2015-03-26

American Muslim...?

Let me start off by saying I am fundamentally ignorant of Islam.  I am also relatively ignorant of constitutional law.  That being said, I have lived nearly my entire life here in the US and feel I have a pretty good understanding of how things are supposed to work, here in the US anyway.  Apart from that, I certainly have opinions about how things should work.  Here are some of them.

The United States is a Christan Nation:
First off, I hope not.  Christianity is a belief structure which has become a religion.  A Nation is a sovereign state, a political construct.  Our constitution has a statement in it which has been broken down into the "establishment clause" and the "free exercise clause".  Basically, no state sponsored religion, and freedom to express belief as one sees fit.(article 6).  Going beyond that, the 1st amendment and the 14th sort of hash out a few details in support of article 6.  To say we are a Christian Nation is to cross the line into very scary territory.  Once we do that, we are back to a situation that many of those that came here in the first place were attempting to get away from: State backed churches.

Christians are not so very special that they would not fall into the same habits that some of our European predecessor's did back in the good old days of, dare I say it?.. the Inquisition.  There are enough rich religious fruit-cakes out there who would love nothing more than to expand their power base by being able to segment our citizenship into convenient little groups of 'ok believers'' and 'heathens'.  Not something I am willing to give over to anyone!

The Separation of Church and State: 
To help prevent that we have the aforementioned clauses in the constitution along with some fairly indicative writings from folks like Jefferson who, while not irreligious themselves, did not like the idea of either encumbered or enforced faith.  And while they did not always agree on where the line was to be drawn, they seemed agree that there should be one.

In spite of all that, we seem to still struggle with the idea.  I am not talking about the stupid issues like refusing to say the pledge in schools because it mentions God.  Get the fuck over it.  Like saying it once a day is going to turn a kid into some raving evangelical freak.  On the flip side, demanding that creationism be taught in public schools is just as far over the line.  Get the fuck over it.  Like learning some science is going to turn a kid into some atheistic lunatic like Richard Dawkins.

What I am talking about is some of those issues which have been prevalent recently.  Recognizing gay marriage for example:  It is not up to the government to determine such things.  If one does not believe in it, then it is probably not a problem for said individual.  It quickly becomes a problem for such individuals and groups when they attempt to legislate their belief systems on those who might be affected.  In the long run, it is more of a problem for those who exclude than those who are excluded.  Think about it; Once such exclusionary laws are in place, then what happens when it is your son or daughter that must now live in exclusion.  Believe it or not, Christianity is not a medicine against being gay.  Writing a law that bans being gay is like writing a law that outlaws being born with blue eyes.  What comes next?

Well, then we write laws that say women belong at home taking care of children, that science is ok'ed by the church, that the church must have the final say over when to go to war, and then that they need their own military force.... followed by Christ being the head of state(who in physical absence is represented by someone politically savvy enough to rise through the ranks of church politics to stand in his place)... and now we have a Christian Nation... don't we?

Go ahead, but let me know ahead of time will you?  I would like the opportunity to move elsewhere should that become the norm.

Islam(as I am dimly familiar with it) and the Lack of Separation:
And therein lies the problem with the concept of an American Muslim.  As I understand it, (again, not very well) there is no question of separation between church and state in Islam:  There is no question, because the church is the head of state.  We have seen the radical elements of Islam for years now, and some of their claims of poor treatment by the West are valid.  For all I know, they may have valid reasons for their animosity toward Jews.  Those are not the problems, in spite of what the media, Western religious leaders, and snaky politicians on both sides of both ponds would have us believe.

The problem is very simple:  A belief system which insists it's laws are beyond the laws of our constitution simply must change in order to rightfully claim the title of American.  In this country, our laws may reflect certain beliefs, but they are not dictated by them.  And they best never be so.

There have been several attempts made by groups of Muslims to establish "parallel" community courts based on Sharia law which would have jurisdiction over and authority to exact judgement and punishment their community members.  They have sought to have these 'courts' acknowledged by state courts.  This must never happen, ever!

