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Friday, July 18, 2014
A World Without Israel
A World Without Israel President Obama’s ill-considered statement that the state of Israel should return to its 1967 borders reveals his abysmal lack of knowledge about this tiny nation, which has perhaps had a greater impact on the world in general than almost any other society, particularly those of the Arab states. The stated goal of Hamas is to wipe Israel off the map and drive all the Jews into the sea. But, what would happen if Israel were destroyed and all the Jews killed? An article by Rabbi Ephraim Shore, Israel: “Defying the Odds, Amazing facts about Israel,” provides some important information about this issue. Israel is the 100th smallest country, and has about 1/1000th of the world's population. It is only 62 years old, 7 million people strong (less than Virginia), and smaller in size than New Jersey, surrounded by enemies, under constant threat and possessing almost no natural resources, and yet… Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. It has absorbed 350% of its population in 60 years. Israel is the only country in history to have revived an unspoken language. Since the founding of the state, Israel has won more Nobel Prices per capita than any other country other than Switzerland. It has more laureates in real numbers than China, Mexico and Spain. Counting from the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, three countries (East Timor, Iceland and St. Lucia) have won one or two Prizes each but because their populations are between 170,000 to 1 million they technically have more awards per capita. Israel has received 9. Israel has the 8th longest life expectancy (80.7 years), longer than the UK, US, and Germany. Israeli films were nominated three years in a row for the Academy Award's Best Foreign Film. Environment Israel is the only country that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, even more remarkable -- in an area that's mainly desert. The United Nations Forum on Forests, 20 April 2009, noted that during the past 50 years, Israel planted over 260 million trees, covering over 1000 square kilometers. And, the Sustainable World Capital Report, November, 2009, noted that Israel is desalinating 75% of its waste water, operating the world’s largest desalinization plant. Over 90% of Israeli homes use solar energy for hot water, the highest percentage in the world. Israel will be the first country to host a national electric car network. Israel is ranked in the top five Cleantech countries of the world. Israeli companies are producing the largest solar energy production facility in the world. Science & Technology Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, 63% more than the U.S. It also has the most physicians and engineers per capita. Israel's scientific research institutions are ranked 3rd in the world. Israel is ranked 2nd in space sciences. Israel produces the 3rd most scientific papers per capita, and the most in stem cell science. More Israeli patents are registered in the United States than from Russia, India and China combined (combined population 2.5 billion). It leads the world in patents for medical equipment. Israeli companies invented the drip irrigation system, discovered the world’s most used drug for multiple sclerosis, designed the Pentium NMX Chip technology and the Pentium 4 and Centrium microprocessors, created Instant Messenger (ICQ), and Israeli cows produce more milk per cow than any other in the world! Business Israel has the 3rd highest rate of entrepreneurship among women in the world. Kansas City-based Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) and Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Management observed that for every 100 Israeli men who start new businesses, 64 Israeli women also begin a new economic enterprise. This compares to 60 in the U.S. and 51 in Canada. October, 2000. Israel has attracted the most venture capital investment per capita in the world, 30 times more than Europe. Israel has more NASDAQ-listed companies than any country besides the US -- more than all of Europe, India, China and Japan combined. In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute numbers, Israel has more startups than any country other than the U.S. Defying the Odds Israel is the only country whose indigenous population returned to its native land after 2,000 years of forced exile. Perhaps those who so ardently want to see Israel destroyed should be careful what they wish for. © 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Friday, July 18, 2014
It’s All About Me
