Sunday, December 18, 2011

Profiling, stereotypes and accuracy

Psychological profiling and body language can be valuable tools for law enforcement so they can identify potential dangerous people or situations.

There are some important issues here, CAN is one, "...can be valuable tools..." and the other is "...identify potential...".

When we do a scientific experiment we have to qualify our measuring devices by checking them against standards. Some equipment can be checked against standards in the lab. Some equipment needs to be calibrated by specialists with specific equipment which has been properly qualified. We keep the qualification records and include copies of them in the results of our experiments.

Typically the equipment will have a specific variability, something like "this tool will measure X units within Y units."

Psychological profiling and body language require a carefully calibrated Observer. Someone who is properly trained. On top of that no one observation identifies a particular type of personality or situation.

The Israeli's supposedly developed a list of criteria that they use to identify potential suicide bombers. There are about 20 items on the list which includes nervous behavior with some sub-items, body language which indicate nervous behavior for example. If someone is displaying 15 of the 20 items the probability of them being a suicide bomber is supposedly about 90%.

So the Israeli's hand this list off to their recruits and then they are capable of identifying the potential bad guys?

No, they spend a ton of time in class rooms, they watch movies, review hundreds of photographs, re-enactments and then finally they go out and actually practice identifying out in the field with someone who is an expert.

After that they have developed a very specific skill that allows them to accurately identify POTENTIAL suicide bombers that they can arrest, search and question. Many times the person is not a suicide bomber, and sometimes they are and lives are saved. How often are mis-identifications made? Israel does not share the profile list or the statistical incidence of incorrect identifications.

On the other hand psychologists go to school for a while, engage in a few experiments and then go out to practice. Anyone good at their job is continually educating themselves. Some of these profilers talk to people involved in crimes and develop some criteria and it becomes popular to believe that these people have become as good at general profiling as the highly and specifically trained Israelis are at specific profiling.

How about police profiling. It typically involves passing around a list of criteria and maybe a couple of hours in profiling classes.

In other words it is crap.

Right now we don't have a specific set of criteria that identifies a person from a chimpanzee. Probably because no one really thinks we need one right? No, not exactly.

In cultural anthropology there is a problem, how do we identify "thinking species" or "civilized" from "non-thinking" or "uncivilized" species. One of the criteria is tool use, of course birds use tools sometimes as well as chimps. Sometimes criteria involving burial rights are used, respect for people who have died. Sometimes familial relationships are used. Right now "civilized" is a politically incorrect as well as a scientifically incorrect term because there is no real, universally accepted criteria which identifies civilization.

The idea in cultural anthropology is to identify the transition from ape-like creatures to people like creatures and we can't do it.

We need multiple criteria. We need specific criteria that when combined are unlikely to occur anywhere but in the group we wish to identify. Incredibly smart, very educated people can't identify "civilization", but, less smart, less well educated people can identify "at-risk" people.

For example, most serial killers are middle age, white men, but, not all middle age white men are serial killers. Most serial killers were abused as children. Not all middle aged white men abused as children are serial killers. Etc, Etc.

Sometimes profiling can help identify a specific suspect from a smaller group of suspects. You can't use the general population as a suspect pool and use profiling to identify a specific person as a suspect no matter how often they do it on television. Sometimes profiling can narrow the suspect pool.

In reality psych profiling is always subjective and can't be effectively qualified. You can't specify how often a profiler is going to be right with any statistical certainty.

Lie detector tests, which uses accurately qualified equipment, can't evaluate specific human behavior with any certainty. How well do you think even the most highly trained people can do? At the very best they will be less accurate than a lie detector test.

In other words, not accurate at all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


When I was a kid we always got at least one flashlight for Christmas. My brother and I played hard and I doubt if any of those lights survived. I know I don't have one.

My Great Grandfather bought a bunch of land north in Northern Michigan. We used to go up on the weekends. No plumbing or electricity. In the woods the dark is something fierce, you can't see your hands in front of your face. If you have to take a dump in the middle of the night you take a flashlight. As a result of this interesting childhood all the men (and to an extent even my sister) in my family have a kind of a flashlight fetish. If I consider you a member of the family you get a flashlight at Christmas.

I almost always have one in my pocket. When my Grandfather died I slipped a 1xAAA Maglite in his suit coat pocket during visitation. My sister cried. Everyone wanted to make sure it actually worked. A non-working flashlight is about as useful as an unloaded gun.

There are flashlights all over my house and I have a lot of experience with them. I buy different flashlights and I test them out. Over the years I have learned a lot about flashlights and I figured I would give people a few pointers from what I have learned.

Flashlights are all about electrical connections. Back in the “old days” the corrosion protection of the individual components was so poor that they often “rusted” or oxidized causing electrical connection problems. Old timers used to carry steel wool so they could clean the connections when their flashlights failed. If you have ever seen an old “steel wool and batteries to start a fire” article now you know why anyone figured you would have both steel wool and flashlight batteries.

These days the plating on the components is so good that even the cheapest flashlight typically works better than a really good fifty year old flashlight. I have cheap Chinese LED flashlights that are 7 or 8 years old and still work great.

Every electrical connection causes resistance. The cleaner the connection the less resistance. Electronics typically use gold or gold plating to reduce the potential for corrosion and resistance in the circuit. Flashlights (reasonably priced flashlights) do not use gold connectors. Some gold plating is so cheap it wears away almost instantly. Other times gold plating on spring contacts cracks and causes connection problems. A contact needs more than gold it needs quality engineering and manufacturing.

Battery technology has also improved. Most flashlight batteries are 1.5 volts. “Lantern” or “Big flashlights” have 6 or 12 volt batteries. Some batteries are made from different materials. Alkaline batteries are the most common these days. Carbon batteries are still around, if the battery is marked “Heavy Duty” and is not marked “Alkaline” it is a carbon battery. Lithium batteries are the same size as alkaline or carbon batteries, but, they are typically 3 volts. Double A batteries in lithium are 3.6 volts.

Bulb technology has also improved a great deal. We have LEDs which use less power for a reasonable amount of light. I really like LED flashlights. When I want a bright light I use an incandescent bulb. It is possible to buy High Intensity Discharge (HID) lanterns which have very bright lights and use less energy.

Typically a flashlight brightness is all about voltage and the bulb. The more voltage, the brighter the bulb. Not all bulbs can handle the voltage though. If you put 2 AA lithium batteries (14500) with a standard AA bulb the bulb will burn up. If you put a 2AA lithium batteries in a flashlight with a bulb typically used in a 4 or 5 D cell light the light will be really bright and if you have a plastic reflector it could melt.

If your flashlight quits working and you know the bulb and batteries are good it means the connections are corroded. Some flashlights have slide switches and in the old days the sliding motion rubbed off the corrosion protection. Once the corrosion protection on the switch was gone it would rust and the flashlight wouldn't work. Most good flashlights use real switches these days. Most cheap flashlights like kids flashlights still use crappy slide switches, but, the corrosion protection is better so they last longer.

Incandescent flashlight bulbs require voltage. Ohms law tells us that resistance times amperage equals voltage. Batteries have a limited voltage and amperage. As the battery is used the voltage and the amperage are reduced. A 1.5 volt battery is typically okay until the voltage comes down to around 1.1 or 1 volts. If the corrosion in the connections causes too much resistance it takes more amperage to achieve enough voltage to light the bulb. The cleaner the connections the higher the amperage and the more voltage reaches the bulb.

LED lights are dependent on amperage. I won't get into the difference in electronics. You can make an LED work by including a resistor in the circuit. Better LED lights use a special device called a “buck puck” which limits the amperage no matter what the voltage is. Some LED lights need a full amp to work. Most use about 350 milliamps, some use 700 milliamps.

Watts are determined by multiplying voltage and amperage. A 1 watt light using 2 AAA batteries has 3 volts (nominally) and so it needs about 333 milliamps.

Now that we understand the basics we can troubleshoot flashlights when they have problems. I use a multi-meter. I have a cheap Chinese 2xAA (2 double A batteries) aluminum LED light that no longer works. I tested the push button switch in the end cap and it works fine. No resistance. The tube of the light carries the electricity to the bulb. Good bulb. Good batteries. Where is the problem?

I checked the connection at the top of the tube with the bulb and it works fine. The problem is the connection between the tube and the end cap. No electrical flow. Fix the connection and the flashlight works. In this case the batteries had corroded and some of that corrosion had filled the threads. I used a 12ga brush to clean out the battery tube.

I don't believe someone can have too many good flashlights. I do believe people can overspend on flashlights. Plastic bodies are not better or worse than metal bodies. The places to look for quality in a flashlight are the connections, primarily the main spring, the switch and the bulb contact. The cheaper these pieces are the lower the quality of the flashlight.

Corrosion is a problem so find a water proof flashlight and try to minimize temperature swings which cause condensation inside of a flashlight. Water is a form of concentrated oxygen and oxygen causes corrosion. I have shoved small moisture absorbent packets under the main spring in a water proof flashlight to try and reduce condensation so the flashlight will be less temperature sensitive.

The cardinal rule, inspect your flashlights often, once a month is usually fine. More if you live in a very humid area. Inspect means, remove the end cap and pull the batteries. Switch them around. Turn the flashlight on and slap it against your hand a couple of times. If the beam wavers you have a problem. Replace the flashlight or troubleshoot and repair.

