Tom Pittman's WebLog

Later this year

2012 March 31 -- Feminazi StarGate

A friend at church offered to lend me the whole StarGate1 series. What do I know? I accepted.

The head honcho in the show is the same guy who played MacGyver, but his new character is more of a feminazi "guys have testosterone, not brains" idiot, which sort of spoils it for me. In the pilot they did drop in a sly nod to his previous series, some problem that they would need to "MacGyver" a solution (a clever hack using less than optimal materials). Of course the eponymous TV series was pretty much out of cleverness by the last couple years. So far, this new series has no such burden to bear.

By the time you get into episode #2, it has devolved into the same mindless trap that explains why I don't watch TV. The theme of this episode is the "Emancipation" of a backwards tribe on some distant planet, wherein they learn that women are the exact equal of men except for reproductive organs. It's a story that might come from an overly feminized (neutered male) TV writer, but more likely from a woman of similar persuasion. I had to look a while to confirm my suspicion, but there it was: Katharyn Powers. She seems to be a staff writer, with credits on two more episodes in the first year, which I don't particularly look forward to. sigh

It was really bad. They come through the Gate and immediately they are able to speak English to the Mongols who live there. Get real! Mongols speak Mongolian. Besides that, (we are told) they have been isolated for at least 900 years. That's enough to develop a completely new language. There's no way they would be communicating in any language in the first two minutes of contact.

These natives -- like most cultures throughout all history, including many today (but not ours) -- understand that women are different from men, and men are physically stronger, so women need protecting. Except the feminazi agenda that Powers sprays all over this episode obliterates any possible reasonable rationale for the way things are done in sensible cultures, so the natives cannot (in her fictional story, which is different from the real world) really explain their protection as such.

It gets worse. Our heroine is explained to the natives as "a warrior" and she wears a soldier's uniform, but she is utterly devoid of what every good soldier knows halfway through bootcamp -- and never makes it to the front line if they don't understand it -- which is chain of command. Soldiers obey their commanding officer. That's unAmerican to most people in this country, which is one of the reasons we lost in VietNam. Katharyn Powers is no soldier, and her fictional soldiers aren't either.

At the end of the episode, the Mongol chieftain liberated all his women, and they immediately took off their face masks in joy. What utter nonsense! Ask almost any Muslim woman -- face covering for women is an Islamic requirement, not Mongolian -- and they are mostly comfortable with what they grew up in. We hear about the one or two exceptions, but not from the millions who grew up that way and would be terrified to leave it. If all the women in Saudi Arabia wanted equal rights with men, they could rise up and take it, and the men would be powerless to stop them. The real world works that way. But this is fiction.

I'm a complementarian. Unprotected women get raped (in more ways than the obvious), and while their their rapists are morally wrong, bullies generally get away with bullying. Most people willingly give up freedom for safety. Just look at the Patriot Act. Guys don't get raped so easily as women. Men are different from women. Saying so got me fired, but that does not make it untrue.

PS, the person who lent me the series tells me it gets better. I'll wait and see.

2012 March 30 -- King SCOTUS Hears ObamaCare

Speaking of bullying, this is the week that the government had to defend their biggest bullying effort to the king. In 1776 a tiny rag-tag bunch of revolutionaries threw off the yoke of a foreign king -- actually their own nationality, but who bothers to notice such details -- and some 200 years later they successfully replaced King George with one of their own making, who wears nine black robes. Obama may invent new ways to bully religious people and people who want to work for a living, but he answers to the king of the land (not to mention God Himself) who has final say. Well, actually God has final say. Besides, the Supreme Court Of The USA (King SCOTUS), being human, makes mistakes. Sometimes they correct themselves and sometimes the People force a correction on the King -- like the 13th Amendment -- but mostly we muddle along trying to live with the damage.

In an unusual move, the King made audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings available to the public shortly after each day's arguments. It was interesting reading. Apparently the meat of the various arguments had been previously submitted, and all parties had an opportunity to examine the arguments and research the prior cases. It showed. They popped case names back and forth the way most Americans mention celebrity names. In one case, I think it was Justice Ginsburg, asked about a particular case she thought relevant, and the lawyer apparently had not done his homework. At least he evaded the question, twice. Otherwise everybody mostly cited particulars from the cases like they knew them from memory.

It was not each lawyer presenting his case and the justices politely listening. They constantly interrupted with questions. Each lawyer had maybe 40 or 50 minutes of interrupted Q&A, and then he was done. They watched their time, and if they wanted to make a particular point before their time ran out, they stopped whatever they were saying and made their next point. They said so.

There were three days, two hours each day, I guess the Justices use the rest of the time becoming familiar with the next hearing. When you are the top of the food chain, you can set any hours you like, sort of like Congress continually raising their own salaries. Real people running real businesses and organizations need to spend the time to stay on top of the competition. Otherwise they don't.

Anyway, Monday they argued whether the Court should be hearing the case at this time at all. The government Solicitor General and the lawyer for the States both were arguing for hearing it now. Since Tuesday and Wednesday they actually presented their cases, I guess the Court essentially agreed. I don't know who it was arguing for delay, the transcripts only show it was a court-appointed attorney for an amicus curiae filed by some third party. The guy didn't do very well. Maybe it was like high-school debate contests, where you have to be prepared to argue either for or against a proposition at the flip of a coin, nevermind what you personally believe. The Solicitor General and the lawyer for the States also bumbled a lot, but you expect a certain amount of incompetence in the government. It comes with the territory. On the third day I'm guessing it was the lawyer for the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business, which joined the majority of States in suing against ObamaCare) who did the presentation, and he seemed rather more on top of things.

On Monday the Solicitor General argued that ObamaCare imposed a penalty, not a tax, so the laws preventing the courts from imposing an injunction against the collection of taxes until after they had been paid ("pay first, litigate later") did not apply. On Tuesday the same Solicitor General argued that ObamaCare was a tax, so it came under the general authority of Congress to levy taxation. It's a fine example of Your Tax Dollars At Work. What really happened is that it is in fact a tax, but they didn't want to say so when Congress was voting on it, because Obama had promised not to raise taxes on middle and low-income people. Of course all his campaign promises were lies, but politicians try not to be so blatant about it.

The defining case law -- if the Supreme Court were concerned about precendent or law, which mostly they are not -- is an obscure case that came before the Court 70 years ago, Wickard v. Filburn, which held that Congress has the power to legislate (and the government has the power to enforce) anything it wants for any purpose at all that might conceivably be remotely connected to interstate commerce, no matter how tenuous the link. Basically, Roscoe Filburn was growing wheat to feed his own chickens. It never left the farm. The government said, no, you can't do that, you must destroy the wheat and buy wheat on the open market (plus pay a fine), and the Court agreed. Roscoe changed his name, sold the family farm to a developer (it's now part of Dayton, Ohio), and the entire family left the farming business. The King can do that to people. They can make you buy tea and pay a 1% (now much higher) tax on it. In 1776 the Americans disagreed, but that was then, this is now. We have a new King, who wears nine black robes, and we cannot throw the King's tea into the harbor without paying the tax.

Part of the argument on Tuesday revolved around whether ObamaCare does in fact affect interstate commerce. If Roscoe Filburn could lose that one on wheat that never left his own farm, there are no limits. In fact Roscoe barely owned his own farm, which could be taken away from him at any time for any reason, as the court determined 7 years ago in Kelo v. New London (but not cited in the hearings this week).

Wednesday the arguments focussed on whether the Court should take down the whole law, or simply invalidate the individual mandate, which presumably would be decided on the basis of Tuesday's arguments. Paul Clement, attorney for the NFIB, made a moral case that if the penalty is overruled as an unconstitutional tax, but the mandate is left in place, then a person who refused to buy health insurance would be breaking the law even if the government could not inflict on him any penalties. On behalf of the States, he added that they have standing in this issue because they would be burdened by people enrolling in Medicaid who would not otherwise do so. "Standing" is the American legal principle that you cannot bring suit unless losing (or failing to sue) costs you something. I think it was an atheist in California who tried to sue to have the Pledge of Allegiance dropped from school requirements, and lost because he personally had no standing (he was not in school, so the requirement cost him nothing).

I was disappointed that nobody made the case that Obama and ObamaCare are tearing down the only "Wall of Separation between Church & State" that Thomas Jefferson ever imagined in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, in which the First Amendment explicitly prohibits Congress and the USA government from imposing on religious organizations what their definition of religion is permitted to be. ObamaCare has a religious exemption, but it only applies to those religions that the law defines as applicable. Seeing his assault  on churches unchallenged, Obama this year further restricted the definition of religious exemption in what employers must pay for -- and even those not affected are now alarmed. Obama is clearly setting up an establishment of religion, whereby people are punished (by penalties, fines and excess taxation) for not being members of his established church(es) despite that their reasons for earning those fines are strictly religious in nature, that is, they can be argued strictly from the Bible. I wanted to file an amicus myself on the topic, but I don't (yet) have standing, and if the current case is won for sanity, I won't need to.

The Court can do anything they want to, but according to Suszek in "More than Twenty Cents" four Justices are mindless left-wing bigots (not his words) who will vote to support ObamaCare irrespective of the facts, one will vote to throw it out for the same reasons or lack thereof, and four Justices will earn their salaries by actually giving some thought to the question. The left-wing Justices tended to grill the opponents of ObamaCare, and the right-wing Justices tended to grill the government supporter. They all beat up on the guy who wanted it postponed, so I think we can expect a decision this year. After reading Wickard I'm much less confident in what last year was called "Roberts' Revenge" (that the Court would throw it out) after Obama dissed the Chief Justice in his State of the Union. The Court does not seem to imagine themselves as bound by law or justice or even principles, but only politics. I'm glad it's not my job.

