Monday, November 7, 2011

PBS's Primetime Television Poorly Researched

The people who produced the "Primetime Television" segment on women in television obviously didn't bother to research the wide variety of characters played by women in the fifties. PBS likes to bragg about having quality programming, but the episode on women is drivel.

They suffer from the delusion that the only roles available for women in the fifties were housewife roles. Actually housewife roles were in a minority. Even many sitcoms had women playing characters other than housewives, including Ann Sothern's highly rated "Private Secretary". Sothern subsequently appeared as an assistant hotel manager in the equally popular "The Ann Sothern Show".

Some people may have the delusion that women primarily played housewives because the family sitcoms from the fifties were more frequently rerun in subsequent decades then the dramas and action / adventure shows that provided women a wider variety of roles. Society in the fifties attempted to prepare young girls to become housewives and mothers. Fifties television demonstrated that women could do other things including running their own businesses.

Primetime Television devoted an excessive amount of space to misrepresenting Mary Tyler Moore's character Mary Richards on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" as being the first "independent woman". They apparently forgot that Rose Marie had appeared as television writer Sally Rogers on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" on which Moore had played Laura Petrie. Actually independent female characters had been appearing on television since "My Friend Irma" in 1952.

The character Mary Richards was much less independent than many of the earlier female characters. Ann Sothern's characters on "Private Secretary" and "The Ann Sothern Show" were much stronger than Richards.

The character Lois Lane on "Superman" makes Richards look like a wimp and a klutz. Lane was a serious journalist and didn't mind taking risks to get a story. Lane not only wanted to beat other reporters to the story, she wanted to solve crimes before the police did. Noel Neill who played Lois Lane for most of the show's run later toured college campuses. She told a reporter for the University of Kansas student newspaper "The Daily Kansan" in early 1972 that she often had young women come up to her and tell that her character had sparked their interest in a journalism career.

Mary Richards was an employee of a male run television station. Dale Evans played a truly independent woman on the popular "Roy Rogers Show" in the fifties. Her character Dale Evans owned a cafe with a male employee. She often ignored the advice of Roy Rogers and played a major role in catching the bad guys.

In an episode recently broadcast on RFD-TV Evans walked into a house where bank robbers were holding a family hostage by pretending she was just visiting the mother and baby even though she was wearing a six gun just like the men. She forced one of the robbers into a closet and then shot through the bedroom door at the outlaws in the living room to protect the mother and baby. Her action allowed Roy Rogers to come in behind the other two robbers.

In the sixties Anne Francis appeared as the owner of a private detective agency on "Honey West". Honey West, like Diane Rigg's character Emma Peel on "The Avengers", could subdue the bad guys using martial arts skills.

The fifties had many anthology dramatic programs, including "The Loretta Young Show". Young appeared in many roles. One week she might play a nun seeking to improve morale at a hospital, a judge another week and in another week a self centered businesswoman best described with the b-word.

Primetime Television illogically compares women in modern dramatic programs to sitcom characters from the fifties.

Anyone wishing to compare modern dramatic programs to the fifties need to examine the fifties dramatic programs rather than fifties sitcoms. Comparisons of sitcom characters from the fifties should only be made to characters on more recent sitcoms, including programs like "Home Improvement", "Married with Children" and "Seinfeld". Comparing dramatic characters to sitcom characters is going to make the sitcom characters appear less complicated because complex characters don't work very well in sitcoms.

Comparing the fifties sitcom housewives to the female characters on shows like "Friends" and "Married with Children" could support a claim that television is doing a poorer job of portraying women. If Primetime Television wanted to make a serious comparison of how television portrayed women in the fifties and today, it would have compared the characters Betty White played in "Life with Elizabeth" and "Date with the Angels" in the fifties to her current character in "Hot in Cleveland". White has appeared in various sitcoms over the last 60 years. A study of her various characters, including those from shows that didn't catch on, might be very interesting.

In the fifties women could appear in many different roles involving many occupations. June Lockhart, who is best known as the mother of Timmy on "Lassie" and the mother on "Lost in Space", appeared as a frontier doctor in a couple of episodes of "Have Gun will Travel". Mary Tyler Moore played a bank clerk in an episode of "Surfside 6"

Not all fifties housewives were obedient. Alice Kramden routinely told off her oversize husband Ralph on "The Honeymooners". On the "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episode "Lamb to the Slaughter" Barbara Bel Geddes played a young pregnant housewife who killed her police officer husband with a frozen leg of lamb after he told her he was leaving her for another woman. She then put the lamb in the over and went to the store to establish an alibi before returning home to discover the body. Later in the evening she served the lamb to the officers investigating the murder.

Bel Geddes wasn't the only woman to play a criminal in the fifties. Barbara Billingsley, June Cleaver on "Leave it to Beaver", played a smuggler whose partners mysteriously died on an episode of "The Lone Wolf". Frances Bavier, Aunt B on "Andy Griffith", played the leader of an outlaw gang on an episode of "The Lone Ranger".

French sociologist Jacques Ellul uses the term "prepropaganda" to describe information received before a "propaganda campaign" that makes people more inclined to accept the claims of the propaganda. Incidentally, Ellul uses the term propaganda to include true statements that are presented to support come claim.

References to the women's movement failed to mention the possibility that the non-housewife characters on fifties television made women more willing to recognize that women could do other things besides being a housewife. Women might not have remembered specific instances of seeing women work as doctors or as business owners, but that information was in their subconscious memory

Society might have told girls that their goals should be to becomes wives and mothers, but television was showing them that they might have other options.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Early 50's TV "Feminist" Returns to TV

Television in the fifties at times was very liberated in its portrayal of women as being able to perform many different jobs.

This statement may come as a surprise to those who think of female television characters in the fifties in terms of sitcom housewives like June Cleaver on "Leave it to Beaver". It may be an even bigger surprise that "liberated" women were often found on television westerns.

Dale Evans was one of the first to appear on TV in what would normally be considered a male role. On the "Roy Rogers Show" she ran a cafe with a male employee in a western town. When necessary she would strap on her six gun and help Roy and the sheriff catch the bad guys just like the male heroes. Dale could shoot the guns out of the bad guys' hands just as well as Roy could. In the first episode Dale put on a shooting demonstration at a local celebration.

Dale was married to Roy in real life, but on the show both were single. Both used their real names on the show.

The program referred to Roy as "King of the Cowboys" and Dale as the "Queen of the West". Ironically, the "King of the cowboys" was part Choctaw.

An interesting aspect of the show is that it was set in the contemporary era. Motor vehicles appeared at times, especially a jeep named Nelly belle, but most of the time the characters were riding horses.across country in an area which seemed to have a shortage of improved roads.

RFD-TV has brought back "The Roy Rogers Show" after purchasing Roy's stuffed horse Trigger. The network specializes in rural oriented programming including shows dealing with farming and ranching. It's schedule also includes cooking shows, travel shows and various music shows including old music programs such as "Hee Haw". Dolly Parton fans can see her on the old "Porter Waggoner" program. Loretta Lynn is a regular on "The Wilburn Brothers Show".

Dale Evans wasn't the only woman who helped enforce the law in old westerns. Gail Davis portrayed "Little Sure Shot" "Annie Oakley". Annie was the sheriff's niece and helped the deputy catch the bad guys when her uncle was in "another part of the county". She was usually the one who figured out who committed the crimes. A couple of episodes of the "Gene Autry Show" even had women sheriffs.

Incidentally, many western bad "guys" were women, including a woman banker on "Roy Rogers" who killed farmers with mortgages so she could sell the farms to someone else.

Saloon owners often were prominent characters in westerns and some of those saloon owners were women, particularly Miss Kitty Russell (Amanda Blake) on "Gunsmoke". Like Dale Evans she had a male employee who took orders from her.

Lily Merrill (Peggy Castle) was a similar character on "Lawman" which is currently running on Encore's Western Channel. An earlier female saloon owner on the program was a killer who was able to get away with her crimes until the Lawman convinced the judge to seat an all female jury. She decided to plead guilty.

Women appeared in various roles on other westerns including operating stage lines, owning ranches and even participating in trail drives. "Timmy's mom" June Lockhart appeared in a couple of episodes of "Have Gun Will Travel" (also on the Western channel) as a frontier doctor.

Characters like those played by Dale Evans and Amanda Blake provided girls growing up in the 50's with female role models who weren't wives and mothers.

In a previous post I criticized the new "Charlie's Angels" which has now been cancelled. I wasn't the only one who recognized it was a bad show.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Democrats Need a Bobby Kennedy Now

If Democrats want to win next year's presidential election, they need a new candidate. President Barack Obama has very little chance of being reelected in the current economic situation because he is clueless about how to deal with the economy.

