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On Geert Wilders and the Complex Issue of Immigrants in Europe

At March 15th is a short item about European elections.  It reads and Dutch presidential candidate Geert Wilders in particular:

Elections in The Netherlands, France, and Germany this year will test whether right-wing, anti-immigrant parties can upset the established order worldwide. The first test is today in the Netherlands, where 28 parties will be vying for seats in the 150-seat lower chamber of the parliament. Seats are allocated to parties in proportion to the popular vote, with no geographic restrictions. According to some polls, the leading parties are the VVD (Party for Freedom and Democracy) led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the PVV (Party for Freedom), led by anti-Islam zealot Geert Wilders.

Wilders is even more fanatically anti-Islam than Trump. His platform includes securing the borders, closing mosques, closing centers for refugees, banning the Koran, and forbidding women from wearing headscarves. He also wants the Netherlands to follow the U.K. out of the European Union.

He has some things in common in Trump besides his dislike of immigrants. In particular, he communicates with people by tweeting, in order to avoid the media filter. His hair is also somewhat unconventional. His economic policies are generally left wing, though, and so he will attract some votes on that basis alone. What is extremely unusual is that his official platform (in Dutch) fits on a single page and has only 11 items, as follows:

  • De-Islamitize the Netherlands (with 8 bullets about specific items such a banning mosques and the Koran)

  • Leave the European Union

  • Introduce binding referendums on policy issues

  • Eliminate all deductibles in health insurance

  • Lower the rents on apartments

  • Bring the age for Social Security back to 65 (it is creeping up to 67)

  • No government financing for foreign aid, windmills, art, innovation, public radio or TV, etc.

  • Eliminate previously imposed austerity measures in home care and care for the elderly

  • Expand funding for defense and the police

  • Lower income taxes

  • Reduce the vehicle registration tax by half

I’ve sort of kept up with events in Holland and other northern European countries for some years, due to the seemingly very real problems that they’ve experienced with Muslim immigrants being sometimes aggressive in pushing religious dictates on some rather small countries.

Frankly, it appears that that has been a clash of cultures, one that came mostly from their membership in the European Union.  With the EU, anyone who can get into the EU is free to travel and work anywhere else in the EU.  So, people who get into, say, Greece, can then travel up to Holland and get a job and stay. Continue reading


Maybe OJ Didn’t Do It, After All. . .

I am just finishing up watching the mini-series entitled “Is OJ Innocent? – The Missing Evidence“.


Please don’t read this if you haven’t watched the mini-series and intend to watch it.  I am posting this here rather than on where I watched it – because they have a warning about not posting spoilers.

Okay, after all is said and done and the mystery witness had come forth, which tied a lot of things together, I think they didn’t quite nail it.


There is a realistic way to account for the discrepancy  between the 9:59 stopped watch and the 10:15 time of OJ and Jason arriving on the scene.  My scenario, is close to what William Dear came up with at about 30:00 into the video – but not quite – and for what it is worth, here it is: Continue reading

Gun Control in the Post-Scalia Era

I didn’t see any mention of gun control today.

But I am sure it will occur to everyone pretty damned soon.

With the SCOTUS changing we can expect to see gun control cases going to the court that wouldn’t have before.

When Kennedy also retires, the balance goes 6-3 the other way.

The current Senate can only forestall so long.  Once November comes and the Blue Wall kicks in and the Senate goes Democratic, only the House stands between the GOP and Götterdämerung.

Obama won’t get gun control, but it’s coming.


Republicans and Authoritarians and Baptists, Oh My!

In this month that is the start of the American Presidential campaign 2016, after already so many debates, it is fitting and proper that we take a look at the clowns that the Republican Party has who somehow think that they are even REMOTELY qualified to be President of the United States.

I think I will start with this:

“By ‘right-wing authoritarianism’ I mean the covariation of three attitudinal clusters in a person:

  1. Authoritarian submission – a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
  2. Authoritarian aggression – a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities.
  3. Conventionalism – a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.”

That is from The Authoritarian Specter, by Bob Altemeyer, written in 1996 (Harvard University Press).

Be aware that he was writing not about a system, but about individual persons and what is going on in their heads.  I kind of like the term “attitudinal clusters”.  I might use that one myself in the future.

That book is for academics.  For those who do not want to wade through an academic treatise like me, feel free to read The Authoritarians, a more readable version of Altemeyer’s work, which was my introduction to his work.

When I look at Ted Cruz, the most blatant grabber for power among the silly party candidates, all I see is Joe McCarthy, a Joe McCarthy in religious garb. Continue reading

On Stupidity, Capacity, and Religion

I am kind of participating in a Facebook discussion about stupid people.  In the discussion someone posted a YouTube with John Cleese and Bill Maher.  I completely agree with their points.  The idea that we should expect people to strive to be somewhat intelligent is a proper one, regardless what P.C. people may argue.

This gets kind of long.  Not much hope for that. It is actually a bigger subject than we normally might think, and this still only scratches the surface.  But I am not necessarily inviting discourse, just talking .  If I didn’t think that this level of mentality wasn’t threatening the world and the USA in particular, I wouldn’t even write on it.  But people pandering to the stupid people of the USA has picked up so much steam that at some point we have to look at stupidity long enough to sort out some things.

