Revisionist History Channel

I remember when I went to public school growing up, studying history.  I loved it.  However, I was brought up in a Christian household, and though my parents did not care a bit about history, I began to notice that something was missing in what I was being taught at school.  There was simply no mention of the impact of Christianity on Western history.

Of course, the first college world history class I took wasted no time in properly bestowing credit to Western thought on the Greeks, Romans and the Judeo-Christian Ethic- just as it should have been.  It was refreshing to see Christianity getting its due, but more than that, I began to feel that it was ‘history’ itself that was being cheated by the public schools in selectively choosing which parts of the story to leave out.

I learned a term while I was at college that was easily applied to this situation- “Revisionist History”.  It’s not a complement.  It’s would be more correctly described as a disease.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is room for some revisionism.  This is easily seen when we look back at some recent presidents.  Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush were all reviled during their presidencies, but as Clinton and Reagan are both now being revised in a positive note (and rightly so), so will George W. Bush in a few years.  This would be why you should not write history until at least 20 years after the fact, but that’s a whole different discussion.

The bad form of revisionist history tends to be agenda driven.  A horrible example of this would be C.A. Tripp’s horrible book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln which attempts to turn our greatest president into a homosexual based on the flimsiest evidence.

The History Channel over the past four or five years has begun a shift toward this type of agenda based historical programming.  It, and the National Geographic Channel, have both begun to promote shows that are based on flimsy theories with little or no backing and no refutation.  For example, there are a host of shows based on Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code that are presented as if they are based on real, long-standing historical theories rather than new speculations taken from a single man who himself says they are just made up.  Unfortunately, this type of programming seems to be their trend.

Last night, I watched the first episode of Expedition Africa on the History Channel.  In it, a group of quarrelsome idiots have decided to attempt to follow Henry Morton Stanley’s famous expedition to find David Livingstone.

The show has given some of the back-story of both Stanley and Livingstone.  They were both great men who do not enough credit for their accomplishments today.  Livingstone was easily the greater of the two.  I was taken aback when they referred to Livingstone as basically an explorer who wanted to end slavery.  I went to the History Channel website and read to see if they elaborated on him further.  Here it was much the same, except that they referred to him as a ‘former missionary.’

David Livingstone was one of the greatest missionaries to ever live.  Period.  He was also a medical missionary.  He saw Africa, and realized that there was so much intertribal strife that he could either stay in one place and affect only a few people, or he could change the way the whole continent worked, and reach millions of people.  He was a strategic missionary.  His theory was that by exploring Africa, and opening up trade routes, the people there would end up seeing the economic benefit of supporting these trade routes and working together.  This, in turn, would make it easier for missionaries, like himself, to reach more people.

The problem I had was that this program, and the History Channel blatantly ignored Livingstone’s primary life calling and reason for doing the amazing things that he did.  It’s easily done in this case, because most people were only taught in school that Livingstone was an explorer also.  I am not expecting them to turn this into a religious program, but the truth of his motivations could be presented without it sounding preachy.  In the end, by selectively ignoring essential aspects of a story, it is the history and the History Channel’s reputation that suffer.

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Big Oil Blues 2008

I have had a running argument with a friend regarding the oil industry.  It first needs to be stated that we are both conservatives that believe that economies operate well, for the most part, in a free market system.  I, however, also believing in the ‘depravity of man,’ know that anything involving humans without any regulation will eventually be abused by man often to his own detriment.

In the last year, as the price of oil was rising out of control, I chose to place the blame on several groups that I felt were not playing fairly.  Each had its own interests in mind at the time.  First, there were the speculators.  These included retirement account investors who had decided to drive up the price of oil in order to increase the return on these accounts.  The problem with this type of move is that in the end, it amounts to a tax on the entire country, and as a percentage of income it results in a much larger burden for the poor.  Rampant speculation is always bad for the economy.  There is always a ceiling, and when it is reached, a big fall will always occur.  You can look back through history as it has happened again and again.  And, you do not have to look far.  The stock market is still suffering the effects of recent speculation.  In the housing industry, over the past few years, America was treated to stories ad nauseum about housing prices that were skyrocketing out of control on the east and west coasts.  It was referred to as a ‘bubble,’ and the ramifications of the burst are still being experienced throughout the industry (however, in Dallas, Denver and Houston, cities that for the most part did not did take part in the rampant speculation, housing prices have continued to rise at a reasonable rate).   Before that, we had the S&L scandal in the 1980s.  In all of these instances the economy was negatively impacted by rampant speculation in a particular industry.

The second group that obvious benefitted from the aberrant rise in the price of oil last year was the oil companies themselves.  They cried crocodile tears about how awful it was that ‘demand’ had driven oil to such high prices.  At the same time, because their profit on a barrel of oil was based on a percentage of the price, their actual profits went through the roof.  During this time, my friend and I had argument after argument.  I could not get over the percentage of profit built into the oil companies’ prices.  To me this showed that the oil companies were not attempting to exist in a competitive market.  As the price of a barrel of oil was driven up, and the oil companies’ profit went along for the ride, they simply got filthy rich.  I used the Wal-Mart as an example.  If the cost of a particular item went up for Wal-Mart, they would do their best to keep their costs low, and the affect on the consumer end would only be seen up to the amount of the increase in the cost to Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart does not have a percentage of profit built in to its system.  It works on the concept of economies of scale.  No industry could employ the idea of economies of scale better than the oil industry, but there is simply no incentive to do so.  They exist in a perpetual state of mute collusion in which everyone benefits when the price goes up because people are still going to buy gas, and the entire oil industry can reap the profits.