We’ve become accustomed to the ego-centric style of our President, but a December 22nd (2012) article by Daniel Halper, “Obama Uses Funeral Service to Talk About Himself,” clearly illustrates the extent to which he considers himself to be the center of the Universe. Halper reported that “Obama used the funeral for Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye to talk about himself. In the short 1,600 word speech, Obama used the word ‘my’ 21 times, ‘me’ 12 times, and ‘I’ 30 times.” I realize that he won two elections and that he will continue to occupy the White House for another two years; but frankly, he has reached the point where his speeches are so predictable, especially his penchant for lecturing everyone else, that I no longer listen to him. Obama campaigned on bringing people together, something he has never done in his professional life. Instead he has divided us along philosophical lines, separated us, and then tried to realign America’s leadership into a new and different power structure. In a December 26, 2012 article titled, “Obama Golfs for the 90th Time as President,” Keith Koffler noted, “After an hour of hiking, President Obama Monday got down to the serious business at hand, heading out to golf for the second day in his first three days of vacation. He was back on the course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.” With this game, Obama reached a new milestone, having gone golfing 90 times in less than three years as president. That’s about three months of golf, given that the excursions generally take about five hours, much of the useful portion of the day. “What’s more, it’s the 32nd time he’s been on the links this year (2012), a record for the president. His 32 outings eclipse the 2010 mark of 30 and is far ahead of his 2009 tally of 28 rounds as president…” As of January 3, 2014, Obama had played 160 rounds of golf since taking office. “Aside from a man who appears to be on perpetual vacation, what else has Obama accomplished?” In a December 2011 commentary, the Boston Herald observed about Obama’s interview on T.V.’s 60 Minutes: “It is amazing what ends on the floor of the cutting room. When 60 Minutes interviewed President Obama, they edited him out saying that he is the 4th best President.” “He seems to think that he has accomplished so much that he ranks himself ahead of all the U.S. Presidents except Johnson, FDR and Lincoln.” That means he believes that he is a better leader than George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan? Who knew he was so great? “President Obama is correct that his administration will be noted in the history books, but it won’t be for being one of the greatest. It will be for being an even worse President than Carter and that’s not an easy accomplishment.” “This is more than just a difference of opinion. It’s an example of the extreme narcissism of the man who is currently leading our nation and, unfortunately, may well be recorded as the most divisive leader in our history. America has had 42 presidents since its founding, many of whom had to deal with significant challenges, but my sense is that historians in general will probably consider him to be one of the most ineffective leaders in the nation’s history.” “Rather than bringing people together, he has deliberately attempted to divide them in a series of attacks on those he perceives to be his political opponents during his speaking tours around the country.” If that’s Obama’s measure of greatness, then he may indeed be the fourth greatest president, but my sense is that most Americans will come to see it differently. “Divide and conquer may be the best strategy in war, but it is certainly the wrong way to unify the nation and gain the support he needs for his policies and programs.” President Obama’s approval ratings may be stuck in a sand trap, but that has not deterred him from sticking to his weekly round of golf. After teeing off Saturday at the private course in Florida where the movie “Caddyshack” was filmed, Mr. Obama hit the milestone number of 150 golf rounds in less than five years in the White House. The Secret Service loaded Mr. Obama’s golf bag emblazoned with the presidential seal into the motorcade Saturday morning to head to the private Grande Oaks Golf Club in Davie. Sporting a blue polo shirt, tan slacks and a cap, Mr. Obama spent five hours on the private course with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, friend Cyrus Walker and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Mr. Obama wasn’t much of a golfer before he ran for president. His regularity on the greens started April 26, 2009. He played 27 times that first year in office, including seven rounds during his vacations on Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii. In his second year as president, Mr. Obama played a little more, 31 rounds. He included a woman for only the second time when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined on Oct. 10, 2010. Perhaps time on the links gave them time to discuss all the people they knew who would lose their insurance when Obamacare was implemented. Mrs. Sebelius also joined the president on the golf course on May 18. After 58 rounds in 19 months, Mr. Obama’s golf game improved. At the private Mid Pacific Country Club in Kailua, Hawaii, on Dec. 28, 2010, the club’s golf pro, Mark Sousa, remarked to reporters that the president’s “swing looks a lot better this year.” The president played even more in his third year in office — 34 rounds. Throughout his presidency, he has most frequently used courses at nearby Andrews Air Force Base and Fort Belvoir. White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, who has an eight handicap according to Golf Digest, plays with the president almost every week. The only times Mr. Nicholson is not on the course with the commander in chief is during the Christmas vacations in Hawaii. