Dec 27 2011

Liliana smiles

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:48 pm

3.5 weeks old, and smiling at the world already. Obviously, God has already shared with her the results of the next presidential election, and things are about to change. Hope and change. That’s the ticket.

Liliana smiling #1

I’m hoping for change that my grandchild will get to enjoy as she grows up.

Dec 25 2011

Liliana May Andreola, my new grand-daughter, born Dec 1, 2011, first Christmas!

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 1:40 pm

Dec 21 2011

This is…… devastating

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:02 pm

And you thought times were tough in the cities.

Dec 21 2011

I hope John Ringo’s crystal ball is busted…. but I’m not sure it is

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 12:58 pm

I thought this was just entertaining fiction until I read this.


Dec 20 2011

Winning the reverse lottery

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 4:29 pm

The reverse lottery is when you suddenly have a large expense you didn’t plan for, and one that was exceedingly unlikely, but you’re the lucky one who “won” it anyway.

In my case, it’s my Toyota Prius.  It’s a 2005 model with a bit over 200,000 miles on it.  Toyota claims that “amost none” of its hybrid battery systems has failed.   So I guess you can place me in the “almost none” category.  Against all odds, the hybrid system/battery pack that powers the electric motor, and is charged by the gas motor, has failed.

Toyota says more Prius owners have been hit by lightning.  I’m thinking that maybe a lightning strike would give my battery pack a face-lift and make it work again.  But apparently not.

Toyota wants $4500 to replace the battery pack/hybrid system.  Hah.  On a car with that many miles on it, which is starting to use oil?  Where replacing the gas engine would be another $5000 or so?  Not likely….

So if I can’t find a Prius battery on the used market (maybe one that was in a front end collision?), I’ll be looking for another car, quite soon.  Like yesterday.

Anybody got any good ideas?

Dec 16 2011

Christian universities not Christian enough to be allowed full freedom of religion by the US government?

It seems that the National Labor Relations Board is now in the business of judging whether Christian colleges and universities are sufficiently serious about their Christian commitment to warrant the full protections of religious liberty from the First Amendment’s free exercise clause.  The matter in question is whether the NLRB can force Christian institutions of higher learning to accept unionization similar to that which afflicts state and secular private schools, and enforce other “non-discrimination” aspects of federal labor law (e.g, can Christian institutions be forced to hire or retain employees who are clearly living at variance with Christian moral expectations?).

According to Patrick J. Reilly, in Are Catholic Colleges Catholic Enough? –, the case hinges

on the Supreme Court’s ruling in NLRB v. The Catholic Bishop of Chicago, et al. (1979), which found that the NLRB had violated the First Amendment’s free exercise clause by requiring Catholic schools to comply with federal labor laws, thereby possibly interfering with religious decision-making. But that ruling didn’t stop the NLRB from claiming authority over most Catholic colleges and universities by arguing that Catholic Bishop protects only “church-controlled” institutions that are “substantially religious,” a phrase taken from Chief Justice Warren Burger’s majority opinion in the case. Many of the nation’s 224 Catholic colleges and universities are legally independent of the Catholic bishops or the religious orders that founded them.

So the NLRB has put itself in the position of judging schools’ religious character, and it has concluded over the years that many Catholic institutions are inconsistent in their application of Catholic principles to teaching, course requirements, campus life and faculty hiring. It’s a serious overreach by the government, though many Catholics would agree that colleges and universities often demonstrate inconsistent religious observation.

Of course, it isn’t only Catholic colleges and universities that “often demonstrate inconsistent religious observation.”  Many protestant and evangelical institutions are fighting similar battles….  or maybe not fighting them enough.

The erosion of religious identity in Catholic higher education over the past 50 years has been marked by theological dissent, hostility toward the bishops, and increasingly liberal campus-life arrangements such as co-ed dorms and lax visitation rules. These issues fueled the 2009 confrontation at Notre Dame, for example, when pro-life Catholics objected to the school honoring President Barack Obama.

The temptation to please the world is always there in Christian higher education.   Many initiatives undertaken by ostensibly Christian universities seem to be very similar to those that get excited attention at secular schools, but there are things that Christian higher ed talks about less and less (abortion-on-demand, for example) while it holds countless workshops on hot topics like human sex trafficking (as if there was something controversial about it, as if there was someone, somewhere, who thought it was a good thing).

Catholic educators are now awaiting the result of Manhattan College’s appeal to the NLRB regulators in Washington. Their appeal relies heavily on an argument put forward in 1986 by future Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Writing for half the members of an evenly divided D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Breyer argued that the NLRB had contravened the Catholic Bishop ruling by establishing a “substantial religious character” test to determine whether a college meets sectarian standards.

The D.C. Circuit has formally embraced Justice Breyer’s reasoning twice over the past decade, instructing the NLRB to stop interfering with any college or university that “holds itself out to students, faculty and community as providing a religious educational environment.” In ruling against St. Xavier University and Manhattan College, NLRB regional staff seem to have ignored that instruction.