His so-called "jobs bill" is just more of the same approach that hasn't worked. Then there is the ticking time bomb in the deficit proposal he foolishly agreed to.

The election laws in 1968 allowed potential presidential challengers to wait until the primary season had begun to enter the race. Sen. Robert Kennedy had the opportunity to reconsider his decision to not run for president in 1968 after it became obvious that fellow Democrat President Lyndon Johnson was unlikely to win reelection. Kennedy decided to run after Johnson's poor showing in the New Hampshire primary running against largely unknown Sen. Eugene McCarthy. Many of those who voted for McCarthy falsely believed that McCarthy, who opposed the War in Vietnam, wanted a stronger war effort

Two weeks after Kennedy announced he would run, Johnson dropped out of the race because of the situation in Vietnam.

Kennedy was well on the way to winning the nomination when he was stopped by an assassin's bullet. Had he won the nomination, it is very likely he would have defeated Republican candidate Richard Nixon. The assassination of Kennedy caused the Democrats to nominate Vice President Hubert Humphrey instead.

Obama's consistently low approval ratings indicate he has little chance of reelection. Democrats shouldn't let themselves be misled by worthless public opinion polls showing how he would supposedly do against potential Republican candidates. Most voters aren't paying close attention to those running for the Republican nomination and their final decisions may be influenced by whatever ads the Republican candidate and private groups run next fall.

Democrats need a dynamic candidate who knows how to appeal to independent voters. Considering the low opinion voters have of Congress, the strongest candidate would be someone from outside of Washington.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Palestinian U.N. Membership a Very Bad Precedent

Granting United Nations membership to the Palestinians would create a vary dangerous precedent. The Palestinians aren't the only ethnic group that desire to have their own country independent of the one in which they live. Nor are they the only group that has used violence to try to gain independence.

The Kurds have long desired to set up a country they would call Kurdistan including land currently a part of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran. If the U.N. grants membership to the Palestinians, shouldn't it also grant membership to Kurdistan? The Kurds have their own culture and language.

The Palestinians are a collection of Arab peoples who happen to live within the boundaries of the nation of Israel. They are called Palestinians not because they have a unique culture like the Kurds, but because they aren't Jewish. The term "Palestine" was used by the Romans to refer to a geographic region rather than any specific ethnic group.

Might the area of Chechnya also qualify for U.N. membership? What about the Basque region of Spain? Could Tibetans argue that they should have U.N. membership even though the Chinese currently occupy the country?

If the Palestinians should get their own country because they are Muslims, what about the Uighur Muslims in China?

Many other countries have groups that might want their own country if they thought it were possible, particularly in those areas of the world where European nations arbitrarily forced different ethnic groups to live in the same country. Granting U.N. membership to the Palestinians would encourage members of these groups to develop nationalist aspirations.

There is nothing special about the Palestinians. Many groups of people would like to have their own nations. The U.N. cannot arbitrarily grant membership to the Palestinians and ignore the aspirations of the Kurds, Basques, etc.

Nations that are considering voting for Palestinian membership should make sure they don't have groups that might make a similar request.

Over the last several thousand years regions of the Middle East have been controlled by whatever ethnic groups have been strongest at the time. Some groups such as the Persians and Assyrians have established empires. Others such as the Israelites have been content to control only small areas. The current situation in Israel has been occurred many times in the past and will likely to be repeated in one country or another in the future.

The U.N. should not attempt to arbitrarily adjust national boundaries or decide which groups should have their own countries. Many of the ethnic problems in Asia and Africa are due in part to the arbitrary national boundaries imposed by imperialistic European nations If the Palestinians, Kurds or other groups want their own nations they should handle their own situations rather having the U.N. impose a solution from outside.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Evolution Implies Intelligent Design

If evolutionists are correct that biological life developed through a process of gradual changes, then it is far more likely that some type of Intelligence Designed life rather than that life developed without any intelligent controls.

Development through gradual change is the process humans use to produce things from automobiles to literary works to computer programs. The original automakers developed a simple vehicle with some type of motor, wheels, chassis, etc. Subsequent engineers modified these various components to produce faster, more efficient and safer vehicles.

Two groups of True Believers control the debate over the origin of life. The Evolutionists believe that life could only have developed from one original cell through a slow process of gradual changes that was not controlled by any type of Intelligent Being. Creationists believe that God created life and the only way God could have created life was to zap each individual species into existence fully developed.

Creationists don't explain why God would go to the trouble of designing life that can develop from a microscopic sized cell to something the size of an elephant or whale and then initially make each one fully developed instead of creating the cells and letting them develop in some nutrient rich medium. A being capable of creating a universe would be capable of creating an environment in which individual cells could develop into fully sized forms.

Nor do they explain where this belief comes from. Genesis says for the various life forms that God commanded the earth to "bring forth" and the earth "brought forth". That does not indicate God created each species separately. It indicates He ordered the earth to produce various classes of life forms such as plants or fish.

Both groups misunderstand the concept of Intelligent Design. The Intelligence wouldn't necessarily be the God of Abraham. The Designer might be inhabitants of a distant planet who put the necessarily biological products in comets and sent them throughout the galaxy. A Designer might have controlled the initial development of biological life and then allowed it to change without control. The Designer probably would not have made the first member of each species fully developed as Creationists believe.

Both Creation and Evolution involve ancient ideas. Charles Darwin didn't invent the idea of one species becoming another, he merely tried to come up with an argument for it. The ancient Tibetan religion went so far as to suggest that humans descended from monkeys. Darwin only suggested that humans and apes have a common ancestor.

The biggest argument for Intelligent Design is the extremely sophisticated characteristics of biological life, especially animal life. Presumably intelligent humans have only recently developed the necessary knowledge to duplicate the ability of the sophisticated audio input output "devices", video input devices, etc. possessed by animals. It seems unlikely such devices could just have happened to develop.

The cell itself can be described as a computer because, like a computer, when it receives an input, it checks its memory for the appropriate instruction and then executes that instruction. Biologists refer to the bases that make up the DNA molecule using four letters, but they can also be represented by "zeros" and "ones" like in a computer. Each link in the DNA molecule consists of one set of bases or the other("0" or "1"). Within a link one member of the set or the other ("0" or "1") is attached to a specific side.

One approach an Intelligent Designer might have been likely to have used would have been to create one cell to serve as a prototype. The Designer could then have added different modifications to the daughter cells of that original cell. A Designer unaffected by time might periodically have changed the design of life forms for various reasons including being bored with the older life forms.

An Intelligent Designer could have developed subsystems like eyes, hearts, etc. by making specific genetic changes, but development of such subsystems through random genetic changes would be mathematically improbable at best.

Evolutionists ignore the fact that an environment capable of producing one cell would almost certainly produce millions of cells that would probably have begun with subtle differences. Such cells could have had the ability to produce different sets of DNA and then "share" DNA when one cell ate another.

Creationists and Evolutionists would have more believable theories if they would switch one of the components of their theories. Creationists should be claiming that God started with a single cell and developed different species from it. Evolutionists should claim that different species developed from separate cells with the necessary DNA to produce animals with hearts, skeletons, etc. as the animal developed.

She Spies Back As Charlie's Angels

"She Spies"
was an NBC show that aired from September, 2004, through May, 2004. The show used a similar format to Aaron Spelling's 70's ABC series "Charlie's Angels".

Like "Charlie's Angels", "She Spies" featured three women with a male supervisor who battled evil doers.

There were three major differences. The "Spies" worked for a government spy agency rather than a private detective agency like the "Angels". The "Angels" had been "good girls" who had become bored with the job duties they had had as police officers. The "Spies" were bad girls who were let out of jail to work for the government. The "Angels" used their wits and feminine charms to outsmart the evil doers. The "Spies" used martial arts much like Emma Peel on the 60's series "The Avengers".

Oh, there is one other difference, at least to my eyes. The "Angels" were much better looking than the "Spies".

The new "Charlie's Angels" involves the Townsend Detective Agency like the original show and Charlie only communicates with his Angels by phone with a man named Bosley serving as their immediate supervisor. However, the new "Angels" resemble the "She Spies" more than the original "Angels".

The new "Angels" are bad girls like the "Spies". One had been a cop, but she was a "dirty cop". They are martial arts experts like the "Spies".

The first episodes of the two series have an interesting similarity. One of the "She Spies" was temporarily incapacited and they needed to bring in another "bad girl" from jail as a temporary replacement. On the new "Charlie's Angels" one of the "Angels" is murdered and they have to hire another bad girl, who was a friend of the woman who was killed, as a replacement.

The first episode begins with the Angels kicking in a door and assaulting the kidnappers to rescue a teen who has been kidnapped by sex traffickers. Then as they are leaving the area one of the Angels is blown up in her car.