Bookmark this item  (Additional ObamaCare remarks and links here)

2012 March 27 -- Bullies Everywhere

Three weeks ago TIME ran a feature story on bullying in our public schools. The moral they were pushing -- never mind what they want you to think, TIME almost never reports anything without prejudice -- was that the "zero tolerance" laws against bullying in schools weren't working. The article seemed to imply that "kids will be kids" in school, and then they grow out of it. That line is repeated in this week's review of "The Hunger Games," which is compared to a documentary called "Bully."

The more I think about it, the more I know the line is both wrong and wrongheaded. It's TIME magazine, what else is new.

The essence of bullying is people inappropriately forcing their will on other people who lack the resources or will to resist. That's something that people do, (not just kids, any MBTI "Judger" at any age is inclined to do it) and so long as you let them get away with it, they will do it all their lives. When they are in school, we call it bullying. When they grow up they do the same thing and we call them corporate executives and Army sergeants and Presidents. The movies are full of them, mostly the outlaws, but as the scriptwriters are eager to have us believe, put a tin star on them and they become (still bullies, but) marshal or Judge Roy Bean or Jack Bauer or whoever Clint Eastwood or Steven Seagal happens to be playing in this flick.

I also meet them on the streets and highways, threatening my life with a lethal weapon (their SUV or pickup) because they can, and because they hope to arrive at their destination a few seconds earlier than driving lawfully and safely might accomplish.

The political party falsely named "Democratic" is full of bullies who, when they cannot accomplish their desires by (ahem) democratic means -- that is, persuading other people respectfully, or else being persuaded by the opposition's superior logic -- cram it down the majority's throats by activist judges who are also engaging in bullying behavior. Obama and Bush both promised to be "President of all the people," and Bush actually worked with the opposition to pass laws that any left-wing bigot would be proud of -- if only their own politicians had thought of it. Obama, on the other hand, has broken all his campaign promises and bullied through bills like ObamaCare, which three quarters of the country don't want, and nobody is willing to defend on a level playing field. OK, most of the elected Representatives from his own party voted for it, and the People did the democratic thing and voted them out of office. Maybe this year they will finish the job. Or maybe the King (who wears nine black robes) will do the bullying thing and decide for (or against) the People before November. Rumor is they are thinking about it today.

2012 March 26 -- What the Media Won't Tell You About Romney

I don't watch TV but I was interested in whether I would have anybody to vote for in November, or if it would be another case of Obama vs Obama (spelled slightly different) like 2008, so I Googled around and found the Wikipedia page on Republican primary results. Wiki is not particularly reliable on contentious topics like politics and religion, but the results of an election are pretty factual.

Even more significant in this page is that each state's primaries are reported on a map colored in by county who they voted for. When I saw this eight years ago, it was obvious that the whole country had voted for Bush, except for the cities. The same demographic is now showing up on the by-county maps on Wikipedia. In most states so far, everybody voted for Santorum, except for the cities, who (as I previously mentioned of TIME magazine) prefer Obama-with-an-R as a distant second best in case their preferred candidate fails to get re-elected.

What this means is that all those delegates pledged to Romney are a lie. The "poor, uneducated and easily led" people in the cities will vote for Obama's socialist free lunch, no matter who runs against him. The rest of the country prefers something different from Obama, like Santorum. Therefore, Romney is unelectable. If he gets the nomination, the cities who put his name on the ballot will vote for the real Obama rather than the fake, just as they always have, and the rest of the country will stay home because there is nobody to vote for. At least Santorum has a shot at the White House.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why TIME magazine and the other left-wing-bigot media are all pushing so hard for Romney. They don't want Romney for President any more than the rest of the country does. They want to see Obama vs Obama (spelled with an R) on the November ballot so Obama will get re-elected instead of somebody who knows what he's doing.

A vote for Romney in the primaries is a vote to be disenfranchised. Unless you like Obama.

2012 March 24 -- Liars Figure

TIME magazine has a couple of regular columnists with Middle-Eastern names and faces. Their politics is just as far left as the rest of the magazine. This week Fareed Zakaria argues for ObamaCare, claiming that "It's the only way to deliver lower cost health care with better results." A big content-free graphic shows a bandaged USA limping on crutches next to some carefully chosen numbers showing the USA health statistics against different other countries. The figures might be more persuasive if they had chosen all the same countries, or (better) if they had shown all three stats for all three countries. On the other hand, the complete picture might have been much less persuasive. "Figures don't lie, but liars figure."

According to Zakaria -- given the deceptive quality of the rest of his column, I don't know how much of this to believe -- the USA spends 17% of its GDP on health care, compared to 12% for the next worst case. What he doesn't mention is that the USA, with only 5% of the world's population, has 50% of the world's lawyers. Most of the high cost of health care in this country is due to funding the national lottery system (huge punitive damages for a few lucky winners in court) out of what the rest of us pay for reasonable services. The prices doctors charge for health care cannot come down until the cost of their liability insurance comes down, and that won't happen as long as lawyers keep winning huge awards in court. Somebody must pay for foolish people to do foolish things, and if we collectively choose to give them millions of dollars in reward for their folly, then the rest of us must pay for it.

There's another reason health care costs more here than in other countries. Most of the innovative pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies are in the USA. Their research -- especially including the huge costs of proving their innovations safe to the satisfaction of the bureaucrats in Washington -- must be paid for somehow. American doctors and hospitals get first dibs on the new technology, but at a price. We consumers pay that price. After some of the development costs have been amortized, the rest of the world can pay a lower price for it. Reduce the prices we pay and you reduce the incentive to innovate. It ain't free, no matter what the socialists want to tell you. Medical costs in England and Canada and Switzerland are lower because they do not support the big medical innovations, and they get access to the new technology after we do. Do you want the best and latest, or do you want it cheap? You can't have both.

Another example of the basic dishonesty in the left-wing defense of ObamaCare is nearer the end of his column:

Medicare's costs have stopped rising as fast as in the past.
That's a lie. The prices the government pays have stopped rising, because the government refuses to pay what it costs (see my post "ObamaCare Is Good (for Me)"). So the continually increasing costs (see "I'm Responsible") are transfered to the rest of us in a process Obama once disingenuously called "fraud, waste and abuse" -- that is, the government defrauds the rest of us so they can abuse the doctors with the unavoidable waste which occurs because it's the government doing it instead of people who get to keep the money they don't spend.


Additional ObamaCare remarks and links here

2012 March 23 -- Disappointed with Intimacy

The American churches are run by and for the exclusive benefit of the Feelers, but every once in a while, one of the preachers actually reads his Bible -- and finds something different than they preach.

John Koessler is a preacher's preacher: he teaches pastoral studies at Moody Bible Institute. His essay in last November's ChristianityToday "Disappointed with Intimacy" contrasts his Feeler expectation of affirmation with what he really sees in the world around him, and especially how the Bible confirms what he sees and not what he wants to see. He still hopes for pie in the sky bye and bye (and maybe God will be pleased to give it to him and the other Feelers who crowd out the rest of us in the churches), but he's honest enough to recognize that it's not now. The simplistic affirmation of the hymn "Trust and Obey" ("not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but his smile quickly drives it away") is not the world we live in, nor does it explain Biblical heroes like Job. Unlike most preachers, Koessler understands that. But he's still disappointed.

That's a start. The other half of the world, the Thinkers to whom the churches do not speak, we need more than that. We need Truth and Justice. The atheists see "Life is a bitch. Then you die." That's truth. God's Truth is not affirmation. But it has value. We need to hear that in the churches. Koessler almost got it.

2012 March 20 -- Environmental Politicking

The left-wing bigots are starting to admit it. Despite all their inconsistent and hypocritical whining about how humans are supposedly destroying the environment, they cannot deny that God made the universe far more robust and self-sustaining than our puny and primitive science could even guess:
...there's growing evidence that nature is much more resilient than we have thought. -- Mar.12 TIME,p.85
This is in the same issue that proudly featured the guy who persuaded our President-Trainee to block the Canadian oil pipeline while brazenly consuming oil himself (drives a car, uses electricity, even wears synthetic fabric clothing).

I'm not advocating irresponsible waste. The earth is the LORD's, not ours. We are only stewards. But blocking the pipeline is the irresponsible action in this case. The better science seems to suggest that global warming causes a rise in CO2, not the other way around. The whole noise was deemed a way to tear down a Republican President who happened to have friends in the oil industry. We need to get off our dependency on Arab oil, and the Canadians are better friends than the Arabs. When the oil is gone, it's gone, so it wouldn't hurt to start considering other energy sources, but corn is a joke. Coal and nuclear energy are also limited, but there's far more of them than there is oil.

I think there's a bigger picture here than most people are seeing. It's not that the eco-socialists care for the environment and the capitalist pigs hate it -- in fact it's always the socialists who are the worst polluters -- but we have different long-term views. Christians (and their pseudo-friends) know that when Christ returns, "it's all going to burn," or at least be renewed to the perfection of Eden, and that it gets worse before it gets better. The present devastation is a promise of better things to come. The atheists, on the other hand, know (by introspection, if not otherwise) what evil lurks in the heart of humans, and if this is all there is, we all are in deep doo-doo. And they are right! Just look at the countries where the atheists gain majority control, like the (former!) Soviet Union, and China today. Compare South Korea, which has a strong Christian presence, to North Korea, which persecutes Christians. North Korea is the only place in the world that is visibly dark as  seen from space. Apart from who controls the country, the two places are the same. East and West Germany showed the same divide before unification. I was there, I've seen it.

