Monday, November 30, 2015

What Level of Honesty Do Americans Expect of Their President?

Although it is remarkably easy to skew the Truth-Telling profile created by PolitiFact, It seems to reflect what most people perceive about the GOP candidates.

Fact-checking the 2016 GOP presidential candidates

The question is "Could a Truly Honest Politician Become President?" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/could-a-truly-honest-politician-become-president/2012/07/06/gJQAGK4OSW_story.html  

Donald Trump's and Ben Carson's continuing to stretch "the fact", but it doesn't seem to have hurt their popularity with their constituency.  The question these people need to ask is, "Is that the kind of information they would be willing to accept, if either of these men become President?"  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Decades of Pampering Pays Dividends

Weep for protesting college students crybabies and brats for pitching hissy fits over hurt feelings -- and us
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/for-thin-skinned-college-students-we-have-nobody-to-blame-but-ourselves/ar-BBnpuYc?li=BBnb7Kz 
  • Everybody Gets a Trophy culture and an educational system that, for the most part, no longer teaches a core curriculum, including history, government and the Bill of Rights.
  • Zealous pampering of the American child that began a few decades ago.
  • Johnny was handed a blue ribbon along with everyone else on the team even though he didn’t deserve one. Today’s campuses are overrun with little Johnnys,
  • Self-esteem is earned, not bestowed.
  • recent surge on campuses of “trigger warnings” in syllabuses to alert students to content that might be upsetting, and “safe spaces ” where students can seek refuge when ideas make them uncomfortable.
  • The marketplace of ideas is not for sissies
  • the world we’ve created for young people who soon enough will discover that the world doesn’t much care about their tender feelings.

Is SkyNet Here?

According to "The Week" (11/27/15) 
Google just made an announcement that will send ripples throughout the technology industry for years to come... The company has built a new learning system for machines called TensorFlow"
Lifehacker calls TensorFlow a game changer (original article)
The development of smarter and more pervasive artificial intelli- gence (AI) is about to shift into overdrive with the announcement by Google that TensorFlow, its second-generation machine-learning system, will be made available free to anyone who wants to use it. This has the potential to shape the future of artificial intelligence (AI).
KDnuggets reports that not everyone is impressed, TensorFlow Disappoints – Google Deep Learning falls shallow
Look, Google is at the forefront of technological innovation, there is no denying that...Google is 5+ years ahead of everyone. In everything. All the time.  It's like a new pizzeria opening on the block, except it has pretty much the same menu as other shops, doesn't taste quite as good, and costs a little more, too. You might try it out, but something tells me you and your friends end up back at your favorite spot soon enough. 
I'm not saying don't use TensorFlow. I'm not even saying that I won't use it. It's just that, well, I'm struggling to figure out when or why I would use it, to be honest.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Charitable Giving SCAMS

     Between September 29 and October 14, 2015, AARP engaged Alan Newman Research to conduct a research study among the general population in seven select states: Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. It explored holiday fraud and scams in the upcoming holiday season.  One of the topics included charitable solicitations and donations.

REF:  AARP Study Results
     Data from this survey showed:
  • 70% of those who donated to a charity or fundraiser in the past 12 months did so without asking what percentage of their donation went to the fundraiser versus to the charity itself.
  • 52% said they didn't know that professional fundraisers are allowed to keep most of the money they raise for charity as long as they don’t lie about how much they keep.
      Before making a charitable donation make sure the group you choose will put your money to good use and not spend it on big salaries for its executives or huge payments to professional fundraisers.
      The easiest way to research national charities is with the three major charity watchdogs: Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. They rate charities based on how they spend their money, protect donor privacy, govern themselves, and more. They use somewhat different criteria and don't always agree, so check out a charity with all three groups. (Only CharityWatch requires a donation for full access, although it provides useful information without one.) 
     The watchdogs don't always rate the same charities, so look for a charity that has high ratings by at least two of them. Sometimes the BBB Wise Alliance says it didn't rate a charity because the group did not provide the information necessary for an evaluation. Take that as bad sign

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Republicans Seem Anxious to Promote a Religious War

      "We are in a religious war with radical Islamists," Sen. Lindsey Graham proclaimed on Fox News earlier this month. "When I hear the President of the United States and his chief spokesperson failing to admit that we're in a religious war, it really bothers me."
http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/01/politics/obama-radical-islam-terrorism-war/

     What bothers us is the shortsightedness of the Republican candidates for POTUS, almost universally, who wish to play the religious card in order to draw attention to themselves.  Even George Bush, who claimed to be a born-again Christian, recognized the error to elevate the conflict in the Middle East to a religious war.

