The Moon And Mars

On July 5th, 2014 the Moon and Mars presented a great pairing in the night sky and I took this opportunity to get the telescope out and take a look.

I have a 10” Newtonian Reflector telescope on a manual Dobsonian mount (pictured below) so taking good quality pictures with this telescope is difficult because the scope doesn’t have a mount that tracks with the rotation of the Earth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But tonight I got lucky and snapped this picture of the Moon and Mars.

moon and Mars

I also took advantage of some good atmospheric seeing to view Saturn and I could not only see the Cassini division in its rings but also a slight shadow of the planet on the rings.

It was a great observation session but tonight proved once again how important it is for amateur astronomers to view the cosmos from their front yard vs. their back yard. One of the many pleasures I get from being an amateur astronomer is sharing my knowledge of the cosmos with others and when I have my telescope set up in the front yard I invariably get questions by people out walking.

This happened tonight and a gentleman, who was walking his dog, jokingly asked me if my telescope was some sort of apparatus for shooting fireworks!

I invited him into my yard and pointed out that I was looking at planets tonight. He asked me what that star was next to the moon and I happily told him it was no star but Mars. I also pointed out that the bright ‘star’ far to the left of Mars was actually Saturn. He pointed to the star immediately to the left of Mars and asked if that was it but I told him no, that was the star Spica and he had to look a little more left to find Saturn.

We had a nice conversation, introduced ourselves and I gave him the opportunity to peer into a telescope for the first time to see, with his own eyes, the rings of Saturn.

For those who are amateur astronomers do not be monk-like with the knowledge you have but instead be evangelists to help your neighbors discover the beauty of the cosmos!

Addendum – For those interested, I used a Televue Nagler 11mm eyepiece with a Televue 2X Big Barlow and an iPhone 5 held with my steady hand to capture the above image of the Moon and Mars.

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Obama Flushes More Money Down The AGW Cult Toilet

Settled Science still requires millions of dollars to keep the lie going.

From NPR, NASA is set to launch a new satellite that will monitor CO2 emissions from Space:

“NASA is preparing to launch a satellite capable of monitoring carbon dioxide emissions from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will be the first spacecraft dedicated to seeing the greenhouse gas from orbit, and could pave the way for new technology to enforce future global warming treaties.”

“But first OCO-2 needs to make it off the ground. An earlier version of the satellite (known simply as OCO) crashed into the ocean near Antarctica shortly after launch.”

The irony of this should not be lost on anyone who is paying attention. The similarity between the absolute failure of the first launch of OCO to the failure of the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cult to convince people to believe their lies is priceless.

The AGW cult thought their pet project was dead after the crash in 2009 but they forget they had an AGW cult member in the White House and Obama quickly authorized another $468 million to try this again.

To make this story even more frustrating, the OCO-2 satellite won’t give definitive measurements of CO2 concentrations and it appears the only goal of this project is to generate justification for more sophisticated (i.e. more expensive) satellites in the future.

“OCO-2 is only an experiment. The picture it makes will be very fuzzy, and it won’t be able to look at every city on the planet. The air sampling method currently used will likely remain the gold standard for some time to come.”

The story totally falls apart when NPR reporter Goeff Brumfiel makes this statement (which is in the middle of the story on the NPR webpage but was the opening statement of the radio broadcast):

“Carbon dioxide coming from power plants and tailpipes is the main reason our planet is warming.”

Really? Well that theory is easily disproven by graphing two data sets – The Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration and Earth’s global temperature anomalies measured by the Remote Sensing System satellites.

It’s true that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have been increasing.

co2

But look what happens when we plot Earth’s global temperature anomalies versus CO2 concentration.

rss vs co2

If Goeff Brumfiel’s statement was correct then the temperature anomalies would be rising as CO2 concentrations increased. But that didn’t happen and in fact the temperature anomalies have been flat during this period when CO2 concentrations have most certainly increased. To most people who understand math and statistics, that means CO2 has no direct correlation with global temperatures.

But hey, what’s another $468 million when we’ve got a meme to keep going?

Posted in Climate Change, npr | Leave a comment

Life Is Great In Socialist Cuba

There was a time when proclaiming to be a Socialist was like carrying a sign that said “Nobody should take me seriously” and people who did this were rightfully shamed. But now with the popularity of people like Elizabeth Warren who are opening advocating for Socialistic policies in the US, the Left has new found courage in publically calling themselves Socialists.

These people are afraid to study countries that have embraced Socialism because if they did, they’d have to admit what a miserable failure that economic system is. But don’t take my word for it – NPR had a great story last week about Cuba and I dare any self avowed Socialist to read this story and come away unchanged in their opinion.

Here are a few pertinent quotes (emphasis mine):

“Later, the waitress tells us proudly that the mansion was nationalized shortly after the revolution. She tells us she’s thrilled to work here. At Xanadu Mansion, she can make as much as $15 a day in tips. Compare that to the $30 or so some Cuban doctors make on average in a month.”

“Yuyo Nandes, our horse cart driver, breaks down the Cardenas economy for us. People who work in nearby resorts at Varadero are bringing in some good cash, he says. According to him, that $15 in tips our waitress at Xanadu Mansion makes on a good night will get you “breakfast, lunch, dinner, pay the electricity, and buy a pair of shoes.”

“You know I’m going to tell you one thing. We live off tourism. If there’s no tourism, there’s no life,” he says. “Just look at the grocery stores here: They’re empty because people have gone to other provinces.”

“Juanito Cruz tells us he’s worked at the sugar mill for 31 years. In fact, the house was given to him by the mill. He’s on a break now, since the mill doesn’t operate this time of year. But he’ll be back grinding the sugar in November, a job that lasts six or seven months, and requires about twelve hours of intensive labor every day.

