Saturday, January 30, 2010

Anthropogenic Global Warming

There is another excellent post over at Al Fin on human caused global warming.  The mounting evidence that, we, the gullible public, have been completely duped on this subject has become overwhelming for me.  I have changed my opinion 180 degrees and now believe the evidence for AGW is scant to non-existent.

The interesting thing to me is the rabid reaction of friends who still believe.  It is almost like you are trying to kill their first-born or accusing their mother of a crime.

The emotions of belief in AGW are strong and people treat me different when I now say that the evidence is not there to support this position.  AGW is the new religion and people don't want their God/Savior messed with.

Monday, January 25, 2010

If you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original

A video from the TED series by Ken Robinson who talks about how many schools are killing creativity.  He talks about education goals and that they may be misplaced at most universities.

If you have a problem with English accents then put the subtitles on.


This video is from a Yale teaching session by Professor Barry Nalebuf.   He gives many examples of how to think creatively easily. The techniques are deliberately simple to show that technical expertise is not required for many great ideas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mount Shasta Storm Disaster

Just got home. The major news orgs are missing a great story in Mount Shasta of a mini-disaster. The power has been out for 3 days, trees are down on houses and power lines, the grocery store and schools have been closed for 3 days and people are leaving their houses because of trees getting ready to go down. My yard has a couple doze...n trees down. We have had 6' of snow in about 4 days. Police chief declared a state of emergency.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Christmas Day Terrorist Attack and Rogue US Intel Group

Is it possible that the terrorist who tried to blow up the Amsterdam to Detroit flight was deliberately allowed to board with his explosives?  This article and a Richard Wolf MSNBC report seem to lend credence to such a scenario.

Three possible explanations were floated:  First, a turf war inside the intelligence community.  The second explanation was that the attack meant to embarrass Obama and his administration.   The third explanation of the plot was a rogue network inside the US government desired to unleash a new wave of Islamophobic hysteria to rehabilitate the discredited "global war on terror.

Entire article can be read here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Investment Ideas and 2009 Review - What Now? Pt 3

Now, we get to specific ideas for 2010.  I am long gold and feel very nervous about it since so many other people are too.  Currency trades have screwed me every time I make them. 

What are you going to do?

Investment Ideas and 2009 Review - What Now? Pt 2

Wish I had listened to this guy in March 2009. 

Investment Ideas and 2009 Review - What Now? Pt 1

The first video was a mailbag review.  Are people pissed enough to elect someone or some group of people to really do something about the bank giveaways?   Should the bank giveaways be stopped?  Does Bernanke and Geithner need to go?

My opinion is the the US electorate is still asleep at the wheel and too dumbed down or anesthetized to do anything.  Hope I am wrong.

Then Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Picture of Mount Shasta and Lassen with The Milky Way

This is an amazing picture of Northern California mountains with The Milky Way as a backdrop. 

The picture can be purchased at 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Keep Your Brain Young

What are you doing to keep your brain young? It may be as easy as saying yes.

More and more it seems that people I know in their 40's, 50's and beyond get into habitual living and activity ruts. They blame it on their bodies (stiff, sore, too hard, etc) or they say it is not fun, or it is too scary - they might get hurt. It used to really drive me nuts and now I'm getting better at living and let live. But, it got me to thinking why the impulse to try new activities is always there for me and I get restless with the same old, same old.

Maybe my brain just wants the exercise and is prodding me on to do new things. New activities stimulate our brain and help it continue to develop even into middle age and later.
As it happens, yes. While it’s tempting to focus on the flaws in older brains, that inducement overlooks how capable they’ve become. Over the past several years, scientists have looked deeper into how brains age and confirmed that they continue to develop through and beyond middle age.

Many longheld views, including the one that 40 percent of brain cells are lost, have been overturned. What is stuffed into your head may not have vanished but has simply been squirreled away in the folds of your neurons.

One explanation for how this occurs comes from Deborah M. Burke, a professor of psychology at Pomona College in California. Dr. Burke has done research on “tots,” those tip-of-the-tongue times when you know something but can’t quite call it to mind. Dr. Burke’s research shows that such incidents increase in part because neural connections, which receive, process and transmit information, can weaken with disuse or age.

So, listen to those urges that say to try something new like kayaking, learning Arabic, ski racing, or cooking octopus Korean style. Don't be afraid to talk with and actually try to understand your stupid right-wing or left-wing friend.
The trick is finding ways to keep brain connections in good condition and to grow more of them.

“The brain is plastic and continues to change, not in getting bigger but allowing for greater complexity and deeper understanding,” says Kathleen Taylor, a professor at St. Mary’s College of California, who has studied ways to teach adults effectively. “As adults we may not always learn quite as fast, but we are set up for this next developmental step.”

Educators say that, for adults, one way to nudge neurons in the right direction is to challenge the very assumptions they have worked so hard to accumulate while young. With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own, says Dr. Taylor, who is 66.

Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education, she says. Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different. In a history class, that might mean reading multiple viewpoints, and then prying open brain networks by reflecting on how what was learned has changed your view of the world.

“There’s a place for information,” Dr. Taylor says. “We need to know stuff. But we need to move beyond that and challenge our perception of the world. If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you’re not going to wrestle with your established brain connections.”

When I have gone off into unknown fields and learned more about something previously off my radar it seems to feel good in the way your body feels after a hard workout. You may not have enjoyed that workout but a couple days later the now stronger or more elastic muscles feel better.

Such stretching is exactly what scientists say best keeps a brain in tune: get out of the comfort zone to push and nourish your brain. Do anything from learning a foreign language to taking a different route to work.

“As adults we have these well-trodden paths in our synapses,” Dr. Taylor says. “We have to crack the cognitive egg and scramble it up. And if you learn something this way, when you think of it again you’ll have an overlay of complexity you didn’t have before — and help your brain keep developing as well.”

Jack Mezirow, a professor emeritus at Columbia Teachers College, has proposed that adults learn best if presented with what he calls a “disorienting dilemma,” or something that “helps you critically reflect on the assumptions you’ve acquired.”

Dr. Mezirow developed this concept 30 years ago after he studied women who had gone back to school. The women took this bold step only after having many conversations that helped them “challenge their own ingrained perceptions of that time when women could not do what men could do.”

Such new discovery, Dr. Mezirow says, is the “essential thing in adult learning.”

“As adults we have all those brain pathways built up, and we need to look at our insights critically,” he says. “This is the best way for adults to learn. And if we do it, we can remain sharp.”

Next time someone asks you to do something that immediately makes you want to recoil, hit them, or tell them "hell no", that may mean the suggested activity is just the ticket to help your brain continue to be healthy and strong. If you are a vegetarian, eat that pulled pork sandwich. The cowboys in the crowd could take up ball room dancing and eating sushi. Have fun with this one.