Saturday, June 23, 2007

VP Dick Cheney - Executive Office or Not?

You maybe read last week that VP Dick (there's that R-rated word)Cheney claims that the Vice-Presidents Office is not part of the executive branch of the government.

That's fine with Rep. Rahm Emmanuel. If Cheney is not part of the executive branch there is no need to fund the VP's office in the portion of the budget that funds the executive branch.

Energy Bill Passes in Senate

Finally, an energy bill is being debated that might actually help the entire USA. It passed in the Senate, 65-27,on Thursday and now we await a bill from the House. The energy bill is far from perfect.

Democrats wanted electricity producers to cut their reliance on coal and use at least 15% of energy obtained from alternative sources. Republicans nixed that because climate change is not caused by humans.

Democrats wanted to raise taxes on oil and gas companies, but although these companies are awash in profits it wasn't enough for Republicans. They nixed the tax increase.

The energy bill also calls for raising fuel efficiency standards, to 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2020. Of course the auto industry hates this and claims it is not obtainable. They always say that.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Adirondack Musing is Rated R!

Online Dating

Did you know you can get your blog rated? You certainly can right here.

This blog is rated "R" based on the presence of the following words:

gay (15x) dick (1x)

Did I use the word dick somewhere? I forget. Funny it objects to the word "gay" but not to the word "penis".

Fact or Opinion and Logical Fallacies

Being able to distinguish facts from opinions, or the capacity to think critically, should be an important outcome of education. People are entitled to their own opinions, but shouldn't one be able to justify how they arrived at their opinion? Shouldn't a valid opinion be based on facts, information or evidence and not just on beliefs?

Most people believe homosexuality is not "normal". That may or may not be true. But it is a logical fallacy (appeal to belief) to use that argument to form a valid opinion.

It doesn't matter if you are a pedophile or not if there is no God. This is known as an appeal to consequences of belief. "God must exist! If God did not exist, then all basis for morality would be lost and the world would be a horrible place!"

How about an appeal to fear? We should all be familiar with this one since our government has used it against us for the past 6 years or so. Most pedophiles are gay! There is also a problem with cause and effect (questionable cause) here. Is A the cause of B simply because they might occur together?

Here is one that really gets to me. The fallacy of the middle ground. Opinions A and B are extreme to one side or another. My opinion C must be correct because it lies in the middle. The middle ground often is correct but that is not always the case.

Statement: People are born gay. Question: What is your proof? Reply: No one has been able to prove it. This is an appeal to ignorance. The burden of proof is on the wrong side.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Physics for Future Presidents

Want to learn some physics without all the math? Listen to Prof. Richard Muller here. What does it mean to be hotter? What is the law of conservation of energy? Lot's of demonstrations.

Courage of NY Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward

The New York Assembly passed same-sex marriage legislation Tuesday night and Teresa Sayward (R-Elizabethtown) was one of four Republicans that voted in favor of the legislation. Thirty-eight Republicans and twenty-two Democrats along with a single independent voted against the Bill.
As the debate wound down, Teresa Sayward spoke emotionally of the struggles faced by her gay son as he grew up wanting "to be normal." She pleaded with fellow Assembly members to back the bill.

"Let's search our hearts tonight and do the right thing," said the Willsboro Republican as her colleagues rose to applaud her.
It's interesting to contrast comments from progressives and conservatives when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. Progressives speak of equal rights while conservatives speak of what the bible says, what the Catholic nuns taught, how gay marriage will destroy the family, etc.

I was surprised and pleased to hear gay marriage being discussed on Saranac Lake's "Talk of the Town" (on Tuesday). Many callers, 10 out of 18, were in favor of NY granting the right of marriage to gays. Unfortunately, the callers that were opposed to gay marriage gave the same tired reasons why it should never happen. One caller even proclaimed how the incidence of AIDS would increase if gay marriage was allowed! Another big reason to oppose gay marriage is that it is "just not normal" Some callers were good enough to define "normal" for the listening audience. Gay people are not "normal" because they are in the minority. Or, if you want to know what "normal" the bible (I choked on my coffee on that one).

