Monday, April 22, 2013

Mars-Life Hypothesis Gets a Fresh Look

Cover Image: April 2013 Scientific American MagazineSee Inside

At a recent scientific conference in Los Angeles, scientists explored the possibility of Mars being habitable, or even inhabited by microbes, in the present day

Mars Image: NASA

The New Way to Look for Mars Life: Follow the Salt
Astrobiologists are excited about the possibility of liquid water on Mars, even if it is salty, viscous and possibly toxic

Can Hitchhiking Earth Microbes Thrive on Mars?
New experiments indicate that three of the most hostile elements of the Martian environment are not insurmountable blockades for Earth organisms

Curiosity Drills Mars for Answers
NASA's Curiosity rover has now gotten some use from most of its science instruments, but not all of them are working


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Sunday, April 21, 2013

When Business As Usual Becomes Unusual ? Make HR Happen by ...

I have shared my secret blogging method with many close friends and colleagues. While I flatter myself as a writer, this is not easy for me. Hopefully you are not holding your breath waiting on the book I promised 10 years ago. Usually my style is to outline some topic, research the facts, and then write and rewrite that first draft over and over ad infinitum. In order to publish a new article every day requires that I stage each one to launch at a predetermined hour every day of the week. This also means that I am working on next week?s posts as I write this. Hopefully I won?t lose this obsession with pushing my own creativity beyond its natural tendencies because I would probably do this even if nobody ever read it. In case you haven?t noticed, most of my topics are not related to news of the day because their shelf life is too brief for the intended audience. Just so you know? this is not the blog post you were supposed to see today.

This morning I flipped on the TV to catch up on the financial news from a few cable channels and quickly learned that today was going to be different. My bowl of Cheerios was left to turn to mush while I went online to verify from several other sources the events of last night. The Boston Marathon tragedy touched me personally because I had stood on that spot where the first bomb exploded. I have friends living or working nearby or in the Boston area. The relief of finding everyone unharmed and well gradually soothed my soul? until this morning. It?s not about me, but I can?t help but feel personally attacked by these terrorists. I bought coffee in that 7-11 that was robbed in an apparent getaway attempt. I had worked in a building for a former client only a block away from where the MIT cop was killed. People living in the surrounding areas were told to remain indoors with their doors locked. I felt their pain and fear wash over me.

This is supposed to be a human resources blog, so perhaps I will do future research on how tragic events like this affect us and the employees with whom we work. Today?s message to all of us would seem to highlight the need for strengthening corporate security, maintaining a robust communications network, and waging a legitimate battle to prevent erosion of diversity through personal overreaction to ethnic or religious implications. Corporate America cannot change the environment in which it exists because a company culture will always be a mirror to the world that feeds it. We can influence that small portion of the population that depends on us for livelihood by being vigilant in our resolve to protect, educate and hopefully make some small contribution to change.

This is being written before the current day of rapidly unfolding events has concluded. I doubt seriously that any of these impressions will change. Regardless of the outcome, this is not a dream, it is not a game, and we will probably never be the same.

There will be an opinion piece by me published on Sunday on the topic of Terrorism. Stay tuned.

Image credit: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo (Edited)


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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Same-Sex Marriage: An Illogical Counterfeit

By Richard Larsen on Apr 06, 2013 in Politics

Two cases were argued before the U.S. Supreme Court last week addressing the issue of same-sex marriage. This is not an issue of rights, as proponents maintain, nor is it an issue of Biblical marriage, as opponents contend. It is, rather, based in natural law, and is an issue of seismic significance to our culture, our society, and our civilization, and cannot be cavalierly ?redefined.?

Dr. Patrick Fagan, a sociologist and psychologist has said, ?The family is the fundamental building block of society and predates the state and even the societies it builds?At the heart of the family is the mother and father who bring their children into existence.? This is a self-evident truth, regardless of who said it, and anthropologists, biologists, sociologists, and politicians have reiterated that very sentiment. The family is the building block of society and civilization, and the cornerstone to that foundation, or the genesis of it, is a mother and a father.

