Sylvia Browne–Going down?

Awhile back, I posted a blog entry showing why Syliva Browne is no psychic, with an audio file of one call from her appearance on Larry King Live on 7 December 03. Here, she tries to convince a caller that her mother has died when she is clearly alive. It’s embarrassing for Sylvia, and really funny.

It’s also funny how she keeps evading James Randi‘s Million Dollar Challenge. It’s been over five years since she agreed to the test and agreed to the protocol it would use. And ever since then she’s used every excuse in the book–and maybe written one or two new ones–to avoid it.

You can see all of that, and also all of what I talk about below, on Randi’s special Sylvia Browne page.

All of that’s funny, but other “predictions” of Sylvia’s are downright serious and even sad. The attention of the media has been drawn to the case where Shawn Hornbeck has been finally returned to his parents after being abducted for more than four years. Most of the attention has been drawn towards Sylvia Browne. That must be because her psychic powers helped police find the abductor and return Shawn home, as she claims to have done with “tens of thousands” of people, right?

Uh, no. The attention is on Sylvia because she was wrong, wrong, wrong. She got the most fundamental fact wrong: She said that Shawn was dead, causing the parents much grief. Many might have given up the search after that. She may have even led the police the wrong way with her wrong guesses, saying that the perpetrator was dark-skinned (he wasn’t) with long hair and dreadlocks (he had short hair). She told them Shawn’s (dead) body was between two boulders, when he was very much alive in the abductor’s apartment, no boulders in sight. But at least here there’s a happy ending, no thanks to Sylvia.

You can see all of that at Randi’s Sylvia page, as well as a link to Sylvia videos on YouTube, a couple of which I’ll talk about below.

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More elected Libertarians cutting waste

Once again, we see elected Libertarians doing what Democrats don’t want to do and Republicans say they want to do and don’t: cut government waste.

As of November 2006, Lee County, FL now has a Libertarian majority on their Soil & Water Conservation Board. If any of you have wondered (as I have), “What could Libertarians possibly do on a Soil & Water Board?”, then read on:

Chairman Jack Tanner quickly moved through the agenda until he opened the floor to discuss the termination of the mobile irrigation laboratory and our two employees. The next 45 minutes or so were consumed by a series of earnest and emotional pleas by the government managers. Phrases like “millions of gallons wasted” and “billions of gallons saved” were used. Papers were pushed around with columns, charts and graphs. A case was cited in which an elderly, feeble, poor woman, unable to manage her lawn sprinklers, was “saved” by our wonderful program.

Yeah, how wonderful; I’m sure that old lady would have curled up and died without those lawn sprinklers. She would have had no way of properly watering her lawn without a “mobile irrigation laboratory.” Right. Whenever bureaucrats want to justify a wasteful program, they always trot out a little old lady, or children, or some other sympathetic figure and talk about how all these people are “saved” by this useless program. Sometimes I think politicians and bureaucrats should be constantly followed around by violin players.

Anyway, continuing:

The Cape Coral utilities manager was impressive and forceful. At one point he said, “Citizens don’t protect themselves so we have to.” He concluded, “You may as well keep this program because if you don’t we will find a way to continue, and the taxpayers won’t save a dime.”

Yikes! Sounds like the decision to build the new arena in Charlotte despite the voters voting it down, only this guy comes right out and says it! Well, at least he’s honest…

I have heard this threat before. For years myself and a small and determined alliance have successfully fought off a county sales tax. Lee County officials repeatedly scolded us saying, “If you kill this tax we’ll just find another way to raise taxes.” Ever since I was a child, threats and intimidation have provided me with the energy and determination to do the opposite and face the consequences.

I waited until everyone had their say. I started by telling a familiar but fictional story. I said, “Imagine county police coming to my home and taking my wife to jail in handcuffs because I failed to pay a fine for making unnecessary trips in my car and wasting gasoline. Imagine her living with a criminal record caused by a law she didn’t know existed.” I went on, “We don’t make criminals out of people who waste gasoline because we have a relatively free market in gasoline. We do make criminals out of people who waste water because we don’t have a free market in water distribution.”

Exactly! I’ll have to remember this story…

You can read the article here, and I have more comments below.

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Sad news

Yes, I’ve been putting off making this blog entry. But sometimes one just needs the courage to soldier on.

As you can read in this story from the AP Newswire, my daughter and I were severely injured and my wife killed when a drunk driver hit us head-on on the interstate.

I am happy to report, however, that Aleena is now walking and I am able to start putting some weight on my right foot. It’ll be awhile before I join her among the ranks of the ambulatory, but I’ll get there in time. The healing process is going rather well. My right humerus was shattered, so it’ll be even longer before I can use that arm for anything other than light duty (such as typing), but it, too, will heal in time. The prognosis has always been that we’ll both make a complete recovery. We’re both very fortunate that no nerves were severed and that there was no serious internal or brain damage; it was quite a crash.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported and continues to support us during this difficult time. Of course, there’s my immediate family, taking us in until we’re ready to get back on our own again; the rescue workers and hospital staff in West Virginia who were so incredibly great; so many people from Unity Presbyterian Church who gave us so much help and support, from the funeral to building a very professional wheelchair ramp; my friends in the Libertarian Party (especially the ones who set up a special blog for outreach and updates) and the skeptic movement (primarily the JREF) who gave their well-wishes, support, and even generous donations…there are just so many people to thank I can’t even think of them all right now, thanks so much to all of you.

And most of all, thank you, Joey, my beautiful wife. You changed my life in ways you never even could have imagined; you changed me in so many ways I can’t describe. I miss you so much, sweetie. I’ll always love you.