Cruz makes about $40 a month. He shows us his government rations booklet, and tells us his sugar mill income, combined with his monthly rations of rice, beans, coffee and other staple foods, let him live comfortably in this three-bedroom house with his wife and five children.

“It’s not an easy living, though: He points to his new fridge and says he’d been saving for a very long time to buy it, since appliances are incredibly expensive in Cuba.”

From this NPR story we see the Cuban society in abject poverty.

Waitresses who are fortunate enough to get tips from vacationers make, in two days, what a doctor makes in a month.

A person is considered to be bringing in “some good cash” when they make $15 per day.

The grocery store shelves are empty.

Working 12 hours per day will earn you $40 per month in the sugar mills.

People have ration booklets where they can get rice, beans, coffee and other staple foods.

Basic appliances (that we in the US take for granted) are incredibly expensive.

This sounds like paradise to me! Bring on Socialism!

Posted in economics, npr, politics | Leave a comment

Something Odd Has Happened

For the past 9 months I’ve controlled my Type 2 Diabetes through exercise and diet consisting of high protein, high fat and extremely low carbs (obtained only from vegetables) but something odd has happened to my morning blood sugar measurements over the past 2 weeks. And by ‘odd’, I mean in a good way!

Since September 2013 my fasting blood sugar measurements have been in the high normal range (90-100 mg/dL) every morning and at least one or two readings per week were in the 100-110 range but for the last 2 weeks my morning blood sugar measurements have been between 70 and 90 which is the low to mid point of a normal range for someone without Diabetes.

The graph below shows my morning blood sugar measurements for the past 9 months (It should be noted that the measurements in the 130’s occurred when I was sick):

morning blood sugar 9 months

You will notice that the beginning of this graph also showed my blood sugar measurements in the 70-90 range but that was when I was on the 800 calorie/day diet that kick started my diabetes reversal journey and the low readings were understandable with such a low calorie diet.

But since going off the 800 calorie/day diet and switching to a Paleo style diet, I routinely eat 2,500 calories a day and you can see that over these past 9 months, my blood sugar measurements averaged in the high 90’s with occasional excursions in the low 100’s. Until about 2 weeks ago.

This stepwise drop in my morning blood sugar measurements that has occurred over the last 2 weeks can be shown in more dramatic fashion by looking at this same data zoomed in for the last few months.

morning blood sugar 3 months

Even my evening blood sugar measurements (that are taken 2 hours after dinner) also showed a dramatic shift down during the past 2 weeks.

evening blood sugar 3 months

For those of you who follow my blog and know how meticulous I am about data and experimenting with various variables in determining what impact they have out outputs, here is where you are expecting me to explain this. But I’m sorry to disappoint because I can’t determine why this sudden drop in blood sugar measurements occurred!

I didn’t alter my diet or exercise regime in any way during this period. Nothing changed. No new foods. No elimination of foods. No extra exercising.

I was so mystified by this that on two occasions I tried to spike my morning blood sugar measurements by eating foods for dinner that historically have caused evening blood sugar measurements over 150 and morning blood sugar measurements in the 110 – 130 range.

On 17-JUN-14 I ate 10 hot wings for dinner that were dipped in a sugary barbeque sauce. My evening blood sugar measurement 2 hours after that meal was 126 (which is still under the normal limit of 130 for a non-diabetic) and the next morning my blood sugar measurement was 100 (‘high’ for this 2 week period but still within the normal range of a non-diabetic).

On 22-JUN-14 I ate a salad with large bread croutons (that I normally pick out). My evening blood sugar measurement 2 hours after the meal was 99 and the next morning my blood sugar measurement was 84 – which both were right in the middle of the normal range for a non-diabetic).

I have said many times over the past 9 months that I feel so good after embracing the Paleo diet and eliminating carbs that even if my Type 2 Diabetes magically disappeared I’d still never go back. That statement is still true but now I’m curious if my body has ‘magically’ reset itself and I no longer have the low insulin sensitivity problem that caused Type 2 Diabetes.

I’m not abandoning Paleo, even if this is true, but over the coming days I am going to start adding high carb foods for dinner to see if my blood sugar measurements increase.

Another theory of mine is related to multivitamins. A little over 2 weeks ago I ran out of my normal multivitamin (2 per day from Life Extension) and because I’ve been busy I didn’t re-order them. This is the only change that occurred during this time period but surely the elimination of a multivitamin can’t lower ones blood sugar, right? There are studies where extremely high doses of Vitamin C and Niacin cause elevated blood sugar levels but my Multivitamin didn’t have near these quantities mentioned in those links. But still, I will restart the Multivitamin while maintaining my current diet/exercise regime to see if this has an effect.

Stay tuned.

Posted in Diabetes | 4 Comments

What Happens When The Minimum Wage Is Raised?

Economic theory tells us that when the fair market price for wages is artificially raised then businesses will raise the price of their good/services, cut back on expansion, reduce their work force and suffer with reduced profits.

But we don’t need to rely on economic theory to tell us it’s a bad idea to tinker with the Free Market, we have cities in the US who have already done this and we can see what happened.

NPR had a story about how raising the minimum wage by $2/hour in San Jose, California affected two different businesses.

Here are the money quotes from the owners of these two businesses (emphasis mine):

Like many business owners in downtown, Chuck Hammers fought the ballot initiative and braced for the worst when the law took effect last March.

“There’s that little bit of a panic from a business owner, you know, ‘Is the sky going to fall?’ ” Hammers says. “And you’re nervous. It’s a 20 percent increase in what’s really one of your biggest costs” — labor.

So he did. Slices went up by 25 cents, pies by $1. Sales held steady, and Hammers says customers didn’t seem to notice.

