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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fiddlin' - Sing Along "Fidel in Hell"

The recent death of the dictator Fidel Castro is cause to celebrate. Many leftists have been giving him a pass, but Castro is an evil-doer on par with Stalin and Mao. The only reason that fewer people were killed or imprisoned by Castro is because Cuba is a lot smaller country than Russia or China.

A song to recognize his belated death...


(sing to the tune Michelle Ma Belle by Paul McCartney)

Fidel, in hell
These are words that go together well
Fidel in hell

Fidel, in hell
Era un hombre muy horrible
Muy horrible

I loathe you, I loathe you, I loathe you
That's all I want to say
Until I find a way
I will say the only words I know that
You'll understand

Fidel, in hell
Era un hombre muy horrible
Muy horrible

I need to, I need to, I need to
I need to make you see
That Cuba still ain’t free
Until it is I'm hoping you will
Know what I mean

I loathe you

I loathe you, I loathe you, I loathe you
I think you know by now
You’ll burn in hell I’ll vow
Until you do I'm telling you so
You'll understand

Fidel, in hell
Era un hombre muy horrible
Muy horrible

I will say the only words I know
That you'll understand, Fidel in hell

For an index of all Fiddling Ant parody songs, click here.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Beer and the Five Miracles of Thanksgiving

The Five Miracles of Thanksgiving

For the average American, images of the first Thanksgiving are dour Englishmen with drab clothing and funny hats and shoes. The truth is more colorful and in fact miraculous.

A group of Bible readers (known as Separatists and not pilgrims), having recognized that the Church of England showed no similarities to the church of the New Testament, were forced to leave England for Holland or suffer fines and imprisonment. Life was hard for the exiles in Holland, so they decided they would be better off moving to America.

  1. The first miracle was the loss of the Speedwell, the Mayflower's smaller sister ship. Twice the two ships left England only to turn back because the Speedwell was not seaworthy. They decided that there was no hope to repair the smaller vessel so those least committed to the enterprise stayed behind. Had those who stayed behind joined the company it may have changed the composition of the first community and lessened its chances for success.
  2. The original plan was to find a site somewhere up the Hudson River. However, after their first landfall in Cape Cod, their attempt to continue on to the Hudson was halted by stormy weather. The Separatists took this as a sign to not continue and they landed at New Plymouth instead. Had they tried to settle in the Hudson region, they would have had to deal with natives already living in the area who would not take kindly to accommodating these European strangers.
  3. The Patuxet tribe, who had lived in the area, had all recently died off from diseases. The neighboring tribes stayed away from this empty land, afraid that moving in would result in death. This small band of a hundred Englishmen had found what was likely the only unclaimed land along the entire Atlantic seaboard.
  4. After surviving a brutal winter where death claimed half their numbers, the Separatists were not in a good condition to thrive in their new land. They had no knowledge of what crops were best for the region, or how to plant them. They had proved totally inept as fishermen, despite the reputation of the region as a rich fishery. In the early spring they were contacted for the first time by two English speaking natives. How surprising must it have been to see a native warrior walk into their compound speaking these words in English: "Welcome! Have you any beer?" This first native, Samoset, had learned English from fishermen visiting the area, but the second one, Squanto, had actually lived in England for many years. Squanto taught the separatists how to farm and fish.
  5. The neighboring tribes could have wiped out the Separatists at anytime. Squanto served as their main contact with the closest native tribes and helped the Separatists negotiate a peace that lasted for more than forty years.
It would be easy for the skeptic to claim that all these "miracles" are only fortuitous coincidences. The Separatists did not think these were coincidences. They chose to thank God for these miracles that allowed them to establish a God fearing community. Without these miracles, their experience would have ended in disastrous failure.

A coincidence is a small miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Taking the Axe to Darwinism

Douglas Axe is a heretic. He's a molecular biologist who did his doctoral work at Caltech and went on to postdoctoral work at the University of Cambridge. As such, he can't be dismissed as some uneducated Bible thumping Luddite.

In his book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed, Axe is arguing that evolutionary science is closed to any other explanations for the origin and development of life despite the inadequacies of natural selection to explain how life began and how natural selection is able to result in entirely new life forms.

Advocates of Intelligent Design are like the ugly step child. On the one hand the pro-evolution community dismisses them as creationists. On the other hand there are many people that believe the Bible says the earth is 6,000 years old, so that is good enough for them. They don't like ID'ers either because they seem to reject the correctness of the literal Bible. Axe can expect poor reviews from both these camps, but for those who are not already set in their beliefs, the book is a great read.

Axe's main theme is that when something appears to be designed, it is likely to be designed. He gives examples of how we can view small segments of written pages vs jumbled letters or photos vs jumbled pixels and from these small segments it is easy to see which is designed and which is not. Because life at the basic building blocks level also displays elements of design, it follows that a designer is involved.