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who had a handicap of 6.3 in 2011, according to Golf Digest, has been invited to tag along with his boss just six times in five years. (The golf magazine estimated Mr. Obama’s handicap at 17 two years ago. ) Other politicians who have played with Mr. Obama during his presidency include House Speaker John A. Boehner, former President Bill Clinton (twice), New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe. Mr. Obama put aside his weekly golf outings several times while running for re-election in 2012. His annual total fell to 19 rounds, seven of which were in the two months after he won a second term. Never having to run for office again has given Mr. Obama a free pass to spend every weekend on the golf course. In 2013 he had already passed his 2011 record with a total of 39 rounds of golf. This includes his whopping 27 holes played in one day at Andrews Air Force Base on Sept. 14. © 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Thursday, June 5, 2014
Diversity Policies Are Wrong
Just how long should America adopt policies that favor one group over another? The motives for this may be well intentioned but ultimately lead to unfair treatment of the groups they are intended to help. Instead of treating all minorities equally, the result is favoritism, caused by government policies that attempt to level the playing field. A November 2010 commentary by “Education Reporter” noted, “It is generally understood that ‘college professors and administrators touting the educational benefits of ‘diversity’ within a ‘given student population are referring to ensuring a certain proportion of ‘underrepresented’ racial minorities, particularly blacks. A recent study by two Princeton sociologists quantified the racial bias that elite universities demonstrate in their admissions policies, and also uncovered a bias against students who participate in "Red state" extracurricular activities.” “Researchers Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford drew on the National Study of College Experience to analyze admissions data from eight elite colleges and universities, both public and private. The data represent 245,000 applicants from three separate academic years. Confidentiality agreements prohibit the researchers from naming the highly competitive schools, but the schools' statistical profiles fit squarely within the top 50 schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.” “At 576 pages, the Espenshade/Radford study is extensive, but Russell Nieli, lecturer in the Politics Department at Princeton University, extracted three salient findings in an essay posted at the Minding the Campus website. First, blacks have an extraordinary advantage over other applicants, other background factors being equal. "To have the same chances of gaining admission as a black student with an SAT score of 1100, an Hispanic student otherwise equally matched in background characteristics would have to have a 1230, a white student a 1410, and an Asian student a 1550," noted Nieli.” “Second, economic and educational disadvantages improve the odds of admission for non-whites, but don't help lower-class whites who would be the first in their families to attend college. Nieli observed that "lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely." “The diversity that lower-class whites bring to campus is apparently not valued by elite institutions. Espenshade and Radford suggest that class-based affirmative action exists for every group except whites because schools want to reserve their limited scholarship funds for students who will improve their racial minority statistics. Nieli goes further in offering an explanation for why poor, equally qualified whites aren't even offered admission without financial aid. He surmises that schools don't want to lower their rating with organizations like U.S. News and World Report. Schools that accept students who don't end up enrolling because they can't afford elite schools without financial assistance lose points in ranking calculations.” “Third, the all-important extracurricular activities that give students an edge over their peers don't apply to Red State kinds of activities like 4-H. As a rule, students who participate in community service, the performing arts and organizations associated with "cultural diversity" are given preference by admissions officers, especially when applicants have held leadership roles or received honors. However, being an officer or winning an award with Future Farmers of America, 4-H, or high school ROTC lowers the odds of admission by a whopping 60 to 65%, according Espenshade and Radford. This finding, suggests Nieli, is difficult to explain "other than as a case of ideological and cultural bias." “New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat (7-18-10) pointed out that the under-representation of working-class whites from conservative regions in the nation's top schools has important consequences: ‘Inevitably, the same under-representation persists in the elite professional ranks these campuses feed into: in law and philanthropy, finance and academia, the media and the arts.’ (www.mindingthecampus.com, 7-12-10)” © 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
What’s The Problem With Fracking?
“To Frack or not to Frack,” that is the question.
 
