December 10, 2010

HOW TO MAKE A CHEAP HOMEMADE KOI POND SKIMMER

New skimmers are several hundred dollars. I couldn't justify spending that on what is basically a plastic box. So I built my own and saved bigtime. I couldn't find a good step-by-step guide on how to make a homemade pond skimmer. So I have built my own version and explained how I did it. My skimmer has been in use for several months now, it works pretty well. I will explain improvements on this model (Gilt2010) as I go.

Step 1) Buy a normal 32 gallon trashcan. It must be a heavy duty rugged version. Also it must be flexible, not brittle plastic.

IMPROVEMENT 1: Get a square trash can instead of a round one. This makes the inlet and outlet connections fit easier. The large inlet connection had to bend the round can to form a tight seal. It worked, but next time I will use a square can.



Step 2) Buy items needed to build skimmer, all items are at Lowes or Home-Depot:
- Small section of sch 40 4" PVC pipe (not the thin sch 30 drain pipe)
- Small section of sch 40 1 1/2" PVC pipe
- Two 4" toilet closet flanges (in PVC/plumbing section). There are a lot of different versions of these. Get the non-adjustable kind that is simply the flange with a 4" connection as shown. Ensure your 4" PVC pipe fits into the toilet flange.
- 1 4-way PVC connector (1 1/2")
- 3 PVC end caps (1 1/2")
- 1 male and 1 female 1 1/2" electrical conduit connectors. It is important that you go to the electrical section, not the plumbing section. The electrical conduit connectors have straight threading. PVC plumbing connectors have NPT threads (tapered). If you buy a normal bulkhead fitting from a boat or pool store you will spend $20-30, this is about $3.
- 1 rubber toilet gasket. These are in the toilet repair section. They have different sizes. Find one with flexible rubber that will snugly fit over the male threads of the electrical conduit connector.
- 4 stainless steel bolts with matching nuts and large washers. Ensure the bolt fits through the holes in the closet flange. Get washers that fit snugly over the bolt but are as big as you can find, you want to spread the force out so you don't crack the closet flange.
- 1 tube of black outdoor silicon caulking. Ensure you get the sunproof/freezproof outdoor formula.

IMPROVEMENT 2: This skimmer will work for small to medium sized ponds and pumps. I have a huge pond with a 2 speed pump (1/8 hp and 3/4 hp). The 4" inlet is too small to run my pump on high so I can only run low speed. Also, if you have lots of leaves or debris that falls into your pond, the smaller 4" opening can plug easier. Next time I will find a way to make a larger, preferably rectangle opening.



Step 3) Mark the location for the inlet a couple of inches from the top.



Step 4) Cut out the inlet



Try and make it as round and smooth as possible.



Step 5) Mark and cut out the hole for the outlet a few inches off the bottom.



Step 6) Place the rubber gasket on the male electrical conduit connector. Place this on the INSIDE of the tank and the female piece on the outside. Dry fit together and ensure it will fit tightly.



Step 7) Build the outlet strainer out of the PVC pieces as shown. Measure the inside of the tank and ensure this will fit at the bottom. Drill lots of small holes all over the entire strainer. The more holes the better. 3 legs of the strainer are capped (with holes drilled in them) and the 4th leg has the male conduit connector on it.



Step 7) Apply a small bead of silicon on the threads of the electrical conduit bulkhead and around the gasket. Snugly attach the strainer to the tank. Ensure the rubber gasket is between the strainer and the inside of the tank.

Step 8) Measure and cut a small piece of 4" PVC pipe to sit under the strainer and hold it level to the outlet. This ensures that the strainer doesn't move or bend which would break your seal on the tank. I used zip-ties to attach the strainer to the 4" PVC support (drilled a hole in the side of the support for the zip-tie to go through).



Step 9) Dig a hole at the desired location in your pond to support your skimmer. SPEND LOTS OF TIME ensuring you get the right height. The skimmer determines the depth of your pond. The water level will be about 3/4 of the way up the opening. Use levels or lasers or whatever you need to ensure you get the right depth. Too low and you won't be able to fill up your pond as you wanted. Too high and the skimmer won't get enough water as it will spill out somewhere else in your pond.



Step 10) Attach the discharge pipe to your skimmer. I had to dig a trench through my back wall of the pond. Ensure the discharge pipe has a slight downhill grade to it.



Step 11) Now you have to place the rubber lining in your pond. At the skimmer, run the rubber lining up the front of the skimmer and fold over the top and back inside the skimmer. DO NOT cut any holes in the rubber yet.

Step 12) Place one of the closet flanges over where the opening is. Punch out the holes in the liner and drill through the wall of the skimmer for the 4 bolts.

Step 13) Spread plenty of silicon rubber around the opening and between all the layers. Put plenty of silicon around the face of each closet flange.

Step 14) Bolt the two closet flanges together. The layers should be: flange, rubber lining, tank wall, rubber liner, flange. With silicon rubber between every layer. Tighten until the silicon squeezes out, don't overtighten and crack the closet flange.

Seep 15) Allow the silicon to dry completely. Then cut out the two layers of rubber lining inside the flanges and any excess silicon. Make the inside as smooth as possible.



Step 16) Take a 10-12" section of 4" PVC pipe. Cut a 45 degree angle on one end of the pipe on the bottom half of the pipe.

Step 17) Put two screws through the pipe so they are sticking out at about the 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock position opposite from the 45 degree angle cut.

Step 18) Dry fit the pipe into the inside closet flange. This does not need to be glued, it should hold tight on its own.

Step 19) Buy a small nylon mesh tarp from Northern Tool. This is a very fine mesh material and will stop small pieces from getting into your pump. Cut a hole just large enough to slide over the 4" PVC pipe on the inside of your skimmer. Cut the tarp to fit all the way into the skimmer. Use a lighter to melt the cut edges so they don't fray. Fit the tarp inside the skimmer and secure to the outside of the tank (I used large binder clips, but these rust).

Step 20) Use any large mesh nylon bag with a pull string on one side. A small laundry bag works good. Don't use natural fibers, must use nylon or other plastic that won't rot.



