Sunday, January 31, 2010
Now they threaten to withhold sex? How small of them!
What is worse? Heightism or Obamacareism?
More properly, I should say sexual Heightism or sexual Obamacareism for that's what we're talking about.
First, take heightism:
...A while back, I conducted a poll: "Would you go out with a guy who's shorter than you?" Around 40 percent of the women who responded said: "Hell-to-the-no." Another 32 percent or so indicated they'd date a guy the same height or a "teeny bit" shorter. How many women would go out with a significantly shorter man? Around 25 percent. In other words, most women are heightists.Via Glenn Reynolds, who says little, but that's probably because he's over six feet tall and has thus never suffered from this form of discrimination.
At 5'6," I have certainly been the victim of "heightism," and I think that the instinctive rejection of shorter partners may well be grounded in our evolutionary past.
But let me examine my individual pathology by starting with a pathological admission: I would not want to have sex with anyone who did not want to have sex with me because of my height.
You don't think that sounds pathological? Well, it is, and I will try to be my own shrink and explain why. Suppose I had bone-lengthening surgery to make me, say, five inches taller. How would I ever know that the people willing to have sex with me after that weren't heightist bigots who would never have had sex with me before the surgery? I wouldn't. So I might even be worse off than I am now. At least this way I know whether people really like me for who I am, and not what I "look like."
But does that really end my fearless and searching moral inventory for today? Hardly. Because, in all honesty, how can I know for certain that those people who are attracted to me now might not actually have a "thing" -- a fetish, if you will -- for short men. What that means is that they really wouldn't necessarily be liking the real me, but they just want to sexually objectivize my shortness. To use and exploit me -- something I should find intolerable!
So while I initially found it refreshing to read that a full 25% apparently do not conform to this kneejerk "cave man" approach to dating, the more I thought about these hidden and subtle forms of heightism, the more I wondered what that might really mean. Are those 25% truly openminded and just don't care? Are they truly "size blind"? Or are they heightist perverts who get turned on by other people's shortness?
Once we posit "heightism" as a form of bigotry, there's no winning. Far be it from me to solve a tall problem like this in a short blog post!
Keeping "heightism" in mind, let's have a look at Obamacareism. To my utter dismay, I learned that some young people with "RockTheVote" (who obviously think they are very cool) are organizing around the idea of rejecting sex with partners who don't believe in Obamacare.
I kid you not. Just look at these geniuses.
At least there's a possible evolutionary explanation for heightism. I don't know what excuse the above twits have.
The YouTube caption reads:
Question: What would you withhold from someone who opposes health care reform? Cookies, a Christmas gift, sex?
I'd like to turn the question around if I might, and ask,
What would you withhold from someone who supports health care reform? Cookies, a Christmas gift, sex?Hey, how about maybe their allowance?
Seriously, though, I think these girls (and guys too, at least I think they're being included) might be looking at this the wrong way by speaking about sexual favors in the negative, as something to be withheld. Instead of seeing the glass as half empty, they ought to be offering sexual favors to people who support Obamacare.
Not "I won't have sex with you unless you support Obamacare," but "If you support Obamacare, I'll have sex with you!" They'd get a lot more takers.
I also think they're making an erroneous assumption if they think that no one would lie in order to get laid.
It's easier to lie about your political opinions in order to get laid than it is to lie about your height in order to get laid.
Speaking of young twits, I think Nick Gillespie did a great job of handling this one in the video that Glenn linked earlier:
Ever the gentleman, Gillespie at no point cheapened the debate by threatening to withhold sex from her. I think such restraint is commendable.
(And they say libertarians are against moral lessons!)
Tea Party Coordination
Welcome to the Contract From America initiative, where you can join your fellow Americans in a collaborative grassroots effort to create a document that offers real change in Washington, D.C. and the state capitals. This website provides you with the opportunity to offer your innovative free market, limited government solutions to our nation's pressing problems and to vote and comment on the ideas of others. We believe that the result of this grassroots-generated marketplace of ideas will be a document that not only represents the will of the American people, but promotes unique ideas that will breathe new life into the economic conservative movement. We will have a Contract From America for which we are all responsible and in which we feel a sense of ownership. And politicians will have a stark choice: accept and therefore be held accountable to the terms of the Contract From America, or face loss of their seat in 2010.I signed up.
Naturally I'm plugging small fusion as my first suggestion. And just in case you didn't know (what are the odds?) I'm a Polywell Fusion supporter. Scroll down on this page and vote up Support Small Fusion.
You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering
Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.
And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years or less.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
China Is Bubbling
It looks like real estate in China is going through a massive bubble. It is still on the upswing side.
We don't really have a view on when it will end; [but] we do have a view that this is a bubble. Real estate is very much driven by government policy. This year we have RMB 4 trillion through the stimulus package, another RMB 6 trillion from municipal bonds, another RMB 10 trillion from bank loans. We have RMB 20 trillion in the system and it all finds its way to real estate. If the government next year decides to continue the relaxed monetary policy the market will continue like this, regardless of whether this is wasteful investment or not -- people will still buy and we will still be building and selling.And how much is that worth In $US?
Not to detract from her point, but I should note that I tally the total influx of funds somewhat differently. I think she is double-counting the RMB 4 trillion government stimulus, which was funded half by bank lending and half by municipal bonds. The combined figure, as I calculate it, is more like RMB 16 trillion, or US$2.4 trillion.So how much is that in US dollars?
BEIJING -- China's economy expanded by 6.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2009, official data showed Thursday.Since the numbers are never as precise as the figures show, let us say that it is $3.8 trillion. And a $2.4 trillion stimulus represents 63% of the GDP. That is a lot. The Chinese can pay for most of it in cash. But that leaves them vulnerable to the next shock in the market place.
So how about an anecdote? Here is one from March 2009.
Today I visited Beijing's most stunningly dysfunctional, catastrophic mall, called The Place, and all I could think about was what I wrote back in 2006. Made to look kind of like Versailles on the outside, The Place is an irrational maze of stores and eateries that seems to have been designed to turn off and turn away customers. It has stairways that lead nowhere, unmarked elevators that take you to surprising places, not to mention a generally chintzy feeling created by all the faux marble and Grecian columns; it always looked pompous, but now it's looking seedy and run-down as well.The author has some ideas on why it got so bad.
I told them this was coming 2.5 years ago and no one listened. The day of reckoning, the moment of truth is here. Even if things pick up, these malls are hopeless. Like the Mandarin Oriental, they will need to be razed and replaced with something useful, like affordable middle class housing (wishful thinking on my part). If not, Beijing could become a city pockmarked with looming dinosaurs, huge husks of once breathtaking buildings, now vacant and decaying, like so many of the Olympic structures.The government in China is doing the same thing the government of the US is doing. Trying to reflate the bubble instead of marking down assets to their real value. It will end badly. In the US and China.
Given that the real volatility of the Chinese political system is far in excess of the volatility in the US and we in the US have the safety valve of local, State, and National elections with a range of policies to choose from (Texas or California?), I think there will be a LOT of political upheaval in China in the years to come. They will be so caught up with domestic problems that their opportunities for international mischief such as the current uproar over arms sales by the US to Taiwan will be limited. OTOH they could do what governments the world over do when domestic trouble is serious. Start foreign adventures. Will China go down (for a while) quietly? Or will they make a fuss? Stay tuned.
And another thing. When China crashes it will put a LOT of downward pressure on the price of oil. Unless they go in for oil adventurism.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Exploring a minor issue in "religious" detail
A story on the front page of the real estate section in today's Detroit Free Press ("Rules hinder low-income buyers' loans") featured a young couple's tale of woe over their failure to qualify for a federal loan:
Lucas Harrison-Zdenek has tried twice since last summer to get a federal loan to buy a foreclosed home.So apparently the Feds (under Barack Obama) have toughened their standards. That's not surprising, as a lot of people have been complaining that they were too low. The guy is hoping that his chances of obtaining a loan will improve over time.
"Every time we get denied, I feel like we are closer to getting approved," said Harrison-Zdenek, 25.While I recognize the need for standards, it's kind of a sad story and I wish the man the best of luck. I wouldn't have considered this worth a blog post, except for one piddling little detail. This man (who for whatever reason the Detroit Free Press decided ought to be the poster boy for a piece clearly intended to generate sympathy for similarly situated home buyers) has multiple piercings in his face, and it just occurred to me that maybe it would have been good idea for him to have taken them out. At least for the picture. You know, it's like, being a poster boy is a bit like going to a job interview. I'm not an anti-piercing bigot by any means. On the right people and in the right places, they turn me on. But certainly if I had multiple piercings and I wanted to sell my image to a boss or to regular middle-class people, I'd take them out -- at least for the interview or the photo session.
In the picture in the paper, the man has large plugs through his earlobes, a prominent visible nose ring hanging in front of his mustache, and another ring going through the middle of his lower lip. As I say, I'm not uptight about these things, but a lot of people think it's gross, and it might be a hard sell in the employment market.
This led my thoughts to wonder about piercings and the law, and I soon learned that there has been a considerable amount of legal wrangling over allegations of "discrimination" by employees who claimed their rights were violated by employers who had rules against employees wearing piercings:
When one of the plaintiff's supervisors reminded her of the no facial piercings policy, the plaintiff for the first time stated she was a member of the Church of Body Modification (CBM) and that her eyebrow piercing was part of her religion. There was some question as to when the plaintiff actually became a member of that church; however, the court did not consider that important for the purposes of resolving the lawsuit. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from religious discrimination. Under the EEOC's guidelines and regulations, a religion does not just include mainstream churches and beliefs. In fact, an individual does not need to be a member of an organized church at all in order to invoke the protections of Title VII. An employer is required to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs in the event of a conflict between an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs and a condition of employment unless an accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship. Undue hardship does not refer only to economic considerations, such as the costs involved in hiring another individual to perform an employee's work while the employee is engaged in a religious practice. It also includes such things as the hardship it would cause an employer to violate a seniority system in place.The employee lost, and one of the reasons was that she had joined the "church" years after her initial hire.
What fascinated me was that I hadn't even known there was such a church. But there is, and apparently if you have piercings and join in, you've basically boosted yourself into protected minority status. You can claim that your "religion" prohibits the employer from making you remove -- or even cover -- your piercings.
The CBM was begun in 1999, apparently communicates primarily through its website, and includes approximately 1000 members. Its practices include piercing, tattooing, branding, cutting and body manipulation. The mission statement of the CBM states among its goals a desire for members to "grow an individuals through body modification and its teachings," to "promote growth in mind, body and spirit," and to be "confident role models in learning, teaching and displaying body modification." The CBM's website materials were viewed by a higher supervisor in the company who then told the plaintiff and the other employee involved to remove their facial jewelry. They refused, and the plaintiff filed a religious discrimination charge with the EEOC. The plaintiff proposed that she be allowed to cover the eyebrow piercing with a flesh-colored band-aid while at work. The store manager refused and gave the plaintiff the alternative of removing the eyebrow piercing or going home. She went home. She asked if she could use vacation time to cover her absences and was told that she had been suspended. On July 14, the plaintiff was notified that she had been terminated for absenteeism related to her refusal to comply with the dress code. Despite her termination, the plaintiff and the company were in contact due to the EEOC's mediation process. During this process, the defendant offered to let the plaintiff wear the plastic retainers to work or in the alternative to place a band-aid over the eyebrow piercing. The latter was the accommodation the plaintiff had originally requested. However, this time the plaintiff contended that the only acceptable accommodation was to excuse her entirely from the dress code and allow her to wear her facial jewelry to work. Anything other than that, she maintained, would violate her religious convictions that required her to display all of her facial piercings all of the time. Costco refused to completely exempt the plaintiff from the requirements of the dress code. Its argument was that her desired accommodation would interfere with the company's ability to maintain a professional appearance and would thus constitute an undue hardship for the company. The EEOC concluded that the company had engaged in religious discrimination against the plaintiff. The plaintiff thereupon sued Costco for violating Title VII and state law. In reviewing the defendant's motion for summary judgment, the trial court noted the requirements for a plaintiff to prevail in a religious discrimination suit under Title VII. The plaintiff had to make the case that a bona fide religious practice conflicted with a requirement of employment, that this situation was brought to the attention of the employer and that the conflict was the basis of an adverse employment action, such as termination. If the plaintiff established such a case, the burden was shifted to the employer to show that it had offered a reasonable accommodation, or, if it did not offer such an accommodation, that doing so would have resulted in an undue hardship for the company. With respect to the first requirement, the district court expressed doubt that the plaintiff's claim was based on a bona fide religious practice because, even if the church represented a genuine religion, it did not require that facial piercings be displayed at all times. The plaintiff's interpretation of the church's beliefs appeared to the court to be a personal one and not a church dictate. Furthermore, the court doubted whether or not the plaintiff's belief was sincerely held. Specifically, the court noted that the plaintiff originally had offered to cover the piercing with a band-aid but was now maintaining that doing so would violate her religion. The court ultimately did not base its ruling on whether or not the CBM was a bona fide religion or the plaintiff's beliefs were sincerely held. Rather, it concluded that even if the church was genuine and the plaintiff sincere, the employer had met its burden of showing that it had offered the plaintiff a reasonable accommodation by giving her the option of covering the piercing with a band-aid or wearing a clear plastic retainer. The court emphasized that accommodation went both ways. Although an employer had a duty to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious beliefs, an employee had a duty to cooperate with an employer's good faith efforts to accommodate. Furthermore, an employer did not have the duty to grant an employee's preferred accommodation. The employer here offered an accommodation, the employee did not. Thus, the district court granted Costco summary judgment on the Title VII claim and also granted it summary judgment on the state law claim that remained in the litigation. The plaintiff appealed. At the outset, the appellate court noted that determining whether a belief is religious in nature is a difficult and delicate assignment and that courts are not really suited to make such a decision. The First Circuit chose not to make such a determination in this case. Rather, the appellate court decided that even if the plaintiff's position was based on sincerely held religious beliefs, the only accommodation she would accept would constitute an undue hardship for the employer. The appellate court's reasoning differed somewhat from that of the trial court.Anyway, the whole thing fascinated me, especially because I don't like the growing tendency of people to claim "religious discrimination" for a whole host of things.
So I wanted to know more about the Church. Here's its "Statement of Faith":
As followers of this faith, it is our purpose to educate and inspire, to share ideas, and to help each other achieve our dreams. We strive to unify and strengthen our mind, body, and soul so we can overcome any challenges we may encounter. We assert and protect our rights to modify our bodies and to practice our rituals.I don't mean to question the sincerity of anyone's religious beliefs, but it occurred to me that I could make a similar claim about almost anything, provided I called it a religion.
For example, I love pit bulls, and I hate the breed specific legislation that's been springing up all over the place. And while it never occurred to me that God (or the gods) intended me to be allowed a special bond with a particular breed, now I'm thinking that maybe he or they did.
So therefore, maybe it's time to introduce a a brand-new Statement of Faith:
As followers of this faith, it is our purpose to educate and inspire, to share ideas, and to help each other achieve our dreams. We strive to unify and strengthen our mind, body, and soul so we can overcome any challenges we may encounter. We assert and protect our rights to own, live with, and share companionship with a wonderful animal we believe to be divinely blessed and inspired, the American Pit Bull Terrier.Don't laugh, damn it! The CBM is giving me ideas, and we all know, the Lord works in mysterious ways.
I don't mean to get carried away, but one idea leads to another (especially after a couple of cups of coffee), and pretty soon, this was taking shape as a possible idea for a blog post. But to write a blog post, you need links, and no sooner did I open the link to the story that got me started than I found a brand new mystery staring me in the face.
The piercings on the guy whose piercings got me all stirred up were disappearing in front of my very eyes!
Wow! I thought. Might he have thought it over and decided he should clean up his look a bit and asked for a reshoot? Thinking it might be a different picture, I looked again, closely. Nope, it's the same picture. Minus the nose and lower lip rings, and the ear plugs are now barely visible. (It looks like he has a hoop ring in his ear on the right of the picture.)
The problem now is that if my suspicions are right, this has escalated from being a cutesy little post about a minor issue into something else. And it makes this post a lot more difficult, because now I have to go upstairs to where my stupid scanner that I hardly ever use is, fetch it down from the top shelf of the crowded closet, find the damn adaptor and USB cords and plug it in to the other computer, probably reboot -- all in order to demonstrate what I'm complaining about. Another half hour down the drain. What a pain in the ass.
Still, if there is one standard for the people reading at home and another for the larger online world, I'd love to know why. If anything, the people reading online are less likely to be judgmental about these things, so it doesn't make sense.
Unless something changes when a poster boy becomes a bigger story with a national audience..... If so, why?
Anyway, it didn't take me a half an hour to set up the scanner and get in in; it only took 15 minutes. With my scanner set on 300dpi, I got a pretty good shot of the whole picture, but the trouble is, it came out of my scanner as a gigantic image -- 2451 by 3496 -- which is far too big for the blog.
So I cropped just the man's face, otherwise unaltered from the scanned image:
The piercings are quite obvious.
The size of the above is unchanged, but as the original is 600 is 400, I cropped the edges to make it fit the blog.
So where did the metal go? Shrinking the pixel size seems to make it less visible, but even when I tried shrinking my scanned image to the same pixellage as the online version, I could still see the piercings. But not on the Free Press version.
I realize I am being nitpicky and that probably none of this matters.
But OTOH, when a detail in the paper is missing online, it bothers me, and with a possible religious issue involved, I though I should try to be thorough.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Smoke and Mirrors (A Rube Awakening)
In the last 60 years, the size of America's state and local workforce has increased five times faster than the general population. But the president says it's still not enough: We have to incentivize even further the diversion of our human capital into the government machine. Like most lifelong politicians, Barack Obama has never created, manufactured, or marketed any product other than himself. So quite reasonably he sees government dependency as the natural order of things. And in his college-loan plan he's explicitly telling you: If you start a business, invent something, provide a service, you're a schmuck and a loser. In the America he's building, you'll be working 24/7 till you drop dead to fund an ever-swollen bureaucracy that takes six weeks off a year and retires at 53 on a pension you could never dream of. Obama's proposals are bold only insofar as few men would offer such a transparent guarantee of disaster: It's the audacity of hopelessness.
Why does our President often seem to reason like an antagonist straight out of Atlas Shrugged? Maybe it has something to do with the fact his advisers have less private sector experience than any President... well, ever, apparently. The chart only goes back to Teddy Roosevelt, but given that the growth in government is fairly recent I think we can safely assume past Presidents and their staff had some familiarity with not living off the taxpayer (Honest Abe famously did some honest work as a railsplitter and Jefferson was a farmer; the American Brahmin class itself is a recent result of the state's increasingly voracious appetite for taxpayer dollars). And Obama's staff have a lot less than any other President: the next least appears to have three times as many staffers with exposure to the private sector.
Maybe that explains why the Obama coterie also engages in the kind of fantasy bookkeeping that would get you thrown out of any boardroom in America (and probably in jail as well):
Whether it's the $650 billion projected by the Senate bill or the $873 billion of the House bill, it appears highly unlikely, to put it charitably, that either measure will make it to Obama's desk with the cap-and-trade program intact. That means Obama will be counting phantom revenue as part of his next federal budget proposal.
But the rubes eventually figured out his "magical government ponies will answer your every hope and and prayer" health care reform claims were utter bull, ultimately electing Scott Brown in Massachusetts just to drive the point home, and as Ed at HotAir notes, they're starting to notice this guy kinda just makes stuff up:
Let's Talk About Political Correctness!
*Note that though this post was prompted by a bad review on one of my books, it's not about the bad review. I've had many and mostly they don't bother me. Besides which, it's the job of readers to like or dislike books. It's about the "reasoning" or lack thereof behind it, including the mental binds of political correctness or its reverse.*
I confess of all my various sins - extremist positions, hot-headed eruptions, inability to understand other people's qualms... I'm sure there are more, beyond my loving-kindness and giving disposition, of course ;-) - the only thing I've never been accused of, or never credibly, was political correctness.
The reviews seem to be mostly based on race. This obsession is something I don't understand. Yeah, I realize there are all kinds of issues and abilities that are hereditary (though I'm getting a little tired of psychologists coming out with 'it's all hereditary' books. This will probably be the subject of another rant, later.) Some of them might or might not correlate to skin color. (I rather doubt they do.) They might - and often do - correlate to specific populations that have interbred for a long time. Thus nationalities and subgroups within nationalities might have a character. They might have some characteristics, as a whole. I'm fond of saying "Stereotypes exist for a reason" when I fly off in a rage or when I'm extremely late for anything.
However, human beings are not the average of their group. They are individuals and fall along a continuum. Race means very little to any given individual. Culture does. (And no, don't confuse the two, or I will be angry and you don't want that.) Racial characteristics are inherited genetically. Culture is passed on by learning. Dysfunctional cultures are perpetuated by being taught to each and every new generation. They are extremely hard to break because to do so requires that adults change their minds and let go of national/tribal pride.Continue reading "Let's Talk About Political Correctness!"
A Solar Powered Government
A wind and solar powered government? I kid you not.
WASHINGTON -- The federal government, the nation's largest energy consumer, will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 28% over the next decade, the White House will announce today.I'd like to see them get that up to 100%. Then the government could shut down in the winter when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. Not to mention freezing in the winter without natural gas for building heat. Or burning in summer when there are electrical shortages from a lack of electricity for air conditioning. I could see a real exodus from government service with conditions like that. Why didn't the Republicans think of that?
Cross Posted at Power and Control
left wing fat cat corporatist fesses up
(and tugs at conservative heart strings)
What is a blogger to do when a hypothetical example turns out to be a real-life truth?
And what is a right-of-center blogger to do when he finds himself feeling sorry for (and downright supportive of) the hated Michael Moore?
As I will explain, both of these things have just happened to me.
In order to illustrate points, I often form analogies based on logical but hypothetical examples, as I did in this post yesterday:
If the government can censor a Citizens United film, then why not a Larry Flynt film? An Oliver Stone film? A Michael Moore film? (These guys are all incorporated, along with other big names in the film business.) Suppose they had made a film that a court decided was "susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that President Bush is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Bush world, and that viewers should vote against him."Funny that I would hypothetically mention Michael Moore, because little did I know that my "hypothetical" example was much more real than I imagined. It turns out that Michael Moore was specifically cited as an example in the oral argument in support of the Citizens United position.
And as this transcript of Amy Goodman's radio interview with him demonstrates, Michael Moore (now catching flak from the left) is more than a little freaked out. He says he is "in a state of total despair" and is disgusted that he "got dragged into it." The man is reduced to hemming, hawing, and stammering, and it's obvious that there is nothing he would rather avoid than being on the winning (right-wing) side.
Get a load of this. (As the saying that so often accompanies those endless emails goes, this stuff is too "precious for words.")
MICHAEL MOORE: Man, that's so depressing. It's like the way you--I mean, you just--this last week has been a rough week for democracy. I mean, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't in a total state of despair at this moment. And I'm not usually one that goes there. I mean, I'm usually like, "Let's go!" I have--that Supreme Court ruling--and the disgusting part of it is how I got dragged into it, that there's the whole argument before the Supreme Court and the justices and the attorneys for the other side discussing Fahrenheit 9/11. I don't know if you followed this.Horror of horrors! It's like, you mean those mean-spirited conservatives get to call their biased films documentaries too?
And on top of that, those meanies actually had the gall to compare an anti-Hillary movie to the profoundly anti-Bush Fahrenheit 9/11 (which was of course produced and distributed by a... corporation!!!!):
MICHAEL MOORE: And the FEC said, no, this is an ad, and you have to follow the election laws. In terms of where the money comes from, you have to report this. They said, no, it's just like Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. That was produced and distributed by a corporation, the Weinstein Company, etc., etc. And so the justices--they all had this discussion about how--why did Michael Moore get to distribute his film and not have to deal with the FEC, and they did? And that was the case that was decided. The justices decided, yeah, that's not right. And so, we're just going to let--now open up the floodgates and let all this money pour in. So I--Michael Moore the cause of this evil?
