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The DIA Soon DOA?

Since no one else seems to be commenting on anything along these lines, I’ll say it.  There is a bankrupt city in Michigan called Detroit.  It was one of the most famous cities in the world for automobile manufacture, Motown music, and later, the murder rate (which it’s still famous for).  Recently, the city was allowed to file for bankruptcy in order to forgo repaying some of its debts.

One of the debts it was not permitted to drop, and rightly so, was its promise of pensions for city workers.  Partly because of this, the city has apparently decided to “monetize” the artwork of the Detroit Institute of the Arts (the DIA).  The value of these pieces of art were judged to be worth between $452 and $866 million.  I have been keeping tabs on this topic, so I heard this estimate was lower than the city hoped for.  This is now considered salable property of Detroit, to be used for settling its debts.  The debt stands around $18 billion, according to one source.  That’s a lot of debt.

There are two points I must make here.  Frankly, I am surprised no one else has been posting things on WordPress with the tags “Detroit,” “art,” “DIA,” or “monetize” involved.

1.  The city of Detroit has no right to take public property and put a price tag on it when it was irresponsible enough to run up a debt so large.  It was already unwise to resist a state offer for leasing of a tourist island, which would have cut costs for the city and helped in tourism.  This was all but forced on the city later, but it could have been done better and prior to being bankrupt.  Now it assumes possession of things the city does not own- that artwork belongs to the citizens.  Rivers and lakes are public property, too, in most places.  Should cities charge for use of these when they run into financial trouble?  Imagine the effect that would have on availability of resources.  But if a city can do this with artwork, why stop there?  And if this is really necessary for the city to settle its debts, why are the citizens denied any effective way to decide how its value is applied to the debt?

The whole thing is wrong.  As it is, municipal, state, and federal governments tend to assume authority where they have none.  Public grounds like courthouses and hunting lands are public possessions.  Whatever value they have, should it be used, the people have the right to decide.  Mandated stipulations regarding them should be decided by the citizens also.  Too often this is done unilaterally by executive branch officers, judicial leaders, or municipal councils without practical recourse or contravention.  It’s perfectly reasonable to have armed guards in courthouses, for instance; but should the costs incurred not be up for public debate and consideration in more than city council meetings where such things are often badly announced or phrased to mask the intent?  Should there not be a quick and effective way to cancel budget matters if the people want it changed, without the red tape of bureaucracy?  I think so.

Incidentally, this applies to religious expression, too.  Everyone made such a fuss about the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, and how it was religious preference- thereby, intolerance to other faiths.  This is wrong in theory and practice.  The right to practice any religion only meant to curtail a state religion, not prohibit its expression through government (“In God We Trust”, remember?  Are Islamic zealots threatened by that?)  Therefore, if a local majority wants the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, the minority has no right to force them out.  The minority still has right for its own representation in addition to this anyway.  By the same reasoning, any electorate can have whatever religious expression it wants in public when not unfairly restricted; there is no reason there can’t be a big, stone Qur’an, either, right alongside a statue of Moses.  Majority rules and loud, easily-offended minorities should learn the spirit of the Constitution as well as the letter of its articles if they choose not to match their rivals in civil expression.  Briefly, that means loud, belligerent minorities should stand up or shut up.

But good luck with expedient countering forces to existing statutes or misinterpreted rights.  Our alleged republican governmental structure has nothing like calls for no confidence in presidents or directors (and impeachment is hardly the same- if it was, the individuals of the Supreme Court could be held accountable for their corruption or incompetence, as the Constitution says they should).  A representative democracy has no means to curtail selfish leadership without being allowed a better selection by corporate interest because legislatures and courts ignore the will of their people.  Legislative cancellations without the legislative approval are unlikely to pass.  Just try to make Congress stop voting raises for itself.

