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

Global Temperature Update – March 2014

Even though the United States was suffering through one of the coldest winters in recent memory, the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cult wants to remind you that Earth, as a whole, is still warming up.

“The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday that it was the fourth hottest March in 135 years of records. The overall global temperature was 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degree Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average.”

Really!?!?

I’ll give the AGW cult points for audacity but the actual temperature measurements from 2 different data sets refute the latest claim of NOAA.

The following graphs show the March global temperature anomalies over the past 17 years for 2 well respected temperature data sets. (NOTE – I’d normally include a 3rd, the Hadley Climate Research Unit (HADCRUT3) data but as usual they are very late and March 2014 has not been updated on their website).

From the University of Alabama Huntsville data:

uah march

From the Remote Sensing System (satellite) data:

rss march

Just over the timeframe of the past 17 years, March 2014 was the 9th hottest March using the RSS data and the 8th hottest using the UAH data.

Then how can the NOAA make this claim? Easy answer – They use different temperature data.

NOAA uses the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) and that data has some ‘tricks’ associated with it – here, here, here and here. So only through tampered temperature data can the NOAA make this absurd claim about March 2014 being the 4th hottest March in the past 135 years.

But even conceding this latest claim by the NOAA, things are still getting worse for the AGW cult.

We’re still going on 17 years of flat global temperature anomalies and this is easily shown from these same three data sets mentioned above.

cru

uah

rss

And it gets much, much worse for the AGW cult when you plot the three temperature data sets against atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Remember, the AGW cult says this magical gas controls the thermostat of the Earth’s temperature.

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations do continue to steadily increase:

co2

But the correlation of global temperatures with that CO2 increase is severly lacking:

cru vs co2

uah vs co2

rss vs co2

The AGW cult is getting more desperate as each passing year shows flat global temperature anomalies and they’ll need more sensational news stories like the one at the intro of this post to sway the easily fooled. Do not be deceived, keep calm and follow the data to find the truth.

Posted in Climate Change | Leave a comment

The Left Has A New Strategy

Last year Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that Democrats would have a winnable strategy for the 2014 mid-term elections:

“So, I think, .. that Democratic candidates will be able to run on Obamacare as an advantage leading into the 2014 election.”

Well, that doesn’t appear to be a winning strategy:

obamacare poll 1

obamacare poll 2

But Democrats need not worry; there is a new strategy that will surely energize their base.

race card

“Top Democratic party officials have either directly or indirectly blamed race for some of the hostility to Obama, his policies, or both.”

“Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader from California, and New York Rep. Steve Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, both cited racism, pure and simple, among some Republicans as explanations for the House GOP’s resistance to legislation that would comprehensively overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.”

“Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder took a slightly subtler approach. Speaking to the National Action Network, the largely African-American civil rights group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, Holder suggested some Republicans had a racial animus toward the president and himself.”

“The last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity,” Holder said.

“If you don’t believe that, you look at the way — forget about me, forget about me — you look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee. It had nothing to do with me, forget about that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

Pelosi, Holder and others are claiming that this is level of disrespect to Team Obama is unprecedented and must be because of racism. Really? Just scan this link that shows some of the ‘respect’ the Left showed for our latest white, male President George W. Bush.

And who said we have to respect our political leaders regardless of their actions? Matt Walsh said it best here:

“I know what it means to honor and respect your parents just because they’re your parents. I know what it means for a child to respect his teacher just because she’s his teacher. I know, and have written about, what it means for a woman to respect her husband because he is her husband, and a man to respect his wife because she is his wife. But, as far as I can tell, the responsibility to respect the ‘office’ of a politician falls squarely on the shoulders of the politician who holds it. And, even in that case, his job isn’t to respect the office, so much as to live up to the expectations of the voters who awarded him the position — and, far more important than the feelings of the voters, to uphold the law.”

Obamacare is the albatross that the Dems willingly hung around their necks and now that they realize just how bad it will be for them in November, they are forced with the only method they know of to energize their base – Call Republicans racists.

And what does that say about the Democratic base? Is playing the race card the only thing that can energize them? If this truly is the Democrat’s strategy then they are conceding the fact that their base can’t be motivated by the work done by Team Obama over the past 5 years nor the promise of future works in the next 3 years.

The Democratic base apparently can’t be motivated by the Leftist policies so the party leadership has to gin up faux outrage at nonexistent racism of their opponents.

