The Press-Dispatch

April 11, 2018

The Press-Dispatch

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B-6 Wednesday, April 11, 2018 The Press-Dispatch OPINION Submit Letters to the Editor: Letters must be signed and received by noon on Mondays. Email: or bring in a hard copy: 820 E. Poplar Street, Petersburg Modern man lives in a secular world that gives little, if any, atten- tion to the spiritual aspects of life. The same as do some church goers who give lip-service to the things of God as they remake Him in the image that is pleasing unto them. This was not always so, but since evolution hijacked science in the first decades of the 20th centu- ry, real spirituality and a God cen- tered life has been discarded for the truths of science. However, science cannot ex- plain the "first cause," the forces that brought the universe into ex- istence. The late Stephen Hawking im- posed a secular conclusion on the existence of the universe. He pro- nounced, as the expert he is ac- claimed to be, that the universe created itself through "Spontane- ous Creation." End of discussion. Hawking had no room for God in his scientific endeavors. He re- marked in a 2014 interview, "Be- fore we understand [understood] science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more con- vincing explanation. What I meant by 'we would know the mind of God' is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn't. I'm an atheist." I must qualify that Hawking did have some definition for God in his mind. In his book A Brief History he wrote, "If we ev- er discovered a 'theory of every- thing,' it would be 'the ultimate tri- umph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.'" Hawking represents the leading edge of scientific thinkers who are afforded opportunities to publish books, present lectures, and be taken seriously as secular divin- ity. Lesser known scientists who challenged any of his assumptions received little attention. Though his theoretical assump- tion and calculations have not gone unchallenged [as are Einstein's], few scientists bother to attend to the challeng- es with any serious- ness. The challenges are many because like Einstein, Hawkins was a theoretical physicist and developed com- plex models of the universe based upon mathematical mod- els that are difficult to quantify and be based upon exper- imentation. The man Stephen Hawking is much more important than what he thought or wrote about the uni- verse. Though intellectual prow- ess and personal beliefs are some- what entwined, even Hawking had to wrestle with the same issues of life as all of mankind, and more so because of his almost five decade struggle with a motor neuron dis- order. Hawking's first wife Jane in her Minority View by Walter E. Williams The Weekly by Alden Heuring Discrimination and disparities Points to Ponder by Rev. Ford Bond No room for God America is still the home of innovation Heritage Viewpoint by Edwin J. Feulner Those who pay attention to the news are used to hearing a litany of problems. And they're used to hearing something else: Calls to spend more taxpayer money on some federal program to fix those problems. Federal programs have their us- es, but we seem to forget that the United States is the home of inno- vation. Nearly every type of prod- uct that has improved the quality of life the world over — from med- icine to computers to entertain- ment — has its roots in the Unit- ed States. The freedom we enjoy to dream, to act and to think has brought about cures for diseases, aid to the disabled and the elderly, and the widespread distribution of ne- cessities that once were luxuries. Henry Ford created the assem- bly line that made the automobile affordable to all Americans. Dr. Jo- nas Salk created a vaccine for po- lio, the plague of the early 20th century. Bill Gates created the operating system for computers that made them usable and acces- sible to all the peoples of the world. Americans were the first to reach the moon, invent air conditioning, trans- plant organs, and develop many other technologies and ad- vancements. By contrast, in na- tions where liberty is curtailed or con- trolled by govern- ment, innovation is stymied. What inno- vations or inventions that we use today came from the old Soviet Union? From Cuba? Or North Ko- rea? It's not out of line to say that the United States has directed the course of human history more sig- nificantly and positively than any other nation in the history of the world. The key to our success is, always has been and always will be our liberty. The liberty we en- joy unshackles the mind and nour- ishes creativity. The ability to think and to ques- tion the status quo should also characterize our attitude toward government. Sadly, though, many Americans have come to regard the growing reach of Big Govern- ment as a necessity of modern life. The Founders had a burning faith in the ability of ordinary peo- ple to accomplish ex- traordinary things once they were freed from the fetters of Big Government. But today, too ma- ny Americans — who grew up in a welfare state and have become accustomed to delegating many of life's tasks to a gigantic bureaucra- cy — aren't sure they can take up the slack on their own. In the absence of Big