In a strip mall on San Jose’s southern city limits, Charlie’s Cheesecake Works is a lot smaller than Pizza My Heart. It has only four employees, including owner Charlie Major. Major pays one employee minimum wage and the others slightly more.

Around the time that the wage increase took effect, his sous chef got another job and moved on.

“I did not replace her,” Major says. “I decided that, in light of what was going on with the change and stuff, just until we saw how it really played out, I can do the job that she did, so that’s what I’ve done.”

Major, like Hammers at Pizza My Heart, also raised his prices, by about 5 percent.

Since the law took effect, profits in the store have dropped by 7 percent, Major says — a big enough hit that he has actually shelved plans to expand the space. Now, he’s actively thinking about selling or retiring if things don’t get better in the next year.

It hits small business right where it hurts,” Major says of the wage increase. “And if you want to encourage small business, it’s tough.

So after the minimum wage was increased in San Jose, local business raised their prices, curtailed expansion and experienced lower profits. Exactly. What. Was. Predicted.

It was clear that the point of the NPR piece was to let everyone know that although there will be adjustments made at the business level, things settle down and the city moves on. Well that’s true but NPR failed to dive into the economic details a little more.

Take this quote from the NPR story:

“After looking at it, I kind of stepped back and realized, well, it’s gonna happen to everyone,” Hammers says. “It’s going to be a fair playing field. We just need to increase prices a little bit.”

When a local law is passed to increase the minimum wage, all the local businesses in that region that rely on minimum wage labor will increase their prices. But what does that eventually do to the price of everything in the city? It raises all prices and the cost of living goes up and after some time, that increase to the minimum wage is negated and we’re back to where we started!

The buying power of someone who makes minimum wage increases a little immediately after the minimum wage law kicks in but once prices of everything catches up, these people are no better off than before the increase to the minimum wage.

That’s what happened in San Jose after they ignored the Free Market and artificially raised the minimum wage. In some respects the effects are muted when the minimum wage is raised in a small region like a city and especially when it’s done in a booming economic area like Silicon Valley. Other companies (think Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other national chains) that are big enough to operate in other regions not affected by the minimum wage increase can absorb the higher labor costs of one or two stores they have in that area.

Now imagine what would happen if we raised the minimum wage across the entire United States like Leftists want to do. The cost of living would go up proportionally across the entire US, companies would curtail expansion and the stock market would tank as company after company reports lower than expected profits.

God help us if we are ever this stupid.

Posted in economics, politics | Leave a comment

Chevy Volt Sales Still Suck

It’s been a rotten year for Government Motors and I’m pretty sure it’s now not just conservatives that are questioning the bailing out of this failure of a company. Especially since a new report shows a “history of failures” at GM and lawyers are starting to smell blood in the water.

At the risk of pouring salt in this gaping wound, let’s see how sales are doing for the Chevy Volt – the car that was heavily promoted by the Obama administration after the Federal Government bailed GM out.

Not so good when you compare Volt sales with its chief Electric Vehicle (EV) rival the Nissan Leaf.

leaf vs volt

And these poor sales numbers for the Volt can’t be blamed on an overall downtrend in US auto sales. US Auto sales have been on a steady increase since early 2013 but Chevy Volt sales have been going in the opposite direction during that same time period.

us sales vs volt

We can also see that the plummeting sales numbers for the Chevy Volt aren’t because people are moving away from EV’s. Nissan Leaf sales have followed the trend of overall US Auto sales and increased at a similar rate.

us sales vs leaf

The recent GM recalls and the pitiful sales numbers for the Chevy Volt provide yet another example how the Federal Government does a lousy job of picking winners and losers.

There is only one entity that has the power to pick winners/losers and dictate what products and services companies provide and that is the Free Market. Any attempt to usurp that all powerful force is always met with complete failure.

Posted in economics, politics | 8 Comments

A Typical Day In A Liberal Utopia

From NPR:

“During a conversation between a reporter and community activists on Chicago’s South Side, gunshots not more than 100 feet away shattered an otherwise quiet afternoon. After the initial shock wore off, the neighborhood leaders expressed their frustration over their community’s connection with gun violence and engaged in a deep conversation about its underlying causes — and what can be done to solve them.”

Listen to the whole story but here’s basically what happened – A reporter was talking to a neighborhood leader on her front porch when a person gets out of a car, stands in the middle of the street with a semiautomatic rifle, shoots about a dozen rounds at a van then calmly gets back in the car and chases after the van.

This happened during the day in a residential area where kids were playing nearby.

Starting at the 3:45 mark the NPR reporter states that the neighborhood leaders say that one of the main problems is that the residents are caught in a cycle of a dependency on drugs/alcohol and a reliance on government programs.

In Chicago they call this “Tuesday”

Posted in politics | 5 Comments

An Obamanomics Recovery Compared To Other Recoveries

Throughout the 20th Century the US experienced larger than normal GDP growth following the end of a recession and the magnitude of the recovery was roughly proportional to the magnitude of the recession but something has happened under Obama to break that trend.

Here is what the US economy did following the August 1957 – April 1958 and April 1960 – February 1961 recessions.

1958 and 1961 recession

Notice how GDP growth was in the 7% to 10% range for the 4 quarters following these two recessions.

The recoveries from the recessions during the early 1970’s had GDP growth rates in the 5% to 9% range.

1970s recessions

Let’s see what happened to the US economy under Reagan following the July 1981 – November 1982 recession.

reagan recovery

You can see that the economic recovery surged for 5 quarters with GDP growth over 6% (and 4 quarters over 8% GDP growth) and then settled into a normal growth period.

Now let’s see how the US economy responded following the December 2007 – June 2009 recession under Obama.

obama recovery

Notice that the ‘recovery’ following this latest recession was no different than a normal economic growth period prior to the recession. The GDP growth rate occasionally sniffed 4% but that was it!