Step 21) Attach the mesh bag around the 4" PVC inlet pipe. Pull the cord tight so no leaves can get around the bag. The two screws hold the bag in place. The 45 degree cut on the bottom of the pipe allow the water and leaves to fall freely into the bag without plugging up because the bag hangs down. Without the 45 degree cut on the pipe, the bag will hang over the opening and leaves will plug it.



Your Done! I covered mine with a fake rock from http://www.fakerock.com/
I have found that I have to dump leaves out of the bag regularly, but haven't had to clean the mesh tarp but about once a month.

Hope this was beneficial!
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November 19, 2010

O' CHRISTMAS TREE

Question: Is the celebration of Christmas and modern Christmas traditions wrong?

Argument 1: Christians should not have a Christmas tree.

Evidence 1: The Bible warns against it

The bible warns against cutting down a tree and bringing it into your house to decorate it.
Jeremiah 10: 1 Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them. 3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.”

Isaiah 44 also warns about cutting trees and bowing in front of them.
14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. … he makes an idol and bows down to it.

Jeremiah 3 warns against placing presents under a tree.
12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me”, declares the LORD.

Evidence 2: It is a pagan tradition

In addition to biblical references against it, the Christmas tree isn’t even a Christian tradition. Pagans of the past brought evergreens into their homes and decorated trees to celebrate the Roman feast of Saturnalia and to celebrate their god Bacchus. Some pagans would bring evergreen boughs into their home during the winter solstice because they thought they possessed magical powers to bring in spring. All other plant life would die as the days kept getting shorter. The pagans thought the evergreen held the answer to keep the earth from freezing over. Germanic people decorated trees to honor their god Woden (from which Wednesday gets its name). Trees were viewed as symbolizing eternal life, and holly, mistletoe, the Yule log, and the wassail bowl all come from these traditions and predate Christianity.

Early settlers of America and English Puritans condemned many Christmas decorations. The Yule log, holly, mistletoe, carols, and decorated trees were all preached against by Oliver Cromwell as “heathen traditions”. He argued they desecrated the sacred event of Christ’s birth. The second governor of the Pilgrims, William Bradford, tried to eliminate all such decorations during Christmas time, calling them “pagan mockery”.

So what is a good Christian to do? Should we purge our society of the Christmas tree?

Response to Evidence 1: The Bible does not warn against Christmas trees.

The Bible verses given above do not forbid Christmas trees. I argue, in fact, they don’t have to do with trees at all. Each is an example of taking a small snippet of scripture, taking it out of context, and then using it to back up your personal beliefs. A full reading of these chapters makes it crystal clear what God is trying to warn us against.
Jeremiah 10 God and Idols
1 Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.

This refers to not being afraid of pagan gods. The people of Israel are told not to use the stars or moon as signs and be afraid. For the stars and moon are not gods and have no power, only the LORD is God.

3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. 4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. 5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot talk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

Clearly, this is referring to idol worship not Christmas trees. God says it is worthless to cut a tree, shape it into an idol and decorate it with Gold and silver. He explains that the idol has no power, it can not communicate, it can not move, because it is only wood. This passage would have the exact same meaning if stone was used instead of wood. “Do not go cut a stone, shape it, adorn it with gold and silver”. God is not warning us against trees or stones. He is warning us against making idols.

6 No one is like you, LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power. 7 Who should not fear you, King of the nations? This is your due. Among all the wise leaders of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is no one like you. 8 They are all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols. 9 Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish and gold from Uphaz. What the craftsman and goldsmith have made is then dressed in blue and purple— all made by skilled workers. 10 But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath. 11 “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’” 12 But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. 13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. 14 Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them. 15 They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish. 16 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including Israel, the people of his inheritance— the LORD Almighty is his name.

The rest of the chapter backs up the previous interpretation, that we are talking about idol worship not trees. Jeremiah compares the power of the LORD with the foolishness of wooden idols. He explains that idols are made by people and are powerless and will be destroyed. On the contrary, the LORD has real power and has created everything.

Isaiah 44, when read in context, quickly reveals that we are again being warned about idol worship. Trees are an irrelevant detail in the scripture, not the subject of it. In fact, the above scripture had to be drastically edited to get it to even sort of sound like trees were the subject. When read in its entirety, there is no real argument.

Isaiah 44: The LORD, Not Idols 6 “This is what the LORD says— Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. 7 Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come— yes, let them foretell what will come. 8 Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” 9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. 10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? 11 People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame. 12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. 13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” 17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!” 18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. 19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” 20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” 21 “Remember these things, Jacob, for you, Israel, are my servant. I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. 22 I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” 23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.

Again, the passage is not talking about the sin of cutting down trees. If that is to be the interpretation of the passage, then one must also conclude that being a craftsman is bad, being a blacksmith is bad, being a carpenter is bad, planting trees is bad and burning wood for warmth or for cooking food is bad. No! God is revealing how silly it is to worship man-made idols. How can you worship something that you also use to cook your food? How can you worship something that grows outside and is watered by the rain? Idol worship is what the LORD hates, not tree cutting.

Finally, the passage in Jeremiah is speaking about the unfaithfulness of Israel, not about presents under a tree.
Jeremiah 3 Unfaithful Israel
6 During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. 10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the LORD. 11 The LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah. 12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north: ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will not be angry forever. 13 Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,’ declares the LORD. 14 “Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband. I will choose you—one from a town and two from a clan—and bring you to Zion. 15 Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.

The LORD rebukes Israel for its unfaithfulness. He compares it to adultery. The use of trees is a metaphor to show how numerous the unfaithfulness is, “On every high hill and under every spreading tree”. If one interprets this passage to say we can’t do things under spreading trees (presents at Christmas) then shouldn’t we also outlaw doing things on top of high hills? This is an incorrect interpretation. The meat of this passage is to obey the LORD your God! For He loves us and wants only the best for us, like a husband or a shepherd.

