Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 115

On Politics
The dominoes are aligning for Sarah Palin to ride into the nomination picture to save the party from Mitt Romney … then to back out claiming she was never running.

Republicans enjoy beating the “too many regulations” drum. Although I do not trust their intent, I imagine some truth exists in their claim. Of course, a sensible review is out of the question.

These articles from William Gadston and Perry Bacon, Jr (Wash Post) are attempting to characterize the moderate independents who will decide the election. Although there is a long way to go, at this time I see independents casting a vote against someone over voting for someone.

Tuesday was an interesting day as my post about economic questions correlated with this David Brooks column.

These articles from The Hill and The Daily Beast (Howard Kurtz) about those the Tea Party is overshadowing.

I have surprised friends for not watching any of the GOP debates to date. I have no interest in watching Michelle Bachmann spew incorrect claims; no interest in an event that invites many, yet focuses on a few; and no interest in listening to candidates skirt a question with a prepared statement that has minimal or no connection to the question.

Washington continues to show its true colors by focusing on short-term deals that do more for one’s re-election than addressing the problem.

I remind Speaker Boehner that it is Week 38 of the Boehner-led House without a jobs bill. To quote Speaker Boehner, “Where are the jobs?”

Interesting Reads

On Headlines from The Onion
Amish Teen Spends Entire Rumspringa at Apple Store
Brutal Spouse-Fighting Ring Discovered in Miami Basement
Pediatricians Announce 2011 Newborns are the Ugliest in 30 Years
Study: Most Self-Abuse Goes Unreported
General Mills Release New Lucky Charms with 15% Less Leprechaun Meat

Real Headlines of the Week
Man in Ice Cream Costume Mistaken for KKK
Toe-Suck Fairy Arrested
Man Wins Dumpling Eating Content, then Dies
Prison Warden’s Wife Convicted of Helping Prisoner Escape
Man Sued for Parental Support by His Mom

On Potpourri
What an ending to baseball’s regular season! I will only keep one eye on the playoffs because my Reds did not qualify. After a successful 2010, many pundits proclaimed big things for the 2011 Reds. However, as a pragmatic among the Reds faithful, I predicted the reds to finish right where they did – third place and watching the playoffs from home.

With the work project ending today (Friday), I can return to reading my favorite blogs – and I will celebrate with a Saturday post!

If the Bible is the inherent truth, how does one deal with Biblical contradictions?

Here is an interesting article about trains, planes, ships, and more that are named after Cincinnati.

To my Jewish readers and friends, warm and heartfelt wishes for good health and happiness in the New Year. Shana Tova.

In the words of Garrison Keillor: Be well, do good works, and stay in touch.

On I Did Not Know

I attended a lecture about Islam that was part of an interfaith dialogue series at a local church. On this night, a professor from a Lutheran seminary delivered the lecture and answered questions that led to small group dialogue among the participants.

In the discussion group served as an opportunity for misconceptions to come forth. For instance, a person in my group stated there are just as many mosques in the US as Christian churches. I relentless challenged him and used it as an example of the importance of learning, thus I had difficulty giving credence to his other point.

Back to the lecture, are some points that the lecture increasing my awareness.

I did not know that the Islam creation story involves Adam and Eve.

I did not know that the Qur’an includes many Biblical characters as Abraham, Joseph, Noah, Jonah, Miriam, Job, Mary, and Jesus (to name a few) … yet one character’s story may be interspersed over other chapters.

I did not know that Islam sees the Adam and Eve creation story in the same themes as Christianity: disobedience, repent, and forgiveness

I did not know that after the opening chapter, the Qur’an’s 114 chapters are generally from longest to shortest, thus not chronologically.

I did not know that the root that Qur’an means “recitation”, whereas Bible means “books”.

I did not know that some of the differences between Christianity and Islam in found in telling the same story with a different context.

No matter the topic, there are three categories of information: what one knows, what one thinks they know, and what one does not know … and that middle category is where one finds their misconceptions and misinformation – the basis for many ills in society.

.

Interfaith graphic by Justice St. Rain (Bahá’í Community) of Interfaith Resources

On Science at Work

Einstein was wrong!