Battery tops and bottoms can become corroded. Replace the batteries or rub leather on the tops and bottoms of them. Steel wool is useful too, but, the steel wool puts tiny scratches which cause the battery contacts to oxidize faster. Test the flashlight again.

Beam still wavering? Springs can lose their “spring-y-ness” over time. Replacement springs are useful parts to keep around. Try stretching the main spring a little to increase “spring-y-ness”. This will also reduce the life of the spring.

Still wavering? Clean the contacts on the bulb contact.

Still wavering? Clean any other contacts you can reach.

Still wavering? Get a new light.

Maglites are still probably the best value in flashlights. There are lots of good manufacturers, I like Rayovac and Duracell and EverReady. I stay away from high priced lights like Streamlight. You can make your own choices and I hope this article helps you make a more educated choice.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Taxes, GDP and wages

The really screwed up government of the United States is screwing up even more lately.

There is one way to save the US economy, raise wages.

Currently there is nothing wrong with the US tax code, except for the capital gains tax. The Capital Gains tax should only apply to the first $100,000 in capital gains. After that capital gains should be considered normal income.

Payroll taxes should stay the same regardless of income. PAYROLL, as in taxes paid by employees.

The highest earning 10% of tax payers in the United States pay the most taxes, 70% of the nations tax burden. These 13,768,000 tax payers paid $610,000,000,000 total income tax on a total adjusted gross income of $3,380,000,000,000 for an average adjusted gross income of about $245,000 each.

Yep, the top 10% of income earners in the United States make an average of $245,000 each.

The average income in the United States is $56,710. Total income $7825,000,000,000 divided by 137,982,000 taxpayers equals $56,710.00.

Wow, that's a lot of money! That was sarcasm, it really ain't. Let's subtract out that top 10%.

$7825,000,000,000 minus $3,380,000,000,000 equals $4,445,000,000,000 total income.

137,982,000 minus 13,798,000 equals 124,184,000 taxpayers.

$4,445,000,000,000 divided by 124,184,000 equals $35,793.66 average income.

So, the 90% of people in the United States making under $245,000.00 makes an average of $35,793.66 in income.

We can make the point a little better.

The bottom 50%, 68,991,000, of taxpayers made a total of $1,055,000,000,000 and an average of $15,291.84.

Wait a second, what about that "middle class" then, the people between the bottom 50% and the top 10%?

124,184,000 taxpayers minus 68,991,000 taxpayers equals 55,193,000 "middle class" taxpayers.

Total income of that group equals $4,445,000,000,000 minus $1,055,000,000,000 or $3,390,000,000,000.

So $3,390,000,000,000 divided by 55,193,000 equals $61,420.83 and that is your "average middle class income".

Now have we started getting a handle on income disparity in the United States?

If we want to fix the economy we have to increase the wages of the bottom 50% of tax payers in the United States.

We have to find a way to employ them in jobs where their incomes increase.

Corporations are using really bad math to minimize their costs. The less they pay workers, the less workers can spend and the less money the corporations make so the less they pay workers. This is a self defeating ideology guaranteed to destroy the economy of the United States.

Back at the turn of the century Henry Ford proved that the more money you pay workers the more money the workers spent and the more money the corporation made.

Washington needs to quit including families making over about $125,000.00 in "middle class" and giving them "middle class" tax breaks.

I don't have a problem with the tax code the way it was in 2010. I think we need to leave it that way, except for some small changes to the capital gains tax and eliminating the social security cap.

Wait, I also think employers need to pay 75% of the social security taxes collected and social security should be collected for every employee. People who have been in the top 10% of income earners for 10 years or more should not be eligible for social security.

Employers should also pay 100% of the cost of medical insurance. Period.

The only way to drive up the tax base is to increase income. Washington likes to increase the income of people in the top 10% because increasing their income 1% is easier and makes Washington more money than increasing the income of the bottom 50% by 10%.

The morons in Washington are going to screw this country over doing what is easiest.

We can't wait around hoping another Steve Wozniak invents something and has a friend like Steve Jobs to sell it creating the "tech bubble".

If we don't encourage "out of the box" behavior and education as well as improving the income for that bottom 50% to increase the odds of someone finding the next "tech" that invention might be in Asia, India, Russia or Europe.

And the US will be sitting there, broke and stupid.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Sliders, Inter-Dimensional travel and Arrogance

Ever seen the show “Sliders”? It is kind of hokey. The story is about 4 people who “slide” from one dimension into another parallel dimension where they often find copies of themselves.

A book by Paul Melko, “The Walls of the Universe” describes a similar situation.

Heinlein and many others have written about these "Parallel Earths".

Maybe they exist. Probably not.

String theory supports the idea of a multi-verse composed of multiple “string” universes, which we call “dimensions”, inter-twined with each other. Kind of like a thick rope twisted from multiple strings. Okay, not exactly, but, kind of.

Some people believe that new dimensions are created every time we make a decision, as if the individual thoughts of a single person were capable of the act of creation. Not very likely in my opinion.

Personally I think it is pretty arrogant to believe that our individual thoughts control the multi-verse. For me, our human arrogance and ignorance is very entertaining. Far more entertaining than hokey fiction.

I believe that, IF the multi-verse exists, each universe “evolves” in an individual isolation.

There may be natural physical occurrences which “split” a string into two sub-strings and then reconnect, or not. Under these circumstances it MAY be possible that both of the sub-strings are equal to the string they split from. In this case it MAY be possible that two “versions” of a person may exist simultaneously.

I think that is very unlikely. In fact I think it is unlikely that the Earth exists in any other dimension much less billions of copies of all of us.

If the universe splits the two strands are not necessarily identical. In fact, I think it would be as unlikely as identical twins being identical. They may look very similar and have the same DNA, but, the two people are very different.

However, I believe there are millions of worlds with unlimited resources available to those who can travel between dimensions.

There is another issue, the “infinite monkey theory”. The Infinite Monkey theory states that intelligent life is as inevitable as the fact that an infinite number of monkeys pounding on an infinite number of type writers will eventually pound out every literary work ever produced.

The problem with that is the distance between these works. The average book has about 80,000 words and many have as many as 1,000,000 words. The odds of a monkey pounding one out is 1/101^80,000. Every keystroke is at random so 1 out of 101 with a 101 key keyboard. It takes between 80,000 and 1,000,000 correct strokes to create a literary work. So the monkey has to beat the 1 in 101 odds 80,000 times.

That is a pretty BIG number and we can use it to represent the distance between manuscripts by multiplying the BIG number by the average distance between stars. Wow, really BIG numbers.

Not exactly. Inter planetary travel is possible. Inter-dimensional travel is theoretically possible. If we travel inter-dimensionally through enough universes, our BIG number of universes, we will eventually run into a planet with intelligent life.

Still, the odds of finding intelligent life are directly related to the odds of intelligent life developing on a planet.

From a scientific viewpoint, if God exists the odds of two intelligent life forms coming into contact are pretty good.

If God does not exist and life is a random event which occurs with a statistical regularity. Because there is only one life form on Earth intelligent enough to control it's environment to the point where we can build vehicles capable of interplanetary travel we can assume that the possibility for the development of intelligent life exists and that typically only one intelligent species develops per planet.

This may or may not be true.

Dolphins and whales are fairly intelligent even though they do not possess the mechanical dexterity to control their environment. It may be possible that two different intelligent species can develop without one destroying the other.

That is not very likely if Darwin's “survival of the fittest” is correct.

Animals typically wipe each other out regardless of their position on the endangered species list. In fact animals have wiped out far more species than people have.

It is a shame we very probably don't have an infinite number of nearly identical copies of ourselves out there in different universes.

It does make for interesting fiction though.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

How to create an impossible to decrypt cipher

Pretty simple stuff.

First, go out and download 99 text files from some site like Make them all under about 100,000 words. There are many books with around 80,000 words and some with more.

Now write a note to someone.

At the beginning of the note place a two digit number which identifies the text file.

Now create a program which converts each letter into a number like 00048203. The first six numbers identify the word in the text file. Five is enough if you kept the text files under 99,999 words. The next two numbers identify the letter in the word.

The same number is not used twice. If a letter appears a second time it will be taken from a different word.

If you want to get really tricky and overly complex, write the program so it changes the word count. For example word 482 might not be word 482, maybe the program only uses every other word or every third word or maybe it rotates the usage based on the identifying number of the text file, for example text file 99 always uses the 9th word. Maybe a number is added with the text file, 08199 for example, and the second number of the first three identifies the word skip pattern, maybe the first or third or maybe the square root of the number of maybe the number is divided by the second number from the text file number. With 08123, the 81 could be divided by the 3 from text file number which gives me 27 and I just use every seventh word.

This is actually a pretty simple program to write, not that I would ever admit to writing this program or using it. If I did it, the program would actually take an extra step of hiding the numerical message inside of an image.

Rename the program to something that is normal on your computer and drop it into the correct directory. I could have renamed mine "notepad.exe" and made it so it only worked as an encryption/decryption program when you ran it from a DOS prompt with an option. Otherwise it just looked like Windows Notepad.

I could then send the image to someone who had the program and the exact same 99 text files.

