30 September 2008

Barak Obama "Only Knows How to Talk" But Real Men Need to Know More, Lots More

Most of us lack the type of voice that causes young women to faint, and celebrities to go insane. So we actually have to, you know, know things. If we want to rise above the lifelong incompetence of an ever growing graduating class of psychological neotenates, we had better learn about the real world we inhabit. How to see that things go right, and what to do if things go wrong. Here is a short list, the bare minimum:
1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow
3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt
5. Wax a car
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer
9. Jump start a car

Handling Emergencies
10. Perform the Heimlich
11. Reverse hypothermia
12. Perform hands-only CPR
13. Escape a sinking car

14. Carve a turkey
15. Use a sewing machine
16. Put out a fire
17. Home brew beer
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
19. Move heavy stuff
20. Grow food
21. Read an electric meter
22. Shovel the right way
23. Solder wire
24. Tape drywall
25. Split firewood
26. Replace a faucet washer
27. Mix concrete
28. Paint a straight line
29. Use a French knife
30. Prune bushes and small trees
31. Iron a shirt
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
33. Change a single-pole switch
34. Fell a tree
35. Replace a broken windowpane
36. Set up a ladder, safely
37. Fix a faucet cartridge
38. Sweat copper tubing
39. Change a diaper
40. Grill with charcoal
41. Sew a button on a shirt
42. Fold a flag

Medical Myths
43. Treat frostbite
44. Treat a burn
45. Help a seizure victim
46. Treat a snakebite
47. Remove a tick

Military Know-How
48. Shine shoes
49. Make a drum-tight bed
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup

51. Run rapids in a canoe
52. Hang food in the wild
53. Skipper a boat
54. Shoot straight
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
56. Escape a rip current

Primitive Skills
57. Build a fire in the wilderness
58. Build a shelter
59. Find potable water

Surviving Extremes
60. Floods
61. Tornados
62. Cold
63. Heat
64. Lightning

Teach Your Kids
65. Cast a line
66. Lend a hand
67. Change a tire
68. Throw a spiral
69. Fly a stunt kite
70. Drive a stick shift
71. Parallel park
72. Tie a bowline
73. Tie a necktie
74. Whittle
75. Ride a bike

76. Install a graphics card
77. Take the perfect portrait
78. Calibrate HDTV settings
79. Shoot a home movie
80. Ditch your hard drive

Master Key Workshop Tools
81. Drill driver
82. Grease gun
83. Coolant hydrometer
84. Socket wrench
85. Test light
86. Brick trowel
87. Framing hammer
88. Wood chisel
89. Spade bit
90. Circular saw
91. Sledge hammer
92. Hacksaw
93. Torque wrench
94. Air wrench
95. Infrared thermometer
96. Sand blaster
97. Crosscut saw
98. Hand plane
99. Multimeter
100. Feeler gauges _PopMech
At least men need to know how to do them and how to use them. Women might find some of those skills come in handy in a pinch, themselves. Most of us possess a lot more skills within our areas of specialisation, and hobbies. Many of the skills above can easily save a life--perhaps your own, or a member of your family's.

How does a child learn these vital skills? Childhood and early adolescence is the very best time to teach important skills for a lifetime of competence. By the time a child enters high school, he should be able to earn at least twice minimum wage, via well learned skills. By the time a child graduates high school, he should be able to earn 2 to 3 times minimum wage at least 3 different ways. By the time an adolescent has finished one to two years of post-high school training, he should be able to earn at least 4 times minimum wage, and be confident that he can do much better with experience, resourcefulness, and learned cleverness over time.

Our society raises children into ineptness, incompetence, and a worthless indoctrination into obsolete ideas that often hurt more than help. How much better if we were to train children in both practical hands-on skills, as well as important mental skills such as math, logic, writing, music, and creativity.

This is not a time in human history where we want to waste all of this human capital. It really isn't.

Update: Here is a full color photo version of the list with explanations for each skill, and some videos. Enjoy.

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Europe is a Teenage Tour Guide, Laughing at Graves, His Back Turned to the Threat

The blogger Frank Martin has written about a teenage tour guide at a World War II battlefield in the Netherlands who told him that the Allied soldiers who fell there had been “fighting for bridges, how silly that they would all fight for something like that.” Somebody like that boy, who didn’t grasp that those soldiers had died for the very freedom that he had taken for granted his whole life, is incapable of standing up for freedom against Islamofascism....Europe’s cultural elites are dominated by people who seem likely to continue to smile upon Islamization right up till the moment they’re stoned to death. _Bawer
The western world appears to be racing itself to the abyss. In both Europe and North America, uncontrolled political correctness and affirmative action fixation have taken over the media, government, and the academic establishments. Denial of harsh reality has become official policy. This is suicide, and countries in both Europe and North America have committed to it--each in its own way.

The current "economic crisis" on Wall Street is a political crisis that was made in Washington DC, as recent postings here illustrate. While Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid dance around the bonfire--hurling effigies of their political enemies into the flames--the underlying problem causing the crisis continues with their blessing. Any legislation bearing their stamp of approval is certain to make things worse.

Meanwhile, the real problems of an imminent (political peak oil) shortage of energy, an economy hamstrung by taxes and government regulation, and the relentless growth of a stifling government bureaucracy, will continue to be cultivated by elected officials in Washington DC. The freedoms of the people shrink as the size of their government grows. Most Americans knew this instinctively before the indoctrinators and "dumbers down" took over government schooling, and university level academia. But now, Americans are nearly as clueless about the facts of liberty as most Europeans. Hence the race to the bottom between countries on both sides of the Atlantic.

Is it too late for a crash course in the "mainspring of human progress (PDF 278 pp) ?"

If it is too late in this election cycle, the need may arise for the rapid rigging of a "parallel society" that assists members with important goals and objectives that those in the mainstream rely upon monster governments for. More on that topic only if necessary.


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Chicago: Obama's Sad and Crooked Legacy

US presidential candidate Barak Obama has a large and loud voice that reverberates throughout national and international media. The voice sounds reassuring--particularly as presented by a sympathetic media--but what is the reality behind the voice? What is Obama's record of achievement? Do we dare look too closely at the man behind the curtain?
In "The Case Against Barack Obama," David Freddoso tries to answer such questions by describing the tension between Mr. Obama's public persona and his practical politics. The key, for Mr. Freddoso, is the Chicago world in which Mr. Obama made himself first a community organizer and then a state senator (1997-2004), before heading off to Washington in 2005. It is by viewing Chicago that the gap between Mr. Obama's rhetoric about reform and his career as a conventional Chicago pol is most visible.

In the past week or so, we have learned more about Alaska than we ever cared to know, including details about tiny Wasilla, where Sarah Palin once served as mayor. But about Mr. Obama's hometown we hear very little. Chicago, let it be said, is a place in decline. In recent years -- and well before the current economic turmoil -- it has lost its two leading banks and thousands of jobs in the futures and commodities markets. Not only does it have the highest retail sales tax in the country, at 10.25%, it is the only city with a head tax on employment. Its public schools are in terrible shape. The city's middle-class population continues to flee. (Chicago lost 63,000 people between 2000 and 2006.) Meanwhile corruption and crime, not to mention machine politics, continue to thrive. In Chicago, it is no big deal to discover that an alderwoman's boyfriend is a member of the Gangster Disciples; this was the same gang that was given voter-registration money by Mayor Richard M. Daley. Chicago's murder rate is three times that of New York. _WSJ

Barak Obama promises change for America if he is elected US President. No doubt that will be true. But things can change for the worse more easily than for the better. Obama's home city, Chicago, reflects rapidly worsening change in rates for violent crime. Chicago murder 2.70 times the National Average, robbery is 2.73 times the National Average, aggravated assault is 1.88 times the National Average, and violent crime overall is 2.18 times the National Average (source).