2.  The second point I must make concerning the DIA and its monetizing is this: anyone can be a bidder for its ownership, or use as collateral.  For instance, IBM could buy whatever artwork it wanted and destroy it upon scanning images for later resale.  IBM would then own the image unto the end of the company, or the end of time, whichever came first.  Copyright law would make simply viewing timeless, public images or literature illegal.  Since ideology can be closely tied to such things, this is a deeply dangerous mechanism to preventing free expression and self-determination of individuals.  Companies are already trying to copyright natural chemical compounds.  (Imagine how it would cost if someone copyrighted water.)  Farmers are being punished for raising crops downwind from genetically-modified fields because the pollen interbred with the other crop prior to its sale.  This is a process the farmer can’t anticipate and the company is somehow not expected to prevent.  This is unbelievable.

Anyway, regarding the DIA and its “monetized” public property (I say pilfered), two buyers announced for artwork are Chinese interests.  One wants Chinese artwork for cultural reasons, I am sure.  Fair enough, but if the artwork belongs to Detroit citizens, how could they stop such collections from being removed completely in the transaction?  Public property could be sent away without any means for the people to dispute it.  How is that right?

Worse than simple accessibility to culture, there is no way to know the full ramifications of foreign possession of any public property.  One investor was talking about buying a set of artwork and considering it collateral for a loan to the city of Detroit.  One local news commentator was brash enough to say no one loses in this exchange.  That supposition can only be termed as stupid.

The obvious is money comes into Detroit, possibly without any immediate loss but the promise of a loan to be repaid.  Even assuming such wealthy interests from foreign nationals have no geopolitical risk- that is, a foreign state would never use it for leverage against the United States (and for China, that’s simply too great a risk to take), American possessions cannot be made subject to foreign law without disregarding Constitutional law.

You may argue that can’t happen if this loan and collateral transaction takes place with artwork of the DIA.  It’s simple enough to prove otherwise: imagine, some day in the future, Detroit has not paid off the loan.  The Chinese investor- with or without the provocation of his or her government, for its own aims- calls for the loan to be repaid or else.  The artwork is now subject to be claimed, or a new deal is made.  Is it so hard to see how using public property for debt payment could entangle foreign powers?  What if Detroit of this future opt to extend repayment of the loan by using public land itself as collateral, then fail to repay the loan again?  The land itself would be under the jurisdiction of a foreign national, or worse, a foreign government!  We didn’t allow this for Mumbai when it tried to possess an American port.  This is just a backdoor method to do the same thing, if the precedent is permitted.

Public property is being dealt with without regard for the public.  Very easily, the de facto masters American public property could be foreigners, or foreign governments.  As such, statute and justice would not be according to the Constitution.  It would be pointless to cry “Habeus corpus!” in a Chinese court, or claim religious freedom if the most recent fatwa in your county says the Crucifix is verboten.

 

These are extreme cases, but it always begins with an innocuous step.  The precedent is what matters here.  When slavery was abolished, the separate but equal proposition was allowed.  It led to revised slavery, in effect, and was only overturned after a century and considerable pain through riots and martyrdom of good people.  Fear of offending minorities leads to the complete atheistic representation of Americans, now effectively denied the right to express their faith in public (although, in some cases, it’s fine if you aren’t Christian).  The Affordable Care Act permits the federal government to enforce laws it has no enumerated right to pass, and its mandate shall certainly lead to curtailing more rights of self-determination.  Now Detroit is opening the side door for private possession of public property, where the authority is completely beyond citizens’ reach.  This is not a good idea, and it is in no way congruent with Constitutional rights.

Theological Musing on God and Morality

I was responding to a theological question on another blog about the nature of morality, be it absolute or relativistic with regard to God.  The link is here: <http://thevirtualpolitician.wordpress.com/>  I responded, but the thought got me thinking about more than my answer required.  My ramble goes on here.

I really liked one statement made in the comments: “My intuition tells me that the Laws of Logic are what support morality.” Let’s analyze that.

