Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Opting Out" Of Optometrists

Sometime in early 2005 (January to March), I happened to stumble upon an extremely interesting technology: "adjustable prescription eyeglasses" -- with no eye appointment necessary!

At the time, I worked for a small medical sales, service, and supply company here in south Florida. I've since left that career path, but back then I was "up" on most of the new medical equipment, and tried to keep myself well informed. Medical advances still intrigue me, so I occasionally browse major technological advances in the field. Every once in awhile (like this past week) I still stumble on articles about the creator of these money-saving spectacles. His original site, www.adaptive-eyecare.com hasn't been operative since July of 2007, but you can still read through it at the Internet Archive.

The inventor, Professor Joshua D. Silver, runs the EBIT Group in the physics department at Oxford University.

The concept behind the glasses is fairly basic: the wearer can "tune" each lens (independently) to the exact prescription needed (+/-6 diopters max) and then "lock" that prescription into the glasses by tightening a screw to seal the lenses. With that, Presto! You have the correct prescription -- for your eyes! Of course, that is without the exam fee, the doctor's fee, the extra cost for designer frames (these are ugly, but effective), and without wasting time waiting for the production of new designer glasses.

The only drawback to these adjustable prescription glasses: they're still in "concept" phase, so they haven't become cheap enough (yet) to distribute widely. (Over 30,000 pair have already been donated to the poor.)

Professor Silver's goal for this year is to be able to produce a pair of glasses for around $1 -- and then he'd like to distribute one million of them throughout India.

His long term goal:
Distributing one billion glasses to the poor and needy of the entire world!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Wearing Green For St. Patrick's Day... Again

Last year (2008) I was a week late for tomorrow's holiday, so here is a re-vamped version of last year's post: Immured in Green:



Every year I'm asked why I -- as a "religious" fanatic -- never wear green on St. Patrick's Day. While I do attend church every time the doors are open, I'm actually not "religious" -- religions are based on tradition first. In most areas, I'm not a traditionalist by any stretch of the imagination. Although I wear suits & ties with dress shirts several times every week, I quit wearing white dress shirts entirely sometime back in the late 1990s. The one exception being a white shirt I rented for my wedding day. Plus, I usually wear cowboy boots with my suits.

People think of me as "religious" because I do attempt to live right, to base my beliefs on the Bible, and to teach my kids to have their own set of high ethical standards based on the Bible. Of course, just like everyone else, I still succeed some days and fail on others -- depending on the minute, hour, day, week, month, and year, but when it comes to St. Patrick's day I avoid including green in every (visible) part of my wardrobe. Instead, I wear maroon -- and that prominently.

I started my personal "not wearing green" trend in junior high and continued this non-conformist trend throughout high school, college, and to the present. Prior to college, without some explanation, few understood why I wouldn't wear green. Every year I explained that both Catholics and Protestants celebrate St. Patrick's Day, all the Catholics wear green, and all the Protestants wear orange. As an orange-wearing kid, in green-wearing schools, I'd get the inevitable, "Prove it," every year. Thus would commence a short social sciences lesson on the Irish and their flag. I'll relate it here, very briefly, for those that may not have heard it before:

The Irish flag consists of 3 vertical stripes, green at the pole, orange at the opposite end, and white between them. Green signifies Catholics, orange -- Protestants, and white -- the peace that should be between them. Their "Irish-ness" supposedly enough to unify even opposing religious views.

After that brief explanation, most understood my self-imposed abstinence from green for the holiday, and a few others even began to wear orange as I did. In more recent years (I believe it was in college, but am uncertain), I've refrained from wearing orange as well -- this change was brought about by studying church history. I am a Baptist, and Baptist history is a very different, separate "tree" than both Catholicism and Protestantism.

The "dark ages" lasted a little over 1,000 years -- different people observe differing events to "mark" the beginning and end, but the approximate dates are 450 AD to 1600 AD (I usually allow +/-75 years to and from each end). "Protestantism" began as an off-shoot out of Catholicism as the early champions of the Bible attempted to reform the Roman Catholic church. They wanted worship to line up with the Bible rather than the traditions of men. Officially, Protestantism is said to have "started" when Luther broke away from the Roman Catholic church in the early 1500s. The Lutherans were followed by the Church of England, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Methodists, and many other denominations that all now claim to be Protestant.

The difference between "Baptist-believing" churches and all of the others, is that they existed prior to Luther (as early as the 1400s) and all held to the belief that for baptism to be of any effect, it had to be practiced Biblically. The Bible states baptism is to occur after one's salvation as an act of obedience to God and as an identification with your faith in Christ as Savior. "Baptizo" meaning to "immerse completely," has a definite and entirely different meaning than "rhantizo" -- "to sprinkle."

These Baptistic churches were persecuted throughout the entire dark ages because they wouldn't conform to Rome's mandates, but only to the scriptures. Prior to being called "Baptist" these churches were called by many other names: Ana-Baptists, Anabaptists, Montanists, Novations, Paterins, Donatists, Paterins Cathari, Paulicians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Albigenses, and Waldenses. Generally, these all believed in rebaptizing any new converts coming from churches holding views unaligned with the Bible (i.e. Catholicism and Orthodoxy). Wittenburg wrote in 1607, "Our modern Anabaptist are the same as the Donitists of old. They took no account of the baptism of others ..."