Therein lies the problem with the term American Muslim:  When Islam develops a system of beliefs compatible with our constitution, I will be comfortable with that term.  Until such time, my firm belief is that we, whether Christan, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Atheist or other, are Americans first.  Because unless we are Americans first, we will always be subject to one or another belief system imposing itself on the others.  And that is when we will no longer be Americans.

I apologise if my ignorance of Islam leads to inaccurate conclusions reflected above.  I am open to becoming more educated by someone more aware than I am.

2015-03-22

Wandering into 2015...

A tough year last year.  What all with me coming out of a bone marrow transplant with no idea of whether it would be successful or not, the recovery time - very damn slow from my point of view, and my new body shape - a 5'4" hunch-back.  I can tell you that last one is still kicking my ass.  Never the less, 2014 was better than 2013.  I went into 2013 realizing I probably would not come out of it.  So 2014 came as a bit of  a surprise.

Obviously, a lot of things had to happen in 2013 and 2014 regarding the Farm and the role I play with regard to its operation.  When one gets cancer of the blood, legal matters like trusts, ownership of property, protection from probate etc.. eat up a lot of time, effort and money.  Moves had to be made to protect the Farm and all it represents.  Some of those are hard for me to swallow now.  I made it through the God-damned treatment and came out the other side with a new role in life.  I am not always comfortable wih that role, and am decidedly uncomfortable with my new role on the farm.

I spent all of 2014 that I could on the farm.  When the oncology team cut me loose from daily treatment, I headed home to Albertville (Thanks for helping me pack Bruce!) unloaded my stuff, and started looking for a camper to stay in.  We had leased out the Dacha (Trailer house we fixed up real nice on an acre of land a couple of miles from the Farm) to a couple, the husband half of the pair having a disease called plastique nemia, or at least something close to that.  It is even more rare than my cancer.  I leased it to him for life, cause it was the right thing to do.  However, that leaves me without a place to stay when I go to the farm.  Thus, the camper search.

I found a 40 year old Hi-Lo owned by a guy in my neighborhood.  The interior ain't great, but it does not leak much, has a working furnace, stove, oven, and lights.  I talked him down to $650.00, and brought it home and parked it in the driveway.  The thing is 18 feet long, has two tables, each of which turn into a queen size bed, a drop down loft bed of the same size, and it had a toilet/shower.

It snowed shortly after I bought the camper, which is not surprising being that it was the first week in April.  My wife and daughter admitted to me that the trailer was old and ugly.  I could not argue.  But it was solid and didn't leak.  I checked when the snow melted.

By bean planting time I was ensconced in my trailer at the farm.  Good thing the furnace worked!  I bought an extender for the WiFi coming from the house where the Barr's live.  Set up my laptops, monitors and keyboards and started healing up.

There were two kinds of healing I wanted to do, and I knew the farm was the place to do them.  My oncologist and some members of my family were not so sure.  However, the oncologist said stay out of the dust, gave me heavy duty masks to wear, shrugged his shoulders and said good luck.  My family did what amounted to the same.  I will always be grateful to them for that.

The initial placement of the camper worked well until things started to warm up.  I discovered I needed shade or an air conditioner.  I started with a little window air conditioner, having to turn it sideways to fit into the window of the camper.  Worked fine that way, but ran all the time.  My internal body temperature regulation does not work well, so I would go from sweltering to freezing.  Eventually, I hooked the camper up to the truck and set it up under two huge maples on the south side of the machine shed.  And there it stayed.  On hot days I could open the windows and the breeze was enough.  I think the air conditioner only ran three times last summer.

So, I had a place to be.  I began to putz around the shop in the machine shed.  It is a 20' x 40' structure within a structure that has a 16' ceiling.  And it was a disaster.  One could not even walk a straight line from one side to the other not to mention from front to back.  My fault.  I had let it get out of hand as we took on the major projects of getting the farm back in shape over the last years.  Time to dig in....right?  Yeah, right...!