I saw that headline last week, and others similar since. Of course, not every news agency uses the same headline, but, whether it was the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, the BBC, or whatever/where ever, this story was very newsworthy. Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced about their discovery of particles moving faster than the established universal speed limit known as the speed of light.

The headline above and some of the reports really burns my butt because they are a prime example of feeding the misconception to the public that science is unreliable. Then again, it also confirms that many in the public do not understand how science works.

1 – Scientific findings are for that moment in time – thus both true and temporary until something better comes along. Yes, it is possible that everything in a school’s science book could be wrong 200 years from now, but I would not bet on it.

2 – The scientific community has a wonderful method of verification. The initial finding is subject to the scrutiny, thus verification, by others in the scientific community. I can recall past headlines about cold fusion and life on Mars that turned out to be not so true because science must verify the claims within the boundaries of science and with scientific methodologies.

3 – When finding something new – or potentially new – good scientists realize the process, thus hedge their explanations with words as could, may, might, appears, or others. These words help confirm both the subject-to-change nature of science and the importance of verification process.

Regardless what one may have read or heard, I provide text from CERN’s easy-to-understand press release to support my points, especially paragraphs 2 through 4.

Perhaps this paragraph from CERN says it best.

Despite the large significance of the measurement reported here and the stability of the analysis, the potential great impact of the results motivates the continuation of our studies in order to investigate possible still unknown systematic effects that could explain the observed anomaly. We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of the results.

On Some Economic Questions

The US economy is mired in a slump, the European economic crisis add to the woes, and Americans are wondering, “Jobs, jobs, jobs – where art thou job.” Americans have lost over 8 million jobs, yet the economy has created on 2.5 million since the upturn.

For starters, the private sector (not the public sector) is the main job source in a capitalist economy. No matter if consumers are individuals or corporate, increased consumer demand for goods and services is the main fuel for hiring and investment. In other words, regardless of all the partisan talk, government can only do so much. Therefore, it is time to ask some questions.

Reducing payroll taxes for employees increases the money available to workers, but what if workers save more because of the uncertainties in their life?

Tax credits to companies hiring those unemployed for 6 months is a noble thought, but this would primarily fill a vacant existing position – thus not a new job. Do you think any company would create a steady stream of hire-to-fire so can get more credits?

Why should a company expand payroll if their demand for the good or service has not increased?

With demand driving growth, how do reduced regulations increase demand?

Companies are achieving more with less, and are using offshore workers to lower costs. Even with the GOP talking points of lower taxes, less regulations, loosened lending practices, and increased demand, what guarantee do the taxpayers have that the companies will invest in American workers?

A strong financial sector is the foundation for a capitalist economy. With a large reason for our economic troubles directly aimed at the roulette nature of the financial industry and their pseudo-promotion of the housing industry, how can returning to the less-regulated casino environment be good for the economy?

If the housing/building industry drives the demand for much of the economy, what is the plan to stimulate this industry?

Taxes decreases must increase revenue to federal, state, and local governments. What if they don’t?

Infrastructure projects increase the demand for materials while putting more people to work, which also returns money in the form of tax withholdings. However, where/what is the funding source for this investment – and at the expense of doing without what?

Do our leaders construct trade agreements to increase demand?

We have a federal government struggling with the opposing forces of deficit reduction and stimulating demand by providing aid to financially struggling public sectors in order to help local public workers keep their job. Of course, one’s position directly correlates with a concern about the next election.

Meanwhile, as consumers drive demand, three main factors act as significant forces acting on their psychology: high unemployment, a depressed housing market, and a political atmosphere consuming all the oxygen in the room with their battle between the inept, the misguided, and the knowledgeable choosing to be inept or misguided.

With another round of budget ideology ahead of a September 30th deadline, count on Washington lowering not only consumer confidence, but the confidence of the business and banking sectors, thus promoting consumers, businesses, and lending institutions to keep more money on the sidelines.

On an Entertaining Connection

I hope each of you had a good weekend. Mine was a delight as I went across the state to join classmates in celebration of our 40 years since HS graduation. It was quite the pleasure to spend time with everyone.