In a sense, the Democratic leadership is saying that either their policies have been total failures or their base is too stupid to understand them. Or both.

If this really is the strategy of the Left for the mid terms then keep an eye on the lapdogs at Vox, Media Matters for America and MSNBC to see if they follow their marching orders and accuse Republicans of racism. If we start to see stories like that at these sites then we can be sure the directive has been issued.

Posted in politics | 1 Comment

Why Are EEOC Charges So High?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) publishes data showing how many charges were filed annually and I’ve noticed something peculiar with this data.

For those not familiar, these charges constitute the total number of claims filed with the EEOC for various harassment and discrimination cases (Race, Sex, National Origin, Religion, Color, Age and Disability) as well as claims of retaliation and violations of the Equal Pay Act of 1963.

You’ll notice on the graph below that something happened around 2008 that caused a larger number of charges to be filed and that number has been pegged high at about 98,000 per year for the past 6 years.

EEOC charges filed

And this increase wasn’t confined to a particular type of discrimination/harassment area because all of the case types increased in magnitude at the same time (you can follow the link above to verify this fact for yourself).

Why has there been an unusually high number of EEOC charges over the past 6 years?

You’ll notice from the graph above that there was a smaller uptick in EEOC charges around the 2001 time frame so it may be correlated with the US economic situation (we had recessions in 2001 and 2008).

I grabbed the US GDP growth rate for these years and added this data to the graph and you can see that as the economy takes a dip, EEOC charges increase.

EEOC vs US GDP

I guess this makes sense. As the US enters an economic downturn there are more layoffs, terminations and closings and people might be inclined to think they were singled out due to discrimination or retaliation. People may also be faced with a loss of income and looking for a way to get a quick infusion of cash by bringing and EEOC claim against their former employer in hopes of a quick settlement.

It also makes sense that the EEOC charge increases in 2008/2009 would be more than in 2001 since the latter recession was much more severe than the former – The 2001 recession only lasted about 8 months but the 2008/2009 recession lasted almost twice that long at about 15 months (Q4 2008 through Q4 2009).

But why has the number of EEOC charges remained high well after the 2008/2009 Great Recession ended?

To help answer that question let’s first look at a graph showing how well EEOC charges are correlated to US GDP Growth rate for this period.

EEOC vs GDP correlation

The Correlation Coefficient (R2) is only 34% and that isn’t a very good correlation but keep in mind that while the US GDP has been growing for the past 4 years, the EEOC charges are still high (which is in stark contrast to the recovery after the 2001 recession when EEOC charges dropped).

What happens if I look at the correlation with the last 4 years removed?

EEOC vs GDP correlation recovery removed

Now the Correlation Coefficient is 79% so this graph provides a much stronger case that EEOC charges are correlated with US GDP Growth.

So something special has happened over the past 4 years during the Obamanomics ‘recovery’ that has still kept these EEOC charges high and contradicted the historical trend that states EEOC charges should’ve come down during a recovery from a recession.

Is the US not really in a true recovery like we’ve seen in the past and the slow growth has still left many people looking for work or suffering from layoffs? Probably, since the Obamanomics recovery has not measured up to other recoveries from a deep recession.

Or has there been a cultural shift in the US where more people have an entitlement mentality and are looking to get a quick buck at their employers’ expense?

Probably a little of both but this data should not be ignored. Something has changed in the US over the past 5 years and this EEOC data is trying to tell us something. We’d be wise to listen to it.

Posted in economics, politics | 1 Comment

You Can’t Earn Your Way To Heaven

Ex NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks he has earned his ticket to Heaven:

“But if he (Bloomberg) senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

This lack of ignorance of the Gospel is bad enough for an individual but the reality is the majority of the world’s population thinks like this – The eternal afterlife is something that must be earned.

If that is the way God set up this Universe then you’d think there would be a book defining exactly how much ‘good’ needs to be performed to outweigh the ‘bad’ so we can frequently tally up our scorecard so that we stay on the passing side.

Most people believe the Bible is that book and believe that they must follow the general guidelines like those listed in Luke 6:31 (commonly referred to as “The Golden Rule”):

“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

If that was all we had of the Bible then I’d have to agree with them but again I have to ask – How much is enough?

If this was the system that God setup then it’s only fair to request a rulebook showing how our life will be scored. Do I just have to have more good deeds than bad? Is it more like 70/30? How much is enough?