Something happened in the US during the past 5 years that caused its economy to buck the trend of higher than normal GDP growth following a recession. Of course those on the Left say it has nothing to do with Obama or his policies, it must be the weather or the fact that the last recession was so severe. Wrong!

This is the inconvenient truth that Leftists must now come to grips with – The pitiful economic ‘recovery’ following the last recession is exactly what we can expect from Keynesian and Anti-Business policies. If we as a nation fail to recognize this brutal fact then we can expect more sub 2% and many sub 0% GDP growth quarters to follow in our near and long term future.

Welcome to Obamanomics!

Note – All the GDP data in the graphs above was obtained from the BEA website.

Posted in economics, politics | 3 Comments

It’s Never Obama’s Fault

The US Q1 GDP growth was – 1.0% and this marked the first time the GDP has hit negative territory since Q1 of 2011.

But as NPR reports, we mustn’t blame Obama for this.

It’s The Weather

“The first-quarter downturn reflected the “unusually severe winter weather, including record cold temperatures and snowstorms,” Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.”

Well this is exactly what the Anthropogenic Global Warming cult predicted all along – An increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would heat the atmosphere and cause terribly cold, snowy winters. That’s exactly what the AGW cult predicted, right? Nope. Oh the irony….

But it’s not just the weather that caused the pitiful GDP growth – Remember that awful, horrible Bush Recession?

It’s The Great Recession’s Shadow

“Still, the GDP report cannot be entirely ignored. If nothing else, it is further evidence that the Great Recession has cast a very long shadow. Economists for the government consider the recovery to have begun in summer of 2009. But growth has never been robust for long, with constant dips interrupting momentum.”

So we’re still dealing with a recession that happened 6 years ago?

I thought the 2009 Stimulus was supposed to get us out of the recession and stimulate growth.

What about the Recovery Summer of 2010?

The NPR story never even hinted that maybe, JUST MAYBE, the Left’s policy failures over the past 5 years may have had a hand in this latest GDP growth report. There was nothing in the NPR article about record government spending, a Healthcare law that destroys jobs and stymies innovation/entrepreneurship, the Medical Device Tax, an overreaching NLRB, failure to build the Keystone XL pipeline, increased tax rates and the shameless crony capitalism that funneled money to failed companies headed by Obama donors.

But these items listed above can’t be the reason the economy never fully realized the recovery that a Free Market should have produced.

It can’t be Obama’s fault. It has to be something unconnected with The One.

Not to be a downer, but remember the classical definition of a Recession is 2 consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. We’ll see in another 3 months if we are in another Recession and if that is the case, I’m sure we’ll find someone or something to blame for this other than the guy who has been POTUS for the last 5-1/2 years.

Posted in economics, npr, Over Regulation, politics | 1 Comment

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes Without Medication – 8 month Update

It was 8 months ago when I decided to reverse my Type 2 Diabetes through diet/exercise and eliminate my diabetes medication. Based on the last 14 months of my life battling Type 2 Diabetes, I am confident that someone who has been recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes can control their blood sugar levels not through medication but through a combination of the Paleo Diet and moderate exercise.

For those new to this blog, let me recount my journey over the past 14 months.

During my annual physical in March 2013 I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and a month later I was brought under the care of an endocrinologist. Through medicine, slight diet modification and added exercise I was able to bring my blood sugar measurements under control in 4 short months.

But I wanted to get off the diabetes medicine (Janument) because the side effects of that medication were causing my quality of life to suffer and for the simple reason that I didn’t like taking medication if I didn’t have to. Since I made such improvement in 4 months, I felt I could follow further diet modification as well as increase my exercise to get my blood sugar measurements to a normal range without medication.

When I told my endocrinologist this in July he quickly rebuffed me and said that I should get used to taking these 2 pills everyday because my genetic predisposition to Diabetes was too strong. I’m sure most of the endocrinologist’s patients follow his advice without challenging it and are comfortable taking more medication so they don’t have to make hard sacrifices. But that’s not me – I’m not wired that way and I follow the ‘trust but verify’ motto when dealing with ‘experts’ dishing out advice.

So in September 2013 I decided to follow a diet as outline in a research study from Newcastle University that showed people could reverse their Type 2 Diabetes through an intense period of dieting that removes the fat from their pancreas and liver and thereby allowing better insulin production and causing the body to be more receptive to the insulin.

That diet worked in only 1 week for me and I followed that up with a high protein/high fat/low carbohydrate diet to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Over the past 8 months I have slowly migrated to a diet that follows the Paleo diet very closely – High protein, High fat and very low Carbs – and that has continued to allow me to eat satisfying meals and maintain blood sugar levels that are considered normal for a non-diabetic.

I eat about 125g of protein and 125g of fat every day but limit my carbs to around 30g per day and all of these carbs come entirely from vegetables, nuts and fruit. I don’t eat bread, rice, grits, pasta or anything that is derived from a grain and I also eliminated starchy vegetables like potatoes.

That brings you up to the point where I had my annual physical last week with my primary care physician and I’ll discuss a couple of the test results I received from that visit.

A1c

The gold standard of blood sugar measurements is called the A1c. A normal person who does not have Diabetes will measure between 4% and 6%, a Diabetic who is controlling their blood sugar with medication will measure between 6% and 8% and anything above 8% represents extremely high blood sugar levels.

Here are the last 4 A1c measurements I have had in the past 14 months.

March 2013 (11.5%) – This measurement happened when I was initially diagnosed and shows how serious my Type 2 Diabetes was (rarely are measurements of greater than 12% published on A1c tables so I was close to the max). I was destroying my body with every meal I ate and in reality I had probably been walking around with these severely high blood sugar levels for a couple of years.

