Friday, February 27, 2015

Palin Gives Masterful Speech at CPAC

Sarah Palin gave a masterful speech at CPAC yesterday.

She was asked to speak on American veterans. It was a striking speech. It's hard to speak on the American military and veterans without slumping into platitude after platitude. Palin didn't do that.

Governor Palin wove together history (George Washington's farewell speech to his officers), current needs in domestic and foreign policy relating to veterans, and the tie between honoring veterans, defeating ISIS and ensuring peace at home.

Here's one of the barn burner parts of Palin's speech (at the 14:50 mark in the video below).
The world that they [radical Islamists] want is a world that would submit. We will never submit to evil. We will consign radical Islam to the ash heap of history, just like the Nazis before them. 
Oh, the naive Obama State Department. Oh, they say we can’t kill our way out of war? Really? Tell that to the Nazis. Oh wait, you can’t, because they’re dead. We killed them.
History proves the destruction of an enemy’s military apparatus–that is the victory. And from victory to peace. 
In the questioning afterward, Palin showed showed both self-deprecating humor and cheerful understated restraint.

Her answer to "Barack Obama" in a lightning round calling for one word answers: "Sorry." Then, as further explanation: "Hey, we came in second" then with a pause to underline the humor "--out of two."

When asked if the media has a double standard for Republican women who run for office compared to treatment of Democrat women who run for office, her one word, good-natured understatement: "Yes." No further explanation. None was needed.

Here's the full speech.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Recording 16-2/3 rpm Records with a 33-1/3 rpm Record Player

My mother recently found some old records of Bible teaching on 16-2/3rds rpm records. She asked if I could get them to play on something so she could hear them.

I have an old turntable that has all four speeds (16-2/3rds, 33-1/3rd, 45 and 78), but alas when I tried to switch it to 16-2/3rds the gear shift had broken.

I looked up the place we took it to last time to get it fixed, but it was out of business. Well, there's always seeing what youtube has on fixing them. There were some videos on the speed changer and lubricating it. But, before trying to take it apart, I half remembered something about recording at one speed and editing it to another speed.

audio adapters
I also have an Ion usb three speed turntable. But any turntable with either an audio out (earphone or auxiliary) or hooked up to an amplifier/receiver set up with an audio out will work. All you need is the right cords to get the sound to your computer microphone input so that Audacity can record the sound. Actually, I don't use the usb connection or software that came with the Ion. I prefer Audacity.

1. Hook up the audio from the turntable to your computer microphone input. My turntable output and computer input both took a standard 3.5 mm plug. If you have rca/phono jack outputs or a 1/4" stereo jack ouput get an adapter.

2. Download and install Audacity.

3. Open Audacity and hook up your turntable or record player to your computer.

4. Click on the red record button on Audacity, and start playing your record.

5. If you hear sound through your computer speakers and see sound waves on the Audacity screen instead of a flat line, you are good to go. If not, you need to fiddle with settings.
a. If you do not hear sound through your computer speakers, go to your control panel, select sound, and click on the recording tab. Make sure your microphone is enabled/ready. If not click on it, and select properties at the bottom right of the box. Click on the levels tab, and make sure your microphone slider is significantly above 0.
b. If you do not see sound waves recorded on the Audacity timeline, on the top right of the screen, second row, you will see a speaker icon next to a box and a microphone icon next to a box. Change between the options in the drop down menus until you get sound waves on your screen. (Note: you have to be recording to see the sound waves. So you will have to start [red circle] and stop [yellow square] recording as you change settings.) You can also set the input to stereo or mono in the last box. 
6. Record the cut your want or the entire side of your record in Audacity. (After you have stopped recording, you can edit out introductory or exit sound you don't want.) You might want to save it in case you make a mistake in the following steps--though you can usually undo changes under the Edit tab Undo command. You save by clicking on the File tab and choosing Export.