Unfortunately for the ‘good works’ crowd, God did provide some guidance on this topic.

Rom 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Mat 5:48 – “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

If you are counting on your good works to get your golden ticket to the afterlife then the Bible has some very bad news for you – You have been dealt a losing hand. A passing grade on your life’s deeds requires that you lead a perfect life (i.e ZERO sins). That revelation is bad enough but it gets worse when you realize that humans were created with a bent toward sinning so we are therefore all imperfect and fall woefully short of a passing grade.

Fortunately God provided a way out for us. He sent his Son to die for our sins on the cross and all we have to do is realize that we are indeed sinful and can do nothing to justify ourselves to the Creator and instead rely on the perfect sacrifice of the only true sinless person, Jesus, to pay for our sins (past, present and future).

The last words of Jesus on the Cross were “It is finished” and the Greek word used here was “tetelestai” and someone much wiser than I once told me we derive our English word “Total” from this word. What a fitting ending to the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross – Our debt has been totaled up and paid in full!

So there is truly Good News for us! Our losing hand that we were dealt at birth is not our only hope at obtaining salvation:

Rom 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eph 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

What a miraculous gift! Heaven can’t be earned and we all deserve death and hell but though the sacrifice of Jesus and our acceptance of that free gift, we may obtain eternal life!

Any attempt to boast of your good deeds and equate those as justification for you getting into heaven is equivalent to saying that the death and resurrection of Jesus was a meaningless event.  We obtain salvation ONLY because of the sacrifice of Jesus and nothing (NOTHING) we can do can add to that.  It was sufficient.  Tetelestai!

Share this Good News this week with someone who desperately needs it.

Posted in christianity | 2 Comments

Babies Cry At Night But Not For The Reason You Think

cutest-crying-baby-01(Alternate Headline – “All The Big Problems Have Been Solved”)

As a parent of two children (12 year old daughter and 9 year old son) I can still remember the sleep deprived months after they were born when my wife and I would be up with the 3:00am feedings, diaper changes, etc. And yes, it wasn’t just my wife who did this, I did my fair share!

We were fortunate with our daughter in that she found her thumb after about 2 months and started sleeping through the night from that point on. But our son never figured out the thumb sucking thing and we couldn’t keep enough milk in him so it was many months before he eventually started sleeping through the night (The cereal mixed with his last night time milk feeding had enough substance to get him through the night).

So we thought our kids were crying in the middle of the night because they either needed settling down with a sucking thumb or was hungry and needed a quick top off.

There is a new paper from the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health that states there is a more sinister reason our newborns wake us up in the middle of the night.

“All these observations are consistent with a hypothesis that waking at night to suckle is an adaptation of infants to extend their mothers’ lactational amenorrhea, thus delaying the birth of a younger sib and enhancing infant survival.”

“Blurton Jones and da Costa proposed that night waking to suckle is an adaptation of infants to suppress ovarian function in their mothers, thereby delaying the conception of a younger sib with whom an infant must compete for parental care and attention.”

A baby is genetically imprinted to wake up its parents so they can’t have sex and make more babies that will eventually compete with their future playing time on the X-Box and share of college tuition money.

The science is settled.

Image | Posted on by | 2 Comments

Embrace Holy Week

Christians attended Palm Sunday worship service yesterday but unfortunately any make the mistake to move quickly to Easter and forget about the week’s events that led up to the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Do not make that mistake. Jesus had an incredibly emotional week that involved Him being forsaken by EVERYONE from His closest followers, the political leaders, the religious leaders and most importantly by His Father.

Do not gloss over this. When Jesus was forsaken, nobody (not even God), came to His defense.

At some point in time we will feel forsaken but unlike what Jesus encountered during Holy Week, we have someone who will always come to our defense. We can always count on the Man who was nailed to a tree on a Friday over 2,000 years ago.

Posted in christianity, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Effects Of High Intensity Exercise On Blood Sugar Levels

Does exercise help reduce blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetics? Of course!

“When you do moderate exercise, like walking, that makes your heart beat a little faster and breathe a little harder. Your muscles use more glucose, the sugar in your blood stream. Over time, this can lower your blood sugar levels. It also makes the insulin in your body work better. You’ll get these benefits for hours after your walk or workout.”

But notice that most of the links you’ll find on this topic stress ‘moderate’ exercise – walking, cycling, swimming, etc. What about higher intensity exercise like lifting weights?