The woman who becomes the new Angel is suspected by the Angels of killing their partner. When they go to her boat to ask her about it, the bad guys start firing at the boat with a machine gun from a helicopter. The show ends with them beating up the bad guy in charge of the kidnapping operation.

If the first episode indicates what the rest of the series will be like, ABC needs to switch the show to the last hour of prime time from the first hour. The show is too violent for that time period. The show time is strange considering that the nonviolent "Body of Proof" airs in the third hour of prime time.

The new "Charlie's Angels" isn't ABC's first venture with women who are experts in martial arts. ABC produced "the Avengers" and the short lived "Honey West" series in the 60's. Both series are available on DVD and would be a better choice for viewers even though "Honey West" was in black and white. The Diana Rigg (Emma Peel) episodes of "the Avengers" are particularly worth watching and not just because TV Guide picked Diana Rigg as the sexiest woman of the first 50 years of television. Even in black and white, Anne Francis is sexier than any of the new "Charlie's Angels"

Martial arts fans have an opportunity to see the original martial arts master, Bruce Lee, in action as Kato in reruns of "Green Hornet" on YOUTV.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do Rich Deserve Their Money?

I'm getting tired of Republicans crying that the "poor" rich shouldn't have to pay any more of "their" money in federal taxes. Republicans falsely claim that allowing those with high incomes to pay lower taxes will result in creation of new jobs.

Perhaps that is the case with entrepreneurs like Donald Trump or the owners of small businesses.

However, many, if not most, of those with high incomes, including corporate CEO's, work for someone else. They aren't going to use any tax cut money to create new jobs at their employers' businesses. Many corporate executives look for ways to reduce the number of people working at their companies so more money will be available to pay them.

How many high income people really deserve the income they receive? The Wall Street executives who wrecked the companies they worked for certainly didn't deserve the large bonuses they received from President Barack Obama.

In 2005, federal prosecutors got a conviction of Westar CEO David Wittig and assistant Douglas Lake for looting the corporation to increase their own income. However, a Supreme Court ruling favorable to corporate executives receiving questionable compensation caused the conviction to be overturned and prevented another successful prosecution. Wittig had been previously convicted of a crooked loan scheme with a Topeka banker who increased Wittig's line of credit so Wittig could loan him money for a real estate venture.

NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman told Jay Leno recently that the NBA really needed to restructure its labor contract because many teams were paying players $20 million a year just to sit on the bench. Fans sometimes complain that some highly paid athletes don't play like they deserve what they are being paid.

The Christian Science Monitor reported in 2010 that 30 private college presidents had incomes of over one million. How can anyone justify paying a college president a million a year, particularly considering the high cost of college? Millionaire college presidents aren't likely to use their "tax cut" money to create jobs. If they were interested in creating new jobs they would take lower salaries.

Some major colleges pay athletic coaches million dollar salaries as if they were profit making businesses rather than charitable organizations. College coaches are unlikely to use any tax cut money to create new jobs. They are in coaching to make as much money as they can.

The sports programs they work for are preoccupied with making money. Schools jump from conference to conference depending upon how much money they can make. Congress needs to consider taxing major college sports programs like professional sports teams. At the very least Congress should eliminate the practice of allowing tax deductible "contributions" to major college sports programs. Tax deductions for payments to organizations should be eliminated to those organizations that exist to help others. College sports programs exist to make a profit in the form of high pay for sports employees.

Colleges aren't the only "charities" that help their executives and coaches get rich. Some charities pay very high salaries to their top executives. Many environmental organizations pay multiple executives over $200,000 per year.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America at one time was paying its CEO nearly a million in salary and benefits. The March of Dimes CEO has received over $600,000 a year.

Actor Charlie Sheen might have used some of his tax cut money for some "fun dates" but not to create permanent jobs. A few actors may finance their own movies and touring singers may be responsible for paying band members and "roadies". How many overpaid actors use tax cut money to hire anyone other than domestic staff for their mansions.

If income were based on one's contribution to the welfare of society, farm workers would be much better paid than entertainers.

If Republicans want to use the tax system to encourage business owners to add jobs, Congress should allow deduction for any expenses, including equipment purchases, associated with hiring new employees. This approach would reward those who hire new employees. The Republican approach rewards those owners who don't hire new employees by allowing them to keep more of their incomes. The Republican approach also rewards those who have no interest in using the income they receive from their employers to hire new workers.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thoughts on 9/11

I learned about the 9/11 attack a little later than most people. I worked second shift and usually got up around 10:30.

When the clock radio came on the announcer wasn't making much sense to a brain that wasn't completely awake. He was saying something about the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney with the word "unprecedented" being mentioned. I thought at first that something had happened to Cheney.

I went into the living room and turned on the television to one of the news channels. With the frequent replays of the morning's events it took some time for me to determine what had already happened and what was happening at that time.

I was glad that ABC New Commentator Paul Harvey had returned to work by 9/11. He had been off for an extended period due to a throat problem, but had returned in August. Harvey had a positive attitude and frequently reminded his listeners that whatever the situation was it wasn't as bad as it seemed. He recognized that emphasizing the negative made the situation seem worse than it was.

I wasn't surprised that something like the 9/11 attack had happened. I wasn't expecting anything of that scale, but I was expecting more terrorist attacks such as those that had been happening against American interests elsewhere in the world

The media had been reporting lapses in airline security for some time, so I wasn't surprised that terrorists might hijack airplanes. There had been movies about terrorists using aircraft in this manner. I wouldn't have expected President George W. Bush to anticipate such a possibility but the people at the FBI and the CIA should have.

U.S. support for the tyrant known as the Shah of Iran had led to an attack on the American embassy in Tehran after the Iranian people overthrew him.

After I learned the identities of the suspected hijackers I realized I was right that the decision to base American forces in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War was a very bad idea. Western nations, including the U.S., have been pushing around Middle Eastern countries for too long.

The basing of American forces in what Muslims regard as their Holy Land may have been enough to push some Saudis over the edge and provoke them to commit suicide by flying planes into various American buildings. The U.S. had ignored the significance of a previous attack on American forces in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government might have welcomed American bases to protect them from Iraq, but may of their citizens viewed the bases as the home of an foreign occupation force.

American leaders often seem ignorant of the fact that members of other cultures sometimes view the world and military conflicts differently from Americans. The failure to recognize this difference in viewpoint hampered the U.S. war effort in Vietnam.

I learned from one of the recent broadcast 9/11 related documentaries that Osama bin Laden had wanted the U.S. to invade Afghanistan because he believed the U.S. would lose. Bin Laden may not have contemplated a traditional military victory. Instead of a traditional victory he may have been thinking in terms of dragging out the fighting until Americans got tired of the battles and left like they did in Vietnam.

North Vietnam never won a major battle in Vietnam until two years after American forces left. The Tet offensive was not a communist victory because they couldn't keep any places they took and much of the Viet Cong was destroyed. When the U.S. left Vietnam its allies were in charge of the government that controlled South Vietnam which was the American goal in Vietnam. However, the American media had previously decided the war was lost because it lasted so long.

Bin Laden may have been hoping for a similar outcome. Dragging out the fighting until Americans decided they couldn't "win" would allow him, or his successors, to claim they had defeated the "Great Satan" and use the "victory" as a recruiting tool.

The 9/11 attack was the start of a war that is continuing. We cannot afford to abandon the war effort just because the war appears to be endless. Americans often mistakenly claim that the Vietnam War was the nation's longest war. Actually Vietnam was merely a conflict within the long running Cold War, as was the Korean War. America stood firm in the Cold War and eventually the enemy quit.

We must continue to stand up to the terrorists because if we don't take the war to them, they may bring the war back to us. One of the reasons the terrorists haven't launched another major attack on the U.S. is because they are busy fighting our army.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Reminding Americans of 9/11

I suspect that many Americans will ignore the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks unless they are reminded in a way they cannot ignore.

When people know they are in a war they often use sirens to warn when the enemy is attacking. No sirens were sounded to warn of 9/11 because Americans didn't realize they were under attack until the attacks were over. The only plane for which a warning was given was brought down by its heroic passengers before it could reach its target.

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks provides an opportunity to remind Americans that the fact 9/11 happened means not only that such an attack can happen, but it could happen again if we become as complacent as we were ten years ago.

No sirens sounded on 9/11/2001, but we could sound sirens this year to remind Americans that we are still in danger of a potential attack.

For those in the Eastern time zone, storm sirens would sound at the exact time of each plane crash. In the Central time zone, cities might do like they do with television and sound the sirens while they are sounding in the Eastern time zone. Due to the early hour of the first attacks, sirens in the Mountain time zone and farther west, particularly in Alaska and Hawaii, might sound at the same time of day as the attacks. The Central time zone might want to consider a similar approach.

