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21
Nov

Did a Comet Cause the Great Flood?

This is a fascinating article about a guy who is finding evidence of a massive flood about 5,000 years ago.

Masse’s biggest idea is that some 5,000 years ago, a 3-mile-wide ball of rock and ice swung around the sun and smashed into the ocean off the coast of Madagascar. The ensuing cataclysm sent a series of 600-foot-high tsunamis crashing against the world’s coastlines and injected plumes of superheated water vapor and aerosol particulates into the atmosphere. Within hours, the infusion of heat and moisture blasted its way into jet streams and spawned super-hurricanes that pummeled the other side of the planet. For about a week, material ejected into the atmosphere plunged the world into darkness. All told, up to 80 percent of the world’s population may have perished, making it the single most lethal event in history.

I’m always tickled when evidence turns up to support a position opposite that of the prevailing theory of the day. This guy decided to investigate why there are so many stories about a major destructive event in the stories and oral histories of so many cultures and is starting to find hard evidence.

4
Nov

More About Ron Paul

Here are some more very good YouTube videos about Ron Paul. The first is an interview where Paul describes his foreign policy. The second is a clip of him on the Tonight show with Jay Leno, where he got a standing ovation.

It’s interesting and encouraging to me that a Republican presidential candidate is getting support and interest from Jay Leno and Bill Maher by running on traditional Republican values. I should clarify that by “traditional,” I mean historical. It shows that Paul’s message of freedom and limited government has incredibly broad appeal.

Again, the more I learn, the more I like Ron Paul.

2
Nov

Cheryl and Tyler

Cheryl has a great sense of humor. Today, Tyler was being silly and asking Cheryl lots of questions he thought were funny. To one of them, Cheryl had what I thought was an incredible answer:

Tyler: “Why did the tree turn into a monster?”

Cheryl, eyes lighting up: “Um…. Because he didn’t want to be all bark and no bite?”

15
Oct

Ron Paul On The Issues

Having watched over 3 hours of video clips and read quite a bit about him and his positions, I thought I’d add a bit more information to my earlier post about Ron Paul.

  1. Despite placing low in the polls currently, he raised as much money as John McCain in the 3rd quarter this year (ending Sep 30th) and about half that of Romney and Giuliani.

  2. In one interview, he mentioned he’d like to dissolve the IRS and eliminate personal income tax, though his website only talks about lower taxes. Apparently, if the government can reduce its spending to its year 2000 level, this is entirely possible (only about 40% of federal revenue is from income tax). One YouTube questioner asked him which 3 programs he’d cut to pay for that. He answered, “Programs? Let’s start with departments” and then listed several he’d eliminate entirely.

  3. He thinks the Federal Reserve Bank is un-Constitutional and would dissolve it. The U.S. has had 3 central banks in its history. The second one was eliminated by Andrew Jackson for the same reason. Our current Fed was created in 1913 with tremendous support by bankers and is generally credited with causing the Great Depression.

  4. He opposes Roe v Wade. He’s delivered 4,000 babies as an OB/GYN and believes that the unborn are individuals with protected rights, just like adults. He brought up the distinction between aborting 1 minute before birth to tossing a baby in a garbage can 1 minute after birth. His solution? Let the states decide, which is what we do with all other violent crimes like homicide, murder, and rape. He says that the most complicated decisions ought to be handled locally. And the best thing is that he is clearly advocating a solution that is NOT his personal belief — everyone else seems to want to force their idea of “right” on everyone else.

  5. He handles marriage in the same way. Why is government regulating it anyway? Marriage licenses didn’t even exist until 1921. Just get the government out of the business of regulating marriage and let the states handle it (through contract law). He also supported a federal law that clarified that the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution does not apply to “moral” issues like marriage, which would allow one state to reject another state’s marriage. Perfect solution.

  6. He’s an anti-war, pro-2nd Amendment (right to bear arms) guy. Again, a very Constitutional position and following the direct advice and comments of most of the Founders of our nation.

  7. On foreign policy, he believes that much of the hatred for America around the world is because we keep interfering in other countries internal affairs: from the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of a democratically elected government in Saudi Arabia in 1953 to putting Saddam Hussein into power in the 1980’s. If we stopped interfering overseas, much of the hatred toward us would go away. Who made us the world policeman anyway? He even asked how we’d we feel if China built a military base in Texas.

  8. In one of the debates, all the candidates were asked about preemptively attacking Iran without approval from Congress. All of them said they would do what was necessary. Ron Paul answered, “Open the Constitution and read it. The President cannot go to war without a declaration of war by Congress.” We are in Iraq illegally according to our own Constitution. Interestingly, the U.S. has not declared war since WWII.

Many of our Founding Fathers — including Washington, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and others — wrote letters indicating this was intentional. Lincoln added:

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

  1. He is the only anti-war Republican candidate, which does help him against Hillary Clinton for example, who voted for the war, since public opinion is very anti-war right now.

The guy just has a persistent message about less expensive, less intrusive, less aggressive, less bureaucratic government that I find appealing. He believes that the federal government shouldn’t be involved unless granted that power by the Constitution. His 10 year voting record as a Representative from Texas is consistent on these issues too.

15
Oct

On Practice and Persistence

Here’s a quote by violinist Pablo de Sarasate that I originally saw in an article on how age affects entrepreneurship:

For 37 years I’ve practiced 14 hours a day, and now they call me a genius.

