Monday, December 31, 2007
Earlier I reviewed this book, giving it an endorsement. Even though the book has been out only about a year it has done well enough that it has been reissued to incorporate some recent developments that further support the book's thesis (i.e., to the extent that there is global warming it is predominantly a natural phenomenon). The revised version reorganizes the previous content while updating it. If you haven't read the first version, here is your second chance!
Just discovered that an updated version of Nathaniel Branden's The Psychology of Romantic Love is being released on January 31, 2008. I have not seen a copy so I don't know how much has been changed. Here is the description from Amazon.
"Originally published in 1980, this updated edition of The Psychology of Romantic Love explores the nature of romantic love on many levels-the philosophical, the historical, the sociological, and the physiological. Nathaniel Branden explains why so many people say that romantic love is just not possible in today's world and-drawing on his experience with thousands of couples-finds that such love is still a possibility for anyone who understands its essence and is willing to accept its challenges."
Friday, December 21, 2007
Al Gore's mantra has been that the debate is over: reputable scientists agree that global warming is caused by human activities. This document on the U. S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works web site says otherwise.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Once when my family and I went shopping at a local mall we returned several hours later but could not find our car. Fortunately (for me, anyway), the car was not mine. My employer leased the car, which meant I did not have to face the expense and aggravation of waiting to see if the car was going to be recovered undamaged and renting another one while hoping that the missing car would be returned. I was shocked, however, when I totaled the value of my family’s personal belongings that we lost with the car. These belongings included a set of jumper cables, a road atlas, coats, our cellular phone, cassette tapes and – worst of all – a day-old copy of Nathaniel Branden’s The Art of Living Consciously. I filed a claim under my homeowner’s policy which has a $250 deductible and pays actual cash value instead of replacement value (unless I happened to have original receipts for the items that were missing, which I did not have). I reported the list of belongings and their value as accurately as I could.
A couple of months later I told this story to some relatives at my niece’s First Communion party. One of them asked if I had recouped my deductible and replacement cost by claiming I had more in the car, like a designer suit or a notebook computer. She asked in a manner suggesting I would have been naïve had I not exaggerated the values. Instead, I proudly said: “My character and principles are worth more than $250.” The response was interesting. Dead silence. Finally, she said, feebly: “Well, I suppose you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror.” She then changed the subject.
I noticed an irony in this incident. This encounter occurred in a room full of Christians who had gathered to celebrate the First Communion yet they also supported lying in order to recoup a loss. This lie amounts to stealing from the insurance company’s other policyholders. It also amounts to my unilaterally (and without notification) rewriting the terms of a contract I had voluntarily signed with the insurer.
In any case, I chose to summarize my position in one statement rather than explaining ad infinitum all of my reasons. I felt that going into all of these reasons would have undercut the impact of my proudly proclaiming that my integrity is worth infinitely more than a couple of hundred dollars. The stunned silence I received shows my hunch was right.
I concluded from this incident that sometimes we can make a bigger impact by how we deal with “small” issues like this rather than pontificating at length on more abstract issues such as capital punishment or abortion, which we don’t face in our day-to-day life. We can set a vivid example of what it means to live by our principles. We can also show that living according to an ethics of self-interest does not mean we’ll resort to anything to get what we want.
Posted by Henry
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Here is a link to a new article that has been posted in The Objective Standard. It relates to our
earlier post on this subject. Given that health care is likely to be a central issue of the upcoming Presidential campaign this essay is well worth reading.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Posted by Henry
In an earlier post I mentioned two books that challenge the popular thesis that carbon dioxide released by our burning of fossil fuels is driving up the world’s temperature. The first book is Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years, by S. Fred Singer, distinguished Research Professor at George Mason University and Professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. Singer does not dispute that there has been some warming in the 20th century. Instead he challenges the much-publicized theory espoused by Al Gore and his supporters. Singer claims that over the last million years the earth has experienced warm-cold cycles every 1,500 years or so on top of a longer 100,000-year cycle. His conclusion is based on a variety of sources:
- Ice cores from Antarctic’s Vostok Glacier and from Greenland at the opposite end of the earth,
- Sea-bed sediment cores from the North Atlantic and South Atlantic Ocean, the Sargasso Sea and the Arabian Sea,
- Cave stalagmites in Iceland, Germany and New Zealand, and
- Archaeological analysis of human settlements.
Singer also points out that the 1,500-year cycle correlates very closely with a similar length solar cycle (which is the result of the combination of an 87 year and a 210 year cycle).
