Thursday, February 26, 2009

P-I-O

I was working on a project at work and was describing a problem I observed to my office-mate and he responded to me "P-I-O", as if I should know what that meant. I gave him a blank stare. The term comes from his background in "Flight Controls". He then explained to me what "P-I-O" stands for.

PIO = Pilot Induced Oscillation

Basically, PIO occurs when there is a delay between the flight control stick and the reaction of the airplane.

Pulling the stick back makes the nose go up, pushing it forward makes it go down. The movement of the aircraft is proportional to how far the stick moves. This is where the problem starts. These are the steps:
  1. The pilot moves the stick a small amount.
  2. Because of the delay, they don't feel a response, so they push it a little more.
  3. The airplane now starts responding to step 1.
  4. The pilot feels the response and moves stick back to the center.
  5. The airplane responds more due to step 2.
  6. The pilot feels the increased response and feels compelled to cancel it by pushing the stick in the opposite direction.
  7. The airplane slows movement due to step 4.
  8. The pilot feels no response so pushes the stick more.
  9. The airplane now starts a delayed response to the pilot's reaction.
  10. Each time, the pilot reacts more, resulting in an oscillation, thus "pilot induced oscillation" (I challenge you to find a better name)


The following videos are good demonstrations of this effect. At the end I explain what they should have done and how this relates to life ;-)









How can this be avoided?
After making the first small movement, the pilot should intuitively know the delay and wait for a response. His response has the delay built into it. This comes from training and self restraint in panicked situations.

How does this apply to you, even if you will never pilot an airplane?
  • Much of our life involves "actions" and "reactions" or "consequences".
  • Some of these actions are limited to one dimension (left/right, up/down, more/less, harder/softer, etc.).
  • Many "reactions" are delayed from the "actions".
  • These delays can result in us to overreact.
  • Overreaction results in instability.


Here are some examples:
  • A person responds to strict parents by being overly lenient with their children.
  • The same thing, but lenient parents result in being overly strict (because you know how much your kid's are getting away with).
  • The same thing, but with spending money vs. being thrifty.


What's an extreme example?

Our national government. The delays are years and decades, but our "pilots" show no constraint and ALWAYS overreact. What is the promise of every candidate? Change. But instead of slowly moving the stick back to center, they thrust it full throttle in the opposite direction.

The result is the Democrats spend hundreds of billions of dollars on their favorite causes. The Republicans then spend a trillion dollars on their favorite programs to redirect the course of our nation. The Democrats feel now feel obligated to spend trillions to redirect the course. The videos show how this ends up. PIO ain't pretty.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Global Warming and Computer Models

I have no expertise in the science of climatology, so I really can't do more than regurgitate my favorite facts and figures. There is already enough regurgitation on this topic.

I do have over a decade of experience with scientific computer models. I'll share some of my observations and let you draw your own conclusions. A key to reading this is that if you come across technical mumbo-jumbo, just read it as "bla bla bla". I'm only including the technical descriptions to provide some legitimacy.

What is a scientific computer model?


A scientific computer model is different from Hollywood special effects or video games in that it needs to do more than just look cool. It needs to take inputs and provide outputs that can be verified by real world measurements.

Validation


My first experience with modeling was at the Center for Laser Studies at the University of Southern California. We were trying to develop optical switches and were experimenting with semiconductor quantum well structures (Remember, you can read this as "bla bla bla"). I created a software model of the quantum wells using Airy's functions. Hughes Malibu Research labs fabricated thin films of alternating layers of GaAs/AlGaAs to create the quantum wells. We used one laser for the signal and another as the switch. We took data and compared the results. I felt good about the agreement between theory and measurement even though it wasn't perfect (since the model couldn't possibly include all variables).

Professional Courtesy


Many professions have a different standard when judging themselves. Police don't give other police officers tickets. I worked in a Physics lab in graduate school and my adviser said that all scientists should support superconducting super colliders (even if you think they are a waste of money, like I do) since "Money for science is hard to come by and we should support any money spent on science". How many scientists support the theory of Global Warming? More importantly, why?