The futile rants of hypocrites like Bill McKibben and Al Gore -- and Thomas Malthus 200 years before them -- are all they have to hope in. Malthus was wrong. And pretty much, so also are his modern heirs, the pseudo-environmentalist hypocrites.

2012 March 16 -- Pride of Significance

I'm always astounded at the vehemence of the reaction people have to my "I'm a Nobody" observation. People are never that eager to benefit me or affirm me in any other way, not even when I'm paying for it. It's like I have attacked them personally, and they are fighting for their lives -- or their own self-esteem, which is the same thing. If I'm nobody significant, then (I suppose they think) they probably are no better. I have attacked the center of their being: which is their own pride.

Suck it up.

Obama is President of the most powerful country in the world. Romney (Obama-with-an-R) has persuaded a (possibly growing) minority of half the country that he is worthy of the same position. Bill Gates has a ton of money, and people pay attention to him. The Pope gets to tell a billion people what to believe. A few people are Somebody. The rest of us are Nobody. Stick your finger in a glass of water and pull it out, and look at the hole you leave behind.

Get used to it.

2012 March 13 -- I'm a Nobody

Every time I make this observation, some well-meaning but under-informed Feeler tries to contradict it with unconditional affirmation firmly based on nothing. OK, a couple verses. God knows every hair on my head, which is getting easier each year as I have less and less hair for Him to count. And I'm more important than sparrows. Maybe not to PETA and the environmentalists, but at least to God. End of God's affirmation.

But that's not what I'm saying. Maybe I'm important to God, maybe not, but out of 7 billion people on the earth today, I'm pretty much a nothing.

Take for example this full-page ad in TIME magazine, "If You Bought a TV, Monitor, or Notebook Computer That Contained a Flat Panel Screen" some time between 1999 and 2006 from a list of specified manufacturers. Maybe I did, but that was ten years ago, and who pays attention to who made the screen? They have a multi-million-dollar settlement -- less lawyer fees -- to divide between multi-millions of buyers. If I can prove I bought one of those screens, then I might get $5 or $10 for my efforts, less money than the postage to file the claim, let alone my time to file it. Maybe some fat-cat corporate buyers of hundreds of computers might find it worth the salary of a secretary to comb through old records and submit the paperwork. Otherwise the only winners on these class-action lawsuits are the lawyers. The screen manufacturers will just raise their prices a couple percentage points to cover their losses, and the "consumers" who are the alleged plaintiffs in this action -- that's you and me -- suffer more harm than benefit. We are all nobodies.

This is an election year. In a so-called democracy it's "we the people" who decide who gets to be President. What nonsense! Nobody cares who I want for President. In 2008 there was nobody to vote for, just some inexperienced wannabe who still knows very little about how to run a country, and his clone, Obama-spelled-with-an-M. This year it's starting to look like more of the same, except the clone is Obama-with-an-R. As Vox Day pointed out in his insightful book against atheism, "it is statistically improbable and logically impossible for your one vote to have any impact on the final result." The writers of TIME magazine might have some influence, but probably less than they think: Their political center is way to the left of the American people, so they ridicule Santorum while pushing Romney hard as their preferred second-best, in case their favorite fails to be re-elected. A few years ago I knew the movie "Air Force One" would be worth watching because the TIME critic panned it. I don't know how many people are that thoughtful. My sister gets her politics from the TV news, which is no more balanced than TIME.

In the mail today were two more rejection letters. I keep trying to get a job, but I'm a nobody. Worse, I'm an old nobody. Age discrimination is unlawful, which means that it's even harder for older people to get a job. It's like the Three Esses of the environment: If you find an endangered species in your back yard, Shoot, Shovel, and Shut up. The ignorant actions of environmentalists and bleeding heart left-wing bigots usually have the opposite effect from what they promise, because they mostly have Clue Deficit Disorder. Like that hypocrite last week who persuaded our President-Trainee to cancel the oil pipeline from Canada. Even if burning oil did increase global warming (to which it is probably unrelated), all he succeeded in doing is sending that same oil to China, which is a far bigger polluter than the USA. At least he had some influence, albeit in the wrong direction. I have none.

I'm doing my part to reduce American dependency on Arab oil. I keep the thermostats at a minimum. That's a little too cold to sleep in, so I pile three and four blankets on top of an electric. "Chinese junk" used to be an oriental sailing vessel; now it's descriptive of the product quality from a certain country. After two hours on "H" under three heavy blankets, the sheets are cold to touch. I think the display was made for the Latin market, where "Helado" is Spanish for "frozen." The vendor charged me $99 for it because their engineers rated it "best" uniform temperature and you can't feel the wires. A non-electric blanket would have passed their criteria: You can't feel any wires because there aren't any, and the temperature is uniformly cold. My criteria, that the blanket should get the bed warmer than the surrounding air, and that it should stay on all night (even if the power should flicker), are irrelevant. I'm a nobody. So I use a heating pad to heat up the bed. The trouble is, the heating pads are now made in China too, and similarly don't work. Maybe when the one I have burns out I'll be in an overheated nursing home and not caring. I'm a nobody.

The past is different. I had my 15 minutes of fame, twice. People bought my program. Students sat in my classes and studied for my exams. That was then. Today it's different. It sounds like a whine, but it's not really. God uses whomever He chooses to use, when He chooses to do it. Maybe it will happen again, but the indications aren't there.

My mother had feelings like this, and she concluded that she was where God wanted her, and that was OK. I have to believe the same. Once in a while people engage for a while, and then move on. A half dozen people sometimes read my blog, and then move on. The prophet Ezekiel was given a job to do, "and nobody will pay any attention," God told him. He was a nobody. Except he got his own book in the Bible. I don't get that luxury. I need to get used to that.

It could be worse. I could be targeted by the Muslims. Because I'm a nobody, they don't pay attention when I say they are cowards and ashamed of their own god and of their own actions. I could be targeted by the atheists. Because I'm a nobody, they don't pay attention when I say they are foolish. I could be targeted by the preachers. Because I'm a nobody, they don't pay attention when I say they missed the core teaching of Scripture. Maybe it's not so bad being a nobody. Maybe.

2012 March 10 -- Religious Wars

The cover of this week's TIME magazine features "10 Ideas that are Changing Your Life," each item authored by some know-it-all who might be qualified to write on that topic. These ideas are not doing much to my life, but there are some interesting insights here, mostly not disclosed in the pages of TIME.

Number 1, "Living Solo" is about the rise of single-person households. Their nominal expert is Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology, a "soft" science which consists mostly of people with PhDs saying obvious things in obscure academic language. His one insight: alone serves a purpose: it helps us pursue sacred modern values -- individual freedom, personal control and self-realization
Focus on that "sacred modern values" phrase, which I hilighted in red. He is telling us that personal autonomy is a religion. That's what the word "sacred" means, it's Latin for "holy" (religious), but not in any organized religious establishment as normally understood. We'll see more of this theme.

Number 4, "The Rise of the Nones" recounts the increasing number of people who self-report as "no religion."

For most, they're not rejecting God. They're rejecting organized religion as being rigid and dogmatic.
What this really means is that they are rejecting God as being rigid and dogmatic. Or rather, they want to be their own god, with their own rigid and dogmatic rules to live by -- which happen to be different from anything that might have come from any actual or real God. These "nones" -- along with most of the people in America's "Christian" churches -- see religion (many of them call it "spirituality" to distinguish it from the organized religions) as the warm fuzzy feeling they get from thinking lofty thoughts. The opening paragraph on this page describing a "Not Church" congregation on a Sunday morning explains it:
...they function as a congregation often does -- engaging one another in spiritual conversation and prayer, delivering food when someone is sick and working together to serve the poor.
They are nominally still only 16% of the USA population, but that's deceptive. Many of their spiritual colleagues affiliate with church for social reasons, but do not really want any part of it. I suspect their true numbers are more like half of the country. They have those "sacred modern values" previously mentioned.

Number 3, "Handprints, Not Footprints" is not obviously about religion, but it promotes an idea that has about as much science and truth behind it as the secularists (the "nones") derogatorily say of the organized religions. "Handprints" is about reducing carbon consumption, on the mistaken supposition that burning carbon causes global warming. Like the Darwinists, the people making that claim are offering solidarity (aka majority vote), not scientific data.

Elsewhere in the same issue, they have a flattering piece on one of those crazy environmentalists who are bullying their way upstream against democracy. Flattery or not, it's hard to hide the truth that this guy, like almost all the so-called environmentalists, is a hypocrite. He drives a gas-guzzling car. So it's a "hybrid", it still burns -- eek, horrible -- petroleum. Even if it were purely electric, most of the electricity in this country is made by burning carbon. The same people trying to stop oil production also stop nuclear reactors. They show a full-page picture of him, wearing an obviously synthetic windbreaker. Synthetic fabrics are made from oil. They said he has solar panels in his back yard, but is still connected to the grid. There's a reason for that: solar panels don't work at night, nor on gloomy winter days, like the one in the picture. This guy is trying to stop the rest of the country from living at the comfort level that he reserves for himself. Two pages earlier, in another article, that kind of behavior was called "bullying" when it happens in schools. Adults engage in bullying, too, but we give it a different name when their party is in the White House.