At this point a showing of remorse is clearly required. So our fat-cat corporatist filmmaker has to admit that he feels so bad that his "Catholic guilt" is even implicated! And he has to explain why his bias (unlike conservative bias) is actually not bias, but "journalism." (If I may compound the irony, let me agree that it is the latter....)
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I've got to tell you, my own Catholic guilt and my own--I have thought about this for the last few days. Not that I'm the cause of it, but, you know--see, the thing is, and this is where--this is how they got away with it, is basically, you really never want the government, any arm of the government, whether it's the FEC or the Supreme Court, deciding who can say what, period.Let me interrupt just to say that for once I agree with Michael Moore. (My own true confession, OK?) Back to Moore:
You know, I think what I do is a form of journalism. You know, it's essentially a filmed version of the op-ed page, my op-ed page, and it's full of lots of facts and information, and it also is full of my opinion. And, you know, the right would say, "No, that's not true. You were just out there trying to get Bush out of the White House and get Kerry elected with Fahrenheit 9/11." And I could say and prove, of course, that I started working on that film long before there was a John Kerry for president. And I never spoke to anybody in the Kerry campaign, and I'm sure they didn't want to speak to me. So, that had nothing to do with that, whereas the Hillary thing was specifically set up to be out there during the campaign in '08 to stop Hillary Clinton. But you can see how it could get confusing and how they can create the ball of confusion in all of this.Um, yeah, I can see how it could get confusing. A lot of people might think that Michael Moore really didn't want Bush to get elected, and they might even imagine that maybe Fahrenheit 9/11 was not a documentary at all, but misleading anti-Bush propaganda. Or even that Sicko constituted advocacy in favor of government health care.
Finally, Moore is forced to admit that his money came from one of those evil corporations to which all good people think should the First Amendment shouldn't apply. Very, very confusing indeed. Which forces Moore into a very startling admission -- he hates to admit it but he admires the evil of the right!
And, of course, where did my money come from? Well, my money came from a Hollywood studio. Hollywood studio is a corporation, not only just a corporation, but in this case, Fahrenheit 9/11 was made by Miramax, which is part of the Walt Disney Company. So you can see where they go with this.All I can say is that I try to be good at the evil I perpetrate. Especially when that evil consists of helping to support that evil First Amendment that protects leftie corporatists like Michael Moore just as much as conservative corporatists like Citizens United.
My evil side especially loves it when good people like Michael Moore find themselves trapped into supporting evil.
In his 2009 film "Capitalism: A Love Story," Michigan native Michael Moore went to Wall Street with a request to corporate officials whose companies received bailout money from the federal government.Naturally he refuses interviews.
He might be asked whether he means it when he says "Stop the bailouts for the rich."
An Economics Rap
I'd say this is about the best that can be expected from combining the rap music video style and economic texts. Pretty fly for some white guys.
Books mentioned in this video:
F. A. Hayek - The Fatal Conceit
J.M. Keynes - The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
H/T commenter simentt via e-mail
Cross Posted at Power and Control
I came across a most interesting discourse on reality. Technical reality to be exact.
Our precise aim is to show that there is no such thing as a robot; that a robot is no more a machine than a statue is a living being; that is merely a product of the imagination, of man's fictive powers, a product of the art of illusion. Nevertheless, the notion of the machine in present-day culture incorporates, to a considerable extent, this mythic representation of the robot.Well I have some news for the writer:
Yes. It is true. Robots only exist in the imagination. And yet from time to time factory robots kill people. I guess they were killed by imagination.It is a wonder that people who think like that can even flush a toilet. Or understand the need to.
Which reminds me.
"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water." -- John W. Gardner, Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1962
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Friday, January 29, 2010
Company CEOs that lobby for CO2 taxes or other measures for CO2 abatement are going to be required to tell shareholders about the possible effects of such legislation on their companies.
Washington, DC - Corporate CEOs who have been actively lobbying for cap-and-trade climate legislation may soon find themselves in an embarrassing position thanks to a new Securities and Exchange Commission regulation, says Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project.I think the added paper work will dim their ardor even if nothing else does.
Bill Gates who is no longer head of Microsoft seems to be ahead of the game.
NEW DELHI -- Rich nations' cash pledges to combat climate change must not come at the cost of healthcare spending, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates warned in an interview published Tuesday.Which is more or less what Bjorn Lomborg said in his 2001 book The Skeptical Environmentalist.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Some thoughts on Obama, Alito, and the new war on the First Amendment
While publicly excoriating the Supreme Court at a State of the Union Address constitutes a new low by itself, in this case, the low is made lower by the fact that the president -- a former constitutional law professor -- didn't even get his legal analysis right. Even leftie Times analyst Linda Greenhouse noted that Obama was wrong, and as Glenn Reynolds quipped, "When you've lost Linda Greenhouse . . . "
Amazingly, the loudest cries of liberal outrage are being directed not at Barack Obama, but at Justice Alito, who in a purely defensive and reflexive manner (immersed in a sea of sycophantic Obama flunkies applauding loudly), indicated disapproval.
Check it out:
Via Orin Kerr, who notes,
Justice Alito has the very human reaction of mouthing disagreement....I have to say, I admire anyone who would dare to mouth disagreement when surrounded by loud and angry hordes.
I couldn't help notice that Attorney General Eric Holder looms large in the foreground. Holder has said that he favors restrictions on Internet speech, and he tried to use his position to block an ad for school vouchers.
What I find most horrifying about the whole matter is that it provides the starkest evidence yet that this president's attitude towards the First Amendment may be the most hostile in U.S. history.
Instead of defending free speech, liberals now want to stifle it. Liberal activists are demanding a constitutional amendment abridging free speech for corporations.
What is being forgotten -- and what I think these activists want all of us to forget -- is that this whole thing started by a government censorship of a movie.
"Hillary: The Movie" came and went without much of a splash last year. Reviews were not flattering, Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign waned and one devastating critique made sure that the scalding documentary would never become a blockbuster hit.Really? You can watch it like any other movie.
Here's the trailer -- for a film that the United States government banned:
But the government objected based on its content and the lower court agreed:
The court sided with the Federal Election Commission and said the film was a 90-minute campaign ad "susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against her."If the government can censor a Citizens United film, then why not a Larry Flynt film? An Oliver Stone film? A Michael Moore film? (These guys are all incorporated, along with other big names in the film business.) Suppose they had made a film that a court decided was "susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that President Bush is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Bush world, and that viewers should vote against him."
I think that might very well include a Hollywood film or two.
So what's the deal? Are liberals so caught up with the conservative aspect of this film (and the fact that the corporation had conservative views) that they don't realize the First Amendment cuts both ways?
Or is this just the latest twist on the old "Free speech for me, but not for thee"?
Illinois Governor's Race 2010
It looks like Adam is endorsed by a Cold War Hero.
Breaking news: Lech Walesa, Nobel Laureate and former President of Poland, has endorsed Republican candidate Adam Andrzejewski (and G F ski) for Illinois Governor.Here is Walesa's endorsement letter:
To the People of the Great State of IllinoisMy mate was asking me who I liked in the Republican Primary. So I did some research and it looks like Adam is it.
Now do I think he is God's gift. Hell no. But I have grown tired of the current brand of crooks. Time to try a new brand.
The fact that he is supported by the Quincy Tea Party doesn't hurt.
On Friday, January 22, 2010 the Quincy Tea Party packed the house at our Meet and Greet held at the Quincy Holiday Inn featuring a candidate forum that resulted in four candidates signing the Tea Party's Conditional Endorsement.I hope Adam lives up to his billing. The Quincy Tea Party site has links to the various candidate www sites. And the sign?
Email Them if you are interested in a sign. Tell them Simon sent you.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Well after all, "pork" is a verb....
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) -- Argentina's president thinks eating pig meat is really sexy.The country's top pork lobbyist (if that isn't a redundancy) offered some additional claims in support of the theory:
The head of the association of pork producers, Juan Luis Uccelli, supported Fernandez's speech by saying that Denmark and Japan have a much more "harmonious" sexual life then the Argentines because they eat a lot of pig meat.Hmmm..... I'm of Scandinavian descent, and I love Japanese food (especially pork tonkatsu...yum!), and I'm always looking for new co-factors. (Might rice be a factor in Japanese longevity?)
I love pork, but I have yet to conduct a double-blind, placebo-controlled, scientific experiment on myself to test out the president's interesting theory.
But if I ran an ad soliciting bind date participants in a "pork" study, could I get arrested?
Warmists Gain New Ally
Osama has a new trick in his bag. Global Warming. No. Really.
A new message said to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has blamed global warming on the US and other big industrial nations.I wonder why he had nothing to say about China? Their CO2 production exceeds that of the US and is doubling every 20 years as they build a better life.
"All industrial nations, mainly the big ones, are responsible for the crisis of global warming," the latest tape says.And yet of all the nations of the world the US is the only one that has reduced its CO2 emissions.
What Is Osama really afraid of? That the cave he hides in will be inundated by glacier melt? That the ice that covers his hideout will melt and he will be prey to soldiers from the West?
I think if Osama can withstand the regular spring and summer melt he will be fine. Unfortunately.
The Siachen Glacier is home to the world's highest crisis region. Here, at 6,000 meters (19,680 feet) above sea level, Indian and Pakistani soldiers face off, ensconced in heavily armed positions.It has occurred to me that people who buy into the catastrophist's fantasy are behaving like children. and in discussing it with a catastrophist I found a prime example.
Just like that fire in my untended fire barrel wouldn't burn down the neighbors shed (this didn't happen, just a metaphor, but I could have come up with other childhood examples where irresponsibility led to bad things).To which I responded:
Some people made up a story. You are credulous. It scares you to death. And so you act like a frightened child.Them lefties are real humanitarians. They have only your best interests at heart.
This book is rather popular among those who no longer wish to be scared:
And here is another one:
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." - H.L. Mencken
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Moral relativism is bad enough without the moral lectures
Funny that I'd been talking about deeper subtexts and bullshit narratives earlier today, because I want to discuss a "moral" issue that's been annoying me lately. "Moral" is in quotes because it has to be; I can't figure out morality at all anymore. No really. Not just my morality, but anyone's. (Everyone's? Or is that too much?)
A "new Watergate"? Spare me.
Let me begin by saying that I have mixed feelings about the kid. I didn't like the way some Catholic priest sting videos he did had apparently been hidden, and because his cohort in the ACORN sting has a father whose style turns me off, I was worried that he might be running some sort of radical social conservative agenda. And while my hat's off to him for nailing the ACORN people, it just bugs me that no one cared about the organization's genuine corruption until some kid came along and "exposed" child prostitution that wasn't real.
But that's me, OK? I have my weird standards and hangups like we all do. Even if O'Keefe happens to be running an agenda with which I disagree, is that any worse than if I were running an agenda with which he disagreed?
What's going on right now is that this kid seems to be in real trouble for stuff that looks like a bullshit trespassing case.
So maybe he was planning to sting Landrieu or expose her staff's inability to deal with messed-up phones or something. The way people on the left are freaking out, you'd think he'd been caught doing something actually evil, like drugging and raping a 13 year old. How many of the people who are piling on O'Keefe and want him to go to prison are also willing to pile on Polanski and want him to go to prison?
Geez, now I'm sounding like a moral relativist, as if there's any comparison between raping little girls and trying to set up a corrupt politician. And don't get me wrong. Moral judgments are inevitably affected by whether or not we like the person involved. People who like Chuck Berry forgive and excuse. People who like Polanski forgive and excuse. And people who like O'Keefe forgive and excuse. It's human nature.
There's a moral lesson in here somewhere despite my relativism.
Without getting into whose lives should be ruined for what, can we at least agree that messing with a senator's phone is not as bad as drugging and raping a child?
Perhaps I shouldn't have asked.
See what I mean?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The deeper subtext of "deeply entrenched divisions"
I don't want to dwell on the SOTU address (which I avoided live-blogging for that very reason), but what surprises me is that anyone would be puzzled by the president's stubborn refusal to move himself (or urge his party to move) towards the center. I think he's concerned with one thing only -- winning reelection in 2012. Any move towards the center right now will be seen by everyone as weakness. Moreover, it might help the Democrats win in November, and if that happens, Obama's hopes for victory in 2012 will be greatly diminished. His only hope of hanging on to the White House will be to blame all failures on the Republicans -- something he is already trying to do, but unless the Republicans regain the House, that claim will sound ever more ridiculous. If voters are tired of him now, imagine how tired they'll be in two more years. And if the Democrats survive in the Fall, that voter tiredness will be compounded by the desire for political balance, which could easily translate into voting him out of office.
Obviously, the man can't admit that it is in his interest for the GOP to win, but he can -- and did -- arrogantly refuse to pivot to the center, as Jonah Goldberg observes:
...Obama, in his supreme arrogance, didn't really seem to care.Of course he wants to leave that out.
To be perfectly blunt, the Democratic Congress does not suit his presidential narrative!
And the narrative just begs for more Republican power. Otherwise, things become so surreal that Obama is left having to be elected by a backlash against himself!
The White House insists that the new wave of populism created by Democratic governance is, in fact, the same populist wave that carried Obama to victory in 2008. In other words, Obama was elected president by the backlash against his own presidency.While I don't mean to sound like a psychiatrist, I'm seeing a desperate (and obviously unacknowledged) need for a Republican victory. By President Obama. He can't continue to play the role of stubbornly brave victim without their help.
Noting the President's "uncompromising and often combative" tone, Clive Crook expressed wonderment over a particular passage in the speech:
The weirdest paragraph was this:But when you look at 2012, it makes a lot of sense. Especially after two years of a Congress recaptured by those equally stubborn and recalcitrant Republicans!
From the text of the speech:
Now let's be clear - I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics.Ever the martyr, he wants to be seen as a guy who will face defeat for what he believes in. Even though his own party has had a super-majority, somehow there's a conspiracy against him.
He knew that this would happen. But if only they really were Republicans, it would be more believable. The latter, with their "disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security" offer a very convenient, very intractable enemy, and deeply entrenched divisions -- which are "the essence of democracy."
Now, I am not naïve. I never thought the mere fact of my election would usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, have been taking place for over two hundred years. They are the very essence of our democracy.I pity the centrist Democrats. They only want to get reelected, and here it is, the president's biggest speech of the year, coming right on the heels of a series of high-profile Republican victories, and the president is stoking and praising the divisions. Little wonder the centrist Democrats are annoyed.
UPDATE: Many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all.
Comments invited, agree or disagree.
And that brings up an interesting bit of information. Gaming improves thinking.
Ongoing research conducted by the Office of Naval Research suggests "that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts." This as posted at the United States Department of of Defense by Bob Freeman. Freeman quotes Ray Perez, program officer at the ONR's warfighter performance department who gave the following statements during a January 20 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's webcast, "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military." For those who have always been convinced that gaming isn't a 100% negative influence - as the mainstream media continually wants everyone to believe - these findings are for you. Perez says they have discovered that frequent game players "perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game players." Perez, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology, is seeking new training techniques that will allow our soldiers "to improve performance on the battlefield." This new war on terror has forced the military to adapt to "deadly adversaries who constantly change their tactics," and this being the case, games could be of great assistance. Said Perez:Rigidity in thinking is a common occurrence. You see it all the time in the sciences. Some one finds an anomaly in an experiment and the first thought is "experimental error". And it usually is an experimental error. But the times when it isn't cause revolutions in science. From what I understand Einstein revolutionized physics based on a few anomalies."We have to train people to be quick on their feet - agile problem solvers, agile thinkers - to be able to counteract and develop counter tactics to terrorists on the battlefield. It's really about human inventiveness and creativeness and being able to match wits with the enemy."Perhaps most interesting is the mention of something Perez calls "fluid intelligence," which is the "ability to change, to meet new problems and to develop new tactics and counter-tactics." ...that sounds a heck of a lot like what we always do in many games, doesn't it? Up until now, Perez says fluid intelligence was thought to be "immutable," in that it couldn't be changed or improved. The general belief was that after the age of 20, "most humans had achieved their brain cell capacity, and that new brain cells were acquired at the expense of existing ones." But playing video games have produced "surprising results" during testing and now, the aforementioned belief may be deemed incorrect.
There are people thinking of explanations. But you need a fluid mind, because if you are rigidly locked in accepted theories it is difficult to come up with new ones. Or worse yet the ability to accept the overthrow of the old understanding.
Something called the Tajmar effect may have something to do with the Pioneer and flyby anomalies according to this paper:
Can the Tajmar effect be explained using a modification of inertia? [pdf]It is important to have a fluid but sceptical mind. Investigate. Everything is not settled.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Two New Reports Say....
Geoffrey Lean is Britain's longest-serving environmental correspondent, having pioneered reporting on the subject almost 40 years ago. (according to the mast head at Telegraph.UK) Well he has got a hold of two new super scientific reports that say that for sure glaciers are melting and it is all man's fault.
But I don't want to discuss that directly. What I want to look at are some of the comments.
coltek on Jan 27th, 2010 at 2:37 pmI detect a note of scepticism. But in fact there is a list of expanding glaciers. And that is not the only list. I have a list of twelve more glaciers that haven't heard of global warming. And the first on that list of 12? Himalayan glaciers are growing, not shrinking. Oh. The humanity! How embarrassing for the IPCC. And wouldn't you know it, some folks who do not claim to be scientists have predicted that if the Himalayan glaciers keep growing at their present rate they will cover the Earth in 47,359 years(plus or minus 3.29 months) or less . It is way worse than we thought.
Rocky on Jan 27th, 2010 at 3:38 pmClimate Scientists can work really fast. Peer review (was it reviewed?) that normally takes months can be done in a matter of days if the science is right.
JohnRS on Jan 27th, 2010 at 4:16 pmA Classical Music Fan. Me Too!
cheshirered on Jan 27th, 2010 at 5:13 pmPublic support for Catastrophic Man Made Global Warming (CMMGW) even in the USA is dropping precipitously. And speaking of precipitation, time for another song.
Hamish Redux on Jan 27th, 2010 at 5:40 pmHamish, it is worse than we thought. They are already gone.
iain on Jan 27th, 2010 at 9:45 pmAh a sceptic. (Well it is a Brit paper. And I do like the Brit spelling.)
MSimon on Jan 27th, 2010 at 11:53 pmHmmmmmm. That name looks familiar. I think the reference to Chicago in a Brit paper gives the show away. I confess. Guilty as charged.
JohnT on Jan 28th, 2010 at 1:14 amJohn has been watching far too many American gangster movies. He must be an Edward G. Robinson fan.
andrewb on Jan 28th, 2010 at 6:54 amSo many cynics. So little time. That is all the fun we have time for now folks. But tune in tomorrow for the next episode of It's Worse Than We Thought.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Yes. The president just said that.
In the SOTU address.
For once I agree with the president's words.
(See my previous post.)
MORE: At 09:49 p.m., he just said "Not now" again.
It's a mantra. Not now more than ever!
MY OVERALL REACTION: While I get tired of his repetitive style of rhetoric, all in all, it wasn't a bad speech (and I agreed with some of it). The man's oratorical skills continue to shine.
The president did appeal to the center and displayed some good-natured humor, and I am glad he promised to work on repealing DADT. But I found myself especially irritated by the repeated and gratuitous bashing of bankers and Wall Street, and even more by the attack on the Supreme Court. (To my mind, that borders on attacking free speech.)
And you'd think by now he'd see the wisdom of backing off on health care.
It's worth pointing out that during the campaign, he was to the right of Hillary (who viciously attacked him for it). I see no reason he couldn't fall back on that strategically. (Might even save his ass in '12.)
Not now, apparently!
AND WHY NOT: I think the most important thing to remember about tonight's performance is that Barack Obama did not tack to the center, as many would have expected. Instead, he held his ground. A smart move, and I would have advised him to do exactly what he did. First of all, he would have looked weak in light of the recent election of Scott Brown had he seemed to capitulate. Second, there's still plenty of time to tack to the center in order to to preserve his administration in 2012, and from a purely Machiavellian standpoint, it is not in his interest to have the Democrats win the upcoming Fall elections.
In fact, it is in Obama's own political interest to have the Republicans win.
That way he can not only blame everything on them, but his reelection will be an appeal to the sense of protective gridlock that American voters like.
LAST WORD: This is what we're up against:
And the president only wants to make it worse by adding new entitlements.
(Via Glenn Reynolds, who hopes it's hyperbole.)
MORE: As to all the people, all the various reactions, most of it will pass, and be soon forgotten. Except by the Democrats who will lose in the Fall:
The Democrat-vs.-Democrat anger roiling the ranks of Congress is being wrapped in smiles and standing ovations Wednesday as President Barack Obama outlines the nation's top priorities in his first State of the Union speech.
For what it's worth (which is not much), it's clear to me their priorities are not his.
The man wants to get reelected in 2012, and the Democratic majority will not and cannot help him do that.
MORE: Thanks for the link, Sean Kinsell. Sean does a great job of doing what I refused to do...
New IEC Fusion Research Group Opens
Space Ports reports the opening of an IEC Fusion Research facility to develop fusion for spacecraft propulsion.
AVRC has been awarded a contract by Wise County's Industrial Development Authority to manage a $7 million energy research center now under construction in the Lonesome Pine Business and Technology Park [PDF] in Wise, VA focused on the development of inertial electrostatic confinement aneutronic fusion energy at the Appalachia America Energy Research Center along with other projects in a significant energy technology portfilio.That is interesting.
The Intertial Electrostatice Confinement (IEC) Fusion Propulsion technology being promoted by AVRC was developed by Dr. George Miley.I wonder how they plan to fuse hydrogen which is very difficult to fuse because it requires converting a proton into a neutron to make the reaction work. Or maybe they just plan to use hydrogen gathered in space as reaction mass and plan to fuse something else. Sort of like a modified Bussard Ramjet.
This paper [pdf} indicates that they are planning to use the IEC design as just a thruster to start with.
A novel plasma jet thruster, based on Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) technology, is proposed for ultra maneuverable - space thruster for satellite and small probe thrust operations. The IEC Jet design potential offers an unique capability to cover a wide range of powers (few Watts to Kilowatts) with good efficiency while providing a plasma jet that can start with a large diameter but be narrowed directionally to focus on targets The IEC thruster uses a spherical configuration, wherein ions are generated and accelerated towards the center of a spherical vacuum chamber A virtual cathode forms in the high-density central core region, combined with a locally distorted cathode grid potential field, extracts accelerated ions into an intense quasi-neutral ion jet. Thus, the IEC thruster is roughly analogous to a planar electrostatic ion thruster "folded" into spherical form. Estimates suggest that its electrical efficiency would match conventional plasma thrusters, while offering advantages in design simplicity, reduced erosion giving long life time, reduced propellant leakage losses, and high power-to-weight ratio. Heat rejection is eased due to large heated surface areas making the unit especially well suited to high power operation.That might work. And if it does fusion could come later.
Kind of like the progression in piston pump technology. First you build pumps. Very handy. Then you apply steam and pumps become a power source. Then you figure out how to burn the fuel inside the cylinder and you get an internal combustion engine. Let's hope we can compress the development cycle from hundreds of years to a couple of decades.
For near term fusion power on Earth I like Polywell Fusion. You can learn the basics of fusion energy by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering
Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.
And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Is that a bomb in your underwear or are you just happy to see me?
When I visited Amsterdam a few years ago, I took an obligatory self-tour through the notorious "red light district" that has had so many people have been up in arms for so many years.
It didn't alarm me at all to see women wearing lingerie dancing in windows, although I soon learned that these were not Dutch girls; they were almost all immigrants from Eastern European countries. Whether they were being exploited I don't know, but I guess they must have found selling themselves in Amsterdam preferable to struggling in the Slovakian job market or they wouldn't have been there.