In communities without storm sirens, emergency vehicle sirens might be used. Truck air horns could be used in place in rural areas where there aren't any emergency vehicles. Church bells were often used to warn of danger in the past and could be used along with sirens or instead of sirens. This action would be particularly appropriate considering the anniversary will be on Sunday.

In addition to, or instead of, the sirens, the emergency alert system for radio and television might transmit a reminder at the time of each attack. There were four crashes and we have four living former presidents. Perhaps each of them could remind people of one of the attacks.

I've been watching 9/11 documentaries the last week. Some of them have mentioned the failure to recognize the significance of information indicating the attack threat even among those whose profession was to watch for such threats. A national feeling that the continental U.S. was some how immune from any significant foreign attack may have prevented people at the FBI and CIA from recognizing the threat.

These professionals had forgotten that a similar failure to recognize a potential threat had allowed the Japanese to pull off a highly successful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. There is a theory that President Franklin Roosevelt withheld intelligence information from Pearl Harbor commanders. Commanders at Pearl Harbor should have recognized there was a threat of attack without inside information because there was a war on.

Terrorist attacks had occurred in other parts of the world before 9/11. People at the FBI and CIA should have been watching for any signs that someone might attack America itself.

The fact that no major attack has happened since 2001 may be causing some to feel the problem of terrorist attacks has been solved. Those who feel this way are ignoring the fact that the terrorists most likely to get away with such an attack have been busy fighting our military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those attempting terrorist acts in the U.S. have been individuals who don't have the ability of the 9/11 hijackers or those who have conducted terrorist acts outside the U.S. Some would be local terrorists have been so careless they have made the mistake of letting undercover officers become a part of their conspiracies.

There are a couple of interesting 9/11 series currently running. "Inside 9/11" on the National Geographic Channel is an investigative series. "Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero" on the Discovery and Science channels deals with replacing the World Trade Center. The episodes "Reclaiming the Skyline" follows construction of the tallest new building. One of the iron workers the show focuses on had a father who was injured building the original World Trade Center.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Labor Day Won't Be the Same

For 45 years watching The Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon was what millions of families did on Labor Day. The Telethon was to Labor Day what fireworks were to the 4th of July and a turkey dinner to Thanksgiving.

This year the Muscular Dystrophy Association has decided to replace this holiday tradition with a television show on Labor Day Eve. The 6-hour program will still be called a telethon, but Jerry Lewis won't be there and it won't be live for most viewers unless MDA has different programs for each time zone. The program will start at 6 P.M. local time in each time zone and end at midnight. Perhaps even the Eastern Time Zone will get a taped broadcast.

I hope the new approach works, but I doubt that a 6-hour program can do what the event did.

The old telethon was an event with activities throughout the day. Families would turn the tv on when they got up to see how much money had been raised. They would see if there were any fund raising activities they wanted to participate in. Perhaps they would go to the Mall or take advantage of a special offer at a local restaurant.

In some homes kids would tell their parents "I want to go out and collect money for Jerry's Kids." After they collected the money their parents would take them to the tv station or other location to turn the money in and possibly be seen on television while they were doing it.

Many of today's parents had celebrated Labor Day in this manner since they were kids.

The daytime format allowed for people to participate in more fund raising events. The new format will limit the number of outside fund raising events because the program is so late in the day. Most of the program will be on after dark, making it difficult for people to decide what events to attend with their children. By the time they learn of the events on the program, it may be too late to get to the event and back home. It's unlikely children will be able to go out and collect money to take to the station.

A major advantage of the old time choice was that people who worked during the day didn't regularly watch any daytime programs so they didn't have to miss a favorite program to watch the telethon. This year's prime time program will have to convince viewers of regular programs like "60 Minutes" to watch the telethon instead. Other competition includes "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and, for Texans, a football game between Southern Methodist University and Texas A & M.

Many potential viewers attend church services on Sunday evening or engage in other evening activities. I suspect one reason the old telethon got so many pledges late in the telethon was due to those who had spent the weekend at the lake or beach returning home on Monday afternoon. People who are at the lake Sunday evening probably won't watch the telethon although they might record it.

The decision to go with a prime time variety show ignores the fate of prime time variety shows. They have trouble attracting viewers unless the show includes a contest like "American Idol" or "Dancing with the Stars". Even Jay Leno couldn't attract viewers in prime time. The telethon used to start in prime time on Sunday night, but, at least on WGN and KAKE (Wichita), the start had been broadcast on a delayed basis.

Although the stars listed on the website can qualify as superstars, even superstars have trouble attracting a broad audience in today's musical entertainment world which makes it difficult for variety shows to attract a large prime time audience. . The musical world is fractured into various genres. Paul McCartney is one of the few superstars left from the 60's when many singers had a broad popular appeal. Most who could appeal to a variety of audiences, like Johnny Cash and Ray Charles, are dead.

I don't know about other viewers, but one aspect I liked about the old long telethon was the opportunity to see performers who weren't likely to appear on other shows. We had the opportunity to hear or see new performers as well as the established performers.

For many of us the stars weren't the only reason to watch the old telethon. Those with MD who appeared over several years became like neighbors or members of the family. I remember a couple of kids on the Wichita telethon with a non-fatal form of MD who grew up in front of our eyes. I watch the WGN satellite station as well as the Wichita station to keep up with Romania's "perfect 10" gymnast Nadia Comaneci and her husband, American gymnast Bart Conner.

A major advantage of the old live format was the ability to show how much money had been raised. People could watch the amount build. That won't be possible with the new format because the show will be ending in the Eastern Time Zone long before it does in the Pacific Time Zone. One possible reason for late donations on the old telethon was due to concern it might not raise as much as the previous year and potential donors didn't want to disappoint Jerry.

The MDA Telethon became a national institution in large part because Jerry Lewis was one of the greatest entertainers of the mid-20th Century. Jamie Foxx is the only younger performer who is currently in the same class as Lewis, although some others might eventually achieve that status.

MDA would have been much better off if Lewis had headed the first program in the new format. Many would have watched just to see his last MDA appearance. Some would have donated more to provide him with a good send off. The failure to explain why Lewis isn't going to be on this year is likely to cause some to skip this year's telethon because many assume the worst when explanations aren't provided.

I suppose it's too late for local stations to decide to go ahead and have a local Labor Day telethon without the benefit of a national show, but if they can do so they should try to. Alternatively, they should consider starting their telethons early in the afternoon to encourage people to participate in fundraising events.

Local stations will have to do extensive advertising that emphasizes the new time. Regular viewers may ignore reminders to watch the show if the ads don't prominently state the show will be on Sunday night instead of being a Monday telethon. Frequent stories on newscasts would be desirable. Many viewers may not discover the new time until they turn the tv on late on Sunday night. Some who go to bed early on Sunday night may get up Monday morning and wonder why they can't find the telethon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Is Physicist Stephen Hawking Overrated?

Professor Stephen Hawking's support for the global warming myth raises doubts about his knowledge of physics.

Professor Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" is one of the books I would like to reread if I could find the time. However, after learning that he supports the global warming myth I would read the book a little more critically than I did the first time.

Hawking says he's concerned about earth becoming as hot as Venus, but the alleged "greenhouse effect" cannot explain temperatures on Venus as I noted in my previous post.

I hope that Hawking is simply repeating something he's been told, but hasn't taken time to examine. If Hawking took the time to examine both sides of the debate over global warming he would realize that global warming is based on a long discredited 19th Century theory that is inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics. The so called greenhouse effect represents a form of perpetual motion machine that is inconsistent with accepted thermodynamic theories

Jean Baptist Joseph Fourier claimed in 1827 that greenhouses worked by allowing in sunlight and then trapping the infrared radiation produced inside to heat the greenhouse. R. W. Wood disproved this theory in a 1909 experiment that indicated no significant difference in temperature between a greenhouse that "trapped" IR and one that was transparent to IR. In fact in the initial run of the experiment the transparent greenhouse heated faster because the one that reflected IR reflected incoming solar IR back into space.

The greenhouse in R.W. Wood's experiment trapped a much broader spectrum of IR than CO2 interacts with. If that greenhouse didn't heat up more than a greenhouse that didn't "trap" IR, then how can anyone believe that CO2 could cause heating by interacting with IR.

The whole idea that a gas comprising less than 0.04% of the atmosphere can determine its temperature by interacting with a small range of infrared radiation (IR) sounds more like magic than science.

The data that those who claim global warming say supports warming temperatures in the 20th Century is inadequate for that purpose. They claim only a 0.25% increase which could easily result from changes in equipment or inaccuracies in the thermometers used in 1900 which were not as accurate as those used today. Changes in the thermal characteristics of the thermometer sites could explain the increase, particularly considering that many of today's sites are at airports with heat producing asphalt that did not exist in 1900.