7. When the recording is as you want it, Drag the cursor symbol from the beginning of the recording to the end until the whole thing is selected/darkened. (If it's a long recording, you may want to click on the far right upper magnifying glass icon to have the whole project fit on one screen instead of dragging your cursor over minutes and minutes of recording.) Make sure you have gotten all of it, or part of it will still be at 33-1/3 rpm speed.

8. Under the Effect tab, click on change speed. For changing a 33-1/3 rpm recording to 16-2/3 rpm, enter -50.000 (make sure you include the minus sign) in the Percent Change box. Click on OK. Audacity will render the file to the slower speed.

9. Play part of the recording to make sure it is as you want it then save the file by using the Export command under the File tab.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oregon as a Place to Live? Meh.

Gallup and Healthways have issued their 2014 report on the best and worst states to live in.

In spite of its great natural beauty and diversity, Oregon is in the 3rd quintile (20-30) in well-being along with Washington and Idaho. So, it's in the "meh" category. Worse than California (huh?) and Arizona. Better than Nevada (of Harry Reid fame). And lots worse than Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.

The index is based on interviews with more than 176,000 Americans in all 50 states from January to December, 2014. States were rated on:
Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
Community: liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily
The survey has been done since 2008. States with the most top 10 finishes since 2008:

Hawaii and Colorado - 7
Montana, Utah, and Minnesota - 6
Nebraska - 5
Alaska and North Dakota - 4
Iowa, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming - 3

H/T Sarah Palin (because Alaska came in #1)

Stage Version of C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce Coming to Portland in March

The Fellowship for Performing Arts is bringing a stage version of C. S. Lewis' novel The Great Divorce to Portland in March.

The Great Divorce is about a busload of people given a free trip from Hell (portrayed as a grey, shoddy, pleasureless city) to the outskirts of Heaven and the choices they make about whether they want to stay or go back to Hell.

Are the choices we make every day in our lives controlling not only our current but our eternal destiny? When we see where selfishness, egotism, lust and self-righteousness lead will we be ready to give them up?

Performances will be Friday, March 13, 8 pm, and Saturday, March 14, 4 pm and 8 pm at the Newmark Theatre, 1111 S.W. Broadway. Tickets are available via links here or by calling 1-800-273-1530.

Fellowship for Performing Arts previously produced a stage play of Lewis' Screwtape Letters. It played in Portland in 2013.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Obama Dropping in Scholars' Presidential Ratings

When a progressive president is dropping in liberal scholar ratings things are serious. Obama has been dropping in scholarly rating since 2010.

Obama was rated 15th greatest president in 2010. He has now dropped to 18th. Not much of a drop? Ah, but the content of the ratings is what is troublesome.
Respondents were mixed in their view of Barack Obama. Overall, he was the 18th highest rated president, but only 4 respondents put him among the best, while 11 respondents placed him among the worst. Similarly, 22 respondents viewed Obama as among the most over-rated, compared to 13 who viewed him as under-rated. Obama was also viewed as the second-most polarizing president (after George W. Bush). Of the 19 modern presidents (i.e., back to Teddy Roosevelt), Obama was rated 13th in terms of legislative skill, 11th for diplomatic skill and 10th in terms of both integrity and military skill. (emphasis added)
Among modern Democratic presidents, Barack Obama rates only above Jimmy Carter (26). He is behind Bill Clinton (8), Lyndon Johnson (12) and John F. Kennedy (14) as well as Republican Reagan (11). Now President Obama even rates behind one term Republican George H. W. Bush (17) who in 2010 was rated 22. George H. W. Bush has come up 5 positions while Barack Obama has dropped 3 positions. How the mighty have fallen.