Chicago is a mob town from bottom to top. Chicago is also the political womb that nourished, incubated, trained, and elevated young BHO from his early adulthood to the present. He earned his chops on Chicago's mean streets alongside William Ayers, diverted hundreds of millions of charitable tax-free funds to political cronies in the Chicago machine, and worked his way to becoming a "made man" inside the machine.

You will never understand the man until you do the research. Have the courage to look behind the curtain at the real man and his record. You may save yourself from a fatal mistake.


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29 September 2008

First, You Have to Reach Orbit Successfully

Elon Musk's SpaceX has finally lofted a "homemade" Falcon 1 rocket to successful Earth orbit. This puts SpaceX on the fast track to space launch success--just at a time that NASA has abandoned space in favour of promoting "global warming catastrophe orthodoxy."
The Falcon 1 booster redeemed itself Sunday with an electrifying launch that put an exclamation point on six years of hard work and disappointment for SpaceX, a startup company chartered to revolutionize space travel. The 70-foot-tall rocket successfully delivered a 364-pound hunk of aluminum nicknamed "Ratsat" to orbit on the launcher's fourth flight, ending a streak of three consecutive Falcon 1 failures dating back to 2006.

"That was freakin' awesome," said Elon Musk, founder, CEO and chief technology officer of Space Technologies Corp.

Musk established SpaceX in 2002 and funded the company from the fortune he earned selling Zip2 and PayPal, his earlier startups.

...Musk estimates he has invested about $100 million of his own money into the development of the Falcon 1 rocket.

"SpaceX has designed and developed this vehicle from the ground up from a blank sheet of paper," said Max Vozoff, a mission manager with the company. "We've done all the design and testing in-house. We don't outsource." _SpaceflightNow
Space launch is incredibly expensive--largely due to the quasi-monopoly that government space agencies hold over the process. Governments are not known for meaningful innovation leading to lower costs. That is private enterprise's job. And Musk has done his job well.

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28 September 2008

Africa: Quo Vadis?

Two recent articles take interesting looks at the futures of market dominant minorities in Africa. The first, from The Economist, looks at one market dominant minority that is leaving the continent:
A decade-and-a-half after the end of apartheid, violent crime is pushing more and more whites out of South Africa. Exactly how many are leaving is impossible to say. Few admit that they are quitting for good, and the government does not collect the necessary statistics. But large white South African diasporas, both English- and Afrikaans-speaking, have sprouted in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and many cities of North America. Economist
An interesting look at the last great European market dominant minority in Africa, and why it is shrinking away.

The second article describes Africa's up and coming market dominant minority--the Chinese:
China offers both rulers and the ruled in Africa the simple, squalid advantages of shameless exploitation.

For the governments, there are gargantuan loans, promises of new roads, railways, hospitals and schools - in return for giving Peking a free and tax-free run at Africa's rich resources of oil, minerals and metals.

For the people, there are these wretched leavings, which, miserable as they are, must be better than the near-starvation they otherwise face. _DailyMail
Both articles are well worth reading. If one believes in the "blank slate" hypothesis--that all humans are born with roughly equal aptitudes to learn, work, and excel--one is left to wonder why Africa needs market dominant minorities in the first place? What is wrong with the African people themselves, that they require such outside assistance?

Africa has serious problems that will not be solved by corrupt dealings with outside enterprises. The thugs who rule most African countries will do quite well from these deals, but the people themselves continue to be exploited. That is the way of Africa. The exploiters may change, marginally, but the people themselves carry a much heavier burden than necessary.


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Affirmative Action Banking: Doomed from the Start

While President Carter in 1977 signed the Community Reinvestment Act, which pushed Fannie and Freddie to aggressively lend to minority communities, it was Clinton who supercharged the process. After entering office in 1993, he extensively rewrote Fannie's and Freddie's rules.

In so doing, he turned the two quasi-private, mortgage-funding firms into a semi-nationalized monopoly that dispensed cash to markets, made loans to large Democratic voting blocs and handed favors, jobs and money to political allies. This potent mix led inevitably to corruption and the Fannie-Freddie collapse. _IBD_via_DennisMangan
How did Affirmative Action Banking get such a chokehold on Wall Street and the entire financial industry?
Clinton ordered Robert Rubin's Treasury Department to rewrite the rules in 1995.

The rewrite, as City Journal noted back in 2000, "made getting a satisfactory CRA rating harder." Banks were given strict new numerical quotas and measures for the level of "diversity" in their loan portfolios. Getting a good CRA rating was key for a bank that wanted to expand or merge with another.

Loans started being made on the basis of race, and often little else.

"Bank examiners would use federal home-loan data, broken down by neighborhood, income group and race, to rate banks on performance," wrote Howard Husock, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute.

But those rules weren't enough.

Clinton got the Department of Housing and Urban Development to double-team the issue. That would later prove disastrous.

Clinton's HUD secretary, Andrew Cuomo, "made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis," the liberal Village Voice noted. Among those decisions were changes that let Fannie and Freddie get into subprime loan markets in a big way.

Other rule changes gave Fannie and Freddie extraordinary leverage, allowing them to hold just 2.5% of capital to back their investments, vs. 10% for banks.

Since they could borrow at lower rates than banks due to implicit government guarantees for their debt, the government-sponsored enterprises boomed.

With incentives in place, banks poured billions of dollars of loans into poor communities, often "no doc" and "no income" loans that required no money down and no verification of income.

By 2007, Fannie and Freddie owned or guaranteed nearly half of the $12 trillion U.S. mortgage market — a staggering exposure.

Worse still was the cronyism.

Fannie and Freddie became home to out-of-work politicians, mostly Clinton Democrats. An informal survey of their top officials shows a roughly 2-to-1 dominance of Democrats over Republicans.

Then there were the campaign donations. From 1989 to 2008, some 384 politicians got their tip jars filled by Fannie and Freddie.

Over that time, the two GSEs spent $200 million on lobbying and political activities. Their charitable foundations dropped millions more on think tanks and radical community groups. _IBD_via_DennisMangan
Affirmative Action Banking is not preferential lending to minority borrowers. It is preferential lending to all extremely poor risk loan applicants, who under any sensible banking rules would be unqualified for the loan. Affirmative Action is not about race, it is about special preferences for the otherwise unqualified. That is what makes Barak Obama an affirmative action presidential candidate. Not because his biological father was from Kenya, but because Obama himself is clearly unqualified for the job. Poorly considered affirmative action policies of the government have caused the current crisis and are well on the way to cause several other crises in the pipeline. Imagine how much worse the problem will become under an affirmative action President?

Update: Blame the bubble on Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and FDR?

If you lose your house, blame Bill Clinton

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A Face To Go With the Financial Fannie Crisis

Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton set the stage back in the '70s and the '90s for today's government-Wall Street credit embarassment. But when President Bush and John McCain wanted to reform Fannie Mae a few years ago to prevent such a crisis, one man stood tall to prevent meaningful reform. That man's name is Rep. Barney Frank of Massachussetts.
The roots of this crisis go back to the Carter administration. That was when government officials, egged on by left-wing activists, began accusing mortgage lenders of racism and "redlining" because urban blacks were being denied mortgages at a higher rate than suburban whites.

The pressure to make more loans to minorities (read: to borrowers with weak credit histories) became relentless. Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, empowering regulators to punish banks that failed to "meet the credit needs" of "low-income, minority, and distressed neighborhoods." Lenders responded by loosening their underwriting standards and making increasingly shoddy loans. The two government-chartered mortgage finance firms, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, encouraged this "subprime" lending by authorizing ever more "flexible" criteria by which high-risk borrowers could be qualified for home loans, and then buying up the questionable mortgages that ensued.

...Time and time again, [Barney] Frank insisted that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in good shape. Five years ago, for example, when the Bush administration proposed much tighter regulation of the two companies, Frank was adamant that "these two entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis." When the White House warned of "systemic risk for our financial system" unless the mortgage giants were curbed, Frank complained that the administration was more concerned about financial safety than about housing.

