Saturday, July 14, 2007

Wall St. Analysis of Desperation

This topic has been a pretty big hit on the internets today. Which plot do you think the Wall St. journal chose to publish?

Here is the line that any student of statistics would draw. This shows that the more you raise taxes, the more revenue you collect.

But if you are the Wall St. Journal and you want to make a point...this is how you draw the line. This is the supply-side economic view of the data.

Here is the Wall St. Journals analysis.

Many is the time that I wanted to draw a line through an "outlier" (Norway) in my research data but I was taught that one does not do that.

Comments by Cosmic Variance here.

Comments by Kevin Drum here.

Economist's view here.

Learn About Impeachment

This conversation about impeachment was a real eye opener. If you listen to nothing else, listen to this.

The Mission in Iraq

Think Progress has a good summary of the "mission" in Iraq over the years. Basically it goes like this.


AFTER THE WAR BEGAN, THE MISSION EXPANDED to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people

THEN THE MISSION WAS COMPLETE (remember mission accomplished?)







CURRENTLY? It's a new mission.

It's Settled, We Can Leave Iraq

Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki has this to say:
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.
The Iraqi people want us to leave. The American people want us to leave. al-Maliki says he is capable of keeping order. A majority of Congress wants us to leave. What is keeping us there? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Give me a 4 letter name.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rep. Gillibrand - Opposed or In Favor of Iraq War?

A month and a half ago Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand voted to continue the Iraq War.

Now I get an email with her bragging about being calling for withdrawal of the troops.
Dear Friends,

I wanted to make sure you saw yesterday's Iraq vote in Congress. Kirsten voted to require the Secretary of Defense to commence the redeployment of U.S. combat troops within 120 days, with the goal of completion by April 1st, 2008. The bill passed 223 to 201 and marks a big step forward in forcing the President in a new direction Fresh off her trip to Iraq Kirsten was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 2956 the "Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act."
Is it because her 'yes' vote has triggered a possible primary challenger? Morris Guller said:
“To vote ‘yes’ to supply additional funds to prolong the suffering and deaths of American troops and Iraqi citizens, to break your promise to help bring a quick end to this war … is devastating,” said Guller in a letter to Gillibrand. “You will have a primary race in ’08.”
Guller ran as an independent in 2004 and dropped out of the 2006 race where he was endorsed as the Liberal Party candidate.

Congress has only one effective way to end the Iraq War and that is the power of the purse. Bush will simply ignore and/or veto anything else.

Gays, Male Nipples and Evolutionary Purpose

Lately it has really bugged me that certain people in the North Country have been publishing their intolerant views on gays. Their main message has been that gay people choose to be gay.

Here is some food for thought from News a couple years ago.
male nipples, as virtually all biologists believe, are a mere developmental echo of female nipples - whose purpose in child-rearing is obvious
The article is actually more about female orgasms but I digress.

Men and women for the most part have the same genetic make-up. The primary difference is that men have a Y chromosome and (most)women don't. Both men and women have an X chromosome. Men have nipples because women need nipples. That is the "developmental echo". So why can't you assume that some men love other men because women need to love men (and vice versa)?

So would there be a selective advantage in maintaining "gayness"? There could be or it could be selectively neutral.

People that immediately claim there is no genetic basis for a trait obviously do not understand the complexity of genetics and development. Genetics is a complex business. Is there a "music gene", an "athletic gene"? Unlikely. However there are almost certainly a group of genes that interact with each other and the environment to produce such traits.

You can find a discussion of this topic at and here in a review of Jim McKnight's book: Straight Science? Homosexuality, Evolution and Adaption.

A discussion of the development of nipples in utero can be found here. Basically, nipples are formed before sex organs are formed.

Bush: outrageous, egregious, preposterous

What a dispicable man! He can't express even the smallest bit of disappointment or regret. Here's GW Bush on the outing of a CIA agent:
"I'm aware of the fact that perhaps somebody in the administration did disclose the name of that person, and I've often thought about what would have happened had that person come forth and said, 'I did it.' Would we have had this, you know, endless hours of investigation and a lot of money being spent on this matter?"
Richard Armitage, Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove and "Scooter Libby" all had a role in "outing" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent. But because none of them came to Bush and said "I did it", I guess no one is really at fault and I assume they are "being taken care of" as Bush promised. One question I've always wondered about. Why was Scooter Libby the only one to lie to the Grand Jury about what he did? I guess we'll never know.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Non-Christian Prayers in the US Senate

Saranac Lake Community Store

The Saranac Lake Community Store will officially be launching the sale of shares on Tuesday July 17, at 11 AM at the Harrietstown Hall. Copies of the prospectus will be available at the launch as well as at Scotts Florist on Woodruff Street.