There was one thing I found disturbing, though. An angry Mideastern man was standing in front of one of the businesses, and to say he was in a state of serious emotional distress would be understatement; he looked like he was freaking out on LSD. He would look at a window where a girl dressed in a provocative outfit was dancing (I think she was wearing naughty S&M garb and waving a riding crop), and then he would look away and bend his head down while straining as if in excruciating pain. Really, really weird. So it was no surprise to read that the group which assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh had also been implicated in a plot to attack Amsterdam's red light district.
Which brings me to more recent news. Via Michael van der Galien, I learned about two essays discussing how terrorists harness the dynamics of Islamic sexual repression. While this didn't really surprise me, the fact that it was a primary motivator in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is not only cause for concern for those charged with watching these people, but I found myself wondering about the possible implications vis-a-vis the war against sex.
From a piece by Mirande Divine which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, titled "Sexual Starvation and Jihad Fantasies":
The 23-year-old Nigerian charged with trying to detonate a bomb on a Northwest Airlines flight over Detroit on Christmas Day was lonely and sexually repressed, according to messages left on an Islamic website.This might make no sense to most of us, who would rightly find ourselves puzzled over why a rich kid who's sexually frustrated would rather kill himself than go out and get laid. Normally, we would think of someone like that as a psychiatric case, deserving of pity. Except there's an organized effort to find people like that, and convince them that the best way to "cure" these feelings is to take out as many Westerners as possible. After all, his feelings are our fault! We allow the decadent sexual temptations that so torment him!
From "Why the Rich Muslim Boy Became a Terrorist," by Jamie Glazov:
...the most obvious torment that arises in the life of a young devout Muslim like Abdulmutallab is what he himself honestly describes: the tension between sexual desires and the Islamic mandate of, as he writes, "lowering the gaze" in the presence of women. "The Prophet (S) advised young men to fast if they can't get married," he agonizes, "but it has not been helping me much and I seriously don't want to wait for years before I get married."That "lowering of the gaze" business describes to a T the mortified look I saw on the face of that disturbed Mideastern guy in Amsterdam. He was incapable of simply going into the place and paying for what he so obviously wanted (or simply leaving the area if it distressed him), and most likely, he externalized his desires as "evil" being directed at him by others. I think he might have been a fertile recruit, and were I running a terror cell, I would have my people stake out red light districts and look for Mideastern types showing signs of such sexual repression distress. (Perhaps the Western intelligence services would be wise to do the same, if they don't already.)
As Glazov explains, because of religious strictures, this shameful sense of sexual longing can trigger a seemingly insatiable need to "purify" themselves, which can become redirected as terrorism directed at the West:
It is precisely in this context that we see the origins of the Muslim suicide bomber's journey into the heart of jihadi darkness.Of course, it would be a serious mistake to blame the temptations offered in the West instead of the savages who cannot handle them in a civilized adult manner. As well as a classic case of blaming the victim.
At the risk of sounding paranoid, let me repeat my concern that the terrorists "are smart enough to exploit the tendency of people to commit logical errors like this":
I'm with M. Simon on this one. Flood them with p0rn and other temptations. Hopefully, the shock will eventually wear off, and they'll stop being so tormented by what ought to provide pleasure. If that doesn't work, then I suppose we'll just have to kill them if and when they try to act out on their sexual purification pogroms.
But meanwhile, we need a backup plan. So I have an idea. An immodest proposal, if you will.
Why not hire experienced prostitutes, pole dancers, and lap dancers to work as TSA screeners? I mean, if these psychosexually tormented misfits are going to be electronically strip-searched, why not have it done by people whose appearance is likely to elicit uncontrollable telltale reactions from those who would purify themselves by extinguishing their earthly sinful existences?
The idea is not to prevent them from extinguishing their own earthly sinful existences, but to protect our earthly sinful existences.
MORE: Considering that the airlines are now suffering from crippling, record losses, something clearly needs to be done to attract more passengers and promote air travel.
So how about the scantily-clad screeners? I think they might they have a positive economic impact on an industry which in the doldrums. Because of the cumbersome restrictions, traveling has long ceased to be fun, and hiring sexy girls could provide the perfect remedy -- at a very low cost.
Considering that that's in addition to providing a built-in honeypot to ensnare sexually-frustrated suicide bombers, I think my proposal is a win-win by any standard.
MORE: It's probably worth pointing out that right now is probably not a good time to travel with lizards in your underwear:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A German man who stuffed 44 small lizards into his underwear before trying to board a flight has been sentenced to prison in New Zealand for plundering the country's protected species.No word on whether the lizards were spotted by the new electronic technology, but it is to be hoped the security people will do at least as good a job of finding bombs as they do lizards.
Not to make light of a serious issue, but really...
When was the last time anyone was killed by guys with lizards in their underwear?
During his presidency, to be sure, the Democratic press condemned Grant as at once feeble, conniving, and imperious--attacks similar to those that the Democrats had made on Lincoln.Or George Bush for that matter.
Grant also got undeserved bad press in BHL Hart's classic Strategy while Sherman got praise. Forgetting that Grant gave Sherman orders and that Grant's job was to pin Lee so Sherman would be free to maneuver. i.e. the classic "hold them by the nose while you kick them in the pants" as recounted in General George Patton's autobiography War As I Knew It.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
One Laptop Per Child In Haiti
Here is part of a press release on OLPC's work in Haiti
We are doing what we can for the 60 schools that we have been working with in Haiti - primarily planning for the spring after the first phase of rebuilding is underway. We will be sending a group of OLPCorps volunteers to Haiti later this year, and are organizing a used XO drive to recover XOs in the US that can be refurbished and sent to Haiti. Luckily, our Haitian team (technical and in the government) was not hurt in the earthquake, and they are planning to help displaced students get back to school as quickly as possible.If you are interested in helping use the above link which has the links you will need.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Too tired, but never tired enough!
Am I a political blogger? Honestly, I don't mean to be, as I have hated politics for years. The more tired I get of it, the more I hate it.
It doesn't help much to read about stuff like this:
WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama intends to use Wednesday's State of the Union address to put a new focus on his jobs agenda as he tries to regain the confidence of a disheartened electorate. He will make small-business hiring the centerpiece of that message, pressing Congress to act on a slate of tax cuts that have languished for months, administration officials said Tuesday.Etc. but puhleeze!
Must we? Does there really have to be a State of the Union Address? And if there does, do I have to notice it? Worse yet, am I obligated to "live-blog" it? Why? Because others do? (Sorry, but that doesn't cut it after nearly seven years.)
When does it all end? The sense of political urgency is seriously neurotic, and it's tough not to be taken in by it. It's as if I am by my position given daily marching orders -- not by any person, but by the simple passage of current events, which I cannot stop, to which I have not consented, and and over which I have no control.
Not that it matters to anyone but me, but seriously, it's as if we're politically stuck in a permanent state of election. A political priapism. The United States of Viagra or something. The more "they" run for office, the more "we" run. Against them! And the more I want to run. Away.
As the saying goes, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way!" (Which is decidedly more polite than Obama's "Shut up and get out of the way!") Except I don't lead, nor do I follow, nor do I obey orders. (Besides, whose "way" could I possibly be in? I see no way even in theory that the opinions expressed on this blog could "obstruct" anyone. From doing anything.)
Anway, I keep telling myself I don't need or have to blog about politics, because I don't. There are no rules.
What I can't figure out is why I feel so strongly about stuff I'm so sick of. Why do I fucking care about things I fucking hate? Caring is hating, and I am tired of both. To hate is to care, and to care is to hate.
See, a paradox like that is worth exploring for its own sake.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) my blog is my psychiatrist.
MORE: I'm not as alone as I thought in finding the State of the Union address tedious. Ann Althouse is polling her readers, and 97% of them find the Apple Tablet announcement more exciting than the SOTU address. I find the Apple Tablet more exciting too, and I'm not even interested in getting one. (Via Glenn Reynolds, who also links this preview of the coming unattraction, which I thought I should link in case there are political junkies who might be in need of serious analysis. (Pun unintended, but maybe I should have said in need of a fix. I love political junkies, although I try to keep my habit at a modest "chippie" level.)
MORE: Thanks Sean Kinsell for the link.
Perhaps because people looked so unenthused, it now appears that the SOTU is going to include a pitch to Congress to get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Washington (CNN) -- President Obama will ask Congress Wednesday night to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod told CNN.Now, while I support getting rid of DADT, it's something the President (as Commander in Chief) has the power to accomplish largely by executive orders (something he has not done. Many have observed that he has been in no hurry.
So what's with the sudden drama? Why the "DADT SOTU"? Via a last-minute Axelrod announcement to CNN?
I certainly hope the goal is not to use the gay issue as a political football.
And what about this statement from last year?
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said recently that if the ban were lifted, it would be difficult for the military to restructure its units to accommodate homosexuals.How and why would units need to be restructured?
MORE (1/28/10): From the president's speech:
...what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -- a belief that if you lose, I win.He's right, of course. In fact, he's saying what I said earlier.
Except he's waging a perpetual campaign!
There was a time when such a statement would have been called hypocrisy.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
A New Theory Of Electrodynamics
I have just sent this out to a group of physicists and scientists to see if it has any merit.
Here is the cover letter I sent:
George Miley of U Illinois, Champaign is involved.It will be interesting if anything comes of it.
Here are some of the documents in the video:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Making Christianity work -- in the angry arab street
Frank J. Fleming has an interesting (if somewhat controversial) idea for solving the problems in the Mideast: simply convert the Muslims to Christianity. After all, Christianity is a more peaceful religion, and as Frank points out, when was the last time anyone saw a Christian suicide bomber?
...I think if we could convert many in the Middle East to Christianity, we would have a lot fewer problems with the region. First off, I don't know of any Middle East Christians who have tried to blow us up. So if we can convert people over there, we could be removing enemies from the battlefield without violence.Frank has a good point about the double standard where it comes to religious proselytizing. Muslims are free to send their missionaries over here to convert us, but we are not allowed to do the same thing.
As Frank admits, there are some problems with his idea. The biggest one I see right now is that not only is Barack Obama the president, but the U.S. government is not supposed to favor one form of religion over another. However, that's a mere constitutional question, and since when has the Obama administration (or Congress) respected the Constitution?
Anyway, I'm a practical person, so in the interest of building a better world, I'd like to offer a few suggestions to help grease the skids.
If it becomes official policy to encourage the conversion of Muslims to Christianity under the presidency of Barack Obama, a question will inevitably arise....
"Who will do the converting?"
There are many different Christian denominations, as well as pastors, so which one or ones should get the official government contracts to actually wade in with Bibles, tracts, and sermons? I'm thinking that maybe the most likely candidate to head Obama's Christian outreach initiative ought be the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Which is a no-brainer, really. Not only does Wright hate the Joooos, but "GOD DAMN AMERICA!" would be an easy sell in the angry Arab street, which means we would be sponsoring a Christian-based death-to-America and death-to-the-West cult. Not only could angry Muslims relate to that, but so would the angry left! Naturally, this would lead to peace, brotherhood and a better world.
Of course, other faiths might demand the right to send their missionaries too. So, we could easily sponsor Buddhist outreach, Hindu outreach, Wiccan outreach, etc. Even Voodoo priests. The details can be worked out.
Except, at the risk of sounding like an anti-religious bigot, I'd like to keep the Scientologists out, OK? It may sound condescending, but I just don't think the Muslims are ready to process the idea of Xenu and the Galactic Confederacy, and we don't want them thinking that the rest of us are a bunch of Thetans out to conquer them. Like that Great Thetan George W. Bush! Or Hillary, with her ties to THE TAN family! I'm all for hope and change, but I don't think we should get too carried away.
Gee, I almost forgot the Satanists.
Why does the devil always have to be in the details?
Monday, January 25, 2010
The conservative blogosphere's Pauline Kael moment?
Mike Huckabee has a 45-44 advantage over Obama, aided largely by a 44-38 lead with independents. There continues to be no evidence of any negative fallout for Huckabee after murders of police officers committed by an ex-Arkansas inmate whose sentence he had commuted. His 35/29 favorability breakdown is actually slightly better than it was in November before that incident.That's downright wacky.
Who, and where are all these people who apparently prefer Mike Huckabee to Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney?
I don't know, but I found myself reassured by the latest poll at Right Wing News. Huckabee comes in last:
12) Mike Huckabee: 0% (0 votes)With zero votes, you could say that Huckabee doesn't come in at all, but anyway, there he is. No lower bottom is possible.
OTOH, this may reflect smug Kaelian thinking on my part. ("I don't know anyone who is for Huckabee!" being analogous to Kael's apocryphal "I don't know anyone who voted for Nixon!") Except I am hardly alone. Zero means zero. Is the entire right-of-center blogosphere that out of touch with public opinion as a whole?
I don't know what might be going on, but the contrast is just too huge for comfort.
Is it possible that something is wrong with the polling?
Putting my inner Pauline Kael aside, all I know is that were I Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee would be the guy I'd most want to run against.
"How do you do that?"
It strikes me that unless a patron were intoxicated, clowning around, or pushed (or maybe having a seizure), it would be very unlikely to fall through a priceless painting hanging on a wall at an art museum as is being widely reported.
"How do you do that?" asked one news commentator incredulously.
Beats me. Normal people who go to art museums do so with an attitude of respect.
I tried to learn more about the details of this story, but the woman is not identified. We are told that she was an who was taking an "adult education" class. In the NY Daily News version they went so far as to call her a "clutzy art lover," and noted it happened on a Friday afternoon.
A clutzy art lover tripped onto a rare Picasso painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, tearing a hole in the century-old masterpiece, the museum said Sunday.Sorry, but I cannot help wonder whether this unidentified woman really had a serious interest in art. I suspect Friday afternoon restlessness -- by someone who didn't especially appreciate the art, and who quite possibly didn't want to be there at all.
This Althouse commenter asks:
Please tell me what good has ever come from so-called adult education?What's especially annoying about the reporting is not that the woman was never identified, but that there is no information about the nature of these particular adult education classes, who gave them, or what they were for.
Unless someone else was at fault, I think falling into an $80 million painting constitutes negligence. I think the Met should send the adult student a bill for the damage.
Pleistocene nostalgia for evolution's end times?
One of the memes frequently tossed about -- especially by promoters of the various "caveman" diets -- is how "we" (meaning all human beings) have not evolved since Upper Paleolithic times, and that illness results from our failure to limit our diet to what our Cro Magnon ancestors ate. The premise is that thousands of years of daily consumption of dairy products by ethnicities in some regions, or lots of rice in others, or lots of fish in others -- had no effect whatsoever on the evolution of these populations. Not to knock the possible health benefits of the Caveman Diet, but I've always been a bit skeptical of that particular premise, because if you think about it, modern medicine has only been around for a century or so, and as there was no one to diagnose or treat health problems caused by food, the people who couldn't hack their prevailing regional diets were unlikely to live long enough to contribute to the gene pool. But what the hell do I know? I have not studied human genetics in sufficient detail to know for sure. Not that a little thing like that would stop people who are not geneticists from saying they know we have not evolved, and that we should return to eating raw meat (preferably from wild animals killed with our bare hands....)
Anyway, this piece about dog genetics is a reminder that evolution might occur a lot more rapidly than most of us realize:
Like humans, dogs are more than 99 percent genetically identical to one another - despite a lot more diversity in shapes and sizes.I've noticed that some dogs handle different foods differently, and that dog A might do well on a diet which would give diarrhea to dog B. These tendencies can be expected to be passed on to their pups, and can become breed characteristics. I noticed that Coco (a notoriously picky eater) loves and has no problems eating "NUTRISH" -- a dog food which Rachel Ray designed for her pit bull Isaboo, but which some dog owners have condemned as not agreeing with their dogs. Over the years I have seen that many dogs differ over what they like, and what they can and cannot tolerate. I'm no expert, but I have been around dogs long enough to learn that there is no "one size fits all" rule where it comes to diet in dogs.
Asians tend to be allergic to milk and milk products. This is because of lactose intolerance:
Lactose intolerance is the inability to metabolize lactose, because of a lack of the required enzyme lactase in the digestive system. It is estimated that 75% of adults worldwide show some decrease in lactase activity during adulthood. The frequency of decreased lactase activity ranges from as little as 5% in northern Europe, up to 71% for Sicily, to more than 90% in some African and Asian countries.Not only is this genetic, but there is evidence that the genetic differences are attributable to recent evolution:
....certain human populations have a mutation on chromosome 2 which eliminates the shutdown in lactase production, making it possible for members of these populations to continue consumption of fresh milk and other dairy products throughout their lives without difficulty. This appears to be an evolutionarily recent adaptation to dairy consumption, and has occurred independently in both northern Europe and east Africa in populations with a historically pastoral lifestyle. Lactase persistence, allowing lactose digestion to continue into adulthood, is a dominant allele, making lactose intolerance a recessive genetic trait. A noncoding variation in the MCM6 gene has been strongly associated with adult type hypolactasia (lactose intolerance).Sounds like massive unintentional experimentation has been going on for some time. Whether such evolution is "good" is a moral question. (And in my view a silly question.)
But I try to keep an open mind about these things. Perhaps I should sample some fresh road kill and see whether I feel better.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: I realize that what we call "processed foods" (especially milled flour, sugar, and the various preservative-laden fast foods) are of recent origin, and that "we" have not had time to adapt to them genetically. But this does not mean that they would affect all people the same way. Nor does it necessarily follow that because they are new and we have not sorted out the evolutionary implications, that they are bad.
....in many pre-modern societies alcohol consumption was very widespread. In societies where nutritional stress was common it was a major source of calories, and as I note above its advantage in terms of low pathogen load vis-a-vis water was probably a major factor in its healthful effects (many ancient societies mixed water and wine freely). Not only does alcohol provide energy, but its psychological boost is obvious when it comes to the grinding life of a farmer. Rum rations was one of the major factors which allowed Caribbean slavery to be as economically profitable as it was, its existence made the short and brutal lives of human chattel more tolerable. The attraction of people who had little experience with alcohol, in particular its more potent varieties, to the substance seems a clear signal that once discovered it would inevitably exhibit a magnetic appeal. In this case the bias in favor of those who were more metabolically suited toward processing the new source of calories with the least deleterious consequences would have a great fitness consequence.I think these genetic issues make hard to come up with hard and fast rules about what we should and should not eat or drink.
"We" are not all the same.
If you are one of those mean-spirited people who hates "good" veggies like Brussel Sprouts or broccoli, did you ever wonder why?
That, too, might be evolutionary -- natural selection favoring the survival of humans who avoided bitter tastes:
MADRID - Spanish researchers say they're a step closer to resolving a "mystery of evolution" -- why some people like Brussels sprouts but others hate them.Whether there's an evolutionary advantage to loving sweet-tasting things is certainly open to debate. In the case of dogs (and children), it can prove fatal:
Antifreeze has a sweet taste, which appeals to animals and children. A dog can walk through antifreeze spilled on the driveway and ingest a fatal amount just from licking its paws clean.Maybe the solution is to put Brussels sprouts in the antifreeze!
AND MORE: "Human evolution speeding up."
Why it would have stopped 20,000 years ago, no one has explained.
A Disaster Of Biblical Proportions
The UN's IPCC has just taken a few more torpedoes below the water line.
Well it turns out that the WWF is cited all over the IPCC AR4 report, and as you know, WWF does not produce peer reviewed science, they produce opinion papers in line with their vision. Yet IPCC's rules are such that they are supposed to rely on peer reviewed science only. It appears they've violated that rule dozens of times, all under Pachauri's watch.I'm not going to reprise the long list. You can find it at the links provided.
I would like to touch on a few things. First off WWF stands for the World Wildlife Fund. Second I'd like to look at the connection between the WWF and the UK Meteorological Office.
What is not generally realised is that the UK Met Office has been, since 1990, at the very centre of the campaign to convince the world that it faces catastrophe through global warming. (Its website now proclaims it to be "the Met Office for Weather and Climate Change".) Its then-director, Dr John Houghton, was the single most influential figure in setting up the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the chief driver of climate alarmism. Its Hadley Centre for Climate Change, along with the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU), was put in charge of the most prestigious of the four official global temperature records. In line with IPCC theory, its computers were programmed to predict that, as CO2 levels rose, temperatures would inevitably follow. From 1990 to 2007, the Department of the Environment gave the Met Office no less than £146 million for its "climate predictions programme".And what is the WWF telling its Internet readers?
The U.K. Met Office says "it is more likely than not that 2010 will be the warmest year in the instrumental record, beating the previous record year which was 1998."Ah yes the experimental models. What he means is computer programs. Unverified computer programs with dodgy codes and corrupted data.
And about the floods and hurricanes that are supposed to descend on mankind if he doesn't mend his ways? Made up.
THE UN climate science panel faces new controversy for wrongly linking global warming to a rise in natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.And they knew it was bad and did nothing. You know, that is not the only fraud uncovered. We may now be in possession of tens of them. So far. In fact it is looking like the whole IPCC enterprise is a fraud. And that doesn't even get to the bottom of the CO2 emissions trading fraud.
I'd like to go back to Watts Up With That and look at a few comments on the subject.
Evidently the WWF is removing articles they had formerly posted. That is pretty good evidence on its face that they were fraudulent.
Jer (18:34:30) :This one is amusing:
PaulH (18:34:53) :Another joker.
Halfwise (18:49:58) :Here is one about the fraud connections. It refers to a rather long comment with links up thread.
Andrew30 (19:04:30) :Here is an excerpt from a comment from A Jones.
a jones (19:30:42) :Yes it is.
Here is a rather long one about conjecture in science.
yonason (19:34:37) :I think Mark Twain ia as good a place as any to put a halt to this amusement. It is hard to get more amusing than that. The good news is that the whole fraud is unraveling. It will be interesting to see what the Watermelons try next.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Take the bass line for a walk
I dunno... have you considered flavonoids? I also hear good things about resveratrol. But don't believe it my blennies.
Incidentally, i [sic] DO demand that you bend, but i [sic] do NOT expect you to obey. But buy [non-sic] god [sic] i [enough] DO expect you to try.
The rest Is up to
On American Haiku
It was well argued (by no less a luminary than uber faux-slacker Kerouac) that English haiku should ignore syllables and instead conform to 2-4-2 word count. His point was largely valid in two senses: first, syllables are much more structurally consistent vis-a-vis word count in the Japanese language; second, the Japanese language, both through the fact that its written form uses characters which have multiple meanings, and through the fact that its spoken form is notoriously given to homophones (spare me), is easily lent to double (and even(/especially) triple meanings); therefore, English haiku can never hope to contain the poetic density of a Japanese language haiku; thus, English haiku should strive to an entirely different objective: namely, the pithy, concise conveyance of simple double/triple/quadruple/[as many uples as you can muster in 6 words] meanings very very briefly, in three lines, without pointlessly being a slave to a syllabic structure which is an artifact of a highly syllabic language which, though owners of the form--thus justifiably a seeming ultimate arbiter of said form--are no more a despot of the art than any art is capable of having a despot.
Which is to say, none at all.
P.S. I made up the stuff about Kerouac.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
It seems a lot of folks are upset by the recent Supreme Court decision on corporate free speech. Let me reprise a discussion at Talk Polywell on some aspects of health care that have a bearing on why corporate free speech is important. The discussion was about life extension and how cooling the body in trauma situations helps prevent damage until treatment can be obtained. Currently such methods only gain you an hour or an hour and a half. It is often enough.
kurt9So I asked:
A lot of this sort of thing was sorted in the electrical industry with UL which was designed to lower insurance losses.And I got this reply:
kurt9I think the founders had it right. The answer to bad speech is more speech. With the internet multiplying the venues available for people to speak their minds (you are reading me - an unknown with no access to big media aren't you?) the risks from corporate speech are much less than they were when big media was a one way street.
Update: 1319z 25 Jan 2010
Before you run off to your nearest chelation therapy provider see what Jeff has to say in the comments.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Sleep deprived Northeastern federalist? Or "Communist in Republican Clothing"?
Like a lot of readers here, I was not happy when I saw the excerpt that M. Simon posted from Scott Brown's post-election press conference in which Brown (after pausing to observe that it was "post election") apparently endorsed national health care.