Every so often I could change the 99 text files and bingo, we have an encryption package that is impossible to break, unless someone manages to get both the program and the correct 99 text files.

If you do something like this, downloading the files from a place like Change the number of words in the beginning of your text file, add or subtract something that is unlikely to be noticed without a direct file to file comparison. Zip all the text files into one zip file and upload it to a server or distribute a CD by hand or snail mail.

You want to make sure that all the files are exactly the same and are not changed by anyone during the time you are using this system of encryption.

Swap the text files around every so often.

This encryption can be used in e-mail, chat rooms, forums, hidden messages, etc.

There are other forms of less secure encryption that can be used more easily.

This encryption can only be broken if someone has both the program (or processing pattern) and the currently used text files.

You can do this by hand also, although that is not quite as much fun.

One of the conspiracy theories I have heard is that Gideon's Bibles were placed in hotel rooms to make sure U.S. Spys had "the book" they needed to decrypt notes they received. Truthfully, if I was a "Russian Spy" it would probably be the first book I checked so I don't think that works very well.

This method can be used with any King James Version of the Bible (almost, sometimes the wording changes). There are 66 books so the first two numbers are between 01 and 66. The second three numbers are the chapters. The next three numbers are the word. The last two numbers are the letter. (If you go to letter, maybe you just stick with words :-). 32003102 is "the" and 3200310203 is "e".

The individual books of the Bible from have kewl scripture numbers 32:003:005 that can convert into 32003005023 or 3200300502303. Have to love those scripture numbers.

Want to get really wacked? Convert the number into binary. You could convert the binary into words like "on" and "off" or "true" and "false". So the number one becomes 00110001 and then becomes truetruefalsefalsetruetruetruefalse. Yeah, I reversed it for another level of confusion. This makes a simple message into a huge monster of text that can cause any overworked geek's eyes to just glaze over and any computer to spit it out as gibberish.

Using the Bible for this stuff is pretty common though and someone could break your code pretty quickly.

So if you are a script kiddie looking to learn and use an easy method of encryption with your buddies or an international beanie baby smuggling ring or just a group of people who hate the idea of someone eves dropping on your conversation's write yourself up a program or get a geek friend to write yourself up a program. Just be careful you don't break any laws about writing computer ciphers.

Guy Fawkes, Revolution and V

So there is a movie a friend recommended to me where an anarchist dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask destroys London in order to overthrow an oppressive theological regime. One of the actors is Natalie Portman who stared with Jean Reno in "The Professional" so I watched the movie.

The moronic anarchist ends up imprisoning and torturing the character played by Portman. He then explains that she had to discover a diary written by a woman imprisoned for the crime of being a lesbian in the same context he had.

I call the anarchist a moron because no two people in the world ever share the same context. The variety of experiences in their lives cause them to view everything in a different way.

The anarchist assumes that everyone has to be tortured and imprisoned to understand the concept of wrongful imprisonment and torture because he believes that without that wrongful imprisonment and torture he would not have been open to the thoughts and feelings expressed by the lesbian.

This anarchist is a psychotic sociopath.

Please, it is acceptable to oppress someone if you believe it necessary for their edification? Anyone who agrees with that ideology needs to take a trip to their nearest lobotomist.

Personally I am willing to fight against any regime that enforces it's brand of religion onto the population. In my opinion the United States is currently working very hard to enforce a form of atheism on the citizenship of the nation. Eventually it will probably be illegal to display any religious symbolism anywhere in the United States. No more crosses on churches, no more fish on the backs of cars, no more stars of David, no more golden domes, etc, etc.

Ridiculously fish with feet will probably still be allowed though.

Currently Democracy is still working away at maintaining religious freedoms as well as the freedom of speech. When Democracy fails those of us who believe in the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech will revolt against those who have corrupted the United States into a "Freedom from Religion" nation.

Personally I think Islam will eventually come out the winner and the United States will eventually become an Islamic Theocracy, after the "Freedom of Religion" revolt occurs.

I very much doubt if I would choose a Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol of the revolution though.

Guy Fawkes was a member of a failed revolution against the oppression of the protestant English Monarchy. More than that, Guy Fawkes was a religious fanatic working for the Catholic Church against King James, "The Protestant King" who forced the publication of an English translation of a "Divine Latin Bible". The English are happy with their Monarchy and would gladly kill anyone opposing it (including The Lady Diana according to some).

Personally I would rather choose Castro or Mao or Stalin, all whom I believe were mass murders rather than a failed revolutionary like Che Guerra or a religious fanatic like Guy Fawkes.

Unlike Marx, Mao, Guerra, Castro, Stalin and our moronic "V", I do not believe that the proletariat need to be forced to adopt a socially responsible form of government. I believe that the United States and Western Europe have shown it is possible to use Democracy to balance a socialist/capitalist form of government.

I also think that the Democratic form of government becomes vulnerable to an outside force like Islamic Terrorists. The more stable and peaceful things become the more vulnerable they are to fanatical religious violence of the kind enjoyed by Guy Fawkes and Osama Bin Laden.

On the other hand, fanatical and oppressive violence such as that used by "V" and the oppressive regime "V" fought against are not usually susceptible to fanatical violence from a lesser force. Yeah, I know, "V" won in the movies even though he wore a Guy Fawkes mask. In reality "V" would have suffered the same fate as Good 'Ole Religious Fanatic Guy.

Essentially a fanatic has to wait until the regime is happy with peace, not putting resources into "violence" and then attack. If the regime counter-attacks wait until it becomes bored and goes away and then attack again. If the regime counter-attacks wait until it becomes bored and goes away and then attack again. Repeat until the regime falls.

This is how the North Vietnamese kicked ass on the French and the United States and it is how Al Queda is kicking ass on the United States. The only way to win against them is to keep the fight out of the borders of the United States, but, there are too many morons not reading Mao, Marx and Hitler to ever figure that out.

Kill one of the generals of the resistance movement and end the movement? Maybe, it has happened in the past but I doubt very much if it will succeed with Al Queda. I believe it is more likely to create a power vacuum filled with more people struggling to become the leader identified with Al Queda. Essentially a political hydra. Can we kill them all? Maybe, but, I doubt it.

Either we figure out a way to change the beliefs of religious fanatics OR we kill them all OR we begin learning Arabic and invest in Guy Fawkes masks hoping "V" shows up like Dr. Manhattan and kills all the bad guys.

Since we can't do the first and we are withdrawing from Afghanistan (no to the second) I figure it is time to invest in Religious Fanatic Guy Fawkes masks and apparently a bunch of people in the Occupy movement agree with me :-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Generating Electricity

In an emergency you may need to have electricity. How do you get it?

The easiest way is to pull a small 12v electric motor from a car, the windshield wiper motor for example or the heater blower motor. Get a piece of crap bicycle. Shove a hunk of wood under the center of the bike and tie down the front wheel so the rear wheel is suspended. Pull the tire off the rear wheel. Cut up the inner tube to create a belt going from the bicycle rear wheel to the shaft of the small 12v motor. Start peddling and you start generating electricity. Attach the motor leads to something you want to run, like a light bulb and you have electricity.

Not very usable, you will notice the light is not consistent. This is because we need a battery and a voltage regulator to smooth out the system.

As soon as you connect the motor to the battery it will try to start the motor spinning. This is where a voltage regulator comes in handy. Most cars have them, although many are inside of the alternator.

Most car alternators are too demanding to spin using the kind of set-up I describe above. The smaller the alternator the easier it is, think Dodge Neon or some other really small car. Even then the electrical systems are so overloaded that the alternator might be too large to spin with a bicycle.

Most chainsaws have enough horse power to spin a car alternator. Again, you need to rig some kind of support structure to hold everything together, but, it will work. The same is true of any gasoline operated yard tool. Just disassemble the yard tool and rig it to the alternator. As crazy as this sounds tough rubber hose and hose clamps can be used to direct connect the shaft of a small gasoline engine to an alternator. Don't expect it to last very long with high loads though.

If you try and convert a lawnmower you need to replace the blade with a flywheel of some kind. A large diameter pully will work.

Most alternators are 100 amp or less so the most horsepower you need for an alternator is 3.5hp. For a 35amp alternator (you may, MAY) find this in a compact car you need about 1.2hp.

You could make a windmill from a bicycle wheel by wrapping aluminum foil around the spokes to create vanes. This won't produce a lot, but, using a rear wheel with a sprocket and rigging a chain to a small electric motor you can use it to power a small 12v radio. If you run the inner-tube belt around the outside of the wheel and rig the motor on some support you can use a front wheel.

Again, without some kind of rectifier, voltage regulator, etc, the power will be sporadic.

You can use automotive regulators although most are pretty wasteful of electricity.

This sounds a lot like McGyver kind of stuff and it is, although usually McGyver was way to technical to make the information useful.

The problem in a disaster is typically a lack of information and technical resources. By having any technical knowledge, such as just about all electric motors can generate the same amount of voltage they run on if something spins the motor, is valuable.

Figuring out how to transmit power from something spinning to a motor can be difficult, but, almost anything can work as a power transmission (fan) belt, even string.

Fanaticism and Theocratic Monarchies

The United States lost the war to maintain it's democratic nationalism in November of 1979.