Michael Moore is Fat

That's an argument put forth by ex-fattie Mike Huckabee as to why health care is so expensive in the USA.
"Frankly, Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs so much in this country. He clearly is one of the reasons that we have a very expensive system. I know that from my own personal experience," said Huckabee, who lost more than 110 pounds and became an avid runner after he was diagnosed with diabetes.
"Sicko" producer Meghan O'Hara asks:
"I wonder what the good governor would say to the French, who drink more, smoke more, eat more cheese and still live longer than us despite paying less for health care?"
I haven't seen "Sicko" yet because it has not yet been screened in Lake Placid or Tupper Lake. I had to go to Plattsburgh to see Fahrenheit 9/11. But from all accounts it is an eye-opener.

Evidently, Dr. Sanjay Gupta was on CNN the other day misrepresenting several things presented in Sicko. Michael Moore has posted the misrepresentations and the corrections on his website. Other facts presented in the movie are verified here. Moore also took the "bearded one" Wolfe Blitzer to task here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bush Loyal Staffers Can't Remember

This is a big problem with people in the Bush administration. When asked questions by Congress, Sara Taylor just cannot ever seem to recall anything that she might have done concerning the dismissal of the US Attorneys.

Springfield Vt is Simpson's Hometown

Springfield, VT has been chosen as the city to premier the new Simpsons movie after winning a video contest held by USA Today. Springfield VT competed with 13 other Springfields in the USA for the privilege of hosting the premier of the movie. I voted for Springfield, VT because I thought the movie they submitted was by far the best. And, because it's VT.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You're Not a Real Christian

That's the message from the Vatican. They told you once and now they are telling you again. The Roman Catholic church asserts "Universal Primacy".
Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.
The current Popemeister was a young whippersnapper during Vatican II. Now he's doing his damndest to overturn all those "erroneous" interpretations made by that commie Pope John XXIII.

If you want to know why you are not a real Christian, look below a few posts and choose the reason why your religion is wrong.

Contempt of Congress

Last night I was wondering whether "Contempt of Congress" was anything more than a slap on the wrist. Not so much.

The criminal offense of "contempt of Congress" sets the penalty at not less than one month nor more than twelve months in jail and a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000. Those penalties are enforced upon conviction, even if the Congress which initiated the contempt citation has expired.

Contempt of Congress is an implied power of Congress just like executive privilege is an implied power of the Executive. It takes a majority vote of either Chamber to refer a person to be prosecuted for contempt. But remember, in the Senate it takes 60 votes to get anything to the floor to be discussed (filibuster rule). Oh yeah, also anyone convicted of contempt of Congress can be pardoned by the President.

Impeach Cheney?

Hell I think the man should do us all a favor and resign. But I received an email from TrueMajority a little while ago asking for support in moving forward to impeach VP Cheney.

Articles of impeachment have been drawn up (HR 333). There are as follows:

I. The Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States by fabricating a threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests.

II. The Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, has purposely manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States about an alleged relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda in order to justify the use of the U.S. Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq in a manner damaging to our national security interests.

III. In his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Richard B. Cheney, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has openly threatened aggression against the Republic of Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and done so with the United State’s proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining the national security of the United States.3

The supporting documentation for each of these articles can be found here.

Approaching Dan Quayle Territory

VP Dick Cheney at 13% favorability. Who actually makes up Dick Cheney's "base"? His family?

Ode to a Water Molecule

An enjoyable article about the water molecule in todays Science Times.

Monday, July 09, 2007

All Hail The Great God Lardicus!

You've got to read these in detail:

Why My Religion is Right and Yours Is Wrong

  1. My Religion is Right, so Yours Must be Wrong!
  2. My Religion is Old, so it must be Right!
  3. My Religion is New, so it must be Right!
  4. My Religion is New, but it is based on Ancient Knowledge, so it must be Right!
  5. Lots of Other People Believe It Too, so it must be Right!
  6. Hardly Anybody Knows About It, so it must be Right!
  7. This Holy Book Says it is True, so it must be Right!
  8. Divinity Said It Was True, so it must be Right!
  9. Someone I trust told me it is True, so it must be Right!
  10. Science agrees with me, so it must be Right!
  11. It Just Feels True for Me, so it must be Right!

While you are at it read "How to Create Your Own Religion in Ten Easy Steps"

My Reply to Dr. Middleton

Below is the text of the letter I sent in to the Plattsburgh Press Republican in response to Dr. John Middleton opinion piece.