This goes right along with Edison’s comment about “one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

14
Oct

Maxed Out

I recently watched a documentary on the credit card industry that is terrifying. Words like “predatory” and “inhumane” just don’t seem to be enough. Imagine for a moment all of the injustice and hatred that Martin Luther King struggled against, that generations of Africans endured in this (and other) countries as slaves. That form of personal slavery is being replaced by economic slavery in the form of debt.

At about the one hour mark, they talk a bit about the national debt. One thing that caught my attention is that the entirety of the Social Security “trust fund” has been borrowed and spent by the federal government. All that’s left is IOUs from a government that can’t even balance its budget. Not a good sign for the future.

In May, I published an article I’d originally given in January as a talk in my church on emergency preparedness. I mentioned that the true national debt, as calculated by generally acceptable accounting principles, was about $50 trillion dollars — much more than the $9 trillion generally reported. In March, David Walker, head of the Government Accountability Office, reported that the national debt is on target to increase from $9 trillion to $59 trillion by 2027. That’s $440,000 per family. At 6% interest, you’d have to pay over $26,000 a year in taxes for the government to cover the interest payments. That’s in addition to taxes for anything useful, like roads or defense.

In my review of The Richest Man in Babylon, I mentioned a paragraph I re-read several times because it stretched my brain:

Wealth grows wherever men exert energy. If a rich man builds him a new palace, is the gold he pays out gone? No, the brickmaker has part of it and the laborer has part of it, and the artist has part of it. And everyone who labors on the house has part of it. Yet when the palace is completed is it not worth all it cost? And is ground upon which it stands not worth more because it is there? Wealth grows in magic ways. No man can prophesy the limit of it.

Wealth grows through human effort. It also appears to grow through debt. One of the reasons our economy has grown so much is because of the heavy use of debt. However, if the rich man in the story had borrowed the money to build his house the interest payments would have made the cost of house exceed what it was worth. How much more? About 2.5 times as much. A credit card would make it closer to 6 times as much.

If left unpaid for very long, debt becomes unhealthy. It enslaves the borrower to the lender in a very real way. Exponential growth, including amortization, is not intuitive to the human mind. We constantly underestimate how much it will cost us to borrow money. Debt is dangerous.

14
Oct

Ron Paul for President

I have been reading quite a bit about Ron Paul over the last few weeks. At first, he seemed a bit like a fad honestly. I’d pretty much decided to vote for Mitt Romney because of his ability to improve many of government programs as governor without increasing taxes. I like his ability to bring both parties together.

However, I believe I’m being pulled in another direction now. Ron Paul has quite a big following on the Internet and I’ve read quite a bit about him. He’s more of a Libertarian, someone in favor of smaller, less-expensive government; someone who values personal and economic freedom. The Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman argued many of the same policies and values, and I’ve come to admire both men. Ron Paul, a 10 year congressman from Texas who’s been married to the same woman for 50 years, could bring back many of the great and inspirational things about America that have been lost over the years through larger, more invasive, and more aggressive government.

This 9 minute YouTube video is a pretty good introduction on him and what he stands for. Just be prepared for sappy background music. :-)

He’s the first presidential candidate I’ve ever considered donating money to. However, I don’t think I’m crazy enough to put a bumper sticker on my car yet. Visit his website, which is pretty well done, for more information.

UPDATE: I’ve written more of my thoughts about Ron Paul.

26
Sep

Making Progress on our Yard

We’ve finally got our cement patios and walks in our yard done. We added a wrap-around patio in the back, an RV pad on the side (for a shed), and several sidewalks on the other side and front. I uploaded a few pictures to our picture gallery. We’re scheduled to get our sprinklers, grass, and bark in later this week.

Cement in our Yard

UPDATE: I’ve updated the link to point to our new MobileMe gallery.

25
Sep

How to Save for Retirement

I’ve been thinking about retirement and making some changes to our investments, and it occurred to me that most of the financial advisers out there have got it wrong when it comes to retirement. For example, David Bach, author of The Automatic Millionaire, talks quite a bit about saving for retirement using a 401(k) as if that were the point. Sadly, this is confusing the means with the end.

The phrase “save for retirement” generally mean spending less than you earn and putting the left over cash into some form of account targeted at retirement, such as a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA. But saving money isn’t really the point. The real goal is to live comfortably during retirement when you can no longer work to earn an income. Or in other words, to collect enough passive income to live on.

One (overly hard) way to do this is to save a bunch of money in a bank account, and then just live off of the principle. This isn’t the best because it requires a lot of cash. Investing the principle and living off the interest costs less because you’re earning interest on the unused principle. And if you’re going to invest, you might as well invest now when the consequences of a market dip or making a mistake aren’t quite as serious. This is how we got government sponsored retirement accounts.

But the right goal is not to save money or contribute to a retirement account, which are means to an income during retirement. The right goal is to create a stream of passive income on which you can live. A Roth IRA does meet that goal, but there are easier ways that require less cash. That is one reason for my interest in investing in real estate and starting a business, but anything that puts money in your pocket each month will work. The best thing is that, by buying or creating the right assets now, I can “retire” the moment my passive income is enough to meet my needs.

So I’m trying to find and buy assets that put money in my pocket each month without requiring work on my part. I’ve had to learn a lot, and I’ve made mistakes, but I’m optimistic about making things work during retirement. I only mention this because it just occurred to me today how the mantra “save for retirement” has set so many people on the wrong track.

23
Sep

Mr. Rogers and the US Senate

This is a clip recording the testimony of Mr. Rogers talking to Senator Pastore, the Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications. Senator Pastore was proposing to cut the funding of public television and Mr. Rogers asked him not to. It’s a great example of the power of being authentic.