Religious and political fanatics cannot be stopped. Time after time this has been well established. The Afghan's kicked the British Empire out. The United States kicked the British Empire out. France kicked their monarchy out. The North Vietnamese kicked France out of Vietnam and then kicked the United States out of Vietnam. Iran kicked the United States out of Iran. Al Queda kicked the United States out of Somalia.

Soon Al Queda will kick the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States political machine will spin it as a peaceful withdrawal after a winning military action. Those who study history know that winners don't leave. The United States didn't leave Texas or California after the Mexican War, Cuba or the Philippines after the Spanish American War, Japan or Germany after WW2.

Since then we have been kicked out of pretty much everywhere we have gone. Oh yeah, withdrawn after a successful military action. Just like the USSR in Afghanistan.

Wars are fought over control of resources. The political fanaticism of the revolutionaries in the United States, France, Vietnam and Iran drove their wealth oriented opponents from the nations where their opponents controlled the resources.

Nixon understood this and used a fanatical despot, Pinochet, to drive out a slightly less fanatical socialist, Allende, from power in Chile.

Nixon also made a political and business decision that the resources in Vietnam were not worth the expenditure of maintaining a war when there was so much internal opposition to the war.

The problem is that fanatics do not care what the cost is or how long it takes to gain control of the resources.

What resources? Resources are people, natural resources, industrial capacities, etc. Just about everything is a resource.

When the United States stopped defending it's political resources, the Iranian Embassy, it expressed a lack of fanaticism for it's own political system.

A political system is a resource. There are different kinds of political systems and the political system supported by the most fanatics always takes control.

Now that democracy has effectively been proved to have failed as a political system, much as it failed in Greece and Rome thousands of years ago it will be replaced with theocratic monarchies just as it was thousands of years ago.

This time the theocratic monarchies will be Islamic. Democracy will be ended just as it was in Greece and Rome. In the beginning by bureaucrats who corrupt the system and eventually it will be over thrown by religious or political fanatics and finally democracy will be replaced with theocratic monarchies. It is possible communist fanatics will take over, but, I doubt it.

One of the primary reasons many revolutions have been successful has been religious fanaticism. In the United States it was fanaticism for religious freedom. Typically the religious fanatics are more successful than political fanatics. Not always, but, usually.

30% of the United States is fanatical “Liberal Democrat” who typically advocate a non-violent “live and let live” policy.
30% of the United States is fanatical “Conservative Republican” who are typically willing to fight for and die over supporting for the “American Way”.
40% is “middle of the road” swaying in the breeze who want to live their lives simply and without conflict.

The fanatics in Islam have the fanatics in the US fighting amongst themselves.

The group advocating non-violent conflicts will probably win in the United States since the 40% just want to get along and live their lives. Eventually there will probably be a semi-rebellion which the “go-along, get-along” majority will win because they have more guns (in a Democracy the majority controls the military).

In order to make this happen the outsiders have to create situations of conflict, terrorist acts when things are going well. This creates huge internal conflicts.

When terrorist acts are no longer creating huge internal conflicts, when the fanatics who are willing to fight for the “American Way” have been beaten down by the majority of “go-along, get-along” the external fanatics will invade and destroy the United States and all of Western Democracy the same way it happened in Greece and Rome.

We can define our “way of life” and become fanatical about protecting it or we will end up being slaves in a theocratic monarchy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The most neglected issues in backpacking books

Pooping, eating and drinking, preferably not at the same time.

On my old website my most popular blogs were about Dan Brown's ridiculous books and taking a dump in the woods. I figured I would re-post this for posterity :-) Besides, it gives ignorant morons something to say, like "John knows a lot about poop". Non morons will say something like "John knows a lot about sanitation", but, we shouldn't critique those who critique us. I am not sure why, but, I am told we shouldn't.

So there you are in the wilderness and you need to take a dump. What do you do?

This is a really big deal. Dysentery has killed more people than bombs and an easy week long trip in a very public national park can turn into a death trip easily when back packers are not careful.

First you need to have several things handy. I carry two gallon sized freezer bags, one for the stuff I need to take a dump and one to put those things in after I take a dump.

I use standard zip-loc sandwich bags. I put a pair of nitrile gloves and two wet naps in each bag. I typically plan for 2 dumps a day and take a couple extra, just in case. I typically use pocket kleenex as toilet paper.

Let us get ready to evacuate our bowels.

Dump out the zip loc sandwich bag and leave it open with the rest of your stuff.

Put your nitrile or latex gloves on.

First pull a few pieces of paper out and dig a hole about 8 inches deep using a trowel.

Evacuate your bowels, careful not to dump on the back of your clothes or boots.

Carefully wipe yourself at least once, twice is better. Put the used TP into the zip-loc sandwich bag. Don't close it yet.

Use a wet nap on your butt. Do it, clean yourself carefully. The cleaner the better. Put the used wet nap in the zip-loc sandwich bag. Don't close it yet.

Fill in the hole.

You need to remove your gloves and put them in the zip-loc bag. Pulling off the first glove is easy, just make sure the glove turns inside out. Slip two fingers into the wrist of the second glove and peel it down so it also turns inside out. Put the gloves in the zip-loc sandwich bag.

Carefully push the air out of the zip-loc bag and seal it up. Put it inside the gallon bag for packing stuff out. Wash your hands with a second wet-nap. Wipe the trowel or shovel handle and put the used wet-nap in the gallon pac-out bag.

Roll up the zip-loc gallon bag, evacuate the air from the bag. Seal it. and put it in your pack.

Sometime during this process you may want to pull up your pants, however, that part is optional.

If you are carrying sanitizer now is the time to use it.

You may want to wash your hands and this is where water comes in. Don't waste water on hand washing.

I suggest carrying 2 gallons of water. I actually carry 2 64oz bottles, 2 liter and a half bottles and 1 22oz bottle so I don't carry 2 gallons, but, then I don't actually have to take my own advice.

Plan your trip to include one water source per day. Make sure you will have at least 2 gallons of water at each point.

I have a nylon water bag I use for showering and wash water. They don't sell what I have any more, it is a nylon bag with a replaceable bladder that I bought for $10 at Campmor. I really like it. I have a shower attachment with a tube on it.

If I hang the bag up high I can rig a gravity drip through my First Need water purifier. If I leave it in the sun the dark nylon warms the water for a luke-warm shower.

Getting water is a very specific process and most people do it wrong. 99% of the time doing it wrong won't kill you.

I put about an ounce of chlorine bleach in a bag of water and use my handy water bag as a sanitizer solution on my hands and cooking gear after I wash up. I also use it to sterilize my water filter before using my filter. It does not hurt to sterilize your water bottles either.

Do not put the end of your filter hose or pre-filter hose in a natural water source.

Fill up a collapsible nylon water bucket with water from a natural source. Wait about half an hour for stuff to settle. You can put some chlorine in the bucket to kill anything if you want. I typically do this.

Scoop out any floaties from the bucket. Filter the water from the bucket into your water bottles using whatever filter system you use.

When you finish filling your water bottles and drinking as much as you can add a little more chlorine and back flush your filter and pre-filter. Wash everything with the sanitizer solution. Dry your gear out (air dry is fine) and put it away.

Maybe you notice that I whine a lot about sanitation. I used to run a restaurant and I was a sanitarian licensed by the state of Illinois. The important part is killing germs. Sure, 99% of the time you will be okay if you are not as sanitation conscious as possible. That 1% of the time that it matters will be very, very important and proper sanitation will save your life or the life(lives) of your companion(s).

Whine about using chlorine in the back country. Sanitation is important. You can minimize sanitation, but, truthfully if you are worried about things like ammonia and chlorine in the back country you should lobby to eliminate wild life urination (this may make you a hero in some communities with many popular nightclubs).

My rule of thumb on food is figure out how many calories you eat during a normal day at home and then pack twice that many calories per day of back packing. This is very important. Take enough calories with you!

Most people seem to take about 1500 to 2000 calories a day when they back-pack. This can cause constipation and delirium depending on how hard the back packing is. Nice flat trails like South Manitou Island? Not an issue. Greenstone ridge on Isle Royal? Yeah buddy, pack some calories. Minong Ridge on Isle Royal? Take a bunch of calories. Add another full days calories for every thousand feet in elevation.

We really need some kind of portable caloric burning meter that measures things like blood oxygen and how much carbon dioxide we exhale. Until then we have to estimate.

Safe weight loss is burning about 1000 calories a day more than we take in. Trust me, back-packing can burn much more. The higher we increase that number the more stress on our system and the more likely we are to keel over a drop dead. Yep, dead. There are a bunch of reasons for this and I won't get into all of them. It has to do with blood chemistry, insulin and oxygen as well as other schtuff.

My first real back-pack trip I lost 30 pounds in 10 days. A pound is about 4000 calories. I lost 120,000 calories in 10 days. In other words I burned 12,000 more calories per day than I consumed. At the end of the trip I was delirious and there are probably doctors out there saying "damn lucky you're not dead". My feeling exactly.

Ignorance can kill us.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

God, Islam, Atheism and Christianity

There is nothing wrong with being a religious fanatic. There is a huge problem with forcing specific beliefs down someone else's throat.