July 2013 (5.6%) – This measurement happened after 4 months on medication and altering my diet some and adding in a little bit of exercise. As I stated above, my endocrinologist declared ‘victory’ with this test result and said I should continue with the meds for the rest of my life.

January 2014 (5.1%) – This measurement happened 4 months after I had stopped taking my Diabetes medication and the results spoke for themselves. A combination of the Paleo diet and moderate exercise caused my blood sugar measurements to be in the middle of the normal range for someone without Diabetes! And by ‘moderate exercise’ I mean I ran or rode my bike 3 times a week and mixed in a few days of weight lifting. The endocrinologist dismissed me from his care at that point since my blood sugar measurements were normal and I didn’t need him to write prescriptions for me.

May 2014 (5.7%) – This measurement happened during my annual physical with my primary care physician last week. It was higher than in January but during the 2 weeks prior to the blood test I had been fighting a chest cold and blood sugar measurements are elevated during illness so this could have attributed to the slight increase. But the measurement is still in the normal range for someone without Diabetes.

Cholesterol

During my recent annual physical I was of course interested in my A1c but there was another test that I was curious about and that was my cholesterol. I’ve been eating a high amount of fat every day for the past 8 months (easily twice the amount recommended by the Health and Human Services) and my cholesterol reading was at the high range of normal in 2013 (198) so I was anxious to see if the Paleo diet had an adverse effect on that. For those interested, my daily fat intake comes from meat (including bacon almost every day!), eggs (I eat about 18 per week), avocados and nuts.

To my surprise, my cholesterol reading was lower this year (181) and my ratio of bad cholesterol (LDL) to good cholesterol (HDL) was within the normal range – I measured 2.9 and the normal range is 0.0 to 3.5.

I am still learning about how to live with Type 2 Diabetes and also about the benefits of a Paleo style diet/lifestyle so I’m by no means declaring my expertise on the topic but I am starting to believe that we in the Western World have been fed lies regarding the dangers of saturated fat.

I am becoming convinced that the combination of a Paleo style diet paired with moderate exercise can reverse the symptoms of a recently diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic and my belief in that goes beyond my research into the scientific literature – I’m living proof!

Posted in Diabetes | 9 Comments

The Obama Generation

From an NPR story about reparations (starting at the 4:30 mark):

NPR Reporter Audie Cornish – “MTV had this survey on Millennials and their attitude toward racial inequality. One of the things they found that Millennials overwhelming see racism as a problem for older people, right? And that they aspire to color blindness. Are you essentially trying to introduce this idea which has like come and gone in many iterations or the decades to the Obama Generation?”

What exactly is meant when people say the “Obama Generation” and when did we agree that this generation of children should be called that?

Is it just me or is the Left looking more and more like a cult?

Posted in politics | 2 Comments

Obamacare Fails To Limit ER Visits

When the Left was trying to sell us on Obamacare they said this (emphasis mine):

“As far back as 2010, President Obama cited decreasing emergency room visits as one of the main cost-saving goals of the health-care reform. “What happens is, you don’t have health insurance, you go to the emergency room,” he said. “You weren’t getting a checkup; something that might have been curable with some antibiotics isn’t caught. By the time you get to the hospital, it’s much more expensive…We’re a lot better off if we are making sure that everybody is getting preventive care.

“And earlier this year on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, accused Republicans seeking to repeal the health-care law of trying to “force millions of American families to once again rely on expensive emergency room care—or go without care at all.”

In a previous post I highlighted where the producer of the Rachel Maddow show claimed that Obamacare (which has added hundreds of thousands to Medicaid) will drive healthcare costs down by reducing ER visits.

But then I produced this graph which totally destroyed that argument because this shows healthcare costs rising as Medicare/Medicaid spending increases.

Medicare spending

Now we have another study that further proves the Obamacare lie that ER visits will decrease once more people have insurance. From the Wall-Street Journal:

“Early evidence suggests that emergency rooms have become busier since the Affordable Care Act expanded insurance coverage this year, despite the law’s goal of reducing unnecessary care in ERs.”

“Almost half of ER doctors say they are seeing more patients since key provisions of the health law took effect Jan. 1, while more than a quarter say their patient volume has remained the same, according to a survey to be released Wednesday by the American College of Emergency Physicians.”

Obamacare is turning out like most of the Left’s policies – The theory sounds good but reality never quite lives up to expectations.

Idealistic Leftists thought that that people who lack the motivation to obtain an education level that would afford them a good job and allow them to buy health insurance would, after obtaining free healthcare, suddenly become very proactive and seek preventative care instead of waiting until it is too late and having to make a trip to the costly ER.

But that didn’t happen. And now we will all pay the price for the mistaken utopian policies of the Left.

Posted in healthcare, politics | 3 Comments

No Climate Change Link To California Drought

On my commute home last Friday I was listening to a story on NPR about the California drought/fires and because I listen to NPR every day, I knew what the story would morph into.

Starting at the 1:54 point of the audio, the NPR reporter setup John Laird, the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency :

“NPR REPORTER – Is it clear to you that climate change is to blame for the drought and the heat and ultimately for these fires?”

“LAIRD – I think Climate Change is a major factor.”

I LOL’d in the car once my prediction came true but if you listen to NPR as much as I do, you know how in the tank NPR is for the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cult.

And when NPR uses the term ‘climate change’, they’re not talking about the natural climate change that has happened on Earth for the past 4 billion years.  When NPR uses this phrase they mean the kind of climate change that is supposedly happening because of all the SUV’s we’re driving.

Unlike what happened in this NPR interview, I’d like to take a look at what the data actually tells us regarding the recent drought in California.