The point made seems to be basic- it doesn’t make sense for God to exist if not considered in regard to absolute morality, which is not the same as “ethics.” (That means legal right and wrong are not being discussed here, so tangible rules like the Ten Commandments do not come into play. I say that to simplify the discussion because religiosity can muddle the clarity if this is not addressed early.) This entire line of thought implies God can only be contemplated if He is regarded in relation to absolute morality. This is biased already.  God has no need of morals, we do.  They likely were a later creation to help us in our physical existence.  Regardless, for the purposes of debate, I’ll continue.  In a case where God can only exist alongside morality , God could be inherently “good” and does not, Himself, provide the definition for what is qualitatively good; or, what God does or feels determines what is “good” and we mortals are presumably directed to adhere to this regardless of whether or not God is consistent (meaning God chooses anything he wants and it is always good, without repercussions for the possible self-contradiction).  The latter lends itself better to the probable creation of the universe and mortals therein.

This makes for an inevitable conclusion. If absolute morality exists and God exists only in tandem with it, to say nothing of the fact He is not omnipotent if He is subject to this absolute, this still means if we want to comply with what is “good,” we must do so notwithstanding God’s ability to make a different choice, or God’s ability to determine what is good. To be moral creatures ourselves, then, it is immaterial if God chooses good, indifference, or evil. It is immaterial if God Himself chooses what is good or evil. We mortals, if we choose to be good, must adhere to whatever good is without this ever being certain.

And how can we know what is good or bad? We can guess. That is all. This should rarely, if ever, be enough to treat others in ways our morals cry out against. The vast majority feels it’s wrong to kill, for instance. Clearly our morals find it reprehensible, even if logic does not, like when one is guilty about it even if it was killing in self-defense. Unless God Himself appears and directs a person to hate another for believing something else, I refuse to do it if I can control it. I’m as prone to hating people who wrong me, but that’s a different topic. The point is no one alive has moral standing reliable enough to say what is or is not God’s will without requisite approval from the Highest of authorities, therefore being intolerant makes no sense, either. I’d be naturally cautious of obeying any such Godly directive anyway, as it could be from a different metaphysical source, too.  (Remember, an active God might mean an active entity in rebellion to God.  Resistance to God’s will was Lucifer’s sin; it didn’t matter what the fallen angel did, it only mattered it contravened God.  That’s why I think God’s will is the qualitative “good,” and I think it is absolute.)

That said, I must declare the human flaw of pride interferes with our interpretation of righteous action versus unrighteous ones. No mortal can be completely certain what God deems right and wrong, through action or inaction, without a direct indication. Even then, the scope of this certainty would be quite limited. I can’t say any one religion, or even the holiest of religious figures short of the Christ Himself, have ever been capable of interpreting God’s will in regard to right and wrong without error or room for adjustment in different situations. Even Jesus Christ spoke to a set group in a particular time. Generalities can be garnered, if carefully done, and must be for Christianity to be in keeping with the best indications we have of what is right and wrong. But even if passages are taken verbatim from Christ (which is not possible, as the gospels were not written straight from verbal recordings), we cannot selectively take passages attributed to the Messiah or prophets and presume they apply with any precision as we see fit to modern, alien, and often unrelated moral debates.

The short version is, then, it doesn’t matter if God decides what is good or if God can act in opposition to it. If there is morality, absolute or not, the best we can do is take the tolerant stance Christ did, as the most reliable indications say He did, and live the best we can. Jesus is the only tangible figure fit to model our behavior after because He was the incarnate of God; this is my belief. This uncertainty makes no one person better or worse than any other person alive.

—–

I recommend reading C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity if anyone has further interest in this topic. He addresses the issue of an extant God and His moral integrity better than I can. Briefly, that should hash out well enough why God is (logically) a moral creature, and if not bound to being “good,” certainly displays interest in qualitative good being observed rather than evil. We must admit, our own free will uses evil for the ends of good, so God should not be judged negatively for letting us use our free will do do this.  On the other hand, free will cannot fairly be granted some and not others with the capacity to utilize it.  We cause the issues allowing God to use or engage in evil for good ends, and it doesn’t fit with omnipotence to say God cannot do so.

Corporations with Religion…?