Anyway, what we have in this country is a division between the sincere Christians and the nones that is widening into a holy war like that between the Protestants and the Catholics in Ireland, or between the Christians and the Muslims in Nigeria and other African countries like Sudan. Religious wars are not about truth vs error, because neither side is so confidant in their own facts that they are willing to lay their cards on the table and may the best win. Instead we form political alliances, the environmentalists + genocidal racists + nones + socialists against the farmers + militia + greedy business owners + Christians + pro-lifers. There is truth to be found in individual issues, but neither party has a monopoly on it. So we just hear yelling and screaming.

Unlike Sudan and the former Yugoslavia, there is no convenient geographical boundary between the Left and the Right. It's going to get worse before it gets better. And each side will take turns electing one of their own as President, while the other side whines and moans about it. Until they start killing the opposition, the way they do it in Pakistan and other 3rd-world countries. Raising the price of energy by shutting down pipeline projects and offshore drilling is one way to kill people slowly.

2012 March 9 -- The Real Troy

When I first saw the movie Troy, I had not yet started seeing and tracking library checkouts. Although I blogged my impressions at the time, that was five years ago, much longer than my memory. So when it turned up in the library with a "new movie" sticker on it, it was not on my list of already seen movies, and I didn't recognize the title. Seeing it the second time, I recognized very little of it -- except the vast array of pentaconters (Greek ships) on the sea.

This time it occurred to me to wonder how much the movie differed from Homer's story, so I went back to the library to check out the Iliad. Alas, all their Homer books had disappeared from the main shelves; they had a "retold" juvenile version which was reasonably readable, but (as I later learned) only one third the size. It went into great detail about this and that battle between the Greeks and the Trojans, but nothing about the Trojan horse, except as a little postscript page.

I downloaded the full text of the Iliad, and it didn't even have the postscript. Wikipedia attributes the story to Virgil, with a small hint in the Odyssey. I guess that's where the abridged book got it. In any case, the movie had little snippets of the events from the Iliad, but huge differences. Movies are like that.

The biggest difference was the elimination of references to deities. The book has the gods controlling every battle outcome, whereas the movie only gave the deities the kind of token deference we see in modern thinking: a mention here, a little homage there, nothing more. I'm not about to read a whole megabyte (500 pages) of turgid prose, but the parts I looked at was mostly about the gods talking to each other. It seems to me that when the Real God decides to bring about the Final Consumation, it will be because hardly anybody -- including the "Christians" -- cares what God does or doesn't do. Like Noah's Flood, people eat and sleep and work and play, and the flood took them all away. Jesus said that.

2012 March 6 -- Guliuzza's Scared Poster

Randy Guliuzza lists his credentials as "P.E., M.D." The term "PE" stands for "Professional Engineer" which is a license granted by the state of Texas (and other governments), intended to ensure that the public gets competent services from people who call themselves "engineers". According to Guliuzza's bio page, he has an undergrad degree in engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an MD from the University of Minnesota, and assorted other degrees less relevant to this discussion. He did not disclose which state granted his PE license, nor when it expires. In most states -- I believe Texas among them -- it is unlawful to claim to be a Professional Engineer unless the license is current in the state of residence. Since he works for ICR, which is located in Texas, I assume that is where Guliuzza lives.

So why this concern for credentials? Guliuzza has a regular column in the ICR Acts&Facts magazine. When he writes about the scientific topics of medicine or engineering in relation to the Darwinist religion, his comments are generally sound and valuable insights. When he strays from his core competencies as seen from his credentials, he looks as foolish as the Darwinists. This happened starting May of last year, in a series titled "Darwin's Sacred Imposter".

You don't need to read all four articles of the series, because he really only has two substantive points. First, and repeated throughout the series, Guliuzza insists that for "selection" to happen, there must be an intelligent Person (obviously God, from his perspective) doing the selecting, and secondarily, because the Darwinists deny that their "selector" is God, they must therefore be idolators. Thus the title of his series. He's obviously proud of this insight. It just happens to be incompetent. He is arguing semantics, and he is not qualified as a semanticist.

It turns out that semantics is my professional specialty. Translation is about converting a message from one language into a different language, while preserving the same meaning. That's semantics. I have a PhD in Information Science, and my dissertation deals with preserving the meaning of computer programs when translated from a human readable programming language into the ones and zeroes only a machine can read. I do this professionally, and I have made reasonably good money at it (plus a "5-mouse" rating from industry critics). I have also spent close to twenty years thinking about and implementing software to translate the Bible into human languages that do not yet have it. The software works reasonably well, although getting it funded has been a little difficult. But that's a non-technical problem.

His major point is that "Selection must be personified as the intelligent selector..." The exact words vary from article to article, but his point remains the same, repeated over and over. Anybody familiar with how computers work knows this is nonsense. Computers are not intelligent, certainly not now, maybe not ever. Yet selection is what they do. At my first job I often used a punched card sorter. It had no intelligence at all, yet selection is what it was designed to do. Guliuzza is not a computer professional; he cannot be expected to know these things, and he does not. He should stick to what he knows.

It's a semantic issue. Does the idea of "selection" require a person who selects? Does the idea of spray require a person who sprays? Does the idea of fire require a person who fires (ignites)? None of the above. Fires can be ignited by lightening. Maybe God did it, but not directly. Spray is all over the region near the base of a waterfall, no person (directly) involved. Guliuzza is like the Darwinists, who are so eager to debunk the Creationists that they point to non-existent evidence in support of their position; Guliuzza is too eager to debunk the Darwinists to stop and examine his arguments for credibility.

Natural Selection (NS) is an awesome concept. It really works -- to weed out the misfits and genetic mistakes, and thus to keep (ahem) creatures alive and thriving long after ordinary decay makes most of our own creations die off. The idea also works in non-natural environments, like economics. Products that get bought get manufactured. Of course in that environment there are intelligent people making the buying and manufacturing decisions, but the abstract principle still works. In nature there are sometimes intelligent beings deciding whether to reproduce or not, and sometimes whether to kill off their competitors, but as in economics, these decisions are somewhat irrelevant to the basic point, otherwise known as "survival of the fittest." The individual decisions do not individually affect the aggregate outcome; only the statistical sum of their decisions has any effect. That's a statistical issue; Guliuzza is also not a statistician. A statistician could successfully argue that while NS works in general, it cannot design new products for the ecosystem. Smart business people and smart inventors do that in the economic environment, but the Darwinists don't have a smart Designer to point to. They know that, but they are not statisticians either.

NS does not design anything, it only selects from the available options something that works. If Guliuzza had said only that, I would agree. But no, he wants to put words in their mouths saying that NS does the heavy lifting. He does quote some of them saying something like that. There certainly are stupid Darwinists, just like there are stupid Creationists. Half of all Darwinists are below average intelligence. Half of anything is below average. And, as Guliuzza would have us believe, if NS is doing the creating, then NS is a god, and the Darwinists are idolaters. Of course they are, but not for that reason. Anyway, that is a theological argument, not scientific. Guliuzza has theological credentials, but they are not listed with his name over the ICR articles he authored. ICR is trying to convince people that Creationism is good science. Their magazine talks about theological issues, but if they want to impact Christians wavering between the alleged science of Darwinism considered against the religion of Creationism, arguing science is more likely to win converts than arguing bogus theology.

So I thoughtfully and politely wrote Guliuzza, encouraging him to focus on the topics he knows, and leave the areas where he lacks professional competence to people without that disability -- or at least get them to review what he's saying. His only response was to rush into print another four pages "Answering Questions about the Fallacy of Natural Selection". He did not answer any of my points directly, but sprinkled a couple key words from my letter in among the straw-man questions that he does answer. The five "questions" are obviously constructed to lead naturally into his argument, because they are not the kind of questions a person who disagrees with him would ask. The first of them:

Natural selection has been considered a settled issue. Why take it on, and what role do organisms' innate capabilities play in demonstrating that natural selection is a fallacy?
The phrase "has been considered" could only be used by a sympathetic reader to distance themselves from the claim. Somebody who believes that NS is a useful concept would say instead "it is a settled issue" or at least (as I wrote to him) that it's a useful term in the language for describing an actual process. The two actual questions here were both answered repetively in his previous four articles. He just wanted to repeat himself again.

You can tell this last article was rushed. He did not take time to remove unnecessary -- and in most cases false -- ad hominem attacks against his critics. I always know the debate is over when the other party leaves off dealing with facts and switches to personal attacks. When the facts are on your side, there is no need for ad hominem. Doing so is an admission of defeat. I'd bet Guliuzza knows that too.

I have an awesome "BS Detector" which quickly identifies when people do not believe what they are saying. An important part of it is consistency. If they raise contradictory arguments for what they are saying, then they are obviously not convinced by those arguments, because they cannot believe both an argument and its contradiction. Guliuzza failed that test. He wants to insist that only an intelligent Selector can select which organisms survive, but that doesn't work for unintelligent organisms like bacteria and plants, so he fabricates an argument based on the "organism's traits" which are somehow smart enough to modify themselves and fill the environment. That used to be called vitalism when the atheists wanted to eliminate God, before Darwin and the neo-Darwinists came up with a more plausible way to do it. I don't think Guliuzza is an honest vitalist. He's just running scared, because his huge investment is falling apart. Hence the title of my post today.

Guliuzza should stick to what he knows, and admit it honestly when he makes a mistake.

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2012 March 1 -- Justice for Hispanics

The current issue of TIME magazine has more than its share of idiot columnists -- like Meacham urging believers to "compromise" with the atheist established religion (he calls them "secularists") by capitulating on all points of disagreement, or Zakaria praising central banks printing money as a cure for insolvent governments, and a longer story expressing confusion over gender roles in Pixar's latest flic (any complementarian would have understood the problem immediately) -- but as part of their cover story on "Why Latinos will pick the next President" they invited Jorge Ramos to explain the Hispanic thinking. He's not as stupid as the other columnists.