A change of only 0.25% might be significant in the controlled conditions of a laboratory with precision equipment, but not in the open air with equipment that may not always be in good operating condition.

Mathematicians Bjarne Andresen, Christopher Essex and Ross McKitrick have pointed out that the idea of a global average temperature is absurd. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".

Most real scientists, including social scientists, gave up using broad averages decades ago because such averages cover up too much information. For example, in climate the amount of time the temperature is above or below freezing is more important than the average temperature of the region because long periods of below freezing temperatures favors snow/ice cover and long periods of above freezing temperatures favors melting. Snow melts depend upon heat distribution not any global average. Significant melting could occur even if global temperatures were cooler because melting snow absorbs heat and cools the air. In order to melt, a single gram of snow must absorb enough heat to cool 80 grams of water 1 C.

Temperatures went up and down in the 20th Century while the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere gradually increased. The heat generated by human activity also increased and would be the more likely cause of any human caused heating. Replacement of plant covered areas by pavement also directly causes heating of the air.

Hawking has apparently failed to read the essay by Dr. Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner - (Falsification of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effects Within the Framework of Physics�) which points out the claim of greenhouse gases and a greenhouse effect conflict with established physics theories.

Hawking may also be unaware that NASA scientist Ferenc Miskolczi has revealed that the equation used to calculate catastrophic warming contains a major flaw. The equation falsely assumed an atmosphere of infinite thickness. Such a condition might be consistent with a black hole, but not the planet earth.

The claim that CO2 has some ability to control air temperature is a cancer growing on science. Many astrophysicists believe that the earth is about to enter a period of colder temperature associated with the sun entering a portion of a centuries long cycle in which it is less active. If the astrophysicists are correct, all of science may be discredited if the claim that global warming is based on science has not been abandoned.

A major difference between science and religion is that science relies on verification through repeated observation and experimentation while religion relies on acceptance of beliefs. The experiment that examined heating in a greenhouse demonstrated that trapping IR didn't cause higher temperatures. Unfortunately, those who believe that humans can control the environment through changes in a minor atmospheric gas aren't interested in scientific proof.

If Professor Hawking wants to protect science he needs to talk to those scientists who question global warming and then change his opinion.

Venus Not an Example of Greenhouse Gas Effect

Global warming groups falsely claim Venus provides an example of what they call the greenhouse gas effect. According to the greenhouse gas theory, the sun heats the surface of a planet and the atmosphere prevents infrared radiation (IR) from leaving which causes heating. Even if the theory about "trapping" had not been disproved in 1909 by R. W. Wood , the sun cannot be heating the surface of Venus to a temperature of 460 C.

Mercury's surface temperature only reaches 425 C and it is closer to the sun. Mercury's surface doesn't have an atmosphere that reflects 75% of the incoming solar radiation like Venus has. Thus solar radiation cannot be causing the high temperature of Venus. The surface of Venus even receives less solar radiation than earth's surface.

If the sun were heating Venus, there should be a temperature gradient with the highest temperature in the daylight area and the lowest temperature on the night area. Instead the temperature is the same in both areas as well as the same at the poles and the equator.

The only plausible explanation is that there is no significant heat input from outside. The atmosphere of Venus is more likely to be hot because the solid portion of the planet is hot and distributes that heat uniformly to the surface.

One explanation could be that Venus has a greater amount of radioactive material somewhere below its surface. Earth has deposits of uranium, but they are dispersed and produced no real heating of the surrounding material. Venus could have begun with much larger deposits that heated the subsurface areas for a long period of time.

Those who believe in greenhouse gases generally don't understand that earth's surface cools (loses heat) primarily by transferring heat energy to the atmosphere rather than by converting it to radiation. The surface conducts heat to the atmosphere through direct contact with the air.

Bodies of water transfer heat to the atmosphere through the evaporation of water. The ground can also transfer heat energy to the air through evaporation of water. Each gram of water that evaporates takes sufficient heat to reduce the temperature of 540 grams of water by 1 C. This process doesn't necessarily raise the temperature of the atmosphere except that wet air cools slower than dry air.

Greenhouse gas believers tend to ignore the fact that a significant portion of solar energy on earth is stored by plants as the electron bonds holding sugars and other complex carbon molecules together. Plants are not present on Venus to perform this function.

Gravity cools earth's atmosphere. Heat is the kinetic energy or motion of atoms/molecules. Any object attempting to move away from earth's surface whether it's a ball or a water molecule has part of its kinetic energy converted to potential energy. As air molecules move away from the surface they slow down and thus cool. When objects fall back to earth the potential energy is reconverted to kinetic energy, but for air molecules this energy is usually the kinetic energy of the air mass rather than the energy of individual molecules. Only rarely is the potential energy converted to heat energy such as in the Chinook wind along the east slope of the Rockies or the heat bursts associated with the collapse of thunderstorms.

On earth, high air pressure such as a Bermuda High and clouds can prevent heated air from cooling by rising. Venus has clouds that block heated air from rising and air pressure much higher than that of a Bermuda High.

Air doesn't convert heat to radiation very well so it doesn't cool significantly by producing radiation. Radiation by solids depends upon physical characteristics of the material. For example, dark material produces more radiation that light material. Scientists have insufficient data about the surface of Venus to determine how well it converts heat energy to radiation.

A common misconception about heat is that it can be "trapped". That would only be possible if heat were a fluid as Ben Franklin believed. Only heated matter such as gas molecules can be trapped. Greenhouses don't trap heat itself. They trap heated air.

The uniformity of temperature is not the only way Venus differs from other planets. Its rotation on its axis is clockwise which is the reverse of earth and other planets. Other large planets have moons but Venus does not. Venus doesn't have as many impact craters as other bodies including earth's moon. The atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide instead of an oxygen / nitrogen mix like earth. Venus lacks atmospheric and surface water and its clouds are comprised of sulfuric acid.

All of these conditions could be explained by a single event in the planet's relatively recent past, possibly within the last few hundred million years.

Dr. J Huw Davies of the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at Cardiff University in the U.K. believes Venus once suffered a head on collision with another large body in its early history. He believes such a collision could have caused Venus to reverse its rotation.

What if such a collision occurred relatively recently and involved a body coming from the direction of the sun on a comet like trajectory? Such a body would have been very hot and moving at high speed to escape the sun's gravitational pull.

To reverse Venus rotation the body would have needed to hit Venus off center and at an angle so that the force would be applied opposite to the Venus direction of rotation.

The body could have been soft if not molten from passing close to the sun. The high speed collision with Venus would have generated heat for the body and Venus.

Instead of a hard impact that might have dislodged a piece of Venus to form a moon (the process many believe produced earth's moon), the body would have spread over the surface of Venus at a high velocity. This process would have filled in low areas while applying a force to the surface to change its direction of rotation. The impact of the flow on indentations such as craters or oceans would have been similar to the impact of water on a water wheel. The flow would have pushed the opposite side of one low area after another in the opposite direction.

A potential problem with reversing Venus' rotation would be the difficulty of changing the direction of rotation of a molten core, in case Venus has a molten core like Earth.

Alternatively, the object might have hit Venus at one of the poles and caused it to turn upside down relative to other planets. The impact wouldn't have changed the direction of rotation of Venus as perceived from the surface of the planet, but the view from other planets would indicate it was rotating clockwise instead of counterclockwise. If you place a transparent clock on a flat surface and then flip it over its hands will appear to someone looking down on it to be moving counterclockwise, but the hands would still be going from 12 to 3 to 6 to 9.

In either type impact, the heat would have incinerated any biosphere Venus might have had as well as igniting methane and similar organic (carbon containing) substances. The fires would have reduced the amount of oxygen while greatly increasing the amount of carbon dioxide.

Underground carbon deposits might have ignited, but burned more slowly because of a shortage of oxygen. The heat could have increased the oxygen supply by breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process could have continued for a significant period of time helping to keep the subsurface heated.

Methane, coal and wood all burn at temperatures well above the current temperature of Venus.

Any surface and atmospheric water might have "boiled off" into space or broken down by separating the hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The oxygen then would have perpetuated the carbon fires further increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Nils Müller
at the Joint Planetary Interior Physics Research Group of the University Münster and DLR Berlin believes infrared radiation from the planet's surface indicates the presence of granite which would imply the planet once had water which combines with basalt to form granite

Underground water could have combined with sulfur compounds to form sulfuric acid. The heat would have allowed the sulfuric acid molecules to rise in the atmosphere to form clouds. Heat could have broken down subsurface water into oxygen and hydrogen with the oxygen then combining with underground carbon through combustion to form carbon dioxide.