That is good too!

“In scientific studies, strength training has been found to improve insulin sensitivity in those individuals with diabetes to the same extent that aerobic exercise does. Extended periods of strength training improve blood sugar control as well as taking a diabetes drug. In fact, in those people with diabetes, strength training in combination with aerobic exercise may be even more beneficial.”

I am a type 2 diabetic who is controlling my blood sugar levels without medication by staying on a low carb, high protein/fat diet similar to the Paleo diet and employing a moderate exercise routine. I’ve been successful at this but about a month ago I tore my left calf muscle so I decided to perform an experiment to determine how exercise (and specifically high intensity exercise) affects my blood sugar levels.

Prior to my injury I ran and rode my bike for cardio/endurance exercise but I would not call those workouts high intensity. A few times a week I ran 3-5 miles at about an 11 minute/mile pace and once a week I rode a bike for 1-2 hours at about a 14 mph pace so I’m not threatening any world records here! I occasionally lifted weights but this was extremely low key, lasted only about 15 minutes and never happened to the point of strain (high reps of light weights).

So here is how I designed my experiment. For about 2 weeks after my calf injury I quit exercising entirely – no cardio/endurance and no light weight lifting. Then for a week after that 2 week layoff from exercising I lifted high intensity weights every day. My definition of “high intensity” – I lifted weights for about 45 minutes and instead of high reps/light weight, I employed low reps/heavy weights to the point where my heart rate was elevated and I definitely broke a sweat. I focused mainly on upper body lifting due to the calf injury but I included some fairly intense abdominal workouts as well.

The following graph compares my morning blood sugar measurements for the three time periods – Red is when I was exercising moderately, Blue is when I eliminated exercise and Green is when I incorporated high intensity exercise. And it should be noted that my diet never changed during these 3 periods and the only variable I manipulated was exercise.

high intensity exercise

To be honest, I was very surprised by these results. I knew that exercise lowers blood sugar but I had no idea how much of a benefit I would see from just doing high intensity weight lifting.

My experiment not only confirmed that even moderate exercise lowers blood sugar levels but also that high intensity exercise drastically reduces blood sugar levels.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Is The Paleo Diet Becoming Mainstream?

I’ve written at length about how a low carb, high protein, high fat diet has allowed me, as a Type 2 Diabetic, to control my blood sugar levels without medication.

Controlling my Diabetes through this lifestyle change shouldn’t be revolutionary but it is. The medical community as a whole defaults to medicine to fix the symptoms instead of driving down to the cause of the problem and recommending lifestyle changes.

The Paleo diet, which is basically what I’m on, has been around a while and you can go here to read all about it and read many of the peer reviewed journal articles that have been written about it. The more I learn about how our modern diet filled with processed foods and carbohydrates leads to weight gain, joint inflammation and heart problems, the more I’m amazed how silent the medical community is on this topic and why we aren’t all talking more about it.

My frustration turned to excitement this week when I heard an NPR story that revealed how the fat free meme of the 1990’s was actually bad for us.

“Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s?”

“I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful,” Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.”

“Back then, she avoided all kinds of foods with fat: cheese, eggs, meat, even nuts and avocados. Most of the experts were recommending a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease.”

“And, as a result, her diet was full of sugar (lots of fat-free, sugary yogurt) and carbohydrates, like bagels.”

“[Carbs] were the base of the pyramid,” says Mozaffarian. The message was “eat all carbohydrates you want.”

“Americans took this as a green light to eat more refined grains such as breads, processed snack foods and white pasta.”

And Ms. Stafford wasn’t alone. Most of America switched to high sugar foods and carbs as a substitute for fat and we patted ourselves on the back for making this healthy choice. As a runner, I had it beaten in my head that I had to carbo-load before a big workout or I would risk hitting the wall. Glycogen was the main fuel our muscles needed to burn and Carbs (that would be converted to sugars and then glycogen) were the primary source of this fuel.

But was that the right thing to do?

There were attempts of some in the scientific community to question this low fat, high carb diet but they were silenced.

From the NPR article:

“But, by the mid-1990s, Willett says, there were already signs that the high-carb, low-fat approach might not lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes. He had a long-term study underway that was aimed at evaluating the effects of diet and lifestyle on health.”

“We were finding that if people seemed to replace saturated fat — the kind of fat found in cheese, eggs, meat, butter — with carbohydrate, there was no reduction in heart disease,” Willett says.”

