Sunday, November 29, 2009

Letter to a 'Progressive'

I wrote this reply to a so-called progressive.....

Obama was a poor choice from the word go. He lacked the experience for the top job (as did George W. Bush and Sarah Palin – who I certainly do not support). His whole election was contrived by an ‘uncritical media’ (your words not mine) that vaunted him into a position that he is clearly undeserving of. As a long time observer of the US political scene I knew this was the case. While I did not support McCain’s policies on illegal immigration, nor his closeness with the Pro-Life Movement – his experience and know how in building real bridges (not Obama’s perceived bridges) across the political aisle (McCain-Feingold) would have made him a better choice than Obama. His realistic (not wishful and na├»ve) understanding of global relations and his conceptualization of Islamofascism further add to his credibility here. Unfortunately the downturn in the economy (which both parties share blame), the Sarah Palin fiasco and the free pass given to his Holiness by the Beltway boneheads robbed the US of the better man for the job.

So instead we have a leadership that burdened the American population with a stratospheric debt in following a false economic doctrine that has had virtually no impact in stimulating the economy; vacillated in Afghanistan about a troop surge as Americans soldiers have died, stoked the finger of racism (Skip Gates Affair); introduced a cabal of power Czars answerable only to the President (and therefore violated the spirit of democracy); stood idle while the mullahs throttled the democracy movement in Iran; pandered to Islam with a serious of half-truths that anyone with even a cursory understanding of history could identify (the Cairo speech)l; gave terrorists the same rights as American citizens; attempted to stifle free speech by his attacks on Fox News and other organs critical of him and further polarized the American public by his heavy handidness in introducing Health Care Reform (an ideal that I personally support). His decision to bankroll the Hamas thugs and throw Israel under the bus over the Jerusalem issue is a further indication of an a leader who lacks moral claity..And all of this after less than one year in power.

You are incorrect when you say that Obama’s popularity numbers have dropped because of his betrayal of the ‘progressive’ agenda (I hate it when Leftists talk about themselves as progressives…..What is progressive about Socialism? A movement that flies in the face of human freedom….. or of Communism, Marxism and National Socialism….all of which have bought millions of deaths and much suffering to humanity…yes National Socialism is a leftist philosophy I have addressed this point several times)

I have studied the popularity slump and all the data seems to indicate that he is losing ground amongst white voters, moderates and even those conservatives who backed him initially (I guess they have finally woken up to the Obama Delusion..remember that if weren’t for these voting blocks mentioned above Obama would just be a footnote in American electoral history…like George McGovern in 1972). The ‘progressive’ support is still strong for the Messiah (who else will they back? Perennial loser Dennis Kucinich, Ralph ‘Yesterday’s Man’ Nader, John ‘I cheated on my wife while she had cancer’ Edwards or the now virtually extinct Green Party represented by moonbeamer Cynthia Mc’Stupid’).

Weiner and Grayson are still nobodies. Weiner is ultimately anaethema to the left of the party as he is a Jewish supporter of Israel. The Left of the Democrat Party is fundamentally anti-Israel and in many cases anti-semitic (the former can serve as a smokescreen for the latter). You are however correct in noting that the Republican party is in a mess at this point in time. I have mentioned this several times on my blog. I personally believe that the party has to gravitate more to the center on social issues, maintain a strong opposition to Islamofascism, champion free market ideals but at the same time recognize the necessity of workable environmental policies.

In this respect my thinking is similar to that of David Frum or LGF Blogger Charles Johnson (who has done a great job as of late in bashing the ID movement and the extremists on the Right while at the same time championing Western Ideals). I myself am not a conservative but a Classical Liberal so I have no problem supporting Dems who adhere to the ideals of Daniel Patrick Monihyan (one of my favourite American politicians), Scoop Jackson and Leo Strauss. However I am not convinced that such Democrats still exist.