After reading the full Bible passages, I feel there is no warning in the Bible about having a Christmas tree. The question remaining is: is having a Christmas tree in my house an idol? If a Christmas tree is an idol, then obviously the Bible says we shouldn’t have one. An idol is something greatly admired or loved to excess, or something that is worshiped as a god and believed to have supernatural powers. Personally, a Christmas tree does not meet any of these requirements for me. I do not admire the tree or think it has any power or purpose. However, maybe some Christians do believe that the Christmas tree has special powers. Perhaps they feel it brings good luck or good health or gets them closer to God. In these cases, I would strongly urge them not to have one in their homes. But absent those cases, I see no Biblical warning against having a Christmas tree.

Response to Evidence 2: It was a pagan tradition… so what?

Paganism comes from the Latin term paganus, meaning “country dweller”. We use it today as a broad term to refer to old polytheistic religious traditions. Throughout human history, our species have idolized hundreds of gods, observed thousands of traditions and created millions of symbols. The vast majority of these we won’t ever know about. Some, through archeology, we have discovered. The Bible contains numerous verses about not worshiping false gods. However, does using something that was once used in a pagan tradition equal to idol worship? I surely hope not! Thousands of things can be traced to pagan tradition: the cross, the fish symbol, candles, wreaths, giving gifts, crown of thorns, bonfires, hymns and carols, the word amen, the days of the week, the months of the year, the seasons, Easter, wedding rings, wedding veil, College/fraternity/society seals, astrology terms and signs, wisdom of the owl, leadership of the eagle, currency, the modern medical symbol, the military rank symbols, etc, etc, etc. An attempt to purge our lives of anything that may have a non-Christian history is an endless exercise. Would doing it make you closer to God or a better Christian? God wants us to put Him before everything else, not eliminate everything else but Him. Colossians Chapter 2 speaks specifically about this.
Freedom From Human Rules
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. 18 Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. 20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

The Christmas tree may have some pagan origins as explained. However, it also has some Christian origins. An early story about Saint Boniface in 722 says he encountered some pagans about to sacrifice a child at the base of a huge oak tree. He saved the child and cut down the tree. A fir tree then grew from the cut stump. He called the tree a holy tree, a symbol of God’s promise of eternal life. Another story says Martin Luther noticed the beauty of snow covered trees while in the woods so he took one home and decorated it with candles.

Another argument for the Christmas tree being okay is that the Bible shows other pagan traditions being changed to be about Christ. The most famous one, and one that Jesus himself did, is the taking of bread and wine. Jesus instructed his disciples to perform this in remembrance of Him. However, Jesus did not invent this. Eating sacred bread and wine probably comes from a festival celebrating ancient goddess Mithra and the sun god feasting together. Many people could have recognized this at the time. However, Jesus said that from then on, and for Christians, it represented his sacrifice for us. The fact that it was used previously in a pagan tradition did not bother Jesus. It should not bother us either.

My final argument, and perhaps the most convincing, is that ancient pagan traditions are not the original source. God created the earth. He created the fir tree. Pagan traditions of using trees as idols or in ceremonies are perversions of the original truth and the original Creator. Bowing before a tree in a pagan ceremony is a perversion of idolizing the created instead of idolizing the Creator. It can not be the other way around. The pagans didn’t get the fir tree “first”. So it can not be possible that using it now is bad. We are simply re-claiming it as belonging to the one true God!

So, in conclusion, I have no issue with heading out in a few weeks and getting a nice Christmas tree. We will decorate and set it up in our home and put our gifts under it for Christmas morning. I understand that the Christmas season is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Christmas tree is simply a part of that celebration. HE is the reason for the season!

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November 9, 2010

Housing Bubble

There has been a lot of chatter about the possible upcoming "Higher Education bubble".
A bubble exists when the price for something continually outpaces the real value of it. Absent government intervention, products are subject to supply and demand. When irrational demand occurs for various reasons, bubbles are created. Eventually, they burst as the demand drops to normal levels but the supply remains high. The "value" plummets. This happens all the time and usually doesn't result in any problems at all because the scale is small.

A great current example is "silly bands". If you have kids you know about these. They are rubber bands in neat colors and shapes. They became extremely popular last year and just about every kid had to have one. The demand was very high, and whoever invented them became rich. Good for them, the American dream realized in a capitalistic society. However, what is the real value of a rubber band? Not much, maybe a few pennies. So selling these things for $1 each and kids trading them like money only works while demand is very high and supply is low. Today, you can buy these things everywhere. You can get a package of 25 at Walmart for $1. Every kid who wants one has one-hundred. Demand has dropped as the "fad" faded, but supply is still high. If you had bought $60,000 of silly bands last year, hoping to sell them for profit this year, you lost. This didn't cost the economy any headaches though, because not too many people where heavily invested in silly bands. Some kids may have wasted their allowance but not much else.

The housing bubble was another beast altogether. The problem occurred, in my opinion, because the laws of supply and demand were thwarted by government. This allowed the bubble to get huge. Really, really, really huge! Federal programs and federal lenders encouraged new loans at all costs. It was thought that the benefits of owning a home were so great that everyone should have one. New laws, new loan types, new regulations all came out to generate more mortgages. Investors all over the world bought them because the price kept going up and up and up. Looking at the data now, one can easily see the bubble. The chart below shows US median income in red. See the nice linear upward trend as we, on average, increase our standard of living and as inflation did it's thing? Now look at the blue line. This is the US median selling price for a home. It is going up at a steeper rate (homes getting bigger, fancier, materials costing more). But over the past decade it goes crazy, reaching an almost vertical slope as the price for a house skyrockets. This is the bubble.

We all remember this, some of us tried to buy houses at this time. I remember my cousin trying to buy a house. Looking at little, one bedroom, starter homes that were selling for over a quarter of a million dollars. Wow. This was completely unsustainable. Obviously, the price can not continue to outpace the income of people. This can only be done with more and more debt. We were lied to and told that our homes were "good debt" because the value goes up (it had every year for decades). But, finally, the insanity stopped as people, by the millions, could not pay for the loans they took out and demand dropped. Also, supply reached a peak as many thousands of homes were built and bought by investors and no-one was actually living in them. "Suddenly" we realized we have WAY too many homes, and WAY too much debt that no one could pay. Unfortunately, instead of a few kids loosing their allowance, we all lost. And governments lost. And business lost. And wall street lost. And banks lost. Anyone invested in housing lost. Hello recession of 2009.