I am vehemently opposed to nationalized health care in any way shape or form, and that is why I donated to Scott Brown's campaign. Three times.
Still, I wondered whether a single excerpt from a news conference the morning after the man had been elected is an accurate depiction of Scott Brown's position on health care. Yes, I knew he was for Massachusetts health care. Everyone knew that (or should have, because he made it quite plain at his campaign web site, as M. Simon illustrates here.)
What troubled me the most is that barely a day earlier, he was on record as saying this:
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) - Republican Scott Brown, Massachusetts' newly minted Senator, toured the Capitol today and revisited a theme from his victory speech, telling reporters, "My daughters are available, but if I have my way, health care won't be."Well, at least the guy has a sense of humor, and I liked the fact that like Lot in the Biblical city of Sodom, he was willing to offer his daughters to placate the angry mob that is hell-bent on destruction. In Lot's case, they wanted to break down his door and rape an angel; in this case they want to break down the best health care system known to man and subject patients to bureaucratic rape. (I'd call it "bureaucratic Sodomy" except the word has been so misused that its modern meaning has nothing to do with the actions of the Biblical mob. Thus, when Glenn Reynolds says he is "proudly pro-sodomy," few would interpret that as a statement in support of angel-rape. Which is a good thing, because what kind of blogosphere would it be if the blogfather himself supported raping angels?)
Then there's the "dead serious" remark. In a comment, I speculated that interpreting the remark might require death panels, but I'm trying to be serious here, and no matter how you look at it, what he said is quite inconsistent with what he says in the C-SPAN excerpt.
The whole thing has made me wonder whether Brown is a dishonest flip-flopper, or whether he's one of those people who just says whatever he feels like saying at the time.
Unfortunately, the originating YouTube link itself does not supply any context. And then there's the caption:
Another Socialist aka Communist in Republican's clothing.....I realize that people are calling Brown a "RINO" and a "Massachusetts Republican," but "Socialist aka Communist in Republican Clothing"? What's that about? And what is Republican clothing? Does he mean that the real Scott Brown should be wearing one of those Chairman Mao suits with the button-up jacket? Don't expect me to get carried away enough to PhotoShop such a thing. I would need to overdose on coffee to do that and I am not in the mood, because last night I ended up being the guy who finally busted open a stubborn piñata at a party, and I'm still recovering from this shocking act of gratuitous faux animal cruelty on my part. However, I kid you not.
Here's my gruesome "trophy" from last night.
(I am sorry to report that there is no actual beheading video, but I assure everyone that those are the last cocktail umbrellas that parrot will ever eat!)
So while there will be no Scott Brown in Chairman Mao suit PhotoShop, it did occur to me that some additional context might be in order, and much as I dislike doing these things, I finally made my way to CSPAN and watched the entire press conference. It's over 17 minutes long, and the excerpt that M. Simon linked begins at 5:45, but I do think it is fair to analyze that excerpt in the context of what he said immediately before that (beginning at 5:02):
We already have 98 percent of our people insured here, we know what we need to fix it. But to have the one size fits all plan that's being pushed nationally, it doesn't work."Let the states tell the federal government" might not be a ringing endorsement of federalism, but it's hardly the model of Karl Marx.
What the video excerpt also leaves out is what he says immediately after this apparently damning comment:
...there were some very got things as you just pointed out in the uh, in the national plan that's being, uh proposed...Here the YouTube video ends abruptly, implying that he wants a national plan, period.
But here's what he said (on the CSPAN video beginning at 6:06):
...there were some very got things as you just pointed out in the uh, in the national plan that's being uh proposed, but if you look at, and really in a parochial manner we need to look out for Massachusetts first. Because no one, I've felt and I've, as a legislator and a citizen that we haven't done that very well we've always kind of you know, thought about Washington first and the party first.Hardly a ringing endorsement of National Health Care. In fact, there's a strong undercurrent of federalism in his remarks
I think it might be better to at least point that out than edit his remarks in the hope of convincing people he's a Marxist. Northeastern Republican centrists who believe in federalism may be many things, but calling them Communists is just silly.
I've watched the press conference in its entirety, and not only don't I see anything especially surprising, I don't think the excerpt is quite as damning as it initially seemed. Still, I'm glad M. Simon highlighted it, because Brown ought to be more careful about making comments which make it appear that he supports nationalized health care. (The larger issue, IMO, is not what to do about healthcare, but what to do about government -- something touched on in M. Simon's discussion.)
Of course, a lot more was said at the press conference, and I think it's worth noting that at one point (when asked about his presidential aspirations) Brown said, "I don't want to be disrespectful, but I've had no sleep right now." (Sleep deprivation can excuse a certain amount of sloppiness, but OTOH it didn't cut it for Hillary's Bosnia claims.)
Asked whether he was a "conservative purist," Brown said that he was "not beholden to the special interests of the party" and later he said "I'm not beholden to anybody." And that he believed in the "big tent philosophy regardless of the fires and commercials."
You can watch it all here.
I'll also try the embed, but I don't know whether or how well it will work.
Naked Dancing Girls
Trilogy: a nude awakening is a sort of play/happening that has a stage full of naked dancing girls. Hundreds of different ones all together. In the all together.
Trilogy is about many things: body dissatisfaction, dominant masculine hegemony, Germaine Greer.Well, well, well. If male hegemony can get hundreds of women to dance nude on the stage, I'd say we need more of it.
And in case you need a how to, this book seems appropriate:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Not Error - Fraud
In my post The Glaciers Are Melting I looked at an an error in the IPCC report that was taken straight out of a popular science magazine, New Scientist. New Scientist did a retraction and the head of the IPCC, railroad engineer Dr. Rajenda Pachauri, defended the "data" despite the retraction. He finally gave in after about a week (weak?) of defense.
The ever lovable Anthony Watts seems to have found out why Pachauri was defending a retracted report.
We've covered some of the travails of IPCC Chairman Dr. Rajenda Pachauri here at WUWT in the past couple of weeks. Besides the facts mentioned above, the National Hurricane Center chief scientist Christopher Landsea resigned in 2007 from the IPCC over what he cited as lack of confidence in the science.It gets better. Or worse. Depending on your point of view.I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound.Most notable recently was the bogus claim In the IPCC AR4 that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 that appeared to be based on nothing more than a journalist's opinion piece, contrary to IPCC rules that reports be based on peer reviewed science.
The "IPCC 2035 glacier error" has been used to solicit funds for new projects, and guess where the money goes?That sure looks bad.
But I have something that looks even worse. From the Telegraph.co.uk comes this little gem.
I can report a further dramatic twist to what has inevitably been dubbed "Glaciergate" - the international row surrounding the revelation that the latest report on global warming by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contained a wildly alarmist, unfounded claim about the melting of Himalayan glaciers. Last week, the IPCC, led by its increasingly controversial chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, was forced to issue an unprecedented admission: the statement in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 had no scientific basis, and its inclusion in the report reflected a "poor application" of IPCC procedures.How do those people sleep at night? Probably on a pillow stuffed with twenties.
I do think that this kind of corruption will greatly assist the suit filed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association against the EPA's attempted regulation of CO2 emissions.
I'm sure it will put a hole in the arguments of the Communists at Copenhagen. In fact I have a video of the Communists at Copenhagen. There is a really cute Communist about 1:15 into the video.
Yes it is.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
What Is Wrong With Massachusetts?
I put up a video of Scott Brown in a short discussion with a voter about health care reform.
My first personal complaint about what he said was at the beginning of the video when he says:
"We're past campaign mode"i.e. I no longer have to lie to win. I guess now that he is elected he can afford to be honest. A real confidence builder in his basic integrity.
Then some folks at Classical Values were saying that I'm asking too much of Brown.
So let me reprise what Brown said in the video. The quotes may not be exactly exact. They are close.
1. Every one is going to get some kind of care
Do I have to?
2. Offer a basic plan for everyone
Isn't that what insurance companies already do?
3. Should we raise taxes?
Hell yes. The economy is doing way too well.
4. Or cut half a trillion from Medicare?
Sure. The plan already has too many doctors. No doctors no patients. I can see vast savings from that. It might also help keep Social Security solvent. A Twofer.
5. Affect veterans care.
VA hospitals are already too good.
Here is his position on health care from his recent US Senate campaign.
I believe that all Americans deserve health care coverage, but I am opposed to the health care legislation that is under consideration in Congress and will vote against it. It will raise taxes, increase government spending and lower the quality of care, especially for elders on Medicare. I support strengthening the existing private market system with policies that will drive down costs and make it easier for people to purchase affordable insurance. In Massachusetts, I support the 2006 healthcare law that was successful in expanding coverage, but I also recognize that the state must now turn its attention to controlling costs.i.e. in a rich state like Mass. the plan they have is not affordable.
So has he Got Plan? Oh. Yeah. Raise taxes, or cut Medicare, or lower standards at Veterans Hospitals. Or some combination. Sounds like a plan to me.
So how is the Massachusetts Plan doing?
When enacted, MassHealth was touted as the answer to correcting the problem of the uninsured in Massachusetts. Healthcare providers (i.e., hospitals) and insurers were compelled to take cuts in reimbursement upon implementation of the program several years ago.Scott had to know the State plan was in trouble and instead of suggesting a better National Plan we got vague promises during the election. Fine. He is elected. Can't he think of Something better than to raise taxes? Or cut backs in Veterans Care?
There is more on how the Mass. plan is failing.
* Although the state has reduced the number of residents without health insurance, 200,000 people remain uninsured. Moreover, the increase in the number of insured is primarily due to the state's generous subsidies, not the celebrated individual mandate.Skyrocketing costs and a shortage of doctors. Something to look forward to I suppose.
Say. I have an idea. How about we look at the National Republican Plan.
What Americans want are common-sense, responsible solutions that address the rising cost of health care and other major problems. In the national Republican address on Saturday, October 31, 2009, House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) discussed Republicans' plan for common-sense health care reform our nation can afford. Boehner's address emphasized four common-sense reforms that will lower health care costs and expand access to quality care without a government takeover of our nation's health care system that kills jobs, raises taxes on small businesses, or cuts Medicare for seniors:I don't get number three, but all the rest make good sense. I can think of one or two more that might help. Make Medical Savings accounts cumulative so that anything not spent in one year can be rolled over to build a cushion over time. In addition catastrophic coverage plans that cover anything above the out of pocket expenses that the Medical Savings Account would cover.* Number one: let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines.
We can try that for a few years and see if changes or additions need to be made. It might also be a good idea to tighten the borders to reduce hospital's unfunded costs.
But Mr. Brown mentioned none of those. Even after his election.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Who is Ellie Light?
She appears everywhere, and writes, anywhere! In plenty of papers! Penning powerful paeans in praise of the President!
Naturally, a lot of people want to know, and some have spent a great deal of time looking into the matter.
It took some doing, but I finally found her.
With the help of my commenters, I have been keeping a running total at my blog of the places where Light's letter has appeared. At last count, her letter has appeared in at least 47 newspapers in at least 23 different states.Patterico also asks whether this might be related to Cass Sunstein's cognitive infiltration plan, and quotes this:
In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites -- as well as other activist groups -- which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.Here's what "Ellie Light" said:
Today, the president is being attacked as if he'd promised that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never did. It's time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything.I'd hate to think that saying the president didn't live up to his campaign promises is considered a "conspiracy theory" which needs to be countered by government astroturfers in the name of "cognitive infiltration."
Almost sounds like Nixon's COINTELPRO program. ("The FBI and police used a myriad of other "dirty tricks" to undermine progressive movements. They planted false media stories and published bogus leaflets and other publications in the name of targeted groups. They forged correspondence, sent anonymous letters, and made anonymous telephone calls. They spread misinformation about meetings and events, set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents, and manipulated or strong-armed parents, employers, landlords, school officials and others to cause trouble for activists.")
In this case, maybe COINTELPRO LIGHT....
MORE: Membership in Who Is Ellie Light? Facebook group has more than doubled since I saw it earlier.
Hey, inquiring minds want to know!
A warm welcome to all. As usual, all commments welcome, agree or disagree.
Including comments from the hard-working bloggers now employed as propagandists and sock puppets at the Justice Department!
The First Amendment applies to everyone -- whether bloggers, government sock puppets, or big corporations.
And there's even a "Who is Mark Spivey?" Facebook page!
UPDATE: Anonymous commenter "Hidden Meadow" claims to know Ellie Light, but cannot reveal who he is:
This excitement is really overblown. These letters were written by a fifty-something man who got carried away and started writing to every newspaper in America under several names.Hey, I can handle the truth, even if it's dull.
Moreover, as a fity-something man who frequently gets carried away himself, I might find it more interesting than you think!
Tell you what "Hidden Meadow." You tell me who he is, and I absolutely promise that I won't be bored.
MORE (11/26/10): If the latest post from Patterico is any indication, Ellie Light is "Winston Steward, 51, of Frazier Park, Calif."
I have no idea whether Segal knows Winston Steward. I don't know everyone who follows me on Twitter. This could all be a total dead end. In fact, at this very moment, I'm inclined to say it is, and that Winston Steward is just a kook.If that pans out, it means that commenter Hidden Meadow may have been correct in yesterday's comment.
Calling all "libertarianesque geeks"!
No, I didn't invent that God-awful phrase, but thanks to Sean Kinsell, I found it -- used in a deprecating manner by a commenter to Sarah Hoyt's discussion of her writing and Robert Heinlein.
Heinlein isn't helped by the fact that he seems to be a favorite of libertarianesque geeks who spout sexist nonsense. It's not always fair to judge a book by it's readers, but it happens.I enjoyed Sarah's response:
if you're going to use libertarianesque as an insult, (What in bloody hades does that mean, btw? "Somewhat inclined to be fond of liberty and individuality"? Um... yeah. Sounds dire to me) perhaps we can use "totalitarianesque" to refer to idiotish people who judge books without reading them, no?I'm thinking of calling myself a "libertarianesque geek."
But how far does the resemblance go? I mean, if the suffix "esque" means "having a resemblance with or having the characteristics of," I may have more of a geek resemblance than I do a libertarian resemblance, which would mean I'd be a "geekesque libertarian." Or if I resemble both, then I'd be "geekesque" and "libertarianesque."
The problem is that "Geekesque" just sounds wrong. "Romanesque" and "Arabesque" are common examples of "esque" words, but is there Greekesque? No more than there is "Grecoesque." Greco would seem to imply the esque, though. Although I think "Hellenistic" would be the closest Greek equivalent to "Romanesque." But there is no such thing as "Romanistic," any more than there is "Arabistic," is there?
Don't blame me. I didn't start this.
(Don't esque, don't tell.)
Always avoid mixing apples with oranges!
Might that work for cougars? Has anyone tried caging them and feeding them an all carb diet?
Sometimes I think there are too many studies and too much information -- and most of them are infected by the bias that accompanies Wanting To Be Right. Moreover, each of us has a different metabolism. But telling people to find what works for them is not helpful, as people want answers, and we all want to share what worked for each of us. Carried to extremes, this leads to the anti-salt evangelism we have been witnessing in New York.
I'm having trouble sorting it all out. BTW, I just learned that starvation dramatically raises cholesterol!
But starvation also is said to prolong life, right?
Interestingly, for years they have been making people fast before cholesterol testing. Now the latest research says that's bunk.
I predict more studies contradicting the previous studies. Etc.
Friday, January 22, 2010
They Should Be Paying Us
You see that chart above? It was taken from an article on the missing carbon sink. The graphs in the chart show results for net CO2 emission or absorption from before and after the missing sink was found.
Note the down arrows for North America? That means North America is absorbing more CO2 than it is emitting (at least if I understand the chart correctly). The rest of the world should be paying us for the service we are providing. Or at the very least they should stop hectoring us about our energy generation methods.
But the scientists are still not happy.
Other scientists have also recently come to the conclusion that northern forests, although critically important in maintaining biodiversity, might be less important in slowing climate change than tropical forests. Govindasamy Bala and Ken Caldeira found that tropical forests help cool the Earth in two ways: by storing carbon and also by reflecting the suns warming rays back to space. "Unlike tropical forests, high latitude forests darken the Earth's surface, causing the earth to absorb more sunlight, an effect that is most pronounced in snowy regions. This darkening of the surface has a warming influence that can be stronger than the cooling influence of carbon storage in these forests," says Caldeira. This suggests that removing high-latitude forests would have a net cooling effect on the planet, whereas removal of tropical forests would result in warming.So if we cut down all the trees in North America it would be better for the planet? Right!
Get the chain saws out boys we have some work to do.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
The Scott Brown Plan To Screw The Voters
This is so depressing.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
My beautiful "new" rice cooker
This will seem like a self-indulgent and frivolous post, as I'm not one of those "here's what I ate for breakfast" type bloggers, but I decided to write it anyway, because the technology involved has helped me, and I thought it might be of assistance to some of the readers.
I like rice, and I eat a lot of it. I normally would eat more, except the cooking and saving of it has been somewhat of a nuisance. For years I used this garden variety rice cooker:
It cost less than $20.00 new, and it's now been consigned to gather dust in the basement. When I would use it, inevitably rice would stick to the inside, requiring a lot of washing. Not washing, but scouring. Then there's the question of what to do with the uneaten rice. Left in the old rice cooker on "warm," it gets too warm, drying out and sticking ever more fanatically to the pot. Stick it in the fridge and it gets so dried out as to become virtually inedible. Maybe not totally inedible, but microwaving dried out rice hardly makes for an appetizing meal.
Anyway, perhaps I hadn't been paying as much attention as I should have (I don't watch cooking shows on television, for God's sake), but I had pretty much assumed that all rice cookers were alike in their basic functionality. ("When you've seen one ricer cooker, you've seen them all.")
I now realize that if you like rice, having a good rice cooker is very important, and that I had the wrong kind of rice cooker. Ironically, it took another shopping error to made me realize the error of my ways. While looking for a large bag of rice at a local Asian food store, I inadvertently bought a bag of Thai Sanpotang sweet rice instead of regular rice. Was I in for a rude awakening. Sweet rice (aka glutinous rice) is a delicacy, as anyone who likes Thai or Vietnamese food can appreciate, but it is also very, very difficult to cook (as I discovered with my first batch). Unless you have a special Thai steamer or a "smart" rice cooker, you will find the results disappointing.
However, if you merely go to Amazon and enter "rice cooker," you'll be overwhelmed. To even begin to zero in on what you need, the word "fuzzy" should be included in the search. That's because only a rice cooker with fuzzy logic can distinguish between regular rice and sweet (or other forms of) rice.
I didn't know where to begin, but I quickly learned rice cookers like my old one are old, outmoded technology. Or, as this site quipped, a "historical artifact":
Why do stores like Walmart and Target, even online shops like Amazon or cooking.com always have this kind of rice cooker for sale? Well, we don't know. But they're obviously clueless about rice preparation. The glass-lid style of rice cooker you see at left, which we estimate as 95% of what you'll find in American stores, is practically an ancient relic throughout Asia. These cookers are a bit cheaper, but they don't have a proper ventilation system to capture and maintain moisture, so unless you serve the rice immediately after it's cooked it dries out. There is no "keep warm" feature either. You can still find this style in some Asian households that haven't yet upgraded, but not in Asian stores because modern versions such as ours have been available for over 15 years. So if you're looking for a rice cooker, buy what's best not a historical artifact.Except that "what's best" can cost hundreds of dollars, and it is very confusing comparing the innumerable brands.
Chinese master chef Martin Yan promotes the Sanyo line as the best for the money, and they look pretty damned good.
The one he's demonstrating is the Sanyo ECJ F50S, and they can be had on ebay for under $100.00.
But I'm not just cheap, I'm very cheap, and I'm also afraid to spend a lot of money for something and then learn that I could have gotten something better for less money, or a lot better for only slightly more.
Still, I'm always a sucker for a super good deal. And did I ever find one on Craigslist! Listed among a whole bunch of items offered in a moving sale last weekend was a "National rice cooker," offered free! National is a leading Japanese brand (for years the name on items branded as Panasonic in other countries), and in the picture it looked like it might be one of the "smart" rice cookers, so I went right over. The "sellers" were a nice Japanese couple getting ready to move back to Japan, and the thing was plugged in and working.
Here it is:
I couldn't have been happier to take it off their hands, and as the buttons were in Japanese, they were kind enough to write out translations on a piece of paper. It has a timer, a porridge and risotto setting, a cleaning setting, a quick cook setting, and if you just use the rice setting they said it was smart enough to figure out what kind of rice you're using.
Searching online, I learned that Panasonic made an identical model for sale in English-speaking countries, and I downloaded a picture showing the buttons for easy reference:
My only complaint isn't really a complaint, but I would very much like to know the meaning of the extra measuring lines to the right on the inside of the pan:
Anyway, I was initially skeptical over how well it would work, but still, I hadn't risked a cent. I didn't want to have a showdown right away over complicated items, so I started by cooking plain rice, which I wanted to be ready for lunch the next day. I heard it making little rumblings and hissing sounds during the half hour or so before I had set it to be ready, and then at exactly 12:30, a little beeping sound went off, and it switched to warmer status. Absolutely perfect rice. Not one grain sticking anywhere.
The next day I thought I would try out the porridge setting with grits, so I put in grits and water and set it to be ready when I woke up. I awoke to perfectly cooked grits.
For the next test, I decided to put it through the much harder ordeal of cooking steel-cut oatmeal. Anyone who has made this knows what a pain in the ass it can be. You have to stir it repeatedly, it's easy to burn, and you can end up with a sticky, lumpy mess. Not something most people want to do first thing in the morning. Well, once again, with this thing I just threw in the oatmeal and water, set the timer, and I'll be damned if I didn't wake up to steel cut oatmeal, cooked to perfection. A gourmet chef couldn't have done any better.
The hardest test I left for last. Would it know how to cook that Thai sticky rice? So last night I rinsed two cups worth, put them in with the right amount of water, and set it to be ready at noon. The moment of truth came when I opened it and saw this perfectly cooked sweet sticky rice, not sticking to the pot, willing to be rolled over into cakes just the way it's supposed to be, and deliciously chewy. I scooped some onto a plate which bounced on itself into a perfectly rounded pile, and it beautifully soaked up some hot bean paste sauce I put on top.
I looked at that thing, and I asked "How can it be so smart?" It knows what to do with whatever I put in there!
Are humans finally becoming outmoded? Far from it; it took a lot of humans and human ingenuity to make such a thing. And it takes a human to decide what to put in it. It also takes a human to know what they are and go out and get one. Still, I'm human and it took me a long to even learn about this technology.
There's a lot of great stuff out there -- if only you know what it is and where it is.
Makes me wonder what else I'm missing.
Obama's poll numbers are cratering.
Gallup buries the lede in its latest polling on health care, the Browning of Massachusetts, and Barack Obama's performance in the first year. They headline the fact that 55% of Americans want Congress to suspend work on ObamaCare while only 39% want Congress to continue. That's not exactly news; it's about the same split in support Rasmussen has seen among likely voters for weeks now, and Gallup just confirms that ObamaCare has the same level of support in the general adult population.Well OK. Things could be worse. And by golly they are. Obama's proposed new rules for banks have cratered banking stocks.
NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are set to extend their slide Friday, following the worst two-day stretch the market has seen since June.There is that word cratering. And not only has he cratered the American markets. He has cratered the Asian and European markets as well. The man is a genius. The Smartest President Ever™
Well on to more of the same. Employment is cratering according to a Progressive site.
The latest US nonfarm payroll report provides more confirmation. Although the headline number was a modestly anemic -85,000, Rosenberg called it "horrible" because its details showed consistent weakness. As a result, he estimates a more accurate "465,000" December decline, based on what's occurring at the small company level "where the trend in orders, output, sales and employment" has been dismal.Oh. Yeah. Let me give you the title of that progressive piece.
Cheery news that. Well it is only January, 2010. Two Years 11 months 4 weeks and 0 days to go. I can hardly wait.