Govern- ment, they ask, who would help the poor? Who would protect the environment? Who would see to the educational needs of our chil- dren? Who would guarantee an ad- equate level of health care? Who would provide a decent living for The world in your palm Feeding an airborne city Continued on page 7 Continued on page 7 Continued on page 7 Continued on page 7 Continued on page 7 Fact-checking the fact checkers Lucid Moments by Bart Stinson Several years ago, a friend emailed me a photo of an enor- mous alligator shot dead in a Flori- da suburb and suspended from the bucket of an extended backhoe. A 6'5" game warden provided some scale in the photograph, and lent credibility to the text's claim that Godzilla measured 28 feet from his snout to the tip of his tail. Except that he was only 13 feet long, well within alligator norms, and the game warden shot him about 55 miles outside Houston, Texas. The photograph exaggerat- ed his length by situating the beast in the foreground and turning his head toward the camera. I looked it up on, a fact-checking site that I had already consulted re- garding many urban legends and photo-shopped Internet memes. David and Barbara Mikkelson founded the website more than 20 years ago as a mom-and-pop opera- tion, a hobby at first. But it outgrew their cat-infested home in Agou- ra Hills, California, as they add- ed staff. Last year, 13 Snopes em- ployees served 12.4 American us- ers and 3.7 million overseas users. Dave and Barbara eventually di- vorced and accused one another of various misdeeds, but not before they inspired imitators and a trend of fact-checking opera- tions within U.S. jour- nalism and academia. I attended J-school shortly after Water- gate, and I was under the impression that fact-checking is what journalists do. How would you feel if the owner came out of the kitchen at your favorite restaurant to inform you, with great excitement, that from now on they'll be offer- ing food? You might wonder what the heck they were selling you last week. But in fact-checking, as in snobbish restaurants, presentation is everything. Snopes articles, for example, cli- max with a graphic for "False" or (rarely) "True" or sometimes "Un- proven." PolitiFact, a national fact- checking franchise from the Tam- pa-St. Petersburg media market, is more elaborate. Its "Truth-O-Me- ter" displays a needle reading on a gauge with text that says true, false, mostly true, mostly false, or - its most inflammatory read- ing, "pants on fire." It rhymes with liar. I don't believe any of us, much less jour- nalists, should be im- partial between truth and falsehood. I'm not necessarily outraged that, according to a University of Minne- sota study, Snopes refuted Republican claims three times as often as it disputed Democrats. If we're making three times as ma- ny false statements as Democrats, we deserve to be called out three times as often. But the fact-checking enterprise is corruptible. The Clinton Foundation and PolitiFact, via its parent organiza- tion, the Poynter Institute, share a major donor: Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay. That's no crime, but it provided the Clinton Foundation My Point of View by Dr. H. K. Fenol, Jr., M.D. I don't mind saying that this column represents a grossly un- derstated review of "Discrimi- nation and Disparities," just pub- lished by my longtime friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell. In less than 200 pages, Sowell lays waste to myth after myth not on- ly in the United States but around the globe. One of those myths is that but for the fact of discrimination, we'd all be proportionately represented in socio-economic characteristics, such as career, income, education and incarceration. The fact of busi- ness is that there is no evidence anywhere on earth, at any time in human history, that demonstrates that but for discrimination, there would be proportionate represen- tation in anything by race, sex, na- tionality or any other human char- acteristic. Sowell shows that socio- economic outcomes differ vastly among individuals, groups and nations in ways that cannot be ex- plained by any one factor, wheth- er it's genetics, discrimination or some kind of exploitation. A study of National Merit Schol- arship finalists shows that first- borns are finalists more often than their multiple siblings com- bined. Data from the U.S., Germa- ny and Britain show that the aver- age IQ of firstborns is higher than the average IQ of their later sib- lings. Such outcomes challenge those who believe that heredity or one's environment is the domi- nant factor in one's academic per- formance. Moreover, the finding shows that if there is not equali- ty among people born to the same parents and living under the same roof, why should equality of out- comes be expected under other conditions? In Chapter 2, Sowell provides ev- idence that people won't take ra- cial discrimination at any cost. The higher its cost the less it will be tol- erated, and vice versa. One exam- ple is segregated seating on mu- nicipal transit in the South. Many companies were privately owned, and their decision-makers under- stood that they could lose profits by offending their black custom- ers by establishing segregated seating. Transportation