I would like some consensus of this topic: who thinks it is morally defensible for Hobby Lobby and others to declare religious rights, therefore permitted to be non-compliant with parts of the Affordable Care Act?  Why do you, the respondent, feel that way?  It is a simple question, but it is anything but a simple answer, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest and forthcoming with my opinion.  I am in favor of Hobby Lobby and others having the right to reserve services, even those required by federal or state law, on the basis of religion provided there are reasonable limits for corporations.  For example, let Hobby Lobby refuse to provide for contraceptives if it offends the leadership, but the exception should not extend to refusing treatment for life-threatening injury or illness (including abortion if it threatens the life of the mother and/or the child, I say).  I accept they are hypocrites in practice notwithstanding their Christian proclamations, and I know delineating the limits of religious exceptions for companies promises to be quite difficult if the precedent is so set.

I haven’t sorted it all out how it is defensible (it may not be, legally or morally), but I am mulling it over.  The short version is I am inclined to side with the Constitution’s First Article as applied this way over a federal government deciding how religion can be practiced by its entities subject to its statute laws.  The Affordable Care Act (a statute law) threatens to take legal precedence over the Constitution, the very source of its legitimacy.  Allowing this only detracts from the First Article of the Bill of Rights.

It’s bad enough the fear of offending minorities has already stricken all practice of faith in public from view, making a faithless society.  Argue that all you like, but it’s a simple truth.  If there is no religion is permitted within government, dependable morality isn’t permitted either.  Freedom of religion is meant to prevent an official state religion, not forbid any religion being practiced by the majority of constituents in a given area.  There’s no legal reason one can’t put up the Ten Commandments in the courthouse- or a stone monument to the Qur’an, for that matter, if the majority of the local population is Islamic.  I don’t care what argument is made against a company having the capacity for religious rights as much as I care about the fact denying this very concept presupposes a government has the legal and moral right to decide when religion is permitted in a public setting.  This is a fundamentally dangerous proposition for a republic.

I could be wrong about this, and I admit that.  The logic of my position is not yet fully developed.  But say, for argument’s sake, the government has the right to mandate to companies they must obey all federal laws regardless of religious objection.  Does it stop with corporations?  Would it not eventually extend to small businesses (those supporting churches or religious groups, possibly), or individuals in a public or commercial setting?  Where’s the line if freedom of religion is absolutely stricken from any one thing?  Could the Federal Communications Commission not eventually fine people for even discussing faith in public media?  It’s not like they are far off now, and it’s the same Article granting religious expression as freedom of speech.

 

As for solutions for this argument, there are a few.

1.  The first is the simplest and most obvious from a basic reading of the Constitution: repeal the mandate inherent in the ACA.  I don’t deny parts of it are great, or that the Republican party is grandstanding by their pretending to repeal the ACA in toto.  But the mandate is complete bollix.  At no point does the Constitution enumerate the right of the federal government to impose health insurance on the electorate.  Anything not enumerated is forbidden by the federal government, as per Article X of the Bill of Rights.  The Supreme Court is karking stupid for permitting the this law to continue existing by virtue of this article alone, the tax penalty notwithstanding… not a punishment, my two-faced Democrat.  If repealing the law in full, or in part, was accomplished the issue of permitting or prohibiting religious exception to Obamacare would be moot.  You may be able to tell this is the solution I endorse.

2.  Those companies and other commercial ventures under United States federal law are denied the exception based on religious grounds.  This means they are legally required to provide any service or insurance program the ACA demands, or in keeping with judicial oversight of the Supreme Court and precedent it sets, any following statute law regardless of intent.  This imposition should be restricted to certain for-profit companies.  Just for an example, let’s say all companies with more than 15 employees and/or with interests in more than one state would be required to comply, as well as any in U. S. areas not in proper states (outside territories, protectorates, et cetera).  Anyone else should be exempt from the ACA if only because enforcement would be ridiculously difficult.  Even if they have 15 or more employees or cross state lines, however, no non-profit corporation or expressly religious organization should ever be required to uphold tenets of law in contravention of their beliefs.  This is the most practical answer the Supreme Court can give if it doesn’t do its job properly and strike down Obamacare.