Axe's position is that the biological sciences community is adamant to defend Darwinism even when advances in science prove Darwin to be more wrong than ever. He points out that others who make the same criticism of Darwinism as he does are still welcome in the church of evolution because they propose new ideas that also build on undirected evolution.

Critics of Axe are upset because he openly professes to be a believer in the Christian God. As if that were a bad thing. I guess it is a bad thing, at least if you are an evangelizing atheist with a mission to tear down religion and replace it with Godless science. Axe even gives an example of a scientist who used the "G" word in an article and the publication received complaints and had to withdraw its approval, even though there was no criticism of the contents of the article itself.

Axe's belief system should not discredit his science. A scientist who wants to cure cancer would not be criticized for his position or have his views questioned. Axe should be given the same level of recognition.

Critics of ID are fond of saying that it is not science because it doesn't get published in peer reviewed papers. This can largely be explained by the wall put up by the defenders of Darwiniac dogma. Nobody is allowed to criticize the establishment viewpoint. It would be easier to believe that the New York Times would hire Rush Limbaugh as their editor. Don't expect that to happen.

In the meantime, readers can consider Axe's well argued pro-design book and come away with a logical understanding of why design is a more likely explanation for our existence than the blind chance that evolution is build on.

I recognize that I have higher than normal interest in this subject. As a student of history, I see the rise of acceptance of evolution has coincided with a lowering of cultural standards. After all, if evolution proves that there is no God and no scriptural right and wrong then you are excused to create your own morals, or lack of them. I wrote my play Inherit the Wind Overturned by Design back in 2009 as a vehicle to contrast the positions of ID and evolution in an entertaining format so people can consider the argument for the ID position. Those interested in the ID subject should enjoy the contrast to the popular 1950's era play it satires.

Quotes I liked from Undeniable:

Evolution seems to be an inadequate replacement for knowledge. Indeed, if our design intuition holds true, nothing is an adequate replacement for knowledge.

Dan Tawfik hit the nail on the head: Nothing evolves unless it already exists. (p 97)

With respect to the invention of living things, then, a commitment to materialism is a commitment to accidental explanation, and a commitment to accidental explanation is a commitment to coincidence, and a commitment to coincidence is a commitment to the power of repetition. (p 103)

Blind causes are so fundamentally unlike insight that any instance of them looking insightful would be coincidental. Coincidences do happen, of course, but we know from experience that major ones are much more rare and therefore more surprising than minor ones. (p 152)

The implications for invention are clear. If the invention of a working X is a whole project requiring extensive new functional coherence, then the invention of X by accidents of any kind is physically impossible. Why? Because for accidental causes to match insight on this scale would be a fantastically improbable coincidence and our universe simply can't deliver fantastically improbable coincidences. (153)

Natural selection happens only after cells are arranged in ways that work to keep the organism alive, so selection can hardly be the cause of these remarkable arrangements. Darwin's simplistic explanation has failed, and the millions who have followed him have nothing but his outdated assumption to stand on. (192)

Dutch botanist Hugo De Vries "Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest." (220)

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cruz on Supreme Court Through 2060?

With an existing opening on the Supreme Court, people are wondering who President Trump will appoint to take Justice Scalia's place. Ted Cruz's name is coming up and would make an excellent choice for many reasons.
  1. It would shore up Trump's support from conservatives.
  2. It would gain immediate support from the Senate. Senator Cruz is obnoxious and disliked, you know that sir. He has few friends in the Senate and they would be glad to see him go.
  3. It would take out any chance that Trump's most serious Republican 2016 challenger would be a possible 2020 challenge. Obama made Hillary Clinton Secretary of State for much of the same reasons.
  4. No one can doubt Cruz's impeccable qualifications for the job. He has argued multiple successful cases before the Supreme Court.
  5. Cruz is scary smart. He could effectively argue for Constitutional principles with less principled justices.
  6. Cruz is 45 years old. Realistically, he could still be on the Supreme Court in 2060 when he would be 89 years old. That is 11 presidential election cycles. Going back 11 cycles is 1972. That's a wonderful long time and would lock up a conservative seat on the court for decades. William O. Douglas holds the record having served for 36 years after taking the bench at age 40. With advances in live expectancy, Cruz making headlines in 2060 is not far fetched.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Election Modeling Bad, But Global Warming Modeling Good?

The day before the presidential election nearly all the sophisticated models were predicting an easy win for Hillary Clinton. The models got it wrong. Big time. And now there is political climate change on the horizon.

Modeling of the climate is many times more complicated than measuring a binary choice between two candidates. What confidence should we give to global warming models when we can't even get simpler models right? Getting it wrong would cost the world economy billions and probably trillions, all for naught.