“Willett submitted his data to a top medical journal, but he says the editors would not publish his findings. His paper was turned down.”

“There was a lot of resistance to anything that would question the low-fat guidelines,” Willett says, especially the guidelines on saturated fat.”

The pharmaceutical industry had a steady cash flow that that was threatened by this lifestyle/diet solution so they didn’t want this type of information published. Even the American Diabetes Association (ADA) says that a person with Diabetes can consume up to 270 grams of carbs per day and that is like telling an alcoholic he can drink wine with breakfast. The ADA is obviously more concerned will selling medication than helping people live long, healthy lives.

The ADA makes this statement about eating 270 grams of carbs per day because: 1) their guidelines for what is considered high blood sugar (130 mg/dL fasting and 180 mg/dL after a meal) are still above the level of a non-diabetic person (100 mg/dL fasting and 140 mg/dL after a meal) and 2) they count on the medication to keep the sugar spikes from occurring.

But that is not the solution! Even slightly elevated levels of blood sugar, over a long time, will do damage to your body’s organs and following the advice of the ADA is just ensuring the slow, painful death that most diabetics eventually succumb to (amputating limbs, heart failure, etc.).

Thankfully, we are now starting to realize that fat (the good kind) is not the evil food we once thought it was.

From the NPR article:

“Now, nearly two decades later, a more complicated picture has emerged of how fats and carbohydrates contribute to heart disease.”

“For instance, it’s clearer that some fats, namely plant-based fats found in nuts and olive oil, as well as those found in fatty fish, are beneficial. Willett says there’s strong evidence that they help reduce the risk of heart disease.”

“There’s now evidence that — compared with carbs — saturated fat can raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and lower trigylcerides in the blood, which are both countering effects to heart disease, he says.”

“So, the message here seems to be: Cut back on all those refined carbs, and remember that some fat is good.”

Amen!

My daily diet consists of around 125 grams of protein, 125 grams of fat and less than 50 grams of carbs (obtained from vegetables, fruit and nuts). My fat comes from avocados, nuts, eggs, meat (yes, even bacon!), cheese, mayonnaise (not the lite kind, the full leaded version) and oils such as coconut oil. Food tastes great, I’m building muscle, my blood sugar measurements are still in the normal range of a non-diabetic and I not only have lost weight but I’m keeping it off.

I still lift weights, run and ride a bike for exercise and I can do all this because my body has switched from burning glycogen to burning fat. Full disclosure, it took a couple of months for my body to make that adjustment but once it did, I am now a fat burning machine and even though I don’t carbo-load anymore, I still can ride a bike for 1 -2 hours and not hit the wall.

This is the message that should be pushed all across America right now from the office water coolers to the physician examining rooms – Carbs are bad. Protein is good. Fat is good.

 

Posted in Diabetes, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Media Matters Says Homosexual Is Offensive Term

Really, they did:

Referring to gay people as “homosexual” is a practice that’s quickly falling out of favor with major news outlets due the term’s often pejorative connotation and frequent use by opponents of LGBT equality. But Fox News has yet to update its language when referring to gay and lesbian people.
Fox employees from Megyn Kelly to Sarah Palin continue to use the word “homosexual” to describe gays and lesbians.

Well, I had no idea calling a homosexual a “homosexual” had a “pejorative connotation” and that this term was only used by “opponents of the LGBT equality” but I guess that’s the new rules as outlined by Media Matters.
I’m not the only one to be late getting this memo because today I heard that “offensive” word used by Boy George. Remember him? He actually has a new album being released this week and NPR’s David Greene sat down to talk to him about it and check out this exchange about a track on the new album (emphasis mine).

GREENE: OK, Boy George, sort this out for me: You say, in a way, it sort of speaks to what we were talking about, and in a way, it doesn’t.
GEORGE: Well, it’s a man singing to his wife. He’s talking about his kid crying. So that wouldn’t be about me, because I’m a homosexual. I don’t have any kids. So, it’s not a literal song. So, it’s a kind of filmic song. You know, I wrote it like a film script. And it’s a song about messing up, and yes, I’ve done that, but it’s not literally about me. You know, if it was about me, I’d call it “Queen of Everything.”

By Media Matters’ new rules, Boy George is now considered an opponent of LGBT equality.