It would be a tax code nightmare, though, and there is no guarantee the federal government can curtail the potential power this would bestow.  The executive branch is not known for its self-restraint.  Be warned, also, this solution is likely to produce the eventual religious repression of the entire country.  If all companies and public figures, like businesses operating in public and ostensibly controlling its clientele there, are required to uphold even inflammatory law any religious setting could be construed as seditious gathering sites.  It’s only a warrant away from calling churches “seditious” and disregarding other Articles in the Bill of Rights, in this case.  If you think that’s so far-fetched, ask the Branch Davidians what happened in Waco, Texas.

3.  Permit claimants to have restricted religious exceptions to federal or state laws as necessary, so long as they fit within the corresponding tax brackets and limits of entities involved.  If an employee of Hobby Lobby wants contraceptives and is denied through the company, there should be a federal program working with the company to augment the policy.  Let the Department of Health and Human Services pay for whatever the objecting company doesn’t.  Just enforce the ACA in terms of transfusions and the like because the life of a person is in jeopardy in such instances.  Then the corporation with the objection has no reason to object and the law is served, except where lives are lost if action is not taken.  There is no precedent I have heard of saying companies can stand by and allow their employees to suffer or die from lack of medical treatment, quickly or slowly, simply because they don’t condone the sociocultural views of the employee.

Honestly, I don’t understand why this solution is so difficult to come up with.  If the ACA demands such things be provided and the corporation has rights to deny them, the HHS is obligated to pick up the slack.  It is the appropriate federal agency to be responsible, as the imposition of law comes from the federal government.  The HHS should then be legally required to provide payment for non-life threatening health concerns like contraceptives.  Any companies excluded from religious exception (places with 15 or fewer employees, religious organizations, etc.) would not be included in such augmented policies because the legal entities themselves are not required to adhere to the ACA in this regard anyway, provided the Supreme Court rules this way.

 

Personally, I think if an unborn child is a medical danger to the mother, it shouldn’t matter if she is a full-time salary worker for the Pro-Life Council or a full-timer at McDonald’s.  The life is what matters.  Not catering to one’s lifestyle simply because one wants to live that way, when the employer does not encourage it, does not generally carry an inherent and unavoidable risk to the employee.  As such, the employee should not be entitled to what is, biologically speaking, unnecessary expenditure of resources through a health insurance policy.  The line is blurred sometimes, though, like when it comes to certain physical relationships and prevention of STDs, for example.  I can’t venture a solution to that except to say certain employees are not suited for self-righteous employers in the first place, and the situation should be avoided altogether.  For most circumstances, in this legal debate, contraceptives are not medically required for safety of the individual.  The company should not be forced provide them.

That said, however, no company or government should have the authority to tell you, as a person with the right for self-determination, when you should suffer unnecessarily or die simply because it disagrees with you.  So Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to accommodate people it considers to be engaging in unrighteous activities, or preventing births after marriage.  The denial of contraceptives does not threaten lives in most cases.  Refusing to provide vital transfusions, medically necessary abortions, or the like- that, I would say, cannot be allowed regardless of a company’s moral blustering.

 

This is as best as I can describe my thoughts on this.  Please, reply with your thoughts.  Call me on points I am wrong about or conclusions I have made without adequate reasoning.  I want to be sure my opinion is as fair as possible.

Freedom of Choice Curtailed Again

I hear Barack Obama is revising political campaign funding, as it affects one’s tax forms.  Effectively this would make it more difficult for a private citizen to provide funding for presidential candidates, among others, thereby making it more likely corporate interests have less competition for such contributions.  The obvious consequence is corporations and wealthy individuals shall be more influential over such candidates- as if that dynamic needed any help in the United States after the Supreme Court ruled corporations have equal free speech rights as individual citizens with comparative meager resources.

This brings up a few points I would like to make on the matter, but not necessarily what readers here may expect.

1.  In the first place, I only heard about this new law from public radio on Wednesday of this week (March 26th).   I am having a curious difficulty finding any other mention of it elsewhere.  I blame Google and any other major company in collusion with governmental authorities.  It is in their interest to omit this from the news for reasons I’ll get to.  It isn’t the first time this has happened- how many people knew about NORTHCOM when it was enacted, or ACTA until it was almost forced on us?  I severely doubt anyone knows how it ended up with the ATF raid in Waco, Texas or the unjustified raid against the Hutare, either.

