Friday, December 27, 2013

Waste products of copper mining, your drinking water, and skepticism‎

In 2011, the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine in Utah produced approximately 237,000 tons of its primary product -- copper (about $1.5 billion), along with 379,000 troy ounces of gold (about $455 million), 3.2 million troy ounces of silver (about $64 million), about 30 million pounds of molybdenum (about $300 million), and about 1 million tons of sulfuric acid (about $89 million), a by-product of the smelting process.

The tin-foil hat crowd alleges that fluorides used to fluoridate water supplies are a waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry and aluminum manufacturing industries. There is a bit of truth in that claim. Fluorides used to fluoridate water supplies are indeed a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry, as are many other products in use today. The aluminum industry is a consumer of fluoride, not a producer. The fluoride from the phosphate fertilizer industry is a naturally occurring constituent of the phosphate rock and is recovered during the production of the phosphate fertilizer -- just as gold and silver are byproducts of the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine. But, using the logic of the anti-fluoride crowd, Bingham's gold and silver is waste and has no value.

Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of trace amounts of fluoride to a public water supply to reduce tooth decay. Although almost all major health and dental organizations support water fluoridation, or have found no association with adverse effects, efforts to introduce water fluoridation meet considerable opposition whenever it is proposed. Opponents have drawn on misinformation, ignorance, and distrust of experts and unease about medicine and science. Conspiracy theories involving fluoridation are common.

The point is that people with a loose grasp of facts and an utter absence of reasoning can get a story started which falls onto welcoming ears of other people with little ability and/or willingness to evaluate information or to confirm it. Give such people access to a medium such as the Internet, and falsehoods quickly become accepted as if it were science.

Even more troubling is the influence of educated people who should know better. But, they see money and fame in peddling pseudoscience to the uneducated and uneducable. These learned men and women morph into entertainers who, for personal gain, can exploit the mindless minds of their audiences to sell airtime ads and books. Such is the native soil of TV shows (Dr. Oz) and books (Dr. Oz) that pander to anyone lacking a critical mind.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. -- 2 Timothy 4:3-4
I have long contended that a well-educated person has two key but seemingly contradictory characteristics:
• A mind open to new information and
• Skepticism of new information.

In other words, I like to think that I have an open mind, but not so open that my brains fall out.

The Internet has a virtually unlimited wealth of information, much of it true, some of it well-intentioned errors, and far too much outright malicious lies. Some of the true stuff is actually worth reading!

Anyone can get worthless credentials such as a PhD from a California diploma mill, make up an impressive name such as "International Research Institute Pushing Scams-of-the-Day", put up a website with "research", and even organize as a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization to bilk the foolish out of their wished-for lottery winnings.

The result is an endless list of misinformation, scams, and hoaxes that the gullible among us fall for including:
• Global warming, global cooling, climate change, or whatever they're calling it today
• Taxpayer subsidies for things that nobody would buy in a free market such as electric and hybrid cars, solar/wind power, and mass transit
• Weight-loss and other health/nutrition fads
• Magical benefits of Coconut oil
• Hazards of Canola oil
• Discrimination against your neighbor's religious or political beliefs
911 conspiracies and World Trace Center collapse
FEMA camps
• The alleged hazards of GMO (genetically modified organisms) food
Crop circles, UFOs, and alien visits
Astrology, psychics, etc.
Perpetual motion machines
Conspiracies to suppress technologies
New World Order
Vaccines and autism
MSG (monosodium glutamate) triggering migraine headaches and other health problems
Sugar and hyperactivity in children
HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) used as a weather-controlling device that can trigger catastrophic events or to send mind-controlling radio waves to humans

Bottom line: Just because the information you find is what your "itching ears" want to hear, the source has an impressive name or title, and the voices in your head say it's true doesn't mean it's worth a bucket of warm spit. There is already enough evil in the world that we don't need to make up evils to worry about.
As long as man's beliefs, or any part of them, are based on error, he is not completely free, for the chains of error bind his mind. — Bruce R. McConkie
You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts. — Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it. — Thomas Jefferson
Tell a lie loud enough and long enough and the people will believe it. — Adolf Hitler
Either you oppose a lie, or you become a liar. — Franklin Sanders
A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth. — Tom Gresham
Have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.

Now, how do I get some of those waste products from the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine? I think I could get by on that kind of income.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Phil Robertson: Another Christian fired because of his religion

As much as I appreciate the refreshing "Duck Dynasty" program, I am done watching A&E. Why?

• A&E dishonestly edits bleeps into "Duck Dynasty" conversations to imply foul language when none exists.
• A&E demanded the "Duck Dynasty" family refrain from praying in the name of Jesus.
• A&E demanded that the family eliminate its references to God and guns. Phil Robertson said, "God and guns are part of our everyday lives [and] to remove either of them from the show is unacceptable. If we can't pray to God on the show, then we will not do the show."

Now, after a complaint by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) A&E has indefinitely dropped "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson because he has an opinion that isn't politically-correct (politically cleansed):
We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series "Duck Dynasty". His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.
What were the egregious words that got the Duck Commander in such hot water? When asked what he viewed as sinful during his interview published in GQ magazine, he responded honestly (this was not an unsolicited anti-gay rant -- it was a response to a question):
Everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong. Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.
Paraphrasing the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 he added:
Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right.
GLADD shouldn't be complaining about Phil Robertson, they should be complaining about the apostle Paul!

I find it odd that Phil Robertson was cut for espousing views distasteful to thought police who very likely don't even watch, and could care less about, Duck Dynasty.

