progression"...yep. "This is one reason why cancer is much more prevalent in older individuals"...or nations to take my little analogy to its logical conclusion. There are several comparison points between our current leadership and their activities and cancerous cells:
  1. Key regulatory genes / legislators
  2. Step-by-step progression from normal to dysfunctional 
  3. Many successive mutations necessary to establish cancer / socialism
  4. More prevalent in older individuals / nations
You've probably heard the old line about how our government likes fixing things so much, that even if it's not broken, they'll fix it till it is. ObamaCare is the apotheosis of this government interference paradigm. Under ObamaCare you can't be rejected for pre-existing conditions. Therefore you could simply pay the new ObamaCare tax penalty which it turns out, is substantially lower than the cost of health insurance, and if you happen to get sick, why, you just trot down to BCBS, AETNA, United Health Care, etc., and apply for your insurance. They'll have to take you, cancer and all. Naturally this will cause everyone else's insurance rates to go up, like they have been doing, and will continue to do.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA is 2700 pages long. That's longer than the KJV Bible, which most of us haven't even begun to finish after having it for most of our lives...Mea Culpa? So, to imagine that a single member of the Senate or the House of Representatives actually read the entire bill, or even most of the bill is simply an arrant flight of outrageous fantasy. None of them knew what was in that monstrosity of a bill; they simply accepted it on faith. Nancy Pelosi famously explained: "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what's in it." Now we know what's in it: a giant tax increase on those without insurance, and the unintended consequence of a giant spike in the cost of health insurance for everyone else.