Foundations must be strong, and built to withstand the elements, corrosion, and the test of time. Otherwise, the structure built thereon will inevitably crumble. If a foundation is made with unmixed cement or just water, as same-sex marriage tries to do, the foundation is weak, and the structure (our civilization) built thereon will crumble. When we tamper with, and attempt to socially-engineer the foundational elements and institutions to civilization and our society, the results will be destructive.

Redefining marriage based on who one purportedly loves, is a spurious dilution of our societal foundation. Rarely in human history, has marriage been based on who one loves, but has always been about perpetuating the species, and forming familial units that construct the foundation to civilization. Sometimes it?s included multiple spouses of one sex or another, but always it has been based on propagational properties, whether age or fertility exceptions apply or not. Any semantic change to the definition is only that, semantic, and does not change the biological or anthropological verities etymologically embedded in the term. Such a change to accommodate same-sex ?marriage? would therefore be nothing more than creating a verbal counterfeit to the real thing. Simply calling my Tahoe a Hummer is a lie, and does not change the fact that it?s still not a Hummer.

Nor is there a ?right? to marry whomsoever or whatsoever we please, or profess love for. Such a right is as most other ?rights? claimed by those in our society who feel somehow shortchanged, slighted, or disadvantaged. The ?right? is not codified in any legal document, much less our founding documents, just like the ?right? to health care, or the ?right? to a good job. Heterosexual marriage, however, is codified in natural law, as attested by biological and anthropological fact. The test is simple: try building a civilization or a society from scratch with anything other than natural law, heterosexual marriage.

Marriage, historically, has always represented the legal, moral, and cultural recognition of the binding relationship of opposite sexes. Merely definitionally reducing marriage to nothing more than a state legitimized relationship between ?people that love each other? is antithetical to the factual basis to our existence as a civilization. The fact is, marriage has always been about protecting society, at least in part, through the possibility of propagation, protection and the creation of family units.

The law of unintended consequences has certainly been manifest elsewhere as natural law, social mores, and societal conventions and institutions like marriage have been redefined and engineered to accommodate exceptions.

Scandinavian countries that have redefined marriage are experiencing a meltdown of traditional marriage. British demographer David Coleman and senior Dutch demographer Joop Garssen have written that ?marriage is becoming a minority status? in Scandinavia. In Denmark, a slight majority of all children are still born within marriage. Yet citing the 60 percent out-of-wedlock birthrate for firstborn children, Danish demographers Wehner, Kambskard, and Abrahamson argue that marriage has ceased to be the normative setting for Danish family life and poses a significant risk to the future stability of Danish society.

There are undoubtedly exogenous contributory factors for the Scandinavian states. But the eradication of natural law and social mores in favor of a politically correct or supposedly amoral redefinition of basic social conventions indisputably are the incipient causes to the unraveling of the family unit.

Mark Regnerus, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, recently said,??I think you can have social stability without many intact families, but it?s going to be really expensive and it?s going to look very ?Huxley-Brave New World-ish.? So [the intact family is] not only the optimal scenario ? but it?s the cheapest. How often in life do you get the best and the cheapest in the same package??

Pastor Rick Warren made a fundamentally true and valid observation in this regard. He said, ?Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone?s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don?t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.? Many are the arguments against same-sex marriage, and none of them frankly have anything to do with discrimination or homophobia.

Doug Mainwaring, an avowed homosexual, proves Warren?s assertion. ?Two men or two women together is, in truth, nothing like a man and a woman creating a life and a family together?Marriage is not an elastic term. It is immutable. It offers the very best for children and society. We should not adulterate nor mutilate its definition, thereby denying its riches to current and future generations.?

Words have meaning, and marriage, as the cornerstone to civilization, is copiously imbued with it. I have yet to hear a logical or cogent explanation as to why a binding homosexual relationship must be a marriage as opposed to a civil union or legal partnership. Rather than weakening and diluting the foundation to our society, we should be strengthening and encouraging it. After all, our future, and stability, as a society is dependent on it.

AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board.? He can be reached at [email?protected].


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