I once had an argument in a Bible study class about Islam. One of the people in class claimed that all Muslims were going to hell. I said that was up to God. He said that because they rejected Jesus as the Son of God they could not possibly be saved. Again, I said God will decide, not me. He began becoming very angry and started practically screaming at me. I kept calm and said that if people follow the path given us by Christ they would reach heaven. He insisted that they had to accept Jesus.

Being educated on the FACT that the name “Jesus” is an Anglicization of the Iseous which is a translation of several different Hebrew names like Yeshua.

I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. Some of the older people called me “Yonnie”, which is the way John is pronounced in Yiddish. Yiddish was not used by the Jewish people in Jerusalem at the time of Christ, but, it is an example of the way names change with languages and culture.

Don't get me started on “Jes-us”. People might argue that the word was used in biblical times and they would be totally full of crap.

Christ is about accepting the Truth of the One True God.

Then there is Islam with the “partnership” ideology. Allah is One.

Christians believe in the One True God and believe that God presents himself in different forms to people. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Father being the form God takes as ruler. The Son is the form God takes to show humans that God understands being human. The Holy Spirit is the form God takes when God communicates directly with people.

Not everyone perceives things the same way and God presents himself in different ways to different people. Islam actually addresses this explaining that all other religions are corruptions in perception of the Truth of the One God, may his name be praised.

Claiming that God is all powerful and cannot take different forms to communicate with people while explaining that all other religions are issues with perception is a little illogical, but, okay.

The problem is when we attempt to claim the perceptions of another person are wrong.

No two people see things exactly the same way. This is a hugely notorious issue with the criminal justice system. Some people see things so differently that they are called “delusional”. Galileo for example was considered delusional because he disagreed with Aristotle's perception of the Universe.

Essentially Aristotle “won” the logical debate on how the Universe moved and the Earth stayed still. Aristotle had two very logical arguments for this. First, if the Earth rotated everyone would fly off. Second, if the Earth rotated you should be able to throw a rock up straight up in the sky and it would land away from the thrower. The distance from the thrower would depend on the rotational velocity and the amount of time the rock was in the sky.

The religious educational system of the renascence period basically told Galileo he was full of crap because he thought he knew better than Aristotle. How can you argue with such simple logic? Galileo and Copernicus had to be delusional. No question about it. The logic of Aristotle was correct!

These logical arguments are great examples of attempting to convert facts like we stay on the surface of the Earth into scientific laws like geocentric motion.

No one can arrive at a Fact through logical deduction. We create theories through logical deduction. Facts are repeatable observations. When we do THIS, THAT happens. We write down the steps, THIS, very exactly and then someone else repeats the experiment and the same thing happens, over and over.

Within a range.

So we end up quantifying the results of scientific experiments with things like “the results will range between X and Y” we quote things like standard deviation, mean, median and modality. The smaller the standard deviation the more accurate the results. If the mean, median and modality are all the “same” we know the distribution is normal, if they aren't there is a problem skewing the results.

Sounds like I am off topic? Nope. This is all about perception, the way we observe the things that happen.

When we insist that people must observe similar situations in exactly the same way.

In science we develop all kinds of instrumentation that will allow us to effectively quantify the results of experiments. We develop standards for qualifying the equipment. We develop methods of recording the the results.

We do all of this to minimize the variation in perception.

Still, variations in perception continue.

The wilder the observation the more variance in the perception of what happened which is why legal systems have so much difficulty in determining “truth”.

Anyone who truly commits themselves to a religion will have a religious revelation and since the variety of people is infinite the perceptions of the revelation are.

Eventually religious revelation will be quantified using brain scanning technologies. My guess is that atheists have a similar revelatory experience.

I am not sure we will ever be able to quantify God.

Which is what makes the arguments people who want to force their view of Atheism, Christianity or Islam so illogical.

In science we recognize that there are variations in perception and we work very hard on communications and the ability to minimize variations in perceptions.

There is another problem. Conflict is the basis of evolution.

The evolution of thought, the evolution of our bodies, the evolution of our culture.

We need fanatics to drive the conflict through which we evolve.

We also need fanatics and everyone else to be willing to allow us our own perceptions and choices without attempting to force their perceptions on us.

That means Dawson and Al Queda and Westboro have to quit ridiculing and killing people who disagree them.

We need a balance between conflict and force feeding. We can't have that until fanatics are willing to stop shoving their ideologies down the throats of everyone else.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking for schtuff to do, real business and "reality" TV

So here I am currently disabled sitting around twiddling my thumbs, watching too many movies and reading too many books.

Ever seen the reality TV shows "storage wars" or "auction hunters"? People go out and bid on storage units which have become delinquent. I understand that about 80% of these purchases are pretty much a bust. For some reason a lot of people store garbage. Literally garbage.

If you are going to buy storage units you need access to a commercial dumpster and a truck large enough to haul the garbage and a few nice things away.

So I went out to one of these storage auctions and purchased an 6x8 storage locker for $30.00.

If you do this, put some schtuff together in a shoulder bag or a plastic box to take with you.

2-6 locks depending on how many lockers you want to buy.
a couple of water bottles. (thirsty, dusty work)
a couple of protein bars. (You might want high carb energy bars)
work gloves.
Plastic bags. (I took both clear and black, maybe white bags too next time)
Dust masks. (they never use these on TV, but, these units are dusty)
extra bulb.
A battery powered lantern can also be useful. I discovered some storage lockers do not have lights in them.

The floor of the locker I bought was filled with clothes and trash. There was a steel cabinet standing in one corner. Having purchased a few of these (steel cabinets, not storage lockers) over the years I knew I was looking at a very good quality steel cabinet. The bid went up to $30 and I won. Some of the people looked at me like I was crazy and I said "I bought a steel cabinet". Then the lights went on, most people had just seen the trash and not noticed the steel cabinet which retails these days around $400 and can typically be purchased used for around $50 to $100. People see what they want to see and I discovered really trashy units can be had for cheap. Just be sure there is something worth your bid in it :-)

Just a second, before anyone pats me on the back....

When I paid the $30 bucks plus the 13% commission Plus put a $25 cleaning deposit down on the unit I was down a little over $60 bucks. I got the cleaning deposit back when the unit was cleaned out.

The storage locker was filled with trash and it took 3 hours to clean, sort and bag everything. I took two different kinds of heavy duty trash bags, clear and black. Next time I will take white bags for stuff I want to keep. I put stuff I thought should be donated into clear bags. I put stuff to pitch into black bags. My pick-up is a ranger and it took 2 loads to remove the garbage to a friends dumpster. I wasn't allowed to use the dumpster at the storage unit. If I set a value on my time of $20 bucks an hour and charge $0.50 a mile for the truck, three trips total at 34 miles round trip I have already spent $205.00 dollars on my steel cabinet.

3 hours at the auction, $60.00
3 hours sorting, $60.00
102 miles, $51.00
storage unit, $33.90

Wait a second. There were some other things worth salvaging. There were a couple of pieces of cheap jewelery, a cheap (working) digital camera, a brand new quality sketch pad, an new nylon artists portfolio case, a nice Targus lap-top bag, an old Polaroid 104 instant camera (who knows), a vacuum cleaner, a 30 cup coffee maker, a couple of briefcases and a garment bag in good condition. There were also a few pieces of very nice clothing that I will probably either sell or give away.

All in all I think I broke even on the locker, spending about $204.90 total and getting about $150.00 bucks worth of stuff. Truthfully I could probably get more, BUT, it takes time to find the right buyers to maximize the profitability.

Suppose I spend 5 hours hunting down buys to get my profit up to $200.00, at $20 bucks an hour I just increased my costs another $100.00 so now I have spent another $100 just to lose and extra $50 bucks.

Okay, I am disabled and I am not making anything that five hours anyway and at least it gives me something to do.

Not exactly If I stress myself out doing too much I end up dead so trying to squeeze every last dollar out of a locker is really bad.

I am not going to try too hard to find buyers.

My actual pay per hour is gross - expenses / hours spent.

Lets call my gross $150 (it isn't yet and may not ever be). My actual expenses are about $84.90 so my hourly rate is estimated at $65/6, or about $11 bucks an hour (less because I have to bill more hours to this particular job getting rid of the schtuff).

In other words, if I go by the numbers they use on the stupid "reality TV I "made" $120.00 because I have $150 bucks worth of stuff. Getting closer to reality I actually "made" about $65, or maybe I will when I finish selling the schtuff.

In the end there will be all the expenses associated with finding buyers and arranging the sale so my total profit divided by my hours will mean I probably didn't make minimum wage.

I might end up renting a space at a flea market if I keep doing this. It will give me a place to sell schtuff. I need to see if my daughter is interested in helping, she could run the booth with me and we could split the gross. Maybe, maybe not. In the meantime I am keeping busy and putting reality into "reality TV".

Update: My wife confiscated a Ford Racing jacket i found in the unit. I gave the brand new sketch pad to a friend's daughter. I gave the artist's portfolio to my granddaughter's mother who is in architecture classes. Still no real profit.