Who Is Building the World, Anyway ?

In order to talk about stupidity we need to actually understand a bit about how very intelligent people can and have set up the world in a fairly sane way.  This world didn’t just pop up like a kernel of popcorn, fully expanded and ready to go. Everywhere you look, there is intelligence displayed – in beautiful buildings, in well-engineered bridges, dams, road systems, well-planned city centers, and many, many more things – things that matter.  These things perhaps even define our civilization.  

Part of the world, however, isn’t exactly physical – it is mental.  Education underlies it all, that part, anyway, and IMHO all the rest, too.  Our political systems, as flawed as they may be at any point in time, are part of that legacy.  We have this American Experiment that is always going awry in some fashion or other.  We have some very wise and far-seeing people to credit for that.  Not a one of them was stupid.  But, for those who haven’t read up on it at all, it didn’t start with them.

The Scottish Enlightenment and Education

For those of us who’ve been taught that the American Founding Fathers thought of all that stuff on their own – which is most of us – I recommend they read a book called “How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It” sometime.  It is about something most of us know nothing about – The Scottish Enlightenment.  The American Founding Fathers are the second or third generation of that kind of thinking. It amazed me that Jefferson and Franklin and all didn’t just spring out of nothing.   Continue reading



Alternative Researchers

The term is one commonly used by serious non-credentialed inquirers to distinguish themselves from academic historians and academic scientists, all of whom have achieved their status by way of acquiring a diploma from some institute of higher learning.  The term “alternative research,” does not indicate much to the average person on the street, but there is an increasing number of people who can distinguish that it means quite a lot.

To this audience the term indicates that the inquirer whose work they’re going to read or listen to at a conference is someone who is not bashful about stepping on toes, who calls a spade a spade, whose career does not depend on toeing some line and playing it safe.

To the “credentialed inquirer” (an academic) the term “aternative researcher” means someone who has few if any standards, has not accrued any standing, who has not learned how to think critically, and who is close to being a snake oil salesman.  OUCH!

One has only to look at the history of science to see that it is replete with many early researchers who would today be considered dabblers – mere “researchers”.  Some point to Einstein himself as a dabbler, since he was working in the Swiss Patent Office at the time he developed his Theory of Relativity.  But Einstein is not an appropriate example of a non-credentialed inquirer, because he had only taken the job as a stop-gap measure.  He had attended university and was already known a little bit in the academic world.

Benjamin Franklin would be a more appropriate example of a non-credentialed inquirer. He had little formal education and but had a fervent interest in multiple areas of inquiry and – eventually – a wide circle of influential people in science as an audience.  At that time, evidently, the wall between the two types of researchers had not yet formed.

“Alternative” implies “pseudo” to credentialed scientists, it seems, and certainly suggests outside of science.  It is difficult to address history or archaeology in this present essay, since both of them use so much interpretation that is not quantified, leading to two fields that are so rife with personal prejudice, subjectivity and belief system as to render them both little more than compendia of opinions.  A close friend who is degreed in history amazed me with assertions that everyone is allowed to have an opinion, and that no opinion is considered true above any others.  As an engineer, to hear that even FACTS are debatable and only opinion – well you can imagine my reaction…  I DO ask that friend if 2+2=4 is just an opinion.  So far no answer… Continue reading

Another look at the Carolina bays

I did something interesting and would like to share it…

About a year ago Michael Davias shared with me his Excel spreadsheet pertaining to the Carolina bays.  And what a spreadsheet it is.  The amount of work Michael put into locating and quantifying their locations and sizes and alignments boggles my mind.  It was, as I understand it, tied in with his LIDAR work on the bays.  And without LIDAR, probably the majority of the bays simply are not find-able.  The two – LIDAR and the data – go hand in hand, but the numbers of bays is really up there, and to think that he was able to extract so much precise data about the bays is just mind-numbing.  My hat goes off to Michael for doing so much foundational work.


A few of the more than 43,900 Carolina bays.  [Click to enlarge.]

Maybe the first question that comes to your mind is how many of them Davias was able to find.  The answer to that is 43,900 bays. [Author’s note: I have since been apprised that the number is pushing 45,000 now; the work goes on… I will continue to use the 43,900 number in this post, however… Laziness…LOL]

So the world now has a fairly precise count of the Carolina bays.  It is not half a million, as some have speculated.  It is 43,900.  But 43,900 is still a LOT of bays.  It is also a very large database from which to derive statistical meaning.

How many types of bay planforms are there?  Five types exist in the eastern USA.  Michael gave the three types the names BayCarolina, BayBell, and BaySouth, bayShore, and bayOval.  A sixth type regardless of shape is called BayWest, strictly on location – out in the Great Plains.

What is the size range?  The largest one is 7.95 km x 6.19 km.  The smallest is 0.03 km x 0.03 km.

The farthest north bay is at latitude 41.76°N; the farthest south is at 30.79°N. The farthest east is at 72.80°W; the farthest west is at 100.80°W (in the Bay West group.  Of those in the eastern USA, the farthest west is at 87.62°W. Continue reading