Monday, August 28, 2006

Aussies Shape up Muslim Immigrants

It seems that the Australians are fed up with political correctness. Their leadership recently told the Muslim population to accept the political and legal structures of Australia or find another place on the planet.

One of the major concerns of the Australian government was the statement by a Muslim leader that there were two sets of laws—Australian and Sharia. The Sharia law was brought to Australia from Islamic nations. It includes stoning of women and amputating the hands of thieves.

Is the government action just another case of “Islamophobia?” Last year, it was reported that Abdul Nacer Ben Brika, a radical cleric in Melbourne, was asked in an interview whether he thought Australian Muslims had a responsibility to adhere to Australian law.

He replied: "This is a big problem. There are two laws - there is an Australian law and there is an Islamic law."

And the Australian government has replied in effect, “No problems exist. There is one law. You signed on to it when you took the oath of allegiance to our country.”

Australians concluded that it was disrespectful to say of the new homeland, “Your laws are not good enough. We have our own.” And it is disrespectful. Further, what if Baptists suddenly decided to hang Presbyterians for their stand of predestination? Most people would call that “vigilante law” and would stop it in its tracks. Sharia law imposed in Australia or in the U.S. or in England is no different.

Of course, the politically correct and whining crowd has complained bitterly. But the toothpaste is out of the tube.

Add to this the story that news reporter Steve Centanni and a cameraman have been released in Gaza, but not before they converted to Islam at the point of a gun. Those Americans who are tired of having Christians ramming their gospel down their throats by means of persuasion should try Islam at the point of a gun. Some of these Muslim folks are not as peaceful as we have been told.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ocean Cooling with a Thud

Having held my breath for nine days while I looked for repercussions from a story in my local newspaper, I have finally decided to exhale because it appears there will be no follow-up story, no repercussions, and no retractions.

The story was about our oceans between during the years 2003 and 2005. These enormous bodies of water lost more than twenty per cent of their “global warming heat they’d absorbed over the last fifty years.” How did scientists find this out? Well, there are ARGO temperature floats in the oceans all around the world. They transmit information to satellites and the data are collected at a central point, the National Oceanic and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

This is rather startling news. It has to play havoc with computer models that regularly predict global warming conditions, especially those that predict future weather data based on the basis of straight line trends.

The reaction of the news media to this story was deafening in its silence. If the news had been different, however, the response might have been quite noticeable. That is, if these data had supported the global warming template many media people have been espousing, then there would have been a Media response no one could have missed.

The Media’s lack of interest in new data tells a story by itself. Instead of hitting the presses, radio and TV waves with a resounding clang, there was a dull thud that interested no one. A news story has to fit the Media’s template or it simply does not get processed and sent out.

It is August and I need a sweater. Maybe there is a reason for it that no one is telling me about.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Urban Myths Repeated

In the middle of writing my second book about WWII, I am hearing comments on the radio that sound eerily familiar. In fact, I am finding that much of the same baloney people were spouting during and after WWII is being recycled.

Did you know that President Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen so we could go to war?

Did you know that the attack on Pearl Harbor was the fault of the United States because of our policies from about 1927 on?

Did you know that the second world war in Europe was really the fault of the United States because of its part in the Armistice agreement that was reached after WWI?

It is beginning to occur to me that whatever happens, someone will decide that it is the fault of the United States. The reasoning will not even be original—the story teller will use the hackneyed thinking of the previous era to proclaim his findings.

For modern mythology you do not have to change the sentences, just insert a new president’s name and a new country’s name. There is no end to these urban myths.

While in a university course in abnormal psychology I heard a professor talking about a certain type of mental illness in which a person claimed to be wired through his brain to a well-known evil person and the person was telling him what to do. There were so many of these types of stories that they became depressingly tiresome to psychologists and psychiatrists.

One day, a well known psychiatrist became mentally ill and when he was treated, there was a great deal of excitement in the psychological community because the patient had heard it all and certainly would be telling a different story.

Psychologists were deeply disappointed when the learned patient told them, “Well, there is this wire in my brain and I am being controlled by really evil guy, and . . .”

Of course, those were the days of radio and radar. Now we have computers, the nutty stories have graduated to Internets and so on. But they are still the same basic stories.

History really does repeat itself, and in a tiresome way, too.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

More Nonsense from the New York Times

Recently my son sent me the address to a New York Times article.
So Big and Healthy Grandpa Wouldn’t Even Know You
Published: July 30, 2006

The past 100 years has seen a change from small, sickly people to humans who are so robust their ancestors are almost unrecognizable.