The scholarly predisposition for Obama can be seen in the scholarly ratings that Barack Obama had even before doing anything--sort of like his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize (nine months after taking office and before any major foreign policy success).
First, it is easy to infer that scholars and the public alike expected greatness from Obama early on and awarded it to him prematurely. Compare, after all, the fact that Obama’s first ranking in a major greatness poll was at #15; one must go back a half-century to Lyndon Johnson to find a president who entered the rankings at a higher number (#10), and LBJ was a well-known figure on the national stage who entered office after the national tragedy of his predecessor’s assassination. (emphasis added)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Politicizing Science Causes Both Liberals and Conservatives to Distrust Science

The media often presents conservatives as anti-science and liberals as pro-science. But, that isn't true. Both groups tend to oppose scientific theories that are different than their worldviews.

A recent article published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science describes an experiment in which liberals and conservatives were given scientific information on climate change and evolution (pro-liberal worldview) and fracking and nuclear energy (pro-conservative worldview) as well as two neutral topics on astronomy and geology.

They found that both liberals and conservatives begin to distrust science when the information involves issues where the science is opposed to their opinions.

Brian Resnick of National Journal explains:
In the nuclear-energy-fracking condition, liberals "had a more negative emotional experience than conservatives, resisted the information more than the conservatives," [Erik Nisbet, a communications researcher at Ohio State University] says. They also indicated a lower trust in science than the liberals in the ideological neutral condition (the geology-astronomy condition). That's right: When liberals are confronted with topics they tend to disagree with, they begin to distrust the science.
"The difference between liberals and conservatives is not that one has biases and one does not," Nisbet says. "It's that we may have biases against specific topics." Conservatives may be seen as antiscience, but that perception arises because scientific topics that are most often discussed are those that most readily offend the conservative worldview.
When conservatives read about evolution or climate change, they too reacted negatively, but their reactions were stronger (i.e., more negative). Nisbet says that could be because climate change and evolution are more salient in everyday discussions than fracking and nuclear power.
The really bad news for anyone who loves science is not hard to guess. Politicizing science makes people, liberals and conservatives, generally more distrustful of all science on politicized subjects.
More troubling, Nisbet finds evidence that political discussion on scientific issues may make everyone more skeptical of science. Even liberals, who reported they believe in climate change and evolution, were more skeptical of science in the climate-change-evolution condition than in the neutral geology-astronomy condition. "Both liberals and conservatives had lower trust in science after the exposure to that information," Nisbet says. "Politicizing science may reduce trust for everybody, because it starts raising questions over whether science is being used for political reasons on one side or another."
[There's also an interesting video presentation at the end of Resnick's article in which he talks about the differences in the brains of conservatives and liberals when they think.]

H/T Byron York

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ted Cruz Is Now Smart (and Principled)

Senator Ted Cruz
When "conservatives" in the House were calling on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to further change the filibuster rules that former Senator Harry Reid gutted when he was Senate majority leader, the man opposing the change was Senator Ted Cruz. NBC's Luke Russert:
Yet at the very same press conference on the very same stage, cold water was thrown on that idea by the very Republican who has used the filibuster perhaps most effectively over his time in Congress — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. When asked by NBC News about House conservatives demands for a rule change, Cruz replied, "I think the Senate rules wisely protect the minority and they have served as the framers put it 'to allow the Senate to be the -- cooler -- the saucer that cools the hot temperatures of the moment."
"The answer, I believe, is not to change the Senate rules, the answer is for Senate Democrats not to be obstructionists," Cruz added.
The irony that Cruz, who Democrats mockingly say is the de facto leader of House Conservatives, called for restraint on changing filibuster rules was not lost on some seasoned Hill observers. One GOP aide told NBC News, "hopefully after hearing him [Cruz] they realize changing decades of Senate history six weeks into our majority is not a good idea."
Funny how having principles and being smart and knowledgeable makes one firm and wise. Senator Cruz understands the Constitution and the importance for the Founders of the Senate as a brake on a rush to legislate intemperately (Federalist No. 63, paragraph 7).

(Interestingly, back in November of 2013 Luke Russert didn't seem to think Harry Reid's change of the filibuster rules was any big thing and that Republicans probably would expand it to supreme court nominees.)

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