In his article "Why ISIS Attacked Paris", Mark Juergensmeyer recognized the real dynamics of this conflict.  He commented.
     In fact, ISIS has not been doing well these days. . .The amount of territory controlled by ISIS has shrunk considerably in recent months.ISIS is also not as attractive to young Muslims activists as it used to be. . . ISIS, it appears, is on a downward slide.
     But perhaps this is precisely what explains the Paris attacks. ISIS is desperate. It needs a victory, a vivid show of force to bolster the morale of its supporters, attract new volunteers, and with luck, intimidate its foes. The attacks in Paris may have been calculated to achieve all of these goals.
     If its actions could goad the French and other Western powers into further military action against it, this would fit perfectly into the image of the Western Crusaders waging war against the forces of Islam.

Friday, November 20, 2015

IRS TAX SCAM

     We just received a call from (425) 287-6073 informing us that the IRS was filing a lawsuit against us and that we need to respond.  It's the infamous tax SCAM.  The IRS never makes such calls.  For more information about this scam and others like it follow this link

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rather Die with Dignity Than Live with Dishonor

      The lessons of history haven't permeated Western policies toward the Middle East and specifically ISIS.  Americans and their leaders don't seem to understand what is driving the massively effective recruitment of the ISIS image.  No matter how benevolent, no people like to be subjected to what amounts to an occupation.  From Roman times the history of the Middle East repeatedly demonstrates the response of these civilizations to being under the heel of another peoples' boot.
     The American occupation both implicitly in Iran and explicitly in Iraq has led to the rise of violent insurgencies.  The solution to ISIS being proposed by most Americans, most notably the conservatives and their mouth-pieces is -- a bigger boot.
     The crippling policies against Germany after World War I led to Germany's retaliation in World War II.  Likewise, bombing the hell out of ISIS only strengthens the movement and its desire for greater public violence as an expression of honor.
     Policies of Obama to addressing the ISIS situation seems to appreciate this psychology.  Most likely the experiences of a black growing up in America shapes his disposition to this issue.  It's a fact to which the privileged cannot relate, can only give lip service, and most definitely cannot lead the world toward a resolution.
     America must take a secondary and supportive position to Middle Eastern nations.  Islam as a religion and its purpose of existence is in turmoil with the multiple interpretations warring for dominance. The only solution is to respect the dignity of the Islamic people to find their own answers.  Without question that will be a long and painful process.  Attempts of outside influences to accelerate the process by interjecting themselves into this "family war" only provides the warring parties a reason to consolidate, such as in the case of Al Qaeda, against the common evil.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stop RoboCalls

As soon as we heard that a provision buried deep in the new federal budget would authorize robocalls to cell hones, we jumped on it. People like you quickly sent tens of thousands of messages to the House as lawmakers were debating the bill.

Your message was clear: this is a terrible idea!

But this bad provision still got pushed through Congress in a rush to avoid a government shutdown. Thankfully, that's not the end of it! A handful of Senators have already launched legislation -- the HANG UP Act -- to repeal this before it even takes effect.

Tell your Senators to cosponsor, and all lawmakers to support, the HANG UP Act!

Today, it is still against the law to robocall cell phones in most circumstances, yet we get these unwanted and exasperating calls anyway. Your stories are pouring in describing debt collector robocalls related to debts you don't owe and debtors you don't know. This problem could get a lot worse unless the HANG UP Act quickly passes.

Ten Senators -- Senators McCaskill, Wyden, Menendez, Blumenthal, Leahy, Warren, Sanders, Franken, Klobuchar, and Baldwin -- are already signed on as original cosponsors and they need support.

Tell your Senators to cosponsor the HANG UP Act and say "No" to robocalls to cell phones!

After you take action, check out the rest of our work to pressure the major phone companies to give us all free, effective robocall blocking.

No matter what happens in Congress, we are going to need better tools to block robocalls ourselves. We've already signed half a million people on to our petition to the phone companies. Our campaign – EndRobocalls.org -- has put this problem back into the spotlight, so we hope you will share it with friends and family.

Thanks for everything you do!