The problem is plain, but not easily solved. The left-wing socialist bigots currently running the country are beholden to the labor unions who have priced their services out of the market, causing huge unemployment in their own ranks while opening up vast economic opportunities for people willing to work for a fair wage -- which mostly does not include the beneficiaries of the socialists. This results in willing workers coming over the borders with and mostly without the permission of the government.

The right-wing bigots, seeking to replace the current government, see crime in the streets from various causes (mostly due to the anti-social policies of the socialists, which discourage and break up families) and wrongly link it to the fact that the willing workers were denied permission to come but came anyway.

Most of the "undocumented" workers are Hispanic, so the harsh and inappropriate efforts of both the left- and right-wing bigots to satisfy their domestic constituencies by harrassing the workers is taken by the Hispanic citizens as racial hostility. Obama broke a lot of promises when he became President, one of them being an immigration bill in his first year. Instead he deported more Latinos than any other President. Ramos points out that previous GOP Presidents supported a path to citizenship for undocumented residents, but no present candidate does. Obama is now playing catch-up; his replacement hopefuls aren't even trying.

It's a hard problem, and any just solution is going to be inconvenient for people used to getting more than their fair share. That's why President-Trainee Obama couldn't come through on his promise: once he figured out how things work, he sees that he gets more union votes than Hispanics. He will make new promises this year, then break them again if re-elected. He breaks a lot of promises. On the other side, I'm not much into rewarding people for breaking the law, but we do need those workers. There are plenty of Hispanics with conservative political leanings who would cheerfully help come up with something equitable, if the Republicans were willing to invite them.

2012 February 23 -- Getting On With Life

I didn't feel like working, so I watched the rest of an otherwise forgetable movie I started last night "The Cemetery Club" about three 60-ish widows getting with their lives. It seemed kind of fitting. I should get on with my life -- if I can find a life to get on with.

It started when I recently had called to my attention the problems I had with BibleTrans a dozen years ago. I guess back then I could have been a little less honest (more "nice") with the other guy, but dishonesty is against my religion. Besides, I have no reason to believe things would have come out any differently. He's a controller (MBTI "J") and sooner or later I would have had to choose between discarding BibleTrans and going with his inferior technology, or else telling him why not. Or worse: giving him the shaft without telling him why nor how to recover, as so many people have done to me. That's also against my religion. So I didn't have a lot of virtuous choices.

The important thing to understand is that God is bigger than other people's ill will. I got a valuable piece of advice back then, which made BibleTrans much stronger than it could have been otherwise. I knew it then, and I still believe it. We parted company before my benefactor went off on a wild-goose chase that would have made BibleTrans much worse and probably never fully functional, if I'd followed. The part I don't understand is why I can't get any traction today. I guess I have one more revision to make before I have any right to complain.

But it still feels like God is holding me back, that nothing I can do makes any visible progress toward making the world a better place. That's what the Second Great Commandment is all about, doing good things for other people. I have no reason to believe that anything I am able to do today will improve anybody's life in any measurable way. God could change my circumstances, but He seems disinclined to at this time. sigh

2012 February 20 -- Let the Games Begin

It's starting. Maybe it already started some time ago, but the gloves are now off...

TIME magazine, whose left-wing editors and writers make no pretense of hiding their preference for Romney as their second-best favorite replacement for the man currently in the WhiteHouse, began the current salvo with a cover story praising Obama's foreign policy:

The reality is that, despite domestic challenges and limited resources, President Obama has pursued an effective foreign policy. in fact, over the past year, Obama's policies have come together in a particularly successful manner.

... even before the killing of Osama bin Laden, even before Lybia, most Americans gave Obama positive marks for his handling of foreign policy. [Jan.30, p24]

WORLD magazine, whose politics are almost as far to the right as TIME is to the left and makes no pretense of hiding their contempt for both Obama and his wannabe clone (the one with an R), shot back with an op-ed piece by their heavyweight foreign correspondent:
But a growing number of analysts who cheered Obama and criticized Bush are voicing alarm over what analyst Daniel Pletka calls a "rudderless" national foreign policy. Robert Kagan ... said Obama's failure to work out an agreement with Iraq to maintain U.S. troops there "may prove to be one of the gravest errors of Obama's first term, for which either he or his successor will pay a high price." [Feb.24, p32]
It will be interesting to watch these two national magazines duke it out.

2012 February 15 -- Significance

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. [Psalm 37:4]
It doesn't seem to be working for me.

Many years ago I was in a church seminar, and the speaker asked what is most important to people. In our affluent culture it's not food or shelter or even money, but significance. People want to do something that makes a difference. It resonated with me so profoundly that to this day I remember where I was sitting -- but curiously, not how the question related to the seminar topic.

The "desire of my heart" is to do something useful, preferably useful to God, but at least useful to people. The most reliable and objective measure of usefulness is how much people are willing to pay for it. There may be exceptions, but not many. It's also not easily fooled by liars (see "My BS Detector"). Our culture is full of liars, especially in the churches. With this robust way to measure usefulness, I can now investigate my success at attaining "the desires of my heart."

I was able to do a few things in the past that were slightly useful...

I spent maybe 15 years in the security industry, designing computerized burglar alarms. The security industry feeds on the combination of two kinds of human greed: You need greedy people seeking ways to take stuff they have not earned, and you need greedy people with that stuff and seeking to prevent the first group from taking it. The second group buys alarm systems. Obviously the company I worked with thought what I did was useful (to them) because they paid well. But it's not exactly something I could proudly point at in the presence of God.

I spent maybe 15 years producing and supporting programming language tools (TinyBasic and CompileIt) for amateur programmers. They loved it, and from time to time I still get occasional emails of appreciation. It was a leisure-time activity for most of them, but I suspect some got a career start out of it. Not particularly earth-changing, but I made some money at it, so I guess they thought it was useful.

Realizing that programmers seemed most productive in their younger years, I planned for a different kind of productivity when I grew older, and got a PhD so I could teach. I've spent a little over 5 years teaching, and now nobody wants me. I guess my teaching computer science is not that useful to people. The students mostly thought so, but they don't get to choose.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I spent maybe 15 years producing BibleTrans, the world's first and only machine translation tool that could within the next decade make the Bible available in every language that does not yet have it. I think it would be world-changing, but it needs the involvement of more people than myself to have that effect. Nobody wants it.

OK, God, now what?

Look at my blog posts (here) and my essays. Not all of them, but a large part should count as "delighting in the Lord." When does the "desires" part happen? Or is TinyBasic and CompileIt and burglar alarms all I get? That would be disappointing.

2012 February 11 -- Old Dog, Older Tricks

Much of what passes for business in this country has no connection with reality. Consider an article in this week's TIME, "Hot-Tub Time Machine" which promises that "Atari's all-star game designers aim for a sequel." These guys were writing their best-sellers back when I wrote my own (reasonably good selling) video game. People get dollar signs in their eyes when they see game-maker Zynga raise a billion dollars in their IPO a couple months ago.

So maybe these aging programmers aren't in it for the money -- according to this article, they never were. I wasn't. We did it for the fun. They still are, as one of them admitted in the last line of the article, "I would have done this for free." They are lucky that somebody still believes in them. I still am working for free, because today's age-ist culture doesn't really want people with gray hair reminding them of the brevity of life. Yeah, they have laws against age discrimination, but foolish laws like that only make it harder for us to find work.

Anyway, what caught my attention in an article no more attractive than (back page feature) "10 Questions" asked of some obscure comedienne I never heard of, was the description of the next game these guys are working on: a turns-based fighting game, played not in real itme, but each turn comes whenever the other player gets around to it. As the writer pointed out, chess by mail has been around for hundreds of years, but he seems not to have considered that chess requires deep concentration to determine your next move. Tournament chess is played by the clock, because otherwise the players could take a long time. The turn-around of mail delivery is not a hindrance.

A twitch game is different. If Relationshipism (mutual affirmation) is the true religion of "Christians" in America, instant gratification is the idolatry of the rest of the country -- probably not excluding the Christians. Making a two-second instant decision in a video game needs to be rewarded in less time than it took to make the choice. Waiting hours for the other player to notice that it's their turn may be tolerable for a 60-year-old geezer (like these programmers) whose reflexes are no longer up to the speed of a traditional shoot-em-up twitch game, but it won't sell to the cell-phone teens whose other choice is AngryBirds.

So it gives these old geezers something to do besides wishing the government would pay for the "donut" cost of their escalating medications. I guess that's worth something.

2012 February 7 -- Being Nice in Politics

The current issue of WORLD magazine features a cover they have run several times over the past year, the current Republican hopefuls photoshopped into a "Tour d'America" bicycle race. The caption this week emphasizes "Road Rage". Last month's ChristianityToday cover features "Civil Christians in an Age of Rancor". Both magazines -- and many people in the churches -- complain about the biting attacks in politics. Not just the Republicans, mind you, Obama is doing it too.

To understand what is going on here, you must first recognize that American churches are run by and for the exclusive benefit of MBTI Feelers, people whose highest value is affirmation, also known as being Nice. The other half of the population, the Thinkers who more highly value Truth and Justice, need not apply -- or at least they are expected to check their brains at the door.