Posted in politics | 5 Comments

AGW Cult Admits To Cooking The Data

The Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cult is getting bold.  They are actually showing us how much they have adjusted the raw temperature data and the data is hiding in plain sight.

The US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) data set has seen numerous adjustments and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tells us about them here.  At the bottom of the page you’ll find this graph showing the total adjustments they’ve made to the USHCN data set since 1900.

USHCN adjustments graphI’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the last few decades have been adjusted UP 0.3 – 0.5°F (or 0.17 – 0.3°C) yet the temperature data prior to that has been adjusted down or left alone.

Well, they have to do that or else they have to deal with the temperature data from satellites that show no warming over the past 17 years.

rss graphCrooks and Liars, every one of them.

Posted in Climate Change | 3 Comments

NPR Still Drinking The AGW Koolaid

NPR ran a story today detailing how the recent harsh winter has dealt a series of body blows to the infrastructure of many US cities and Chicago in particular.

“This winter’s crazy, crazy busy,” says John Polishak, a foreman for the Chicago Department of Water Management. “Everybody’s been working 16 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s exhausting.”

“Most water pipes in Chicago are buried 5 feet deep, which is usually below the frost line, but record-cold temperatures caused the ground to freeze much deeper than normal.”

“Tom Powers, a Chicago Department of Water Management commissioner, says the biggest problem is that the cold weather “has not let up.”

“We’ve had a very challenging year,” he says. Cold and snow have just continued “for another week, and another week, and another week. Here we are in March, and we’ve had almost three full months of some of the worst weather I’ve seen in my years with the city of Chicago.”

“That’s led to more frozen water services than any other winter in recent memory, Powers says. “In 2013, we had roughly at this time, round numbers, about a thousand calls. This year it’s over 5,200.”

Everyone knows this winter has been very cold and snowy but remember it was just 14 years ago when the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cult was making predictions like this (emphasis mine):

“Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.”

“However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.

Wow, that prediction proved pretty silly and with all this evidence in the NPR story surely they’ve backed off their full support of the AGW lies.  Nope:

“Herrmann and others say this is a critical time to make greater investments in infrastructure, because climate change will likely bring more extreme weather and more violent storms.”

Ahhh, I see the AGW cult has changed their story.  It was several years ago when the AGW cult changed their phrasing from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’ and now instead of predicting warmer winters (which obviously aren’t happening) they are now saying ‘extreme weather’ is what we can expect with higher atmospheric CO2 levels.

This new wordsmithing might be acceptable to an NPR reporter who is part of the reason why this AGW lie persists, but that ‘extreme weather’ argument fails miserably when you look at the actual science and data  here, here and here.

This is why I compare AGW theory proponents to cult members.  It takes a special kind of ignorance to still believe in this lie when all the evidence of the past 17 years discredits the main tenants of the AGW cult theology.

rss vs co2

Posted in Climate Change, npr | Leave a comment

Liberals Love To Fix Things

Or at least they love to TRY to fix things…..

The latest episode of “Hi, we’re the Government and we’re here to help you” comes straight from the top, POTUS.

“The president plans to exercise his executive authority on Thursday, leapfrogging Congress to direct the Labor Department to come up with guidelines that would set a new, higher income threshold at which employers are required to pay overtime.”

“Under current law, only workers earning $455 per week or less are eligible for overtime pay, though two states — California and New York — have independently raised their overtime minimums.”

“A $250 per week threshold for overtime pay eligibility was originally established in 1975 by the Labor Department, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, for “white collar” employees; it was increased by the Bush administration in 2004 to its current $455 level. The White House argues that, adjusted for inflation, that threshold for workers today, overwhelmingly not white collar workers, would be $553.”

Here is the ‘logic’ behind this latest proposal from Team Obama (and I use that term loosely).

Based on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a company has to divide its workforce into two classifications – non-exempt (paid hourly and overtime is compensate) and exempt (paid a salary and overtime is not compensated).  The rules for determining what label to use is complicated (hey, the FLSA came from the Government so what do you expect?) but basically employees who supervise or manage are called exempt and the rest are called non-exempt.  There is also a salary guide to aid in this classification and that is where the $455/week comes in – people who make less than that are ALWAYS non-exempt but you can make more than that and still be non-exempt if the FLSA guidelines allow it.

So Obama is aiming this regulation update at low level managers who make just above that $455/week threshold.  I’m sure Obama is targeting companies like fast food restaurants and bargain retailers who pay their managers low wages (due to low profit margins) but under the FLSA they have to call them exempt.

