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Posts Made By: James Brown

September 30, 2005 09:03 AM Forum: Politics

Re: Conservatives have new way to reduce crime

Posted By James Brown

Ray, did you know that you had taken Bennett's quote completely out of context when you posted it? I was pretty shocked by the quote until I read Rick's reply, and googled the whole story. Like Rick said, Bennett is taking a huge PC risk, but within context, the quote is understandable.

I am curious whether your post is an intentional misdirection and troll, that you knew was false in advance, or whether you are just being lazy.

I must say that your double hearsay link to the National Enquirer and this absolutely appalling attempt to fabricate a story by taking a quote out of all context is rather amazing.

- Jim -

October 4, 2005 09:21 PM Forum: CCD Imaging and Processing/Deep Sky

402ME - 300d Merges

Posted By James Brown

Here are a couple more wide field shots taken with two cameras. The detailed portion is shot with a SBIG 402ME with internal filter wheel. The wide field background is taken with an unmodified Canon Digital Rebel (300d).

The pixel size on the Rebel is 7.4 microns and the pixel size on the 402ME is 9 microns, so I have to manually scale the 402ME image by 121.6% and manually rotate and align the stars. The two images are then merged in Photoshop Elements, the package that comes with a lot of cameras and is really pretty handy.

Both the detail and widefield images are through a TEC APO 140 mounted on a Losmandy G11. The first is M27 and the second is M13. (But you knew that wink )

Please let me know if the colors are whacked on your monitor. I am adjusting these by eye on a laptop.

- Jim -

October 6, 2005 12:06 PM Forum: Politics

Re: Our God or

Posted By James Brown

Ray Medhurst said:

My niece was in the Army last year and told me that she was forced to go to church services - christian church services. That's religious persecution - the very thing that our Fondling Fathers sought to avoid.

You are correct. The right to worship or not as the individual sees fit is one of the core individual liberties the drafters of the Bill of Rights sought to protect from government interference. Did your niece comply? Was she punished? I hope it turned out OK for her.

Why use a disrespectful spelling of "founding" though? I am puzzled by that. :S

- Jim -

October 11, 2005 12:21 PM Forum: Refractors

Deleted Post

Posted By James Brown

I just deleted a post that was quite disparaging of a telescope vendor, a supplier and their business dealings with one another. The deleted post had nothing to do with optics, and a lot to do with allegedly shady business practices.

The general content of the recent vendor-supplier thread does not violate the TOS, and may contain useful information.

Specific allegations personal misconduct are over the top IMO and potentially libelous.

Let's keep the conversation on topic OK?

- Jim -

[COLOR="Blue"]From the TOS: Users may not use the Astromart services for... transmitting material that is harassing, libelous or is otherwise objectionable. [/COLOR]

- post edited to be very clear that the deleted post had nothing to do with optics. -

October 12, 2005 07:37 AM Forum: Politics

Re: How can the right carry water for this much po

Posted By James Brown

Hey Ray,

Speaking only for my little portion of the "Right" I would say that the amount of spending accomplished and proposed in Washington is tragic and wrong. The swelling of our Federal Bureaucracy is of course the primary source of heartburn for all true conservatives. Hopefully some bona-fide fiscal conservatives will run for Congress next year and for the White House in '08.

That being said, I would still vote for W if the election were held today, in view of the only electable alternative.

Supporting the President or "carrying water" as you would say, does not necessarily mean that one supports each of the President's (or Congress's) policies. Disappointments are part of mature political participation. If I read the tea leaves correctly both parties will be clamoring for fiscal restraint in '08. The winner (as usual) will be the candidate who captures the center. Let's hope the winner actually practices fiscal restraint.

- Jim -

October 14, 2005 08:58 AM Forum: Politics

The Matthew Effect Revisited

Posted By James Brown

Some time ago, Tom R. linked to a scholarly article titled the “Matthew Effect” by Professor Martin J. McMahon. This article came up yesterday in a thread, but it was buried in a tangent. I think that many points raised by the article are worth considering fully. I had been meaning to respond to Professor McMahon since the article was first presented.

The “Matthew Effect” is a synonym for the well-known colloquialism, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” According to my read of “The Matthew Effect” Professor McMahon fails to prove this point. He does however demonstrate that in the in the US, since the 50’s, as the rich get richer, the poor get richer too, but at a slower rate.

Professor McMahon has a serious ethical/moral/philosophical problem with this phenomenon. I do not have a problem with this state of affairs, since I believe it to be a natural economic cyclical thing. For example, the industrial revolution caused the poor to become richer much faster that the rich in first half of the 20th century. More importantly, from a demographic perspective people are constantly moving in an out of the various economic classes. No one is locked in to the “poor” economic class by a caste system for instance. Certainly no one is naïve enough to think that it is as easy for the poor to move up as it is for someone whose family can afford the best education etc. Nonetheless, demographically significant groups of people move up and out of the “poor” economic class all of the time. Less obvious is that persons can and do move down. Another appropriate colloquialism is “there is no such thing as a third generation trust-funder.”