Management Substitutes Money for Brains


There's a joke about the junior scientist assigned to use a computer model. He's asked by the lead scientist how the model is and he calls it:
"A bunch of crap!!!"
The lead scientist realizes that he can't say crap to his boss so he calls it
"Cow manure"
His boss realizes he can't say manure to the director, so he calls it
"Fertilizer"
The director can't say "fertilizer" to the board of directors, so he says
"The new computer model promotes growth"


I started my first real job in the Infrared/Visual/Acoustics group and we were modeling the infrared or "heat" signature of the Stealth Bomber. My first job was to learn and use the CAVITY computer model. The tailpipe on the airplane was designed so that you couldn't see the hot turbine engine, however some of the radiating heat would reflect out. We weren't confident in the model so we tried a geometry with 500, 1000, 1500 polygons and got different results every time. Our management said "Get a bigger computer. Try 5000 and 10000 polygons to make it work". Or in other words, throw money at it. My mentor, with his PhD in Physics, had a better idea. We used a box of 5 polygons. We could perform hand calculations and compare the results. This I did and discovered a bug in CAVITY. Basically, they got the rows and columns mixed up in a matrix operation. When we fixed it, it worked great. We ran it with 500, 1000, 1500 polygons and they all basically agreed.

PhDs are always right, even when their wrong


My next assignment was to develop the Infrared Workstation to model and analyze flight test data. Part of our contract was to validate our models with flight test data so that they could be used for difficult to test points (i.e., Subarctic Winter Night). Many methods were used to get carefully calibrated data. I determined the conditions of the flight test and with our models generated synthetic images to compare to the real data. For the most part there was good agreement. The problems were at grazing angles (Think of putting your eye against the wall or table. As you look along it, it appears more reflective then looking straight at the surface). The reflectance provided by our lab was measured at the wrong angles. I pointed this out to the PhD lab director (One of the smartest people I have ever met). He disputed that his results were 99.99% accurate. I replied that they were wrong for what we were modeling. He replied "Of Course, but they are still 99.99% right). This PhD had to be right.


Garbage In, Garbage Out


I traveled all over the U.S. attending infrared modeling conferences: Austin TX, Colorado Springs & Boulder Colorado, Tennessee, Rome New York, Massachusetts, Dayton OH, etc. State of the art modeling techniques were presented at these conferences. An unconventional presentation was given at one meeting. The Air Force wanted to see if they could get the same results using non-experts running the models. The results were discouraging. Two people with the same training got different results.

Pick Your Inputs, Pick Your Results


Later, I was assigned to a new program. Each program had a specification, or numbers you would have to meet for certain conditions. For example, "The airplane shall have a MWIR signature of less than 45 Watts from a front looking aspect at a Mid-Latitude Summer Day standard atmospheric condition."

We struggled with the design for weeks to get into spec, but with no luck. Then the Air Force changed the spec to use the "1976 Standard Atmosphere" instead of "Mid-Latitude Summer Day" ). We reran the model and everything was in spec!!! Good news for us unless they decide to arbitrarily change the model back. You can really influence the outputs based on assumptions for the inputs. Unfortunately we didn't have control of these inputs.

Modeling Instability


My mentor told me about the famous "Butterfly Effect". Basically, someone was running a long simulation and something happened that made them want to repeat the results. They looked back through the reams of paper and used the numbers for an earlier time to restart the model. At first both runs agreed. Then they started deviating drastically. After scratching their heads for a while, they figured that the numbers on the printout were slightly different that what was in the computer. They surmised that this was the equivalent of a butterfly flapping it's wings in the U.S. which then results in a monsoon in China months later.

Most recently I worked with flight control engineers who were designing a new simulation. Some of the modeled flight paths were physically impossible. When we finally fixed the flight code and simulation, the aircraft behaved as expected. Running a simulation over a long period magnifies greatly any errors. The "Butterfly Effect" is NOT a tool for a brilliant, mad scientist to take over the world with highly trained butterflies. Instead, the "Butterfly Effect" reveals instabilities in complex models.

This was my experience. I'm sure none of these things have happened while using models to prove Global Warming ;-)
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Different versions of the truth

If you were very popular, the leader of the most powerful country in the world and wanted to influence lawmakers to do things your way, what would you do?