Now that the bubble has burst and the "systemic risk" is apparent to all, Frank blithely declares: "The private sector got us into this mess." Well, give the congressman points for gall. Wall Street and private lenders have plenty to answer for, but it was Washington and the political class that derailed this train. If Frank is looking for a culprit to blame, he'll find one suspect in the nearest mirror. _BostonGlobe
On network after network, Congressman Frank appears to explain how it was the unbridled capitalism of Wall Street that caused the contretemps. So, just at the moment that rescue is needed, who but Barney Frank comes riding over the horizon with all the answers? Who indeed.

Oynklent Green [OTC:OYNK] has taken a very strong interest in Congressman Frank. A very strong interest indeed.

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27 September 2008

From Whiners to Achievers? What Will It Take?

Many of the dullards in the US media establishment expressed shock and dismay upon learning that most Americans see blacks as complainers -- whiners. Media pundits immediately declared this widespread perception to be a sign of racism. But in reality, it is a simple expression of everyday reality.

African derived blacks frequently have difficulties keeping up as a group, in many multicultural societies the world over. Yet, African Americans persist in blaming all of their subcultures problems upon "the man"--the white man. Would electing a half-African politician who earned his chops on the corrupt streets of Chicago do anything at all to turn a national culture of whiners into a culture of achievers?
With a 50 percent high school dropout rate and a 70 percent illegitimacy rate, with African-Americans committing half the nation’s murders though only 13 percent of the population, black America—especially the poorer part of it—is in trouble. “We cannot blame white people,” Cosby asserted in his incendiary speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board school desegregation decision. “It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing.” As Jesse Jackson used to say, Cosby recalls, “No one can save us from us but us.”

"...for all the talk of systemic racism and governmental screw-ups, we must look at ourselves and understand our own responsibility.” Even with lingering discrimination, “there are more doors of opportunity open for black people today than ever before in the history of America,” and “these doors are tall enough and wide enough” for just about all black people “to walk through with their heads held high.” So while “there are forces that make the effort to escape poverty difficult,” African-Americans are by no means merely the playthings of vast forces and helpless victims of racism. “When people tell you, ‘You can’t get up, you’re a victim,’ ” Cosby warns, “that’s when you know it is the devil you’re hearing.”

...Certainly their fathers aren’t raising them. That 70 percent illegitimacy rate, troubling in itself, isn’t evenly distributed but is concentrated in poor neighborhoods, where it soars above 85 percent and can approach 100 percent. “A house without a father is a challenge,” Cosby and Poussaint write. “A neighborhood without fathers is a catastrophe.” That’s because mothers “have difficulty showing a son how to be a man,” a truly toxic problem when there are no father figures around to show boys how to channel their natural aggressiveness in constructive ways.

...In addition to physical abuse, Cosby and Poussaint observe, we’ve all cringed at hearing inner-city mothers abusing kids verbally as well, making them feel worthless and unwanted. “Words like ‘You’re stupid,’ ‘You’re an idiot,’ ‘I’m sorry you were born,’ or ‘You’ll never amount to anything’ can stick a dagger in a child’s heart.” Single mothers angry with men, whether their current boyfriends or their children’s fathers, regularly transfer their rage to their sons, since they’re afraid to take it out on the adult males. “If they hear their mom say, ‘Black men ain’t worth s—-,’ the boys wonder whether that includes them. When their moms yell, ‘You’re no good, just like your father!’ all the doubt goes away.” When such racially tinged verbal abuse takes the form of “ ‘Nigger, I’ll kick your f——— black a—,’ ” the child ends up ashamed of being black, as well—a danger anyway in a society where rumors of black inferiority still echo, if more faintly.

...Of course today’s African-Americans have full civil rights and ample opportunity. Look at how immigrants from far-flung Ethiopia and Nigeria—no less black—succeed in their new land of opportunity. Moreover, notes Williams, Cosby’s views mirror those of the civil rights greats of old. Booker T. Washington similarly urged education and self-reliance and cautioned that “we should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.” W. E. B. Du Bois, despite differences with Washington, shared his “goal of black self-reliance.” Martin Luther King “said he wanted above all else to get black people to shed the idea that they did not control their destiny.”

...Williams’s view of most of today’s black leaders recalls Eric Hoffer’s dictum that great causes often start out as movements but degenerate into rackets. Today’s leaders have made lucrative careers out of preaching a crippling ideology that ensures that they will never run out of poor blacks to agitate for. As Cosby quipped in one of his town meetings, “There are people who want you to remain in a hole, and they rejoice in your hopelessness because they have jobs mismanaging you.”

Williams presents a rogues’ gallery of African-American leaders who harm the people they claim to serve by blinding them to the opportunity all around them and stoking resentments that serve as excuses for wrongdoing. Jesse Jackson, “the unofficial president of black America,” takes pride of place, with Al Sharpton as runner-up. _CityJournal
And now we have Barak Obama--god-child of Jeremiah Wright--another in a long line of victimist leftist oriented conductors of the great African American Whine Chorus. So here is your answer to the question of whether Obama will inspire American blacks to achieve or whether he will pander to their sense of victimhood. All indications point to the latter.
In his campaign for the Illinois senate, Obama was endorsed by the New Party (NP), a coalition of socialists, Communists, and other leftists. According to the newsletter of the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America, whose members were said to constitute 15 percent of the Chicago New Party, “Once approved, candidates must sign a contract with the NP [which] mandates that they must have a visible and active relationship with the NP.” Apparently, Obama signed such a pledge. After winning the primary (unopposed because his lawyers had succeeded in knocking all three opponents off the ballot), he appeared at a New Party membership meeting to voice his thanks.

Entering the national political scene eight years later, Obama did not, to be sure, appear as a radical, but he still bore the earmarks of the world in which he had been immersed for twenty years. He called himself “progressive,” a term of art favored by veterans of the hard New Left, like Tom Hayden, as well as by old-time Communists. Early this year his wife Michelle, lacking his tact, would kindle controversy by saying that his success in the presidential primaries made her feel proud of her country for the first time. The comment, a faux pas that she was soon at pains to explain away, flowed logically from her view, expressed in her standard stump speech, that our country is a “downright mean” place, “guided by fear,” where the “life . . . that most people are living has gotten progressively worse.”

This year, Obama appeared before Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (whose official slogan is “no justice, no peace”) to seek its support. The candidate praised Sharpton as “a voice for the voiceless and . . . dispossessed. What National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up.” _Commentary
This is painful to say, and painful to hear, but it must be said and heard. Obama is yet another con-man, in a long line of con-men to take advantage of the race racket in the US. No matter how much a voter may hate George Bush or the Republican Party--and want to punish them for perceived misdeeds--in the end it is himself that he is punishing by voting emotionally without reading the fine print. Wishful thinking almost always leads to more hardship, when not accompanied by a hard-headed examination of realities, and hard work.

It is possible for more citizens of all races to go from whiners to achievers, if society ever chooses to admit where the real problems lie. Abominable child-raising methods, lamentably poor education, low societal expectations, and a corrupt government-media complex that obscures the reality by crying "racism" under all circumstances--regardless of the presence or absence of significant or meaningful bias.

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Can You Build A Seastead to Withstand Class V?

* Category 1 -- Winds 74-95 mph
* Category 2 -- Winds 96-110 mph
* Category 3 -- Winds 111-130 mph
* Category 4 -- Winds 131-155 mph
* Category 5 -- Winds over 155 mph _Source
Hurricane waves are not the only wave danger to a seastead. Rogue waves and other types of storm waves can sometimes capsize large ships without warning. An open-ocean seastead will be exposed to constant destructive forces from the elements. The map above from Sea Friends shows common wave heights in meters.
Water waves can store or dissipate much energy. Like other waves (alternating electric currents, e.g.), a wave's energy is proportional to the square of its height (potential). Thus a 3m high wave has 3x3=9 times more energy than a 1m high wave. When fine-weather waves of about 1m height pound on the beach, they dissipate an average of 10kW (ten one-bar heaters) per metre of beach or the power of a small car at full throttle, every five metres. (Ref Douglas L Inman in Oceanography, the last frontier, 1974). Attempts to harness the energy from waves have failed because they require large structures over large areas and these structures should be capable of surviving storm conditions with energies hundreds of times larger than they were designed to capture. _SeaFriends

Tsunamis are not a significant hazard to seasteads:
Many people think of the tsunami as the most fearsome wave, but that's a landlubber's perspective. Generally driven by earthquakes, tsunamis are often unnoticeable in the deep ocean, where they have extremely long wavelengths and low wave heights (several meters at most, usually much less).