As is so often the case, when people line up on opposite sides of an issue, the truth goes out the proverbial window.
 
NOOZHAWK reported that “The public turned out in force Friday morning (March 12) packing Santa Barbara County’s Board of Supervisors hearing room to speak out on local hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry.

Fracking “refers to a procedure in which fluid is injected into cracks in rock formations to enlarge them, allowing more oil and gas to flow into a drilling wellbore, from which it can be extracted.”
 
“Environmental advocates are circulating a proposed ballot measure to ban fracking in the county...The are 23 offshore leases under the State Lands Commissions purview, 16 or which are actively producing oil and gas…Many of California’s oil leases were first permitted in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and have no end dates for production. By law, the state must allow production to continue for as long as those wells are active…The Coastal Commission cannot ban or put in place a moratorium on fracking absent an act of Congress or the Legislature…”

“In state waters, oil companies must apply for a coastal development permit for new wells, but since most of the fracking is taking place on older wells that were operating before the California Coastal Commission Act was put in place,” and “complicated legal issues exist about legal jurisdiction.”
 
Ronald Bailey, writing in Reason.com (July 5, 2013), noted “The Top 5 Lies About Fracking,”:
 
1. You can light your tap water on fire: “There are no indications of any oil & gas related impacts to your well water.”
2. Fracking fluid “could seep into groundwater and poison drinking water”
3. “Fracking increases air pollution”: Almost any industrial activity will involve the production of noxious fumes at least some of the time…” 4.
“Fracking causes cancer”
5. “Natural gas is worse than coal.”

Loren Kay, President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, noted in a Fox&Hounds article (March 26, 2014), “…no legitimate scientist or government agency has found a connection between advanced oil and gas extraction techniques and major seismic events…The real story here is that the documented safety record of oil production in California is exemplary.”
 
An April 10 article by Joe Armendariz, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Taxpayers Association, “Making the case for use of fracking,” observed, “Because of hydro-fracturing and directional drilling, America is in the midst of an energy renaissance.”

“The rest of the world is way behind us with respect to these new technologies. By 2020, America will become a net exporter of oil and gas, as opposed to a net importer…Indeed, America’s energy revolution is having a profoundly positive impact for our nation’s economy.

Consider that over the last five years, half of our nation’s economic growth has come from the oil and gas industry. And it’s worth pointing out the average job in the oil and gas industry pays $75,000 to $80,000 per year.”

“For those who care less about our economy and more about the environment, America’s phenomenal energy production renaissance has also allowed the United States to lower its carbon emissions more than any other industrialized country in the world – even as we are producing more petroleum products than any other nation, including Saudi Arabia…The reason is because hydro-fracturing has unleashed a natural-gas bonanza, and natural gas has replaced coal for America’s electricity generation.

Even environmentalists know natural gas emits 50 percent less CO2 than coal…”

“Because of these new technologies, America is running into oil and gas, not running our of oil and gas. In North Dakota alone there is more oil and gas than exists in all of Saudi Arabia. In the Marcellus shale formation in West Virginia these is over a 150-year supply of natural gas.”

Another observation about “fracking” noted: ‘Horizontal drilling together with fracking allows oil and gas to be produced from one well that might otherwise require dozens of wells. Fracking combined with horizontal drilling greatly reduces the footprint required for oil and gas operations.”

From my perspective, the question is not “to Frack or not to Frack,” but “Why are people trying to prevent it.”
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
The National Day of Prayer
Thursday, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer.

Although it is not a National Holiday, when schools and government offices are closed, the day has been designated by Congress as a day when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”

Wikipedia notes that The National Day of Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions, including Christians and many denominations, including Protestants and Catholics, as well as Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Jews…(who) assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship…Luncheons, picnics and music performances revolving around praying for the nation are also popular observances. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year as well.”

The origin of the event dates back to the Second Continental Congress, which issued a proclamation recommending “a day of publick humiliation, fasting and prayer” be observed by the “English Colonies” on Thursday, July 20, 1775, “and to bless our rightful sovereign, King George the Third…”

As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington acknowledged a second day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” proclaimed by the Continental Congress to be held on Thursday, May 6, 1779.

“On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer must be declared by each following president at an appropriate date of his choice, and in 1983 Ronald Reagan’s declaration said, ‘From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received the divine guidance as it pursued the course of history.

This occasion provides our Nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future.”

The National Day of Prayer has been challenged in the courts, which ultimately held that “the President is free to make appeals to the public based on many kinds of grounds, including political and religious, and that such requests do not obligate citizens to comply and do not encroach on citizens rights.”

As Paul Harvey famously said, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Can Liberals and Conservatives Ever Agree?
Liberals and Conservatives will probably never agree.  They might as well stop trying to convince one another.  Logic doesn’t work.  Facts don’t work. 
 
Egged on by the media in a constant chase for ratings, the two sides engage in a never-ending cycle of “gotcha.”  But no amount of arguments by either side will ever convince the other that their position on the issues that separate them is not the right one. 
 
Each is irrevocably convinced of the merit of its beliefs about values, ethics, morality, government, religion, that is, G-d or no G-d, education, national defense, energy, protecting the environment, economics, taxation and so on, ad infinitum. 
Both claim that the other side distorts the facts or just plain lies to support its arguments.  Who is to be believed in what has become the continuous propaganda war that is waged daily in the media, on the Internet, with email messages, the endless stream of communications that has become the hallmark of modern societies?
 
So, why do they bother to keep trying?  Neither side will ever convince the other, but they persist. What is it that they really want?  Is it just about political power and control of government?
 