One approach is start with the low hanging fruit. First, start with the most vulnerable member of your opposition: the youngest and least experienced person you could find. Even better if they are from your home state. Impress them with a ride on the fanciest airplane in existence. Finally, you make the hard sell to support you. Even better if you do this publicly in front of the nation and their constituents.

Aaron Schock, a 27-year old freshman congressman from Peoria, Illinois is your man. A rally in front of Caterpillar workers and national media is your forum.

I have to admit, I really like this Aaron guy.



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Sunday, February 15, 2009

On my radar

Here is an interesting upcoming event (March 8-10, 2009) on my radar. I've been wanting to write my views on Global Warming and Climate Change for a while. Maybe I'll wait until after March 10th.



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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Take a deep breath

I've been getting exposed to too much news lately. The constant doom and gloom hasn't been good for my anxiety levels.

Basically, the horrible things are going to happen unless the Government bails us out. Or is it, horrible things are going to happen unless the Government gets out of the way and let's the free market work things out? Or is it, horrible things if I don't drive a hybrid car and stop using plastic grocery bags? Or is it, horrible things are going to happen if we don't stop Iran and all the other terrorists?

Is you anxiety level going up yet? Take a deep breath. Slowly let it out. Now look at the latest Gallup Poll. For example, while 27% of companies are "Letting Go", 22% are hiring, 55% are doing either. (A year ago, 40% were hiring and 14% were letting go). According to the news, every company in the U.S. is laying off and no one is hiring.

Take another deep breath. Slowly let it out. So I'm cutting back. I'm watching American Idol, playing Wii, going for walks, and blogging.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Eating your seed corn

I just couldn't resist this one. Everyday I am more of a believer in the Free Market. Notice in the quote below that the revised estimates for the cost of stimulus bill will cost $11 billion in lost tax revenues due to limiting executive pay.

Moments before the vote, the Congressional Budget Office issued a new estimate that put the cost at $838 billion, an increase from the $827 billion figure from last week. Ironically, the agency said provisions in the bill intended to limit bonuses to executives at firms receiving federal bailout money would result in lower tax revenues for the government.


The original article is here.

BTW, I'm now a member of Campaign For Liberty. A good article from today. I recommend reading it if you still think Bush did a good job or if you like to bash the bad job Bush did OR if love the job Obama's doing. OUCH!!!

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Forgiveness

(I'm feel lazy, so I'm going to use some old material. This is a talk given in Sacrament meeting in the San Marcos Ward, Escondido CA South Stake on June 8, 2008).

I would like to thank our previous speakers and I would like to add to Sis. Shields message of the Atonement. We most often think of the Atonement in how it benefits us personally, but rarely do we think about the benefit of the Atonement in the lives of others.

The message I am sharing is related to this. It was an answer to my personal prayers while asking help in resolving my troubled mind. I’ve know since then that I should talk on this subject. As I searched for additional material for this talk, I came across a sermon. I liked some of the material and felt obliged to ask for permission. I sent an email and just got this response a few days ago:


Hi Ron,

My attitude is "Freely you have received, so freely give."

Glad you enjoyed it. It's a huge topic and very relevant. I would
think everyone is carrying around offences of some sort or another.

Regards,

Mark Forsyth.


Mark is a pastor of a Methodist Church in Ireland.


I also found out about a Forgiveness Project at Stanford University. Stanford University is the home of likely the largest intervention study to date on the training of interpersonal forgiveness. Here is a statement from their website:


“FOR CENTURIES THE WORLD'S RELIGIOUS AND SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS HAVE RECOMMENDED THE USE OF FORGIVENESS AS A BALM FOR HURT OR ANGRY FEELINGS”

“While the scientific study of forgiveness is just beginning… the work so far demonstrates the power of forgiveness to heal emotional wounds and hints that forgiveness may play a role in physical healing as well.

What is intriguing about this research is that even people who are not depressed or particularly anxious can obtain the improved emotional and psychological functioning that comes from learning to forgive. This suggests that forgiveness may enable people who are functioning adequately to feel even better. While the research is limited, a picture is emerging that forgiveness may be important not just as a religious practice but as a component of a comprehensive vision of health.”