So anyway, that was a lot of buildup. I thought we were talking about College?
The laws of supply and demand for higher education are currently being thwarted by the government. The true "cost" of college is being hidden. Governments are promoting more and more lending and cheaper and cheaper money to get everyone they can to attend college. We are told this is "good debt" because we need to go to college to better ourselves. The following chart again shows the US median income ("family" instead of "household", is a bit higher? but same general trend) in yellow. The blue line is the cost of a 4-year college.


Look familiar?!
The governments solutions to this have been exactly the opposite of what they should be. Similar to the housing bubble, they continue to promote college at all costs, coming up with new programs and new loans to get an ever increasing number of people to go to college at ever increasing debt levels. College costs can not continue to go up at this rate without a corresponding rise in income. Debt levels will continue to go up and up until we "break" the bubble. The worse case scenario may be the government takes over the higher education system altogether. The costs will then be "invisible" and are guaranteed to increase while service decreases with no competition.

I am not saying we shouldn't go to college. Just saying we need to carefully evaluate if we are going to get a good return on our investment. You have to be sure that your income after graduation is sufficient to justify the amount of debt. I.E. don't borrow $100K to become a school teacher. And check the placement rate for graduates with your desired degree. Do you only have a 50/50 shot at actually getting a job after graduation? Look for ways to reduce costs by starting at community or satellite colleges for the first couple of years, co-opting, paying as you go with a part-time job, online courses, etc. Also, don't go to college just because you think you should without a clear plan for graduation. It is too expensive just to hang out and take classes without even knowing what you want to get a degree in. Of course this is all pretty difficult when you are 18 years old. I learned this the hard way by getting a Chemical Engineering degree from Rose-Hulman instead of Purdue. I could have gone 4 years at Purdue for what I spent in a semester at Rose. I am paying for that mistake now, literally.

Is higher education the next bubble to burst? I don't know. College can be a very rewarding and beneficial investment in yourself and your future, just be careful not to go into $60,000 of student loan debt and be holding nothing but a bag full of silly bands in 4 years!
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May 15, 2010

CO2 DRASTICALLY AFFECTS PLANTS!



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March 12, 2010

BUDGET CUTS IN PERSPECTIVE

This is a fantastic visualization of our debt and "budget cuts".

This is just a picture, you have to follow this link to see it.
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March 11, 2010

A BATTERY FOR WIND

This is a neat idea:


My only question is what does this have to do with wind energy? If you're converting the wind energy to electricity, then using electricity to run compressors, why does it matter what the electrical source is? This could be used to "store" any type of electrical energy. The real question is how efficient is the process? Would it be more efficient to use mechanical energy to run the compressors instead of electrical energy? Have the windmills turn the compressors directly?
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QUOTE OF THE DAY

From National Review Online:

"Democratic leaders should be asking themselves just how they have gotten to the point that their strategy is to amend a law that doesn’t exist yet by passing a bill without voting on it."
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February 28, 2010

AL GORE: A MESSAGE TO THE LOST

Al Gore has returned to remind us that we are still bad people and must repent before the world ends. He has published an Op-Ed in the New York Times. I have commented on it below (I have added Bold and Underline to emphasize points).
We Can’t Wish Away Climate ChangeBy AL GORE
It would be an enormous relief if the recent attacks on the science of global warming actually indicated that we do not face an unimaginable calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human civilization as we know it.

In Al Gore's mind, scientists and researchers who disagree with assumptions and methods and point out problems and ask for original data are "attacks" on science. A closed minded fool indeed. And to call possible rising oceans and change in weather patterns over the next hundred years an "unimaginable calamity" that will destroy human civilization is absurd to the point that reading the rest of this article is a waste of time, but I guess I will continue.
Of course, we would still need to deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy — the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.

Yes, clearly we have challenges to deal with. Challenges that are far more acute, pressing and potentially damaging than slightly changing weather over the next century. What proof does Gore have that "smart grids, fast trains, and renewable energy" are the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century?! Can he see the future? Has he received a vision? Maybe someone will develop a way to generate power we don't even know about yet, maybe a teleporter will replace trains and cars all together, maybe nuclear fusion will become a reality or super efficient and cheap solar cells. Who knows! A hundred years ago, dealing with horse manure was a real problem in New York. People worried about the future, "what are we going to do with all the horses and horse crap everywhere as population increases"... It's not really a problem now is it?!

But what a burden would be lifted! We would no longer have to worry that our grandchildren would one day look back on us as a criminal generation that had selfishly and blithely ignored clear warnings that their fate was in our hands. We could instead celebrate the naysayers who had doggedly persisted in proving that every major National Academy of Sciences report on climate change had simply made a huge mistake.

We don't worry about that Al. YOU try to get people to worry about it, so they will do what you want them to do. But the majority of us don't share your worry. If you were saying we should be wise with our resources, don't pollute, act responsibly with what we have been given to steward, than more of us would agree with you, myself included. But, because you insist that our grandchildren's fate lies in whether or not we pass a carbon-tax bill or not, I am afraid we can't agree.

I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion. But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.

Water vapor acts EXACTLY like CO2 in the atmosphere and is an equal "global-warming" gas. So, is using water like treating the earth as if it were an open sewer? I have written extensively about CO2 here.

It is true that the climate panel published a flawed overestimate of the melting rate of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas, and used information about the Netherlands provided to it by the government, which was later found to be partly inaccurate. In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law.