Of course, this solar cycle does not directly refute the greenhouse theory. Carbon dioxide released by our activities could add to the natural warming cycle. Singer addresses this by showing:
- Warming occurred during the Roman era and the Middle Ages, well before human burning of fossil fuel would have been a significant factor.
- Carbon dioxide release doesn’t even explain the most recent temperature changes. The most warming of the 20th century occurred before 1940 while the most carbon dioxide was generated after 1940.
- Warming in previous cycles occurs 800 years before carbon dioxide levels increase. In other words, the relationship between warming and carbon dioxide is opposite of what the global warming alarmists claim.
Above I mentioned that Singer reports there is an even longer cycle to the 1,500 cycle. The Chilling Stars: The New Theory of Climate Change by Henrik Svensmark presents a theory he calls cosmoclimatology. Svensmark is a physicist and director of the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen, Denmark. According to Svensmark, “Cosmic rays control the powerful ‘cloud valve’ that regulates the heating of the earth.” As cosmic rays pass through the atmosphere they create ions which become nuclei for cloud condensation. The clouds that form, especially below 10,000 ft, reflect the sun’s energy and thus cool the earth. In the 20th century the sun’s magnetic field more than doubled in strength and reduced the cosmic rays and, consequently rescued the cloud cover. The reduced cloud cover allowed the earth to warm.
Of course, you could argue that this is just a theory without empirical support. However, Svensmark describes a cloud chamber experiment he designed and ran that demonstrates that the mechanism does create nuclei for condensation.
The Chilling Stars ties in nicely with Unstoppable Global Warming on the short warming-cooling cycles but shows there also is evidence of cosmic ray fluctuations on a 145 million year cycle as the sun wanders between the spiral arms of our galaxy.
Bottom line: these books provide a much more plausible explanation of global warming than the Inconvenient Untruth of Al Gore.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Posted by Henry
I recently had an e-mail dialog with a friend of mine who wants nationalized health care. Before this exchange I didn’t know much about it except that the health care industry isn’t really a free market. I learned while responding to my friend’s claims (and his recommendation to see Michael Moore’s mockumentary Sicko) how unfree the market really is. Below are extracts of my e-mails to him.
The problem is that we already have a semi-socialized system of health care. Making it fully socialized will only make it worse. The statistics show that people in countries with national health care have to wait for months or years for procedures or tests that we can have done here tomorrow without waiting. As a result, people die in these counties waiting for life saving procedures. My wife’s brother had stomach surgery in Bermuda which has a system modeled on England. The sutures did not hold, allowing his disgestive waste to leak into his body. He ran a temperature for days while his stomach bloated and the doctors took a “don’t worry, be happy” approach. Fortunately his manager chartered a medivac jet from the U.S. and had my brother-in-law flown to Rhodel Island Hospital. Doctors there said he was within 24 hours of dying had he stayed in Bermuda.
I don't agree that health care is a right for reasons that take too long to spell out in an e-mail. Here it is in a very short nutshell: when you claim a "right" to something you're basically saying you have a right to the time and abilities of other people, which means basically to enslave them. Third, I don't believe Michael Moore. Even people on his side of the political fence have major problems with his way of presenting "facts."
I agree: a caring society SHOULD take care of those who can't take care of themselves ... voluntarily, not by government. It's too easy for all of us to foist the job of taking care of people onto the government (which means onto others via taxation) instead of doing something ourselves.
I also have a couple of practical reasons why I don't want the government to run health care.
- The government has created a lot of the problems with its attempt to "fix" things. The solution is not to keep adding more "fixes." (We have nothing like a free market in health care now; it is heavily regulated and getting more so by the day. Medicare causes further problems because the government dictates what it will pay for procedures. Since the government mandated "price" doesn't cover the hospital's cost they just shift these costs to us, thus increasing our health care costs. This is a free market? Plus the government with the blessing of the AMA restricts the number of people who can become doctors which results in higher salaries.)
- If you're dissatisfied with something you have the option to switch HMO's or move to something else like Blue Cross. Having the government run health care means it becomes a monolithic, faceless monopoly. If we don't like how it's run where else are we going to go? (In fact, in England and in Canada, people who run into the bureaucratic brick walls of government have resorted to a fledgling and growing alternate market to get what they need, at extra expense.)