They claim the price was demand driven, but that is a lie that has been proven at this point.  The price was driven by speculation, and as an industry, big oil had no incentive to keep this from happening, quite the opposite.

Until recently they were still blaming demand for the rise in oil prices.  I called B.S. on this.  The price of oil was about a quarter of what it had been six months ago.  So, if the price of oil were actually driven by demand, this would mean that America (and the world) would be using about 25% of the oil that it was 6 months ago.  This idea is just ridiculous.  This was all underscored even more today as news that OPEC’s largest cuts in production in its history were met with…, the price of oil going down again.  This proves that the price was not being driven by demand, but rather by speculation.  Demand and price have a positive correlation (when demand goes up, prices goes up), and supply and price have an inverse correlation (when supply goes down, prices go up).  Today’s announcement simply underscores how much out-of-whack the oil industry was this summer, because now, prices are continuing to fall regardless of the restriction of the supply.

Finally, the suppliers in the Middle East benefitted from the unrestrained speculation in the oil market.  Again, as with the oil companies, they had only to gain.  The negative impact to the economy here was huge.  It is never good to send large amounts of your wealth to another country, but as the price of oil went up, that is exactly what we did, and the dollar took a pounding as a result.  Today, the dollar is actually stronger than it was six months ago.  Interesting.

Check out this story.  I found the graph especially interesting.

Green, the Color of Vomit

When I was a child, like most boys, my favorite colors were blue and red.  If it was time to buy a shirt, it was usually blue, red or if I was getting way out there, maroon or orange.  There were clearly defined colors for boys and girls.  Girls wore yellow, pink and purple, and boy wore the colors referenced above. 

Then there was green.  Green did not seem to have the same gender connotations that the other colors did.  What could a young boy do with a color like this?  For me, green became my least favorite color.  I never bought anything green.

Of course, we grow out of these silly ‘kid’s stuff’ attitudes as we grow older, and by late middle school green shirts were just fine.  Now, olive green, khaki, brown and navy (women refer to these as neutrals) permeate my wardrobe.  And up till now this has been fine with me, however, recent social events which I will now refer to as “The Greening of America,” are beginning to turn me against this color once again.

I have had an issue with the new religion of ‘Global Warming’ and its modern inquisitional tactics toward anyone who has the nerve to question the ‘science’ that it is proposing.  There are actually educators and scientists who are losing their positions for daring to question the accuracy of global warming theorists and their models.

I, personally, believe this is a completely social agenda that had unfortunately become a government funded (your tax dollars) phenomenon.  There is no legitimate debate over the issue, and there are no real ideas being proposed to help alleviate the problem if one really exists. 

Here we are several years into a full-blown panic over global warming, and no one has yet begun building the first new nuclear reactor in the United States.  Why is this?  It’s because the ignorant nuts that are driving this issue are the same ignorant nuts that condemned nuclear energy in the 1970’s before it proved to the world that it is the safest, cleanest, cheapest, most sustainable, most environmentally friendly type of energy in the world.  Until these people, and the politicians they support, begin a serious and substantive move toward nuclear energy, I will have little respect for them or their cause.

The economic impact of policies being enacted by governments around the world, together with oil prices, has begun to take its toll around the world as we speak.  Now, there is talk of a world food crisis.  Economists are correctly placing blame for this on oil prices and the new ‘environmental’ policies especially those involving corn/ethanol production.  Of course, global warming theorists will blame, what else, ‘global warming’ for these food shortages.  It gets blamed for everything else.  It will be interesting to see which crisis wins if global warming and starvation of the poor worldwide driven by lack of food actually occurs.  My guess is that deep-down global warming theorists will feel that countries and cultures where human growth is unchecked could use a little thinning out.  A few million deaths in Brazil, for example would be that much fewer people that could cut down the rain forests, and that much fewer cooking fires, and we all know how terrible these fires are for the planets (I would like, at this point to reiterate the fact that I am speculating on the thoughts of other people, and would never harbor such thoughts myself).  It will be interesting to see how the mainstream/liberal media deals with all of this.

And, this all brings me back to my original point.  I’m beginning to like the color green a little less these days.  I could take it if it was just a political issue that was running its course, but now, it has not just invaded my own life, but has begun to permeate it.

I watch quite a bit of television, but recently my television watching has been marred by what I will call ‘green pollution.’  Every PSA on television seems to be about saving the planet.  Every Primetime program, “My Name Is Earl” for example, has become polluted by green references, and programs on Discovery and other educational channels (usually my favorite type of television) have become dumping grounds for the green message.  These channels, for me, are veering toward unwatchable.

Last year, discovery aired a program called “Expedition Borneo.”  The program documented man’s destruction of one of the last uninhabited forest regions on the Earth.  I got past the bleeding heart stuff at the beginning, and the rest of the program chronicled the majestic beauty that can be found all over Borneo, and it was truly a beautiful place.  I learned about that part of the world, and on the whole I really liked the program.

This year, Discovery followed up with “Expedition Alaska.”  They even devoted the whole week to ‘Alaska’ programming.  Unfortunately, the ‘expedition’ was nothing but a global warming fest with scientists racing all over the state to show us how global warming is destroying it.  Scientist after scientist made wild speculation about the consequences of global warming in general saying things like (and I paraphrase), “We don’t know exactly what impact global warming will have on these animals, but we have to do something to protect them.”  As this show droned on I found my interest drifting farther and farther away, until I just turned it off.

Eventually, there will be no intellectual refuge on television that is unspoiled by this green pollution.  Then, I guess I will have to make the unsavory decision to begin watching programs about motorcycles, tattoos and NASCAR.  At which point, I will sit back, drink my Gatorade, and wait for the Idiocracy to take over.  Bad Ass!