The message of forgiveness is a universal message that applies to any culture, religion, people. It applies anywhere in the world.

I would to remind you of two stories from Jesus’ ministry.


First (John 8: 3-11), the story of the adulteress, brought before Jesus. She was accused and the people were demanding that she be stoned to death, as the law demanded it.


The second story (Luke 15:11-32) is the wayward son:

“A certain man had two sons:” The younger son asked his father for his share of property. He left “into a far country, and there awasted his bsubstance with criotous living.” He then fell on hard times, saw the error of his ways and returned home.

“when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had acompassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more aworthy to be called thy bson.

22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

When the elder son, heard this, he was angry and complained to his father

“Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:

30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.


I would like to focus attention on the people in these stories that were demanding justice. They saw an offence committed and passionately argued for justice. There is something in our human nature that demands justice. The surprising fact in these stories is that the offenses weren’t against the people demanding justice. How much more conviction do we feel in demanding justice when the offence is actually committed against us.


What is an offence? One definition is:


“An ongoing resentment against some person or persons due to some real or supposed grievance.”


The grievance caused physical and or emotional pain. We weren’t treated fairly or rewarded appropriately. You weren’t appreciated or even worse, someone else got credit for what we did. We were neglected, betrayed, manipulated, ridiculed, criticized; the list goes on.


The person or person could be any of the following:

Father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother or sister in law, nephew, niece, grandparent, grandchild.

A Bishop, Relief Society or Elders Quorum’s President, Young Men or Young Women Leader, Home or Visiting Teacher, or another member of the Church.

A boss, coworker, employee, or the company you work for.

Neighbor, teacher from school, principal, cafeteria worker, police officer. A stranger in a store, parking lot or while driving.

A friend, boy friend, girl friend, acquaintance of your own or someone you know.


Resentment is deep emotional anger.

We may carry resentment for years. Some of the signs of resentment:

-Comforting ourselves with the sure conviction that we were right

-We feel we were entitled to behave in the way that we did and we’ve nothing to apologize for or repent of.

-We talk about the incident to anyone who’ll listen, seeking support for your side of the argument.

-you go beyond the actual incident and start talking about the other person in general. You denigrate their character.

-You bring up any run-ins from the past.

-You delight in rumours about what the person who offended you has done to others.

- You keep thinking about the offence, tossing it around in your head.

-You have imaginary conversations with the person who offended you.

- You imagine yourself in court, defending yourself in front of an imaginary judge.

-You think up clever arguments in order to prove your case until you are absolutely convinced that you are right and they are the guilty one.


-You convince yourself that they are the one guilty, should apologize, and/or they should be exposed or punished.


The fact that none of these outcomes has happened just makes you more frustrated and the cycle continues again. As long as you keep processing the dispute in your imagination, and put off dealing with it in reality, then the mental anguish goes on. By the time you’ve piled on a few more offences with the same person and a few new offences with others, you can end up in an awful state. Now, your brain knows that you have to get on with life, so your mind forces these offences to one side, but they’re still there, in some compartment of your mind, and when you get a quiet moment to yourself, you’ll bring them up again.



How do we get past these feelings?


My sister told me a story of a missionary couple in a foreign land. They were frustrated with this culture because the people were always late. They explained their frustration to a visiting church leader and he responded: “It’s always difficult to deal with people who sin differently than we do”.


If we go back to the story of the adulterous. Jesus gave a surprising response:

“He that is without asin among you, let him bfirst cast a cstone at her.” One by one they left. When Jesus was alone with the woman, he said:

Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I acondemn thee: go, and sin bno more.


And the story of the wayward son, the Father’s response to his eldest son:

31 And he said unto him, aSon, thou art ever with me, and ball that I have is thine.

32 It was ameet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.


Those in those stories who had a right to be offended yet gave forgiveness. Let’s forget the past and start anew.


It’s especially hard to forgive when we are in an inescapable relationship. If we have been offended by a neighbor, we don’t want to have to move. We can’t change who our relatives are. Our only choice is to repair our damaged relationship. But we are afraid or unwilling to forgive when we are at risk of continued offence. But the truth is, there is little hope of repairing a relationship if we hold onto the resentment. By forgiving, we free up the energy lost to resentment. This energy we can use productively to help us. We are able to express to the other person in a healthy manner our feelings and pave a path to a restored relationship.