Mileage at $0.50 per mile: $51.00
Cost of storage locker: $33.90

12 hours

Sales of Goods:
Blue wool overcoat: $25.00
Polaroid 104 Camera: $5.00
Green wool overcoat: $20.00
5 pair of shoes: $61.00
Total: $111.00
Investment: $84.90
Profit: $26.00
Hourly Wage: $2.16

Give-a-ways of goods to Friends and Family:
Red Ford Racing jacket.
Portfolio case
Sketch pad
Vacuum Cleaner

4 large plastic bags filled with clothes

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Northern Segregation and the rights of blacks

I hate movies like “The Great Debaters” and “The Help”.

There was no way in hell Harvard was going to let black people come and debate in the 1930's and it didn't happen. In reality the debate group won against a California University. In reality they probably would have beaten Harvard, but, blacks were not given that opportunity.

There was no way in hell that black maids in Mississippi were treated any where near as well as was depicted in the movie. No rich, white people living in a big mansion served their maid dinner in the dinning room even if the wife was white trash. No little girl grew up to help a bunch of black maids write out how they felt back in 1964. About the only true thing was the snotty white woman eating her maid's crap. I have no doubt that happened.

I thought the movie “The Color Purple” was probably a much more realistic depiction of life for blacks.

Movies like “The Great Debaters” or “The Help” give people the idea that even under terribly oppression conditions blacks were given incredible opportunities.

Get this straight. That does not happen. Does NOT happen.

I live in Detroit where public transportation SUCKS. There is no reasonable public transportation system integrating primarily black Detroit with the primarily white suburbs.

“It's not because they are black, it's because we don't want criminals coming out to the suburbs”. Yeah, there is a different way of saying the same thing, “Screw them all, let God sort them out”.

The Detroit People Mover is a monument to segregation and bigotry. The State of Michigan segregated Detroit destroying their industrial economy. Industry follows Urbanization. Basic Economics.

A lot of people blame Coleman Young for that because Coleman Young was a segregationist. Coleman Young tried to get industry into Detroit, Coleman Young tried to get mass transportation with the suburbs. Coleman Young may have wanted a segregated community BUT Coleman Young did not want a segregated economy.

There is a scene in “The Help” where a “white trash rich woman” forces her company on her maid. This kind of arrogance just pisses me off. Did that white woman even consider the fact that the maid didn't want to eat with her? Of course not. Why should some arrogant white person believe anything except that black people just “love” being around white people?

If you are white get this straight. The United States, the World, is not equal opportunity. I'm a high school dropout and I have had a great career working with organizations like NASA and National Laboratories. I have never once met a black person with a similar educational background that has had the same opportunities because it does not happen.

Blacks are segregated in the United States. They are segregated by racial quotas, by racially different standards and by “equal opportunity” laws. Blacks play the “racism” card because racism is rampant in the United States.

People whine a lot about how badly the south treated blacks. Look at the number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States and see where they are. Are they in the North? Hell NO. Most of those colleges are in the South because the segregation laws actually gave blacks more legal rights in the south than they had in the north.

I said more, not the same legal rights as whites but at least the law recognized blacks.

In the north racial segregation was so firmly ingrained into the culture no laws were needed because they just killed blacks who got out of line.

Let me make that clear.

The north had fewer racially segregating laws because laws give people a legal recourse. Laws make the authorities and responsibilities clear. The north didn't want that because blacks might do something for themselves if the rules were clear. Keep the rules murky and lynch the trouble makers like Malcolm X's father.

No law works much better for bigots than giving people any legal rights at all.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Debates, truth and stupidity

Debates do not reveal facts or “truth”. Debates are won based on subjective analysis by the viewers. Typically viewers who do not have pre-conceived ideas will determine the winner based on charisma or on specific responses they find “interesting”. Debates are usually a waste of time except when I am trying to determine which person's ideas I like better.

Judgments between people. We can't make judgments of fact. We can't even argue fact, we can only argue opinion. "The boy ran fast" is an opinion. "The boy ran 100 meters in 6 seconds" is a fact.

Recently the Gaines center at the University of Kentucky presented a talk by a theologian and an atheist.

The theologian focused his talk on the idea that all scientific research should be conducted with a mind open enough to consider the traditional viewpoint of Christianity and Jesus. Not in my opinion and I will explain that later. Whatever.

The atheist was an idiot. A moronic idiot that had me laughing my butt off.

The atheist started his talk explaining that he was going to be “pugnacious” in his response. His response began focusing on the comments of the theologian. In fact he insists that he is going to rebut comments by the theologian. Lame, very lame. Instead of arguing for his belief he argues against the beliefs of an individual. Then he goes on give statistics on atheists in science. These are not arguments for atheism, they are ad hominid arguments. In other words “Everything he said is bullshit” and “these people believe the way I do so you should believe the way I do if you are smart”.


The reality is that both science and religion seek to answer similar questions in different ways.

There are two factual arguments that the atheist makes, one is that if you close your mind by refusing to abide in a pointless universe you are not a scientist. The second is that science is based on repeatable empirical observations by people that are substantiated through observations by other scientists regardless of their beliefs.

The atheist however does not stay in the realm of “fact” and instead continually references “truth”. What is “truth”. Things get murky when we talk about “truth”. Truth is a legal or philosophical term and it is actual subjectively determined. “Truth” is not a scientific term. The words “Theory” and “Fact” are scientific terms.

Get this straight, if a person uses the word "truth" they are not speaking in objective, factual terms or scientific terms. "Truth" is not science. "Truth" is for philosophers and theologians.

"Truth" is for lawyers who rely on a witness swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me whatever. Who cares if fifteen people all observed a situation, all have totally different stories and all tell the "whole truth and nothing but the truth". Truth is the subjective analysis by a judge and jury of those very different accounts.

From a scientific viewpoint a person cannot take a position on a theory when undertaking an experiment. The atheist explains this in talking about “fooling yourself”. This was a hilarious bit of hypocrisy.

There is repeatable experiment that will prove to the observer that the divine does exist. The subjective and personal nature of revelation causes many scientists to discount the evidence of revelation. Personal revelation is statistical evidence of the divine even when it cannot yet be effectively communicated in a standardized method and does not prove the specific details of any religion. Duh.

Here is the really big arrogance attached to the atheists argument and it applies to any argument which attempts prove a negative.

We don't know everything.

We cannot prove a negative without making subjective “reasonable” assumptions. In other words we cannot prove a negative without exiting the objective and embracing a subjective, “reasonable” viewpoint. Darwin's "reasonable" and racist viewpoint about savages for example.

Science utilizes subjective reason and logic to prioritize experimentation. Science uses logic and reason to support theory. Science does not use logic or reason to identify facts. This is a huge issue and a lot of people who are not objective end up making terrible subjective decisions which result in huge mistakes and a waste of money.

You do not need logic to support a fact. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. No logic. No reason. Fact. "The boy ran fast" What is "fast"? That statement may be "true", but, it ain't no fact.

Okay, so we ignore the statistical evidence of religious revelation, miracle cures, etc. This exits the realm of science which demands that we not fool ourselves by ignoring the obvious, BUT, let's just pretend that we can subjectively ignore data we cannot explain and remain scientists. Can we now prove the non-existence of God by ridiculing the ideas of religion? No. Ridicule is not evidence of fact. Ridicule may be subjectively identified as "reason" or "logic", it is not fact.

Evolution of mankind has not been proved, it remains a theory. Even proved evolution would only prove that some religious viewpoints were incorrect. Absolute proof of evolution would not prove the non-existence of the divine.

How can we prove the evolution of mankind? We really can't. Scientific proof is in observation so until we develop a method of observation of the past we cannot prove the evolution of mankind. Even then the evolution of mankind is theorized to have taken millions of years and it would be a little difficult to observe, even using a “fast forward”. The best we can do is controlled genetic experiments which support the theory of evolution.

So the only thing I have proved is that the atheist is not an objective “scientist”, he is a subjective “non-scientist” or no more a scientist than a theologian is.

People are going to be subjective and we actually have to be in science. Suppose I am researching the metallic bonds between different metals. The direct sharing of electrons between copper and aluminum for example. I have to make subjective decisions to determine where the best area to apply the resources I have available is. Subjective analysis.

Suppose I use my religion to determine that metal bonds because God wants it to. There is no need for me to research the subject at all.

I am curious and objective though and I have researched the issue. That means I don't believe in God?


The video I watched finishes with a question about Darwin's racism. The atheist tells us that Darwin's racist “truth” was typical of his time and position.

Lame. I guess "truth" changes over time and I would be correct.

Some guy goes to prison based on the "truth" and ten years later the "truth" sets them free.

Science is about being curious and objective.

Sure, I can use statistical analysis of the existence of religious revelation to prove the existence of the divine in general.

I cannot use personal religious revelation to prove any details of religion until we develop a method of communicating these experiences accurately. That is no joke, eventually we will use Brain Computer Interfaces and Magnetic Resonance Imagery to record enough religious revelations and hallucinations that we will be able to document them.

When that happens some moron may yell, “look, we can't find a difference yet and we know everything so there must not be one, revelation and hallucination are the same”. The same scientific objectivity holds, we don't know yet.

In other words proving that an apple and an orange are both fruit does not mean they are not different. Until we can prove an observable difference we can (and probably should) take a subjective position that they are not different AND objectively refuse to state that they are the same.