Based on my study, there were churches referred to as "Anabaptist" as early as the 200s -- predating the reign of Catholicism's Constantine (306 A.D. - 312 A.D.).


I said all that to say, as a Baptist, I won't be wearing green for this holiday -- ever. Associating myself with the Roman Catholic religion that has (over many past centuries) killed thousands that believe the Bible as I do would be remiss on my part. EDIT: (I realize, in the USA, as well as most other parts of the world, this is no longer condoned by anyone in the Catholic Church. Although, the Muslims have picked up where the Catholic church left off a few hundred years ago.)

I could wear orange, as many different Protestants of today hold beliefs quite similar to my own (and the general public cannot differentiate between a Protestant and a Baptist). However, in the early days of Protestantism, many of those denominations also held beliefs widely divergent from Baptists, and some went so far as to persecute Baptists, just as the Roman Catholics did.

No matter how similar my beliefs are to those of others, I know that I'm not Protestant. Because I'm a Baptist (of the conservative, independent, and Biblically-based fundamental variety... that have existed "underground" for centuries), I hold to views that are separate from both Catholicism and Protestantism. So, as a matter of personal preference, I eschew BOTH green AND orange on St. Patrick's day.

If I don't have any clean maroon shirts, I'll substitute red -- whatever color I have that is as close as possible to the color of blood. Maroon and red are close to orange (as many of my beliefs are close to mainline Protestants of today and of old), but are obviously different colors.

In this way, if someone asks about my lack of green (or orange), I can point to my red article of clothing and explain God's exclusive requirement of Christ's blood sacrifice to remit any and all sin -- the importance of accepting this sacrifice -- and how (as a Baptist that follows the Bible over traditions) it's my belief that each convert should be baptized after their salvation.

Explaining the green/orange observance of St. Patrick's day has yet to enable me to lead anyone up to (or through) the Bible verses that promise 100% certainty of salvation (and eternal residence in heaven), but maybe this St. Patrick's day will change that.



As a side note, I am part Irish, BUT I am NOT Catholic, never have been, never will be, and if you attempt to punch or pinch me for not wearing green... well, let's just say you may contribute to my delinquency. =)
(That's a joke... don't forget to smile.)


* * * * * * * EDIT * * * * * * *
NOTE #1: Actually left home early in the morning on St. Patrick's Day for an appointment. Was running behind, and couldn't find any clean maroon (or red) shirts -- so I looked for an orange stand-in -- came up short there too. Ended up wearing white. (Was able to find a maroon polo later when I came home for lunch.)

NOTE #2: Was able to use my non-green shirt as an "opportunity" for the first time!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Comparison of 128 Years Of CO2 Emissions & Resulting Climate Change

    This entry gets a little more detailed than I normally do, but in the last week I've been having extensive discussions with some individuals that are concerned with CO2 emissions causing the eminent demise of our planet. Seemed to me that replicating the work to my blog would make a good article... for those that aren't interested in "spin" -- but in the truth.

    After you look at this small amount of evidence, and before you go explaining it to "lousy Larry" on the street, just remember what Terence said:
      "Hoc tempore obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit":
      (In these days friends are won through flattery, the truth gives birth to hate.)
I've done extensive work... learning formulas... comparing graphs... studying charts... crunching numbers... plugging along... and the sum total all of my research can be boiled down and expressed by a comparison of 2 simple graphs. (Both are pulled from 2008 data compiled by US govt organizations.)

The first is the CDIAC's estimate of CO2 emissions and the second is NASA's recorded climatological records.

I got this CDIAC graph from EarthPolicy.org. It shows the increase in total CO2 emissions from 1751 to the present (prior to 1825 the amounts were too small to graph):

This NASA graph shows the difference of the yearly US temperature averages (0 degrees C being the mean of the last 128 years) -- from when they were first recorded (in 1880) to the present:

Looking at the two graphs, I see several things:

1) Since the early 1880s, CO2 emissions have increased astronomically.

2) The largest difference in minimum and maximum yearly temperature means for any 5 year period falls between 1917 (low of -1.071) & 1921 (high of +1.119). (A total difference of 2.226 degrees C.)

3) The highest single yearly average mean is actually a tie between 2 years: 1934 & 1998 (+1.238).

4) 1934 had ~1.125 billion tons of CO2 emissions; 1998 had ~6.875 billion. (A difference of ~5.75 billion tons.)

5) The difference in the absolute lowest recorded yearly mean temperature (1917: -1.071 degrees C) and the highest recorded yearly mean (the 2 years listed in #3 & #4) is about 2 degrees C (2.309524).

6) The total change from the first 5 year mean ~(-0.24) to the most recent ~(+0.64) is a difference of almost 1 degree C ~(0.880952).