2.  The description of this law says it takes away the little check box on tax forms, where most of us ignore the part about contributing to political campaigns.  It is supposed to have helped prevent corruption because it is (or was) our means to circumvent financial influence over candidates from corporations and biased, monied people.  I ignore this little box myself.  I’m too poor for that.  But, perhaps surprisingly, eliminating it completely is not what bothers me most about this.  What paltry amounts we may be able to contribute to presidential campaigns and the like don’t matter anymore, so the elimination of this little check box has negligible affect, I would say.  This doesn’t detract from how bad an idea it is to take away what meager influence we can have over major candidates, but this isn’t the biggest issue.

3.  I make no secret of my dislike for the alleged President Obama, but even so, I can’t blame him much for this law.  I blame Congress and the American political system.  Obama is just a pawn on the chessboard allowed there for the publicity.  Congressional entities wrote and passed this undemocratic bill.

For that matter, as far as I know, this time Obama’s administration didn’t even have any anti-Constitutional interference like it did with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.  (That was when Obama, the winner of a Nobel peace prize before he did a damned thing to earn it, then made a habit of blitzing people with drones and asked for ambiguous language so he could legally detain American citizens without any legal recourse.  Somehow that makes it seem like he’s an enemy of quite specific Articles of the Constitution.  Funny, that terminology sounds familiar…)

Congress and its fictitious two-party system are more to blame for our lack of influence over the politics of the United States.  This political balance between two parties, one of which being effectively just as useless for the common person as the other, creates a farce where any other party is actively excluded from media opportunity and leadership.  (Ask yourself why third-party candidates NEVER get airtime on major networks.  Then ask yourself how only two parties can satisfactorily represent 300 million people.)  The cause of our issues is the political system, and it is only natural this system would do away with what pitiful influence we may exert over who is allowed in.  The other safeguards of our republican democracy, the Supreme Court and the electoral college, are both bought.  We don’t have many options.

 

So, let’s summarize.  One small, almost useless resistance to corruption in the federal American government is lost.  What a shock!  Given the complete lack of help from our other democratic safeguards, I can’t imagine how the affect would be measurable.  I’m not happy about it, but pressing the point is as productive as bringing up birth certificates late in Obama’s second term.

The bigger danger to what freedom we haven’t been robbed of is the peripheral detail for most of the electorate so easily distracted by the newest season of American Idol or the most recent upgrade of some unnecessary technological gizmo: we have no real power of choice in the first place.  We pick from the people we are allowed to choose from.  Until we have some kind of representation not owned by the political system and its corruption (namely, a strong party not beholden to financiers of mainstream Democratic and Republican campaigns), nothing is going to improve.

I wandered a bit from the cause of this posting.  But I think the greater threat it led to is worth mentioning.

 

P. S.: If anyone wants to continue along this line of thought, just consider the following: our so-called two-party system is effectively one entity, as far as the commoner is concerned.  (Don’t fool yourselves- the monied class is definitely trying to reestablish serfdom, so commoner is exactly the right word.)  This two-face party leads a government devoting more than half its budget every year to the euphemistic “Department of Defense”.  So, effectively one party devotes the majority of its resources to war across the world.  The word for that is fascism.  Just so you know.

The Presumption of Science

“Do you not think that there are things which you cannot understand, and yet which are; that some people see things that others cannot?  …Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all; and if explain it not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”  — Bram Stoker, Dracula (Chapter XIV)

“Giving a phenomenon a label does not explain it.”  — Taylor Caldwell

—–

The quotes above relate to one specific, irritating problem I see pervading science and reflected in the media.  I notice there is often an assumption of fact in news articles of scientific topics, and it is time to address them.