As this wave reaches a continental shelf, it piles up, becoming shorter and higher. Only then will it resemble the monsters of legend -

....Scientists used to dismiss...tales of unusually large [[Rogue ]] waves as mere folklore, like monsters or mermaids. But with the proliferation of oil and gas platforms, some of which record wave data, accumulated observations have finally led to mainstream acceptance of this seafaring "myth" [Lawton2001]. And recent data from the European Space Agency's ERS satellites has not only re-confirmed the existence of these waves, but indicated that they may be fairly common. Researchers with the MaxWave project computer-analyzed satellite photos from a three-week period in 2001 during which two ships were hit by 30m rogues. They found "ten individual giant waves around the globe above 25 metres in height." [ESA2004].

These rogue waves are the real dangers in open water. Towering above their neighbors, they are unstable and break quickly, thus containing tremendous power. They sometimes come unexpectedly from a different direction than the prevailing swell, which adds to the surprise and danger. Rogues have been known to ravage coastlines as well, sometimes coming out of calm seas to sweep away unsuspecting victims. Emergency services have warned beachgoers in some areas to be aware of this danger [RogueWarning]. _Seasteading Book
The circular array breakwater illustrated above is described better at Brian Wang's site. It is designed to protect a structure from a "tsunami", but might also protect from more practical and realistic wave hazards as well.The triangular shaped floating breakwater above was designed a hundred years ago or so, to simulate coastal underwater terrain that causes waves to break on shore. A floating ring surrounding a seastead, with a similar cross-sectional area, would provide protection against some wave hazard, providing the breakwater could be properly secured in relation to the seastead.The floating flat plate breakwater above is capable of reducing the height of waves passing over it. It was designed to protect coastal aquaculture projects. It would also have to be well-secured in relation to structures it is meant to protect.

A seastead will want to utilise wave energy via transduction from cyclical mechanical energy to other forms of energy--such as electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, constant rotational mechanical, linear mechanical, heat, etc. When energy from waves exceeds the ability of a seastead's energy conversion systems, a fallback to dissipation and deflection of the energies is necessary. For example, the hull of a ship performs mostly deflection (with minimal dissipation), to maximise progress through the water. A fixed breakwater along shore performs mainly dissipation, along with deflection. Such breakwaters are made of significant mass, and built to withstand incredible energies. Floating breakwaters must be much less dense and massive, requiring more ingenuity on the part of designers, if the structures are to hold up over time.

You wish to build what is essentially a floating barrier reef around your seastead which is capable of drastically reducing wave hazard while generating energy, and not presenting a hazard to the seastead in and of itself (by breaking its mooring).

Do you have any ideas? The seastead itself may very well be built of pre-stressed concrete, capable of withstanding significant wave and wind stress along with wide temperature extremes. Such construction is being developed for offshore oil and gas drilling, and for large offshore cryogenic storage containers (PDF). Such structures will be very tough, but they will last much longer if protected from both constant day in day out pounding of waves, as well as the more extreme storm and rogue waves.

What material will you use to build your floating breakwater? Bucky Fuller suggested a multi-layered membranous structure filled with seawater, with internal baffles that allowed moving seawater to dissipate large amounts of energy against itself--inside the breakwater. Using seawater itself as part of the structure of a floating breakwater is resourceful, and devising internal channels that cause moving currents of seawater to oppose each other, dissipating wave energy, is also clever. Even if the exact design is not copied, the ideas involved may prove seminal.

This is not a trivial project. One must first understand the forces one is up against, before one can plan rationally. In the open sea, the wind and wave energy can be not only unimaginably intense, but also relentless. Open water seasteading, like the next level, is not for the easily intimidated, nor for the careless.

A reminder: 1st Seasteading Conference October 10, 2008

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26 September 2008

A New Age for Stem Cells and Regeneration

A new way of inducing the creation of pluripotent stem cells (iPS) from mature cells is opening the way for a positive deluge of new stem cell research--unrestricted by government funding limitations, access to embryos, or danger of cancerous transformation. Regenerative medicine has never been as promising as it is right now.
Many view the creation of genetically unmodified iPS cells as regenerative medicine's magic bullet. The cells are not derived from embryos, so researchers can circumnavigate the ethical gray areas. And if these cells turn out to be as potent as embryonic stem cells, they could be used to help regrow tissues damaged in conditions ranging from paralysis to Parkinson's disease to diabetes. If they can be grown from a patient's own cells, they could furthermore be transplanted without triggering immune rejection.

...The efficiency, as described in latest edition of the journal Science, is still incredibly low. Out of 1 million adenovirus-infected cells, the researchers ultimately produced just one stable line of stem cells. But the line was genetically unaltered, and when the cells were implanted in mice, they formed a cluster of cells that had differentiated into multiple tissue types (a standard test for pluripotency). When the researchers injected the cells into mouse embryos, the resulting mice had integrated the stem cells into a number of different types of tissue, including tissue in the brain, lungs, and heart. And mice as old as 13 weeks remained tumor-free.

Until now, iPS cells couldn't be compared to embryonic stem cells, since the effects of the integrated virus were unknown. "It was like comparing apples and oranges," Hochedlinger says. Now, however, the potency of the two cell types can be evaluated head to head. "You can really think about doing this in a human setting now, and about making genetically unmodified human cells for modeling or even for therapy."

The finding already has other stem-cell experts thinking about the possibilities. "The paper represents a major breakthrough in reprogramming research and proves to the field that we can reprogram cells directly without viral contamination," says George Daley, a Harvard biologist and stem-cell researcher who was not involved with the research. "It is a major step towards making clinical transplantation of patient-specific cells feasible."

Hochedlinger and his colleagues are now working to increase the efficiency of their adenovirus technique and to repeat their methods to create human iPS cells. "Once we do that," Hochedlinger says, "we can figure out whether [embryonic stem] cells and unmodified iPS cells are really identical to each other or not. I don't know the answer yet." _TechReview
Once the efficiencies of the process are improved, availability of patient-specific pluripotent stem cells should skyrocket, and ethical and technical obstacles to clinical use of stem cells should steadily melt away.


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Transmuting the Elements for Energy, Fun, Profit

Every alchemist's dream is to transmute lead into gold. But a more practical and realistic form of transmutation of the elements may soon remove one of the most emotional obstacles to the widespread use of nuclear power--long-lived radioactive waste products in expended fuel. From Brian Westenhaus:
One (the) big worry in nuclear power from fission processes is the creation of very heavy atoms, those more heavy than the uranium used for fuel - such as curium and actinium. The group is called “actinides,” the heavy elements that can take millions of years to get through half-lives to less radioactive states. The idea of containing such things for very long periods sets even the most callous thoughts on edge as millions of years of storage managed by mankind isn’t an idea that builds confidence. Especially as these elements would be a dirty bomb maker’s dream component.

....“The core concept of transmutation – which was formulated as early as mid 20th century – consists of irradiating the actinides by fast neutrons. The highly stimulated nuclei that are generated this way suffer a fission, which leads to relatively short-lived nuclei, which in turn rapidly disintegrate into stable isotopes. Then, they cease to be radioactive,” explained Professor Leeb. Thus, the required radioactive waste isolation time of several millions years could be decreased to 300 and up to 500 years. The technological progress made in the last decades has made the transmutation possible at the industrial level.

