Saturday, October 2, 2010

Constitutional Convention

In an earlier post, I mentioned a Constitutional Convention. Here
is an argument against it via YouTube.

It is not quite persuasive. The series of four videos outline the pitfalls
of a "con-con", but in the end, it is all governed by the same principle.
That is, "We the People" decide. If the people don't want nor need
the constitution anymore, nothing will stop it from being destroyed.
On the other hand, if an entity attempts to usurp the constitution
against the will of the people, then it will not succeed. Either you
believe this or you don't. If you can't trust the people, what can you

It is my opinion that something must be done about the steady
encroachment of the federal government upon the liberties of the
people. If a con-con is not the answer, then what is? The same
thing that we have been doing all along? Isn't that what has brought
us to this point?

The federal government won't reform itself. Someone or something
must do it. Either "We the People" will do it, or some other entity
will. You pay your money and you take your chances.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde

While perusing Instapundit this morning, I noted that the director of the
movie "Bonnie and Clyde"- Arthur Penn- has died. This piqued my
curiousity, so I started researching the movie and the Barrow gang and
decided to write a little about it.

I saw this movie in the theater when it first came out. I was pretty
young at the time. What I remembered most about it was the way
it ended. The final scene with the ambush and massacre of the
couple was something that can be said to be unforgettable.

I have owned the DVD for maybe a year or so. I have become familiar
with it. Now I have begun to study it a bit.

After researching the gang and watching the movie, I have made some
observations. First of all, the movie is sympathetic toward Bonnie and
Clyde. The movie comes close to depicting them as a modern day
Robin Hood and his Merry Men. To be fair, it doesn't quite go that
far, but it does allow this possibility to creep into one's conscience
should one allow it. I suppose one could sympathize a bit with
Clyde's sexual hangups, but this seems inappropriate in this story.

For example, the lawmen who pursue them tend to be more cruel
and unfair than they are. Take the scene with Frank Hamer, the
Texas Ranger who pursued them to the end. They captured him, but
let him go. Even though they were merciful toward him, the mercy
wasn't reciprocated. Hamer comes off looking like a vengeful killer
who is worse than the Barrow Gang. Hamer gives them no chance
in this movie even though the Barrow Gang spared him when he was
at their mercy.

The lawmen are often the target of an unsympathetic portrayal. At
times, they are shown to be cowardly. For instance, in one scene,
they refuse to pursue the gang into another state. In another case,
the lawmen embellish their own stories in order to make themselves
look good to the public. And in addition to being cruel, the Hamer
shown in this portrayal is quite devious. He tricks Blanche into
giving him C.W. Moss's name. He does this while she is blind and
has just lost her husband in a shootout.

Not only is the movie unsympathetic to the lawmen, it is also critical
of society itself. Blanche is seen as hypocritical and weak, yet wants
to share in the loot. She just happens to be a minister's daughter. So,
the movie is taking a shot at Christianity it would seem. Aside from
Chritianity, it takes a shot at capitalism. After all, it is okay to shoot
up a house that the bank has taken away from the farmer who once
worked it for years. The Barrow Gang is just sticking up for the
little guy.

The movie is rated highly for its cultural importance. But by who?
Who would knock capitalism, Chritianity, and the law? Of
course, I am referring to the modern day left. But should anyone
be listening to these people with an uncritical frame of mind?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mining the Sky Part 2

Well, I spent much of the day researching stuff on the web about
mining asteroids and such. It would appear to me that much could
be done today with the technology we already have. This approach
as opposed to waiting around for who knows how many years until
new technology can be invented which will make something else work.

Take for instance, the space elevator. The technology to build this
thing does not yet exist. But there is another idea around that does
exist, and might work. I say might work because I don't know if it
would or wouldn't. The idea is a Launch Loop.  From my reading
on the description of the thing, it would not require new technology.
It would be a rather big project though.

As for space elevators, there are possibilities for that. But not so much
on Earth because of gravity. You could build one on the moon and it
would work with the technology that we have already. The trick is to
get there. But with the launch loop and the space cannon (mentioned
in a prior post), it just might be possible to get a lot of people and
equipment up there to do the job.

From there, you could do a lot of stuff. Like mining asteroids.
Update:  1998 paper on feasibility of mining asteroids

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conventional wisdom

It seems that I have been at war with conventional wisdom all my life. Perhaps conventional wisdom is overrated. I saw it criticized once in a magazine. The writer said that it is often wrong. What is the conventional wisdom these days? On a couple subjects, I am definitely at odds with the conventional wisdom. That is, the conventional wisdom about evolution and man-made global warming.