compa- nies fought against laws mandat- ing racially segregated seating, both politically and in the courts, but lost. Companies even chose to ignore the law. Faced with heavy fines, though, they began to com- ply with the law. The point is that the difference between the white transportation owners and the white politicians and segregationists was the trans- portation company owners had to bear the cost of alienating black riders and the politicians and seg- regationists didn't. Sowell broad- ens his analysis to show that regu- lated companies and organizations — such as public utilities and non- profit entities, including colleges and government agencies — will be at the forefront when it's po- litically popular to discriminate against blacks but also will be at the forefront when it's politically popular to discriminate in favor of blacks. Why? Because in either case, they don't bear the burden of forgone profits. In Sowell's chapter titled "The World of Numbers," he points out what I'm going to call out-and-out dishonesty. In 2000, a U.S. Com- mission on Civil Rights study pointed out that 44.6 percent of black applicants were turned down for mortgages, while only 22.3 per- cent of whites were turned down. These and similar statistics led to charges of lending industry dis- crimination and demands that government do something about it. While the loan rejection rate for whites was 22.3 percent, that for Asians and native Hawaiians was only 12.4 percent. Those statistics didn't see the light of day. Why? They didn't fit the racial discrim- ination narrative. It would have been difficult for the race hustlers to convince the nation that lending institutions were discriminating against not only black applicants but white applicants, as well, in fa- vor of Asian and native Hawaiian applicants. At several points in the book, Sowell points to the tragedies cre- ated in the pursuit of social justice. He gives the example of the Gu- jaratis expelled from Uganda and the Cubans fleeing Cuba. Many A cell phone is an amazing thing. With the rapid evolution of handheld technology, what was once a device for making calls can now become almost any kind of tool imaginable. Of course, you can waste just as much time as you save on your cell phone and then some, but that's not the phone's fault. Tools are as good or as bad as the purposes for which you use them. That said, I wanted to share some of my most-used phone tools with all of you today—maybe it'll give you some new ideas. • Camera: Let's start with the most basic of basics. With a phone camera, you can, of course, take pictures of your toddler for poster- ity. You can also take screen shots of anything you're currently look- ing at on your phone to share with someone in an instant, take pic- tures at your manufacturing job to help explain all those wacky prob- lems that you run into when you're turning stuff into other stuff, take pictures of handwritten notes so you don't lose the note, or even take a picture of that weird bump on your elbow to show your derma- tologist buddy. A picture is worth a thousand words! • Map: Remember the days when you had to carefully recall every step of someone's rambling directions to get to a new place, or find the address of the pizza place you wanted to try on a giant pa- per map, or pay hundreds of dol- lars for a GPS system in your car? Those days are over. The "Maps" app comes standard on most new phones and can search for the ad- dress you want, the name of the place you want, or just show you "gas stations near me" when your low fuel buzzer starts going off in the middle of nowhere. • Radio: Whether you're using Having been through a lot of days of gloomy weather, rain, not enough sunshine, lightning and thunder, floods in different areas, I started to explore some T V documentaries about travel. Just for the heck of it. I came across an interesting program called "Megafood, Up in the Air." Now I do not know of too many people who are not interested in food. So I'm sure the reader to this article will likely be curious. When I watched the program, it really opened my awareness about what it takes to provide meals for about 400 passengers in an airplane. The logistics behind providing meals during a 9 -14 hour flight from one continent to another is just mind- boggling. Currently, transcontinental flights are now done by huge air- planes and it seems there is no end to the production of these monsters. So lets begin with what it takes to prepare the meals. There is a com- pany in Switzerland called Gat- egourmet who provides this ser- vice to the superplanes. Their operations start with con- tracting with every company they can find for their source of vegeta- bles, fruits, dairy products, meat, sea foods, spices of every kind, al- cohol, sweeteners, sodas, coffee, bottled water etc. Then don't for- get the amount of utensils, plates, napkins, cups, glasses, etc, they al- so need. On the ground where prep- aration of food is done, the plant and people involved in the preparation is another mind-boggling opera- tion. From the chefs, to the support staff, to the packers, to the people who control the temperature of the Continued on page 7

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