Sincerely,
Tim Marvin, EndRobocalls.org
A project of Consumers Union
Policy and Action from Consumer Reports

Controversal Climate Essay

     On October 16, David Siegal posted the essay "What I Learned about Climate Change: The Science is not Settled" at ClimateCurious.com .  It was picked up by the blog WattsupwithThat and has received a rebuttal on October 29.  "Climate Change is Real and Important". 
     We were reluctant to post anything about it until we have time to evaluate Siegal's claims and the rebuttal.  However, that has been done. Siegal has responded at "Climate Change: Is it Real and Important?".
     What is great about the Siegal response is he includes REFERENCES that readers can research for themselves.
     Anthony Watts provided Summary of the Article on his blog he included the following introduction to David Siegal, which we paraphrase below.  Watts titled his post as How a liberal vegan environmentalist made the switch from climate proponent to climate skeptic”.  Follow-up comments can be found by clicking here.
     David Siegel is not a climate expert; he is a writer. He became interested in climate science early in 2015 and decided to educate himself in the field. Like the contributors to MTSkeptics, it didn’t take long before it was clear that there isn’t likely going to be any catastrophic warming this century. 
     Siegal did his homework and wrote the above noted essay aimed at liberals -- who have a voice, who have access to media, and who might take 30 minutes to educate themselves.
     He submitted his work to many liberal publications, from the LA Times to the Atlantic Monthly to National Geographic to Huffington Post. They all turned it down. So he posted the essay himself and hoping others will read it and help spread the word.  He wants influential liberals to understand that the science is not settled.

Freedom OF Religion Is Same as Freedom FROM Religion

      Kim Davis's refusal to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County Kentucky is a violation of the American Constitution.  She has every right to practice her beliefs IN PRIVATE, but she has no right to force those beliefs in her PUBLIC job.  Her claim that the Supreme Court ruling supporting the right of Gays to marry violates her religious beliefs is wrong and in direct violation of the civil duties she agreed to execute.  If she has trouble with that, she should resign her position.
     Her argument can be extrapolated to allow any person to discriminate based on some absurd claim it violates his or her "religion."  Does that claim extend to devout Hindus refusing to issue business permits to a steak house?  Does that claim extend to devout Muslims from issue liquor licenses to bars or taverns? Does that claim allow a Quaker pacifist from issuing permits of any kind to American soldiers?
     Likewise, when has it become a litmus test for PUBLIC office to be Christian?  Does any candidate for President, such as Ben Carson, who openingly claims that Muslims (and other non-Christians) should not hold that office have the right to run for that office, especially when he must that an oath of office to uphold the Constitution?  Does the OPEN discussion of religion have any place PUBLIC office, especially President?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Other Side of the Climate Debate

Climate Debate has some unwritten constructive aspects that I think few appreciate.  Coal, the primary source of the world’s energy, is extremely dirty source of energy and maybe the worst.  It hugely and negatively impacts the environment.  America needs to move its dependence from fossil fuels.  As a hidden agenda these concerns are significant. 
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There is the other issue – the rapid deforestation of the planet.  Again a topic of consequences. 
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Lastly, oil is an extremely valuable, non-renewable resource.  It is the basis of the products of modern life.  To burn it, seems horribly short-sighted.  Maybe this story to stop burning fossil resources won’t sell well and another is needed.
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People like stories of apocalypses - that humankind is inherently evil.  Just look how well the “original sin” story has sold.  How many times has the world been prophesiedto end (often with great glee).   The story of the “Great Flood” is as old as the written word and almost every culture has its version.  Maybe the end of life as we know it by 2100 because we all will be frying is marketable, especially to those who trust their news from the 140 characters they receive from the Internet
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The danger however, lies in the assumption that CO2 is the culprit and to reduce it will solve the problem.  That is simply not true.  CO2 is not a pollutant, it is necessary for life, and to reduce it to the point that the reduction will have significant impact on global warming is unrealistic. For at least the next half-century, the world economy is tightly tied to the energy sources that produce CO2.  No nation is going to surrender that.  The continued pushing the message that CO2 is bad is misdirecting.
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The fact that the climate does change routinely and dramatically without human intervention is fairly well documented.  And, throughout history it has been a net positive factor and not a negative one.  The one thing that seems certain is that the earth is in a warming part of the cycle, life on the planet will have to change as a result (as it always has), and no one really knows and can forecast the impact of that change.  The dynamics of this planet are extremely complex and for some people to claim “settled science”, as typically done by one side of the Climate Change Debate, is both arrogant and na├»ve.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Do Guns Make One Safer?

More food for thought on this topic. These facts are from the November 6’th issue of “The Week .” I have not verified the accuracy at the source.