I dug in all right.  I would work for 30, may 35 minutes and be totally wiped out.  I could not understand.  My whole life I have dug into jobs full steam and my internal drive would carry me through.  No matter how tired, hung over, wasted, beat up... I could do the job, and do it all damn day!  Not any more... I still get angry and feel betrayed when I think about it, like right now.  The frustration is almost beyond my tolerance level.  And being on the farm made it ever so much worse!!!

You need to understand: The Wielands work!  We work hard!  "There are no excuses...the God-damn job gets done, and it gets done right or you can get your stupid ass back out there and do the F**king job over til it is right!!"  (Note:  Mom and Dad were not verbal like that, ever!!, but the expectations were very similar)  I spent my summers as a teen, from 11 to 17 on the Farm, and that was the expectation (and method of expressing it) I grew up with there.  I am proud of that!  Those folks taught me to work, and rewarded me generously for doing good work.  They cared for and loved me in their own way, and I would not have traded those summers for anything looking back now.

But I am no longer capable of meeting those expectations.  By rights, the spine specialist told me to never, ever, lift more than 5, yes that is five, pounds.  I have shoes that weigh more than that!  I just can't... it shames me sometimes.  I pushed myself.  It didn't work.  All I accomplished was to further injure myself.  So fucking shaming!

.................
.....Maybe if it had not come on so fast... .  Not eighteen months previously I had been 6', 170lbs, on a ladder hanging a 8' x 8' shed door by myself.  I would go to the Farm on weekends and work from 7:00 am until dark.  Not all the work was hard, but some of it was.  Now, I am no longer that man.  On a good day, I can carry a straw bale if I am careful about it.  I can do ... well, not much when compared to only 18 months before, 24 months now as I write this.

In November of '12 I knew who and what I was.  By March of '13 I was a walking dead man with Dr.'s clearly unsure of a prognosis.  In June I was down to 121lbs and I was ambulatory enough to get to the shower, but not much more.  In July I made it out to the deck that faces North East over a pond at 04:45 one morning.  It took me 45 minutes to travel the 60 foot distance.  I had a talk with God as I watched the sun rise...something I don't do often for my own reasons, neither talk with God nor watch the sun rise that is.  I decided to live that morning.  Then I went back to my chair and listened to some music my daughter had introduced me to.  Transition music... maybe I will write something about that some day...

By August I was strong enough to drive myself to the farm and sit in a chair.  The chemo and radiation had stopped the progression, but my spine was shot.  In only 45 days between early May and mid-June I had shrunk over eight inches.  Yet the progression had been halted, even the Dr.s were a bit surprised.  Hell, at that point I had looked death in the face.  One day I realized that the only difference between me (along with many others that have similar experiences) and every one else, is that for me and those like me, my own death has a name.  For most, it is an abstract thing.  As it was for me before.

In late February of '14 they blasted me with chemo, waited a day, and then fed my own stem cells that had been harvested earlier in the month back into me.  Then a month of staying at the lodge next to the hospital, always accompanied by friends or family.  Thirty days, and not once was I unaccompanied.  I will never be able to express the gratitude I feel.  And those that could not be there, they called me, they did not forget.  They let me call them...  Yeah, gratitude, I know that feeling.
...................

....All that is what led me to be sitting in a machine shop on a 234 acre spread in SW Wisconsin feeling angry, humiliated, and generally sorry for myself.  I won't apologize.  I damn well earned it.  After moping a bit, I notice that there was this one thing right in front of me that I might just as well do.  Such a small thing that it would not matter.  I don't recall what it was, but I do recall it bothering me sitting there and not doing it.  So I got up and did it, and then I found another little thing, and another.  And pretty soon I had been doing little things for better than an hour.  And I began to learn...