Protestant and evangelical Christian colleges and universities, take note: the candidate of hope and change you helped elect, possibly as part of your diversity initiatives, has his sights set on making you follow the same federal employment rules as any other school.  You may be forced to hire people who do not “model the Christian life” for students…  unless, of course, your notion of the Christian life has recently undergone radical revision.

Dec 06 2011

The Earth’s wild ride?

Category: God,scienceharmonicminer @ 2:10 pm

I’ve written in Someone To Watch Over Us about how the universe appears to be fraught with dangers to life.   Complex life must be incredibly rare,  because long lasting ecospheres that can support life over billions of years seem to be thin on the ground, as it were.  The article excerpted below discusses the “wild ride” of the Earth’s solar system through all kinds of hazards to life, which include dust clouds, supernovas, black holes, gamma ray bursts, etc.  Scientists are only beginning to gather the kind of data they need to really understand what challenges to life have already affected our solar system and the Earth.  But already, with hundreds of planets discovered around nearby suns, only one seems likely to support liquid water on its surface (if it has any water, which we don’t know, the surface temperature may allow liquid water, based on its distance from its star). 

The Earth seems to have dodged the most deadly bullets so far.  On another interpretation, Someone is perhaps just pushing us out of the way of them.

Earth’s wild ride: Our voyage through the Milky Way

FOR billions of years, Earth has been on a perilous journey through space. As our planet whirls around the sun, the whole solar system undertakes a far grander voyage, circling our island universe every 200 million years. Weaving our way through the disc of the Milky Way, we have drifted through brilliant spiral arms, braved the Stygian darkness of dense nebulae, and witnessed the spectacular death of giant stars.

Many of these marvels may well have been deadly, raining lethal radiation onto Earth’s surface or hurling huge missiles into our path. Some may have wiped out swathes of life, smashed up continents or turned the planet to ice. Others may have been more benign, perhaps even sowing the seeds of life.

A long time ago, in this galaxy but far, far away… the sky is packed with bright stars and glowing nebulae, far denser than today’s tame heavens. But this scene is not to last. A great curving wave of stars picks up the solar system like a scrap of flotsam, sweeping it out into the empty galactic fringes, far from its forgotten homeland.

…….Some measurements imply the sun is richer in heavy elements than the average star in our neighbourhood, suggesting it was born in the busy central zone of the galaxy, where stellar winds and exploding stars enrich the cosmic brew more than in the galactic suburbs. ………

The sky blossoms with brilliant, blue-white young stars, some still cocooned in a gauze of the gas from which they formed. The brightest shines with the light of 20,000 suns, but its brilliance is a warning sign. Soon the star will explode, banishing the night for several weeks. Unlike the life-giving warmth of the sun, this light will bring death.

In a nearby spiral arm of the Milky Way, more than 1000 light years away from our solar system’s present position, lies the Orion nebula, a birthplace of giant stars. Our solar system must at times have drifted much closer to such stellar nurseries. To do so is to flirt with disaster. A massive star burns its fuel rapidly, and in a few million years its core can collapse, unleashing the vast energy of a supernova.

X-rays from a supernova just tens of light years away could deplete or destroy Earth’s ozone layer, letting in harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. High-energy protons, or cosmic rays, would continue to bombard Earth for decades, depleting ozone, damaging living tissue and possibly seeding clouds to spark climate change. Such convulsions might have triggered some of the mass extinctions that so cruelly punctuate the history of life on Earth – perhaps even hastening the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, according to a theory formulated in the 1990s.

Evidence for past supernovae is thin on the ground, although in 1999 German researchers found traces of iron-60 in south Pacific sediments (Physical Review Letters, vol 83, p 18). This isotope, with a half-life of 2.6 million years, is not made in significant quantities by any process on Earth, but is expelled by supernovae. The interpretation is disputed, but if iron-60 is a supernova’s dirty footprint, it suggests a star exploded only a few million years ago within about 100 light years of us.

Planetary scientist Ian Crawford of Birkbeck, University of London, suggests we can look to the moon to find clear evidence of such astro-catastrophes. “The moon is a giant sponge soaking up everything thrown at it as we go around the galaxy,” he says. Cosmic rays from a supernova will plough into the moon, leaving trails of damage in surface minerals that will be visible under a microscope and knocking atoms about to create exotic isotopes such as krypton-83 and xenon-126.


The darkness is coming. It starts with just a small patch of starless black, but slowly grows until it blots out the sky. For a half a million years, the sun is the only visible star. As alien dust and gas rains down and pervades our atmosphere, Earth is swathed in white cloud and gripped with ice; a pale mirror to the dark cosmic cloud bank above.

Interstellar gas permeates the Milky Way, but not evenly. The solar system happens now to inhabit an unusually empty patch of space, the local bubble, with only one hydrogen atom per five cubic centimetres of space. In the past we must have drifted through much denser gas clouds, including some more than 100 light years across in whose cold and dark interiors hydrogen forms itself into molecules.