FBI database
  • 2012: Of the 8,855 criminal gun homicides - 258 fatal shooting deemed justifiable
  • 2014: 52,000 recorded shootings, less than 1,600 were used for self-defense.
  • 2000 to 2013: Study of 160 active-shooter events found 7 incidents in which an armed civilian shot the gunman and ended the rampage. Of these only 1 was the typical “good guy with a gun” – rest were off-duty cops or security guards.
American Journal of Epidemiology
  • 80 Million Americans who kept guns in home were 90% more likely to die by homicide than those who don’t.
American Journalof Public Health
  • A person with a gun was 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault than someone who was unarmed.
University of California(San Francisco)
  • A person with a gun in the home is three times as likely to kill themselves as non-firearms owners
  • More than 20,000 person shoot themselves to death annually
Gallup poll found 63% of Americans think a gun in the house makes then safer while 56% think the country would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons.

The above statistics do not seem to support that perception.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Republican "Debate"

     Thus far, the only candidate that appears reasonably competent is John Kasich.  He was “spot on” in his opening comments about the absurdity and non-realistic proposals of the other candidates. Unfortunately, he fell into the “angry old-man” trap in his rant, which severely spoiled his statement.

     It was fair for CNBC to challenge the candidates on policy that they either have on their website (Trump) or for which there is lots of documentation (Carson).  The vigorous denials of both these men speaks volumes to their credibility. CNBC failed when they did not have backup to their questions.  It made it appear that CNBC moderators were more interested in scoring a “gotcha” than resolving contrasting positions.

     Carly Fiorina is a mystery.  She routinely throws out long lists of “facts” meant to impress and then (like Trump and Carson) denies the evidence when her veracity is challenged, such as the non-existent video on Planned Parenthood.  Her stand on “Zero-based Budgeting” is another example of how she does not understand what she is saying. ZB is an old theoretical idea, but unrealistic in practice for organizations such as the US Government.

     Lastly, all the candidates have a “tax plan”, for the sake of having a tax plan.   None will work and the President cannot legislate taxes.  Congress has that sole responsibility.  But to the average citizen these plans sounds like a “candy store” for which too many are ready to line-up with their hands out.

     The Republicans need to get “real.”  Get Trump, Carson, and Fiorina off the stage. In order to govern, a President must have a skilled staff and have deep relationships within the established political machinery both domestic and

     Who can do that job?  For the Republicans their best candidate is Kasich and maybe Christie.  Previous favorite Bush continues to be a "no show." The Senators are great on their feet, but lack experience.

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the God Question

Neil Tyson will be lecturing in Nashville on November 19'th.  Here is his stand on the God question

Published on Mar 2, 2015 Neil Tyson started feeling tired or perhaps impatient while talking to a religious interviewer on God only after 8: 05. I can't imagine how Richard Dawkins manages for a long time.

The God Distraction

Published on Oct 28, 2015: This is the introduction to my new ten part series, The God Distraction: I don't care if God exists, and neither should you. http://patreon.com/MrDeity

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

End Robocalls

Policy and Action from Consumer Reports
We hope to bring our petition total to 400,000 today, and 500,000 in a few short weeks.
The big phone companies have annual shareholder meetings coming this spring, and we intend to make sure the top brass and the largest shareholders know exactly what customers want -- free tools to block unwanted robocalls.
But to get to 500,000 in such a short time, we're going to need help from all our supporters.
If we reach 400,000 supporters today, and then each of our supporters can find five more supporters, we'll reach our goal in no time!
We know that your friends want the robocalls to stop as much as you do. It seems like every American wants this. So why hasn't it happened already? Because as individuals -- filing complaints with the FTC, or trying to block unwanted calls on our own -- we can be ignored. Together, we can be powerful.
So please, take a moment to share EndRobocalls.org with everyone you know! We'll keep you updated as the campaign progresses.
Sincerely, Tim Marvin, Team Lead
EndRobocalls.org, A project of Consumers Union
Policy and Action from Consumer Reports

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Issues with "Web of Trust"

I routinely install Web of Trust on computers to block access to dangerous websites that may contain malware.  Recently, while researching climate reports I found that Web of Trust was "red" flagging websites that provided a contrarian position in the Climate Debate.  When I googled "Web of Trust" and "climate", I discovered I wasn't the first to notice this disturbing and irresponsible bias, which seriously diminishes the value of Web of Trust.   Web of Trust infested with warmists – action required!
 http://australianclimatemadness.com/2012/02/01/world-of-trust-infested-with-warmists-action-required/