Saying “We can't find a difference” is not the same as saying “these items are identical”. Before microscopy and ultra-accurate measurements I am sure many things were considered to be identical even though they were not. In fact they were not identical. We now know that no two things are exactly identical so we define the variation using statistical analysis. “This DNA is from the same person within a million to one probability”.

Eventually we will discover the variations between "religious visions" and "hallucinations". Eventually we can develop a form of communication that reduces the probability of mis-communication based on subjective understanding of language. "Political correctness".

I can use experimentation to prove or disprove the specific details of scientific theory. That is real objective science and it does not conflict with my religious views or any subjective "truth".

Monday, October 31, 2011

Asimov, Atheists, Faith, Deluison and Religion

When I was a child I loved Isaac Asimov. There was no better author in the known universe in my eyes as I became a teenager. In high school I discovered that others had put away the faith of their parents to become atheists or agnostics. I drifted to the faith of my favorite author, Atheism. Talking about agnosticism or atheism in high school it was obvious to us that agnosticism was the only religious choice based purely on reason. Atheism and religion both take a leap of faith that some of us were unable to take.

I carried a Bible in my car because I promised my Grandmother that I would but it was not something I thought much about. I had read the entire thing although I doubt if I had paid much attention to it as I read.

Asimov wrote about a religious robot in one of the short stories in "I, Robot". It was an awesome story and some of us discussed it. One passage in particular I really enjoyed where Asimov wrote about the process of reason.

The two primary characters, Donovan and Powell, discuss the process of reason. Powell makes the point that deductions made through the process of reason are based on postulates or assumptions.

For example, there is the “prove you do not have a weasel in your pocket” argument where a person will empty their pocket to show that there is no weasel in their pocket. How do we know that the weasel is not invisible or did not teleport from the pocket during the emptying process?

Theoretically we know that invisibility and teleportation are possible. We assume that weasels do not have these capabilities and so we assume that reason allows us to prove that there is not a weasel in our pockets.

Are these reasonable assumptions?

In science there are no reasonable assumptions. Everything must be proved in double blind, repeatable experimentation.

Then there is the analysis of results.

The results of properly defined, properly conducted experiments will be “consistent” within a range. Is that range acceptable? That depends on the requirements of the process and requirements are always changing.

A scientific result will always be defined with at least a mean result and a standard deviation. There are four numbers that define the consistency of the result, the mode, the mean, the median and the standard deviation. Without all four of these numbers the consistency of the results cannot be objectively evaluated.

Sometimes results will be published with a mean and a “range”. A standard deviation can be reverse engineered by dividing the range by six, assuming the range is defined by a plus or minus three standard deviations.

Some readers are probably going WTF does this have to do with reason?

The problem with logical deductions will always be the assumptions. Asimov tells us in his short story that any conclusion can be logically derived through the use of reason depending on the assumptions made.

True or False, On or Off, simple change of state is easy. Analysis of results that are less obvious than On or Off requires an understanding of the statistical data.

For this paper let us assume that there are three possible positions, atheist, agnostic or religious.

If we make an assumption we can conduct an experimentation to test that assumption.

For example, if we assume that a loving God will always present themselves to large groups of people on demand in such a way that the presentation can be recorded using currently available instrumentation. If we assemble a large group of people and God does not present themselves in a way that can be recorded we have either proved God does not exist or that the assumption is inaccurate.

If God does appear in such a way that the presentation is recordable we have proved God does exist.

So we have three possible outcomes for an experiment, our assumption is incorrect, God does not exist, God does exist. The fourth possibility is that we can argue the legitimacy of the results claiming delusion.

For any experiment we conduct there are three possible negative outcomes and one possible positive outcome. For the purposes of experimentations of the existence of God you may choose either the results providing proof of God's existence or the lack of appearance as the positive result.

One result provides evidence for atheism. One result provides evidence for religious beliefs. Two results provide evidence for agnosticism, the assumption is questionable or the results are questionable.

Reason tells us that if the assumptions are questionable the experiment is invalid. Reason tells us that if the results are questionable the experiment is invalid.

I parted with Asimov in my mid twenties because I realized that there is a repeatable experiment that can prove to the experimenter that God does exist.

Someone can give their heart to God through their religion. Typically this will result in a profound and permanent change in their thought process and their activities.

Again, there are three possible results. One, God does not reveal themselves to the experimenter. Two, God does reveal themselves to the experimenter. Three, God does not reveal themselves to the experimenter BUT the experimenter claims that God has.

Three possible results, no change, permanent change, temporary change.

Can we judge a change? Maybe. If the experimenter claims a specific change and then claims a reversion to a previous behavior it is fairly easy to observe a temporary change.

Can we make a judgment just by watching someone? Christ tells us not to judge and I believe this is because we cannot effectively judge the change that occurs in a person's heart.

God could also tell us. Christ tells us that God communicates to us through the Holy Spirit so claiming the Holy Spirit has given a specific instruction or bit of knowledge when that has not occurred may be the one unforgivable sin. I would be very careful running around saying that the Holy Spirit told me anything, unless I didn't really believe in Christ OR the Holy Spirit did actually show me or tell me something.

Pure reason without resorting to assumptions tells us we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God to a group. Agnosticism.

By making some assumptions on what we believe God should or should not do we can use reason to prove God does not exist. We can also claim the assumption that everyone who believes in God and has experienced some form of religious transcendence is deluded. Atheism becomes a leap of faith in our assumptions.

Using a simple experiment a person can prove to themselves and only to themselves that God does exist.

Three possible choices. One requires no faith in either ourselves or our assumptions. One requires a leap of faith in our assumptions. One requires a basic confidence in our own observations.

I can trust no one (agnosticism). I can trust the assumptions of others and place no confidence in my own observations (atheism). I can reject assumptions and accept that my observations are valid (religious).

Every experimenter must accept that their observations are valid. Galileo could not record his experiments. Galileo could only observe and write down his observations. Those who reproduced Galileo's results proved to themselves that Galileo's observations were accurate. Of course many closed minded people rejected Galileo as delusional.

Until we find a way to record the experiment of a person giving their heart to God we can only depend on the reproducible nature of the experiment and the billions of experimenters who have claimed to have successfully reproduced the experiment.

Or, we could become as the inquisitors who claimed Galileo was delusional.

Monday, October 24, 2011

People take themselves too seriously

I laugh at the wrong time a lot. My wife tells me I am being mean when I laugh. I can't help it, people are stupid and they do really funny things.

That means I'm judgmental in some peoples eyes, mostly intolerant people in my opinion.

In my opinion the idea that I'm judgmental assumes that I don't laugh at my own stupidity or ignorance. News flash for intolerant morons, I'm around myself the most and I laugh at myself more often than I laugh at any one else.

Expressing anger and frustration are more socially acceptable than laughing at the "wrong" time. Isn't that dumb?

It is very frustrating watching people do, write and say stupid things and not laugh outside.

In my life there are very few places I have felt comfortable laughing

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Gold Rush Ignorance of Ignorance.

Flipping through channels on the idiot box I came across some “reality” show called “Gold Rush: Alaska”. The 2 half episodes I watched were hilariously stupid.

When I first tuned it in some guy with a beard who was apparently in charge of the mess was talking about how he was removing the guy who knew most about a piece of equipment and was going to change the equipment set-up.

I watched them totally destroy the set-up of the equipment, blame the guy who knew the most and was (according to the distributor) getting it to work correctly and then toss the equipment aside because it didn't work. Then they beat the knowledgeable guy up and kicked him off the show.

Pure idiocy.

So here these guys are, three quarters of the way through the time frame they have to accomplish their goals and they are blaming everyone else for their problems.

Someone must have clued in the guy in charge because he invested in a consultant to come and tell them what they were doing wrong. According to the distributor of the “wave table” equipment they also came out and showed the guys how to work the equipment properly.

Essentially a bunch of guys who didn't know what they were doing went out figuring they could do something and they failed to learn from their mistakes. They selected a scape goat to blame instead of learning and when that failed to produce results they decided to actually try and figure out what they were doing wrong.


Mechanically they almost, but not quite, had a clue.

Separation of material from water is a pretty simple process in concept and all the current systems work about the same. The process I am most familiar with is with industrial water clarification.

In all systems dirty water flows over an angled surface. Heavy stuff drops to the bottom. Floating stuff goes to the top. The clearest water is pulled out from between the two. How clear the output water is depends on water velocity and the weight of the material being separated out and the angle of the separation system.

From reviewing the instructions on gold separating systems on the web the angle is quite variable and depends on the type of dirt being separated out from the gold. There is no universally correct angle for all kinds of dirt and gold.

In working with industrial water clarification systems I know that what we want is a consistent material flowing through the clarifier. This is the most important part of the process. Changes to the material coming in influence the results dramatically.

These guys figured this out apparently. The consultant they hired came in and told them to change the angle of the primary sluice set-up and install some different geometry in the clarifier based on the material they were clearing out and to use some pre-screening on the incoming material to make it more consistent.

If these guys had not been so arrogant and ridiculous it might have been sad to watch themselves humiliate each other. Instead it was hilarious.

Couple of rules.

1: The machine didn't screw up. The machine worked the way it was designed, built, set-up, maintained and operated to. It ain't the machines fault.

2: The machine works within defined parameter ranges. If the machine has ever produced the desired results and does not produce those results consistently there are uncontrolled variables influencing the outcome.