....Leeb points out another path, the “thorium-uranium cycle,” an alternative nuclear fuel, which leads to a reduced incidence of radioactive waste. “Thorium is a potential nuclear fuel, which may be incubated into a light uranium isotope, whose fission generates basically no actinide. Furthermore, thorium can be found approximately five times more often than uranium. However, special reactors must be still developed for this, reactors that would be appropriate for the reaction pattern and for the somewhat harder gamma radiation. India is one of the countries that already host experiments with thorium in reactor cores,” said Leeb. _NewEnergyandFuel
Also: Brian Wang presents an update on thorium, nuclear fuel breeder-reactors, and supplies of uranium.

Nuclear fission power is positioned as one of the most important transitional forms of energy between the fossil fuel age and the renewable/advanced energy age. For supplying large population centers with energy, there is no better form of energy at this time. Government Luddites such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, Ken Salazar, and the rest of the usual suspects need to pay far more attention to the energy future of the country, and far less attention to doing favours for corrupt, powerful, and wealthy friends.

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25 September 2008

Scientists: Don't Spank Young Girls Until Age 13

A recent study by scientists from the Netherlands suggests that children do not learn from negative feedback until they are at least 12 or 13 years of age. By testing subjects age 8 to 25 inside a fMRI machine, researchers were able to determine which parts of the brain reacted to positive and negative feedback while performing problem-solving tasks.
Eight-year-olds learn primarily from positive feedback ('Well done!'), whereas negative feedback ('Got it wrong this time') scarcely causes any alarm bells to ring. Twelve-year-olds are better able to process negative feedback, and use it to learn from their mistakes. Adults do the same, but more efficiently.

The switch in learning strategy has been demonstrated in behavioural research, which shows that eight-year-olds respond disproportionately inaccurately to negative feedback. But the switch can also be seen in the brain, as developmental psychologist Dr Eveline Crone and her colleagues from the Leiden Brain and Cognition Lab discovered using fMRI research. The difference can be observed particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for cognitive control. These areas are located in the cerebral cortex.

In children of eight and nine, these areas of the brain react strongly to positive feedback and scarcely respond at all to negative feedback. But in children of 12 and 13, and also in adults, the opposite is the case. Their 'control centres' in the brain are more strongly activated by negative feedback and much less by positive feedback. _PO
Something in a child's brain changes between pre-pubescence and pubescence to affect learning style. Military drill seargents can attest to the effectiveness of negative feedback in the shaping of lean mean fighting machines. Similarly intensive training often occurs in medical school and in other professions--based upon negative feedback. It seems to work after a fashion, although the optimum teaching/learning method for each individual is likely to be unique.

More on the Brain and Development Lab at Leiden University


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How Did Climate Science Get It So Badly Wrong?

The long term cooling trend pictured above is likely due to colliding continents and other large-scale geologic and cosmologic phenomena. The short-term cooling trend Earth is currently experiencing, seems to be due to multidecadal oceanic climate oscillations--the PDO and the AMO.

Imminent global cooling due to changes in solar activity, is a more ominous possibility, Another little ice age spawned by a 21st century "Maunder Minimum" would condemn hundreds of millions of third worlders to death by famine. NASA has finally come out in the open about the current historic solar minimum currently detected by advanced satellite. This new information opens the door to the Svensmark Phenomena of cosmic ray induced global cooling.

Climate catastrophe has been vastly overrated, and derives from the most corrupted sector of science known to history, with the exception of Soviet and Maoist science in the communist dark ages. When politics takes over science--as it has in the case of the IPCC and the climate science mafia (PDF)--that area of science is no longer reliable.

We are living at an energy-critical period of time. Advanced civilisation relies upon abundant energy supplies to provide its citizens with both the necessities and luxuries of living. If erroneous scientific theories choke civilisation of the energy it needs to progress--as is happening under the current US Congress, the current European Union, the current government of Australia, etc.--progress will stop, economies will falter and fall, and most people will remain clueless as to the reasons that life became so hard and cruel, so quickly.

This is the pivot point between a time of true abundance, and a return to widespread poverty, famine, and pandemic. It is not a decision for our descendants nor our ancestors. It is our choice right now. If we choose to let foolish politicians choke our economies by choking our energy supplies, we will never see the singularity, never live the next level. All of the amazing advances discussed by Kurzweil and other visionaries are possible eventually. But not if we cut ourselves off at the knees by following erroneous "science."

We are already suffering from bad decisions made in the past by politicised science. As bad science is piled onto other bad science, we run the risk of chasing our own tails--digging ourselves more deeply into the dirt that will become our own graves. Worse than mere distraction, we are spending more and more of our hard-earned surplus on unsupportable theories--thus depriving our future selves and descendants of the infrastructure of abundance that would make their lives better than ours.

Much more information at Icecap, Watts Up With That?, Tom Nelson, and Climate Skeptic

More basic science information at Climate Audit, Climate Science, Willam M Briggs, Lucia, David Stockwell, and many other fine climate sites listed under the Al Fin sidebar Climate category.

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24 September 2008

350,000 New US Jobs from Nuclear Revival

Across the developed world, supplies of electric energy are threatened by high fossil fuel costs and absurd carbon regulations spawned by Kyoto. Coincidentally, nuclear energy produces abundant, clean electric power in quantities suitable for large population centers, but is vastly under-utilised due to absurd environmental restrictions. Simultaneously, over a million jobs are being threatened with loss in industrial sectors where carbon dioxide is produced--threatened by carbon regulations. Coincidentally, large numbers of jobs would be created by a resurgent nuclear industry, which would also save civilisation by preventing the lights from going out.
"Without the substantal program of new investment," the report says, "the capacity of the US nuclear energy industry will dwindle to zero by 2050. The specific jobs and associated value-added and tax benefits that industry would support will also be lost."

According to the report, a large proportion of the jobs that would be supported by the nuclear investment program are manufacturing jobs in the production of the capital goods necessary to support the nuclear energy industry. "These are high-tech, high-value-added jobs that reflect high spending on R&D and fixed investment: jobs that the US economy can ill afford to lose." It adds, "Alternative ways of meeting US electricity generation needs would be unlikely to create so many high-value-added manufacturing jobs."

The US states expected to gain the most new jobs from a possible nuclear build program are:

* South Carolina (50,800)
* Texas (47,100)
* Illinois (43,400)
* Florida (29,300)
* California (22,100)
* Pennsylvania (21,500)
* New York (20,800)
* North Carolina (20,700)
* Ohio (20,600)
* Maryland (17,900)
* Arizona (17,300)
* Georgia (15,200)
Unfortunately, we have a US Congress dominated by corrupt US Democratic Party legislators including Barak Obama and Joseph Biden, who stand opposed to any meaningful expansion of energy production in the US. Apparently, the DNC "talking points" to its corrupt legislators involves energy starvation for the US. Electing the Obama/Biden administration would seal the deal for the ideologically driven energy-starvationists.

More information on what drives today's US Democratic Party at Dieoff.org, and the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement

There is no shortage of potential energy sources. There is only a shortage of human ingenuity, human initiative, human leadership, and human vision. The US Congress is the bottleneck. Stop rewarding them for destroying the country.


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23 September 2008

Can You Hear Me Thinking Now? Thought Helmet

Mind to mind communication has been a staple of science fiction for many decades. But there are situations where being able to silently cue a partner or team member about something occurring outside his range of sight or hearing, might save lives. The US military is studying potential uses of a "thought helmet" in conjunction with its "networked battlefield" approach to combat.
Researchers have been working on other brain-computer interfaces, such as Emotiv Systems´ brain-wave headset for video games, which is expected to be available commercially next summer....The Army's version would of course be more sophisticated and reliable than the gaming headset. To make the thought helmet a feasible piece of equipment for soldiers, scientists need to combine advances in computing power together with our understanding of the human brain.