Perhaps not the candidates themselves, but most certainly their election teams are primarily Thinkers. They need to analyze scientifically what wins elections, and then do those things if they want their guy to win. That's a Thinker activity. The more successful of them get to help elect Presidents. Attack ads work, because attack ads are (at least in principle) about truth, and people who care about truth will pay attention to them. I suppose they also work on the Feelers because the ads are disaffirming, which is the opposite of what the Feelers want to feel, thereby pulling their victim down in the public eye.

But the question placed before us by these "Christian" magazines is not whether the ads work to get their candidate elected, but are they virtuous? Is it a Good thing for a candidate to be doing? It's a good question, but with a surprising answer. Obviously the intentionally deceptive ads are lies, and lies are from the Father of Lies, the Devil himself. Those are evil and Wrong. But not all attack ads are dishonest. Most of them expose some true but little-known fact about their victim. They help educate the public. It's negative, but true. Is that good or bad?

I turn to the Bible for the answer. Jesus lived a life without sin, yet some of the things he said about politicians in his day sound a lot like attack ads from today: "Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites! You load heavy burdens on people, but don't lift a finger to help." Does that sound Nice? Is that civil? Hardly. The Apostles and the Prophets weren't any better. At least not Nice.

I conclude, therefore, that the discomfort these magazines and their colleagues in churches across America are feeling about the negativity in this campaign is misplaced.

Don't get me wrong. Nice is not a bad thing. It's just not the best thing. Truth is more important than being Nice. Jesus never lied, but he was not always Nice. There is a time and a place for Nice. When it comes down to who will lead the most powerful country in the world, Nice is inappropriate. Osama bin Laden was not Nice to us, and we want somebody up there who can be not-Nice back to such people. And if somebody is not qualified to do that very difficult job, we need to be not-Nice enough to make sure he or she does not get elected. Or at least replaced in the next election. It's called "democracy" and it mostly works.

2012 February 1 -- The Elephant in the Room

My friend sent me a link to this WSJ essay "The Coming Tech-led Boom" by Mark Mills and Julio Ottino. They have some good insights, yet while ignoring the elephant in the room mindlessly trampling their prognostications. Predicting the future is a lot harder than most people -- including Mills & Ottino -- realize. On the other hand, almost everyone reading their essay will not be around to see whether they are right or wrong.

They start by comparing the economic situation in 2012 to 1912 and finding a lot of similarities, notably the presence of three emerging technologies: electrification, telephony, and automobiles back then, as compared to big data, smart manufacturing and the wireless revolution today. Let's grant them some correspondence.

Let's further grant them the observation that increased computer processing power leads to unforseeable changes in the economy, because we already have a half-century of experience seeing that happen. It's the other two emerging technologies in their list -- if you can consider them separate at all -- that look a little more iffy on closer examination.

Their whole paragraph on smart manufacturing smacks of buzzword mumbo-jumbo. "Engineers will soon design and build from the molecular level," they tell us. It sounds good, but it's still sci-fi today, like space travel was in 1912. Sure, the space age was foreseen, and it happened, but it didn't amount to much. Communications satellites do today what underwater cables did (and still do) before we had stuff in the sky. Otherwise, space travel is still sci-fi for most of us. Predicting the future is rather harder than analyzing the past.

Then they tell us of "computationally engineered materials [like] novel metal alloys, graphene transistors, and invisible meta-materials." I don't know how these materials qualify as "computationally engineered" unless they really only have one emerging technology (namely computers, which is really 50 years old), and they needed to force something in to fill in the slots of their parallelism.

Wikipedia reports a lot of research in graphene, with high hopes for future electronic products and fancy manufacturing technologies -- how about making vodka without the heat of a still? Wow, what a technical break-through! I seem to recall similar high hopes for magnetic bubbles several decades ago. Predicting the future is still harder than analyzing the past. As for invisibility cloaking, physicist Chris Lee tells us "New meta-material doesn't actually render anything invisible". Economists can't really be expected to understand the physics, but anybody can read the hits from a simple Google search.

They reach a crescendo with the breathless hope for "the Holy Grail: 'desktop' printing of entire final products from wheels to even washing machines." 3-D printing (direct-digital manufacturing) is a cute toy today, but it is limited to materials that can be laid down incrementally by the printer, like certain kinds of plastics. We may devise more such materials, but they won't encompass the whole range of physical properties needed for wheels and washing machines. You might also give the "3-D printing" label to a computer-driven milling machine, but we've had those for decades; they can hardly be described as "emerging". Calling it a "Holy Grail" perhaps accurately anticipates the success of their hope. But it gets more religious:

The era of near-perfect computational design and production will unleash as big a change in how we make things as the agricultural revolution did in how we grew things. And it will be defined by high talent not cheap labor.
Pardon my immodesty here, but I suspect I qualify as "high talent" here. "Near-perfect" computational operation is achievable about the way sinless perfection is: true in principle, but exceedingly difficult in practice. I think I will wait this one out and see what really happens.
Finally, there is the unfolding communications revolution where soon most humans on the planet will be connected wirelessly. Never before have a billion people -- soon billions more -- been able to communicate, socialize and trade in real time.

The implications of the radical collapse in the cost of wireless connectivity are as big as those following the dawn of telegraphy/telephony. Coupled with the cloud, the wireless world provides cheap connectivity, information and processing power to nearly everyone, everywhere.

This is something of an exaggeration. A billion people today have access to both cars and cell phone technology, but most of them (read: Africa and other third-world locations where cell technology is available but landlines are not) cannot afford the high prices except for rare events; they walk a mile to a provider and pay a day's wage for a few minutes. Furthermore, unlike point-to-point wires and optical fibers, the airwaves are a limited resource. We can tolerate a few hundred simultaneous conversations in a single cell tower by digital compression, but there's a physics limit to what the frequencies will sustain. We are already seeing price structures designed to limit the bandwidth used by customers of hardwired net access such as offered on TV cable, where they are nowhere near the bandwith limitations inherent in the medium, but greater than what cell tower frequency allocations can sustain. There is no room for unlimited growth here, not here in the USA, and not in the 3rd world. It's physics.

Think of it as like cars. Everybody in the USA has a car, but not everybody drives their car all day every day. There isn't enough space on the streets and highways for them, and they can't afford the gas to do it. Cars cost more than cell phones, but wireless will necessarily still have those same kinds of limitations.

Then Mills & Ottino turn to why they believe America is poised to lead their vision of the future: "our youthful demographics, dynamic culture and diverse educational system." The farther they get from (measurable) technology, the harder it is for them to stick to hard reality. "By 2020," they tell us, "America will be younger than both China and the euro zone, if the latter still exists."

That's an interesting demographic, but it bears a closer look. China and Europe have aging populations because they are (in China's case, intentionally) killing off their children before they are born. We are, too. Fortunately, Darwinian "natural selection" applies, and the killers are being replaced in the demographic by the ("pro-life") breeders. We have more of the latter to start with than those other places, but Mills & Ottino seem not to notice. However, most of our youthful growth is coming in across porous borders; without them we'd be shrinking like Europe. Nobody in Washington (nor their wannabe replacements in the other party) is proposing a just and viable solution to the situation, nor are the immigrants likely to participate in any continued youthful high-tech supremacy of the USA, because they are being denied access to technological leadership.

Mills & Ottino tell us,

Culture cannot be changed or copied overnight... Ours is distinguished by ... open-mindedness, risk-taking, hard work, playfulness, and, critical for nascent new ideas, a healthy dose of anti-establishment thinking. Where else could an Apple or a Steve Jobs have emerged?
This is an important insight, but it ignores the elephant in the room. The American culture is the most innovative in the world because it is built on the Protestant work ethic, which everybody -- especially the "diverse" educational system -- is vigorously trying to tear down. The Protestant work ethic is based on the Christian value of self-sacrifice and serving others; modern educated thinking promotes greed and selfishness. It's not the same. Fortunately, as the authors observed, culture doesn't change quickly. We are still running on the fumes in the gas tank, and it may yet be good for another few decades. The reference to Steve Jobs is particularly poignant, because he was an unwanted pregnancy adopted out; today potential Steve Jobses are killed before they can be born.

It's that "diverse educational system" which adds a long nose and tramples everything in the Mills & Ottino house. The American educational system worked to sustain the American culture of "open-mindedness, risk-taking, hard work, [and] playfulness" so long as it encouraged the Protestant ethic values; now that those values are largely gone from the system, forbidden by the government-funded established religion of atheism, the American educational system is churning out only greedy self-indulgent drones designed to vote for the left-wing bigots who made the system so bad, but nothing like the "open-minded, risk-taking, hard work[ing]" innovators who made this country great. It's the wrong kind of diversity being taught in the schools, and it's already starting to show its effect.

It may be that more than half of the world's top 100 universities are in America, with soaring foreign enrollments, but those foreign students don't come to take "diversity" programs like "Women's Studies" and "History of Human Consciousness". They come for science. And then they go home and build nukes for Iran and North Korea, leaving us with the drones sitting in downtown malls chanting "Occupy America" instead of occupying themselves to build new and better things in America.

"What should our politicians do to help usher in this new era of entrepreneurial growth?" the authors ask, and conclude with nice political answers. I think the biggest thing the government can do to promote the next century of American growth is to GET OUT OF THE WAY. Stop killing children. Stop the monopoly of underperforming schools. A sensible immigration policy wouldn't hurt, but the right-wing bigots don't have any better ideas than the left-wing bigots. I would encourage some bipartisanship, but the education factories have already instilled too much selfishness (in everybody) for anything like that to hope to succeed, as we saw in the recent budget fiasco, and the health care fiasco before that.