I am not and never will be the man that I was.  I don't even think the same way anymore.  Hell, I could not have sat and written all this back then.  I just did not have the patience.  I have no choice now.  But it is a hard row to hoe.  I still dream of myself as I was.  I don't dream often, and I used to never remember my dreams.  I remember them now.  Sometime I wish I didn't.  I wake up ready to go, those few seconds where your mind sort of switches on and you know there are things to do but your not sure what, but your body is ready to do them....and then, well...my body is not ready.  It is sort of a let down some times.

The Farm was the hardest place to learn this.  Therefor it was perfect place to learn it. I started to learn to do what I could do instead of what I expected to do.  The learning is not over yet, but it started, and it started there on the farm.  I found that I am a lot better at picking mulberries and black berries than I used to be.  That I can plan tasks in such a way that I can do them without adding to the damage already done to my body.  I used to be able to just drop a shoulder and bull through, now, I have to think my way through those tasks. Learning.....

The Farm taught me that when I stop because I am tired, that I should look, listen, taste the air, enjoy having to stop.  Shit! I have to stop anyway, why sit there and berate oneself when one can look out over a pasture and see real beauty.  I have a long way to go in that learning process yet, but it has started... and the Farm is patient even when I am not.

So here I am wandering into 2015, still hoping to have the Farm teach me to live differently.  To tolerate myself and to move past the new limits... .

Post Script:
I don't really know why I am writing this now.  I know I need to say what is here.  I started with the intent of writing about the Farm, and ended up blabbing about me.
Maybe it is because I don't see myself as a different entity from the Farm anymore. Maybe, like my aunt Nola before me, I have become a part of it, and it a part of me.

I am certain that this must be about as self-centered a piece of drivel as can be. Again, I won't apologize.  I  think it is time I accepted myself, that I look in the mirror and acknowledge what you, the reader must see when you look at me.  I need to accept that without the shame of comparison to what I was.  After all, being ashamed now assumes I was measurably better before, and that may have been only in my own eyes.  At any rate, herein lies what I have become.  At least it is honest.

Taxation... again...and again...

Why so many taxing authorities?  What purpose is served by the forcing the burden of accounting onto the people who are being taxed?  It seems to me, that to prevent taxation from having even more negative connotations than it is going to have by nature, we should simplify it and put the burden of it on the beneficiary: The Govt.

Note that there is more implied in that last sentence than what is on the surface.  The sentence is one of those poor ones which suggests a problem for the sake of promoting a solution.  I see/hear a lot of sentences like that; from across the spectrum of commentators.  Average Joe's/Jane's, politicians, wanna-be politicians, experts, etc... .  The problem is that the focus is on the solution instead of the problem.  As if implementing the solution would address the problem... well, maybe it would, but I doubt it.

Problems like taxation are not simple, they are complex, almost intractable.  The underlying concept is however simple: We pay into a/some pool(s) so that things that are better done in a consistent manner get done on a consistent basis.  Defense, infrastructure, security(of many types), diplomacy, rule of law and it's enforcement.., all of these things are better done by a designated team than they would be by individuals or groups of individuals in small locales.

Getting back to that sentence: Let's examine for a moment what it implies.

"negative connotations":  I know very few who like paying taxes, preparing taxes, or agree that they are spent wisely.  The attitudes that I am aware of regarding taxes run in the range from absolute rebelliousness to acceptance of a necessary evil.  Perhaps I hang around the wrong folks?

"by nature":  This is perhaps a misnomer.  The only thing about taxes that are natural is that they seem to be ubiquitous in organized societies.  And it is natural to object to having ones money taken away in order to fund things one does not believe in.  I think we, on average, believe in paying for infrastucture, defence within reason...all those things that provide the baseline for a civilized culture.  Not so much agreement however on big ticket items like corporate subsidies, food stamps, foreign aid, heath insurance, etc... .   It is natural to not want to pay for things one does not believe in.

"we should simplify it":  And yes, I am one of those that believes that the tax code should be all of one page long.  At more than 160,000 pages long, with more than 15,000 modifications since it was last written by the Reagan administration, it is a travesty of complex, poorly written, unplanned garbage which represents nothing less than legalized extortion.  A sixth grader should be able to sit down, read our tax code, and present a report on it.  A tax code more complex than that is targeted toward scamming those it is supposed to both tax and benefit.  Income tax should be left in the pages of history books written about poorly thought out policy.