Wow, that was quite the snow job. Mr. Gore knows that most people are not fully informed or care about the details, so he is willing to basically lie, or stretch the truth to his favor, knowing most won't be the wiser. The IPCC report (and Al Gore in his movie) used basically rumors to report when the glaciers would melt and the forests would be destroyed. The e-mails indicate an ongoing deceit by climate scientists to manipulate data, hide data, destroy people who disagree and circumvent the peer-review process. The scientists have been found guilty by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

But the scientific enterprise will never be completely free of mistakes. What is important is that the overwhelming consensus on global warming remains unchanged. It is also worth noting that the panel’s scientists — acting in good faith on the best information then available to them — probably underestimated the range of sea-level rise in this century, the speed with which the Arctic ice cap is disappearing and the speed with which some of the large glacial flows in Antarctica and Greenland are melting and racing to the sea.
Because these and other effects of global warming are distributed globally, they are difficult to identify and interpret in any particular location. For example, January was seen as unusually cold in much of the United States. Yet from a global perspective, it was the second-hottest January since surface temperatures were first measured 130 years ago.
Similarly, even though climate deniers have speciously argued for several years that there has been no warming in the last decade, scientists confirmed last month that the last 10 years were the hottest decade since modern records have been kept.
What is important is not whether there is a consensus on global warming. What is important is:
1) Is there in FACT global warming?
2) What is causing it?
3) Can we do anything about it? and
4) Is the damage to civilization caused by the “cure” greater than the potential warming that may occur?.
Yes “climate deniers” have argued that the earth has not been warming in the last decade. But so has Phil Jones, the director of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA), which has been at the center of the controversy over hacked e-mails. He stated in an interview two weeks ago that there has been no statistical warming since 1995 and that the warming that occurred from 1975-1998 is not statistically different from the warming trend in 1860-1880 or 1910-1940. But maybe Al didn’t get a chance to read that interview yet, he was too busy writing his Op-Ed.
The heavy snowfalls this month have been used as fodder for ridicule by those who argue that global warming is a myth, yet scientists have long pointed out that warmer global temperatures have been increasing the rate of evaporation from the oceans, putting significantly more moisture into the atmosphere — thus causing heavier downfalls of both rain and snow in particular regions, including the Northeastern United States. Just as it’s important not to miss the forest for the trees, neither should we miss the climate for the snowstorm.
The problem here Al, is that “scientists” have insisted that global warming will cause everything. More and less rain, more and less snow, hotter and colder temps, more storms and less storms, better crops and less crops, feasts and famines, basically weather. So anything is “proof” that global warming is happening. Using short term weather to prove or disprove global warming is silly. Skeptics should not point to cold days to disprove it and alarmist should not point to hot days to prove it. We should only look at long term trends.
Here is what scientists have found is happening to our climate: man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures. These pollutants — especially carbon dioxide — have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period. Almost all of the ice-covered regions of the Earth are melting — and seas are rising. Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, though their number is expected to decrease. Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases. The seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures is being disrupted, posing serious threats to agriculture. The rate of species extinction is accelerating to dangerous levels.

A classic bait-and-switch. Start with facts, and then switch into alarmist. Yes, the theory of Global Warming is that CO2 (not a pollutant, and only some of which is "man-made") holds more heat on the earth’s surface. We can prove this in a lab. The controversy isn’t if this happens, it is HOW MUCH does it happen. Alarmist say changes in CO2 levels will result in run-away warming with catastrophic effects (positive feedback system). Example: warming causes ice to melt, less ice reflects less sunlight causing more warming, etc. Deniers say that changes in CO2 levels will have tiny effects that are dampened by other resulting changes (negative feedback system). Example, warming will cause more evaporation, resulting in more clouds, causing cooling. The vast majority of natural systems are negative feedback systems.
Though there have been impressive efforts by many business leaders, hundreds of millions of individuals and families throughout the world and many national, regional and local governments, our civilization is still failing miserably to slow the rate at which these emissions are increasing — much less reduce them.
And in spite of President Obama’s efforts at the Copenhagen climate summit meeting in December, global leaders failed to muster anything more than a decision to “take note” of an intention to act.
Because the world still relies on leadership from the United States, the failure by the Senate to pass legislation intended to cap American emissions before the Copenhagen meeting guaranteed that the outcome would fall far short of even the minimum needed to build momentum toward a meaningful solution.
The political paralysis that is now so painfully evident in Washington has thus far prevented action by the Senate — not only on climate and energy legislation, but also on health care reform, financial regulatory reform and a host of other pressing issues.

Al Gore, “Do as I say, not as I do
This comes with painful costs. China, now the world’s largest and fastest-growing source of global-warming pollution, had privately signaled early last year that if the United States passed meaningful legislation, it would join in serious efforts to produce an effective treaty. When the Senate failed to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, forcing the president to go to Copenhagen without a new law in hand, the Chinese balked. With the two largest polluters refusing to act, the world community was paralyzed.
Some analysts attribute the failure to an inherent flaw in the design of the chosen solution — arguing that a cap-and-trade approach is too unwieldy and difficult to put in place. Moreover, these critics add, the financial crisis that began in 2008 shook the world’s confidence in the use of any market-based solution.
But there are two big problems with this critique: First, there is no readily apparent alternative that would be any easier politically. It is difficult to imagine a globally harmonized carbon tax or a coordinated multilateral regulatory effort. The flexibility of a global market-based policy — supplemented by regulation and revenue-neutral tax policies — is the option that has by far the best chance of success. The fact that it is extremely difficult does not mean that we should simply give up.
Second, we should have no illusions about the difficulty and the time needed to convince the rest of the world to adopt a completely new approach. The lags in the global climate system, including the buildup of heat in the oceans from which it is slowly reintroduced into the atmosphere, means that we can create conditions that make large and destructive consequences inevitable long before their awful manifestations become apparent: the displacement of hundreds of millions of climate refugees, civil unrest, chaos and the collapse of governance in many developing countries, large-scale crop failures and the spread of deadly diseases.