These two alleged pearls of conventional wisdom are argued from authority. As established science. Evolution has been settled science for over a century. Man-made global warming is more recent, but is considered that by virtue of the authority alleged to have been given to it. Global warming has been challenged, especially lately. But not so much with evolution, except for some in the so called religious right. Both challenges seem to be struggling against the perceived wisdom of the day. Both are suffering from attacks of legitimacy of the challenge. In terms of global warming, the legitmacy of the critics is considered to be immoral. They are "deniers", as in the Holocaust. Only a bad person would deny the Holocaust by this type of argument. In terms of evolution, the illegitimacy is in terms of credentials. The challenge to evolution is based upon a religious argument. But you can condense them both down to an argument in favor of these two viewpoints as an argument from authority. On whose authority do you believe?

I think the proper authority would be science itself. But this is not the case in conventional wisdom. Science isn't necessarily conventional. Science has at odds with authority before. Note that Galileo was kept at house arrest for daring to challenge the conventional wisdom of his time. If Newton was an authority that could not be challenged, then Einstein could not have been recognized with the achievement of discovering the Theory of Relativity. It would appear that science does not concern itself with conventional wisdom. Science doesn't make its discoveries by political action committees, nor by consensus. It appears that science has been hijacked by politics. And for that reason alone, I do not trust the common conventional wisdom.

In short, I try to think for myself as much as possible. I don't claim to be a scientist. I just try to use what knowledge I do have, plus a bit of common sense. Let's suppose the following: If a recognized expert told you that a cow could jump over the moon, would you believe it? Who are you to question the expert? But if common sense tells you something is very improbable, I think one would look for more than just the word of an expert. On that basis, I think one should challenge the hijacked conventional wisdom of the times regarding evolution and global warming.

But why attack the theory of evolution? Isn't it established science? Of course. But that is why no one really questions it. And you should. The evidence just isn't there to support it. Instead of evidence, we get extrapolations. Look at the fossil records. There has to be some explanation for this, right? But random mutation and natural selection does not fully explain how we all got here. It is just my own opinion, and I am not a scientist. Yet, one would have to admit that something is missing here. Certainly the evidence is missing. But I think the theory is also a bit suspect for the following reason.

In the law of thermodynamics, the tendency is toward greater disorder. That is, unless something intervenes. But in theory of evolution, the tendency is said to be toward greater complexity, and this happens all by itself. You might ask, but why compare thermodynamics with evolution? Aren't they two different topics? That is where common sense comes in. Where in any walk of life has there been a tendency toward greater and greater order if a matter is left to its own devices? It doesn't happen. It is always the other way around.

My problem with man-made global warming is that of scale. When I say scale, I
mean that the warmists would have you believe that such small changes in the
atmosphere can produce such large effects. I don't buy that.

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million. That is a
small, small number. Compare a stack of dollar bills compared to a stack of
one million one dollar bills. One part per million is comparable to one dollar
in a million dollars. It just isn't much. Even 200 dollars isn't much compared
to a million. But that is all the change in the atmosphere in over 150 years
since the industrial revolution. Not much change there. It is not enough
difference to make the difference that is claimed. I could give plenty more
examples of this, but this one should suffice for this essay.

I believe that if one just honestly look at these positions argued from authority,
the conventional wisdom falls apart.

Mining the Sky

The title of this post is the title of a book that can be purchased on Amazon.
I didn't read it, but it does has some interesting ideas.

I thought about this after reading a proposal to put fuel in the sky for space
missions into deep space, such as a trip to Mars. It is much more efficient
to put a fuel station in orbit than to launch all the fuel you need and put it
into space all at the same time.

The means to do this would be a space cannon in the sea. The space cannon
concept is getting near the proof of concept phase according to one article I
read in Next Big Future. If this concept does indeed work, a mission to Mars
becomes much more affordable and feasible.

The space cannon will launch small projectiles into space in rapid fire order.
Therefore, it can launch a lot of stuff in a small amount of time. Just collect
the stuff in one location, like a gas station in orbit, and then fill up with a space
ship that can be launched into orbit separately. Once the space ship has enough
fuel for its long journey back and forth, its off to Mars. Or anywhere else you
may want to go.

A trip to Mars would be a science mission. But a trip to the asteroids could
become a commercial mission. There's gold in them thar asteroids. Also platinum
and numerous other rare metals that would be handy to have here on earth.
Something to think about, hm?