At the moment, the thought helmet concept consists of 128 sensors buried in a soldier´s helmet. Soldiers would need to think in clear, formulaic ways, which is similar to how they are already trained to talk. The key challenge to making the system work is a software system that can read an electroencephalogram (EEG) generated by the sensor data, and pick out when a soldier is thinking words, and what those words are.

Because the brain is a complex system and generates such large amounts of data, researchers must also make improvements in computing power. Soldiers will also have to be trained to think "loudly" to make it easier for the system to pick out their words from the brain´s background noise. Also, every individual´s EEG signals are a little different, so users and computers will have to be calibrated so that computers recognize each person´s unique mental pattern.

In early versions, recipients will most likely hear messages rendered by a robotic voice in their headphones. But the researchers also think it´s possible to render commands in the speaker´s own voice, as well as indicate the location of the speaker relative to the listener. _PO
Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of implanted brain electrode arrays, with wireless communication directly from brain/comp to brain/comp. The computer/transceiver apparatus would be "melded" to the skull and covered by skin and hair--giving the soldier's head a somewhat exaggerated roundness. Nano-antennae would be indistinguishable from the soldiers' hair, and would interface into protective helmets that would boost the signal for greater distances.

The soldiers' muscles and ligaments/tendons/bones would be augmented with carbon nano-tube reinforcement and strengthening. Sub-integumental conductive nano-sheeting would provide resistance to blunt force/penetrating trauma and would be designed to deflect electrical discharges (taser etc) and microwave weapon energies.

Such augmented soldiers when interfaced in squad-sized units, and provided with weapons such as these, rapid transport to anywhere in the world such as this, and a number of other force multipliers being developed, and a long range reconnaissance (in force) platoon might easily conquer any nation in the world (with the exception of a handful) in less than a day. Holding the place would be a different story, but in most situations simple extraction would probably suffice.

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22 September 2008

Announcing First Annual Seasteading Conference

The seasteading movement is still young, but active--particularly around the west coast of North America and in Hawaii. The first annual seasteading conference will be held at the Burlingame (California) Embassy Suites on October 10th, 2008, beginning at 8 AM. Register by October 8. The event is free for students, $195 for private individuals, and $95 for journalists.

Seasteads are floating islands that provide full-time work and residency for individuals looking for a lifestyle somewhat out of the ordinary.
The Seasteading Institute advocates a modular, incremental approach, where cities are built up one block, or even one house, at a time. Patri says: "Cruise ships already demonstrate that people can live on the ocean in big, movable buildings at reasonable cost. We've got a slightly different design: we're going to build a city out of interconnected floating platforms. That way you'll be able to move cities, and take your house and yard with you! And we are designing these platforms to be comparable in cost to high-end land-based homes."

...."Modern democratic governments are often unresponsive to the needs of their citizens. Our floating cities will change that - if you don't like your government, you'll be able to pull up anchor and sail to a better one, or start your own. Imagine the reduction in worldwide violence if Israel could just move away from Palestine, Georgia from Russia, or Hong Kong from China. On floating cities, this is actually possible!" _Source
Seasteads can be designed for a wide range of floating environments, from a sheltered cove, bay, or harbour, to the natural hazards of the open ocean. Likewise, these floating islands can fly under the flag of a recognised nation, but will eventually fly under their own flags--once political and legal accommodations can be made.

For much more information, go to www.seasteading.org where you can read the online fact-filled seasteading book.

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Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton Share Blame for Subprime Mortgage Recession, Government Overshoot

The current Wall Street quakes have their origins in the Jimmy Carter administration of the late 1970s, and the "affirmative action" banking laws Carter instigated. Bill Clinton only made things worse by adding more muscle to affirmative action banking enforcement.
To hear today's Democrats, you'd think all this started in the last couple years. But the crisis began much earlier. The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, mostly in minority areas.

Age-old standards of banking prudence got thrown out the window. In their place came harsh new regulations requiring banks not only to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, but to do so on the basis of race.

These well-intended rules were supercharged in the early 1990s by President Clinton. Despite warnings from GOP members of Congress in 1992, Clinton pushed extensive changes to the rules requiring lenders to make questionable loans.

Lenders who refused would find themselves castigated publicly as racists. As noted this week in an IBD editorial, no fewer than four federal bank regulators scrutinized financial firms' books to make sure they were in compliance.

Failure to comply meant your bank might not be allowed to expand lending, add new branches or merge with other companies. Banks were given a so-called "CRA rating" that graded how diverse their lending portfolio was.

It was economic hardball.

"We have to use every means at our disposal to end discrimination and to end it as quickly as possible," Clinton's comptroller of the currency, Eugene Ludwig, told the Senate Banking Committee in 1993.

And they meant it.

In the name of diversity, banks began making huge numbers of loans that they previously would not have. They opened branches in poor areas to lift their CRA ratings.

Meanwhile, Congress gave Fannie and Freddie the go-ahead to finance it all by buying loans from banks, then repackaging and securitizing them for resale on the open market.

That's how the contagion began.

With those changes, the subprime market took off. From a mere $35 billion in loans in 1994, it soared to $1 trillion by 2008. _IBD
Once government institutes such economically destructive laws in perpetutity, the destructive snowballing begins. Of course, given the 15 second average attention span of most voters, Democrats such as Pelosi and Frank are safe in their dishonest double speak and outright deceptions. The media will certainly never hold their feet to the fire. The king of "affirmative action" politicians, Barak "Hollow Man" Obama, has a much better chance of being elected if voters do not understand that he will accelerate the entire process exponentially.

Of course, computer models are also to blame--the rule of GIGO allowing wall street investment bankers and Fannie Mae kleptocrats that the risk was but slight. Even global warming's Al Gore, James Hansen, and carbon trading all come in for their fair share of the blame--at least for Lehman Bros. collapse. A sucker born every minute.
But the fact is, President Bush in 2003 tried desperately to stop Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from metastasizing into the problem they have since become.

Here's the lead of a New York Times story on Sept. 11, 2003: "The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago."

Bush tried to act. Who stopped him? Congress, especially Democrats with their deep financial and patronage ties to the two government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie and Freddie.

"These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis," said Rep. Barney Frank, then ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. "The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

It's pretty clear who was on the right side of that debate.

As for presidential contender John McCain, just two years after Bush's plan, McCain also called for badly needed reforms to prevent a crisis like the one we're now in.

"If Congress does not act," McCain said in 2005, "American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole."

Sounds like McCain was spot on. _IBD
Thanks, Jimmy Carter. Thanks, Bill Clinton. Thanks in advance, Barak "Rezko's Boy" Obama. We really owe you all, big time. And the media, yes indeed, the media.

Some interesting perspective on the problem at Hall of Record blog (scroll down)

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21 September 2008

Palin Express Picking Up Steam Across Heartland

As a frontier woman who fought corruption and won, she's the embodiment of independent womanhood. As the hunting and fishing beauty queen who got her man and went on to have five children, she's a potent symbol of the apple-pie American mother-figure. Her story is both epic and small time, heroic and ordinary, astonishing and familiar. _DailyMail
From rally to rally across the American heartland, Sarah Palin is drawing record crowds, and helping to fill the campaign coffers of running mate John McCain. Palin charms and intrigues most Americans on multiple levels--particularly American women.
[McCain's] pick of Idaho native Sarah Palin for vice president means McCain has a good chance to win Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and maybe even Colorado, which were all leaning toward Barack Obama. _SLCTrib
Palin is winning over men and women from both political parties--even libertarians. Her "frontier woman" story of hunting, fishing, surviving in harsh surroundings, and taking on large corrupt government and corporate interests, sounds like something straight out of a John Wayne movie, and for good reason.
When Sarah Palin appeared on the national stage, she was stepping into an archetype that already existed. In personality, looks, and behavior she resembled nothing less than our cultural image of the frontier woman. She was something out of history -- something that we already knew, were quite familiar with, and strongly approve of. But at the same time it's true that few people living (and those very aged) have ever met a frontier woman of the original breed.