Venus deserves more study. The high temperature of the surface would make exploration more difficult because of the need to develop equipment that could function in the heat and not be damaged by the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. The large amount of carbon dioxide and lack of oxygen could indicate that the planet had large amounts of carbon that could be consistent with some type of biosphere before a major conflagration.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

S & P's Decision Appears Justified

Standard and Poor's decision to downgrade the U.S. debt rating appears justified because of the inadequacy of the U.S. response to the debt issue. Allowing the U.S. to keep the top rating would falsely indicate the U.S. is doing the best it can to correct its debt problem. American voters are choosing politicians who lack the ability or willingness to deal realistically with the U.S. debt problem.

I waited to write about Standard and Poor's decision to downgrade the U.S. debt rating because I wanted to think about it for awhile instead of taking a knee jerk reaction.

Dealing with a major crisis requires a strong experienced president. Unfortunately, Barack Obama is the weakest president since Gerald Ford. Obama's only apparent skill is an ability to read a teleprompter.

A smart president would have recognized he couldn't change the minds of House members and ended the debate early so he could prepare for a return match later.

Obama won the election because neither the voters nor the media understand the qualifications for an effective president. The President is the chief executive officer of the most powerful country in the world. Electing an president without executive experience makes no more sense then asking a high school quarterback to play quarterback in the Super Bowl.

Too many voters will support someone who promises to do "this, that and the other thing" even though the candidate has never demonstrated an ability to deliver on his promises. It's easy to make promises, but delivering on those promises can be difficult. Any quarterback can say he will win the Super Bowl, but very few are capable of doing so.

Unfortunately, many Republicans want to make the same mistake the Democrats did. These Republicans support Michele Bachmann who is just as inexperienced and unprepared for the presidency as Obama was.

The deficit debate was what we used to call the game of chicken. Two cars would approach each other in the same lane. The driver who veered off first was "chicken". Both sides seemed more interested in scoring political points than in conducting a serious discussion of the issue. They reminded me of the old beer commercials in which one side yelled "less filling" and the other side yelled "great taste".

One editorial cartoonist suggested the old Looney Tunes cartoon debate in which Daffy Duck says "Rabbit Season" and Bugs Bunny says "Duck Season". Bugs eventually gets Daffy to say "Duck Season", but Obama doesn't have Bugs Bunny's ability.

Too many members of Congress are either incapable of understanding the nature of the deficit crisis or don't care about dealing with the deficit in a realistic manner. Fixing the deficit will require an increase in revenue, preferably a tax on those with surplus income.

Cutting spending won't reduce the deficit as much as some expect because the federal government gets a kickback in the form of Social Security and income taxes from those it employs or from businesses government, and its employees, purchases from. Money given to welfare recipients goes to those they purchase goods and services from who in turn pay taxes.

If unemployment increases due to spending cuts, the next Congress may feel it needs to spend even more borrowed money to stimulate the economy.

Republicans and their supporters seem incapable of understanding the fact that it is not the amount of money someone has, but the financial status of the United States that is important. The financial health of the U.S. determines what its money is worth. For the rich, taxes are an investment in the financial health of the United States. Reducing the deficit would improve the financial health of the U.S. and make the money the rich have worth more.

There is a danger if the "rich" have too much money. Money can be addictive. As people obtain a certain amount of money they start wanting more and more. Like alcoholics they need more and more money to be satisfied.

When the "rich" obtain too much money a boom psychology can develop in which investors ignore the possibility of risk. They don't think they can lose money. They may think the stock market can only go up as many believed in the 20's.

The crisis of 2008 occurred because the rich had too much money and had bid stock prices up too high because too many expected everything to go up "forever". Many invested money in garbage like mortgage derivatives or gave it to crooks like Bernie Madoff who promised to make them even richer. If they had invested it in taxes, the country's financial health would be better today and many of them wouldn't have lost so much.

Talk about defaulting on debts incurred in the past raises concerns that the U.S. might default on newer debts. Those who started working 40 some years ago were told the Social Security taxes they were paying were for a pension program. They were loaning money to the federal government in return for a promise to provide them with retirement income. Congress may have handled Social Security funds like the program was a Ponzi scheme, but "investors" (Social Security taxpayers) were told they were investing in a pension plan.

Social Security and Medicare are debts, not entitlements. Benefits go to those who have paid in advance for them.

If the current Congress decides to default on the promise of Social Security payments to those who will be retiring in the next few years because the program was poorly administered by previous Congresses, how can those who purchase U.S. government securities today be sure that a future Congress won't decide to default on that debt because Congress in 2011 was not borrowing responsibly.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

GOP Doesn't Understand "No Free Lunch"

The most important principle taught in the graduate business economics course I took at the University of Kansas is: "There is no free lunch."

Many wealthy Republicans either don't understand that "you can't get something for nothing" or don't understand how the value of their assets depends upon the federal government providing them with a safe and financially stable environment in which to make their fortunes.

The term "free lunch" comes from the practice of some nineteenth century bars placing a "free lunch" on the bar for those who purchased drinks that might have a higher price than at other bars or be watered down. The meats were usually heavily salted to protect against spoilage which could induce patrons to purchase more overpriced drinks.

The founding fathers recognized that a federal government was necessary to their economic well being. Modern Republicans don't understand the need for a financially healthy federal government.

Americans don't get rich solely through their own efforts, but by taking advantage of opportunities and protections within the economic system managed by government.

For example, the federal government helps finance new technology such as computers. Government protects companies that invest in new inventions by preventing competitors from copying the technology without payment.

Government provides businesses with educated employees and protects against foreign and domestic sources of violence.

One of the most important purely economic actions of the federal government is maintaining the integrity of the money supply. Effective commerce requires that everyone have confidence in whatever is used as "money" particularly when the "money" is stored in computers and transferred from computer to computer.

The federal deficit poses a major threat to the integrity of America's money. Wealthy anti-tax Republicans don't understand that a federal default would reduce their wealth more than a slight tax increase would. What is important is not the amount of dollars and other assets that one owns but the value of those dollars and other assets.

Allowing a default would be the equivalent of flushing money down the toilet or burning it in the fireplace.

Wealth lost through default would be gone forever. Money invested as taxes would eventually come back to those paying increased taxes.

For higher income individuals taxes are a form of investment. Individual businesses invest in government to finance those amenities such as roads and airports that all businesses share as well as financing other activities such as national defense. Businesses get a return on the investment by taking advantage of the economic environment provided by government.

Biologists talk about the food chain and how very small plants and animals become the food for small animals which are then food for increasingly larger animals. If something happens to the small life forms the larger animals will eventually have trouble finding food.

The economy has what might be called a money chain. Those at the bottom of the chain pay their money to individuals and businesses in exchange for goods and services. These individuals and businesses then purchase from those higher up on the money chain.

Some wealthy anti-tax Republicans don't understand that cutting Social Security payments to reduce the deficit would reduce their income. Most Social Security recipients spend everything they get. If their benefits are reduced they will buy less. Some companies they purchase goods and services from may have to lay people off to cut costs. The result would be less money moving up the money chain to those on top.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anthony Jury Reached Correct Verdict

The Casey Anthony jury reached the correct verdict. The question put to the jury wasn't did Casey Anthony kill her daughter Caylee Anthony, but did she deliberately carry out a plan to murder Caylee by suffocating her with duct tape.

The jury didn't buy the prosecutor's claim of premeditated murder and its easy to understand why they might have rejected it. When I first heard of what the prosecution was attempting to do I thought they had a difficult, if not impossible, task before them.

I could believe that Casey got frustrated because she couldn't get her daughter to shut up and covered Caylee's mouth with duct tape to keep her quiet rather than to kill her. Casey might have positioned the tape carelessly or the child might have had a stopped nose with the end result that Caylee was unable to breathe and died. I have difficulty accepting the claim that Casey is mentally capable of planning to kill her daughter by using duct tape to suffocate her.

Casey was unable to accept responsibility for her action and tried to cover it up. Perhaps she had difficulty admitting to herself what she had done.

American prosecutors suffer from a "disease" which causes them to try to present every wrongful death as premeditated murder. Perhaps prosecutors feel they get better publicity if they convict an evil killer then if they convict someone for doing something stupid.

I don't know if Casey Anthony caused her daughter's death or not, but it would be unfortunate if she will go unpunished for the death because prosecutors made the mistake of trying to turn a tragedy into something sinister.

Monday, June 13, 2011

News Websites - Advertising Goldmine

Many newspapers have decided to start charging for access to their websites because they apparently cannot figure out how to sell enough advertising to pay for news gathering. The web should be an advertising goldmine for newspaper companies because readers may visit a site multiple times during the day to see if some stories have been updated or significant local events have occurred.