Professor McMahon would disagree with me that the cyclical nature of economics plus mobility in and out of the rich, poor and middle economic classes mitigates the unfairness implicit in the present system.

Professor McMahon proposes that the top levels of income should be taxed much more heavily than is presently the case to cure this perceived inequity. Professor McMahon does not note that presently (2003) The top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $57,343) earned 64.9 percent of nation’s income, but they paid more than four out of every five dollars collected by the federal income tax (83.9 percent). This is not progressive enough for our tax system in his opinion. (I think the present rate structure is about right b.t.w.)

Professor McMahon proposes rates of 70% or more on income over 1.1M. I certainly see how this will slow the rich from getting richer, but Professor McMahon does not really show how this will help the poor. That is outside of the scope of his article. I think that it is a cagey and intentional oversight. He pooh-poohs the possibility that the kind of taxes he favors might dis-incent the entrepreneurial spirit that generates the wealth of this nation. I think this is a real threat.

Professor McMahon’s plan is fair and just {in his view} because he believes that society has a claim to the fruits of an individual's labor which is superior to the claim of the individual. I find his thinking foreign and terrifying. I am OK with progressive tax rates such as we have now. I acknowledge that wealth generation is impossible without a societal infrastructure, thus I am OK with paying for the society which enables wealth creation. But the kind of taxing he is contemplating will almost certainly kill the golden goose. What incentive is there for an entrepreneur to risk time and money in a venture (which might some day provide 10’s of 1000’s of jobs for others) if the fruits of his/her labor faces a 75% - 80% combined Federal and State income tax?

After re-reading the article last night, I get the distinct impression that Professor McMahon is really targeting the inherited wealthy.

The philosophical underpinning of Professor McMahon’s view follows:

[COLOR="Blue"]The Myth of Ownership

"Much of the philosophical opposition to taxes, particularly graduated progressive taxes on the rich, is based on the neoconservative philosophy, epitomized by Robert Nozick, that individuals are morally entitled to keep the fruits of their labor and have a claim superior to the societal claim. This argument flows from the Lockean position that the rights of the individual precede those of the state…. These arguments have been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, and I will not review the details. They all are essentially grounded on a libertarian philosophy. That libertarian claim is simply not supportable." [/COLOR]

I much prefer the Lockean philosophy.

- Jim -

October 18, 2005 03:56 PM Forum: Politics

Re: Reading between the lines of Saddam's trial

Posted By James Brown

I can't speak to the motivations of the parties, but I did see that Saddam's lawyer is going to request a three month continuance. Certain trial attorney practices are universal I see.

I also noticed the the defense will be arguing that the court/constitution/invasion are illegitimate, and thus have no legal authority to try Saddam, the duly elected president of Iran. This is an interesting argument.

It is certainly a legitimate argument from the defendant's point of view. Of course it will fail because with a new regime (legitimate or not) come new rules. This does raise the interesting philosophical point of where the "moral" authority to pass judgment comes from. Generally, I think that history teaches us that the authority to pass judgment comes with control of the winning army.

We citizens of the United States and other republic/democracies can be thankful for our Constitution and the inspiration of the Greek thinkers who conceived of something a step beyond the rule of naked force.

- Jim -

October 25, 2005 10:01 AM Forum: Politics

Big News Day

Posted By James Brown

Yesterday was a big news day politically speaking. Rosa Parks passed away at 92. May she rest in peace. I wonder what she would have thought of the bogus Andy Rooney column, and those who defend its content as merely "not-p.c." rather than "racist"? I think it is possible that she would chime in with a hearty "get over it boys, that was not so bad... I've seen, read and lived through much worse." Maybe not....

Also, Bush nominated Ben Bernanke to replace Alan Greenspan. Bernanke is very close to the president. He also appears to have unparalleled credentials for the job. Is cronyism OK if your crony really is objectively the best man for the job? I would say yes. What do you all think?


October 27, 2005 07:04 PM Forum: Wildlife Photography

Summer Time Bulls

Posted By James Brown

I photographed these fellows in Rocky Mountain National Park this August. (Canon Digital Rebel, Tamron 28-300 mm lens, fully zoomed, hand held)

I imagine they were not so cordial with each other by about October! wink

- Jim -

October 31, 2005 06:25 AM Forum: Politics

Samuel Alito

Posted By James Brown

Good. Bush nominated someone with credentials this time. I'm happy. Alito does not appear to be a soft spoken moderate though! Let the fireworks begin.


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