I would like each of you to try an experiment. Think of someone who has offended you. Picture them in your mind. Now say in your mind, whether you mean it or not, “I forgive you”. It’s best that you mean it. Now image the Atonement at work, washing away their sins. Feel the burden of resentment lift from your shoulders as you truly start to feel forgiveness towards this person.


The offences that troubled me were all related to my work. I thought in my mind, “I forgive Gina” and felt a peace. Then the unhealthy patterns of resentment returned, but this time it was Mark. I thought, “I forgive Mark”. Then it was Cynthia, and John, and Bob. I was surprised at how much resentment I was harboring. I’m still working on freeing myself of this resentment.


Remember the message from Christ:


Matthew 7: 1 aJudge not, that ye be not bjudged.

2 For with what ajudgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what bmeasure ye mete, it shall be cmeasured to you again.

3 aAnd why beholdest thou the bmote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the cbeam that is in thine own eye?

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou ahypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.


It’s surprising that scientists at Stanford are barely discovering what Jesus taught us almost 2000 years ago: The power of forgiveness. In a recent talk, Pres. Hinkley shared this story:

A time back, I clipped a column from the Deseret Morning News, written by Jay Evensen. With his permission, I quote from a part of it. Wrote he:

“How would you feel toward a teenager who decided to toss a 20-pound frozen turkey from a speeding car headlong into the windshield of the car you were driving? How would you feel after enduring six hours of surgery using metal plates and other hardware to piece your face together, and after learning you still face years of therapy before returning to normal—and that you ought to feel lucky you didn’t die or suffer permanent brain damage?

“And how would you feel after learning that your assailant and his buddies had the turkey in the first place because they had stolen a credit card and gone on a senseless shopping spree, just for kicks? …

“This is the kind of hideous crime that propels politicians to office on promises of getting tough on crime. It’s the kind of thing that prompts legislators to climb all over each other in a struggle to be the first to introduce a bill that would add enhanced penalties for the use of frozen fowl in the commission of a crime.

“The New York Times quoted the district attorney as saying this is the sort of crime for which victims feel no punishment is harsh enough. ‘Death doesn’t even satisfy them,’ he said.

“Which is what makes what really happened so unusual. The victim, Victoria Ruvolo, a 44-year-old former manager of a collections agency, was more interested in salvaging the life of her 19-year-old assailant, Ryan Cushing, than in exacting any sort of revenge. She pestered prosecutors for information about him, his life, how he was raised, etc. Then she insisted on offering him a plea deal. Cushing could serve six months in the county jail and be on probation for 5 years if he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

“Had he been convicted of first-degree assault—the charge most fitting for the crime—he could have served 25 years in prison, finally thrown back into society as a middle-aged man with no skills or prospects.

“But this is only half the story. The rest of it, what happened the day this all played out in court, is the truly remarkable part.

“According to an account in the New York Post, Cushing carefully and tentatively made his way to where Ruvolo sat in the courtroom and tearfully whispered an apology. ‘I’m so sorry for what I did to you.’

“Ruvolo then stood, and the victim and her assailant embraced, weeping. She stroked his head and patted his back as he sobbed, and witnesses, including a Times reporter, heard her say, ‘It’s OK. I just want you to make your life the best it can be.’ According to accounts, hardened prosecutors, and even reporters, were choking back tears” (“Forgiveness Has Power to Change Future,” Deseret Morning News, Aug. 21, 2005, p. AA3).

I share this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen



Extra Material:

Dr. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, provided this definition of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”5

Luke 7: 37 And, behold, a awoman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster bbox of ointment,

38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and aanointed them with the ointment.

39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are aforgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.






Peter asked Christ about forgiveness.


Matthew 18:21 ¶ Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I aforgive him? till seven times?

22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until aseventy times seven.