But back to happier days and the words of FDR's Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau:
"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And enormous debt to boot."Well there is one good thing. I don't believe Obama has eight years. And with the way he is going he will be lucky to get his almost three more.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Sex, murder, it's all the same, right?
Ryan Mauro has a very thoughtful discussion of a TV show I'd never heard of in an essay titled "A Sermon Inspired by The Real World: Washington, D.C. -- A bisexual Christian on MTV's reality show illustrates the true meaning of the faith."
I don't normally associate MTV with bisexual Christians (whom I assume could expect to get untold grief from so many single issue activists on both sides that it boggles the mind), but hey, maybe the times are changing. Or maybe MTV thinks something like that would generate audience interest. I don't know, as I am out of touch with the times and MTV.
While Ryan Mauro found the character (Mike) refreshing, he also touched on something that has long puzzled me -- the interplay between sexuality and what a number of Christians to be the difference betwen right and wrong:
Mike makes a greater point, one that all Christians should embrace. Mike explains how the idea that his bisexuality means "you can't be religious, you can't follow the Bible, you can't follow God ... is stupid." This may sound like a hippie version of Christianity that means there is no objective right and wrong, but he further explains.Whether they are religious or not, people differ on whether or not homosexuality (or bisexuality) is sinful per se, but what I have never been able to understand is from where it follows that those who don't think same-sex sexual relations are necessarily wrong have no objective sense of right and wrong.
Having no objective sense of right or wrong would mean total nihilism. Which would mean that murder, robbery, rape are not wrong. Why would a belief that that there is nothing intrinsically wrong or evil about someone's choice of sexual partners mean such a thing? Unless "objective sense of right and wrong" means all-or-nothing acceptance of every law said to come from God, and that not believing in one means not believing in all, I'm just not getting it. It's about as logical as saying that because someone doesn't think violating the Sabbath is wrong, that he has no objective sense of right and wrong.
This is not to say that right and wrong are not implicated in the area of sexuality. The sordid case of Senator John Edwards will serve as an illustration:
In an earlier interview with ABC News that will air Friday, Jan. 29, Young also claims that it was Edwards who proposed an elaborate cover-up in a failed attempt to hide the fact that he fathered a baby girl with Hunter.By religious standards, Edwards' adulterous conduct involved a violation of God's law. But it doesn't require a belief in God or any religious commandments to recognize that what he did (assuming Young's allegations are true) was inexcusably sleazy and inexcusably dishonest, and ought to disqualify the man from holding office.
Even if you don't believe that consensual adultery is inherently wrong (I think cheating on a spouse is always wrong, but if the spouse consents, that changes things), that still would in no way justify the man's loathsome behavior. He was quite willing to ruin lives, careers and ethical reputations of other people, simply to preserve his own career. It frightens me that such a man came within a few electoral votes of being next in line for the presidency. And I think focusing on his conduct as "adultery" misses the point in a rather major way.
Edwards strikes me as a man who does not care at all about right or wrong. But what he did does not follow from adultery, or the belief that consensual adultery is OK -- any more than his adultery would give him the right to commit murder.
While I recognize that there are people who would argue that if adultery is OK, that means murder is OK, I think that view is horribly mistaken, and encourages nihilism on both sides.
The ability to know right from wrong no more revolves around sexual views than it does on views of breaking the Sabbath, or for that matter, coveting.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I know! Let's Talk About Sex!
I've been meaning to post for about a week, but unable to figure out quite how to make my first appearance at Classical Values. This is the equivalent of what I did when I was very young and spent several hours agonizing between two virtually identical outfits before a party.
And then, yesterday, on this post I did about Robert A. Heinlein and what he meant to me, some woman (I'm being complimentary here. She's probably an academic!) came out to prove my point - which was that some people would like to prevent everyone from reading that which they disapprove of, and if their only weapon is social shunning, then they'll use that.
In the meantime, as a sort of side benefit, she proved that she had problems with the idea of women enjoying sex. Oh, I'm sure she didn't mean it that way. Or she didn't think she meant it that way. Or something. But that's how it came across, as "All you women who are out there enjoying sex, stop it. You're letting the side down."
I've had this argument so many times, at so many different conferences, when I was put on the obligatory Heinlein panel - see the four armed dwarf! The dragon of the Indies! The woman who will admit she likes Heinlein! Yep - that it was the REASON I posted.
Since writing that post, I've been defriended by one tenth my list on Face Book, my followers on twitter stalled, my group blog comments went dead and my conference has had almost no traffic. AND that was before I was the rudest I've ever been on line to a commenter. Being myself, I can't resist the chance to double down. Proving, I suppose that while our current president and I might look at life in completely different ways there are some similarities between people of our age group.
This is not a new experience for me. Thirst, my first short story ever sold (which is online, for free, in this collection) was published in an Australian magazine called Blood Songs, which managed to send a copy out to get it nominated as an honorable mention in 1994's Year's Best Fantasy and Horror before its entire print run was confiscated and destroyed. The report on what caused it - my story, or the illustration on it - varies, but the illustration was on theme, so... And the last story I wrote that was published in a major magazine - What She Left Behind in Asimov's - got letters asking the publication be banned from school libraries. So, you see, I have a tendency to dance where angels fear to tread.
Since sex is squarely at the center of both the culture war and of my variously socially unacceptable forays, let's go into the - pardon my French - thick of it, with hip waders.Continue reading "I know! Let's Talk About Sex!"
Not by PC alone!
This is an ominous development, and I don't think it's being widely reported:
WASHINGTON - Ex-cons who converted to Islam in New York and other state prison systems have turned up in Yemen as Al Qaeda terror recruits, a new Senate report says.Via China Confidential, who says the report raises an additional taboo topic:
The report highlights another taboo topic for Islamist-appeasing liberals: decades of infiltration of U.S. prisons by agents of Saudi Wahhabism--Muslim chaplains trained in and certified by Saudi-supported Wahhabi institutes operating in the U.S.Why is all of this considered "taboo"? It's easy to blame political correctness, but I don't think that fully explains the reluctance on the part of so many -- in journalism, government, and law enforcement -- to discuss the problem. It is unreasonable to assume that the entire machinery of official information has been paralyzed solely by political correctness. I think that there are different mindsets at work which operate in collusion. Above all, there's the national security, "we know what's best" mindset, which I've touched on before, and which for various reasons wants to keep citizens out of the loop. (A major reason for this is that they don't want to reveal sources and techniques, etc.)
Then there's what I would call the "responsible" class -- people in various positions which have convinced them that either they are in charge or else they should be -- and these people sincerely believe that putting out information such as the above would "cause a panic" and is therefore "irresponsible."
An interesting proposition, to be sure. I tend to look for answers, for facts, in order to get some idea of what is going on. You know, that old-fashioned concept called "the truth"? I would hate to think that truth-seeking behavior is irresponsible, but in fairness, greater minds than mine (such as Churchill) did allow that truth is the first casualty in war. To which I would counter "Fine, but are we at war?" If so, should I just shut up?
This raises, of course, the additional problem of Saudi Arabia. If we are at war, they really ought to be our enemy, for they are the chief supplier not only of the lethal Wahhabist ideology that sees us as deserving death, but the money that fuels it. Which means we all are fueling it, because we buy their damnable oil. It's tough fighting an enemy that's an ally, especially an enemy we fund every time we fill up at the pump.
Finally, there are those in power who simply don't want to look bad. They hate to look incompetent, they hate having people read about their shortcomings, and they hate being laughed at. If too many Americans read about converted Americans seeking to be suicide bombers in Yemen, they might think our government officials are incompetent, or worse. So the people who might look bad would naturally be expected to have a strong interest in suppressing such reports to the extent they can.
None of this is to diminish the powerful role of political correctness in this process, but it would be a mistake to assume that it's the only factor.
It Is Official
NASA agrees with me on the nature of drug abuse.
Initial low-level involvement with drugs may result from peer pressure, drug availability or other risk factors in an individual's social or family environment. Subsequent escalation to and maintenance of higher levels of drug use is likely to result from biological, psychological or psychiatric characteristics of the individual user. In some cases, vulnerability may be inherited in the form of heightened susceptibility to a certain type of drug. In most cases, however, escalation will be caused by psychological traits or psychiatric conditions, some of which may also be inherited.Note the bolded parts. I have blogged every one of those points well before they became common knowledge. Every single one.
Just to give one example: food, sex, and exercise junkies:
Here is a book on the subject:
Here is what one reviewer said about the book:
First, let me say that I am a doctor specializing in alcohol and drug studies and the author of over a hundred publications so I have a good perspective of science books, etc. In a sentence, Carl Erickson's book, The Science of Addiction is one of the best books ever published on the subject. Anyone in the field of addiction medicine (e.g., physicians, psychologists, drug/alcohol counselors) or with a personal or other professional interest in addiction will learn from this book. While a bit more advanced than Drugs The Brain and Behavior: The Pharmacology of Abuse and Dependence, by the same author, it is still very readable, fully referenced and current. Two thumbs up to Dr. Erickson.The question in my mind is: what is so special about illegal drug use/abuse? We don't go after alcoholics unless they are harming others. We certainly don't legally persecute food addicts. Exercise addicts? Not even on the radar.
The one thing I can think of is that there is a LOT of money in the persecution of illegal drug users. Which reminds me of another book I can personally highly recommend.
I wrote a review of that book a while back: How To Put An End To Drug Users. Just in case you are interested in a preview of the contents.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
auf wiedersehen to hope?
I don't know what qualifies Germany or Germans as the world's experts on American politics, but that seems to be one of the dominant memes these days.
In a piece titled "Obama Mia" in the Wall Street Journal, I read about a loopy German musical glorifying President Obama, and promoting the personality cult surrounding him:
FrankfurtEtc. The mean-spirited reviewer was not impressed with the show, as he sees the personality cult as "an irredeemable flaw in both the arts and journalism."
Except those Germans can be so damned, er, fickle! In less than a week's time, it seems that the Ubermessiah of Hope's reign has come to a dramatic end.
In a piece titled "The World Bids Farewell to Obama" Der Speigel summarizes German reaction to Tuesday's Massachusetts rout:
US President Barack Obama suffered a painful defeat in Massachusetts on Tuesday. With mid-term elections looming, it means that Obama will have to fundamentally re-think his political course. German commentators say it is the end of hope.Hey, wait a second. The question is not so much whether hope has ended, or even whether people are for or against hope, but whose hope is it that's supposed to be under consideration?
The hope of the Germans?
I realize that they have lots of experience with having their hopes raised and shattered, but honestly. Surely no rational person would argue that our hope belongs to the Germans to "own."
Or would they?
It's very touching, but if hope is not ours to own, I think it ain't over till the Norwegians sing...
(Yeah, it would have been nice to embed Ronald Reagan's favorite version of the song, but I'm afraid of the DMCA.)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"the strident, purist base"
From Bill Clinton's former White House special counsel Lanny J. Davis comes a good question:
The question is, will we stop listening to the strident, purist base of our party who seem to prefer defeat to winning elections and no change at all if they don't get all the change they want.As someone who hopes the Democrats lose, naturally I hope they don't wise up -- and that the strident, purist base of their party gets its way.
But if I were a Democrat I would also hope that the strident, purist base of the Republican party gets its way.
What I hope does not happen is to see America having to choose between a strident, purist base and a strident, purist base.
But hey, I admit that I'm not strident enough or pure enough to stand it. If that is a selfish thought on my part, then what would be more selfish? To stand the heat or get the hell out of the kitchen?
MORE: An important point that should not be forgotten is that last night's victory was not a triumph of the "strident, purist base." Far from it. It was a defeat for the Democrats' strident, purist base. Interestingly, though (and most encouraging from my viewpoint) is that the "strident, purist base" of the GOP was quite willing to swallow their pride a little and help a guy who was decidedly not part of their strident purist base!
Which is pretty amazing, if you think about it.
AND MORE: While I would hesitate to call the Tea Party Movement the Republican "base," Glenn Reynolds notes, the Tea Partiers have shown wisdom and pragmatism:
on the third-party front, the Tea Party enthusiasm for Scott Brown bespeaks considerable pragmatism. Republicans who are seen as sellouts may face third-party challenges -- or primary challenges, or both -- but support for Brown indicates that people aren't in a "take your marbles and go home" mode yet. Throwing a monkey-wrench into the ObamaCare works was seen as more important than getting the perfect candidate in, and that was a very wise move. I suspect that we'll see similar pragmatism between now and November, but the GOP should also remember -- as was shown in NY-23 -- that making an example to encourage the others can be pragmatic, too.The Tea Party people I saw struck me more as small-l libertarians who are fed up with big government than as ideological purists. They don't seem especially enamored with the litmus test ideologues who insist on being the base.
But what do I know? I can't even offer a good definition of the base, much less one we can all agree on.
MORE: Not to promote impurity, but would it be out of line to propose this as a lowest common denominator definition of "base"?
Republicans who share core values on fiscal policy that can actually win elections.The Tea Party Movement seems cool with it. So are a lot of people, and so am I.
People have every right to strive for stridency and purity in ideology, but does that give them the right to order everyone else around?
LINGERING QUESTION: Just what is the base? Is it the lowest common ideological denominator? Or the hardest ideological core? (The bottom line, or the hardest core?)
Monkeying around with compromise
Barnes and Noble keeps getting in trouble with people who want to boycott the store -- not so much for selling the wrong books, but for improper placement of them. So I thought that in the interest of helping all parties laugh at themselves, I would try to come up with new and improved suggestions for improper product placement. I apologize in advance to the many sensitivities and sensibilities that I might offend.
Anyway, last year Barnes and Noble found itself in hot water (perhaps that would be deep doodoo) over the fact that a window display had inexplicably included a book on monkeys in the middle of a display of books about our new president.
Barnes and Noble claimed they couldn't figure out what happened, and blamed a mischievous customer.
"We believe that a customer played a cruel joke and placed an inappropriate title in the front window of our store," said Barnes & Noble spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating in a public statement. "We are looking into it and are taking the steps necessary so that it does not happen again.I'm wondering, though. Would they have been as apologetic had the same monkey book been featured amidst a display of books on President Bush? We will never know, because I'm sure no Barnes and Noble has ever had a window display of books on Bush, and if they did, I doubt the books would all be glowing tributes like the Obama collection.
Moreover, if you google Bush chimpanzee in images, you get over 100,000 hits -- mostly to stuff like this:
More recently, someone (Barnes and Noble says it was a patron) left a copy of the book "Ultimate Gay Sex" on a table at a Barnes and Noble, where it was found by an eleven year old son of an anti-porn activist.
The man said that the above caused his son to be robbed of his innocence.
The same man also has written a book which claims that a sinister group of 21 people -- including Aldous Huxley, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Kinsey, Benjamin Bloom, B.F. Skinner, and Soren Kierkegaard -- are all ruling America from beyond the grave. Isn't a conspiracy of sinister people ruling America from the grave worse than gay sex? So wouldn't their books be even more dangerous if left on tables? What is worse? The loss of innocence or the loss of America?
Without getting into whether a book can cause innocence to be lost (which would seem to mean that unintentional viewing of dirty pictures instills guilt), I'm wondering whether the same gay sex book would have caused a similar loss of innocence to the president and his supporters (who follow many of the 21 dead rulers of America) had it been improperly placed.
So what about this?
Hmmm... perhaps I should be more inclusive with my PhotoShopping.
Is that, um, better?
In the spirit of compromise, I'm willing to monkey around with principles.
Tower Of Power
Here is an interesting development that may be good for continuous output solar power.
The company's approach uses calcium hydride, a simple, non-toxic salt.They claim the system compares to the cost of fossil fuels. The question is: coal (very cheap) or natural gas (rather expensive).
It is still interesting. Now if they could develop a fuel cell along the lines of this patent [pdf] or something similar I think they would have a real winner. Getting rid of the thermal energy to mechanical motion step (Stirling engine) could greatly improve efficiency and reliability. It would mean pumping reactants around. But you would have to do that in any case, I think. More details on how the system operates would be nice.
Bleisner was originally involved in Stirling Engine development at ADI Thermal. So he may have a vested interest in the Stirling engine route. No matter. Others can now start in on the Hydrogen/Calcium fuel cell route. One breakthrough can show the path to others.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Meaning Of Brown
I left this comment (more or less) at Nate Silver's 538 blog. He was a hoping for Coakley despite the shift that his stats clearly showed.
Nate,Honesty is always the best policy.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Brown Vs Coakley
This is the funniest Jon Stewart I have evahh watched. Give it a view. Hillarious.
H/T Larry Johnson at No Quarter
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Newsflash! Ted Kennedy still dead
In what I consider an early sign of optimism over the Coakley-Brown election results, CNN's commentators don't look happy right now. They are talking about early signs showing a Republican victory, while a stressed-out looking Paul Begala carries on about how Ted Kennedy would have won big. (So does that mean that if Brown wins, it's only because he cheated a dead man out of his throne?)
On Fox they're saying early returns show 51-48 for Brown.
Still too early to tell.
MORE: At 8:29, Drudge shows the following vote count:
And on Fox News, I heard about a leaked memo from a Coakley staffer saying that she was blaming President Obama for her troubles.
AND MORE (08:37): Brown's numbers are inching up according to Drudge:
RESULTS:Fox says 52-47, and forgive me but I can't wait to enjoy the misery at CNN.
(At 8:40 they're looking sour and have changed the subject to Haiti. Not that I blame them.)
MORE (8:48): With 29% in, Brown is ahead 53-47. (Fox.)
Unless Boston comes up with a huge Coakley landslide, at this point I'd say Brown has it.
AND MORE (8:51): A Fox commentator is calling it for Brown. They are saying the Boston votes did not turn out for Coakley.
CNN (and Yahoo) are saying it's too early.
Drudge has these numbers:
MORE: At 8:54, things look glum at CNN (headline is "REPUBLICANS HOLDING STEADY LEAD"), and they're asking worried questions about what will happen to health care.
Well, I'd say my chances for survival might have just improved.
At 8:58, Wolf Blitzer says it's too early to call, but John King is all but talking about why Scott Brown won.
MORE: Latest from Drudge:
I'd say the lead is looking insurmountable now.
By the way, I'm now hearing a lot of talk about "all the Democrats who voted for Brown."
The Republican Party might want to find out why.
Geez, what if it turned out the American people actually like Republicans who are fiscally conservative but not socially conservative?
Hannity says it's about time to call it for Brown, while CNN's Wolf Blitzer (saying it's now 70% in) says it's more and more difficult to see how Coakley can narrow it, and the Dems should be gearing for "a huge upset."
Yeah, I think they saw this coming.
Brown's lead is clearly insurmountable.
MORE (9:23): It is over. Drudge reports that,
COAKLEY JUST CONCEDED BY TELEPHONE TO BROWN
CNN and Fox have both now called it for Brown.
MORE: It's a little eerie that Brown defeated Coakley by the same margin that Obama defeated McCain nationally, but what a difference a year makes.
And in Massachusetts, last year's presidential vote was 62% Obama, 36% McCain. Which means that Brown won the support of many Obama voters.
MORE: Willie Brown (on Sean Hannity's Fox show) says that he doesn't think that this will mean Obama losing the White House. I think that Obama's best hope of continuing in office is for the GOP to take back the house in November. That way he can feign to the center, claim they are obstructing him, and appeal to America's natural inclination to favor gridlock.
MORE: I watched Martha Coakley's concession speech, and now I am watching Scott Brown's
MORE: According to a report Wolf Blitzer just read, Democratic Senator Jim Webb is saying that the Democrats should suspend voting on health care until Brown is seated.
AND MORE: It hasn't taken certain conservatives long to demand that Scott Brown's feet be held to the fire on social issues. (Don't expect me to link conservative bloggers in a critical manner; I am not trying to start arguments so much as spot issues.)
Would they have rather had a candidate to their liking and have him lose?
LINGERING QUESTION: What might it take to persuade ideologues that ordinary voters are not obsessed with whether a candidate passes ideological litmus tests? I don't agree with Scott Brown on everything, and I suspect that many of his voters don't either. So what is it that makes some people who disagree with him feel that they have more of a right to hold his feet to the fire on their issues?
It's obvious, for example, that people on both sides of the abortion issue voted for him, as did people on both sides of the (complicated) gay marriage issue. Regardless of Brown's opinions on these issues, do those who disagree with him have more say-so than those who agree with him? Or those who might disagree with him but don't think it's a big deal?
If some voters "count" more than others, how might this be explained to the voters who don't count as much? If self-appointed activist types think that they should count more than regular voters, then I would expect regular voters to be at least as annoyed with activists as the activists are with regular voters.
Not that the activists would care.....
ADDITIONAL NOTE: I say the above as someone with decided libertarian views, but who is not so arrogant as to presume that the politicians I vote for will necessarily share my principles. What I cannot understand is what gives others -- especially social conservatives -- the right to demand that their principles should be heard above and beyond mine.
I don't think ordinary voters like it any more than I do.
MORE: Finally, Tim Cavanaugh (after calling Libertarian Joe Kennedy "the Ralph Nader of the right, the guy you're supposed to blame while paying too much for mandatory weekly rectal probes") speculated that any votes Kennedy got would be mainly because of his name:
The Brown campaign, meanwhile, seems to understand the mathematical certainty that more people will vote for Kennedy because they think he's one of the Kennedys than because he's a Libertarian.Hey, at least the Libertarians got the name right!
But wait! Here it says, "Independent Joseph L. Kennedy received 1 percent."
You'd think that if the Libertarians could go to the trouble of getting the right name for their candidate, the media could get their party name right.
Massachusetts Radio Live Online
Pick a station:
And listen to tonight's election results live online.
H/T on the Drudge counter to the gorgeous Pamela of Atlas Shrugs
A tale of two cities (and two sewers)
I was a bit surprised to read that the City of Detroit is dumping raw sewage into nearby rivers and streams, because, well, that's the sort of thing that's not supposed to happen in advanced Western countries:
Metro Detroit's outdated sewage systems regularly violate the law by dumping raw and partially treated human waste into rivers, streams and lakes that provide recreation and drinking water to more than 3 million people, a Free Press analysis of state records found.I don't know, but we should all be comforted to read that at least it's illegal! The piece points out that Detroit is in violation of the Clean Water Act. I suspect there's some sort of double standard at work here. While I can't prove it, I just have a feeling that if a wealthy subdivision were caught dumping its sewage into nearby rivers, the EPA would get a court order, and maybe even condemn the entire subdivision out of existence.
Interestingly, the city of Scranton, PA was sued by the EPA (under the same Clean Water Act that Detroit is violating) for dumping only one billion gallons of sewage-tainted water. In contrast, Detroit dumped 80 billion gallons. Detroit has approximately twelve times the population of Scranton, but generates 80 times more sewage.
Yet Scranton gets cited. What's up with that?
Might this come down to income? I don't know. Both cities are economically depressed and both seem strapped for cash.
The mayor of Scranton released his new budget Friday. There are no new taxes, but the new spending plan may still bother some people.They sound like the kind of bureaucrats who strive for something resembling efficiency -- you know, the sort who would most likely comply with a court order to stop dumping sewage, even if that meant raising fees and cutting costs elsewhere to do it.
Moreover, its assets exceed its liabilities by 1.3 billion:
As the city closed its 2008 fiscal year, its assets exceeded its liabilities by $1.3 billion, but its unrestricted funds -- the money that is not tied up in laws or regulations dedicating it to a particular purpose -- were more than $500 million in deficit. It currently has a total estimated operating deficit in the $300 million range.The city's financial mismanagement is legendary, of course:
As The News reported, the audit also revealed astonishingly sloppy money handling, including not refunding overpayments of taxes, not aggressively collecting outstanding debts and delegating operation of a computer program tracking unpaid property taxes to an outside contractor, leaving the city with no ability to maintain oversight over the program. In addition, the city until recently didn't keep an updated list of its bank accounts.If a private company operated this way, the executives would be looking at prison time. I guess Detroit's last mayor did get some prison time, but that still doesn't offer a clue to the budget
It took some doing to find out what Detroit's alleged "budget" might be. In 2007, it was reported to be $1.7 billion, but last year, Mayor Cockrel announced that it would be $3.6 billion. (More than double. And despite this, Detroit has demanded a $10 billion bailout.)