"..put the burdon of it on the benificiary: The Govt."   Now this part displays all the elements of presenting an oxymoron as a solution.  Working backwards:  "..The Govt...".  Yes that is us, we the people.  The burdon should be on us.  So when did anyone vote for 160,000 pages of tax law?  Did you?  I didn't.  In fact, when did we vote for an income tax at all?  Was it in 1913?  Why would we want to have to fill out multiple forms, or like me, pay a specialist to do so?  And why would I pay into a fund so that it could then turn around and refund me my own money?  On top of that, why would I want to put into place an expensive, hard to regulate organization to administer this flow of funds?  Talk about masochistic!

We have generated an overly complex, expensive, self-destructive institution and allowed hucksters to riddle it with added complexity, and for what rational reason? For the life of me, I can't think of one.  It is utter and complete stupidity.

Beyond being stupid: we have let it be a point of leverage for politicians, who promise to return more of our money to us, or put it to better use.  Of course it never does really get returned to us, except as little dribbles that we use up on one purchase at Best Buy, or a family night out.  "Wow! We got our refund! Lets go invest!".  How stupid we have become!  It is embarrassing.


2015-03-21

Social Impact Bonds ?

Recently I was made aware of a finacial instrument that has been around for a while, but that I had not heard of:  The Social Impact Bond.  It is not surprising that I have not heard of it, I am not all that aware of the world of finance.  But when this was described to me by my wife, an economist and professor of economics, I was rather sceptically intrugued.  My first impression was "well, it sounds a lot more friendly that a credit default swap".  Therein lies a good indicator of my financial accumen.

Never-the-less, I thought I would take a look.  The first place I found was Goldmann Sachs, a firm that instills an impression of almost anything but social awareness not to mention investment in anything socially healthy.  However, the graphic they display shows a nice overview of how this is supposed to work.  Do take a look...

http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/trends-in-our-business/social-impact-bonds.html?cid=PS_01_47_07_00_00_00_01

And of course Wikipedia:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_impact_bond

Digging into this a bit I found that this concept, or its current description, originated in the UK.  Apparently, the UK faces a prison space shortage.  Recidivism is thus a major problem.  It isn't so bad if a person screws up, does their time, and moves on. But when that person keeps running through that cycle, needless to say it gets expensive for the tax payer.  Housing prisoners is expensive, processing through the courts is expensive, a police force that has to keep dealing with the same problem coming from the same individual is expensive, and on and on.

Of course, this all boils down to money.  Expensive programs that don't work are still expensive, and this does not just apply to jail-flys either.  Emergency rooms end up in the same basic situation when they are used as clinics so folks who can't afford health care can get some care.  That drives up cost for everyone.

So, enter the Social Impact Bond, known by slight name variations depending on which country you look at.  The basic idea is that the risk of the performance, or lack thereof, of a service traditionally provided by the governmnet to address some issue is shifted from the taxpayer to the investor.  If the service performs, the government kicks back money to the investors out of the savings of not having to provide the service.  If the service does not perform, the investors take it in the wallet and the taxpayer walks away supposedly not having to pay for something that did not produce.

I can see some uses for such an arrangement here in the US.  Lets say that community A in State A faces a big problem that just seems to go on and on.  Current services simply have not changed the trend and they cost State A a fair amount of money.  The state could go to the Fed, but lets face it, the Fed really is not all that good at dealing with local or regional issues.  And they shouldn't.  They are too big and clumsy to recoginize let alone handle such problems.  So usually a bunch of money gets tossed to State A, much of which get diverted to ...well... wherever.  Community A ends up with some cookie-cutter service which ignores the cause of the issue and simply provides a means of disbursing whatever funds that the state didn't abuse to implement solutions that don't fit the problem.  So, that does not work.  What then?