To a large extent, this argument is about truth. GLADD and others like them advocate arbitrary "relative truth" -- what's true for you isn't necessarily true for me. Robertson's argument is based on "absolute truth" -- time-tested truth that comes from God and which doesn't change.

A&E has a right to produce/drop whatever programming it chooses or is pressured into producing/dropping due to pressure from special interest groups. I choose to not be one of A&E's viewers because they caved to at least one professional outrage group.

Some, especially on the Left, think the A&E vs Robertson rhubarb is an argument about homosexuality. It's not. It's about the First Amendment: Freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Atheists demand and get their freedom of religion. Liberals demand and get their freedom of speech. Homosexuals get their TV/movie/news programming (freedom of the press and of speech). What about the rest of us?

Yeah, I know that the Bill of Rights imposes limits only on government -- not on the People or on organizations such as GLAAD. But such organizations love to use the power of government to silence anyone they disagree with.

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, home state of the Robertson clan chimed in:
Phil Robertson and his family are great citizens of the state of Louisiana. The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints -- except those they disagree with. I don't agree with quite a bit of stuff I read in magazine interviews or see on TV. In fact, come to think of it, I find a good bit of it offensive. But I also acknowledge that this is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views. In fact, I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment. It is a messed up situation when Miley Cyrus gets a laugh, and Phil Robertson gets suspended.
These same folks who gave us sensitivity training and the embracing of diversity need to learn a bit about sensitivity and diversity. The rest of us simply want everyone's rights protected -- not just one politically-correct (politically-cleansed) minority or another.

Here is what a former coworker of mine said about the A&E-Robertson kerfuffle (sorry about the immature language -- it's his and typical of those who argue primarily with emotion, not reason and facts):
"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." -- Mark Twain. You can pretty much say anything you want in this country. Just prepare yourself to be hammered for saying stupid redneck shit. People should keep all their racist, bigoted, homophobic, religious, bullshit to themselves. It helps no one and then they look like an asshole. You can't say homophobic, bigoted or racist shit then run to the bible to justify it.
Yup. "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." -- Mark Twain

Some seem to think that only "racist, bigoted, homophobic, religious" rednecks use the Bible to guide their lives; that they have no right to express their beliefs, when asked, in the land of the free and the home of the brave; and that the emotional application of profane, hateful, and derogatory labels to such people is therefore appropriate.

After his dismissal, Robertson said:
I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior.
My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.
However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.
That statement parallels the official stand made by my church:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms the centrality of doctrines relating to human sexuality and gender as well as the sanctity and significance of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, the Church firmly believes that all people are equally beloved children of God and deserve to be treated with love and respect.
Inasmuch as Robertson was removed from his own show because he expressed a sincere religious belief (away from the workplace, no less), he may have federal civil-rights case:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. SEC. 2000e-2. [Section 703]
(a) Employer practices
It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer -
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Isn't it interesting that GLAAD chose what should be the most religious time of the year to complain about a nearly-year-old statement of a man's religious belief in absolute truth? I suspect they are quite proud of that "coincidence." They and every other anti-religion group won't rest until they impose their will on every individual, business, school, charitable organization, government entity, and even on God and His Church.
Conscience is the most sacred of all property. — James Madison
In the "good ol' days, we admired those who stood by their principles -- even if they differed from your own, But today, those who honor traditional marriage are not just "stupid rednecks" in the eyes of homosexual-marriage proponents, they are bigots and haters, the targets of the deepest bigotry and hate.

Homosexual-rights activists have this message: "If you don't agree with me, you hate me. Agree with me across the board or you are a hater. Submit to my viewpoint or you are a bigot." By using this attack, they don't need to win their arguments by intelligent discussion or rational debate. Instead, they can silence us by labeling opponents. It is the lowest form of policy debate, but in this case it has been frighteningly effective.

A lot's at stake here, and it isn't homosexual rights or the traditional family. If you don't understand or don't care what's in danger, you're a part of the problem.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bring management of endangered species back to the states where it belongs

Senators Rand Paul of Kentuky, Mike Lee of Utah, and Dean Heller of Nevada have introduced Senate Bill 1731, entitled the "Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act." A companion bill was also introduced in the House by Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada.

This bill would restrict the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from listing any new species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) without the approval of the governors of any states in which that species resides and also require a joint resolution approving each listing by Congress.

The bill further requires that USFWS compensate landowners for the value of land deemed to have been reduced by the agency's enforcement of the ESA.

It would provide for delisting of species listed by Congressional joint resolution after five years. This is critical due to the intransigence of federal bureaucrats in delisting species that have recovered or that never truly threatened in the first place. (In the case of the Utah prairie dog, there has been absolutely no improvement in the welfare of that species in spite of over 40 years of federal management! Federal management is not working in spite of great expense to taxpayers and property owners. SB.1731 seeks to remedy that situation.)

In addition to giving governors veto power over listing of species that happen to occur in their states, the bill would also allow a governor to take over all management of a listed species as long as that governor determines that the species occurs only in the state. If a governor makes such a determination, the USFWS will be locked out of any management or monitoring of the species. This is essential because intrastate affairs are of no concern to the central government.

While SB.1731 doesn't go far enough to get the central government out of wildlife management -- a role it is not allowed under the US Constitution -- I urge the Whitehouse and Congress to aggressively work for the prompt implementation of this bill because it pushes the protection of wildlife back to the states where it belongs, imposes congressional oversight over federal bureaucrats, and it seeks to protect the property rights of Americans. This bill is 40 years overdue and must be passed.