So, why would a city with twelve times the population of another city need to spend 46 times the money on its budget?
Could it be the income of the population?
The median income for a household in the city was $28,805, and the median income for a family was $41,642. Males had a median income of $30,829 versus $21,858 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,174. Found below the poverty line are 15.0% of the population, 10.7% of families, 18.9% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those at least age 65.And here's Detroit:
....median household income in the city was $29,526, and the median income for a family was $33,853. Males had a median income of $33,381 versus $26,749 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,717. 26.1% of the population and 21.7% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 34.5% of those under the age of 18 and 18.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.Frankly, I'm not seeing all that huge a difference in income levels of the population. Detroit is clearly poorer, but not 46 times poorer. And why would a city with 12 times the population discharge 80 times more raw sewage? Why the disparity in enforcement of the environmental laws?
Might it be that the EPA only targets municipalities that are likely to comply? If so, that's a hell of a way to enforce the law. If I as a homeowner got caught discharging my sewage into a creek, I could expect to be fined, maybe imprisoned. (Apparently, the rules also apply to cities like Scranton.)
But when a lawless city like Detroit does it, there's no enforcement, and it becomes everyone else's problem.
I think this illustrates a growing trend. Laws are written for -- and enforced against -- the law abiding.
Inside the mind of a key Coakley supporter
Before the race between Scott Brown and Martha Coakley, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had not been on my radar screen. Recently, though, his breathtakingly demagogic statements about the election forced me to pay attention. According to Menino, Massachusetts voters who support Scott Brown are doing so not because they want him to win (or because they don't like the eminently dislikable Martha Coakley), but because they want President Obama to fail:
Ahead of Obama's visit, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino told a largely black congregation that a Coakley loss will be a victory for people who want Obama to fail.Geez. You don't think that might be code language for the proposition that even though Coakley is white, it is racist to oppose her, do you?
How subtle and thoughtful Boston's Mayor is. Anyway, this made me want to know more about him, because, if he's a key Coakley supporter who goes out of his way to issue demagogic statements like that at a prayer service for Haitian earthquake victims, this doesn't speak well of Coakley.
As I said in a previous post, I'm hardly a "RAH-RAH" type Brown supporter (although I do strongly support him), but some things have too much of a stench to be ignored.
In that regard, I had read about SEIU goons being bused in to help Coakley, and while I didn't really have anything to add at the time, this morning I visited Mayor Menino's Wiki page, where I saw this gem of a picture staring me in the face:
Whether I'm too sensitive to stand the heat and should get the hell out of the kitchen is debatable, but I think images like that are enough to make many a fair-minded person of good will want to get the hell out of the kitchen. But isn't that precisely what Menino and his union goons want?
Menino is also one of the country's leading gun grabbers. Along with New York's Mayor Bloomberg, he co-founded and co-chairs the notorious Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition. To give you an idea of the way he thinks, in an incident in which a mom and grandmom failed to supervise children who played with a loaded gun left lying around, then lied to the police and falsely claimed the child was shot by an intruder, Mayor Menino blamed the NRA.
This guy epitomizes what is wrong with the Democrats, and he is one of Martha Coakley's key supporters. (Coakley seems to know how to return a favor, too.)
If anyone reading this blog is still looking for a good reason to support Scott Brown, look no further than Mayor Thomas Menino.
"conservatives hate gay people"
While I have briefly touched on the CPAC kerfluffle (Liberty University's Matt Barber and the boycott of CPAC over a gay conservative group being a co-sponsor), I really didn't get into the specifics -- especially about the gay conservative group, GOProud.
However, for those who are interested, John Hawkins' interview with GOProud's founder Christopher Barron is well worth reading. I had not known, for example, that GOProud was started as a breakaway group from the Log Cabin Republicans who believed Log Cabin did not represent gay conservatives. But what's particularly worth noting (especially for paranoid types like me who worry about "gay conservative" becoming an oxymoron via collusion) is that contrary to what the left would have people believe, conservatives have been overwhelmingly supportive of GOProud:
HAWKINS: Now from what I've seen in the blogosphere, conservative bloggers have been almost universally supportive of GOProud, not Liberty University. What do you think the general reaction has been to the whole controversy?I wouldn't expect to see that in the leftie blogs or in the mainstream media. That's because they want nothing more than to see Matt Barber be considered a spokesman for "conservatism." And probably for "Christianity" too. Cherry-picking from the most unreasonable opposition voices and characterizing them as "opposition mainstream" is an old tactic. Such a tactic is great for preaching to the choir and rallying the troops because it's what the hard core activists want to believe, but unfortunately, it often works on non-ideological people who are not knowledgeable enough to evaluate such things. (Or on stupid people, who simply can't.)
If there's one thing I've learned in nearly seven years of blogging, it's that noting the dishonesty of such tactics has not made them stop. Of course, I guess if William F. Buckley could stand the task of standing athwart history yelling Stop! for so many decades, then I should be able to stand athwart activists yelling Stop!
Their dishonest tactics might not stop, but because collusion involves stealth, the more people know about it, the harder the game becomes.
N987SA? What a cryptic title for a post. So let me start with September of 2007 and an airplane crash.
According to several mexican newspapers, G-II reg. N987SA went down this morning in Yucatan, Mexico, about 20 nm from MID.Did some one get greedy and carry more cocaine than he could fly with? Or was it just pilot error?
That is just the opening part of the story. Let us look at a second clue. Here is a bit on torture taxis.
When U.S. civilian airplanes were spotted in late 2002 taking trips to and from Andrews Air Force Base, and making stops in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, journalists and plane-spotters wondered what was going on. It soon became clear that these planes were part of the largest covert operation since the Cold War era. Called extraordinary rendition, the practice involves CIA officials or contractors kidnapping people and sending them to secret prisons around the world where they are held and often tortured, either at the hands of the host-country's government or by CIA personnel themselves.OK. Individuals were subjected to stress tests to get information out of them. And it was going on in the Clinton Administration.
Al Gore had a few brilliant words on the subject.
Once when Richard Clarke, President Clinton's chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council, "proposed a snatch," Vice-President Al Gore said, "That's a no-brainer. Of course it's a violation of international law, that's why it's a covert action. The guy is a terrorist. Go grab his ass."OK. Back to the airplane story.
Roychoudhuri: In the book, you make clear that the rendition program has been around for years. What has changed?You are probably wondering about the book. Here is a link:
Well time to tie this into one big happy package. And you will never guess. It is connected to the drug war.
For their part, the Latin Americans, under a new generation of more self-confident leaders, are tired of being hectored about their failings by the US, the world's principal source of cannabis whose agents continue the drug dealing they indulged in during the Iran-Contra affair of the Reagan years.Well the aircraft is N987SA not N9875A. And their crash story is a year off. Which I put down to sloppy reporting. But the cocaine was there. And the back hualling of drugs to cover the costs of CIA covert missions has been going on (with unknown frequency) since the Viet Nam War. As detailed in Alfred McCoy's book:
And just for your amusement Mel Gibson was in a movie loosely based on the information in McCoy's book. The movie:
So am I upset about the CIA bringing drugs into America? Not exactly. What I object to is the War On Drugs that makes them worth bringing in to America by our clandestine service. If we are going to have a clandestine service it should be controlled by the public purse and not be able to freelance operations from drug profits. And the only way to do that is to end the Drug War charade where the government fights drugs on the one hand and traffics in them on the other.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, January 18, 2010
Climategate The Book
Steve Mosher (an online friend of mine) has written a book about the unfolding of the ClimateGate Story. From the first discovery of the files to the world wide reactions to the e-mail and data release.
Here is what Anthony Watts has to say about the book:
I've read the book, and it appears to be an accurate and detailed portrayal of the history not only of the Climategate events and the players, but also of the events leading up to it. I'm flattered that this book mentions me and my surfacestations project several times. I was interviewed for the book, and this website is featured prominently-and they borrowed liberally from both the posts and the comments.Moshpit (as his friends know him) has a wicked sense of humor besides being a real brainiac. His on line writing can be deep (for very technical subjects) or breezy and easy to understand when covering human foibles. Since this book is of the later variety (for the most part) I expect a good read.
I can't wait to get my copy. And Volume 1? Does that mean a sequel? Here is hoping.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Can we make Hugo and Danny happy?
Hugo Chavez has just reminded me why I shouldn't be buying his gas (even though it's cheaper and therefore tempting).
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez on Sunday accused the United States of using the earthquake in Haiti as a pretext to occupy the devastated Caribbean country and offered to send fuel from his OPEC nation.Right. And I'm sure if the U.S. did as he wanted and pulled out, he'd blame us for not caring.
Besides, as Danny Glover says, the earthquake was caused by global warming. Glover is a high profile supporter of Chavez, who bankrolls his films, (including one about Haiti).
So I think the least we can do is send in the Marines -- as many as it takes to put a stop to that nasty earthquake-starting climate change thingie once and for all.
Then we can all kiss and make up.
H/T Commenter simentt via e-mail who saw it at Karl Denninger's blog.
My only comment: Youtube appears to have taken this down several times, but it keeps reappearing. I found several incantations along with people hosting the raw FLV file.Cross Posted at Power and Control
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be conservative hairdressers!
The answer seems disappointingly simple -- liberal want to be professors, while conservatives don't:
The overwhelmingly liberal tilt of university professors has been explained by everything from outright bias to higher I.Q. scores. Now new research suggests that critics may have been asking the wrong question. Instead of looking at why most professors are liberal, they should ask why so many liberals -- and so few conservatives -- want to be professors.Longwinded, secular, tweed jacket-owner though I may be, I have to say that I never fantasized about growing up to be a nerdy pipe-smoker pontificating to a captive audience. But now that I'm supposedly grown, it doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Too late for that! Funny how life turns out.
What also caught my attention was the wonderful accompanying graph showing the proportions of liberalism, moderatism and conservatism in the different occupations:
Now that's a nice chart! As a former nightclub owner (who necessarily had to learn to be a bartender), it didn't escape me that the largest "moderate" group consisted of bartenders. Interestingly, they are overwhelmingly moderate to conservative, but only a small percentage will go so far as to actually call themselves "conservative." If you're a bartender, your goal is to keep the customers as relaxed and happy as possible, and expressing ideological rigidity of any sort is just not wise. Not if you want to keep 'em happy, and get nice tips. Best thing to do is agree a lot, and take as broad a view of things as possible. And while liberal bartenders outnumber conservative bartenders by a wide margin, I suspect this would tend more to reflect a custom and practice of "fitting in" with the clientele than heart-felt ideological convictions, and I would be willing to bet that your average liberal bartender would be more tolerant of a conservative customer than would a college professor be tolerant of a conservative student. A successful bartender is unlikely to see his job as indoctrination.
I don't know why they left the stereotypically "gay" jobs off the list, though. Funny, because the authors touch on the nursing profession -- males nurses of course being a source of laughter:
....For instance, less than 6 percent of nurses today are men. Discrimination against male candidates may be a factor, but the primary reason for the disparity is that most people consider nursing to be a woman's career, Mr. Gross said. That means not many men aspire to become nurses in the first place -- a point made in the recent Lee Daniels film "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." When John (Lenny Kravitz) asks the 16-year-old Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) and her friends whether they've ever seen a male nurse before, all answer no amid giddy laughter.As to why there are no categories for "gay" jobs such as hairdressers, interior decorators, dancers, choreographers, etc., I don't know. Nor are stereotypically "straight" jobs such as construction worker or auto mechanic listed.
Nor are lawyers. Out of all the things I have done in my life (I have worked construction, as an auto mechanic, a plumber, an electrician, and attorney), only bartending is listed. What's up with that? And where's the military?
Lots of boys want to grow up to be auto mechanics and soliders, right? As to those who want to grow up to be hairdressers, well... Many parents would raise an eyebrow or two over that one, although John Waters's classic Female Trouble created a tortured exception in the form of Edith Massey, who played a woman whose nephew was straight and wanted to be an auto mechanic, but was forced into hairdressing by Aunt Ida who kept trying to turn him gay.
MORE: I mistakenly called Aunt Ida the "mother." Error corrected.
I resent my guilt
For reasons that are not entirely clear, I feel like writing about guilt today. Perhaps I should feel guilty for daring to write about guilt when we are supposed to be, um, celebrating. It's a holiday, right? Holidays are for celebrating, right? So what sort of weirdo would feel guilty on the occasion of a holiday? And what sort of double triple weirdo would feel guilty for writing about guilt? Perhaps it's not guilt I feel. Perhaps it's resentment. Guilt and resentment are closely linked, and one fuels the other in an endless cycle of bitter self-recrimination. Especially when the guilt is not for anything the individual actually did.
Not that guilt isn't a great way to manipulate people. Unless we are sociopaths, all of us have a natural reservoir of irrational guilt which can be tapped into by those who gratuitously offer something to fill the void. It's like, if you're feeling guilt about something and someone who seems to have expertise or authority comes along and supplies a reason for the guilt, that can make you feel better in the same way that the explained is always more emotionally satisfying than the unexplained. Still, there are those rationally stubborn people who don't accept guilt for things that they didn't do (much less things that their ancestors didn't do).
If this all seems silly, consider that there was a time when Christians officially considered Jews to be collectively responsible for the killing of Christ. Glad I wasn't a Jew or a Christian in those days. It must have really sucked to be a rational person.
At least now we're all enlightened and stuff.
(Earlier I was toying with the idea of a guilt-free, resentment holiday, but screw it. We should all feel resentful over guilt, and guilty over resentment! Builds character!)
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Grass roots convention, minus the grass roots?
I very much hope that this indictment of the Tea Party Movement is either exaggerated or untrue:
The Nashville linup also would appear to rebut another commonly held argument that the Tea Party Movement's independence is guaranteed by its fundamentally libertarian character, so incompatible with the GOP's heavy reliance on cultural conservatives and foreign-policy neocons. Palin is, of course, the maximum heroine of cultural conservatives. Bachmann is famous for questioning the patriotism of any and all Democrats. Beyond that, Tea Party Convention panelists include the Christian Right warhorse Rick Scarborough of Vision America (notable, among other things, for his advocacy of global conflict with Muslims) and Judge Roy Moore, the famous "Ten Commandments Judge" who's a favorite of theocrats everywhere. No genuine libertarian would embrace this crew.(Via Ann Althouse, who asks whether the Tea Party Movement is in fact an independent "third force" in American politics.)
Much as I like Sarah Palin, I think Roy Moore is a loon, and I don't think he represents the Tea Party Movement of the sort I have seen around here. Nor does WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah, who was also a speaker. (And as Ed Morrissey notes, the American Liberty Association pulled out.)
My impression of the Tea Party people I've met is that they are genuinely grass roots, small-l libertarian types, on the right side of the spectrum but beholden to no one. Of course, there's a smattering of social and conservatives, but that doesn't seem to be their main shtick. As to what this so called "Tea Party Convention" is all about, it beats me.I wasn't invited, and I probably wouldn't have been welcome.
From what I've read, the grass roots don't seem to be showing.
Why I'm glad Pat Robertson isn't a Commie
A piece in the Wall Street Journal has made me feel the need to elaborate on an earlier post I wrote about Haiti. The irony is that according to the Journal, where it came to the recent quake, it paid to be poor:
CITE SOLEIL, Haiti -- For once, it paid off to be the poorest among Haiti's poor.In my post, (which contemplated what we affluent Americans might call "normal" housing), I opined that crummy building materials and poor construction standards were most likely responsible for much of the quake damage:
I do not doubt that ramshackle buildings in Haiti (along with the mud brick structures responsible for so many deaths in Iran's 2003 quake) would be considered more "green" by those who deliver homilies about "sustainability." (Oh, yes....) Well-meaning people advocate construction of "sustainable brick homes" in Haiti. And here's a "sustainable" Haitian earth bag building. No idea how well they "sustained" the quake, but sustainable is often code-language for cheap. Not that concrete is necessarily better than brick, especially because it appears many of the cheaply made Haitian concrete buildings simply "pancaked":I probably should not have used the word "ramshackle" so lightly because in retrospect, it appears that if you know a major quake is coming, ramshackle buildings are the way to go -- provided they are not made of mud, inferior bricks or crummy concrete. (And provided, of course, that they're not perched on a hillside....)
This picture illustrates -- in stark contrast -- two types of residential buildings found in Haiti.
While I am sure that most Americans would be more likely to pity the people having to live in them, you would be more likely to survive a quake living in the tin shacks in the foreground than in the multi-level concrete apartment buildings in the background. Relatively speaking, affluence is more deadly in a Haitian earthquake.
It might be ironic, but who said life was fair?
In terms of seismic safety, the ideal living structure would be a small, sturdy, modular unit. Something like this:
How is that going to collapse? It might roll around a bit, but unless it were crushed by falling debris, all you'd have to do would be to find a relatively level surface for it.
Not that I'm advocating that human beings live in doghouses, but OTOH, there is an overlooked form of cheap housing which would hold up quite well in any earthquake God might care to throw -- and that is the common shipping container.
They're easily available all over the world, and while I don't know what they go for now, I can remember when they could be purchased for a couple of thousand dollars. There is of course a major container housing movement, and they can be welded together, enlarged, and made to look surprisingly elegant:
I'd be willing to live in a container myself, except Codes and Inspections would never allow it in this country. But think about it; if there's a quake, a container might roll around if you haven't chained or bolted it into the ground, but it will still be a container, and you'd be unlikely to be crushed to death.
What matters the most in terms of survival, though, is where you are at the time of the quake. If you're at work in a multilevel building made of cheap concrete, you'll just end up flattened between huge concrete pancakes.
Which means that affluent people with jobs were the ones most likely to be killed.
Were I one of those people who likes to see the hand of God in everything, I might be tempted to ask whether God has Communist leanings, but I don't think that way and I wouldn't want to give left-wing crackpots ideas.
Nerd Night Report
If you've never been to a Nerd Nite before, here's how it goes down. Take a college PowerPoint seminar on bird migration or muscular dystrophy or nuclear fusion or what have you, and hold it late at night in a hip bar in DUMBO. Allow anyone to present on any scientific subject, regardless of obscurity, social appropriateness, or sobriety. Yes. It is exactly as crazy and surreal as you imagine. And it is great.Here is my original announcement of Nerd Night with fusion.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
I am delighted to announce that with any luck, we will have another co-blogger here at Classical Values, Sarah Hoyt. I'll let Sarah speak for herself, but for now I'll just point out that she is an accomplished, published writer, whose current book is Darkship Thieves. She has graced this blog as a reader and commenter for many years, and I am just tickled pink that she might actually write posts. As to what might be in them, let the mystery unfold, because I have no idea, and I never direct anyone, so I am not about to tell her what to write, when to write, or how often. I just hope she does, and I hope she enjoys it.
I am sure the readers will too!
Saturday, January 16, 2010
It isn't every day that I don't have to hold my nose...
While I don't shy away from writing about politics, crass political advocacy is just not my style. Which is why -- despite the fact that I have donated to his campaign twice -- I have refrained until now from writing posts about Scott Brown's candidacy. I find the guy genuinely refreshing, and obviously the Massachusetts voters do too, because while things are still close, it looks as if he has a good chance of actually winning. That's saying something, considering that he's a Republican, and the state is Massachusetts.
Not only is this a crucial race at a crucial time (as it would deny the Democrats their supermajority which they have used to ram through unconstitutional legislation), but Scott Brown's opponent just plain stinks. Martha Coakley is the epitome of an anointed candidate who thinks she should not have to run, and her disgraceful record as District Attorney ought to horrify any libertarian. The sickening litany -- of innocent people sent to prison based on nonsensical "recovered-memory" testimony, including the notorious Amirault/Fells Acres day care case -- is detailed in a piece by Radley Balko which Glenn Reynolds linked. Balko also cites a personal exchange he had with her over the drug issue: she is one of those people who advocates depriving patients of pain-killers lest they become addicted:
I had my own exchange with Coakley in the letters section of The Boston Globe a few years ago over the issue of prescription pain medication. Coakley had told the paper that "accidental addiction" to opiate pain medications such as OxyContin was a common problem among chronic pain patients, despite considerable medical evidence to the contrary. Such wrongheaded statements by law enforcement officials and the policies that go with them are a big reason why doctors have become increasingly reluctant to treat pain patients. Coakley conceded that she's "no medical expert" but then went on to question the body of medical literature showing accidental addiction to be a myth. Coakley cited only her own experience as a DA to contradict the litany of peer-reviewed medical research.I don't have time to check her record, but I shudder to think what "experience" that might be. Sending doctors to prison, perhaps?
For those who aren't familiar with the Amirault case,
If the sound of ghostly laughter is heard in Massachusetts these days as this campaign rolls on, with Martha Coakley self-portrayed as the guardian of justice and civil liberties, there is good reason. Coakley is so bad that I would support almost anyone who ran against her -- even someone I didn't like.
But far from being the latter, Scott Brown is a genuinely refreshing candidate. I say this as someone who has become very, very accustomed to holding my nose. The last time was that guy in upstate New York whose name I couldn't remember, who said he was another Reagan but who had all the charm of an embalmed cadaver. Unfortunately, appearances do matter. In order to win, candidates need to demonstrate at minumum that they are living, breathing, human beings. Yet as I say, if an embalmed cadaver were running against Coakley, I would unhesitatingly vote for the embalmed cadaver. But I would of course need to hold my nose.
Well, not this time. Scott Brown both looks good, and sounds good. His background shows him to be a real person and not a professional candidate, and I like his politics:
Brown's opinions on the issues are a mixture of liberal and conservative ideas, which he has called "fiscally conservative and socially conscious."As to how he looks, I've checked him out. Not only is he no cadaver, he has a genuinely sincere and winning style.
Watch for yourself.
Here he is, with Rudy Giuiliani, speaking about how the "Bank Tax Will Be Paid By The Middle Class":
(Not to complain, but I do think that if he'd gotten Giuliani to wear a dress, the video would get more hits.)
And in this one, "Scott Brown Discusses The Support He Has Received From Everyday Voters"
Well, I am glad to say that in this instance, I am one of those everyday voters. But because I have this blog, I'd like to think I can do a little more than contribute money to help him win.
So at the risk of sounding crassly political, I strongly urge you to help too.
As I say, I try to keep political endorsements to a minimum, and I don't carry on about candidates. But this is an unusual situation. It isn't every day I endorse a candidate (much less ask readers to help), but in all honesty, I can't think of the last time I didn't have to hold my nose.
Please contribute if you can.
UPDATE: For more on Scott Brown, Rick Moran has a fascinating in-depth analysis.
The people of Massachusetts began to realize that sending Scott Brown to the United States Senate is a golden opportunity to let the politicians in D.C. know that they are fed up with a stinking economy, the jobless recovery, the maniacal spending, and the obsessive concentration on a health care reform bill even liberal Massachusettians oppose.It's about time for someone to breath new life into the GOP in the moribund Northeast.
Read it all.
MORE: I realize that this is hardly a RAH-RAH post, but "RAH-RAH!" just isn't my style. However, if you want RAH-RAH, check out this video of what was supposed to be a Coakley rally! The RAH-RAHs don't seem to be going her way.
Damn, there are even SEIU supporters for Brown!
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)
Friday, January 15, 2010
US government gives bin Laden a Commie hairdo
Yeah, I know. Today seems to be Conspiracy Theory Day at Classical Values...
Anyway, I don't know what to make of this, but our State Department has been playing some sort of head games -- literally -- with PhotoShopping. As José Guardia demonstrates, they have stolen the hairdo from the head of Spanish Communist Party boss Gaspar Llamazares, and placed it on a hypothetical version of how Osama bin Laden might look today.
Take a look.
So why the makeover with the Spanish Commie hairdo?
They could just as easily have given him a haircut like the ones shown here:
And for that matter, what makes them so sure that he has a full head of hair, anyway? When was the last time anyone saw him without his turban?