Here is a graph of annual rainfall in San Francisco from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and you can see that 2013 was indeed very low but 1 year does not make a trend and the overall trend line for the last 165 years is fairly flat (not a steadily decreasing trend that the AGW cult wants you to believe).

san francisco rainfall

But that’s just one city in California, so here is a graph of annual rainfall in Los Angeles:

la rainfall

The trend line is basically flat for the past 130 years with the line having a negative slope of negative 6 thousandths of an inch. I call that flat and that means the annual rainfall in Los Angeles hasn’t changed in the past 130 years!

The wildfires seem to be confined to the San Diego area so let’s look at a graph of the annual rainfall for San Diego Lindbergh field:

san diego rainfall

You can see that over the past 48 years the trend line has a slope of negative 30 thousandths of an inch and for those who have trouble relating to such small measurements, that number approximately equates to width of 10 human hairs. Just like what we saw from the San Francisco and Los Angeles data, a flat trend line that means we haven’t seen significant rainfall decreases in San Diego.

Let’s not forget what happened in 1948 in California long before SUV’s were pumping CO2 into the atmosphere (h/t Steven Goddard):

cali 1948

And remember this New York Times article from 1994 (emphasis mine):

“BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.

The data above paint a clear picture that there is no evidence that ‘climate change’ has had any impact to California precipitation and therefore there is no reason to make that claim.

It took me less than an hour to find the links and generate these graphs from readily available data on the internet but apparently the NPR reporter didn’t have that kind of time to fact check and challenge the claims of Mr. Laird. Or what was more likely the reason, the NPR reporter didn’t want to challenge these claims because the AGW lies support their Leftist agenda.

NPR is not the only MSM outlet that is in the tank for the AGW cult and remember this as we hear more ‘news’ reports that use any and every weather anomaly to push this AGW cult political agenda.

Don’t fall for it.

Go back to the data and find the answers for yourself.

You can’t rely on ‘journalists’ to do this for you.

Posted in Climate Change, npr | 1 Comment

Random Acts Of Journalism At NPR

For the past few days NPR has run 3 separate stories on Obamacare and all of them have clearly shown the wake of destruction that this massive takeover of healthcare has left.

The first story was about a Cleveland, Ohio bar owner who is frustrated with his hike in insurance costs.

headline 1

“They just seemed to keep going up every year,” he says. “One year we got a 38 percent increase; another year we got 11. One year we got 3.”

“This year, under the Affordable Care Act, he saw another hike — this one about 20 percent.”

“It just seems odd that we get such a drastic price increase when nothing has really changed with us as far as our employees and health issues,” he says.

“I always thought that health reform was needed of some type,” he says. “It just seems like … they botched it.”

The next day NPR ran this story about a company who is contemplating eliminating health care benefits for its workforce due to rising insurance costs.

headline 2

“AmeriMark, like most businesses, has been coping with rising health insurance premiums for years. This year, the company’s initial estimate from a broker was a 30 percent increase in the price of premiums if they stayed with the same insurance provider. Lyons says they shopped around, chose a new company and changed some of the policy’s benefits — such as increasing the deductibles and copays that employees pay as their contribution to their own health coverage. Such changes in plans have become increasingly common nationally in recent years as annual increases in health care premiums have become normal.”

“Giesler says the company debated dropping health insurance for its employees — a step that, beginning in 2015, would result in an expensive penalty.”

Then today NPR ran this story highlighting how there is a troubling inconsistency how doctors charge for Medicare claims.

headline 3

“By exposing such massive variations in how doctors bill the nation’s health program for seniors and the disabled, experts said, ProPublica’s analysis shows Medicare could—and should—be doing far more to use its own data to sniff out cost-inflating errors and fraud.”

“I think this is a smoking gun,” said Dr. Robert Berenson, a former senior Medicare official who is now a fellow at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. “Who’s asleep at the switch here?”

“A May 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general found that doctors are choosing higher codes more often for evaluation and management services, the broad category that includes office visits.”

And remember that Leftists often claim their goal is to move everyone in the US to a single payer/public health care plan like Medicare.  Imagine the billing errors, fraud and waste if everybody was on Medicare!

For me, it was shocking to see 3 stories in as many days published by Left leaning NPR that point to serious problems with Obamacare.  Has NPR rediscovered their journalistic roots?  Is Obamacare such a failure that the lapdogs have no choice but to report the devastation this law has caused?

Something tells me that Team Obama will summon the NPR leadership to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for a recalibration of their talking points.

Posted in healthcare, npr, politics | 2 Comments

Is Alec Baldwin Joining The Tea Party?

I have to wonder based on this tweet he sent out today after he was arrested for riding his bike the wrong way and then arguing with the police about it.

It sounds like Alec Baldwin is fed up with an over reaching government hell bent on taking its citizens’ money and passing laws that criminalize people’s once legal choices.  It pains me to say this but for once I’m in complete agreement with him.

Welcome to the party Alec (and by party I mean Tea Party)!  You’re only a few years late!

Posted in Over Regulation, politics | 2 Comments

Is Manufacturing Making A Comeback?

Here is a graph contrasting the civilian unemployment rate and the unemployment rate for the manufacturing industry that may show signs of a small resurgence of manufacturing in the US.

manufacturing making a comeback

Prior to the last Great Recession, unemployment in the manufacturing sector tracked the overall civilian unemployment fairly equally but after 2008 the manufacturing industry saw a much worse unemployment rate (peaking at 13.0%) than the civilian unemployment rate (peaking at 10.0%).

As you can see from the graph above, the unemployment rate for the manufacturing sector has not only caught up with the civilian rate but has overtaken it (5.2% vs 6.3%).

Why did this happen?

I think a lot of the explanation for the much higher unemployment rate for the manufacturing sector after the Great Recession was due to companies drastically scaling back production and cutting costs as quickly as possible to survive. Manufacturing can be cut quickly by idling plants to reduce costs and with consumer demand dropping this was a very predictable move.