...The importance of the frontier woman cannot be overrated, because it was the women, in the end, who broke the frontier. Mountain men and related types had been traversing the wilderness for decades before the Westward Migration got rolling, without leaving behind as much as a scratch on the landscape. It was the women -- and their families -- who made the land bend, who brought with them a sense of permanency, who civilized the frontier. Where men went, they created forts and outposts. When women followed, they established settlements and towns. _AmericanThinker
Frontier women civilised the frontier, after they helped tame it alongside the men. While Washington DC may not seem like a frontier to be tamed, in reality that is exactly what it has become--the frontier of corruption. That sad fact has been recently highlighted by the mega-billion dollar bailout for a problem that Congress itself created back in the Jimmy Carter administration, and amplified during the Bill Clinton administration. Expect a huge part of this $700 billion bailout to go to corrupt payoffs of friends of Barney Frank.

Big government is the problem. Obama wants to double the size of government. Where can Americans look for someone with a more objective viewpoint, and the toughness to do what has to be done? Somewhere far away from Washington DC. Somewhere where boys and girls are allowed to grow up to become men and women--strong men and women. Somewhere like Alaska, the last wild American frontier.

Palin draws rock-concert sized crowd of 60,000 in Florida

Why the news and entertainment media feels it absolutely must destroy Sarah Palin

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Why Barak Obama Admires Ronald Reagan

Barak Obama's expansive populist vision for America has very little to do with Ronald Reagan's dreams for America to return to its traditionalist constitutional beginnings of limited government. But Obama recognises something powerful in Reagan's presentation that he wishes to achieve--and surpass. Reagan was a consummate story-teller, the weaver of narratives meant to inspire and motivate. "The Great Communicator" understood intuitively that humans comprehend the world largely in terms of narrative, and that is how he got his message across.
Storytelling is one of the few human traits that are truly universal across culture and through all of known history. Anthropologists find evidence of folktales everywhere in ancient cultures, written in Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Chinese, Egyptian and Sumerian. People in societies of all types weave narratives, from oral storytellers in hunter-gatherer tribes to the millions of writers churning out books, television shows and movies. And when a characteristic behavior shows up in so many different societies, researchers pay attention: its roots may tell us something about our evolutionary past....

...the best stories—those retold through generations and translated into other languages—do more than simply present a believable picture. These tales captivate their audience, whose emotions can be inextricably tied to those of the story’s characters. Such immersion is a state psychologists call “narrative transport.”

...Empathy is part of the larger ability humans have to put themselves in another person’s shoes: we can attribute mental states—awareness, intent—to another entity. Theory of mind, as this trait is known, is crucial to social interaction and communal living—and to understanding stories...Children develop theory of mind around age four or five.

...As our ancestors evolved to live in groups, the hypothesis goes, they had to make sense of increasingly complex social relationships. Living in a community requires keeping tabs on who the group members are and what they are doing. What better way to spread such information than through storytelling?...Indeed, to this day people spend most of their conversations telling personal stories and gossiping.

...The power of stories does not stop with their ability to reveal the workings of our minds. Narrative is also a potent persuasive tool, according to Hogan and other researchers, and it has the ability to shape beliefs and change minds.

Advertisers have long taken advantage of narrative persuasiveness by sprinkling likable characters or funny stories into their commercials. A 2007 study by marketing researcher Jennifer Edson Escalas of Vanderbilt University found that a test audience responded more positively to advertisements in narrative form as compared with straightforward ads that encouraged viewers to think about the arguments for a product. Similarly, Green co-authored a 2006 study that showed that labeling information as “fact” increased critical analysis, whereas labeling information as “fiction” had the opposite effect. Studies such as these suggest people accept ideas more readily when their minds are in story mode as opposed to when they are in an analytical mind-set. _ScientificAmerican
It is easy to lead someone along a certain path of thought, when you transport them in an attractive narrative vehicle. Most master storytellers are mature and disciplined enough to limit their unfair advantage over their listeners. But if a master storyteller is also a quintessential narcissist, he tries to maximise his power over his admirers.

We live in a society where most people never grow up. Lacking any meaningful rites of passage, being raised and "socialised" in age-isolated cohorts far away from the adult world of responsibility, we have a society made up of large numbers of "Peter Pans" and "Cinderellas." These psychological neotenates increasingly live on fantasy and wish fulfillment, rather than on self-reliant ambition and drive. They are plump fruit, ripe for the plucking. If one only has the right narrative that will appeal to their particular type, one might do just about anything.

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20 September 2008

Life in an Idiocracy: How Stupid is Too Stupid to Vote? When Democracy Breeds Tyrants

To vote in the US, a person must be:
  1. 18
  2. a US resident
  3. a resident of municipality for 30 days
The person needs to be breathing, but occasional exceptions can be made by creative voting officials and campaigns. There is no requirement for cognitive capacity, or ability to understand the issues underlying the differences between candidates' positions.The average population IQ of the US population is roughly 100, of the world's population well under 90. The standard deviation of population IQ is 15. Life in a high technology society is an uphill battle for those with IQ's below 85. In fact, one is hard-pressed to find any society on Earth with an average IQ below 85 that is able to maintain a high tech infrastructure without significant outside help. For "Idiocracies", democracy is a fast road to tyranny:
Young democracy, with weak institutions, often brings to power, at first, elected leaders who actually don't care that much about upholding democracy....This is a process now being repeated in Africa, Asia, and parts of Latin America, regions that once seemed destined to become the third and fourth waves of global democratization, following the original Western democracies and the second wave in southern Europe and several other regions. The pattern has become so noticeable - repeated in Venezuela, Russia, Bangladesh, and other states - that one must even wonder about democracy's future itself.

....In democracies still on unsure footing, weak institutions prove unable to hold these elected tyrants back. In Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, and many other nations, the media eventually submitted.... _Source
Democracy is neither good nor bad. Like nuclear energy, guns, genetic engineering--democracy is simply as good or bad as what is done with it. When golden-tongued populists seize the imagination of a coalition of the gullible, the wishful thinking, the corrupt, and the less intelligent, democracy can bring the worst and most corrupt elements into power.

We expect such results from democratic elections in the third world, where average IQs range in the 70s and 80s--at the verge of the ability to maintain a sustainable technological society. Human capital in these countries is limited, in the absence of a high IQ market minority (such as the Chinese in many Asian countries and a growing number of African countries). Democracy leads to tyranny when voters lack intelligence, insight into how societies work, and basic integrity-- predictably.

The same phenomenon may occur in the developed world, in enclaves possessing high concentrations of low-IQ voters. Repeated elections of Kwame Fitzpatrick, Ray Nagin, Chicago's Mayor Daley, and any number of other corrupt political kingpins illustrates the phenomenon nicely.

Democracy in an Idiocracy. As average IQ of the world's population drops, and third world immigration into the developed world accelerates, it will become a familiar concept.

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19 September 2008

Barak "Poppa Doc" Obama: President for Life

We are accustomed to the way heavy-handed third world dictators strong arm the media to restrict unfavourable news and comment. This year, the media in the western world is learning to accept the same type of discipline as CNN accepted from Saddam Hussein, or as Google accepts in Beijing. Idi Amin clearly has his Chicago admirers.
"As I began to finish the reporting for this article, I mentioned to an Obama aide that I was interested in the different ways that Obama presents himself to black and white audiences. The aide hit the roof over this comment, which he claimed was racially divisive, and soon I received a call from Obama’s “African-American outreach coordinator,” who apparently clarifies race issues for reporters when they are perceived to have strayed. “I appreciate what you’re saying,” said Corey Ealons, “but I think it’s dangerous, quite frankly.” He thought for a moment. “The spirit of this campaign is about bringing people together and focusing on the things that are similar about us as opposed to the things that make it different,” he said. “Barack is one of the best political communicators in our history. If you’re somehow saying that he can’t be the same person with all people, that’s certainly not the case.” He paused. “Barack Obama is Barack Obama,” he said." _iSteve
And if you think you might look a bit too deeply into Obama's past "achievements", think again. Obama has ways of shutting you up, chump.
Obama's presidential campaign is increasingly using the list to beat back media messages it does not like, calling on supporters to flood radio and television stations when those opposed to him run anti-Obama ads or appear on talk shows.