But I guess we'll never know the answers to any of these questions.
Another day, another hairy conspiracy theory!
MORE: Not to toot my own horn, but since a commenter below noted that "these fuckers took over 60k from me last year for this shit," I think it's probably fair to remind readers that Commie/Osama PhotoShops are not new to this blog!
The caption was "72 virgins my ass!"
And the State Department never paid me so much as one lousy dime!
MORE: The Detroit Free Press has picked up on the PhotoShop in a story today headlined today "Bin Laden photos outrage Spanish politician."
MADRID, Spain -- A Spanish lawmaker said he was horrified to learn that the FBI used an online photograph of him to create an image showing what Osama bin Laden might look like today.
The conspiracy theory conspiracy theory
(a call for censorship that wasn't there)
I am no fan of Cass Sunstein, but when I read (via a link from M. Simon) that he advocates a government ban on conspiracy theories, I nearly blew a gasket. After all, the man is often said to be a serious contender for nomination to the Supreme Court.
Here is what Sunstein is reported as having said:
In a lengthy academic paper, President Obama's regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, argued the U.S. government should ban "conspiracy theorizing."OK, I know it gets tired, but that's what WorldNetDaily reported. Tired as I am of debunking conspiracy theories (or, in this case, a conspiracy theory conspiracy theory), I downloaded and read Cass Sunstein's paper. He does not argue that the U.S. government should ban conspiracy theories. He considers it for the sake of argument and specifically rejects it as inconsistent with freedom of expression as well as self-defeating. Here's a screen shot from page 20:
The relevant text reads as follows:
The most direct response to a dangerous conspiracy theories is censorship. That response is unavailable in an open society, because it is inconsistent with principles of freedom of expression. We could imagine circumstances in which a conspiracy theory became so pervasive, and so dangerous, that censorship would be thinkable. But in an open society, the need for censorship would be correspondingly reduced. In any case censorship may well turn out to be self-defeating. The effort to censor the theory might well be taken as evidence that the theory is true, and censorship of speech is notoriously difficult.At most, he hypothesizes that censorship might be "thinkable" in less than an open society, but even then he thinks it would be self defeating.
Sorry, but I'm just not seeing a call for censorship there.
While I have never liked Sunstein's condescending attitude (his proposal for "cognitive infiltration of extremist groups" strikes me as problematic at best), once again WND has tortured the facts, and has come up with a brand new truth, which will no doubt be what its readers want to hear.
I realize it's not exciting to say that Sunstein didn't really call for censorship, and now I'm worried that some WND readers might see me as his apologist -- which I don't mean to be.
To all who are offended by any appearance I might have conveyed of being a Sunstein apologist, I offer my deepest apologies.
As I'm already knee-deep in conspiring against the conspiracy theory conspiracy theory, I guess it would behoove me to conspire against those who conspire against the conspiracy theorists, but hey, I didn't start this and I don't see why I have to engage in counter-counter-conspiracy-theory theorizing.
I think Cass Sunstein would have done well to leave this whole thing alone. People who want to believe things are going to go looking for what they want to believe, and the people who give them what they want to believe are going to keep right on giving.
I realize it will sound like another conspiracy theory, but in my darker moments, I often suspect that many so-called "conspiracy theories" are deliberately manufactured by relatively intelligent troll types to entertain or mislead dumber or more gullible audiences.
Are we living on an angry red planet that wants to be green?
Speaking of believers in nutty deities, in a comment to my post about Pat Robertson's latest idiotarian remarks, Veeshir pointed out a gem from Danny Glover (which Glenn Reynolds linked last night). Says Glover:
"When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I'm sayin'?"To which Blair quips that it would have been more newsworthy had Glover implicated a "less-fashionable deity." Yes, it certainly would. At the very least, Glover would have lost his right to say "KOOBA."
This "debate" (if it is that) between competing deities raises an interesting question; whether it makes more sense to attribute a vengeful mindset to God or to a planet. The former is said to be pissed off about a deal with Satan, while the latter is said to be pissed off about a bad deal in Copenhagen.
We don't have to "choose" between these two deities, do we?
If so, what are the implications for Intelligent Design?
A Scientific Hypothesis Gone Bad
You can also see a video by a coauthor of several of Willie Soon's climate papers, Sallie Baliunas, at Death To Skeptics. And for those of you who haven't watched the video yet, Willie Soon is one of the scientist discussing the relationship of CO2 to global warming.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Diddlin With The Data
Ira (17:00:53) :In another comment further up thread:
Walter Cronanty (16:50:08) :I guess they were too embarrassed to make the change all at once.
It seems to me that if you are going to commit a fraud you should be really bold about it. This edging up to the desired results just invites more scrutiny.
It appears that the folks involved are bad at science and worse at fraud. Isn't it about time we had some competent criminals working this scam? It is an outrage that government funds are paying for this level of incompetence.
I like this suggestion:
Michael In Sydney (15:53:58) :So here are some useful links towards that end:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
December Retail Sales Not So Hot
Here is some chilling news about the American economy.
Retail sales unexpectedly fell in December, leaving 2009 with the biggest yearly drop on record and highlighting the formidable hurdles facing the economy as it struggles to recover from the deepest recession in seven decades.Does this mean that all of Obama's attacks on small business are finally bearing fruit? Very likely.
Here is one man's opinion. He has a loud voice though.
And basically what Obama said today was that he doesn't know how to stimulate growth in the private sector. He doesn't know how to do it. He has to bring in a bunch of people to now segregate in groups, and he's gonna check back with them later this afternoon to get their ideas. He doesn't know how to do it. I mean, if you know how to watch these things as I do, that's what just happened here. Now, what Obama wants people to think is he's got his sleeves rolled up and he's working hard on it and he knows that growth can only come in the private sector. That's what he says. He's saying all the right things.That was from 3 December 2009.
And here is a good one from July of 2009.
On Wednesday, President Obama endorsed a House committee's plan to ensure American taxpayers will face a higher top marginal tax rate than either communist China or Cuba.Did it pass? I haven't looked. But it doesn't matter. It is the attitude behind it that businesses factor in to their calculations. Is the government going to be helpful or punitive?
And why do taxes need to go up? Pretty simple. If the government doesn't remove from the economy a LOT of the greenbacks it injected there is going to be horrendous inflation down the pike. Which is going to happen any way. Because when you tax something you get less of it. And more greenbacks chasing fewer goods and services? Sounds like inflation to me no matter which way you cut it.
I look forward to prices on Whip Inflation Now buttons rising. Real soon now.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
NASA Caught Cooking The Books
Is nothing sacred any more? I guess not. NASA has been caught cooking climate data.
Climate researchers have discovered that NASA researchers improperly manipulated data in order to claim 2005 as "THE WARMEST YEAR ON RECORD." KUSI-TV meteorologist, Weather Channel founder, and iconic weatherman John Coleman will present these findings in a one-hour special airing on KUSI-TV on Jan.14 at 9 p.m. A related report will be made available on the Internet at 6 p.m. EST on January 14th at www.kusi.com.Say it isn't so. NASA? One of our most respected scientific and engineering establishments. A sad day for America.
The special tonight at 9 PM Pacific time (7PM Central and 05:00 Friday January 15, 2010 GMT) can be found at KUSI * Global Warming - The Other Side
H/T Betruger Talk Polywell
Cross Posted at Power and Control
"Sustainability." A rich lecture directed at the poor.
There is nothing fair about natural disasters, nor is it fair the way some people and some countries are afflicted more severely than others when faced by similar disasters.
I agree with what Johnathan Pearce said here:
richer countries, with superior building standards and better means of rescuing those in danger, tend to fare better when nature strikes.Pearce links Rand Simberg, who sees an additional culprit
The devastation in that benighted country (our own little bit of Africa in the western hemisphere) demonstrates how deadly it can be to be poor, and why attempts to hold back economic growth in the third world with things like Kyoto and cap'n'tax are almost genocidal.I do not doubt that ramshackle buildings in Haiti (along with the mud brick structures responsible for so many deaths in Iran's 2003 quake) would be considered more "green" by those who deliver homilies about "sustainability." (Oh, yes....) Well-meaning people advocate construction of "sustainable brick homes" in Haiti. And here's a "sustainable" Haitian earth bag building. No idea how well they "sustained" the quake, but sustainable is often code-language for cheap. Not that concrete is necessarily better than brick, especially because it appears many of the cheaply made Haitian concrete buildings simply "pancaked":
Entire hillsides of homes appeared to have tumbled, while in other areas structures stood unaffected next to piles of dusty debris. Some buildings lay in pancake-like concrete heaps.Cheap, porous, sandy concrete sounds "sustainable," doesn't it?
In the aftermath of the quake, entire big-box apartment blocks had collapsed along roads carved into the hills. Rubble had blown out onto the roads. Next to the debris lay bodies, their faces dutifully covered by sheets.I have no idea whether dead people are considered environmentally sustainable, and I probably shouldn't ask.
I agree with Reason Foundation's Samuel Staley,
Now is not the time to be adopting policies, domestically or globally, that make it more difficult to nation's such as Haiti to grow.Environmentalist concerns over "sustainability" strike me as a cruel joke right now -- about as compassionate as Pat Robertson's remarks about how the Haitians are responsible because of an 1803 deal with the devil.
Haitians need help, not lectures.
The Anchoress has a list of good places where you can donate.
Giving the devil his due
As every respected blog with which I'm familiar in the libertarian and conservative blogosphere is criticizing Pat Robertson's attempt to blame an alleged Haitian pact with the devil (and thus today's Haitians) for the earthquake, it would hardly seem worthy of another post. Except that I'm feeling devilish enough to play Devil's Advocate, and in the interests of fairness apply some simple rules of logic to Pat Robertson's argument under the assumption that everything he says is right.
In that regard, I think Gay Patriot asks a good question:
How Did Pat Robertson Learn Details of Pact with the Devil?The details of the pact seem to be known only to Robertson, who said this:
Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. . . . They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'To which Gay Patriot responds:
Pat wasn't around two hundred years ago when the Haitians threw off French tyranny. So, I don't think the Haitians around back then would be able to inform him. And when I studied Haitian history (for a paper on the Vodou mythology) and didn't find any details of such a pact. And, well, since it's not in history books, the only way Pat could know is if . . .Well, he may theoretically have an inside line to Satan's dealings with Haiti's revolutionaries. This inside line might be to Satan. But then again it might be to God. Unless Robertson explains, we may never know.
As Jake Tapper explained, Robertson's contention seems to derive from a legend about Haitian leader Jean Jacques Dessalines:
Robertson's tale stems from a legend that Jean Jacques Dessalines, who led the Haitian revolution against the French Army, entered into a pact with Satan disguised as a voodoo deity in exchange for a military victory, which finally happened in 1803.OK, I have to start somewhere, so let's assume that legend is true. A general made a deal with Satan in 1803. And because of that, God was so pissed off that in 2010 he decided to kill thousands of innocent Haitians who were not born when the deal with Satan was made.
While I am not so arrogant as to claim that such a thing is impossible (because there is such a thing as infinity, and infinite possibilities might include anything), I have to say that if it is true, the implications about the nature of the god that would do such a thing are hardly reassuring. To call such behavior arbitrary and tyrannical would be understatement. Yet if Pat Robertson is right, the god in which he believes did just that. And apparently, Robertson thinks monstrous retaliation against innocent people for an act done by someone long ago is OK, and that a God who does that is worthy of worship.
IMHO, it's a hell of a way to sell religion, but there must be people who want God to be like that (a sort of great terrorist in the sky, if you will) or else they wouldn't be buying.
At the risk of sounding like a moral relativist, I'm inclined to say to each his own, but again, I wish they'd join the Democratic Party so they could be with the believers in other nutty deities.
As a fellow Yale Law School graduate, I'd have to say that the Reverend Robertson isn't one of our alma mater's more impressive products.I'm glad I'm not a conspiracy theorist, because it's talk like that that invites speculation about the notorious secret voodoo rites that have been going on for years at Yale -- and were even said to have triggered Hurricane Ike!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Mohammed Does Not Go To The Met...
"We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands."
That's the safe play. It's a temporal version of Pascal's Wager: terrorism isn't certain, but the risk of offending people who might introduce some PETN-powered brushstrokes to "Starry Night" from the pallette of human innards is clearly higher than disappointing people interested in the history of art. Of course, it goes without saying that these concerns do not run equally towards all faiths.
Sigh. I suppose if Christians want parity in respect, we should be recruiting our own brigades of ax-swingers and splodeydopes, but I did a little reading and apparently our founder's view on disrespecting our creed was some p***y-a** nonsense about "turning the other cheek" (like that's going to strike fear into the hearts of infidels). And as far as I can tell, none of our sects have any proviso for a bevy of pliant virgins on higher planes in the event of pious detonation. So Jihad For Jesus is going to be an uphill climb, to say the least. Meanwhile, I guess we'll have to settle for the smug moral superiority of suffering figurative slings and arrows in both cheeks.
When catastrophe strikes, the crackpots follow
Pat Robertson never seems to miss an opportunity to make a horse's ass of himself, and the latest is his attempt to blame the disastrous Haitian earthquake on a "pact" he says a Haitian made with Satan in 1803, for which God has retaliated:
On the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club" today, after a lengthy interview with a missionary who talked about helping the victims earthquake in Haiti, Rev. Pat Robertson had some interesting thoughts as to why the earthquake struck the impoverished nation:Actually, this particular crackpot meme is not unique to Robertson. A loopy WorldNetDaily writer named Janet Folger has also maintained that Haiti is "dedicated to Satan."
America was dedicated to God, and Haiti was dedicated to Satan. Then, rag-tag America conquered the most powerful nation in the world and went on to become the richest nation in the world. Haiti went from the very richest to the very poorest nation in the world.The racist nonsense at the site Folger linked is appalling, and IMO unworthy of more discussion. (As is the notion that God would punish people today for something allegedly done by a general in 1803 -- which makes about as much sense as calling all Jews "Christ killers.")
The problem I have with Robertson and his ilk is that every time a disaster strikes, they appear out of the woodwork and opportunistically plug in their favorite villains for blame. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, it was of course God's punishment directed at the homos. (Never mind that the French Quarter escaped with minimal damage...)
Inevitably, San Francisco will have another large earthquake. I don't think it takes much imagination to guess who will be to blamed for "God's wrath."
If only these people could become Democrats! Global Warming would be a perfect outlet for their nutty theories.
"walk in Stalin's shoes and Hitler's shoes"
While I was disturbed to read about Oliver Stone's attempt to rehabilitate Stalin and Hitler in the eyes of young people (who need to "walk in Stalin's shoes and Hitler's shoes to understand their point of view"), considering Oliver Stone's history it's not surprising.
Still, I can't help find myself wondering whether Stone and the leftist professor who's writing for him are planning to factor in how far ahead of their times these leaders were in terms of helping reduce the human footprint on the earth.
We tend to think of Mao, Stalin and Hitler as the greatest mass murderers of all time, but has anyone bothered to calculate out how many tons of emissions they prevented? Sure, mistakes were made, but might these farsighted men have actually been pioneers acting in the long term interests of the planet?Anyway, I came up with an image to inspire them.
What better way to put mass murderers in context?
I contacted a friend who works for the Senate Republican Conference on Thursday, November 19, 2009 11:41 PM Central Time. Which would have been 20 Nov at 05:41 GMT.
M. Simon (Comment#23855) November 20th, 2009 at 1:16 amThe time in the comment is Central Time.
Based on that comment Steve Mosher contacted me on 24 November to learn more about my Senate contact. Revised: I contacted Steve on Friday, November 20, 2009 1:19 AM Central Time about my Senate Contact and he got back to me on the 24th.
I stayed up all night that night (I keep programmers hours so it was no hardship) and had one of the most fun nights of my life. Because I knew this was the jenga stick that would bring the whole corrupt Climate "Science" edifice down.
Some more resources:
Telegraph UK on Steve Mosher and breaking the story of ClimateGate.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
The Limits of Science
From Tim Blair, the amusingly flawed history of "consensus" as reported in the NYT:
-- 1955: "Sun power still is a losing proposition in dollars and cents. But experts agree that its prospects never have looked so good."
Another victory for the alpha males?
Earlier today, four male Saudi Arabian passengers disrupted a flight from Seattle to Detroit, terrifying the passengers and causing the plane to be stopped short of the gate after it landed, upon which they were taken off without any charges filed:
MyFoxDetroit.com - Sources tell Fox 2 that a flight from Amsterdam into Detroit Metropolitan Airport was held on the tarmac after landing because of unruly behavior by some of the passengers.From the video it seems they were saying deliberately provocative things in Arabic. Either they're terrorists engaged in probing the system, or they're just thumbing their noses.
My question is simple. Why in the hell are these malevolent Saudis allowed to fly on planes? Not only have most of the hijackers been Saudis, but the Wahabbist religion to which most of them adhere is diametrically opposed to everything about the West, especially the United States. I have no problem with "good Saudis" being allowed to come here and travel (and I am sure there are good Saudis) but I don't think anyone in our government is doing the necessary ideological screening. Why not?
Not to be unduly paranoid, but as I said earlier,
I'm wondering whether the terrorists who want to kill Americans are regarded as the Alphas, by the social experimenters who regard the rest of us as Betas.Look, I'm not into being a macho male or any of that stuff, but it just bothers me to think that these guys are seeing us as total wimps. And laughing.
Um, would anyone care to lay odds on whether these Saudi probers will be allowed to fly again?
Where's the brave art world that stood up to John Ashcroft?
Art in the West has a long tradition of never shying away from controversy, and as New York is supposed to be on the cutting edge, the last place you'd expect to see censorship would be in New York's art museums, right?
Wrong. Controversial art may be one thing, but if the controversy involves Islam, the trendy elitists behave in a manner that rivals uptight Victorians who feared they might offend the "vicar's daughter."
In the Victorians' defense, it should be pointed out that they didn't literally live in fear of the vicar's daughter (any more than John Ashcroft "feared" those who might have been offended by breasts on Justice Department statues); they were in their own way being "gentlemen." (Ashcroft's goal may also have been to avoid providing political adversaries with photo opportunities.) Today's censors are not behaving as "gentlemen," but as simple cowards.
Which is a roundabout way of expressing my disgust on reading about censorship at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to the New York Post, they have a bad case of "jihad jitters." "The Metropolitan Museum of Art," the Post reported yesterday, "quietly pulled images of the Prophet Mohammed from its Islamic collection and may not include them in a renovated exhibition area slated to open in 2011." Why? "The museum said the controversial images -- objected to by conservative Muslims who say their religion forbids images of their holy founder -- were 'under review.'"Roger Kimball notes the different standard that is applied to things that might offend prudes, or atheists:
"Controversial images"? You know what, I'll bet there are some prudish types who object to the exhibition of naked women. What is the met going to do about that? Maybe atheists object to all those depictions of Jesus Christ and his mother. How is the Met going to deal with those "controversial images"?What is being forgotten is that these images were produced by Muslims themselves. There has never been universal agreement in Islam that all representations of Muhammad are blasphemous. So why are American museums censoring themselves in accordance with the most restrictive interpretation? It's obvious why. They are afraid. The "fearless" art world that stands up to John Ashcroft wets their collective panties over the mutterings of Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Kimball predicts that we will be "seeing more and more of these disgusting rituals of surrender." In May of 2008, I noticed that the Philadelphia Art Museum singled out one of Frida Kahlo's for special mounting under a protective locked case because it included an image of Muhammad. Here it is:
(Top row, left to right: Akhenaten, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Zoroaster; Bottom row, left to right: Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, Luther, Napoleon, and Hitler).
At the time I praised the Philadelphia Art Museum for their courage in displaying the painting at all:
Of all the subjects in the painting, which one would so worry the curator that he felt the need to put it behind a protective encasement?So shame on the Met. But in light of their cowardice, I feel like asking a sarcastic question.
Can sandblasting the image of Muhammad from the Supreme Court building be far behind?
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and adding his thoughts. A warm welcome to all.
Comments invited -- agree or disagree.
Some Americans Need Help
From Random Traverse.
WASHINGTON, DC - Congress is considering sweeping legislation which will provide new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.There is more. Go read it.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
*Presentation 1If you have the time and the inclination a night out with the nerds could be fun. And if you want learn the basics of fusion energy so you can ask intelligent questions you can start by reading Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering
Polywell is a little more complicated. You can learn more about Polywell and its potential at: Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained
The American Thinker has a good article up with the basics.
And the best part? We Will Know In Two Years
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, January 11, 2010
The Money Bomb
Massachusetts may be in the process of electing a Republican to take Ted Kennedy's old seat. His name? Scott Brown.
Our good friend Abbey in Cleveland called us last night and said, "You're not going to believe this. So sit down".The goal of today's money bomb was $500,000. They passed that. A new goal was set $750,000. They passed that. There is a little over 5 hours until midnight (Mass. time). I want to help him to get over $1,000,000 before midnight. Thus this post.
For a hunky picture of Scott, Hill Buzz has the goods.
Hill Buzz also has some of Scott's centerfold pictures.
Any way. Those of you in this cash starved economy who can should send Scott some cash. A popular donation is $41, which stands for the 41st Senator against the socialist machine now ruling the country. And note I said ruling - not governing. Time to put the brakes on the aristocrats who don't want us to eat cake. They want it ALL for themselves.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Dying to go straight -- with henna dye!
Yemeni's top cleric Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani -- a man also said to be Osama bin Laden's spiritual advisor -- is not happy with the United States, which he thinks is planning a "foreign occupation" of Yemen:
SAN'A, Yemen - Yemen's most influential Islamic cleric, considered an al-Qaida-linked terrorist by the United States, warned Monday that the U.S.-backed fight against the terror group could lead to "foreign occupation" of the country.I had a bit of trouble reading the text because I became so distracted by the goofy-looking picture of al-Zindani.
What in the world is up with that? I wondered whether some prankster at Yahoo had playing PhotoShop games with his beard, because he's clearly too old to be naturally red-bearded at that age. But as I read on, I learned that the beard was dyed, and dying of beards is in the style of Islamic hardliners.
Al-Zindani laughed Monday as he dismissed the U.S. terror accusations against him at a news conference at his home in San'a.Sheesh.
This may explain why Osama bin Laden dyed his beard back in 2007.
Incidentallly, there does appear to be some religious justification for the dying. According to at least one interpretation of Islamic law, the idea is for Muslims to distinguish themselves from Jews and Christians (who apparently aren't supposed to use dye):
Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, quoted the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) as saying, 'The Jews and Christians do not dye their hair, so be different from them.'I won't quote the whole thing, but I did find the red henna dye specifically mentioned -- for those who want to be on the straight path:
Some scholars do not consider the use of black dye as permissible except during time of war, with possibility of making the enemy thrown off balance by seeing all Muslim soldiers in their blossoming youth.Well, you learn something every day.
I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
Sarah Palin Gets Her Old Job Back
Not as Governor Of Alaska. She is going to be a TV commentator on FOX News.
Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, will return to her broadcast roots and take her conservative message to Fox News as a regular commentator, the cable channel announced Monday.I'm sure this is going to get the people who call it Faux News into a froth.
This opportunity gives her a chance to change her reputation.
Here is what she looked like back in the day:
Cross Posted at Power and Control
IPCC Scientist - Thirty Years Of Cooling
I guess the Catastrophic Global Warming scare is officially over. At least according to one IPCC scientist.
The research has been carried out by eminent climate scientists, including Professor Mojib Latif. He is a leading member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.I guess the decline got too big to hide.
And if half the heating was due to ocean cycles then the estimated effects of CO2 (and that is all they ever were - estimates) are much smaller than estimated. And if the Svensmark cloud experiments at CERN give us better numbers on cloud/cosmic ray interactions the contribution of CO2 to the planet's energy balance may be smaller yet.
May I suggest you get your copy of Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming as soon as possible. It will become a collectors item
And books like Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor are likely to become texts books on how venal politicians (you know any who aren't?) and the madness of crowds (and a credulous main stream media) drove the whole movement.