And did you catch that?  Under the FLSA rules, companies HAVE to classify their low wage managers as exempt.  They might have easily called them non-exempt and paid them overtime wages but the FLSA wouldn’t allow that so now we have to add more regulations to fix the problems created from prior regulations.

My argument against this latest gimmick from the Left is the same as I have against raising the minimum wage – This will end up hurting workers.  Companies will have layoffs and reduce hiring to offset the higher wages and will reclassify job duties of some exempt managers to non-exempt which will justify giving those employees a decrease in pay.

From the NPR article, Marc Freedman of the US Chamber of Commerce makes the point very well:

“Marc Freedman, who heads the labor law policy shop for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, predicted dire consequences blooming from the wage and overtime changes — and linked the problems to the president’s health care legislation.”

“Changing the rules for overtime eligibility will, just like increasing the minimum wage, make employees more expensive, and will force employers to look for ways to cover these increased costs,” he said in a statement.”

“Similar to minimum wage, these changes in overtime rules will fall most harshly on small and medium-sized businesses already trying to figure out the impact of Obamacare on them,” he said.”

Here’s a crazy idea – How about letting businesses classify and pay their employees the way they see fit and get the Government out of that decision?

Drop the minimum wage along with the whole FLSA and let employees decide who is hourly, who is salaried and what each employee gets paid.

We no longer live in the 19th century when jobs were hard to find and most people were uneducated.  If a company chooses to treat their employees like slaves, pay them a low wage or refuse to pay overtime guess what will happen?  Nobody will want to work there and the company will go under.

The companies that treat their employees fairly will get the best and brightest and will subsequently succeed and turn higher profits.  Companies will start competing against each other to offer the best salary and benefits to get the best workforce instead of what happens today where companies only have to meet the minimum requirements set forth by our all knowing Federal Government.

The Free Market works.  It’s way past the time we get the Government out of the way.

Posted in economics, Over Regulation, politics | Leave a comment

My Type-2 Diabetes Journey – 1 Year Update

It has been a year since my doctor diagnosed me with Type 2 Diabetes and although that life changing moment was difficult on me and my family, in hindsight it was the best wake-up call I could have received.

I shared the good news in a previous post that in less than a year’s time I brought my blood sugar measurements in line with a non-diabetic person and how I did this without medication.  When I saw my endocrinologist on 13-JAN-14 for a routine checkup he noticed my A1C was 5.1% (which is right in the middle of the range for a non-diabetic) and he released me from his care since there was nothing more he could do for me.

But being an engineer who is a firm believer in the Continuous Improvement (CI) methodology, I was not satisfied.

For those not familiar, CI is a four step process to improve a process and it goes something like this:

Plan – Propose an improvement or solution to a problem.

Do – Implement the improvement or solution.

Check – Measure the process to ascertain the effects of the change.

Act – Either abandon or accept your proposal based on the effects of the process that the data showed.

PLAN

As I have stated before in previous posts on the Diabetes topic, I was a bread/carbohydrate junkie.  I had bread with every meal and threw in generous portions of potatoes, rice, grits and other starchy foods that quickly convert into sugars in the bloodstream and would raise my blood sugar levels far above normal once I stopped taking the diabetes medicine (and if I ate enough of it, the medicine couldn’t bring the blood sugar levels down either).

Eliminating the potatoes, rice, beans and grits were hard but it was surprisingly easier than I had thought – I just substituted those portions with vegetables and that filled that void.  But I love sandwiches and found the act of eating a sandwich without the bread to hold it together was just insane.  And don’t get me started on how hard it is to eat an enchilada without a tortilla!

To fix this problem, I found some low carbohydrate pitas (that I talked about here) and those products served as a tasty substitute for my sandwich bread and wraps for my Mexican food.  While those were lower in carbohydrates than normal bread/tortillas, I wondered if these low carbohydrate pitas were still causing my blood sugars to be elevated.

DO

So the day after my endocrinologist released me, I decided to perform a CI experiment by eliminating these from my diet.

Did I have to eliminate sandwiches and Mexican food?  No!  I still ate the internal contents of those great foods but I had to make some changes since I no longer had the bread or tortillas to hold them together.  My ‘sandwiches’ were eaten with a knife and fork and my enchiladas, tacos and burritos were eaten in bowls.