Gavin

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ian Barbour - When Science Meets Religion

This is arguably one of the best books on Science and Religion for some time. Barbour is a deserving winner of the Templeton Award and I found his four facet model dealing with the relationship between these two avenues of human thought to be very useful

In summary Barbour sees the two mechanisms through the eyes of four different models

Conflict: Where they butt heads eg. - Scientific Materialism vs Biblical Literalism
Independence: Where they ignore one another - Separate Domains and Different Languages and Functions
Dialogue: Interaction in the area of Limit-Questions. Parallels and Common Methodologies
Integration: Incorporating the two dynamics together within the framework of Natural Theology, Theology of Nature or Barbour's favourite Systematic Synthesis.

I myself tend to agree with the Dialogue approach although a part of me yearns for a realistic Integration.

Barbour analyzes these models in the areas of Astronomy and Creation, Quantum Physics, Evolution and Continuing Creation, Neuroscience and Human Nature and finally God and Nature.


Outliers

I just finished the Malcolm Gladwell book Outliers and I still can't see what the fuss is. Yes the Lanagan Oppenheimer comparison was intriguing as was the schtick on Hockey players born in the first half of the year but his analysis of airline accidents and order of hierarchy was a bit tedious as was his endless rambling on about the Jamaican whiteness model. Nevertheless Gladwell's writing style is easy to follow and he knows his pop culture. But for a serious sociological study (if there is indeed such a thing) Outliers falls a bit short of the target.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On the Terror Trials

by Thomas Sowell

In the string of amazing decisions made during the first year of the Obama administration, nothing seems more like sheer insanity than the decision to try foreign terrorists, who have committed acts of war against the United States, in federal court, as if they were American citizens accused of crimes.

Terrorists are not even entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention, much less the Constitution of the United States. Terrorists have never observed, nor even claimed to have observed, the Geneva Convention, nor are they among those covered by it.

But over and above the utter inconsistency of what is being done is the utter recklessness it represents. The last time an attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a matter of domestic criminal justice was after a bomb was exploded there in 1993. Under the rules of American criminal law, the prosecution had to turn over all sorts of information to the defense-- information that told the Al Qaeda international terrorist network what we knew about them and how we knew it.

This was nothing more and nothing less than giving away military secrets to an enemy in wartime-- something for which people have been executed, as they should have been. Secrecy in warfare is a matter of life and death. Lives were risked and lost during World War II to prevent Nazi Germany from discovering that Britain had broken its supposedly unbreakable Enigma code and could read their military plans that were being radioed in that code.

"Loose lips sink ships" was the World War II motto in the United States. But loose lips are mandated under the rules of criminal prosecutions.

Tragically, this administration seems hell-bent to avoid seeing acts of terrorism against the United States as acts of war. The very phrase "war on terrorism" is avoided, as if that will stop the terrorists' war on us.

The mindset of the left behind such thinking was spelled out in an editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, which said that "Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, will be tried the right way-- the American way, in a federal courtroom where the world will see both his guilt and the nation's adherence to the rule of law."

This is not the rule of law but the application of laws to situations for which they were not designed.

For the rest go to:
Townhall

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quantum Loop Gravity

What is Quantum Loop Gravity?
The Quick and Dirty:

A Theory of spacetime
Leading proponents include: Lee Smolin, Carlo Rovelli, John Baez, Roger Penrose and Abhay Ashtekar
Alternative to string theory - views space space as made up of discrete (quantised) loops that mesh together
Loops are spin networks of gravitational fields that have been energized.
In short: It is a quantum theory of Gravity.
It is strongly focused on Geometry
It is background independent

What are the strengths of Quantum Loop Gravity?