And this drastic cost cutting appears to have been an overcorrection because in early 2010 we saw that the manufacturing sector unemployment dropped 3 percentage points (13.0% to 10.0%) while the civilian unemployment rate only dropped 0.2 percentage points (9.7% to 9.5%). Once companies realized they had cut too deep they started to hire back employees as consumer demand started to creep back up.

But what explains the lower manufacturing unemployment rate now?

I’m sure some of it is “on-shoring” (bringing back products manufactured off shore now that labor rates in places like China are starting to increase) but it may just be due to the gradual (and I do mean gradual) improvement of the economy. I don’t really have the answer here but the data do show some glimmer of hope for the manufacturing sector.

And make no mistake about it; we need a thriving manufacturing sector in the US. Not only for the quality jobs that manufacturing provides but for the single fact that once we lose the ability to manufacture ‘things’ then we’ll quickly lose the ability to innovate and design.

It should be noted that this improvement of the manufacturing sector happened in spite of (not because of) the disastrous policies of Obamanomics. Think what this resurgence in the manufacturing sector could’ve looked like if the US economy had not been handcuffed by Keynesian economics and other ‘stimulus’ fiascos. What a wasted opportunity these past 5 years have been for millions of hard working Americans.

My fear is this slight resurgence in manufacturing will be squelched next year when the Obamacare employer mandate kicks in and companies return to cost cutting measures to pay for this albatross.

But then again, maybe there is hope in the midterm elections….

Posted in economics, politics | Leave a comment

Not A Cult…..

While browsing for Mother’s Day cards at my local supermarket I came across this one in the “Support” section:

obama card

Are you kidding me?

I’m fond of calling the radical elements of the Democratic Party “cult members” (like the Anthropogenic Global Warming zealots) but the cult like behavior appears to be creeping into the mainstream of Democratic members.

Yet the Left claims they are not a cult.

Posted in politics | 1 Comment

An Inconvenient Truth For Obamanomics

Liberals are cheering the latest drop in Unemployment numbers but they never seem to add the following graph of Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in their news stories and blog posts.

labor force participation rate last 10 years

The LFPR is defined as the percentage of working age persons (16-64 years old) who are employed or unemployed and looking for a job. Students, retirees, homemakers and other people who have willingly made the choice to remain unemployed are not included in this population so the LFPR is a measurement of how many working age people are active in the job market.

The inconvenient truth that Leftists don’t want to acknowledge is that the LFPR is now the lowest it has been since the late 1970’s:

labor force participation rate

Leftists will still spin this decline in the LFPR as a wonderful thing because many people have been freed from working unfulfilling jobs that they required in order to pay for health insurance. Now these people can quit their jobs, pick up cheap subsidized health insurance plans and pursue their ambitions as an artist, author or dog whisperer. Leftists call this phenomenon ‘job lock’ and they’re really excited about what Obamacare has meant to these people.

But here’s the problem – What does ‘subsidized’ mean when we talk about all these fantastic subsidized health insurance plans? It means people can purchase a health care plan on the Obamacare exchange and receive a tax credit to help offset the cost of these new plans.

But where does this tax credit come from? Do we hire more pickers for the money tree growing in the back of the Capital? No, it comes from the rest of us suckers who still have to work and purchase health care plans at higher prices. Our higher insurance premiums and ever increasing tax dollars are now being used to free people to pursue their dreams. How wonderful! Just like the Founders envisioned!

From NRO:

“I know I’m not alone in thinking that it was totally worth seizing a seventh of the U.S. economy, polarizing Washington, throwing millions of Americans’ lives into turmoil, and forcing millions of others to pay more in premiums and deductibles while spending $1.2 trillion just so we could liberate the Job-Locked Poets!”

Here’s the sad truth that the Left can’t explain away with Jay Carney spin – The promises of ‘shovel ready jobs’ and ‘recovery summers’ haven’t materialized and Obamanomics has caused the US to have fewer people in the workforce.

This is the new normal under Obamanomics and unless we reverse course soon, we may not be able to avert disaster. Fewer people working (and paying taxes) will leave the Left with but one source to fund their ever expanding entitlement spending and that is you, the hard working, middle class tax payer. Stay healthy my friend, for the Government needs you to help fund the growing entitlement society.

I leave you with a final quote from Margaret Thatcher, The Iron Lady, who said it best:

“Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”

“Socialism started by saying it was going to tax the rich, very rapidly it was taxing the middle income groups. Now, it’s taxing people quite highly with incomes way below average and pensioners with incomes way below average. You look at the figure on the beginning of a pay slip, sometimes it can look quite high, look along the slip to the other end, and see how many deductions you’ve had off, those deductions have increased enormously under Socialism.”

“Public expenditure, which they always boast about, is financed out of the pay packet in our pockets. People are saying that they really think too much is being taken out of the pay packet for someone to spend on their behalf, and they’d rather be left with more, and it’s now well-known that Socialist Governments put up taxes and Conservative Governments take them down. It’s part of our fundamental belief giving the people more choice to spend their own money in their own way.”

Posted in economics, Entitlement Programs, politics | 1 Comment

Standardized Tests Have Gone Too Far

Much has changed in the our education system since I attended high school in the mid 80’s and one of the biggest is the number of standardized tests students are required to take.

From NPR:

“High school students in the U.S. take lots of standardized tests. There are state tests, new Common Core-aligned field tests, and an alphabet soup of others like the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) and NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) exams, the SAT, ACT, AP and IB.”

Before I get to my point of this post, don’t misunderstand me. Our educators need to be held accountable and we need to improve how we educate our children (parents are included in this too….) and if you want to improve something then you have to have a metric that you can use to measure your success or failure.