To the Editor:

John Middleton, PhD would have us believe his opinions are facts. Dr. Middleton is simply using his academic credentials to support his opinions that are actually based on his extreme conservative and religious views or his classical but misguided psychoanalytic dogma. He implies that the scientific literature supports his opinions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Homosexual behavior has not been found to be hard-wired into the genes or brain.”

I assume by this statement Dr. Middleton means there is no biological basis for homosexuality. On the contrary, there are many published reports indicating that homosexuality has a biological basis, which likely has a genetic and developmental basis. Unfortunately there is not yet conclusive biological evidence, but this has more to do with the lack of scientific research due to a lack of funding for research in this area. In the Bush era, grant applications with key words such as “homosexual” do not get funded.

“Once a person decides to change from gay and lesbian lifestyles, it is possible, as documented by 18,000 gay and lesbian clients seen at Kaiser-Permanente in San Francisco, 1939-1979.”

Religious conservatives, orthodox psychologists, and anti-gay organizations would have you believe that homosexual orientation can be changed and moreover should be changed. These therapies have many flaws such as lack of control groups and no safeguards against bias. They are not scientific. Where are the peer reviewed published reports of the effectiveness of such “therapies”? Please do not cite anything from “Psychological Reports” which is an outlet for the views of antigay psychologist Paul Cameron.

The American Psychiatric Association's official web site notes that: "There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of 'reparative therapy' as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.

Courage is a support group available for those who want to live within the Judeo-Christian ethic and control their same-sex attractions. A companion group, Encourage, is also available for their relatives.

It’s ironic that the support groups name is “Courage”. Doesn’t it take courage to accept ones sexual orientation when it differs from that of the majority? Maybe the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family should consider that sexual orientation might be an immutable gift of God that is normal for a minority of individuals. After all, wasn’t the message of Jesus one of love?

North Country Intolerance to Gays

I assume the recent spate of intolerance to gays is due to New York State same-sex marriage legislation. Here is the latest opinion piece in the Plattsburgh Press Republican by conservative, right-to-life Dr. John Middleton titled "Homosexuality Not Inborn".

There is, as yet, no scientific proof that homosexual behavior is inherited. No magic gene or hard-wiring has been found to predict the behavior. Simply stated, people aren't born that way.

The best and most authoritative studies of same-sex attractions and homosexual behavior point to three contributing elements: biological, environmental factors and personal choices.

The biological make-up of a person may predispose him or her to favor or reject certain lifestyles. Predisposition is a contributing factor, not a cause.

The environment during development may support any predisposition or discourage any expressions of same-sex attractions. There are many elements within the environment influencing behavior, but the third factor has to be considered and that is personal choices.

Even though a person may have been seduced or forced into a homosexual experience, there are a series of personal choices along the way that contribute to adopting or rejecting a lifestyle of homosexuality or heterosexuality or a life of celibacy.

Homosexuality is a behavior, not an identity. (The term gender-identity disorder is being challenged by some authorities in the field.) For untold numbers of centuries, with few exceptions, homosexuality has been deemed undesirable and unproductive for civilizations.

With the help of the media and Hollywood, the gay and lesbian groups have been hugely successful in promoting false information. The groups, typically representing people of above-average intelligence and economic success, have been so accomplished that even the American Psychological Association (APA) has proposed a policy saying that it would be unethical for a therapist to assist anyone who wants to change the lifestyle from gay to straight. (The APA never condemned any efforts to assist anyone who wanted to become gay.)

Nicholas Cummings, Ph.D. and past president of the APA, was joined by two other past presidents of the APA on a panel at the New Orleans 2006 meeting, documenting how far adrift the professional association has gone in becoming proactive rather than scientific in this subject area. For further information, see "Destructive Trends in Mental Health, The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm," Nicholas Cummings and Roger Wright. Also, National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. (818) 789-4440. (It is small wonder that the ordinary person may get confused about the subject.)

The facts are these:

1. Homosexual behavior has not been found to be hard-wired into the genes or brain.

2. Once a person decides to change from gay and lesbian lifestyles, it is possible, as documented by 18,000 gay and lesbian clients seen at Kaiser-Permanente in San Francisco, 1939-1979.

3. Courage is a support group available for those who want to live within the Judeo-Christian ethic and control their same-sex attractions. A companion group, Encourage, is also available for their relatives. (212) 268-1010.

Similar groups are available for those practicing Judaism, Jonah at (201) 433-3444. 4. As with any behavior, the longer it is practiced, the easier it is to follow and the harder it is to break habits.

Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to any one and all families confronted by a member who is troubled by same-sex attractions. Same-sex marriages must be discouraged for the well-being of society and for the health and life satisfactions of the individuals troubled by the problem.

John Middleton, Ph.D., is a retired professor of family counseling at Plattsburgh State and a practicing counselor in Plattsburgh.