Broadcast television manages to pay its stars millions just from advertising money. Google and many other sites are doing very well without charging users. These sites have figured out how to finance their operations using advertising. Arianna Huffington did very well financing her online news site using advertising revenue. Local newspapers can do the same thing.

Online advertising provider Groupon recently turned down a $6 billion buy out offer from Google.

American newspapers have been selling advertising for over 200 years. President Thomas Jefferson once suggested to Nathaniel Macon that "Advertisements...contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper."

Many people will buy Sunday newspapers and Thanksgiving and Christmas newspapers because of the ads in those papers.

News websites should be more attractive to advertisers than news-papers. Advertisers may know how many newspapers are sold, but they have no idea if anyone actually sees the pages containing their ads. The greatest ad ever designed cannot sell anything if the ad is on the back of the page used to line the bottom of a bird cage.

The ability to identify individual readers can allow news websites to customize ads for individual readers so that the ads they see will be for products they are interested in rather than ads for products they cannot use. Advertisers cannot benefit from paying to advertise feminine hygiene products to 70 year old men or lawnmowers to residents of high rise apartments.
Ratings services can estimate how many viewers have specific television programs on, but not how many viewers go into the kitchen or the bathroom during the commercials.

Computers record how many people access each web page and thus see the ads on the page.

Advertisers have long posted ads in any location where people might see them. Advertisers once placed so many billboards along major highways that government decided to limit such ads so people could see the scenery. If you watch basketball games you know that the tables used by the officials, broadcasters, etc. usually have ads in front of them.

Today potential customers spend much of their time looking at things on the Internet. Advertisers who want to reach customers need to place ads on popular Internet sites much like they place ads on popular tv shows.

Some companies seem to think all they need to do is set up a company website. Some potential customers will visit websites without prompting. Some people will even watch infomercials on television.

Visiting websites takes time and requires bookmarking the site. Potential customers can get too busy to take time to visit a website, particularly for everyday items. For major purchases such as vehicles or appliances customers might take the time to visit websites, but most won't go from site to site trying to save a few pennies on inexpensive products.

Potential customers may visit a retailer's website once or twice during a week to find out which items are on sale, but may forget some sale items before the sale is over. Ads on news or other popular websites can remind some customers of sale items and notify those who haven't visited the retailer's website.

Email ads can easily get lost among other email. Website ads are more likely to be noticed.

The success of the Groupon company demonstrates that website ads work. News web sites should be able to finance their operations with ads so they don't have to chase off readers by charging them.

The web could have been set up so that all websites received some compensation from visitors, but it wasn't. The web is free and those sites that make money on ads don't need to charge.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Obama's Silly Conspiracy Theory

President Barack Obama suffers from the delusion that there must have been some massive conspiracy to hide Osama bin Laden from the U.S.

President Barack Obama apparently thinks that the fact that he needed an army of attorneys to keep his stupid birth certificate secret means that bin Laden must have had a large group helping him stay hidden. Or, maybe Obama doesn't believe that an Arab could be smart enough to hide from the U.S. without help, even an Arab smart enough to be responsible for the 9/11 attack. .

Obama should know better because the CIA has already said that the most any of the al Qaeda members they captured knew was that there was some mysterious courier who might have direct access to bin Laden. If bin Laden didn't trust members of his own organization with his hiding place, why would he trust Pakistani government agencies which he certainly was aware could have been infiltrated by agents working for the CIA or other intelligence agencies particularly Mossad (Israel) and MI6 (Britain) .

There is a claim that India's RAW and Mossad have combined efforts to infiltrate Pakistan government agencies. Even if a foreign agent didn't learn where he was hiding, someone in the government might have found the $25 million reward too tempting to pass up.

Any ability al Qaeda might have to obtain inside information from Pakistani agencies would not be the same as those agencies helping al Qaeda anymore than an ability to obtain inside information from American agencies would indicate those agencies were helping al Qaeda.

Al Qaeda likely has agents planted in governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as on some NATO bases in Afghanistan, much like the Viet Cong had agents planted in the South Vietnamese government and on American bases during the Vietnam War. If al Queda/Taliban can plant potential suicide bombers on American base they can plant spies. In Vietnam, the Viet Cong often had radios capable of eavesdropping on American radio traffic.

The Wikileaks situation demonstrates that the Obama administration has poor information security. The administration has alleged that an army PFC in Iraq was able to place documents on the web he should not have been able to access. The leaking of the fact that the U.S. was attempting to track bin Laden's cell phone in 2001 came from Americans rather than Pakistanis.

If Pakistani agencies were supposedly helping bin Laden stay hidden what were they doing while the SEALS were at his compound. Military or intelligence officials would have been aware of the possibility of Americans coming in by helicopter.

Why wasn't the compound surrounded by command detonated mines in case that happened? Why wasn't someone in a protected position with a weapon capable of disabling a helicopter? Why, in a military area well inside Pakistan, didn't his "protectors" call for a force to keep the Americans from leaving?

The ease with which the SEALS got in and out indicates that bin Laden had no support from individuals in the Pakistan government. If Pakistan's forces were involved their role was to allow the Americans to leave without interference while pretending to be unaware of what was happening.

Obama cannot understand the obvious fact that the best way to keep something secret is to limit the number of people who know the secret. If you had a $25 million buried treasure that you didn't want someone else to dig up, you wouldn't tell anyone you had any doubts about, particularly strangers in a government agency.

Many fiction writers recognize that keeping locations secret involves limiting who knows the location. On the old "Batman" tv series even Batgirl and the police commissioner didn't know the location of the bat cave. Limiting who knows a secret hideout reduces the chances of someone inadvertently revealing the location or revealing the location under torture. One way to get someone to reveal a hideout is to trick him into going to the hideout while he's being followed.

Bin Laden's choice of a hiding place was brilliant. The last place anyone would expect to find him would be in an area away from his supporters. Living in a mansion sized compound would create the impression that the occupant was wealthy, possibly with a fear of being robbed or kidnapped, or someone involved with drugs or smuggling.

The presence of cannabis plants in the area would be consistent with a drug dealer as the resident of the compound. The media have referred to the plants as marijuana, but they were more likely being grown for production of hashish which has been used in the Middle East for centuries. Marco Polo and others suggested it was used by members of the Medieval Order of Assassins from which al Qaeda is descended.

Osama bin Laden probably wasn't familiar with American masked avengers but his choice of accommodations is similar to Batman and Zorro. When Batman wasn't running around catching criminals he was the liberal wealthy philanthropist Bruce Wayne. When Zorro wasn't riding around carving a "Z" with his sword he was wealthy foppish Don Diego de la Vega.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Is bin Laden's Death Good or Bad?

I grew up watching old Hollywood westerns in which the Indians always stopped fighting if their chief was killed, or at least they stopped until they selected a new chief. The killing of Osama bin Laden may provide a great deal of emotional satisfaction for Americans, but it won't necessarily improve the chances of defeating al Qaeda. The killing might even invigorate al Qaeda.

I was serving in Vietnam when North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh died. His death didn't change what was happening in the war.

Bin Laden's presence in an area far removed from the action indicates he might have become little more than a spiritual adviser to al Qaeda with operations controlled by others. If so his death at the hands of the Americans wouldn't affect operations, but his conversion to a martyr could provide a new rallying point.

(Incidentally, criticism of Pakistanis for not realizing he was at that compound ignores the fact that Pakistan has far more drug dealers / smugglers than terrorist leaders and drug dealers might also prefer to live in a fortress.)

Al Qaeda has been relatively ineffective for years, possibly because bin Laden has not provided effective leadership. Subordinates might have been afraid to challenge him because of his past role with the organization. His death could allow a more dynamic, imaginative, aggressive leader to take over. When a shrub stops growing, pruning off the old wood can give it new life.

Existing al Qaeda leaders might compete for the top position by conducting terrorist missions. Other organizations such as Hamas might seek a role in the new al Qaeda.

Perhaps members would be more willing to seek an alliance with an existing nation, particularly Libya which is fighting European "crusaders". An alliance wasn't practical before bin Laden's death because Qaddafi would both have wanted to be the leader. Qaddafi previously supported international terrorism.

The killing of Qaddafi's son and grandchildren shortly before the killing of bin Laden gives Libya and al Qaeda a common desire for revenge. Qaddafi can offer financing to al Qaeda in exchange for assistance fighting the NATO backed contras, or whatever the rebels are calling themselves.

Libyan rebel leader Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi is an al Qaeda veteran and potentially take over if he came to power in Libya and was able to divert part of its oil revenue to al Qaeda.