The gist of the story was that someone had looked at the skeletal remains of some fifty Union soldiers and then generalized to the entire American population that we were a small, weak, sickly group of people. What nonsense!

To be sure the skeletons of the 1620 settlers to New England were small. Many of their bones showed that. So did the height of the decks on the replica of the Mayflower which is still in Massachusetts.

But, given the fresh air and good food in America, people began to reach their potentials. Here is a quote about one of my own English/Welsh Pryor ancestors, Samuel, who was born about 1698 in Virginia: “They had ten children, eight sons and two daughters: William, Samuel, John, Thornton, Robert, Luke, Frank, and Joseph; the youngest of the brothers and least of them weighed 220 pounds.”

In addition to the healthy living in the new country one must add the factor of genetics, specifically hybrid vigor, “Increased vigor or other superior qualities arising from the crossbreeding of genetically different plants or animals. Also called heterosis.” In America the gene pool was quite broad and deep. The citizenry was vitalized by the hybrid vigor factor. Americans became a big, energetic, productive and smart nation due to this vigor.

You want proof? Who is the super power in the world today?

So if fifty scrawny Yankee soldiers were not in good shape, so be it. They were not smart or powerful enough to buy their way out of the draft. It is quite possible they were immigrants from ghettoes in European cities.

Whatever the case, there is no scientific support for generalizing to the entire American population from these fifty individuals of unknown origin.

There is no end to nonsense, pseudoscience or cuteness.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Dim Bulb Society

There I was, watching an afternoon news show on TV when the electricity went off. Really off—not just for me, but for the entire neighborhood.

It seems that my street and the one behind me are served by electricity from our back yards. There are three transformers that keep us all powered, and two of the three are more than forty years old. They were connected in parallel, which means they helped each other out. So when one blew, increased pressure was put on the other two and they went out rather quickly in the 107 degree heat.

I called Southern California Edison and got a recorded message that no one knew what was wrong with the power in my area, but that they were working on it.

Refrigerators, lamps, fans, hair dryers, computers, everything suddenly gone. But we had flashlights to see around the house at night and battery-powered radios so we could keep up with the rest of the world. But no fans in all the heat.

We did not think we would be without electricity for very long. Besides, a son lived nearby and we could share his air conditioner and lights.

Thoughtful neighbors began running big extension cords across the street so people could get their refrigerators going. Of course, they knew the cables ran in both directions, and they might need help one of these days.

Nothing happened for twenty-four hours. Then a Southern California Edison truck showed up. I talked to the driver, who was surveying the problem. He wanted me to know nothing was going to happen for at least another twenty four hours.

Our son’s power went out. We waited and sweltered. It was almost another twenty-four hours when two trucks showed up, loaded with three transformers. The crew with the truck went to work, removing and replacing all three of them. They were a contract group of no-nonsense linemen. Still it took several hours to remove replace and rewire each of the three, in 105 degree heat. Then we had to wait until a supervisor came along and checked out their work. Finally the OK was given and our electricity was restored, well over two days after the damage occurred.

I thought back over my thirty-five years of living in nice neighborhoods in Southern California and my problems with electric power. Problems seemed to be increasing in severity. My arguments with what I began to call “The Dim Bulb Society” (DBS) had been increasing.

I argued with DBS from the point of some electrical knowledge and with instrumentation. They responded with bureaucratic expressions. At one point I wrote to them, “In 1971 I had an office in Thomas Edison’s first factory in Schenectady, NY. It was built in 1880. In 1880, Thomas Edison knew not to do what you just did.”

And so our differences continued. While their linemen told me what was really going on, I listened to the nonsense from headquarters, spewed by people in air conditioned offices who were far removed from reality. I came to have a lot of respect for the linemen.

I expressed in our newspaper this concern: “If the rise of a few degrees in temperature causes so many problems, what will the Dim Bulb Society do when something really goes wrong?” After all, we are prone to earthquakes and we are at war. There are all sorts of possibilities.

Soon, DBS will begin producing institutional ads proclaiming how wonderful they really are and how dedicated to the customer they are and all that good stuff. But I will not believe them, except in the case of the linemen.

The economics of Power companies is special. As a monopoly, they have no competition. This is a necessary evil in our society. It is important for people to realize that power companies have the need to hide profits. If they do not hide them, they will not get another increase from the public utilities commission. Institutional ads are one way of avoiding profits. So are improved offices and cars for executives. There are all kinds of ways to keep profitability at a low level.

In my novel about the future called Time Out of Joint, I found a way to eliminate power companies. The idea sounds better all the time.