Both sides assert that they target those who occupy the center of the political spectrum, reported to represent about one-third of the voters, but everyone knows that when the Left and the Right argue their respective positions they are primarily
“preaching to the choir,” who occupy the more extreme philosophical positions of their groups.
 
People tend to be more liberal when they are young, usually because they generally don't have a realistic appreciation of the costs and motivations associated with correcting the inequities and injustices they perceive. They are often more sensitive, perhaps less cynical than their elders, and want to improve conditions. But they are also less experienced, have not seen as many ideas tried and fail, and they have less understanding of human nature. They also usually have more faith in the "system,” as in government, and in the ability of those in power to make decisions for the many and to enforce them fairly.
 
As they gain experience and added years, people tend to become more conservative. It is only in their more mature years that they may have supplemented their education with sufficient experience to begin understanding the benefits of our nation’s capitalistic philosophy, and I suppose some of its limitations. Young people generally take too much for granted, but ultimately most of us eventually learn that nothing in this life is really either completely "black or white," or free.  Columnist Thomas Sowell, who started out as a Marxist, supported this when he said, “There was no book that changed my mind about being on the political left.  Life experience did that – especially the experience of seeing government at work from the inside.”
 
Most political beliefs are actually shades of gray, with questions and arguments on all sides of the issues.  All systems of government are predicated on economic philosophy. In the final analysis, it is the means by which a society organizes its productive capabilities and distributes that productivity that is really the underpinning of its political system. People somehow seem to separate politics from production (business, economics and property rights) in their minds. They aren't separable.
 
Perhaps the primary difference between the political beliefs of the Left and the Right is their respective philosophies about human nature - about how people’s behavior is influenced or motivated. The Left generally believes it is wrong for individuals to accumulate what they consider to be “excess” wealth or to have income in “excess of their needs.”  In the extreme, their concept is that each individual should be able to take those things from the system that s/he "needs", while contributing "according to his (her) ability".
This is usually interpreted to mean that everyone should receive the same material benefits from the available resources and that those resources are finite, that there is only “so much” to go around, and that people can be convinced to put personal gain or advantage aside and act altruistically.
 
Those on the Left also believe the economy is a zero sum game.  If someone wins (earns or profits more than others), someone else loses.  On the other hand, those on the Right believe that additional “capital” is created by increasing or improving productivity and providing incentives.  Their concept is that when someone wins, usually by providing a product or service that others need or want - the income or capital of others is not diminished, but that more is created.
 
On the Right, they also believe that it is simply human nature for people to act in their own self-interest.  That self-interest is what motivates their behavior and that the economic system works best when it is structured around that reality.
 
“The success of the Plymouth colony can be attributed to the wisdom of the colonial leadership to recognize a failed experiment when they saw one. That experiment was socialism.  And, the rapidly approaching outcome was starvation, economic regression and total failure of the colony. “From each according to their ability and to each according to their need” simply did not work and could not work without government coercion.”
(From The Rant.us by Tony Ruboletta, Failed Experiment and Failing To Learn, 7/22/04).
 
The short answer to the question, “Can Liberals and Conservatives Ever Agree?” is no, not on their core beliefs.  Not only do they occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, their core beliefs and worldviews are 180 degrees apart. 
However, what they often manage to do is compromise to achieve certain of their respective goals.   The saying, “Politics is the art of compromise,” is correct.   Just remember, you rarely convince the other side of the correctness of your beliefs about economics or human nature.  Only experience does that.
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Cow Chips To The Rescue
It wasn’t very long ago that environmentalists and global warming advocates were warning us about the dangers of cow flatulence, that it is causing or at least contributing to global warming. 
The U.N. even got into the act, issuing a report that concluded cow flatulence is a greater threat to the atmosphere than automobiles.
 
It has been estimated that 9% to12% of the energy that a cow consumes is turned into methane, which is released either through flatulence or burping. A huge number of factors affect methane emission, including diet, barn conditions and whether the cow is lactating, but an average cow in a barn produces 542 liters of methane a day, and 600 liters when out in a field.
 
All this methane can add up to a significant amount. For example, Australia's 140 million sheep and cattle are estimated to produce one seventh of that nation's total greenhouse gas emissions, and America’s 100 million cattle are major contributors to the problem in this country.
 