In such nebulae, Earth may have caught a cold. …

We know Earth has suffered such episodes, including big chills some 650 and 700 million years ago. Their cause remains obscure. It could have been the weathering of mountains that pulled carbon dioxide from the air, or volcanic eruptions, or changes to Earth’s orbit around the sun – or a black cloud in space.


The faint red star seems harmless at first, a barely perceptible speck outshone by 10,000 other points of light. But it grows. In only a few thousand years, it waxes to become the brightest star in the sky. Out in the Oort cloud far beyond Pluto, giant balls of ice and rock begin to deviate from their delicately balanced orbits and move in towards the sun. Soon the skies teem with comets – ill omens for Earth.

The moon’s pitted surface records aeons of bombardment. Apollo astronauts found many samples of ancient melted rock, revealing that around 4 billion years ago the inner solar system was being pelted with massive bodies.

This “late heavy bombardment” is thought to have been caused by movements of the outer planets Uranus and Neptune disturbing asteroids in the Kuiper belt, where Pluto resides. Incidents in our galactic odyssey would have unleashed other storms of comets and asteroids. Passing stars or dust clouds might have triggered a one-off spike in the bombardment. A more regular pattern of new crater formation could reflect a repeated encounter on our path around the galaxy – passing through a particularly dense and unchanging spiral arm, for example.

To find out we would need to visit a variety of surfaces, taking small rock samples to determine their ages, and then making a careful census of craters to see how the impact rate has fluctuated. Buried soils could help, says Joy. “We might find fragments that would tell us what type of asteroids or comets were hitting the moon.”

Dec 03 2011

Liliana May Andreola, my new grand-daughter, born Dec 1, 2011

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 1:37 pm

Dec 01 2011

Well…. I didn’t think it happened ON PURPOSE

Category: humorharmonicminer @ 8:17 am

Man is accidentally shot by his own dog |

And strangely enough, that’s what really happened to a hapless dog owner in Brigham City, Utah. The man in question–a 46-year-old hunting enthusiast who is not named in local news reports on the incident–got a behind-full of birdshot courtesy of his loyal canine companion when he was out duck hunting over the weekend. reports the man and his dog were traveling in a canoe-like boat when the man stepped out into a shallow marsh to set up some decoys. His left his 12-gauge shotgun resting across the bow of the boat, according to Box Elder County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Potter.

That’s when the dog “did something to make the gun discharge,” Potter said. “I don’t know if the safety device was on. It’s not impossible the dog could have taken it off safety.”

Apparently excited to join his owner in the marsh, the dog jumped up on the boat’s bow and stepped on the gun. The gun was fired, hitting the man in the buttocks with 27 pellets of birdshot.

UPDATE: The man lived, so no Darwin award here…. though I assume he won’t be doing much sitting for awhile.

UPDATE II: You don’t suppose his last name is Cheney, do you?

Dec 01 2011

In hock for diversity

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 2:23 am

Here’s an article from Heather McDonald in National Review:

Pepper-Spraying Taxpayers

As protesters festively (oops! I mean “heroically”) rally on college quads across California in the wake of the gratuitous macing of a dozen Occupy Wall Street wannabes at University of California–Davis last Friday, UC Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion declared that the rising tuition at California’s public universities is giving him “heartburn.” It should, since Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Gibor Basri and his fellow diversity bureaucrats are a large cause of those skyrocketing college fees, not just in California but nationally.

Yep. Given that the real costs and budget allocations are often pretty opaque even to university “insiders” like faculty, it’s pretty hard to know just how much the essentially leftist political goal of diversity is costing higher education under the guise of fairness, or openness, or whatever. I suppose it’s different in different places. But private schools certainly have their share of this problem, too.

This paragraph is especially on point:

The Big Lie of the campus diversity industry has been that without constant monitoring by diversity bureaucrats, faculty and other administrators would discriminate against minority and female professors and students. In fact, anyone who has spent a day inside a university knows that the exact opposite is demonstrably the case: Hundreds of thousands of hours and dollars are wasted each year in the futile pursuit of the same inadequate pool of remotely qualified underrepresented minority and female applicants that every other campus in the country is chasing with as much desperate zeal. The hiring process has been thoroughly corrupted. Faculty applicants are brought onto campus who have no chance of being hired, either because the hiring committee incorrectly assumed from their names or résumés that they were the right sort of minority (East Asians don’t count) for a position set aside for just such a minority, or because, although they were the right sort of minority, their qualifications were so low that their only purpose in being interviewed was to fill an outreach quota.

The whole thing is worth reading. Click the link at the top.

One thing I have to point out, in all the diversity talk: I haven’t heard any real concern expressed over the disproportionate female tilted gender balance of incoming students. It’s 60/40 female to male in lots of universities, and 55/45 almost everywhere else.

I haven’t heard anything about affirmative action for admissions of white male students. But numerically speaking, in the quota-think of the left, such a thing is surely needed.

But maybe that time will come.

Or not.

It’s much more fun to prattle on about white male privilege than to wonder why more white males aren’t in the university to hear themselves being accused of being white males.