Some in the Pakistan military may be so upset at the embarrassment caused by conduct of such an attack near their capital that they will give advanced weapons to al Qaeda and the Taliban. We can only hope that the Pakistan government adds extra security for its nuclear weapons.

Pakistan is not a tiny banana republic like Venezuela. It has half the population of the U.S. and the world's 7th largest military, including nuclear armed missiles.

Pakistan is a democracy which means the government must consider popular sentiment which could become more anti-U.S. as a result of the raid. If Obama's critics are correct about him visiting Pakistan in 1981 as a student using an Indonesian passport (possibly under the name of Barry Soetoro or Barry Durham) and Pakistan had a record of that visit, Pakistan could embarrass him by releasing the information. I don't know if embarrassing Obama after he embarrassed Pakistan by violating its sovereignty would be enough to quiet any public outcry against the U.S.

Obama's decision to secretly bury bin Laden at sea could be a blunder. The action sounds like a coverup because when criminals "bury" a body in the water it's to prevent discovery of the crime.

Al Qaeda could have tried to find someone who looked like bin Laden and could imitate his voice to make a video claiming the U.S. killed the wrong man. Fortunately for Obama, al Qaeda has decided it would rather have bin Laden be a martyr.

Steve Landman's blog is claiming that the man killed in the raid cannot be bin Laden because he died of natural causes years ago. Al Qaeda would have had an incentive to keep the death a secret because it needed him alive as a rallying point. A death by natural causes would have tarnished his image, but "murder" by the U.S. provides a better rallying point. This theory could explain the lack of adequate security around the compound, including an apparent lack of antiaircraft weapons. If the man wasn't really bin Laden, his death would only benefit al Qaeda.

It would have been better to have had someone other than bin Laden's wife and U.S. experts provide identification for the body. His wife might have identified the body as his so the U.S. would stop looking for him or to prevent discovery of a false identity. It appears the U.S. won't be hurt by the failure to get better idenfication of the body, but an intelligent president wouldn't have taken unnecessary chances.

Burying him at sea won't prevent someone from establishing a shrine to him, but instead would allow a shrine to be build any place, including the place where he was killed, or in their view where he became a martyr..

The U.S. could have avoided the possibility of a shrine at his grave site by turning the body over to family members who had disowned him for burial at an secret site in Saudi Arabia which had revoked his citizenship.. Acceptance of the body by family members, who would not have been identified, would have provided more reliable identification of it.

Releasing of photos of the shooting won't provide proof he was killed. Hollywood routinely simulates the killing of actors in movies. Jay Leno has occasionally shown doctored videos showing bin Laden at various locations, including the White House. Release of the photos would be more likely to inflame his supporters than to prove he was killed.

Fortunately, Obama's release of his long form birth certificate prior to the death of bin Laden gives Obama more credibility than he would have had. Without that release, al Qaeda members might have compared the "missing" body to his missing birth certificate.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Trump Stood Firm, Obama Blinked

Donald Trump in recent weeks had been advising President Barack Obama to produce his Hawaiian birth certificate to prove he had one. Truimp refused to let journalists force him into dropping the subject. Obama had been refusing to give in until April 27th when Obama blinked.

Trump recognized that a president cannot have the confidence of the people if he withholds information for no apparent reason. The document Obama released on the 27th doesn't contain any information that needed to be kept secret.

Trump's willingness to stand firm to force Obama to do what he should have done long ago demonstrates Trump's leadership ability. Trump is more likely to stand firm against foreign leaders than Obama who let European leaders con him into a foolish Libyan adventure that has raised gas prices.

Obama is an attorney and shouldn't have needed to be reminded that an attorney is most likely to win if he presents the best possible evidence to the court, or (as an elected official) to the voters.

During the last two years the failure to provide the long form birth certificate has been a major distraction which has created doubts about whether Obama was even qualified to be president. Obama has been oblivious to the fact that his unwillingness to release the document was hampering his presidency.

If Trump wants to continue an offensive against Obama, he should focus on Libya and ask what the real reason for American involvement is. Trump might also ask Obama how NATO plans to stabilize the situation if Qaddafi is forced out of office. Al Qaeda attempted take to advantage of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein to take over Iraq and can be expected to attempt to take over Libya is Qaddafi is forced out. Has Obama secretly promised U.S. troops to keep al Qaeda out of Libya?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homosexual Marriage Is Absurd

Regardless of how government may artificially define marriage in legal terms, marriage is really the union of the two different types of human beings -- males and females. Two members of the same sex cannot have a marriage relationship regardless of what some politicians might say.

Marriage unites members of the different sexes to form a unit that has all the human characteristics. Two men or two women cannot form such a unit. They are like two left shoes or two right shoes. A man and a woman fit together like two puzzle pieces. Two people of the same sex are just mirror images.

Males and females not only have anatomical differences, they have different biochemistries, including different skin PH, and their brains function differently.

Males produce chemicals called pheromones that are beneficial to females. The research on how males benefit from pheromones women might produce is less clear because most research on female pheromones deals with how they attract men. Research does indicate that men benefit from marriage and the benefits may involve biochemistry.

The fact that men's and women's brains function differently complicates relationships, but provides the couple with the benefit of viewing the problems faced from two different perspectives. This difference stimulates the relationship and makes the opposite sex more intriguing. A member of the opposite sex is more likely to respond "unexpectedly" to a situation than a member of one's own sex.

Having sex with a member of the opposite sex allows an individual to experience the physical sexuality of the opposite sex. Having sex with a member of one's own sex provides no such benefit.

To women, men are strength. To men, women are energy.

CBers have long referred to a man's wife as his "better half" and a woman's husband as her "other half". A husband or a wife is half of a unit. Both together are a complete unit.

Homosexuals who want to have a marriage relationship like heterosexuals, possibly including having children, are implying they really want to be heterosexuals.

When a man calls his partner a wife he is indicating she is his female half. For a woman, a husband is her male half.

A woman who calls her partner a "wife" is implying the partner, rather than her, is the female part of the unit making her the "male". A woman who calls her partner a "wife" and expects her partner to have any children is acting like a man and may really subconsciously be a transsexual rather than a homosexual. She may call herself a lesbian because she misunderstands the reason for her behavior.

Some male homosexuals claim that they look at other men the same way men look at women. However, scientific research indicates that in their brains, homosexual men "look at" other men the way women look at men. This tendency could indicate that at least some homosexual men might actually be transsexuals. They call their partners "husbands" because subconsciously they really want to be women.

Heterosexuals desire a marriage relationship to gain a feeling of completeness by being part of a unit that contains a member of each sex. Homosexuals cannot become complete by having a relationship with a member of their own sex, even though they may think that calling a relationship a marriage gives them what heterosexuals have in a marriage.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Europeans Reverting to Barbarism

The ancestors of today's Europeans couldn't understand the significance of what they were doing when they vandalized Rome. The modern descendants of those Vandals are capable of understanding the significance of their actions.

The Vandals who sacked Rome had nothing to lose from the destruction. The Vandals who are sacking Libya have a lot to lose from the destruction.

The destruction of the Libyan military is creating an opportunity for al Qaeda to take over Libya. Al Qaeda is a long time adversary of Muammar Qaddafi, but had been too weak in Libya to challenge him.

NATO's attacks on Qaddafi's military are rapidly changing that balance. Afghan war veteran Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi is already taking advantage of the situation to lead the anti-Qaddafi effort in Darnah. He potentially could use his combat experience to take over the rebel movement.

If al Qaeda takes over Libya, it will have access to oil money and perhaps gain an opportunity to blackmail European governments to get out of Afghanistan. If al Qaeda takes advantage of NATO's overthrow of Qaddafi to take over Libya many NATO leaders will join their Arab counterparts in the unemployment line.

Some might even face criminal prosecution for treason (giving aid and comfort to the enemy). In the U.S. a latter day Joe McCarthy might emerge and use the incident to attack individuals who had nothing to due with the decision.

British Prime Minister David Cameron would likely be classified with Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who gave in to Adolf Hitler's demands to obtain what he called "peace in our time".

NATO is risking creating anarchy. Anarchy tends to produce tyrants The difficulties of replacing anarchy after the fall of a tyrant can produce a new tyrant like Napoleon or Lenin. Anarchy in Libya could also cause a cutoff of oil until someone restores order.

The U.S. is still in Iraq because of the difficulties of restoring a stable government. The American presence prevented al Qaeda from taking over Iraq as it attempted to do even with the American presence.

NATO needs to be preparing to move a peacekeeping force into Libya to replace the government NATO is destroying. Marines from NATO nations should be on the ships offshore now or be in route to them. American paratroopers in Italy and the paratroopers of other NATO members should be loading planes with equipment and preparing their gear so they can take off at any time. Turkey would be the best choice to control post-Qaddafi Libya because it's a Muslim nation. .