Well, what if Community A goes to State A and says "Hey, we have this problem that is costing us a lot of money, and here is a solution tuned to address the causes of our problem while helping those that are affected by the problem. We think that if we to (list of things), the result will be that the cause of the problem is addressed, those affected by the problem will no longer require assistance(because the cause of the problem has been addressed), and this will be accomplished in X amount of time. The savings to the taxpayer will be Y.  How about issueing bonds?"

Now, a solution that is more likely to fit the problem and address both the causes and the immediate impacts of it has been proposed by the folks who know the problem first hand.  If the solution seems reasonable, bonds are issued and investors buy the bonds which provides the initial investment to get things going.  The project is monitored regularily and measured against performance goals.  If the project is showing results as expected, good deal.  If not, it adjusts or is closed out.

This leaves one of two likely outcomes, the project fails and the bond-holders are out thier money.  The project succeeds and the bond holders are paid by the tax payer out of savings that come from the issue having been resolved.  The only way the tax payer pays is if there is measurable success.

Sounds easy right?  Well, not so much.  How does one establish measurements of success, of progress toward success?  Some of the issues like health-care for those that can't afford it are not well suited to this.  They are too big, and too pervasive.  But what about regional social issues like pockets of drug abuse, poverty-driven crime or even something like poaching?  For issues that are regional and/or local, where a cause-effect might be stated fairly clearly, this might work very well indeed.

No need for huge programs which don't address the cause of the problem.  The tax payer pays for what works and does not pay for what does not.  And, most importantly from my point of view, it is defined as a project: that means it has an end.  And that is it's most attractive aspect to me.  There is a reduced risk of it becoming a program, something that goes on and on, and costs and costs.

I like that.


2015-03-14

Correlation Vs.Causation

Nowhere more than in politcal discussion is there greater evidence of our misunderstanding of what it is to make a correlation as compared to arguing, not to mention proving, causation.

I thnik that a lot of folks don't even know the difference, and the greater majority of the remainder don't bother to make the distinction when discussing an issue.  So?  What is the difference?  And why does it even matter?  What is the big deal?

As usual, I will start with a rediculous example:  This morning, while getting a bit of fresh air on the front stoop, I noticed two garter snakes soaking in the sun on the rocks in the front garden.  This is the fouth day in a row that I have seen these pretty little creatures in the same general vicinity at approximately the same time of day.  In the  eight years we have lived here, this is the first year that I have seen snakes out this early in spite of the fact that we have had similar warm weather this early in the year.

Now, using only correlation, I could draw all sorts of conclusions, anything from there is a growth in the population of gartern snakes to a warming climate and on to food supplies and the desire for slithering creatures to be around someone like me.  I have verifiable evidence for any one of these conclusions including dated photos on my cell phone.  However, I have no proof that there is a direct link between anything I might conclude and the fact that the snakes are suddenly appearing at the aforementioned times.  There is no evidence of causation.

I have recently witnessed some of the most rediculous examples of mistaking correlation for causation that can be immagined in the news, on facebook, on the radio, almost anywhere I look or listen.  Many of the examples of this confusion are tightly coupled with political issues.  Some of them simply defy common sense.  Others are understandable because the issues are tightly coupled to our daily lives, whther in how we believe or in how we operate.  Issues like climate change, where we are only now beginning to be able to gather and assess data that might indicate causation.  Other less tangible issues like LGBT rights, or race and gender equality have plenty of data which indicates how things are and have been, but not how to change them if we wanted to.

Don't get me wrong:  There is nothing wrong with correlation!  It is how our minds recognize patterns, and pattern recognition is a huge part of our ability to think.  But a big part of thinking is asking questions about what the patterns we recognize might mean.  Thinking is our biggest asset as humans.  And yet by drawing conclusions based on observations we have not asked fundamental questions about, we shortcut the thought process and often as not, based on what I have been seeing recently, make asses of ourselves.