My daily intake of carbohydrates was about 50g when I was eating these low carbohydrate pitas and after I eliminated them I dropped to about 30g per day.  As a side note, the American Diabetes Association recommends a diabetic limit his daily carbohydrate intake to 270g and that advice is basically like telling a person to drink poison but that is a topic for another blog post.

CHECK

Here is a graph of my morning blood sugar measurements from 01-NOV-13 to 13-JAN-14 (when I was still eating the pitas) compared with my morning blood sugar measurements from 14-JAN-14 to 09-MAR-14 (the 2 months after I eliminated these from my diet).

pre and post pita graphThe average morning blood sugar measurement before 14-JAN-14 was 100.86 mg/dL with a standard deviation of 9.35 mg/dL and once I eliminated the pitas the average was 96.61 mg/dL and the standard deviation was 8.97 mg/dL.

But you will notice two spikes in the post-pita elimination data and those had an assignable cause.  The first big spike was from a meal I ordered at a restaurant that I wasn’t sure of when I placed the order but once it arrived I knew it had all kinds of sugary goodness in the sauce.  I was with a large group of work colleagues and didn’t want to make a fuss so I ate it and sure enough my morning blood sugars were high for 3 days after.

The other spike toward the end of the data set was intentional.  I ordered an enchilada and ate the tortilla just to see what the effect would be and sure enough my morning blood sugar measurements were high for 2 days after.

If I remove those 5 data points (for which I knew I went off my diet and altered the experiment) the graph looks like this.

pre and post pita graph adjustedYou can clearly see that the two populations are different and the removal of the low carbohydrate pitas brought my average and variation in morning blood sugar measurements down.  The average morning blood sugar measurement after I eliminated the pitas was 94.41 mg/dL and the standard deviation was 5.58 mg/dL.

ACT

The data proved my hypothesis that eliminating these low carbohydrate pitas from my diet would lower my morning blood sugar measurements and reduced the variation – The average morning blood sugar measurement decreased by 6.45 mg/dL (6.4%) and the standard deviation decreased by 3.77 mg/dL (40.32%).  Success!

Eliminating these pitas was something I knew I had to do but I had to design the experiment and prove my hypothesis with data.  No looking back now…..

Addendum – For further proof of how you can beat Type 2 Diabetes in less than a year, here is a graphs of my morning blood sugar measurements for the past year.

blood sugar graph past year

Posted in Diabetes | 11 Comments

EV Car Sales Plunge

The following comment was post to a previous blog post about the poor sales of the Chevy Volt as compared to the Nissan Leaf:

volt commentWell, technically that comment is true.  People are still buying EV’s but the sales trend doesn’t look good for the Chevy Volt and another popular Electric Vehicle (EV,) the Nissan Leaf, over the last 2 months.

volt vs leafThe plunge in sales for these two popular EV’s is even worse when plotted against all US auto sales.

volt vs all auto salesleaf vs all us autosTwo data points (sales numbers for January and February 2014) do not make a trend but this is worth keeping an eye on.

Posted in economics, politics | Leave a comment

The Left’s Winning Strategy In 2014

Today on NPR Democratic Senator from New York Chuck Schumer revealed the Democrats’ winning strategy for the midterm elections this year.

Here was the exchange at the end of the story where Chuck let this strategic gem slip:

GREENE: But it’s Obamacare that’s on the mind of a lot of voters right now. I mean, we had a recent piece in Louisiana where we heard from people saying that they like Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu – one of your colleagues – you know, and they’d vote for her if she hadn’t voted for the Affordable Care Act.

SCHUMER: I would tell you if Mary Landrieu does what she continues to do – talk about getting the middle-class moving again – that will be more important than Obamacare in her election, and she will prevail.

GREENE: It’s a matter of changing the conversation out there, you’re saying.

SCHUMER: I think, yes, it’s a matter of we are changing the conversation as we’re going to bring a whole series of bills to the floor that affect middle-class economy. But at the same time, it’s what people really feel.

In other words, here is the Democratic message for the American people in 2014 – Stop listening to the news reports about how Obamacare is causing real pain for the country but instead start listening to our empty promises about how we are going to fight for the middle class.

That sounds like a great strategy.  Good luck with that Chuck.

But wait!  Remember in November of 2013 when Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said that Democrats would win in 2014 by running ON Obamacare?

I think Chuck and Debbie need to get on the same page.

Posted in politics | Leave a comment