Monday, March 31, 2008

The Subprime Mortgage Debacle

A buddy of mine posted this link to his blog, but I thought it was worth passing on to this audience. Interesting.

So what role should the government play in fixing/regulating this industry?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Water Purifying

As an engineer, I am cognisant of the fact that many serious maladies facing the world today have the potential for fixes with improvements to technology and base infrastructure, especially in the developing world.

A fantastic new development in this spirit was recently previewed on, of all places, the Colbert Report. Dean Kamen--yes, the inventor of the Segway--showed Stephen his new water purifier. It truly is an amazing device. It would seem to me that it has great potential to change the water game in Third World countries.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back From the Heart of Texas

We just returned from a fun quick trip to Texas. We attended a wedding on Lake LBJ outside Austin, and then we took the chance to visit both Austin and San Antonio, along with touring some of the Hill Country.

So after spending some time in that region of Texas, I can definitely see the appeal. From the urban young feel of Austin and the University of Texas,

to the beauty of Lake LBJ and the Hill Country,

to the Alamo and the Riverwalk,

there's a lot to see there. So add it to your list if you haven't been.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Learning to Lie

New York Magazine recently ran a fascinating article on how we learn to lie. They observe how it is that kids grow up to learn to lie.

And their conclusion is simple. Kids learn it from their parents. Sobering.

Joe Carter summarizes,

Bronson's article contains a number of revealing tidbits, including:
1. Lying is related to intelligence. The smarter the kid, the better they are at lying.
2. On average, a 4-year-old will lie once every two hours, while a 6-year-old will lie about once every hour and a half.
3. Scholars have found that kids who live in threat of consistent punishment don’t lie less. Instead, they become better liars, at an earlier age—learning to get caught less often.
4. Children lie because they see their parents lie, and learn to imitate them. Adults inadvertently teach children that honesty only creates conflict, and dishonesty is an easy way to avoid conflict.
5. Permissive parents don’t actually learn more about their children’s lives.
6. Most rules-heavy parents don’t actually enforce them since its too much work.
7. Parents view arguing with their teenager as destructive to their relationship, while teens see it as strengthening their bond.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Toilet to Tap

There is little doubt that shortages of water are going to be a problem of the future. Recently, a new water purification plant opened in southwest California, which will allow reuse of wastewater after cleaning it. Of course, that is not sitting well with some residents. The mayor of San Diego attempted to stop the project. Some people are not okay with drinking what was formerly toilet water. Stephanie Pakalns explains,

That's gross!

I think this is completely okay, though. The process goes like this:

...the Orange County government [takes] sewer water and, instead of dumping it into the ocean after treatment, clean[s] it a second time using technology that renders the water almost distilled, exceeding all state and federal drinking standards, officials said.

The water then goes from the new $480 million water plant in nearby Fountain Valley to the drinking supply that lies beneath Anaheim—percolating many months through the earth into an aquifer serving 2.3 million people in 20 cities.

The process departs from the routine: Treated sewage typically is returned to the environment at large, such as in rivers and lakes, and after it dilutes in the vast bodies, the water is reharvested. The Orange County process skips the return-to-the-great-outdoors step.

Hmm, sounds clean to me. And really, steps like this are going to be needed to meet the West's and the world's growing water shortages. The New York Times recently had an informational rundown of the dire situation the American West is facing in regard to water. It notes,

...a lesser Colorado River would almost certainly lead to a considerable amount of economic havoc, as the future water supplies for the West’s industries, agriculture and growing municipalities are threatened. As one prominent Western water official described the possible future to me, if some of the Southwest’s largest reservoirs empty out, the region would experience an apocalypse, “an Armageddon.”

Take the time to read the NYT article as it will certainly make you think twice about the water you use. But most of all, it made me realize how valuable water is. So, I've decided to invest some money in 'water resources' stocks. Stocks from the sort of company who built this new sewage water recycling plant. Will people be willing to drink this water? Would you?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Dr. Quantum

I just watched the documentary What the Bleep Do We Know!? in order to get some thinking on quantum physics in. The original documentary I watched is, in my opinion, forgettable. While discussing interesting ideas on particle mechanics and consciousness, the scientists sound a bit too sure of themselves, while leaving obviously apparent their empty spirituality. They're searching to fill a hole they feel, but their explanations are labored.

That said, in the follow up Down the Rabbit Hole edition, there are some pretty cool animations that do a good job of explaining some complex physics ideas. And I love thinking at the fringes of our understanding of our world. So tune in, and enjoy. Here's Dr. Quantum to tell you about the famous double-slit experiment that shows us the 'observer effect':

I think part of the reason that this documentary was so successful is that people are searching for the answers to the ultimate questions of 'Who we are?' and 'Where did we come from?'. And if nothing else, the show gets you thinking about questions that may answer questions we have about our world. But, and here I guess I'll just repeat myself, I think science will ultimately point to God. The question to me is whether people will admit that.