Today (Wed.)on TOT our conservative friend "Gary, from Bloomingdale" gave us the benefit of his knowledge (the mp3 is only up for a week so listen while you can).

1. You are not born gay
2. I believe being gay is something you choose, it's a sexual preference
3. I know people that were married, had children, and then "turned" gay.
4. If you believe in God you gotta be saying "well God you made a mistake with me". If there is a God, he doesn't make mistakes.
5. If there is not a God it doesn't matter whether you are gay or not, does it? Doesn't matter whether you are a pedophile or not if there is no God.
6. The majority of gay people that I have known are a psychological mess, they really are.
7. Most pedophiles are GAY! (based on the fact that Catholic priests didn't molest any girls).
8. People better start quit looking through clouded glasses at this
9. And people asked what's normal? Normal is the way nature made you. That's normal.

You might think that Gary is wrong, but he checks into these things pretty carefully (he tells us).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Alternative Medicine" and Critical Thinking

OK, Americans are probably not any more ignorant than people of other countries. But, can you argue that we have a deficiency in the ability to think critically?

Let's take the "alternative medicine" product Enzyte, of "natural male enhancement, for example. This is a "nutraceutical" sold by Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals.

How could anyone possibly fall for the annoyingly, stupid "Smiling Bob" commercials is beyond me. Yes, I know, "a fool is born every minute", "a fool and his money is soon parted (or elected)" and "never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Makers of Enzyte made some remarkable claims such as:

  • “The first all-natural male enhancement program that adds one to three inches to your size in just eight months or get double your money back”
  • “100% Safe with a 98.3% Success Rate”
  • “…your erectile chambers, as well as your penis, will enlarge up to 41%”

With absolutely NO scientific evidence to back up their claims. Yet the company was allowed to advertise and sell this product on TV for years knowing that they would make millions scamming people [the company made $100 million dollars selling enzyte in 2003 and had a sales force of 800 persons to handle the orders]. How can a company get away with such a scam? Easy, thanks to the "Dietary Health and Education Act of 1994". There is no need for a dietary supplement to be proven effective or even safe in some instances.

Now a Class Action Suit will likely soon be settled to the tune of only $4.7 million dollars. The company walks away with hundred of millions of dollars from scaming people that cannot think critically.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An Independent Candidate for President?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has changed his party affiliation from Republican to "blank". Does this mean he is planning to enter the US Presidential race? There are a few people running that are rich enough to buy a couple of states. Bloomberg is rich enough to buy a country. He can finance his own campaign. He appears to be honest.

Monday, June 18, 2007

What is Wrong With Americans?

A question from a 2007 Jun 1-3 Gallop Poll

Creationism, that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years.

Definitely true - 39%

Probably true - 27%

Probably false - 16%

Definitely false - 15%

No opinion - 3%

Total true - 66%

Total false - 31%

There may be some reasons why people might believe God created human beings. But just 10,000 years ago? Are Americans (USA) ignorant? Did those polled understand the question? Is it a badly worded question? Do 2/3's of us in the USA really believe mankind is only 10,000 years old? Does that mean they think the Earth is only 10,000 years old?

What gives here?

A Third Way in Iraq

There is an open letter to President Bush, from Republican Presidential candidate James Gilmore III, in todays Washington Post. He proposes a "new" way to solve our Iraq problem. Something the Democrats have not proposed.
I believe that the American military is on target when officers ask for a mission that includes maintaining -- either at bases in Iraq at the request of Iraq or in bases in Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- a military force powerful enough to launch special operations missions against al-Qaeda or Sunni insurgents in Iraq; train Iraqi troops to defend their own country; and guarantee the security of the Iraqi government, if so desired by Iraq.
It seems to me that that is just what some Democrats have proposed for almost two years now (think John Murtha). I've yet to hear any Democrats say that withdrawing troops from Iraq means we will ignore problems that can be addressed using military force, such as fighting al-Qaeda, securing Iraqs borders or training Iraqi troops.