- The government bureaucrats who run health care would become subject to corruption and influence peddling as companies and the rich use their money to get what they want while we are helpless to do anything about it. I've dealt with the bureaucracy of my HMO and with government bureaucracies. I'll take battling with a private bureaucracy any day because I can always threaten to take my business elsewhere. That kind of threat does not exist with a government bureaucrat. This is the fatal flaw of regulation that is well documented by liberal historian Gabriel Kolko in his book The Triumph of Conservatism (which is not a good thing in Kolko's mind). In his book he shows how businessmen flock to regulators, even campaigning to have their industry regulated (like Melon did with the steel industry), so that they can keep out competition and they can use their money to buy the favor of the regulators and government officials.
- The government does such a good job running other things (like building bridges across the Mississippi and the Big Dig in Boston which killed a woman when one of the ceiling panels broke loose due to poor quality epoxy (!?) and crushed her car).
Regarding the alleged “right” to health care and your claim that this is implied in our constitution, it we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Doesn't say anything about having a right to particular goods or services because we don't have the right to demand that other people to provide them for the reason I stated before. Also doesn't say we have the right to happiness (who is going to provide it?), only the right to pursue happiness. Big difference. The Founding Fathers were brilliant in realizing this critical and often misunderstood distinction. The rights in the constitution apply to the freedom for us to think and act in order to pursue happiness.
As we wind down on our discussion of this issue and at the risk of belaboring this topic, let me finally cover Moore’s claim that we rank 37th. There are major problems with how the World Health Organization (an entity of the U.N.). It is designed so that it automatically relegates the U.S. to a lower ranking because its weighting favors countries with socialized medicine. As a result countries like Columbia, Oman, Morocco, Cyprus, Andorra, Malta, and the United Arab Emirates rank AHEAD of us!
As David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute says: “But before packing up your daughter for the long plane ride to South America, remember that the WHO criteria are soft - and ideological. Nations are marked down for having private medicine or user fees. Fairness - that is, everyone gets the same treatment regardless of income - is important. Competition, WHO officials believe, is bad since it leads to "fragmentation and duplication in health services." If the criteria aren't skewed enough, the WHO report also considers how well countries perform compared to what experts feel they ought to be doing. It's a bit like giving a gold medal to the eighth fastest runner because he has the shortest legs and tried harder.”
The only way the U.S. could ever rank much higher is to completely socialize health care, a prescription that is worse than the illness.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Posted by Henry
It has been interesting watching Al Gore doggedly fight his battle over the last 15+ years to convince us about the perils and causes of global warming. His battle has hit its stride with a gathering momentum with accolades such as the Academy Award bestowed upon him for his Inconvenient Truth.
Back in the early 1990’s I recall a Boston Globe interview of Gore. At one point the interviewer asked Gore what he thought about the scientists who did not accept the idea of global warming being caused by human activities. He said, “I wish I could find a way to shut them up.” (!) [I don’t have the article and can’t find it online but the quote is burned into my memory.] Over the years Gore and his allies have managed to create the impression that virtually all reputable atmospheric scientists agree global warming is caused by our release of carbon dioxide. Scientists who disagree are depicted as being on the take from the oil companies. Now that the Gore contingent have created the impression of a scientific consensus, Gore claims that fighting global warming is a moral issue. In other words, if you disagree with him, you’re not only wrong but also immoral!
Gore’s campaign to “shut up” dissenting scientists has been almost completely successful.
Robert Bidinotto’s work in Reader’s Digest originally convinced me that global warming was sham but for while I started to have doubts based on the constant media claims that climatologists agreed on the human-driven cause of global warming. I decided to conduct my own research from which a different picture emerged. Recently I read two books which I’ll discuss in a separate blog, both of which I found through www.junkscience.com.
I learned that there is no consensus among scientists and that there are other theories which match the data much better than man-made carbon dioxide. The information in these books is not all that hard to find. So why do Gore and his followers persist in advocating that we are to blame? I think the following quote from the former Canadian Environment Minister Christine Stewart sheds light on their motive.
“No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits…. Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” Source: Calgary Herald, 14 December 1998.
It all comes down to a new way to make us (the U.S. in particular and the West in general) feel guilty for our material success in order to soften us for their solutions of taxing emissions, changing our life style and bringing us down to the level of countries that don’t suffer from these “problems,” thanks to their policies of punitive taxation, heavy regulation and government control (or strangling) of their economies.
Most Americans buy into some of the propaganda and react maybe by recycling more or car-pooling. But they still buy their SUV’s and dream to live in a large homes and maybe even own a private jet. In other words, to live in a style that Gore enjoys!