Tuesday, June 28, 2005

No one ever regretted that they had but one life to give for KBR

What follows is an open letter that I have sent to a gaggle of Senators and my rep in the house. If you find the subject matter shocking, I urge that you visit the Frontline site and then contact your elected officials. It is our government and we have the power to shape how it will behave. That is what democracy is all about.

I just saw an episode of FRONTLINE on the use of contractors in Iraq. I heard Marine Col. John Toolan, the Marine commander in charge of an area of Iraq that included Fallujah, explain how the deaths of four contractors forced him to move from a rebuilding effort that could have won hearts and minds to policy of full onslaught and massive retaliation. It was clear that the Colonel saw this as a missed opportunity in our attempt to bring stability to Iraq. In addition, the attack on the four contractors in Fallujah and upon the KBR convoys led to many contractors leaving Iraq. This resulted in a logistical nightmare, which limited our troops effectiveness and put them in harm'’s way due to shortages and supply chain problems. It matters not whether we invasion was a good idea or a bad idea, it happened and we can only go forward at this point. As Colon Powell stated, we broke the pottery and now we have to fix it.

Corporations make money; that is what they do and that is all they do. It is not a good thing or a bad thing, merely a fact like gravity or the next sunrise. Asking a corporation to serve our national interests in terms of sacrificing profits does not work. Forcing a corporation to do so through a well-enforced regulatory regime provides some success, but it is far from perfect. What has happened in Iraq is to give contracting firms free reign and it has resulted and will continue to result in our soldiers' efforts being squandered. We cannot let this continue.

Wars cost money and wars cost lives, it is not possible for us to fight one on the cheap and win. The shielding of the American people from the true costs of this war through the use of contractors and other slight-of-hand methods may win an election, but it will result in all of us being less safe. We cannot win this thing if we are outsourcing key military tasks. I call on you to raise your voice and start to fix this problem. All outsource conducted by the Pentagon must stop. We need to have military roles fulfilled by military personnel. If this means that my taxes will go up, so be it. I'’d rather have that money going to hard working soldiers than a well-paid executive of KBR any day of the week. Also, we all know that taxes will have to go up anyway because wars cost money and nation building is not cheap.

Please do something to help support the troops by getting the contractors out of there. We need well-trained professional soldiers, not fly-by-night organizations that are arming bouncers and setting them loose. Stop the contracting firms before they get more of our soldiers killed and fowl up more of our policies and efforts.

Get Information: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/warriors/
Contact your Senator: http://www.senate.gov
Contact your Representative: http://www.house.gov

Friday, June 24, 2005

Evolution and Religion, where is the overlap?

I do not understand the ruckus about how evolution threatens faith (or visa verse). Evolution is based on the following axioms:
  • Organisms have offspring.
  • Offspring share some traits from the parents and differ from one and other.
  • Some differences help the offspring to have more of their own offspring.
  • Over generations some traits spread throughout a population while others do not.
Religion seems to operate on these axioms:
  • Some entity, that is usually called god, created the universe and all that is in it.
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • You are here for a reason.
The first set of axioms means that if I mate a dachshund and a Great Dane, I may wind up a Great Dane mother with a bunch of very short puppies who will produce very short prodgeny of their own. I can test this first set. I can test it by making high yield varieties of wheat and corn. I can test it by accidentally making drug resistant bacteria if I misuse antibiotics. I can test it by looking over the history in the fossil record since humans domesticated animals, and I can test it much further back. As for the second set, it I cannot test. I can choose to believe in god or not, but I cannot prove it one way or the other. This seems to be prime reason why the belief in god is a matter of faith.

When I look at natural selection and evolution I see a mountain range of evidence both in the historical record and in the lab and field today. What I do not see is any information about the existence or lack of a god. Because god is not described by the system cannot be taken to mean that god doesn't exist or is uninvolved. If I study how a faucet works by the washer being squeezed into place to stop the water flow, I may not talk about the municipal water authority. There may be one and it may deliver water to that faucet. There may not be one and the faucet may be attached to a bucket full of rain water. Its outside of my focus.

Science tends to be pragmatic and focus on what can be proved even if it may take some effort. When science leaves god out of it, it is not an attack, it is recognition that science isn't the right tool to explore this aspect of the human experience. Evolution describes a mechanism nothing more. If there is randomness or a god behind it, it is outside of the realm to which the natural selection is focused.

Given this situation, why and how could science threaten faith? It would seems akin to addition or subtraction threatening faith?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Operation Close Wal-Mart:

Wal-Mart is a massive store that is changing America.

Communities have been largely unsuccessful at stopping Wal-Mart in the courts. The problem was that they choice to fight against corporate giant. Why not have Wal-Mart fight itself? Wal-Mart fears unions so much that when a union was close to being formed in its store in conquer, Quebec the corporate giant closed the store. Wal-Mart claims that the closure had to do with the economics of the store and not the union vote. Could Wal-Mart executives be lying? Lets conduct and experiment to find out.


Wal-Mart is a big piece of antibiotic laden low priced poultry when it comes to unions.

  1. Apply for a position at Wal-Mart
  2. Get a spiffy smock
  3. Agitate your co-workers and try to start a union

If you get close to a union vote and Wal-Mart closes the store, the hypothesis is valid. You will have succeeded in chasing Wal-Mart away from your community. If you get fired, the hypothesis might still be valid and now you can sue.

Let's make that little yellow smiley face run away to somewhere else....

Saturday, June 11, 2005

It’s not to late to speculate

Bill O’Reilly is a man who understands truth and fairness. He is a man who knows what integrity is all about. He uses his keen understanding to avoid all of these things. More importantly, he is a man whose every public word is written down where I can find it…

So, if Bill were to be hypocritical or inaccurate (in my language we call this lying) Bill would get “busted.” I’d just like to thank Bill for being a lazy lying sanctimonious blow hard, it makes me smile when I think about it.

- Were he not lazy, he wouldn’t make big mistakes (a.k.a. lies).

- Were he not a sanctimonious, they wouldn’t be funny

- Were he not a blow hard, we hear about them

This is why I blog.

On June 9, Bill O’Reilly mentioned:
"As you may know, we do not speculate here on 'The Factor.' We have no idea what happened to Natalee or why she left the bar with some Aruban men. I've heard some irresponsible media speculate about that, and it makes me angry."

Grrr. It make me angry too. Rampant speculation and opinion expressed as fact is a real problem in today's media. News seems to have very little to do with fact these days. Here are a few particularly annoying examples:

Bill O’Reily 6/6/05 regarding Natalee Holloway:
"Looks like she's dead because the five people, two arrested, three interviewed, are all shady characters."

Bill O’Reilly 6/6/05 regarding Natalee Holloway:
"But to me, I mean, a woman like this, 18 years old, we know her background, doesn't have sex with three guys she doesn't know. I mean, that doesn't happen."

Bill O’Reilly 4/29/05 regarding the runaway bride:
"It's got to be a crime. A woman like that with a long history of responsibility. She had a steady job.... She just wouldn't bolt and not tell anybody."

Damn, it seems like Bill O’Reilly really could stop the irresponsible media. He could stop talking. Yeah, that’d probably help.