Is this a valid theory, or was the idea just floated as a trial balloon to see if it would gain legs, as they say in the media biz?  Whatever the case, it didn’t stay in the news for long.  Perhaps because it never seemed to get past the LOL (laugh out loud) phase. 
 
A good example of the humor provoked by this issue, along with a healthy dose of common sense, was found in Jill Fallon’s post (December 14, 2006) to her Estate Vaults.com website, where she said, “We have met the enemy and it moos? 
Apparently the beasts of the field do nothing but wander around all day asking their brethren to ‘pull my hoof’.  Every time a cow feels a small sense of relief, a polar bear goes through the ice,” she added.
 
Cecil Adams, in his Straight Dope Classic, “Do cow and termite flatulence threaten the earth’s atmosphere?” dealt with the cow flatulence concern as far back as March 1989: “Now, you're probably saying, what the hey, cows have been around forever,
how come all of a sudden they're a threat? All we know is this: atmospheric methane has been increasing at the alarming rate of 1 percent a year, and something's got to be causing it. The world cattle population is thought to have increased in the last decade, and Lord knows the Brazilians don't feel like taking any more heat for torching the Amazon.
So hey, let's blame the cows.” (straightdope.com)
 
In other words, we have another largely insoluble problem that threatens to end life as we know it. Or do we?
 
In another example of jumping to conclusions without having all the information, in this case about cows, their manure is also considered a good potential source of energy, and many farmers are using the methane gas it produces to develop their own power source.
 
So, which is it: cow flatulence is causing global warming or cow waste may help save us from ourselves by providing a new energy source?
 
A recent Reuters story reported, “On a dairy farm in the Golden State’s agricultural heartland, utility PG&E Corp began…producing natural gas derived from manure, in what it hopes will be a new way to power homes with renewable, if not entirely clean energy…
As cow manure decomposes, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide…Enter the Vintage Dairy project…methane can be captured and treated to produce renewable gas.”
 
“To tap the renewable gas from cow manure, the Vintage Dairy farm first flushes manure into a large octagonal pit, where it becomes about 99 percent water.  It is then pumped into a covered lagoon, first passing through a screen that filters out large solids
that eventually become the cows’ bedding….The covered lagoon, or ‘digester,’ is the size of nearly five football fields and about 33 feet deep.  It is lined with plastic to protect the ground water…The end product is ‘close to 99 percent pure methane’
according to BioEnergy Chief Operating Officer Thomas Hintz…” 
 
Once it is treated, enough gas to power about 1,250 homes “is injected into PG&E’s pipeline, where it will be shipped to a power plant in Northern California.”  (“California cows start passing gas to the grid,” by Nicholas Groom, Reuters, Mar 4, 2008)
 
Talking about cow flatulence may be good for laughs, but it turns out that it really is serious business, after all.
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Overcoming Adversity
A recent Sacramento Bee article about Sacramento volunteers helping to make Sheila Granda’s house wheelchair accessible,” caught my attention. It’s a remarkable story about helping others, but what really got my attention is the fact that, although this 33-year-old woman, was “left paralyzed from the neck down in a 1997 rollover accident at the age of 17, a few months before she was supposed to start college,” she subsequently managed to overcome
her handicap and become a lawyer.
 
“‘We never thought I’d get out of the hospital after I was injured,’ said Granda, who works for the state Department of Health Care Services. Those first three to five years, we did not know what would happen if I lived, if I’d have any quality of life at all.’”
 
Sheila Granda is not the only example of people who manage to overcome adversity and lead productive lives.
 
Following are some other examples of people who also managed to overcome their disabilities:
 
Charles Krauthammer: An American Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, political commentator, and physician. His column is syndicated to more than 350 newspapers and media outlets. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard, a weekly panelist on the PBS news program Inside Washington, and a nightly panelist on Fox News's “Special Report” with Bret Baier. 
 
Krauthammer was raised in Montreal, Quebec, where he attended McGill University and obtained an honors degree in political science and economics in 1970. The following year, he was a Commonwealth Scholar in politics at Balliol College, Oxford, before returning to the United States and entering Harvard Medical School.
 
During Krauthammer's first year of medical school, he was paralyzed in a diving accidentand was hospitalized for 14 months. However, he continued his medical studies and graduated with his class, earning his MD in 1975. From 1975 to 1978, Krauthammer was a resident and then a chief resident in psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
 
Steven Hawking: Afflicted with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Hawking is considered one of the world’s greatest theoretical physicists, originally positing the theory of “Black Holes” to explain the creation and expansion of the Universe. His speech is generally unintelligible, and his caretaker must interpret his sounds, but in spite of his handicap, he managed to write one of the definite works on physics.
 