When the Higgs boson particle was said to have been discovered in 2012, the explanation was they conducted an experiment verifying the existence a subatomic particle responsible for mass in the measurable universe.  I can’t say I understand the full context of such a particle (or the math hypothesizing it), but here’s how it breaks down: these highly-educated people using one of the COOLEST TOYS EVER collided atoms and watched what happened.  They confirmed what they describe as a particle without motion, as opposed to all others also composed of mass.  Then they announced they found the Higgs boson particle, the one theorized and vindicating many accepted aspects of modern quantum hypothesis.

Put another way, they found an empty spot in the subatomic structure, and on this premise, everyone applauds discovery of the Higgs boson particle.  They claim to have found an object by pointing at a space without matter in it.  This qualifies as proof of a newly-discovered object, both by assumption of the reader and the scientists involved: the arrogance of it to be considered a “God” particle, and for us to prove its existence in our terms…

The logic is, suffice to say, flawed.  But it validates the supposition humanity knows all.  Anything unaccountable is ignored or poorly assessed until it can be sufficiently described (not necessarily defined, though).  See the above quotes.

This trend is still going.  There is an article about an unusual diamond with what I can only describe as water, modified by extreme heat and pressure.  It was found in Brazil and is being used to justify current theory of planetary mechanics.  The material in the diamond is a form of olivine called ringwoodite, which theoretically results from heat and pressure in the Earth’s magma at a certain depth.  To hear it from scientific sources, “323 to 410 miles (520 to 660 km) deep… olivine is thought to become ringwoodite.  But until now, no one had direct evidence that olivine was actually ringwoodite at this depth.”

In fact, no one has it yet.

There has been very little direct evidence to verify models of the mechanics of Earth in a geological sense, and whatever American textbooks say, the plate tectonic theory does not account for everything.  There are earthquakes in the center of alleged plates, after all, and there shouldn’t be if this is true.  Measuring the speed of kinetic waves earthquakes generate gives many clues, but they are not in themselves proof of anything.  Finding this one sample diamond with the expected material in it is not proof of where it came from, only proof there IS a place underground with requisite temperatures and pressures.

The word for this is tautology.  Something is true because someone says it is.  A specific fossil belongs at whatever point in the evolutionary line because the biologists say it does, without peripheral data to confirm this (until they move it elsewhere, quietly, because new evidence nullified their previous “theory”).  In this case, the ringwoodite proves properties of the Earth at a particular location out of human observability because we say it conforms with the hypothesis, not because it has a passport from that region of the mantle.  It’s all very subjective.  Yet, it is presented and accepted as fact.  At least people from the 22nd century will laugh about it.

If this is how we choose to perceive the world, we handicap ourselves from other possibilities.  Worse, we can only blind ourselves to other probabilities.  Historically, this leads to upheaval (social, political, or scientific).  This ringwoodite may be interpreted correctly, or not.  But the presumption is so unscientific!  At least say it is highly probable it is from however deep into the surface, not it IS from there without having any way to know.

The mantle layer scientists think this diamond is spewed from could be just the way they describe, or the layer could be notorious for inconsistency, or the pressure could compound in an entirely different way than geologists think.  We don’t know.  We should not presume anything, and we usually assume anything so long as it fits our view of the universe.

And wouldn’t you know it, not a full day after I post the original draft of this weblog I find this article describing a needed “reality check” on macroevolutionists.  <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/27/dinosaur-feathers-species-scales-armor_n_4508734.html>  Perfect timing.

Job Destruction

Let’s review.  Barack Obama says he wants American labor to improve, so he encourages ideas to foster this.  That’s the job of the president, right?  Some are prerogatives unto themselves and some are part of other policy changes of his administration.  The major points against Obama regarding American jobs are:

1.  As part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare (which I have criticized before), for purposes of American employers, the federal government now considers full-time work at less than 40 hours.  I am pretty sure it is 35 hours equals full time at this point.  The positive here is it makes more workers admissible for health care benefits with fewer hours spent at work- ostensibly a good thing.  The obvious reality, however, is this only means employers are more inclined to hire people for fewer hours a week to avoid the requirement for health benefits to those employees- even if that means underemploying a higher number of people.  In effect, this aspect of the ACA promises to curtail sufficient working hours for millions.  Talking to any respectable economist would have given Obama’s administration enough an indication of this.  But it’s alright, it frees people to do other things… like peruse the classified ads to find another job to make up the difference they just lost so they can continue paying rent…

