Theoretical thoughts of theological tsunami truths
No, Glenn Beck. I haven’t forgotten about your recent douchebaggery. Not by a long shot…
Remember the earthquake in Japan? The one that led to a tsunami that caused problems with nuclear power plants?
Oh wait, that’s not quite over yet, is it?
I still remember what Glenn Beck had to say about the earthquake. It was just a little over a month ago circa March 15, 2011:
“I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes. Well — I’m not not saying that either. What God does is God’s business, I have no idea. But I’ll tell you this: whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus — there’s a message being sent. And that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well. Maybe we should stop doing some of it.”
I decided to try to think logically about the sneaky assertions in this statement. (I’ve already written about the snarkiness of phrasing crapola in the form of a question, unless one is playing Jeopardy.)
His little statement packs quite a wallop. I will try to break it down:
- There is a God
- God caused the earthquake
- The earthquake was a message
- The “messages” will continue until and unless we change our evil ways – the aforementioned “stuff we’re doing”
Remember, though, he presented most of this in the form of questions. We can stipulate he fervently believes the first one. Either that or he’s the best faker of all time, something decidedly not outside the realm of possibility.
The first assertion is one I ponder often. I tend to think of it in binary terms. It’s a true/false proposition. I believe it is something that is either true or false. To me, that seems fairly axiomatic.
One of my favorite lines of reasoning goes: “If there is no God then a lot of people are sure flaming assholes.” Mostly the ones who run around telling everyone else they are going to Hell, cashing in on religion, and stuff like that. On the other hand, there are a lot of devout and good people who truly believe, too. I can’t really find it in my heart to fault anyone for trying to live the best moral life they possibly can. Just as long as they aren’t flaming hypocrites about it, they’re fine with me.
No one can prove there is a God, nor can they prove there isn’t. Thus, I suggest we look at the probability of each possible outcome (true/false) as equally likely. (Personally, though, I’m certain there isn’t a God. But that’s just a belief.) So, in mathematical terms, the odds of each outcome is 50 percent. It’s just like flipping a coin.
Heads. There is a God. Tails. There is no God.
Let’s consider the next statement. God caused the earthquake. Again, I suggest we look at this as true/false, with each outcome equally likely. That means to get to Beck’s position that there is a God and God caused the earthquake we have to flip a coin and get heads twice in a row.
Next, we add another true/false condition for the earthquake being a message.
Lastly, we add on final true/false condition for the idea that the messages will continue unless we stop being evil. I assume this means stuff like fornication, homosexuality, etc. He’s a little vague about what “stuff” he’s talking about.
What we’re left with is a model a four true/false possibilities in a row. You can break down the odds of acheiving a particular chain of outcomes like this:
- 1 in 2
- 1 in 4
- 1 in 8
- 1 in 16
In other words, the odds of flipping a coin and getting heads four times in a row is 1 in 16.
This probability of this can be represented mathematically as: .5 x .5 x .5 x .5. That equals .0625 which is exactly what you get if you calculate 1 divided by 16.
If you look at it this way, there’s only a 6.25 percent chance this particular serpent’s statements are correct. In my book that’s what we call a long shot. Or maybe “snake oil” would be a better term.
This is my “T” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”
Energetic energy extrapolations
Energy is that which makes us go. It’s fuel that makes our vehicles move, and electrical power that heats and cools our homes. And it’s electricity that powers industry and business.
By now, most Americans have heard statistics like the United States is 5 percent of the world’s population but responsible for 25% of global energy consumption. So I was little surprised to learn that the U.S. is 7th in “energy consumption per capita” behind Canada and a number of small countries. Even so, the U.S. is still the world’s largest consumer of energy.
Where does our energy come from? Approx. 40% from petroleum, 23% from coal, 23% from natural gas, 8.4% from nuclear power, and 7.3% from renewable, which includes mainly hydroelectric dams but also wind power, geothermal and solar.
Energy always seems to come with a price. It’s like a wish that comes true but carries a curse. Petroleum pollutes our atmosphere and cities. Coal mining is dangerous and also causes pollution. Natural gas is advertised as “cleaner” but it still adds to global carbon emissions. Nuclear power is high risk and produces toxic waste products. Even hydroelectric power has its problems like ecosystem damage, other environmental effects and risk. (They can fail.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about energy recently due to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. And I’ve been thinking a lot about the hubris of us humans.
Japan is a country located in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” which is an area where large numbers of volcanic activity and earthquakes occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. Japan, in particular, is situated on the meeting point of two major tectonic plates. The Pacific Plate is moving westward against the younger and less dense Philippines Plate. Over time the Pacific Plate is pushing under the Philippines Plate. As we all know, the activity between tectonic plates is occasionally experienced by humans in the form of earthquakes.
Einstein said famously that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In our history we have accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. Yet we still tell ourselves, “Yes, we can do this. We know what we’re doing.” We’re really good at failing to learn the lessons of history.
Perhaps part of the problem is that we think of those incidents as “accidents.” Perhaps our mindsets would be slightly different if we thought of them as “inevitables.”