I agree with Mills & Ottino that the USA is way ahead of whoever is in second place, but after watching the elephant stamp around a while, I'm convinced that everybody -- not excluding Mills & Ottino -- is trying hard to close the gap. Maybe we'll see another 100 years of American world supremacy, and maybe we won't. I'm less optimistic than the authors of this essay, mostly for reasons they are ignoring. But they are writing for the Wall Street Journal, and American business doesn't give a rip about 25 years in the future, let alone 100. I suspect the Koreans might have a better balance of religious values and long-term vision. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

2012 January 25 -- Dangerous Movies

The movie rating system is designed by the Devil, who attacks virtue at all levels, both inside and out of the rating system. It's easy enough to measure whether the flick exposes two square inches of female flesh, while totally ignoring the far more insidious promotion of infidelity completely apart from any actual display of skin. Impressionable young boys (but generally not girls, whose incentives tend to be non-visual) might be incited to lust by viewing skin, or alternatively, by failing to view the same erogenous skin, but at least they can know that acting out their lust is wrong. Lustful kissing scenes, and even only the hint of it -- fade to the morning after -- presented in a favorable light gives permission to both boys and girls to abandon virtue.

I think if I had children, I would insist on sitting through the film with them, explaining the moral problems as they come up, and why they are wrong. In other contexts I'm more likely to explain the scientific problems -- like MacGyver picking a lock with his Swiss army knife.

K-PAX had a theological problem that it took me a couple days to identify. The guy Prot is presented as a visitor from a distant planet who gets locked up in a looney bin, and the plot centers on his interaction with the resident shrink, who represents science and truth, and with the other patients, who view Prot with religious awe. It is meant to be a subtle parable on Christianity, where "science" proves religion is false, even despite small hints (read: miracles, unexplained by science) that the religionist/alien story might be true. The climax comes [spoiler alert] on the morning when Prot is scheduled to return to his home planet K-PAX, and he's still there in the hospital after the announced time but in a catatonic vegetative state (proving the shrink was right); one of the other patients, however, whom Prot had promised to take with him, has disappeared from the locked facility, and we are left wondering if maybe she went to K-PAX after all. Prot himself had previously disappeared and returned suddenly, with no visible means. The implication is that since science is mostly right, these are just minor problems that science will eventually solve.

It's fiction, of course. Perhaps there truly are no such thing as aliens (not counting Jesus, we have never seen any), but people also don't pop in and out of existence. The miracles in the Bible were not gratuitous, they were attached to particular events and persons to give those persons authority. Most (but perhaps not all) modern claims of "miracle" are hyperbole or wishful thinking. We should not be credulous, but we should also not be dismissive. Rather we should be a little like the shrink in K-PAX, examining the evidence, then remaining convinced by it. In his case the (fictional) evidence came down soundly against Prot's story as an alien, but the shrink actually went out and found it. If you try to do that in the science-vs-religion conflict, there is no primary evidence from the (Darwinist) "scientists", so the truth actually leans the other way.

Don't confuse the parable with the facts. They are different.

2012 January 21 -- Google's Ad

The back cover on TIME magazine is not cheap, but Google has a lot of money, they can afford it.

So what is it they are willing to spend big bucks on? They want your cookies. They are even willing to lie to get them.

The function of cookies in your web browser is so the web site you are visiting can keep a record of your visit on your computer. That makes cookies something like a virus, which is anything you don't want that some other other computer puts on your computer for the purpose of doing something you don't want done. That last part is important. If people wanted their privacy invaded, Google would not need to pay for a back-cover TIME ad.

I said they lied about it. The ad deceptively implies that the function of the cookie is so that Google doesn't need to ask your name. That's a lie. Google doesn't need to ask your name anyway. I never let cookies go through and I use Google all the time. It works fine without knowing my name. What Google wants to do -- which they cannot do without cookies -- is collect private information to sell targeted ads. OK, they make money on their ads, and they wouldn't exist if they couldn't sell ads. Fine, let them sell ads. But I don't want to see my name on anybody's ad. If I do, it means somebody has access to my private information -- more than my name! -- and I don't want that, and neither do you.

A few years ago some untrained income tax official in the State of Misery misappropriated my tax payment and sent it off to some other state, which refused to give it back. If that isn't bad enough, I started getting letters from some company in a third state offering to get it back for me -- for a fee, of course. How did they know my name and address? My private information got out. I don't want that happening, and neither do you. The government did it, and there's not much you or I can do about the government, especially the unelected bureaucrats who steal citizen's money and won't give it back.

But we don't have to make it easy for private companies like Google. They don't get any cookies from me, and apparently not from a lot of other people too. So they buy expensive ads on the back cover of TIME to try to convince us otherwise. It didn't work with me.

2012 January 20 -- Godly Joking

I'm not much into "gift exchanging" -- which is a contradiction in terms: if you get value back, then it's barter, not a gift -- and most of my family and friends cater to my idiosyncracies, but December is the season, so I received a gift: one family at church seems to have adopted me as their patron guru, and they gave me a book by outdoors humorist Patrick McManus. It's so funny, I have to read it in small doses to keep various parts of my body from falling off and rolling on the floor laughing.

Then last Sunday, the fellow who writes the songs for our Scripture memorization, and who is himself something of a joker, handed me a CD titled "Ken Davis: Seriously Funny." God wants you to have fun, according to Davis, and the whole sermon (except for a tiny personal note at the end) was one joke after another, mostly poking fun at his wife and teen or pre-teen daughters, who are now grown up with their own children and not nearly so funny. Or maybe it's safe to joke about the past, and not the present. His jokes were funny, although not in the same league as McManus, but I felt badly for his wife and daughters. Maybe they put up with the abuse because it's his (and their) source of income.

Never once did Ken Davis cite a single Bible verse in support of his thesis. If God wants you and me to have fun, why can't I find any Bible verse saying so? Or at least giving an example of God or Jesus or one of the Prophets or Apostles having fun. OK, there are a couple:

Psalm 2:4 -- The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.[NIV]
At whom? "The kings of the earth [and] the rulers [who] gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One." God laughs at His enemies, not His family and friends. "Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath..." In 1Kings 18:27 the prophet Elijah taunts the (false) prophets of Ba'al and jokes about the impotence of their god. It's even funny. Again, it's the enemies of God who are the butt of his joking.

There is one other verse, Eph.5:4, "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Jesus promised his disciples trouble in this world [John 16:33] not fun.

So I have this problem. If joking and laughter are such a good thing, why is the Bible, which is arguably our source of all Truth and Wisdom and knowledge of Virtue -- at least I would argue as much -- why is the Bible so negative about it? Am I so "joyless" (as one of my critics accused me)? Or is laughter like alcohol and recreational drugs, which God made for the helpless and the hopeless, so they can "drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more."

It is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. [Prov.31:6,7]
We are kings and priests in God's economy, we don't need mind-bending drugs to smother despair.

I suspect that joking, like booze, does indeed "deprive all the oppressed of their rights." OK, the wicked deserve it, they chose to oppose the Creator and Ruler of the universe. But think about what makes a joke funny. There are two kinds of jokes, puns -- for which the proper response to a really good one is a groan -- and ridicule. Davis ridiculed his wife and daughters. McManus poked fun at his wife a few times, but mostly he ridiculed his own teenage blunders, and those of a few (obviously fictitious) accomplices like Retch Sweeney and Rancid Crabtree. Many of his jokes build an expectation of folly in another person, then it turns out to be McManus himself, before he gets to telling about the other person, which is sort of like the way a pun works.

Does anyone enjoy being the butt of somebody else's joke? I don't. We put up with it, especially if the joke is really funny, the way we put up with a hangover after a good drunk, but it's not fun. Alcoholics obviously are willing to accept the hangover, and drug addicts are willing to suffer the downer, or they wouldn't injest those substances in the first place, but we usually don't get the choice to be the butt of somebody's joke.

So I try not to tell jokes that ridicule other people. Well, I slipped up a few months ago. A 20-something young lady was telling about getting calls for some "Tim Turner" on her new cell phone, and then dreaming that he was actually me and that I was with the CIA. I couldn't resist: I disguised my voice and called her cell, "This is Tim Turner, do you have any messages for me?" If I'd been more skillful, I would have added that it was a matter of national security, and that I would be right over to make the arrest, and that she would recognize "my little blue car." But everybody had a good laugh anyway -- including Mary, after she recovered from the adrenaline rush. It was a good joke, but was it a Good thing to do? I don't know, at least not if Scripture is to be my guide.

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2012 January 18 -- Buffett Is Business, Not Politics

This week's TIME magazine has a fascinating cover story on Warren Buffett. Like all left-wing mainstream media, TIME tends to paint the world in black and white, left- and right-wing politics. As a result, they can't figure out who Buffett is. Although nominally a Democrat and he occasionally praises Obama, his politics is essentially a thin coat of paint he put on to please his less-than-virtuous first wife. Politics is a group hug, where you promote the causes of the Party at the expense of Truth and Justice. TIME is political, but Buffett is not. I wish more Christians had the integrity of Buffett.

The article didn't say it, but it's obvious that  Buffett's religion is money, not God. Nevertheless, God's moral laws make success in all sorts of places. In money+politics (Buffett) as in God+politics (many Christians), there are both overlaps and contrasts. The socialists in Washington like it when Buffett calls for "higher taxes on the rich and more government spending," but less cheerful when he opposes "regulation as a curb for corporate excess." That's not the whole story, and I suspect Buffett had (or would have) more to say on exactly what kinds of taxes and spending and regulation. He evidently doesn't think much of what Obama did to health care, calling it "a tapeworm in America." Buffett, like Japanese business leaders, is looking at the long-term prospects for business in America, not so much the short-term quarterly bottom line most popular among his competitors. And much of what he says makes sense. But not all.