It did so as recently as Monday night, when it orchestrated a massive stream of complaints on the phone lines of Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM in Chicago when the radio station hosted author David Freddoso, who has written a controversial book about the Illinois Democrat.

....I've read Fredosso's book. If there are lies in it (and I didn't notice any), Obama should sue for libel....Obama won't actually own the airwaves and there is still that pesky First Amendment, but it appears that his team is working out a plan to use mobs to intimidate media outlets. _iSteve
By and large, the news and entertainment media are policing themselves to make sure they are all united in a pro-Obama message. But just in case individual journalists or news outlets get a bit uppity, Obama's brown-shirted mobs stand ready to do service in the name of the messiah, er king, er dear leader, er President For Life, er candidate.

Shutting up Sarah Palin by threatening Jewish organisations with loss of tax exemption: back to the Nazis?

Sarah Palin threatened with gang rape by Democratic Party supporter

Stuart Taylor has more

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18 September 2008

Controversy and Corruption Still Swirls Around Clinton Officials: Fannie Mae

The two persons most prominent in the collapse of Fannie Mae, are perennially corrupt and incompetent former Clinton officials Jamie Gorelick (pictured), and Franklin Raines.
At the top of the list we must place Franklin D. Raines, chairman and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae from 1998 to 2004. Raines, who served as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton, had previously worked at Fannie Mae as vice chairman. Before that, he worked on the Clinton transition team following the 1992 election. Before that, he was a general partner at Lazard Freres & Co. Raines, as the Wall Street Journal reported, was forced to leave Fannie Mae in 2004, when regulators discovered it had broken accounting rules "in an effort to conceal fluctuations in profit and hadn't maintained adequate risk controls." The New York Times reported two year ago that regulators "have said that of the $90 million paid to Mr. Raines from 1998 to 2003 at least $52 million—more than half—was tied to bonus targets that were reached by manipulating accounting." Raines agreed to a $24.7 million settlement with a federal regulator in exchange for charges being dropped, but he admitted no wrongdoing.

Next up is Jamie S. Gorelick, whose official résumé describes her as "one of the longest serving Deputy Attorneys General of the United States," a position she held during the Clinton administration. Although Gorelick had no background in finance, she joined Fannie Mae in 1997 as vice chair and departed in 2003. For her trouble, Gorelick collected a staggering $26.4 million in total compensation, including bonuses. Federal investigators (PDF) would later say that "Fannie Mae's management directed employees to manipulate accounting and earnings to trigger maximum bonuses for senior executives from 1998 to 2003." The New York Times would call the manipulations an "$11 billion accounting scandal." Gorelick, it should be noted, has never been charged with any wrongdoing. _Slate
Those are the two top names, the proximate although not ultimate causes of much of the turmoil sweeping Wall Street and Washington. If you read further in the above article, you should note the duplicitous sophistry of the author, in his attempt to involve others in the scandal who had no relationship to the corruption of the Clintons. But that is the media. Dishonest to a fault.

Jamie Gorelick was involved in other scandals--including creating the "wall of silence" between federal intelligence agencies which was still in place when the 9/11 terror attacks occurred in 2001, and was largely responsible for the intelligence breakdowns there. She is currently living a comfortable lifestyle, on extremely ill-gotten gains. No doubt both she and Raines are hoping for a cushy civil service job in the Obama administration.

Corruption was the name of the game under Clinton, and you can see it in action not just in the Enron and Fannie Mae scandals, but across the board in US society. George Stephanopoulos is a good example of mainstream corruption: posing as an objective news analyst, reporter, and anchor, while acting as a blatant political partisan both behind the scenes and on camera.

Unfortunately we will not be able to expect better from the Obama-Rezko-Daley administration. Corruption and Democratic Party politics are one and the same, sadly.

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What Warren Buffett Is Having

Warrent Buffett has purchased Constellation Energy for $4.7 billion in cash.
Billionaire Warren Buffett on Thursday said MidAmerican Energy Co. would buy Constellation Energy Group for $4.7 billion in cash -- a discount of nearly 60% from levels at which the ailing power firm's shares were trading just days ago. _MarketWatch_via_TomNelson
Here is a list of Constellation's energy holdings:
Out of its total 9,614 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (0.90% of the U.S. total), Constellation produces 44.2% from nuclear, 28.3% from coal, 13.0% from oil, 8.7% from natural gas, 4.7% from hydroelectricity, 1.2% from biomass, 0.2% from geothermal, and 0.1% from solar. Constellation owns power plants in California, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Utah; 59.1% of its generating capacity is in Maryland, and 25.2% is in New York.[3] _Source_via_TomNelson
Looking over the list of energy assetts, fickle wind power is conspicuous by its absence. Wind power is often listed as a great hope of the future--by idiots and airheads like Nancy Pelosi. The Democrats in the US Congress have brought the US to a most perilous and vulnerable energy state.

The recent offshore oil drilling bill is total illusion, meant to impress saps and fools unable to look beneath surface layer news. Yet it is the most that the Democrats have managed to do since they took an iron-fisted control of the Congress almost two years ago. If Obama messiah is elected with a strong Democratic majority in congress, expect US energy to hang by tenuous threads. People such as Buffett may be all that will be left standing between political energy starvation and the people of the US.

The US Democratic Party has fallen into the hands of religious fundamentalists of the faux environmentalist variety--Holy Warmers! Holy warmers believe in human sacrifice to their gods of faux environmentalism, such as climate change and peak oil. By gearing policies around a belief in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, they actually create political peak oil. Holy Warmers specialise in self-fulfilling prophecies, and in falsifying data of the pseudo-scientific variety. Barak Obama is an ideal messiah for Holy Warmers, adored by cultist the world around.

Fortunately, there are places where curious truth seekers can go to understand what is happening behind the media and religious smoke screens blown by politicians and celebrity members of the Holy Warmer Orthodoxy.

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Babies Are Being Poisoned in China

The Chinese Poison Train continues to roll down its toxic tracks. It is the smallest citizens that are paying the price in the latest scandal.
more than 6,000 babies had fallen ill and three died after drinking milk powder contaminated with a toxic chemical, as it vowed massive efforts to contain a widening food scandal.

In the latest debacle to tarnish the "Made in China" label, authorities admitted two of 22 companies found to have melamine in their milk powder were exporting abroad, and that tainted yogurt had been found in Hong Kong.

Melamine, a chemical normally used to make plastics and glues, appeared to have been added to make the products seem richer in protein, and China's two biggest dairy companies were among those found to have contaminated products.

"Everyone in our family is very worried," said Qi Yunzhong, a teacher at a primary school in northwest China's Gansu province whose son got kidney stones after drinking tainted milk powder.

"Every day there is a long line out in front of the hospital. The families are worried and everyone has stopped using milk powder," he told AFP by phone.

In Beijing, Health Minister Chen Zhu said 6,244 infants across the country had fallen ill and three died after consuming the milk powder over a period of many months.

The number of sick was up fivefold from official numbers given Tuesday. _SinoDaily
Apparently melamine was added to the products intentionally, to deceive nutritional testers into thinking the dairy products were higher in nutrition than they were. It is sometimes easy to forget that China is still a developing nation, without many of the safeguards that more developed nations have.

A scandal that strikes at the most innocent of Chinese is most dangerous in terms of inciting disaffection among the part of the population with children, or considering having children. China is particularly susceptible to rolling waves of dissent, due to the firm pressure on all unfavourable news kept on the media by the CCP propaganda ministry.


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