So, because there isn’t an apparent better solution, we should all just go along with Cap-and-Tax? Please explain how cap-and-tax rules would stop global warming. I have yet to hear how this will occur. Increasing taxes and allowing companies to exchange carbon credits will create a new (or several) large government agencies, yes. It will make the cost of business go up, yes. But how will it decrease carbon output to the point that global warming is no longer a problem? In order to do that we have to stop using fossil fuels correct? Not simply tax them more. So, a solution that I could see actually helping (if you believe the dire warnings of global warming), is to mandate all electricity come from nuclear, hydro, wind and solar. And then mandate all cars and lawn mowers and boat motors and weedwackers and chainsaws and buses and trains and airplanes and ships and anything else that uses the internal combustion engine be electric only. It isn’t as if no one has done cap-and-trade yet. It has been done. The results are not helpful! It doesn’t work! Spain’s experiment in limiting CO2 have resulted in 2.2 jobs lost per 1 green job created, each green job has cost the Spanish taxpayers $757,778 dollars, and carbon dioxide emissions have INCREASED 50%.
It’s important to point out that the United States is not alone in its inaction. Global political paralysis has thus far stymied work not only on climate, but on trade and other pressing issues that require coordinated international action.
The reasons for this are primarily economic. The globalization of the economy, coupled with the outsourcing of jobs from industrial countries, has simultaneously heightened fears of further job losses in the industrial world and encouraged rising expectations in emerging economies. The result? Heightened opposition, in both the industrial and developing worlds, to any constraints on the use of carbon-based fuels, which remain our principal source of energy.
The decisive victory of democratic capitalism over communism in the 1990s led to a period of philosophical dominance for market economics worldwide and the illusion of a unipolar world. It also led, in the United States, to a hubristic “bubble” of market fundamentalism that encouraged opponents of regulatory constraints to mount an aggressive effort to shift the internal boundary between the democracy sphere and the market sphere. Over time, markets would most efficiently solve most problems, they argued. Laws and regulations interfering with the operations of the market carried a faint odor of the discredited statist adversary we had just defeated.
This period of market triumphalism coincided with confirmation by scientists that earlier fears about global warming had been grossly understated. But by then, the political context in which this debate took form was tilted heavily toward the views of market fundamentalists, who fought to weaken existing constraints and scoffed at the possibility that global constraints would be needed to halt the dangerous dumping of global-warming pollution into the atmosphere.
Over the years, as the science has become clearer and clearer, some industries and companies whose business plans are dependent on unrestrained pollution of the atmospheric commons have become ever more entrenched. They are ferociously fighting against the mildest regulation — just as tobacco companies blocked constraints on the marketing of cigarettes for four decades after science confirmed the link of cigarettes to diseases of the lung and the heart.

One of the essential roles of government, and a failure of free markets, is to regulate in areas that public property is affected or users can not be excluded. Environmental regulations typically fall into this “public good” category. It is cheaper for an individual person or business to dump their waste into the river than to treat it properly. But it is more expensive for society as a whole because others rely on the same water. Al Gore tries to put CO2 into the same category. He keeps repeating that it is a pollutant. It is not. It is a fundamental chemical of life. Water (H2O), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Oxygen (O2), and sunlight are the basic pieces that make up the flow of energy that creates life on our planet. To call CO2 a pollutant is absurd. Dumping CO2 into the air is not polluting the air any more than dumping oxygen or nitrogen or water would be.
Simultaneously, changes in America’s political system — including the replacement of newspapers and magazines by television as the dominant medium of communication — conferred powerful advantages on wealthy advocates of unrestrained markets and weakened advocates of legal and regulatory reforms. Some news media organizations now present showmen masquerading as political thinkers who package hatred and divisiveness as entertainment. And as in times past, that has proved to be a potent drug in the veins of the body politic. Their most consistent theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behavior in the marketplace.
Allow me translate this: “There are now people, through the Internet and talk radio, that can get their message out to millions of people without going through the huge politically connected established media outlets. I don’t like this, so I will label them as hateful and divisive.
From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption. After all has been said and so little done, the truth about the climate crisis — inconvenient as ever — must still be faced.
The pathway to success is still open, though it tracks the outer boundary of what we are capable of doing. It begins with a choice by the United States to pass a law establishing a cost for global warming pollution. The House of Representatives has already passed legislation, with some Republican support, to take the first halting steps for pricing greenhouse gas emissions.
Later this week, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are expected to present for consideration similar cap-and-trade legislation.
I hope that it will place a true cap on carbon emissions and stimulate the rapid development of low-carbon sources of energy.
We have overcome existential threats before. Winston Churchill is widely quoted as having said, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes, you must do what is required.” Now is that time. Public officials must rise to this challenge by doing what is required; and the public must demand that they do so — or must replace them.
Al Gore: long winded and full of hot air.
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February 25, 2010

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

National Health Service (NHS) is the "free" government run health care system in Great Britain:
Stafford Hospital's appaling care
Scandal whitewashed, no one fired
Managers at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust stopped providing safe care because they were preoccupied with government targets and cutting costs... Patients went unwashed for weeks, were left without food or drink and were even unable to get to the lavatory. Some lay in soiled sheets that relatives had to take home to wash, others developed infections or had falls, occasionally fatal... Regulators said last year that between 400 and 1,200 more patients than expected may have died at the hospital from 2005 to 2008.
But this could never happen in our country if we go to government run healthcare. Nope, never. Our politicians would never politicize medicine, and we would never have budget problems that would tempt our doctors and nurses to focus on costs instead of care. Nope.
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February 24, 2010

REPUBLICANS STILL DON'T GET IT

Not long ago we had Republican control of the House, Senate, and President. The party of "small government" didn't live up to its rhetoric. Government spending in almost all categories steadily marched higher. In disgust, many fiscal conservatives, such as me, had very little enthusiasm in the 2006 and 2008 elections. Democrats capitalized on this and have swept into power. They are currently spending so recklessly it is almost beyond belief. But is the alternative to give power back to the Republicans? If they would not only talk about restraining spending, but also do it, I would feel good about giving them power again. But I don't think they get it yet, it is far too easy to spend taxpayer's money and ask for forgiveness later:

Michael Steele's Spending Spree
Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers...
Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck's local crew to cater the RNC's Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii...
A POLITICO analysis of expenses found that compared with 2005, the last comparable year preceding a midterm election, the committee’s payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000...
“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”...
When Steele took over the chairmanship last winter, he inherited a $23 million surplus. Since then, [he] has raised $10 million less than the party collected in 2005 and has spent $10 million more. By the end of 2009, the committee’s surplus had shrunk to $8.4 million...