However, this post is about jump starting our week, so I will do so in the form of this question: What does a sword swallow, a whip cracker, and a Guinness record have in common?

Interestingly, I know this guy, but not from my high school days. Enjoy and have a good week. By the way, I hope to post each day this week!

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 114

On Politics
Cheers to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) for resigning the #3 leadership post in order to “liberate me to spend more time on issues that I care most about.” Of course, this also means that party leadership will become more ideological.

I find it interesting that companies and banks are sitting on cash reserves and citizens are saving more than they have in a long time.

Conservative advocate and writer David Frum wrote this response regarding the letter Republican leaders on Capitol Hill sent Fed Chair Ben Bernacke.

With all the talk Republicans do about decreasing regulations, they continue to be lax with examples. Surely, there cannot be a shortage!

Earlier this week I actually sent a letter with ideas to my senator, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who is on the Supercommittee. I would imagine my points could turn into a future post.

Some in the GOP are calling for Warren Buffet to release his tax returns. Mr. Buffett: Only release them if they agree to submit their past 3 years to the IRS for an audit.

As Speaker Boehner states the important of coming to the table without set ideas and conditions, he continues to insist, “Tax increases are a nonstarter” and “Tax increases are not a viable option for the joint committee.” The latter meaning the party is calling the shots for the SuperCommittee. Wow – there is a surprise!

Much of the tax talk is convincing the uninformed. One side says something about the tax rate, the other responds with the amount of taxes paid – and vice versa. The Republicans can say what they want about reducing taxes and the tax rate, but there is no way they will do it without raising the amount of taxes paid. After all, that is a page directly from President Ronald Reagan.

I remind Speaker Boehner that it is Week 37 of the Boehner-led House without a jobs bill. To quote Speaker Boehner, “Where are the jobs?”

Interesting Reads

On Headlines from The Onion
New NetPix Service Sends Unlimited Photographs for Monthly Fee
Bugs Infesting Area Apartment Have No Clear Goal
Obama Visits South-Carolina Ravaged South Carolina
US Funding Video Games to Compete Globally with Madden Cricket League ‘12
Narcissist Mentally Undresses Himself
TV Listing: Rick Perry’s Alaska

On Potpourri
The work project ends September 30th!

For the second consecutive year, my first round of golf for the season may be the last.

The new season of Dancing with the Stars is off and running. I hope this cast is likeable – but eliminating NBA star Ron Artest is a good start.

The realignment craze in college football has nothing to do with fans, tradition, young athletes, or education – but everything to do with football revenue. Is there any difference between university presidents, conference commissioners, and politicians?

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is a haven of geologic formations. Located in Northern Arizona near its border with Utah, one of its features (The Wave) is an amazing sandstone formation created by wind erosion with iron deposits providing the color. Enjoy these pics from Google Images.

In the words of Garrison Keillor: Be well, do good works, and stay in touch.

On Fibonacci in Nature

Nature has many patterns, and they come in a variety of ways. Patterns can be simple, inspiring, microscopic, overt, sudden, gradual, and who knows how many ways as seasons, tides, anatomical structures, life created, processes, and behaviors. Patterns are associated with animals, plants, and the microscopic world.

For instance, the chambered nautilus is a biological relative to snails, squids, and octopi. Even though it is a simple organism, we stare with wonder at its shell and subsequent design. This mollusk also inspired Oliver Wendell Holmes to write the words below (taken from this poem named for its inspiration).

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical pattern linked to many patterns in nature. Tied to Leonardo of Pisa work in the early 1200s, the sequence appears in eastern cultures even earlier. The sequence can appear as a mathematical equation, a graphic representation, or in a photograph that may be just an image to the untrained eye.

Nonetheless, patterns in nature speak in their own language to help us understand the glories of the creation in which we live. Maybe this is one of the messages Dr. Seuss’s professes in these words:

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for they have no tongues.” —Dr. Seuss (The Lorax)

Enjoy this wonder video about the Fibonacci sequence in nature … and a special thanks to Kellie at The Beaglez for sharing this video with me. Below the video, I posted several photography links for anyone wanting to see more wonderful images.

Photography