I recently heard a climate change disciple claim that we should take action to fix climate change since 95% of scientists believe it to be true. He supported this by saying that if you had a child diagnosed with a serious illness by 95% of doctors, you would get it taken care of. The goal of this comparison is to get people to act all emotional and conclude, ¨I would never allow my child to go without medical attention to address a serious illness, so we must take action to address climate change.¨ Besides the possibility that these doctors are using a poor predictive model, where this analogy fails is that the climate change doctors have a cure that is worse than the disease - the destruction of our free-market economy.

A better comparison is to ask yourself, would you get on an airplane that had a 95% chance of reaching its destination? I think I would pass. Americans can change their light bulbs and start driving electric cars, but since we only occupy 5% of the globe, our actions are pretty much futile. No wonder no more than 40% of Americans buy the global warming Chicken Little argument. Thank goodness Donald Trump is not one of these fools.

I think P. J. O'Rourke said it best:

¨There's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. Maybe climate change is a threat, and maybe climate change has been tarted up by climatologists trolling for research grant cash. It doesn't matter. There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick. Actually, if you go more than a mile or two outside China's big cities, the wants are more basic. People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it. They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter. And air-conditioning wouldn't be considered an imposition, if you've ever been to China in the summer.

¨Now I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like - a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation - and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.

¨Then, assuming the Sierra Club helicopter has rescued you in time, I want you to go tell a billion people in India the same thing.¨

My advise is to stop wasting time on stuff you can't change and focus your efforts on the real climate change - let's work on making our culture less toxic and harmful to children and families.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The 3 People Who Guaranteed Trump's Win

In Donald Trump's first speech as President-Elect he thanked a bunch of people who helped him win the election. He failed to thank the three people most responsible for his victory.

1. Hillary Clinton. Trump was the most disliked candidate ever nominated to be President, even more disliked than Clinton. However, enough voters decided it was better to vote for someone they did not like than to see "Crooked Hillary" become President. Clinton never connected with the voters she needed because she came across as phony and untrustworthy. She brought with her a record of negative or inconsequential accomplishments. Her decision to put the greed of the Clinton Foundation above the security of state secrets exposed by a private email server was the scandal that she dragged with her for the whole campaign.

2. Barack Obama. Obama was elected by a nation sick of war and shocked by an economic catastrophe. He had overwhelming power with a Democratic Senate and House. He had a chance to repeat Franklin Roosevelt's start to nearly 40 years of Democrat dominance. Instead, he lost the House, then and Senate, and now the Presidency. Instead of focusing on the economy to get the nation growing again, Obama decided to spend his political capital on health care reform. His program has proved to be a fiscal failure. So people who have been damaged by their poor earnings and high health insurance premiums either voted for Trump or stayed home.

3. Anthony Weiner. Some people would say FBI Director James Comey should be the third person to thank. The credit should go to Anthony Weiner. When his laptop was confiscated by the FBI, they found emails related to Hillary Clinton. Comey's decision to reopen the investigation turned the tide. He had no choice. Had he failed to mention it and it turned out that the emails were material, he would have been accused of covering up material information to protect Clinton. Without Weiner's texting troubles, Trump would have lost.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Must Read Book of the Year

This book covers many of the political scandals that have come to light during the Obama presidency. Of note is that many of these scandals would never have become known to the general public without the work of Judicial Watch to request government records through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Despite a promise that his would be the most transparent administration ever, Obama has done the opposite and has fought every effort to reveal actions that have been against the best interest of the general public.

There are chapters that cover Benghazi, Hillary's email cover-up, Fast and Furious, voter fraud, Obamacare, The IRS actions against conservative groups, immigration and border enforcement, and terrorism.

Those who follow politics will be familiar with much of the information covered, but it is sobering to realize that without the work of Judicial Watch, much of the government corruption would go uncovered and unnoticed.

One story that I was not familiar with was the steps taken by someone in Congress on behalf of their 20,000 employees to make them eligible for Obamacare subsidies that were only supposed to be used by small businesses with less than 50 employees! At least $77 million in funds that were supposed to be used by businesses with less than 50 employees were instead used by employees who work for Congress. This is a perfect case of insiders not needing to follow the laws that everyone else follows. Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request to see who originated this fraudulent action. When the document came back, the approver's name was blacked out. When Judicial Watch took further steps to find out whose name it was, their efforts were denied by all the Democrats on the approval committee joined by enough Republicans to end Judicial Watch's efforts to discover who was the instigator of this fraud. Judicial Watch is still pursuing this travesty through the courts.

This is a book that all voters should have to read to recognize the corruption that seems to be rampant in Washington.

Highly recommended. Put it on your reading list. You won't be sorry.

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