Irena Sendler: One of the many heroes and heroines of WWII. A woman of uncommon principle and courage who, for two years during the Nazi occupation of Poland, helped rescue some 2,500 Jewish infants and children from the Polish Ghetto, often hiding them from the Nazi guards, risking her own life in the process.
 
Muhammad Ali: The most famous African-American of his time, Ali is still among the most widely recognized faces on the planet. During the Vietnam War, he refused to serve in the United States Army, on the grounds that considered himself to be a conscientious objector. He was prevented from fighting for three-and-a-half years, but ultimately regained his title in 1974, defeating the then champion, George Foreman, in one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. Today, at age 72, as he is dealing
with the ravages of Parkinson’s disease, Ali is a living example of character and grace.
 
Helen Keller: When she was 19 months old she contracted an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which might have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last very long, but it left her deaf and blind.
 
Her parents were advised to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, which was then located in South Boston. The school's director, Michael Anagnos, asked former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and only 20 years old, to become Keller's instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, Sullivan evolving into governess and then eventual companion.
 
Keller wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles.
 
One of her earliest pieces of writing, at age 11, was “The Frost King” (1891). There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from “The Frost Fairies” by Margaret Canby. An investigation into the matter revealed that Keller may have experienced a case of cryptomnesia, which was that she had Canby's story read to her but forgot about it, while the memory remained in her subconscious.
 
At age 22, Keller published her autobiography, “The Story of My Life” (1903), with help from Sullivan and Sullivan's husband, John Macy. It includes words that Keller wrote and the story of her life up to age 21, and was written during her time in college.
 
In 2908, Keller wrote “The World I Live In,” giving readers an insight into how she felt about the world. “Out of the Dark,” a series of essays on Socialism, was published in 1913.
 
© 2013-2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Spending Our Way To Prosperity
Turner Catledge, a journalist during the Roosevelt era, described the pattern used by the Roosevelt administration to sell his legislative proposals to the public as follows: “First there is the early ‘idea’ period, when either the President or some group of his associates hatches the rather rough for of what is to be attempted. Then there is the selling stage, in which the person or the group who thinks up the idea has to ‘sell’ it to the other. There follows in third place the ‘method’ stage when the modus operandi is evolved. The there comes the final ‘publicity’ stage when the program is announced and the argument is submitted both to Congress and the public in behalf of its adoption.”
 
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the tried and true formula that was used by Obama and his administration to panic the public into accepting the so-called stimulus package at the time it was wending its way through Congress.
 
Economist Walter Williams observed: "The stimulus package being discussed is politically smart but economically stupid. It's that bedeviling, omnipresent Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy problem again. ... A far more important measure that Congress can take toward a healthy economy is to ensure that the 2003 tax cuts don't expire in 2010 as scheduled. If not, there are 15 separate taxes scheduled to rise in 2010, costing Americans $200 billion a year in increased taxes. In the face of a recession,
we don't need that."
 
And, columnist Michelle Malkin noted: "Bashing Rush Limbaugh last week, Obama urged GOP lawmakers to ignore the voices of obstructionism and sign on to his behemoth stimulus package: 'We shouldn't let partisan politics derail what are very important things that need to get done.' ... History has shown us that 'Get Things Done' is mindless liberal code for passing ineffective legislation and expanding government for government's sake."
 
In an open letter disseminated by the Cato Institute, two hundred economists stated, "More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today."
 
In short, the stimulus package was hyped as the way to spend our way to prosperity. The president told us that if we didn’t act immediately, the nation would never recover from economic condition at the time, which he characterized as the worst economy since the Great Depression. However, if it is really possible to spend our way out of a recession, why isn’t the economy perpetually strong?
 
People who have held positions of responsibility know that that panicking in an emergency does not solve anything. As a matter of fact, it makes things worse. Panic keeps people from thinking clearly and acting without sufficient facts, especially in complex situations that present a variety of alternatives. And, the worst situation of all is when leaders panic.
 
President Obama’s image has been that of a cool customer who keeps his head under pressure. Yet, he has repeatedly appeared in press conferences and public appearances, telling us that the situation with the American economy was so urgent that if we did not act immediately, we would never recover. 
 