In the case of the guys on “Gold Rush” it was all about the quality of the incoming material, the system set-up and the inexperience of the operators. This applies to both the “wave table” and the primary sluice system. The variables in the system were not properly controlled. Period.

3: It is managements fault. It is not the fault of the operator, the designer, the builder, the set-up person, the maintainer or the operator. In “Gold Rush” the guy in charge said “we are going to run this the way I want to” and made the fact that failure was the responsibility of management obviously clear. In most situations it isn't quite that obvious, but, as Demming said “It's management's fault”. Period.

Machines do not run the way people "want" them to run and computers have taught us this more than anything else in history. Machines run the way they are designed, built, set-up, maintained and operated to run. Some guy believing he can make a machine he is clueless about run "his way" by force of will is just plain stupid.

Management controls variables. Primarily people variables and also any other variables in the system like incoming material, proper selection of equipment, etc, etc. Management manages variables.

When the system fails it is because variables were improperly controlled. People variables. Material variables. Equipment variables.

Earlier in our marriage my wife overdrew my checking account. Not just once, but several times. How did she do that? Because I did not effectively control her access to it. Why not? On my part it was a process of training. She really didn't think over drawing a checking account was a problem. Eventually she did and she changed her behavior. I eventually succeeded in helping her manage money better. At this point she manages money about as well as I do and this is typical.

The student becomes as good as the teacher and no better.

Did my wife think of herself as a student? No. She thought she was managing money and knew there were some problems but nothing important.

I mention this because it is a perfect example.

There are two ways to learn. Either someone tackles a situation with an “I can learn to do this” attitude or someone tackles a situation with an “I can do this attitude”.

My wife tackled money with an “I can do this attitude” and it took a lot of problems before she realized she was screwing up and leaned how to manage money.

The guys on “Gold Rush” did the same thing. They tackled the situation with an “I can do this” attitude and it took a lot of problems, even beating up and kicking a scape goat off the project, before they stepped back and decided to actually learn how to do the job.

Often situations like this result in Aesop's “fox and the sour grapes” mentality and people just quit. They decide they are not capable of correctly managing the situation as it exists and it isn't worth the trouble. Divorce. Business failure.

In my experience women typically tackle industrial jobs with an “I can learn how to do this” attitude. Men typically tackle things with an “I can do this attitude”. Huge difference.

People, like me, who often succeed at things other people believe are impossible always tackle jobs with an “I can learn how to do this” attitude. I become my own teacher and nothing is impossible given the resources. I am infinitely capable of learning from my mistakes WHEN I identify those mistakes correctly.

Bad managers always expect that a job that has never been done before can be done. Good managers know that a job that has never been done before can be done when we take the time to learn how to do it.

Identifying mistakes is key.

I worked with a guy who had a masters degree in engineering and supposedly knew something about statistical analysis. He read in a book that “all distributions are normal distributions”. Not true. All natural distributions are normal distributions.

There are skewed distributions and multi-modal distributions that occur because uncontrolled external variables are influencing the distribution. These are unnatural and abnormal distributions. The multi-modality of the income distribution in the United States is a great example of an unnatural and abnormal distribution.

Uncontrolled variables. I think we talked about that earlier.

This is how you identify the existence of uncontrolled variables. The distribution is abnormal, non-Gaussian.

This is how you identify bad management. Uncontrolled variables. Abnormal, unnatural distributions.

In other words, if you are not getting what you expect stop and figure out why. Fix it or fail.

If the distribution is unnatural, abnormal, fix it or fail.

Typically the problem will be an improperly defined or uncontrolled variable and once located it can either be properly controlled or properly defined.

That is how you learn how to do the job.

Simple in theory. Impossible to achieve with clueless people who think they know what they are doing OR stupidly believe that an unnatural, abnormal, process can be maintained.

Bottom line. Know how ignorant you are and you will always be aware you don't know what you are doing.

If you are open to believing that you can make mistakes you can identify them. learn from them and correct them earlier in the process.

If you know you don't understand exactly what you are doing you will always be learning and always improving. People stop learning when they think they have a clue.

Ignorance is not a bad thing.

Ignorance of ignorance always causes failure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

aliens, evolution and "infinite monkeys"

Some idiot who did not understand calculating odds came up with the theory that an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards will eventually type out all of Shakespeare's plays.

Some other idiot who did not understand the concepts created a computer program that "emulated" (not really, but whatever) monkeys baning on a computer at random. I won't explain why his program was dumb. I will just break down the dumb "infinite monkey" theory.

I will go one better than that.

Assume there are an infinite number of monkeys. Assume each monkey takes up X cubic meters of space with themselves, their computers and the fancy binding printer with an infinite amount of paper in the printer. We shall assume that each printer is a Tardis like system where the infinite space required for the printer paper is contained inside of a normal printer loading tray. Assume each monkey presses one key per second.

It will take 2 days for all of shakepeare's plays to be produced, all bound and ready floating around this infinite space bumping into monkeys, computers and printers.

Done, right?

Not exactly. The odds of punching out one of the plays is 1/Y^Z. Y is equal to the number of keys on a keyboard. Z is equal to the number of characters in a play. If the play is "A Comedy of Errors", Shakespeare's shortest play, and the keyboard has 101 keys the odds are about 1 in 1.74808391628e-160368.

Why do the odds matter? We have an infinite number of monkeys!

The odds are used to calculate distance. In other words 1 out of every 1.74808391628e-160368 monkeys has produced a play so the plays are 1.74808391628e-160368 times X (the distance between monkeys) apart.

If we replace monkeys with planetary systems and we replace Shakespeare's plays with intelligent life and we replace X with the average distance between star systems we get an idea of the minimum distance between intelligent life forms in the universe.

Assuming of course that the odds of producing a monkey producing a Shakespearian play and the random formation of intelligent life are the same and I am not willing to admit that. I think the odds of producing intelligent life are much higher than the odds of a monkey producing a play. For the sake of argument we can assume they are equal.

Lets say there are an average of 10 light years between planets.

That means the next intelligent life form is only 1.7*10^160369 light years away.

Only1.7 with 160,369 ZEROS behind it light years away.

Forget about faster than light travel, "fold space" or wormholes are the only way to travel that far. But wait! Suppose we could fold space. There are 1.74808391628e-160368 different star systems that we have to explore before we find one with intelligent life.

Imagine that number. That number is so big I can't even write it down. 17 with 160,367 zeros behind it. The US national debt is not even that big. That number is in light years. There are about 6 trillion miles in a light year. Even more zeros. These numbers go beyond astronomical distances.

The odds of winning the lottery are 1 in about 15,890,700. You, all by yourself, will win the lottery 1 with 160,361 zeros behind it times before you will meet an alien.

People ask me if finding alien life would shake my faith in God. I tell them Norfolk and Wayman.

Finding intelligent life on another planet would confirm my faith in God way beyond anything else that could happen because the odds of that happening without divine interference are, literally, beyond astronomical.

Beyond. These odds of two alien species coming into contact are so high the numbers are literally impossible to comprehend.

There is this really stupid movie called "Paul" about an alien on Earth and his existence is supposed to disprove the existence of God.

Suppose we did contact an alien species. Using the "infinite monkey" odds that isn't likely to happen. If it did would that make the existence of God more or less likely?

In my opinion defeating odds like that makes the existence of God much more likely. Beating odds along the line of the "infinite monkey" theory is miraculous.

Issac Asimov believed that the likelihood of the development of intelligent life was very, very low. Right around the same odds as the "infinite monkey" odds I would imagine. In Asimov's created universe only humans existed. Frank Herbert felt the same way. These authors had humans run into life on other worlds, but, that life was not intelligent.

Asimov had a doctorate in biochemistry and an atheist. Frank Herbert was a college dropout who educated himself so all the arrogant intellectual elitists out there can discount his ideas.

Suppose just about any life form develops intelligence?

Darwinian evolutionary theory tells us that the strongest survive and adapt. Strength is in adaptability, not necessarily in physical strength.

What is the strongest animal on Earth? Probably the whale. So why do humans "rule" (or control all the resources and means of production)? Anthropological theory tells us that animals which developed the intelligence to solve survival related problems through the use of teamwork and tools have the best opportunity to survive.

Supposing this is true multiple forms of intelligent life should have developed here on Earth. There is some potential for identifying dolphins as intelligent life. Other species have various levels of intelligence and utilize tools, teamwork and/or both and yet they have not developed the intelligence necessary to adapt their environment to their own needs as humans have.

Suppose people don't buy that premise, then the odds of the development of intelligent life capable of adapting their environment to their needs begin to climb again.

There are other theories entering the realm of science fiction, dolphins as intergalactic travelers who use telepathy to open worm holes to other worlds filled with water. Does intelligent life have to adapt the environment to their needs or can it just seek out environments that meet its needs?

Maybe dolphins and whales just don't care if they live or die in this physical life, maybe their life energy just enters another physical existence when a physical existence ends. Kind of a whale reincarnation.

Lots of theories. In the end the "infinite monkey" theory of evolution or alien life disproving God is just ridiculous and nothing makes me laugh more than when a moron starts talking about it and relating it to evolution and alien life forms.

That idea goes beyond ignorance, it is just plain dumb.