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February 21, 2010

NEW SCIENCE

In the standard scientific method, one creates a specific testable hypothesis, then collects the data and does the experimentation. If the data and results match the hypothesis, you may be on to something. You allow others to do their own experiments and further test the theory. However, if any results contradict the hypothesis, than it is wrong. And there must be something else going on.

But in new science, or politicized science, you create a broad generic hypothesis, then regardless of what data or results you find, you explain them with your hypothesis. It can never be proven wrong because it is not testable.

We are living in an era of politicized science:

Climate Change is causing both more and less fog in San Fransisco

July 6, 2009:
The Bay Area just had its foggiest May in 50 years. And thanks to global warming, it's about to get even foggier. That's the conclusion of several state researchers... The theory, then and now, is that the hotter the Central Valley gets, the greater the temperature and pressure gradients between the inland and coast will be - therefore forming more fog.

Feb 15, 2010:
The sight of Golden Gate Bridge towering above the fog will become increasing rare as climate change warms San Francisco bay, scientists have found. The coastal fog along the Californian coast has declined by a third over the past 100 years – the equivalent of three hours cover a day, new research shows. And it is not just bad for scenery, the reduction in the cooling effect of the fog could damage the health of the huge Redwood Forests nearby.
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February 20, 2010

THE CASE FOR CONSERVATISM

George Will gives an excellent speech explaining why we need to bring conservative (not Republican) values back. I highly recommend this to all. Even if you are not a Conservative, this should give you a feeling for how, and why I think the way I do.



Here is the chart he was talking about:


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A PROBLEM THAT'S ITS OWN SOLUTION


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February 12, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR LINCOLN

Today is President Lincoln's birthday.
Here is his acceptance speech after receiving the Republican nomination for President on June 16, 1858. Everyone, even his friends thought it was too radical. Today it would be called "extreme right wing" or "out of the mainstream" or "mean spirited" or "not politically correct". But it is true, and genius.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.

Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South.

Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

Let any one who doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination -- piece of machinery so to speak -- compounded of the Nebraska doctrine, and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace the evidence of design and concert of action, among its chief architects, from the beginning.

But, so far, Congress only, had acted; and an endorsement by the people, real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained, and give chance for more.

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half the States by State Constitutions, and from most of the national territory by congressional prohibition.

Four days later, commenced the struggle, which ended in repealing that congressional prohibition.

This opened all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained.

This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," otherwise called "sacred right of self government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man, choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object.

That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in the language which follows: "It being the true intent and meaning of this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or state, not to exclude it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution of the United States."

Then opened the roar of loose declamation in favor of "Squatter Sovereignty," and "Sacred right of self-government."

"But," said opposition members, "let us be more specific -- let us amend the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the territory may exclude slavery." "Not we," said the friends of the measure; and down they voted the amendment.

While the Nebraska Bill was passing through congress, a law case involving the question of a negroe's freedom, by reason of his owner having voluntarily taken him first into a free state and then a territory covered by the congressional prohibition, and held him as a slave, for a long time in each, was passing through the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Missouri; and both Nebraska bill and law suit were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The negroe's name was "Dred Scott," which name now designates the decision finally made in the case.

Before the then next Presidential election, the law case came to, and was argued in, the Supreme Court of the United States; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requests the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion whether the people of a territory can constitutionally exclude slavery from their limits; and the latter answers: "That is a question for the Supreme Court."

The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the endorsement, such as it was, secured. That was the second point gained. The endorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority by nearly four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly reliable and satisfactory.

The outgoing President, in his last annual message, as impressively as possible, echoed back upon the people the weight and authority of the endorsement.

The Supreme Court met again; did not announce their decision, but ordered a re-argument.

The Presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but the incoming President, in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever might be.

Then, in a few days, came the decision.

The reputed author of the Nebraska Bill finds an early occasion to make a speech at this capital endorsing the Dred Scott Decision, and vehemently denouncing all opposition to it.

The new President, too, seizes the early occasion of the Silliman letter to endorse and strongly construe that decision, and to express his astonishment that any different view had ever been entertained.

At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author of the Nebraska Bill, on the mere question of fact, whether the Lecompton constitution was or was not, in any just sense, made by the people of Kansas; and in that squabble the latter declares that all he wants is a fair vote for the people, and that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up. I do not understand his declaration that he cares not whether slavery be voted down or voted up, to be intended by him other than as an apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the public mind -- the principle for which he declares he has suffered much, and is ready to suffer to the end.

And well may he cling to that principle. If he has any parental feeling, well may he cling to it. That principle, is the only shred left of his original Nebraska doctrine. Under the Dred Scott decision, "squatter sovereignty" squatted out of existence, tumbled down like temporary scaffolding -- like the mould at the foundry served through one blast and fell back into loose sand -- helped to carry an election, and then was kicked to the winds. His late joint struggle with the Republicans, against the Lecompton Constitution, involves nothing of the original Nebraska doctrine. That struggle was made on a point, the right of a people to make their own constitution, upon which he and the Republicans have never differed.

The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection with Senator Douglas's "care-not" policy, constitute the piece of machinery, in its present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. The working points of that machinery are:-

First, that no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any State, in the sense of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible event, of the benefit of that provision of the United States Constitution, which declares that: "The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States."

Second, that "subject to the Constitution of the United States, " neither Congress nor a Territorial legislature can exclude slavery from any United States Territory. This point is made in order that individual men may fill up the Territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the institution through all the future.

Third, that whether the holding a negro in actual slavery in a free State makes him free, as against the holder, the United States courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any slave State the negro may be forced into by the master. This point is made, not to be pressed immediately; but, if acquiesced in for a while, and apparently endorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the logical conclusion that what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with Dred Scott, in the free State of Illinois, every other master may lawfully do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other free State.

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mold public opinion, at least Northern public opinion, not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This shows exactly where we now are; and partially, also, whither we are tending.