Lord Kelvin put it best:

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”

So using standardized tests or some other method to measure how well our schools are educating our children is a good thing. But I think we’ve gone too far.

I am a parent of a 7th grader and a 3rd grader and already I’m seeing the stress and strain these batteries of standardized tests are taking on the students. The funding that schools receive is dependent in part on how well the students do on these tests so I get it that this is a stressful time for the teachers. But I can see the stress on my kids also during the week they take these tests so it’s obvious the teachers are transferring their stress to the kids. The kids are having it beat into them that they NEED to do well on these tests.

Parents share in the stress too. We receive memos the week prior to the standardized testing making sure the parents get their kids to bed early, feed them a good breakfast and other tips to ensure the kids are performing at the top of their game. Homework is reduced or suspended the weeks prior to the testing and it’s apparent that the teachers use this time ‘coaching’ the kids so they perform well on the tests.

The stress that high school kids feel when they take the ACT, SAT and other college entrance exams is normal and we all had to go through that. I’m not really bothered by that but in my high school days I didn’t have other standardized tests throughout the year to make the college entrance exams even more stressful.

I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing something here.

Back in the 1940’s we had a generation of American high school kids who were educated without having to take a series of state and federal standardized tests but yet those kids grew up and did something pretty amazing in the 1960’s.

090715-moon-flag-02

These kids managed to put men on the moon and the computing power they had at their disposal was less than what we have on our smart phones and the calculations they were performing were done using a slide rule.

But you might say – Come on Cosmoscon, the world has changed in the past 70 years and it is more technologically advanced so we require a more robust education system now. The technological challenges our kids face today are orders of magnitude greater than what the kids faced when they graduated from high school in the 1940’s. The task of educating our kids is harder today than it was in the past and we need these standardized tests to measure our performance.

Nonsense!

The laws of physics are not tougher now than they were in the 1960’s. Gravity still works the same way. Escape velocity equations are still the same. The distance from the Earth to the Moon is basically the same. Orbital mechanics still work the same today as they did back then. Calculus hasn’t changed in the last 70 years. Maxwell’s equations are as valid today as they were in the 1960’s.

All the sophisticated tools that modern society has provided us with should have made the task of educating our kids easier. Kids of the 1940’s didn’t have the internet and they couldn’t use Google to do their research. There were things called a “card catalog” and “Dewey Decimal System” at the public library that took forever to find what you were looking for. Classrooms didn’t have fancy Promethean boards that could broadcast fancy PowerPoint presentations. Remember the messy chalk boards?

How was it that a generation of adults received such a stellar childhood education without taking state standardized tests?

Why were we able to educate our children 70 years ago without having standardized tests but today we can’t?

I don’t know the answer but I think it’s a question worth exploring.

Posted in education | 10 Comments

Kids Ask The Best Questions

When I put my 9 year old son to bed tonight he asked me two very thought provoking questions.

Here is the first one:

“Are there people on other planets?”

I was very happy with this question because that means my son has been listening to me over the years as I have bloviated about astronomy and the mysteries of the cosmos.

I’m an amateur astronomer and I’ve taken my kids out to look at the night sky with my telescope and they’ve not only seen other planets in our solar system but distant planetary nebulae and other galaxies. They know the cosmos is vast and my son is now starting to realize that we inhabit this little blue dot that circles an average star in the suburbs of the Milky Way.

There are around 200 billion galaxies in the known universe and each one of these galaxies has around 200 billion stars so it’s only natural to think that we are not the only star out of 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 that has a planet with life on it.

And we know that there are other stars only a few hundred light years away (basically your next door neighbor in cosmological distances) that have planets orbiting in the so called habitable zone which means the planet orbits a safe distance from its star to have temperatures similar to Earth’s and therefore conducive to life as we know it.

If you don’t believe me, you can browse the Exoplanet database to find other planets, like Kepler-69-C, that are located in the habitable zone and have the possibility of sustaining life.

It’s true the Bible is silent about life on other planets but keep in mind when the Word of God was given to us in the Old and New Testaments. During that time the scientific consensus was that the Earth was the center of the universe and every light in the night sky revolved around us so it’d be a little difficult to explain the Big Bang to Moses or John, much less the basics of Kepler’s laws and habitable zones!

With no clear direction from the Bible we are free to conjecture. Did the all powerful Creator of the universe limit the number of places where life exists to just one tiny blue planet in this vast cosmos? No! I don’t put limits on God’s power so I have no problem believing that there are other places in the Universe that contains life.

So I answered YES to that question and I do believe that there is life in other locations in the cosmos. And by ‘life’, I’m not limiting it to our carbon based form. Even on our own planet, we’ve found life in some of the most inhospitable places and I would not be surprised to find life arising in a planet that is outside the habitable zone. I don’t limit God’s power in that regard.

Now his second question.

“Do the people on other planets go to heaven?”

I was happy with his first question but I was extremely proud of his second one.

This showed he has been listening in church and is starting to come to terms with our sinful nature and our need of a perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins. He knows that Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins but he’s wondering about the poor souls who may be living on planets like Kepler-69-C or a planet in the Andromeda galaxy.

I have wrestled with this very question myself and I’ve come to believe that Jesus came to those other planets in the same way he came to ours. He took the form of their ‘people’, lived among them, died and was raised from the dead.

Remember that the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus was there during creation:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3

If Jesus was everywhere during the creation (Big Bang, formation of galaxies/stars/planets and the creation of life) then I don’t limit Him in the fact that He can only become flesh in one of these planets that harbors life.

So that was my answer to my son’s second question – Jesus will come to those other planets, He will take the form of the ‘people’ of those planets and He die for their sins too. Yes, ET can go to heaven too!

Kids ask the best questions.

Posted in astronomy, christianity, cosmology | 2 Comments