Theorizing about correlations we make is good, drawing conclusion based on them without providing real evidence of a causal model is self destructive and destructive to the process of exchanging ideas and learning from that exchange.

Might I suggest we at least understand and distinguish between correlation and causation?  What can it hurt?

2015-03-12

Research: Does a funding source invalidate results?

We as a society, strongly centered in classical thought, place a great deal of importance on scientific method.  Scientific method has proven time and again to provide benefits in knowledge and subsequent benefits when that knowledge is applied in new and innovative ways.  There is little reason to list examples because we are surounded by them, all the time.

Scientific methodology is, in it's simplist form as follows:
  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results
(http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml)

Pretty straight forward, right?  Well...., maybe not.  Asking a question is not too difficult: ex... how much surface area is represented by a head of hair?  A goofy question that would only be interesing if you happen to wonder what the absorption rate of the average bath towel is when applied to the task of drying hair.

So, we have a question.  Background research on this these days would probably involve a quick Google or Duck-Duck-Go search.  No problem.  A quick search showed that someone else has in fact asked this question and got a response of 'dumb question' in one case.  Well, not if you are a towel manufacturer...  Anyway, for the sake of argument lets say I found no definitive answer.  (I didn't because I really didn't look beyond the 'dumb question' result)

My next step would be to construct a hypothesis.  So, I think that the surface area of a head of hair is equal to the sum of the surface area of one hair multiplied by the number hairs in a given unit of skin surface area multiplied by the length of the hair on the head in question multiplied by the number of units of skin.  Hmmm.... leads do more questions..., Ok.....

As part of my hypothesis, I might model this by plugging the equation described above into a spreadsheet or some other funky tool and do some modeling.  First I will establish some basics:  A human hair is on average 0.004" in diameter.  This is an assumption, which will have to be proven or dis-proven later(note to self).  We will also assume 120 sq inches of scalp with 130 folicles per sq inch(also a web search), that means about 100000 hairs.  100000(hairs)  x .002(radius) X 3.14(pi) x 2 x 3(l).  We can play around by adjusting the any of the variables in the equation(this is modeling).

Ok, so I have my question, hypothesis/model, have done my reseach(prior art), and now all I have to do is the experiment, right?  Anyone feel like sitting aroud while I count the hairs on their head?  Bet not so much.

So, time to experiment.  Need volunteers to sit and have hairs counted and counters too.  Hmmm, we can assume that this is going to take time...and money, cause hair counters don't come for free, and countees probably won't either.  Ok I need some funds... hmmm...

Write some grants, approach the Grecian Formula-like companies, the bath towel companies, Martha Stewart maybe?  Someone must be interested... .  Lets say Martha is looking for a tax break this year and gives some money for this study.  But while handing me the money, she mentions that KMart's bath towels work really well for drying her hair and she has lots of them to sell too!  Gosh!  Wouldn't it be nice if it worked out that for some reason her favorite bath towels actually dry hair better?  She would make money which could be invested in further research on ...well ... whatever!  Hmmm....

So away I go with money from Martha.  Hire my counters and countees, gather my data, analyze my data against my model, and publish the results.  My results are peer reviewed and all is hunky-dory.  Everyone is completely uninterested of course.

Now what do I do?  I gotta pay the bills after all.  I bet that if I go to Martha, she can come up with an answer which needs a question which fits that answer and I bet that there will be more money available to prove that the question I come up with fits the answer that is desired....

Just think, all the components of good scientific methodology will be there, just like the first time.  (Refer to list at top).  So the order is a bit different... and now we need a truth to match our convenience....  and an inconvenient truth is not what is being paid for is it?

Yeah, I guess funding sources make a difference.  Do funding sources invalidate results?  Not by default, but if the methodology is impacted... well... you tell me.

So when Monsanto says the GMO products have not been found to be different than non-GMO products from the perspective of health, and the FDA agrees with them, it might be a good idea to ask: Who did the science?  Who paid for it?

Because science is there to ask questions and discover truths.  It is not there to create truth by asking convenient questions.