It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they were transpiring. The people were to be left "perfectly free," subject only to the Constitution. What the Constitution had to do with it, outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision to afterward come in, and declare the perfect free freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. Why was the amendment, expressly declaring the right of the people, voted down? Plainly enough now: the adoption of it would have spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision. Why was the court decision held up? Why even a Senator's individual opinion withheld, till after the presidential election? Plainly enough now- the speaking out then would have damaged the perfectly free argument upon which the election was to be carried. Why the outgoing President's felicitation on the endorsement? Why the delay of a re-argument? Why the incoming President's advance exhortation in favor of the decision? These things look like the cautious patting and petting of a spirited horse, preparatory to mounting him, when it is dreaded that he may give the rider a fall. And why the hasty after-endorsement of the decision by the President and others?

We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places, and by different workmen- Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and James, for instance-and when we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly matte the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortices exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different l pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece. too many or too few,-not omitting even scaffolding-or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to bring such piece in-in such a case we find it impossible not to believe that Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James all understood one another from the beginning and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.

It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska Bill, the people of a State, as well as a Territory, were to be left "perfectly free," "subject only to the Constitution." Why mention a State? They were legislating for Territories, and not for or about States. Certainly the people of a State are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United States; but why is mention of this lugged into this merely Territorial law? Why are the people of a Territory and the people of a State therein lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution therein treated as being precisely the same? While the opinion of the court, by Chief-Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott case and the separate opinions of all the concurring judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United States neither permits Congress nor a Territorial legislature to exclude slavery from any United States Territory, they all omit to declare whether or not the same Constitution permits a State, or the people of a State, to exclude it. Possibly this is a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, if McLean or Curtis had sought to get into the opinion a declaration of unlimited power in the people of a State to exclude slavery from their limits, just as Chase and Mace sought to get such declaration, in behalf of the people of a Territory, into the Nebraska Bill-I ask, who can be quite sure that it would not have been voted down in the one case as it ad been in the other? The nearest approach to the point of declaring the power of a State over slavery is made by Judge Nelson. He approaches it more than once, using the precise idea, and almost the language, too, of the Nebraska Act. On one occasion, his exact language is, "except in cases where the power is restrained by the Constitution of the United States the law of the State is supreme over the subject of slavery within its g jurisdiction." In what cases the power of the States is so restrained by the United States Constitution is left an open question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the power of the Territories, was left open in the Nebraska Act Put this and that together, and we have another nice little niche which we may ere long see filled with another Supreme Court decisions declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit a State to exclude slavery from its limits. And this may especially be expected if the doctrine of "care not wether slavery be voted down or voted up," shall gain upon he public mind sufficiently to give promise that such a decision an be maintained when made.

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in all the States. Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably coming, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political dynasty shall be met and overthrown. We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri. are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation. This is what we have to do. How can we best do it ? There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends and yet whisper us softly, that Senator Douglas is the aptest instrument there is with which to effect that object. They wish us to infer all from the fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of the dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point, upon which he and we have never differed. They remind us that he is a great man, and that the largest of us are very small ones. Let this be granted. But "a living dog is better than a dead lion." Judge Douglas, if not a dead lion, for this work, is at least a caged and tooth. less one. How can he oppose the advances of slavery? He does not care anything about it. His avowed mission is impressing the "public heart" to care nothing about it. A leading Douglas Democratic newspaper thinks Douglas's superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the African slave trade. Does Douglas believe an effort to revive that trade is approaching ? He has not said so. Does he really think so? But if it is, how can he resist it? For years he has labored to prove it a sacred right of white men to take negro slaves into the new Territories. Can he possibly show that it is less a sacred right to buy them where they can be bought cheapest? And unquestionably they can be bought cheaper in Africa than in Virginia. He has done all in his power to reduce the whole question of slavery to one of a mere right of property; and as such, how can he oppose the foreign slave trade-how can he refuse that trade in that "property" shall be "perfectly free"-unless he does it as a protection to the home production? And as the home producers will probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly without a ground of opposition.

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be wiser today than he was yesterday-that he may rightfully change when he finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular change, of which he, himself, has given no intimation? Can we safely base our action upon any such vague inference? Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge Douglas's position, question his motives, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle so that our cause may have assistance from his great ability, I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But clearly, he is not now with us-he does not pretend to be-he does not promise ever to be.

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends-those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work-who do care for the result. Two years ago the Republicans of the nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all them to falter now?-now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail-if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.
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February 6, 2010

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

Obama promised us that if we gave him a trillion dollars to play with, he could save the country from the economic downturn. He published the below chart, to show us how bad it would be without his help, and how much better it would be with his help. We all know the result. Congress passed a giant slush fund of money and unemployment didn't blink an eye as it marched up.

The current dip in the number is, at first, encouraging, until you realize that the unemployment didn't drop because more people found jobs than lost them. Actually 20,000 more jobs were lost in January. It dropped because people who give up looking for work are called "discouraged workers" and they are not included in the unemployment number. Discouraged workers had the biggest jump yet last month to up over a million people.
If you want to really understand unemployment, and not just read headlines, read this:

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WHAT?!

The strangest thing I have ever heard of:

Girl, with no vagina, gets pregnant from a knife wound

Don't let the atheists hear about this, they will be checking the hospital records of Bethlehem to see if a Joseph and Mary were in a knife fight 9 months prior to Jesus' birth!
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January 31, 2010

GUILTY AS CHARGED

The global warming scientists who hid data and deleted e-mails were found guilty of breaking the law by the Information Commissioner's Office. The finding shows that they breached the Freedom of Information Act when handling requests for their data and statistical techniques. The statute of limitations is only 6 months for this crime, so the scientists will avoid prosecution.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is also having a bad few weeks. Their latest report is under attack. After having to publicly apologize last week for this, they are again having trouble with the "sources" for their report. This time they used a Popular Mountaineering magazine article and a students dissertation that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps to prove the ice was melting in the mountains.

Yep. Hard science.
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January 30, 2010

HISTORY 101

101 things we should know about American History.
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January 26, 2010

ACADEMIA VS BUSINESS



Via http://xkcd.com/
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January 25, 2010

YOU CAN FOOL SOME OF THE PEOPLE...

... And so the saying goes. It looks like most people have not been convinced that we are on the "tipping point" of climactic doom. A Pew Research poll puts Global Warming dead last on a list of 21 items that people thought were "Top Priorities" for 2010.

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