I like to think of it like this. Imagine that the nuclear power industry is a home you want to build. But the only land you can afford is in a 100-year flood plain. Wikipedia says, “a 100-year flood has approximately a 63.4% chance of occurring in any 100-year period.” It could happen the year after you build your dream home. Or in a hundred years. Or in two hundred years or longer. The point being, it’s a random probability.
You took that land, of course, because, all other factors being equal, it was cheaper than land that wasn’t in a flood plain. In other words, you accepted the risk. We humans seem to lack the ability to effectively gauge or even imagine what isn’t right in front of our faces. If the dream home is built and then gets washed away next year, guess who will be crying crocodile tears about it? Too bad, so sad. Talk to the hand!
The nuclear power industry is a home built on a 100-year flood plain.
Worse, the nuclear reactors built in Japan were supposed to be the best of the best. They were supposedly engineered and constructed to the highest earthquake and disaster standards in the world. It turns out, though, that they didn’t even represent the best we humans could do. Reports are now saying that the reactors needed “upgrades” and stuff.
In other words, they were only built to withstand, perhaps, 80 percent of what might conceivably happen. And that’s perfectly analogous to a 100-year flood plain. So it’s no big surprise what happened. Most likely, it was inevitable.
And, I have a question. It might be a stupid one and expose that I know diddly squat about this entire topic. I’m willing to risk that ridicule because I want to know. Nuclear reactors contain fuel and water is used to control the heat, etc. So my question is this: After the earthquake, were the reactors still in operation? Was the fuel still in there doing its fuel type of stuff? So water and power were still needed to manage coolant to control the process?
Were the reactors shut down and the nuclear fuel completely removed as a safety precaution right after the earthquake so there would be absolutely no possibility of the reactors going out of control and overheating?
Were these types of tough decisions authorized to be made by personnel actually on site at the reactors? Or did “shut down” decisions have to come from elsewhere, which might have been a bit difficult and complicated right after a big earthquake? Were there procedures for shutdown and proactively be safe? You know, just in case something like a tsunami might follow? (It’s been known to happen.)
I have absolutely no idea. But I can imagine it would have been a big decision. Should we turn off the grid and affect millions of people? What if we’re wrong? How do we balance that against an unknown “if” that may or may not happen?
I’d be very curious to know.
This post is too long. I’ll probably have to continue it in a part 2. “To be continued.” Heh. Here are some final quickie thoughts.
Coal? I once saw a movie that claimed every time you flip on a light switch you blow up a mountain. I actually think about that when I turn on the lights.
Then I heard about the mayor of small town (pop. 200) in Texas that was surrounded by 18 natural gas wells. The company that profited from the wells assured the mayor that everything was safe. But the mayor’s kids had constant nose bleeds, and not just little dribbles. They were gushers. I heard him on The Story, a radio program on NPR. The mayor loved his town and fought the good fight, but eventually choose to move out of town to protect the health of his family. That was the right decision. The safety of his family had to come first. Along the way he fought the company and got little help from the state of Texas.
When it comes to energy, all I hear about is how we need, more, more, and more. Projections for energy use in the U.S. in the future show that demand will be going up. But what if less was more? What if the most powerful weapon we ever had (conservation) was already within our grasp? What if we figured out new ways to get by with less? Of course, we live in a culture where fuel economy in vehicles has barely moved a blip since the time the combustion engine was invented. This sort of approach seems to be of little interest to us.
We need energy. We crave energy. We demand energy. Our very lives and almost everything single thing we do depends on energy. But at the same time, energy production is one of the most destructive things that we humans can ever do.
How will we ever reconcile this? Is it even possible?
In part two I’ll try to answer the big question, “What if we found a limitless and perfectly safe form of energy?”
This is my “E” post for the April 2011 “A to Z Blogging Challenge.”
The straight poop on Japan
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Planet Jan for turning me on to this poo.
I knew the day would come when “poop” being #1 in my tag cloud would pay big dividends. This is it. My time is nigh.
This is such a great video I couldn’t wait to pass it on. I’ve got to do my part to help make poo viral!
“I want to be very clear: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the U.S., whether it’s the west coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or the U.S. territories in the Pacific.”
— President Barack Obama, March 17, 2011
Putting on our critical thinking caps, we immediately see that this one is pretty easy.
We can start by examining what Obama does not say. For example, he doesn’t say anything like, “No radiation is going to reach the U.S.”
In other words, some radiation that is not “harmful” will reach the U.S.
He also said that he wants us to know what he knows as President. But unfortunately his vague comment doesn’t bother to provide a definition for what “harmful” really means.
He could have said, “Our best estimates are that Washington, Oregon and California will be exposed to X millirads by Tuesday.”
But he didn’t.
Meanwhile a graphic from the New York Times shows radiation in “arbitrary units” (whatever the hell that means) hitting the west coast of the U.S. by Friday (also known as yesterday).
It seems that no matter what our government may or may not be saying some of us may already be plumed. But that’s just what Obama told us would happen.
Ah, Japan, and your state-of-the-art earthquake preparedness. This was supposed to be the best of the best? Nuclear reactors that were only built to withstand about 80% of what could conceivably happen?
That is the way we humans do things, though. We always seem to think that we know what’s best.