7) The very first recorded five year mean temperature (1882) is identical to the five year mean temperature recorded in 1977.

8) The last year on the temperature graph -- 2008 -- has an annual mean temperature identical to that recorded in 1890.

9) The estimated yearly output of CO2 emissions in 1890 was ~0.375 billion tons, in 2008 was ~8.375 billion tons. (A difference of ~8 billion tons.)

10) There is only one yearly mean that falls more than 1 degree lower than the 128 year average: 1917, but there are 5 yearly means that fall more than 1 degree above the 128 year average: 1921, 1931, 1934, 1998, & 2006.
(Incidentally, 3 of those 5 occur well before the beginning of the explosion of CO2 emissions that started in the 1950s and have continued since).

There is no observable correlation in the data between the graph of CO2 emissions and the graph of yearly temperature means.

This is only ONE comparative example of MUCH data that I've sifted through. After extensive digging, I have yet to find even one piece of recorded scientific evidence that reflects a direct tie-in to CO2 emissions and climate.

Therefore, it's apparent to me (based on the last 128 years of recorded global temperature change) that the urgency of reducing CO2 emissions to "save the planet" from catastrophic climate change is an unmitigated hoax.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Recent Stories I Have NOT Seen In The MSM... Yet

Being sick (again) seems like a bit of a cop out for not posting anything, so I grabbed several of the links I read last week and added my own commentary:

A "friend"-ly warning:
A new variant of the old "Koobface" worm has been rewritten for FaceBook. It tricks unsuspecting users into going to a fake YouTube site, downloading the worm, and then the worm takes over their computer, replicates and sends itself to everyone in their FaceBook friend list.
With friends like that who needs frenemies?

No fear of God:
Some brazen thief robbed a large church in Nebraska (7,000 member congregation is large to me) of their weekly offering... of $145,000! He walked in, said he was there for the weekly deposits, they handed it over, and he calmly walked out with them none the wiser -- because he had an armored car uniform on! 15 minutes later the real guard got there and they realized they'd been robbed.
I'm the treasurer at my church -- we've never had a weekly offering that large. Anyone want to change that?

Bad day:
While moving containers at a shipping yard in Turkey, a tractor trailer pulled in front of a train, got hit, was pushed across a parking lot until the cab of the truck slammed into a concrete wall, and the trailer smashed into another trailer parked nearby.
Worse day:
The man standing next to the tracks saw the truck go by, but not the oncoming train. He got hit by the (then sliding) truck so hard that his helmet was knocked off and went flying... then the truck went over him. (See video below... no sound included)
video
Beautiful day:
The train stayed on the tracks (so didn't fall on him), the man went under the trailer between the wheels, awakened with no memory of the crash, and had only minor injuries. Dumb luck?

Fruits of his labors:
The recent election of our current President has not only caused a run on guns and ammunition nationwide, but also a backlog of 95,000 people seeking concealed weapons permits -- that's 95,000 just in Florida! Might be faster to take a few self-defense classes, or enroll in the martial arts.

No wonder people don't like leftovers:
From the company that brought the world "kangaroo-poo paper" (in 2005) we can now purchase green OR gold paper made from... the poo of wombats!
Yuck.
"Going green" I can understand, "Being Brown" I cannot. (The company name "Creative Paper" is literally a "gross" understatement... of less-than-epic proportions.)
Just don't forget and lick your fingers while you're turning the pages.

"Green" I can believe in:
A French firm has developed the "AirPod" -- a car that runs on compressed air. The 46 gallon tank can take you approximately 140 miles, and recharging can be accomplished in a few minutes at specialized gas stations, or you can plug it in overnight (~8 hours) and the on-board compressor will fill the tank. Retailing for the equivalent of $7,500, it sounds like a great deal to me. The only drawback is the current version only holds 3 passengers -- I have a wife and 4 kids.

Cashing in on our dead relatives:
It seems that one of the best ways to collect a debt in today's economy is to get it from surviving relatives. New technology is enabling debt collectors to quickly file claims after the death of a debtor. In many cases, the surviving family isn't legally required to pay these bills from their own personal assets, but most do -- some even send "Thank You" letters afterward! Talk about selling an ice maker to an Eskimo.

A new low in passing counterfeit bills:
Five $20 counterfeit bills were used to purchase cookies from Girl Scouts' Troop 40411 in Bremen Washington. The troop is going to have to "eat" the losses. Girl Scout cookies aren't "necessary expenditures" for making ends meet or surviving, what kind of bum would scam little kids?

Stupid criminal file:
An obviously unintelligent thief attempted to rob a gun store in subruban Chicago (Waukegan). He took 1 in the leg and 2 in the chest before the cops got there to save...er... I mean arrest him. Charges unlikely against the store clerk.
(This idiot is lucky to be alive. There's a nice little gun store a few blocks south of O'Hare that I like to visit when I'm in Chi-town. About 10 years ago an idiot tried to rob that store, too. Just "happened" to be several off-duty cops and several clerks in the store at the time -- all were carrying. In his report, the M.E. wasn't exactly sure whose bullet killed him -- he was full of holes.)