As a very rich man, Buffet is famous for saying the rich should pay more taxes. He's right. It should not be possible for very rich people like Buffett to get away with paying half the tax rate of middle-class people. But Buffett is not asking for punitive taxes on wealth, which the socialists want. He just wants everybody to share the burden. It's only just. The article hints that Buffett might support overtaxing the rich, but without actual quotes; I suspect the writer could be injecting her own left-wing politics, instead of accurately presenting Buffett's own thinking. This article goes on to quote Buffet against allowing foreign investment profits to be repatriated tax-free: "It'll just encourage more investment to flow overseas." Which is true. Tax policy should carefully consider what social policies it encourages and discourages. Neither political party (nor the politicized MSM like TIME) is doing a good job of that, but the current administration is just plain ignorant. I'd bet Buffett knows that. He certainly has given more thought to the problem than any politician I ever heard.

"Get rid of public schools," the sidebar reads, "so that rich families would be forced to invest in the public K-12 system." The main article goes on to say that "No Buffett in Omaha has ever gone to a private school." That looks suspiciously misleading. The qualifier "in Omaha" suggests that although when Buffett's children in Omaha were school age, he may not have been rich enough yet to justify private school, but he himself might have gone to private school in Washington when his father was Congressman. The DC schools are so bad, no politician sends his kids to public school there. More investment wouldn't help, because per student, the Omaha schools cost only 31% of what the DC schools cost . Private schools cost even less, and teach better. Figures don't lie, but liars figure. Although education has a better correlation with personal wealth than any other indicator, Buffett does not "think education will entirely close the gap" between the rich and the poor. He does not mention that Jesus supports this insight. The socialists in Washington also know it, but they aren't saying so, because they want to be the rich that the poor will never rise up to become.

The writer continues her left-wing editorializing by quoting "another Nebraskan, Democrat William Jennings Bryan," without actually saying that Buffett approves of his statement: "If you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it." That only works in a capitalistic economy, where prosperous people buy goods and services from independent businesses, who then become prosperous -- and also hire more people to make more goods and services to sell. In a socialist economy, the goods and services are owned by the government, so there is no spread of the prosperity, and the government only takes more of it away in taxes.

"Buffet believes that once the housing market recovers, the U.S. economy will be back on track." The article neglects to tell us which is cause and which is effect, nor if Buffett even knows. More construction certainly means more employment for construction workers, but nobody is going to build more houses when so many people are unemployed and can't even afford the house they lost to the bank last year.

Buffett offers a curious insight on investing in technology, by comparing it to the automobile 100 years ago. Some 2000 automobile companies back then are survived by only three today. As a long-term investment, it was a lousy risk. The article did not go on to explain why, but I'd bet Buffett knows. He looks for long-term value, the companies that will be worth more in ten years than they are today. High-flying sizzle stocks tend to be over-priced because the market is (mostly, except in the very long term that Buffett looks at) a zero-sum game, and high demand drives the stock price up without increasing the corporate value. Naturally, he's in favor of taxing the income of day-traders, he's not one of them. Buffett's company, Berkshire-Hathaway is buying up solid (but underpriced) companies in the present down market. "I am 100% sure that people in this country will be doing more business 10 years from now than they are today." Of course they will! Obama will no longer be President, so his policies will no longer be inducing fear and trembling in business owners. Even if Obama wins again, he and his influence will be gone by 2022; if a Republican wins this year and is replaced by another Democrat in the next or following elections, no left-wing Democrat as ignorant and foolish as Obama will be elected again while his memory is fresh. So Buffet is right: the environment for business has to be better ten years from now. Today is "the Great Depression" our children will talk about fifty years from now. A Republican started it (both this one and also in 1929) and the Democrat who replaced him made it far worse. Both times.

The TIME cover proudly announces that "Warren Buffett is bullish on America." He's not worried about social unrest. "The classic test of that was actually the 2000 election. If you think about it, half the people in America felt they were screwed, and the next day they all went to work." He's reluctant to admit it, but the same thing happened in 2008, except that it was the other half, and some of us didn't go to work the next day. Obamanomics does not cure unemployment -- it also didn't work in 1932 when FDR tried it -- and maybe next year we will get to see some other ideas tested. It's not really so much what the government does, but rather what the business owners and the consumers think the government is doing to them that matters. When the business owners are optimistic, they will hire and make wealth and people will be employed and buying; when the consumers are optimistic, they will buy and businesses will ramp up and make wealth and so on. When either or both are fearful, the economy goes south. Businesses fear Obama. Whether that will translate into votes for one of the buffoons running in the other party remains to be seen.

2012 January 13 -- Politics from the Left

Ever since I started reading it again, TIME magazine has made no effort to hide their preference for Mitt Romney. As one of the left-wing bigot "mainstream media" they cannot be blamed for preferring the most left-leaning of the Republican candidates. But I got a chuckle from their cover story this week "So You Like Me Now?" Inside they ask, "Can Anyone Stop Romney?" The unstated answer is obvious: Obama can and will in November, unless one of the other Republicans succeeds before then.

The problem is, like McCain in 2008, Romney is just another Obama clone spelled differently. When he was governor he gave us our first taste of ObamaCare. I didn't like it then, and I still don't like it. The American people prefer their politicians honest (is there such a thing?) so they voted for the real Obama instead of Obama-with-an-M McCain in 2008, and I suspect -- and TIME obviously hopes -- they will prefer the real Obama instead of Obama-with-an-R Romney in 2012.

But I don't think it will get that far. As TIME pointed out, only 8 more people preferred Romney to the second-place runner-up, which hardly counts as a landslide, and only 122,255 people voted (less than 0.01% of the nation's registered voters). More than 75% of them wanted somebody else. Somehow that doesn't look like Romney is a shoo-in for (defeat in) November, nevermind what the left-wing bigots might hope.

2012 January 3 -- Prehistoric Fiction

The late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin had a trademark screen style, charging off through the wilds, then turning and talking to the camera explaining what he was doing or some tidbit of information about the wild beast he was up against. The DVD I picked up at the library last week was sort of a cross between Jurassic Park and Steve Irwin. The original TV series Prehistoric Park ran about the time Irwin died and then cancelled after the first season, so it probably had Irwin's permission; on the other hand there is no mention of Irwin in the "Making Of" documentary nor in the Wiki article on it, which suggests that his estate refused further permission. I'm not surprised.

Jurassic Park (both the novel and the movie) used credible science -- reconstructed DNA -- to explain the dinosaurs in the story. Michael Crichton had a science education, and most of his novels reflected scientific accuracy. Prehistoric Park doesn't have that limitation. They go get their dinosaurs by time-travel, which shows up from time to time in science fiction, but less often now after Einstein essentially debunked it. DNA reconstruction is still credible science, but time travel is not. Most TV is done by "artists" and not scientists.

The animation in Prehistoric Park also leaves something to be desired. Their T-rexes scream and lunge, but rarely make violent contact. Credible interaction between animated 3D characters is very difficult, because of the physics. There it is, science again. Americans scored dead last in math and science education around the world, but you don't need to understand Newtonian physics to see the difference between dogs fighting (they are all over each other) and an animation of something which should look the same. Come to think of it, there wasn't much interaction between the animated animals in Jurassic Park (the movie) also, but I don't recall noticing. The screen writer there left fewer occasions where it was needed. Movie writers tend to have more skill than in TV. There is one scene in Prehistoric Park where the triceratops lunges at the camera through a wooden palisade; the top pair of horns slide clean through between the poles and back out leaving no visible damage, despite that the horn tips are far too wide to fit in the pole spacing. According to the documentary, the poles are real; the digital animal was added by the animators. You can jiggle the camera in post-production to make the contact look violent, but adding damage or flexing to the wood was apparently beyond their capability.

Similarly, a giant 10-foot centipede rears up into a threatening position as tall as Nigel Marven, leaving less than half its length on the ground to support that altitude. The physics of such a position is impossible, because more than half its weight is forward of its most forward support legs, and there are no claws to keep the other half pinned to the ground. The Steve Irwin-like character Marven goes on to say that he can't tell if it's centipede or a millipede, while the many full-front views of the reared-up creature clearly show single feet per segment. I see now that's not the only distinction, but it's the most anatomically distinct of them. Less obvious, but if the centipede is the largest of the land animals in that environment as claimed, why would it need to rise up at all? It's not going to catch giant dragonflies flying by, they are too fast -- never mind that they are not nearly so agile animated (nearly ran into Marven and other obstacles) as real-life insects. But the show needs some faux-danger for Marven to encounter, and this is it.

I guess the thing that really turned me off was the patter by Nigel Marven (apparently that's his real name, off-screen as well as on). He gives you these Irwin-esque tidbits about how great the T-rex sense of smell is, in the same tone of voice that he's telling you things that could reasonably be inferred from the fossils, like that they could run fast. So it's fiction. I like my fiction to be at least credible. This made me wonder if the real Steve Irwin fabricated his facts too. Like I said, it's no wonder the estate shut down the series (if that's what happened).

I like to try and guess where the location shots are filmed, or at least see it in the credits. TV shows tend to be skimpy on the credits, but usually you can get it from the "Making Of" documentary. In this case they said they went all over the world for location shots (the Wiki article lists the places) but they did not clearly tell us where the park itself was located nor filmed, other than one aside reference to the heat in South Africa. A secondary link in Wiki finally confirmed the South Africa site.

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