Matthew 6:9

14 For if ye aforgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

15 But if ye aforgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

Every time I buy a car, it seems that I end up at the dealership late at night. After walking around the lot, getting in and out of cars and then going on a couple of test drives, we find a car we actually like. Then we go into the office where the negotiations begin. The salesman, who apparently has no authority, leaves to "check" if he can give you the deal you want. This must be text book car sales techniques. You finally agree on a price and then meet with the finance guy. Suddenly the numbers aren't looking the same.

At this point it's like waiting in a ride at Disneyland for an hour and when you get to the front of the line you hear screaming and other strange noises. You would like to skip the ride and walk away, but you don't want to waste the time spent in line.

(Back to the car dealership). After signing the final papers, I soon feel buyers remorse. Why? I think it's because I felt manipulated into making a decision that will have an enormous impact on my personal finances.

My worst experience was buying an Expedition. The $9000 rebate was so enticing. The problem was the $4000 per year depreciation and the doubling of our gas bill. The later hurt even more as gas prices went through the roof.

This week, our U.S. Congress is contemplating an Economic Stimulus Package with a price tag of close to a trillion dollars, a million piles of a million dollars, or $1,000,000,000,000. I have emailed and called my Senators. I know both of my liberal senators are going to vote yes even if every single voter called them and asked them not to. A trillion dollar blank check is just too tempting. Will they have buyer's remorse? No, since they aren't paying for it. Will the tax payer have buyer's remorse? I know that I already do.

I read a very enlightening essay this week. It's by Frederic Bastiat, a Frenchman who lived in the early 1800s. The title of the essay is "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen". I recommend section V, "Public Works". Here's an excerpt:
Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.







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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Declaration of Independent Thinking

A person's mind is an accumulation of unique experiences and learning, resulting in an intuitive understanding of the world. As a person grows in experience and knowledge, it becomes necessary to reevaluate for themselves the philosophies they have been exposed to. The source of information for some of these philosophies are not always reliable. Information often gets manipulated for self serving purposes. At times, the resulting misinformation gets inappropriately elevated to truth by various forces. A person may then be impelled to search for truth, even if it seems unavailable.

Society does not have a right to force, constrain, coerce, intimidate, obligate or legislate anyone into changing their understanding of the truth.

Common sense says that one should not question accepted tenets. One should not tear down a fence without first understanding why it was placed there in the first place. However, there is continual evidence of imbalanced reporting in our media, advertising and publications, falsehoods preached by politicians, public figures and other leaders and officials. When this happens, it is one's duty to seek for truth and share it with others.

A current collection of abuses is listed here:
  • Stating evidence without giving reference to the source of information.
  • Using unreliable or biased sources of information.
  • Comparing your best to my worst.
  • Unbalanced standards (for example, pointing out the inexperience of Obama or Palin without acknowledging the inexperience in both).
  • Focusing only on the negative or the good to defame or promote a person or cause (60 Minutes recently had profile on Barney Frank promoting him as the smartest person in congress without mentioning once his shortsightedness of financial crisis).
  • Speaking or acting from a position of authority for personal gain (conflict of interest - scientists for tobacco companies).
  • Using fame gained in one area of expertise to express opinions in unrelated areas of expertise (actors).
  • Using intimidation or other forms of manipulation to change someone's mind.
  • Preying on fears or sympathies.
  • Exaggerating negative associations.

We declare that people have a right to seek and demand truth; a right to change their minds, ideas, philosophies in the process of discovering the truth; a right to ignore or disagree with other's definitions of truth; and a right to be wrong. People also have the right to judge their own beliefs, thoughts and emotions, while accepting the natural consequences of their behavior. People have the right to reject group think and pressure from the forces of political correctness.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Octuplets and the Deadbeat Dad

A big controversy in the news is the woman who had octuplets from implanted embryos. She is unmarried and already has six children. There was some talk on the radio about this being unethical and that laws should prevent this from happening. Here is my proposed law:

If a man donates sperm that results in the birth of a child, he can be held legally responsible according to deadbeat dad laws. If a fertility clinic purchases the sperm, the legal responsibility transfers to them and they can be help legally responsible for the support of the child. In order to avoid becoming the deadbeat dad, the clinic must have a father or other third party legally "adopt" the sperm to release them from liability.

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