I don’t see that as leadership. Under pressure, true leaders try to keep everyone else from over-reacting and losing control.
 
Unfortunately, the initial response of the Bush administration was also to overreact and hastily push through the $700 billion bailout package, then immediately spend $350 billion without any accountability. 
 
It’s clear that it did not work, yet we are being told that we need more of the same. The reality is that no one in either the Bush or the Obama administrations provided any clear information about how the causes of the financial crunch that brought the economy down can be fixed, because they don’t know. 
 
For my part, I would prefer to see our leaders try to keep the public calm while they go about the business of methodically working to restore the economy.
 
The American people, who generally have more sense than their political leaders, appear to agree. A Gallup Poll found that 54% of Americans either wanted to see major changes to the current stimulus plan, or they rejected it outright.  Other surveys also indicated that public support declined rapidly.  
 
Politicians can call it stimulus and they can call it change, but it's just more of the same old tax and spend approach.
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
“Alleged”
“Alleged” has become perhaps the most overworked word in the American lexicon. No longer used just to protect the rights of an accused when referring to a crime, it has become so ubiquitous that it is often used even when commenting about someone who has actually been convicted of a serious crime, such as rape or murder.
 
The media now use the word routinely in reporting the news, often when it really should not apply.
 
For example, the attempted terrorist bombing of the Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and the statements by the Obama administration, including the president himself, highlight the degree to which Political Correctness (PC) has overrun our culture: “A person was detained by customs at Detroit Metro Airport on Friday following Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged [emphasis added] attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, according to a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.” 
 
It was an “alleged attack” notwithstanding the fact that the man seriously burned himself in the act and was clearly attempting to blow up the airplane as it was landing.
 
The definition of alleged is: “Represented as existing or as being as described but not so proved; supposed.”
 
For example, an “alleged” burglar is someone who has been accused of being a burglar but against whom no charges have been proved. An “alleged” incident is an event that is said to have taken place but has not yet been verified.
 
In their zeal to protect the rights of the accused, newspapers and law enforcement officials sometimes misuse “alleged”. Someone arrested for murder may be only an “alleged” murderer, for example, but is a real, not an “alleged”, suspect in that his or her status as a suspect is not in doubt. Similarly, if the money from a safe is known to have been stolen and not merely mislaid, then we may safely speak of a theft without having to qualify the description as “alleged”.
 
In recent years it has become common for speakers to include “allegedly” in statements that are controversial or possibly even defamatory. The implication is that, by saying allegedly, the speaker is distancing himself or herself from the controversy and even providing protection against possible prosecution. However, the effect created may be deliberate. The use of “allegedly”
can be a signal that, although the statement may seem outrageous, it is in fact true. 
 
For example, he was “allegedly” drunk at work. Conversely, it is also possible to use “allegedly” as an expression of ironic skepticism: He's “allegedly” a hard worker.
 
Writing in the Kansas City Star, Derek Donovan, said “I am often puzzled by the Star’s use of the words ‘alleged’ and ‘suspected’ in connection with crimes that have been committed. My OED defines ‘allege’ as ‘claim that someone has done something wrong, typically without proof.’ In many cases, the perpetrator is caught in the act of committing the crime. There is no doubt that this person committed the crime. When then does The Star refer to this person as the alleged or suspected perpetrator?...I agree that these references sometimes seem a bit ludicrous, as in a case earlier this year where a man was apprehended while holding a purse he had apparently just stolen a block away. He was called the ‘suspect’…
 
Steve Buttry commented in ‘The Buttry Dairy (October 26, 2012),’: “When it comes to language choices, I try to decide matters based on accuracy. This is why I want to call on all journalists and news organizations to stop using the term “alleged victim,” especially in stories about sexual abuse (almost the only type of stories where it appears)...It’s a blame-the-victim term we should banish forever from the journalism lexicon. You want to know why? Here’s the second definition of ‘alleged’ at Dictionary.com: doubtful; suspect; supposed.”
 
“And here’s a fact about victims of sexual abuse: Their stories are almost always credible. So, in most cases, alleged victim is not only insensitive, but inaccurate.”
 
“(The first definition for alleged, “declared or stated to be as described; asserted,” is accurate, but if people could read a second definition as the meaning,
we should look for a more accurate word.)”
 
© 2014 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
 
Posted at 17:24 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



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