It doesn't require the higher dimensions of string theory
Very faithful to General Relativity especially Einstein's field equations
It deals very well with Black Holes
Replaces Big Bang Singularity with a Big Bounce
Can explain a positive cosmological constant

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Attention all Physics Teachers - Read Eric Mazur

The Work of Eric Mazur on Concept Teaching in Physics is excellent. I recently puchased his book Peer Instruction and would urge others to do the same. For more on Mazur's work go to:
http://mazur-www.harvard.edu/education/educationmenu.php

In the News LXIII

Massacre at Fort Hood
Despite the Jihadist sympathies of the perpetrator the naysayers are still trying to find other excuses for his actions. What is equally disturbing are the warnings that were apparent before the massacre.

Chavez land grab may influence Catholic Church.
Perhaps he is taking a page from the Radical Jacobins of French Revolution fame. Another worrisome development in the Chavez saga though is a looming military clash with Colombia. The man is a menace - Where is the UN when you need it? I guess they don't have time to worry about real problems when the Joooos are on the agenda elsewhere.

Obama wins one in the House.
I tend to agree with the spirit of his Health care proposals but like many American citizens I am weary of the heavy hand of government that he envisions.

Republican wins in New Jersey and Virginia
If I was a Republican I wouldn't read too much into this (other than the fact that the GOP is clearly not dead - an outrageous analysis after the 2008 election that didn't deserve the news print it got in the firsrt place). Both Democrat governors who were ousted were incompetent and on the same day the Dems picked up two seats in the House including the much coveted NY-23. Nevertheless the results may force a slight rethink in Obama's approach.

US unemployment continues to grow
This despite the 'success of the stimulus package meme' championed by Neo-Keynesian poster boy Paul Krugman. Also the situation is not much better across the pond.

Israel rejects endorsement by UN of Gaza Report.
As it should the report is a travesty of jusice.

More on the 'peaceful' intentions of Hezbollah after rocket seize at sea.

Its an oldie but a gem. Sarkozy reminding Obama about the Real world of politics.


Obama: “We must never stop until we see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the face of the earth.”

Sarkozy: “We live in the real world, not the virtual world. And the real world expects us to take decisions.”

The rest of Sarkozy’s remarks were, well, remarkable:

“President Obama dreams of a world without weapons … but right in front of us two countries are doing the exact opposite.
“Iran since 2005 has flouted five security council resolutions. North Korea has been defying council resolutions since 1993.
“I support the extended hand of the Americans, but what good has proposals for dialogue brought the international community? More uranium enrichment and declarations by the leaders of Iran to wipe a UN member state off the map,” he continued, referring to Israel.
The sharp-tongued French leader even implied that Mr Obama’s resolution 1887 had used up valuable diplomatic energy.
“If we have courage to impose sanctions together it will lend viability to our commitment to reduce our own weapons and to making a world without nuke weapons,” he said.
Mr Sarkozy has previously called the US president’s disarmament crusade “naive.”

Liverpool -The Slide Continues

Its tough to be die hard Liverpool fan these days ( a pedigree I have had since 1976). The Reds are on the verge of elimination from the Champion Leagues having failed to inspire whatsoever. Fortunes in the League are not much better (despite the 2-0 win against Man U two weeks ago - it seems like a blip now). The Reds have lost to the likes of Sunderland and Fulham and sit now with five losses (last season Pool only lost two matches over the 38 game run). However this is not the end - what is most disturbing is that the teams two super stars - Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard are facing lost term injury layoffs. Couple this with a manager who seems to be short on ideas and an ownership equally short on finances and one can appreciate my pessimism. I am predicting a seventh place finish for the Reds this season (behind the Big Three as well as Man City, Aston Villa and Spurs). Yes its not pleasant and I have an eerie sensation that this is looking like 98/99 all over again if not the horrific 93/94 season. I hope that I am wrong but sadly this seems unlikely.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Books I am reading

I never read one book at a time after all I have genetic disposition towards multitasking. At present I am reading four books (when I have the chance).

These are Michio Kaku's Physics of the Impossible , Matin Gardiner's Churchill and the Jews and Robert Wright's The Evolution of God.

Gardiner is excellent as usual, Kaku is highly entertaining but I am finding
Wright's work to be a bit of a slog. Will keep you posted...