2.  Obama is in favor of raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.  Granted, he hasn’t proposed anything to actually do this.  But encouraging it is as irresponsible as lowering full-time hours.  Beside the fact this would do nothing to solve the dilemma of the working poor and impoverished- low wages are not the problem, inordinately high living expenses are, and they always go up with the wages and beyond- this type of increase has only one sure result: it is going to lead to people being fired in order to make the budget work for a workplace.  Fewer people are going to be expected to do the same amount of work.  In a word, this is idiotic.  I am thankful this has not been enacted in any real means.

3.  I heard on the news this morning Obama’s next genius idea is to expand the applicability of overtime pay.  Again, this is positive on the surface and in affect if done properly.  All it is sure to do, however, is diminish the possible hours of employment of most employers.  It is another way to reduce the income of a household under the guise of an act in the workers’ best interest.

This leads to very few conclusions.  It’s really an either/or kind of thing.

Obama is oblivious or indifferent to the real-world ramifications of his ideas, or those he likes, as implemented by the federal government.  It doesn’t matter if his intent is malicious, apathetic, or munificent.  The affect is the working class suffers when, conveniently, the monied class (including most of Congress and the executive branch leadership) does not.  If this is the case, the ineptitude of his administration and himself in an official capacity are dangerously short-sighted or negligent.  Even if these ideas could work well, they don’t as administered by his government and this should have bearing in what he says and encourages as the chief executive.  None of the changes listed above would do well for the majority of small employers, and I doubt they would be welcome by bigger ones.

Or, Obama and his supporters in these things intend the long-term consequences of such things when proposed or encouraged.  The reality of this is much less defensible and more frightening.  (It is in accordance with previous acts of the federal government, though, such as  free trade agreements and corporate bailouts being passed in contravention of the electorate’s will, just like Obamacare was.)  Detrimental intent on the part of Congress and the executive branch leads to the natural question of why any such results would be desired by those in power.

For all of those too easily averted from this possibility by the fear of the latter possibility, feel free to say “conspiracy nut” at any point.  But use your own logic on the point I raise here first.  If you can develop a real rebuttal to how the federal government is not either inept or malicious in its actions regarding job definition in the United States over the last several years, by all means, do it.  I would love to be wrong about this.

Fictional Currency and Ramifications

Alright, here I have no moral point or logical attack on doublespeak.  There is no implicit criticism, and only the obvious implication following.  Mostly I post this because it amuses me.

I found an article regarding the recent bitcoin theft (found at <http://www.scmagazine.com/mt-gox-ceo-lied-about-massive-bitcoin-theft-according-to-alleged-hackers/article/337613/&gt;).  This interests me because I find it hilarious bitcoins- an online form of currency composed entirely of computer code, whose value seems to be determined by the same methods as cause stock market booms and crashes- are considered to be worth money.

People reportedly spend cash or credit on these insubstantial strings of digits.  Money is symbolic for your work- for example, grain you might have grown with your own hands and livestock, furniture you built yourself from wood you carved, or whatever- and something expected to barter food, or rent, or something else tangible.  In exchange you may as well trade your work for a box of air, all because someone said it’s worth the work you invested.  The fun part is you find another person with a box of air slightly smaller and you both agree the volume of your box is more valuable, and you agree on how much.

As of Monday, 10 March 2014, this source says a single bitcoin is worth $620.  I can’t get over how binary code is valued so highly, and how anyone could use it as currency when it cannot be secure.  The very nature of bitcoin is digital.  There is no impregnable defense against theft if the object of theft its itself the same material as its container.  Yet, people smarter than me trust it and seem surprised at their vulnerability.  Really?

Someone else sees the humor in this.  <http://www.gocomics.com/scottstantis/2014/02/26#.Ux_D0s7DWdV>  Is this not perfect?  :D

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