My question for now: is Al Gore going to give back his Nobel Prize? Will his Academy Award be moved out of the documentary category and be reclassified as entertainment? Don't hold your CO2.
H/T Watts Up With That who has much more.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Cooling is warming!
It didn't take long for the people who want to rule us to say just that.
I like Don Surber's take:
Global cooling proves global warming.We have always been at war with global
And if you're skeptical about the party's latest position, you deserve to die!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Unregulated Drugs! In the kitchen!
While I'm a skeptic about alternative (or naturopathic) medicine, if I hear about a treatment for the more annoying symptoms of the common cold, I'm quite willing to check it out, especially if it's harmless. And if it works, I spread the word.
For example, I have long believed in the value of sage tea in drying up even the most stubborn cases of sniffles. What I do is fashion a teabag from a coffee filter and dump in at least a tablespoon of sage, throw that into a large (12 ounce) glass and add boiling water. When the color turns yellow, it's ready to drink. It's a lot cheaper than Sudafed (which is now a real hassle to buy), and I use both in combination. The sage tea will make you a little drowsy, and if you fall asleep you'll almost always wake up feeling better. I don't know what active ingredient might be responsible (a number of them are listed at Wiki), but I doubt there's enough money to be made for such a common substance that would justify expending the huge sums it would cost to bring a drug to the market. Sage has been used for many years in treating sinus infections, but I've never read about a serious double-blind study.
So sage is classified as food; just a kitchen spice. I have no idea how it works against rhinitis, but it does.
The worst part of having a cold is the cough. I don't get colds very often, but when I do the accompanying coughs are awful and seem to drag on endlessly. As they are aggravated by rhinitis, both sage and sudafed tend to help, but what I really need (especially to sleep) is to suppress the cough at night. I have tried just about every cough remedy available at the drugstore; I find guaifenesin useless, and that dreadful dextromethorphan has side effects more hideous than the cough. While it is possible to go to the doctor for prescription cough medicine, that is not always feasible for a cold.
But once again, there are remedies easily available in the kitchen. First there's chocolate. One official study found chocolate to be more medically effective against coughs than codeine.
The required dose of theobromine can be obtained from eating dark chocolate or making cocoa:
The quantity of dark chocolate that should be eaten to stop coughing--about two ounces for an adult and about half as much for a child--is not enough to get children wound up, or for the minimal caffeine to cause sleep disturbances.You can also buy cocoa in pill form. I tried drinking cocoa today and it seemed to work once it kicked in, but it's not as immediate as cough syrup.
However, I did find something that works quickly, and remarkably well.
A concoction of four simple kitchen ingredients as described here:
It soothes an irritated throat and relieves chest congestion and phlegm. The bad news: it tastes terrible -- it really does -- but if you have a persistant cough, it's worth a try.(Go to the site if you want to read about what the ingredients might do and why.)
Frankly, I was very skeptical about this, but I made it up and tried it. I didn't have the cider vinegar, so I used balsamic vinegar instead. I disagree that it tastes terrible, as I rather like it. It has a medicinal taste, somehow like spicy Asian food, and there is a distinct peppery sting as it tickles the throat. It made me cough immediately, then things quickly calmed down noticeably. I can highly recommend it (or cocoa) over any of the over the counter remedies I have tried, hence this public service post.
While the FDA would probably arrest anyone who tried to sell the above as treatments for the common cold, I'm not selling anything; just relating my personal experience (which I think the First Amendment still allows).
Besides, what with impending collapse of the health care system, nothing beats being prepared.
Lowering our expectations
When Zhivago returned from the war to discover that the Bolsheviks had taken over his family home and stuffed it with people (50 square meters for a family of five), he was promptly put in his place by Comrade Kaprugina, who, in her capacity as Chairman of the Residents Committee scolded, "There was living space for thirteen families! In this one house!"
If we factor in Global Warming, the case for redistribution of living space is even more compelling today than it was under Bolshevism.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Unfit for duty!
I'm pretty zonked out from an awful cold (and from the even awfuller cold meds) right now, so not only am I not up to blogging, I'm afraid that I wouldn't be making much sense.
Of course, I guess if I started spouting inanities, it would be hard to beat Harry Reid, who seems hell bent on losing his seat.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada described in private then-Sen. Barack Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Obama is the nation's first African-American president.No Republican would get a break for saying that. Will Reid?
And here's something else I won't say:
The debate over full body security scans just got a lot more graphic, thanks to Democratic political strategist and frequent flyer James Carville.Meanwhile, the TSA was too busy playing God to get to work on James Carville's penis.
A TSA agent was arrested on January 3rd in Terminal One at LAX, a source told NBCLA. He had just gotten off duty and was behaving erratically, saying, "I am god, I'm in charge."And he couldn't even think to capitalize God?
I'm whacked out on Sudafed (which I think induces an artificial form of "sluggish schizophrenia") but if I decided I was God, I don't think I'd make a mistake like that.
Were I God, I'd make it warmer, though. It's too damned cold here.
MORE: Speaking of amazing remarks, Bill Clinton reportedly the following to Ted Kennedy) about Barack Obama:
A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.Talk about double standards. Imagine the outcry had a Republican said that.
As things stand now, a Republican could very well be accused of racism just for repeating it.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Ready for the cooling!
Remember global warming? Back in the day, because she was gullible enough to believe in it, Coco tried to do something to cool the planet
But now that she's moved to Ann Arbor, I'm afraid Coco has given up on global warming. Instead, she plays in the snow.
Here we are on a frozen lake.
(Which proves not only that man can walk on water, but so can dog.)
And here we found some temporary housing, which didn't seem very well insulated, as it was just as cold as everywhere else.
In the back yard, Coco has a favorite tire, and if it gets buried with snow, she digs it out and goes through her obligatory routine of grabbing it with her front paws, and pushing it backwards, using it as a snow scoop to carve patterns into the ground.
It takes quite a bit of coordination for her to get her back legs out of the way as she projects the tire backwards through the snow.
Here's a side view of the process:
She has to jump over the tire and lift her back legs while shoving the tire, and it looks as if she is jumping over the tire, but the tire is moving.
It's a bit like leapfrog except Coco takes it very seriously and works herself into a frenzy.
Global Warming Shutting Down China and Britain
You think I'm joking? I'm not. First let's look at the shutdown.
The heaviest snowfall to hit northern China in nearly six decades continued to snarl traffic yesterday, stranding thousands of passengers on railways and at airports.And what are the people of China doing? The obvious. Trying to keep warm. With disastrous results.
With people turning up the heat indoors to fight the extreme cold across the country, many provinces are reducing electricity supply due to the shortage of coal.Britain is getting similar treatment.
For the second time ever, the National Grid yesterday issued a warning to energy providers that demand for gas is threatening to outstrip supply.Ah. Higher bills. What are the Brits doing about it? Burning books.
Volunteers have reported that 'a large number' of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves.If they are burning copies of the Communist Manifesto it may actually be a service. No way to tell.
Now we come to the very best part. To what do some Chinese attribute the cooling to?
BEIJING: Freak snowstorms and record low temperatures sweeping northern China are linked to global warming, say Chinese officials.So if it gets warmer - it is global warming. If it gets colder - global warming. How convenient. Evidently there is nothing Global Warming Can't do.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Death To Skeptics
And this death to skeptics is not just an artifact of history. We hear those calls even today.
A public appeal has been issued by an influential U.S. website asking: "At what point do we jail or execute global warming deniers." The appeal appeared on Talking Points Memo, an often cited website that helps set the agenda for the political Left in the U.S. The anonymous posting, dated June 2, 2009, referred to dissenters of man-made global warming fears as "greedy bastards" who use "bogus science or the lowest scientists in the gene pool" to "distort data."James Hansen proposes shutting down death factories. What he means is coal fired power plants. I wonder if the warmists plan to open real death factories in their stead? Not exactly. The warmists like Hansen are humane. Just like witches, skeptics should not be put to death without a trial.
The heads of major fossil-fuel companies who spread disinformation about global warming should be "tried for high crimes against humanity and nature," according to a leading climate scientist.And what about the industrial strength skeptics? Trials, then death.
Grist Magazine's staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the "bastards" who were members of what he termed the global warming "denial industry."Well sign me up for a trial. I'm a skeptic and Jewish. A twofer.
And of course once we have cleaned out America we will need to have a war with China. Those guys are building a coal fired power plant every week. Damn planet wreckers.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Paranoid flights of fanciful lab rat thinking
I hate it when I voice paranoid suspicions which turn out to be accurate descriptions of official policy, but I guess I better get used to it.
In a post titled "Egalitarianism For Asses" on December 27, I worried that there might be "growing tacit acceptance of an absurd proposition" --
that it is better to let people who want to blow themselves up fly and look up everyone's butthole than look up the buttholes only of people who want to blow themselves up.And I asked,
Is the goal to move toward a world where people who believe in religious suicide have a right to fly, and to better facilitate this we will all bend over to accommodate them?I thought I was being snarky and sarcastic in a reproachful manner -- making what I thought was a reduction to absurdity. (As in, "surely no sane government would want this, right?")
The next day, I speculated that government officials trusted with protecting the public from terrorists are deliberately allowing terrorists to fly, and that they know it:
Little wonder they want to imprison air passengers in their seats and make air travel nearly impossible. They have created a monster where they know that there will be terrorists among us, for the simple reason that they know they are bringing them here.Spoken like a paranoid conspiracy theorist, right? But I was engaged in speculation -- making a worst case scenario argument that I really didn't want to be true.
But today I read that Detroit bomber Abdulmutallab was in a large database of terrorist supporters who are deliberately being allowed to fly (and who naturally are treated no differently than normal American citizens). All in the name of "national security" doncha know:
Abdulmutallab was in a database containing half a million names of people with suspected extremist links but who are not considered threats. Therefore, border security officials would have sought only to question him upon arrival in the U.S., the administration official said.Well isn't that nice? Our rulers think that letting terrorists and people who support suicide bombing get on the planes is just fine, because, you know, they enjoy watching them. And if something happens, well, we the public are all part of their social experiment, and it makes sense to treat everyone equally.
What's sarcastic paranoia to me is official policy.
As if I needed another reminder, a Palestinian (who apparently lives in Toledo) got on a plane in Miami and couldn't resist making death threats against Jews:
MIAMI (AP) -- An airline passenger in Miami proclaimed "I want to kill all the Jews" before police forced him off a Detroit-bound plane, authorities said Thursday.See what I mean? This asshole -- a man who clearly should not be allowed to fly -- is being treated just like someone's angry grandmother who lost her temper.
The disturbance forced a taxiing Northwest Airlines flight to turn around at Miami International Airport, according to a news release. Witnesses told investigators who boarded the plane that Asad was loud, disruptive and claimed to be Palestinian.Excuse me, but what is this Palestinian who wants to kill all the Jews doing here in the United States chanting in a foreign language and threatening officers? And why is he allowed to fly on our planes? I'd be willing to bet he'd never get on an El-Al flight. At least the Israelis aren't running a social experiment where they let terrorists and their sympathizers fly.
I should stop it with my paranoid speculations, because I right now find myself thinking about lab rats. I'm wondering whether the terrorists who want to kill Americans are regarded as the Alphas, by the social experimenters who regard the rest of us as Betas. Is there any way out of the maze?
(Or should I be looking for the right lever to push to get my reward? Nah, they probably think that being part of this glorious experiment in egalitarianism is its own reward.)
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Here's an oldie but a goodie:
It's a PhotoShop from 2006, but I can't remember who did it. Whatever the context, it seems appropriate now.
As the narrative changes, so does the "conversation"
Last week, M. Simon emailed me a link to a piece in the East Bay Express about Berkeley High School's decision to cut science labs. The article confirmed what Simon told me in the email: the reason was that too many white kids were interested in science:
The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High's School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley's dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.While it's typical of Berkeley, I think similar attitudes can be found in many school districts.
M. Simon sent me a link to another piece ("Science in Berkeley, it's a white thing") pointing that white under-representation at Berkeley High most likely reflects their leaving for private schools -- something that cutting the science labs will aggravate:
...it is striking that Non-Hispanic whites are so underrepresented and blacks so overrepresented.There is only one public high school in Berkeley. It is likely correct that blacks in Berkeley are more fertile than the whites, but I don't think the disparity is striking enough to account for the demographics of Berkeley High School. Rather, many whites must be sending their children to private schools.Yes, but doing well in science is apparently seen as "acting white." By the people running Berkeley High!
This led me to look further, because I think there's another problem which is being covered up. Blacks in Berkeley are not all that large a percentage (9.3%) of the population, but their vast overrepresentation at Berkeley High (29.1%) is not explainable simply by white students going to private schools.
Instead, there may be another cause. A Berkeley friend who knows the inside dirt emailed me to say this:
The gap between black and white students at Berkeley High is shocking. 75% of white students go to college, and 75% of black students never graduate Berkeley High. This is a huge gap, higher than nearly anywhere else. The problem is, I believe, that a high percentage of Berkeley High students are here illegally. I have heard estimates that perhaps 40% have no right to go to school in Berkeley, but nobody wants to address this issue out of fear of being called racist.If it is "racist" to suggest that students should actually live in the city where they go to school (as required by law), then I guess anything is racist.
Anyway, this correspondence took place a week ago, and in the interim, Glenn Reynolds linked La Shawn Barber's treatment of the issue. La Shawn included a link to the East Bay Express article, and summarized blogger reactions:
Berkeley High's plan apparently was surprising and shocking to tech blogger and Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson. Author of The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More and Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Anderson mentioned the story on Twitter, and other bloggers picked it up.I couldn't agree more with La Shawn's conclusion that we should "stop defining achievement down."
But as this was during the New Year's fare, and as the blogosphere seemed well-informed, the matter didn't seem pressing enough for me to feel a compelling need to chime in.
Until this morning, when the San Francisco Chronicle intervened with a truly remarkable attempt to change the narrative. No longer are science labs a perk for white students at the expense of blacks. Now, the science labs are downright oppressive! To Mideast-surnamed named female students! No, I kid you not:
(01-05) 19:52 PST BERKELEY -- Berkeley High School sophomore Razan Qatami glanced at the wall clock in her advanced biology lab class and frowned. At 4:15 p.m., she still had about 10 more minutes before she was done for the day.Remember, these AP labs are voluntary. You know, for high-achieving type science aces who want to get ahead? No one is making Ms. Qatami take them, but the Chronicle makes her sound like a victim of some sort of oppression (exactly what I am not sure).
And of course, those mean, tyrannical, white (or "white-acting") parents who enjoy seeing their children turned into slaves of science have protested:
The idea of ending the labs has raised the ire of hundreds of parents and community members who want to keep the extra science instruction - especially beneficial for college-bound students in advanced placement courses.It also appears that (perhaps because they've been subjected to criticism in the blogosphere) Berkeley High officials are trying to cover their tracks, for they are now denying that they want to get rid of science labs.
Instead, they're speaking about a need for a "conversation":
To be clear, under the administrative proposal Berkeley High's science labs wouldn't be cut from the curriculum.That word! Usually, when people on the left say they want to have a "conversation," they mean that they're all primed and ready to jam their agenda down your throat, but first they want to subject you to a tedious monologue. And if you try to say something in disagreement, that means you're obviously not interested in being part of the "conversation." I hate it when perfectly good words are ruined that way. There's something about a conversation not being a conversation that makes it hard to have a conversation.
Perhaps we should count our blessings, though. At least this "conversation" is no longer about race.
What I can't figure out is whether the conversation is being dictated by the narrative, or whether the narrative is dictated by the conversation.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Different jokes for different butts
Leave it to Sean Kinsell to point out gems I might otherwise have missed. In this case, some gay jokes by straight men. Sean has noticed a direct relationship between the quality of the gay jokes and the attractiveness of the straight men who tell them. I found Sean's observation too important to let pass:
...gay jokes told by unattractive straight men are lame, offensive, retrograde manifestations of deep-seated sexual insecurity, gay jokes told by exceptionally handsome straight men are witty, bravely edgy, and charming.I'm older than Sean, but I had never in all my life really stopped to think about that.
The "exceptionally handsome straight man" involved in this case (I put that in quotes because I don't want to take sides one way or the other) happens to be Reason's Tim Cavanaugh. In one piece, he couldn't resist comparing Glenn Beck's crying to, well, taking it up the ass:
I don't want to traffic in crude stereotypes, but crying is exactly the same as being the passive partner in anal sex.I don't like trafficking in crude stereotypes either but really! Shouldn't there be a warning posted at all funerals? And at all theaters showing tear-jerker films?
And there's this reflection on a college dress code which forbids cross-dressing:
Men want to dress up like women. You can pass all the rules you want, but men will find a way.That is absolutely true, except that most cross-dressing is done by straight men, who tend to do it in private. Gay cross-dressers, OTOH, usually engage in campy theatrical cross-dressing in public. There are exceptions to this general rule, like Rudy Giuliani, and as to transgendered people, I would put them in a class apart from straight men or gay men, with their cross-dressing arguably not being cross-dressing at all. Obama's recent appointment is a good example. (I hesitate to call her attractive lest I be seen as lacking in conservative principles.)
I agree with Sean that Tim Cavanaugh's comments are witty and charming (and I took the first one literally only for fun), but the whole thing reminded me of a remark I saw earlier which wasn't all that witty or charming, by prominent anti-gay activists who do not like the fact that a gay conservative group is on CPAC's list of co-sponsors. Predictably, "anti-gay Matt Barber and Liberty Counsel is threatening to boycott CPAC if GOProud isn't kicked off the co-sponsors list," and both he and Peter LaBarbera are hopping mad about "violent cramming":
Covering this story for anti-gay "Americans for Truth About Homosexuality", Peter LaBarbera writes: "there is nothing 'conservative' about -- as Barber inimitably puts it -- 'one man violently cramming his penis into another man's lower intestine and calling it 'love.''"Well, I would agree that the act described is not conservative. But neither are any of the various possible sex acts which human beings are known to engage. Or are they? Can anyone tell me the definition of "conservative sex"? Better yet, can anyone tell me whether this is a serious question? Is oral sex conservative? Or is it only conservative when practiced by heterosexuals? And do the latter have to be married? What about missionary position sex? Or must that also be done between married people? How about masturbation? Can that be a conservative act, or is it irredeemably liberal? As to "violent cramming" of any sort, that would seem to be rape unless the violence was consented to. But if it was consented to, then it might not be violent. So, is a distinction being made between violent and non-violent anal intercourse? Is the rule that all penetration is violent? Don't laugh. Some feminist scholars have opined that all sexual penetration is violent. But if they are right about all penetration being violent, then I would think that because they're on the left, violent cramming would have to be on the right.
To be fair, though, Mssrs. Barber and LaBarbera did not say that all violent cramming was an anti-conservative act; only that it ceases to be conservative when performed between two men. And even then, it isn't the sexual act that fails their conservative litmus test so much as it is the calling of it "love." Which is fascinating, because it means that apparently they think there should be a loophole allowed at CPAC for homosexual rapists who engage in such behaviors as long as they don't call it love.
Why should prison rapists be allowed to get away with calling themselves conservatives?
Don't ask me. I don't make these rules.
I guess it's possible that Barber and LaBarbera were joking, though. If so, they prove Sean's point about gay jokes told by unattractive straight men being "lame, offensive, retrograde manifestations of deep-seated sexual insecurity." But even that would depend on whether the jokers are "unattractive straight men." I'm not feeling sufficiently judgmental for a detailed analysis of the attractiveness or straightness of anyone, and while both of them are pictured here for readers who might be interested, I need to be more selective about the number of images I upload to my server.
Too much violent cramming might put a strain on the already exhausted hard drive.
The American Dream
Bill Whittle has made another excellent video about the American Dream. He talks about the efforts of the Alinsky Left to break our hopes and our dreams. The funny thing is even the left acknowledges the power of hope in America. They ran their election campaign on it.
Bill's diatribe is an exhortation to, as Krishna says to Arjuna to "get up and fight." We have our own Krishna, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who is reputed to have said, "Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities." And so it is again our turn as keepers of the American Dream to stand firm and uphold that dream.
We have books:
And we have videos.
And we have excerpts from the videos.
Get inspired. Stand firm. We have not yet begun to fight!
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Monday, January 4, 2010
Sobering thoughts on the globalization of sexual freedom
As a longtime advocate of sexual freedom who grew up in the West, I have a natural tendency to see the world in Western terms, which means that I see sexual freedom in Western terms. I pretty much agree with the IASHS framework of "Basic Sexual Rights" (which Glenn Reynolds aptly described as a "Sexual Bill of Rights"), although as a libertarian I have serious problems with government involvement in including human sexuality. The right to do something should not translate into a right to do it at taxpayers' expense. So to that extent, I would take exception to interpreting the IASHS's point 8 to include taxpayer funding:
8. The recognition by society that every person, partnered or unpartnered, has the right to the pursuit of a satisfying consensual sociosexual life free from political, legal or religious interference and that there need to be mechanisms in society where the opportunities of sociosexual activities are available to the following: disabled persons; chronically ill persons; those incarcerated in prisons, hospitals or institutions; those disadvantaged because of age, lack of physical attractiveness, or lack of social skills; and the poor and the lonely.My worry is that "mechanisms in society" for "available opportunities" might be taken to mean providing sex workers for the incapacitated poor at taxpayers' expense. So, while I support the right to pursue a satisfying consensual sociosexual life, I see it as part of the pursuit of happiness. We all have a right to pursue happiness absent harm to others, but the right to pursue something does not mean the right to get it. Otherwise, we would all have the "right" to be wealthy, which is economically absurd. (And to say that the right to pursue getting laid means the right to actually get laid is sexually absurd.) But if you're so ugly, lonely, hopelessly nerdy, physically deformed that no one would want you in bed, sure, there can easily be a "mechanism in society" to remedy that. It's called the free market, but the trouble is that it's been criminalized. As a libertarian I wholeheartedly support decriminalizing it, but not subsidizing it.
I realize that many in the West do not agree with me, including a number of readers of this blog. Yet regardless of these disagreements, the fact that in the West we can discuss these things in a more or less civilized manner is something I tend to take for granted as a United States citizen.
It is easy for me to forget that in other parts of the world, merely advocating sexual freedom can get you killed. Just ask Seyran Ates, author of a new book titled "Islam Needs a Sexual Revolution." The mere title of the book has earned her death threats and forced her to go into hiding.
Not a new experience for the author.
To backtrack a bit, Ms. Ates was forced to abandon her legal career in Germany out of fear for her life. What bothers me more than that was to read that when she was attacked in public, the "good Germans" neaby did nothing to help her:
While defending Muslim women for the last two decades, she's been insulted and threatened by her clients' husbands and relatives. She was always able to brush it off, until last year.It's refreshing to see that NPR reported this, as it's become a serious problem in Europe, and one which needs to be nipped in the bud before it becomes that way here.
I admire this woman's feistiness, and I hardly need to point out that it takes a lot more bravery to write a book titled "Islam Needs a Sexual Revolution" than it would to write one titled "Christianity Needs a Sexual Revolution." What galls me is that in the West, publishers and bookstores would eat up the latter (while heaping praises on the author for "courage"), but the former would be shunned -- by cowardly publishers, and most likely be condemned for hurting the religious sensibilities of Muslims.
When a tyrannical, murderously-sexist ideology is allowed to dictate terms in this way, it's time to ask what has happened to the West?
And where is America the Brave?
This woman has more balls than any of the craven cowards who would shun her, and as to why her book isn't listed for sale at Amazon, I am hoping that it's because the publishing details are still being worked out. But considering what happened at Yale, I fear the worst.
Never mind that she has already pulled some punches. I was fascinated to read in her Der Spiegel interview, that the original title of "Islam Needs a Sexual Revolution" had been "I'll Fuck Whoever I Want." These were the last words of a Muslim girl murdered by her brother:
"I'll fuck whoever I want" was the sentence Hatun Sürücü, a Turkish girl from Berlin, said to her brother before he murdered her, and that's how I came up with the idea to use it as my title.If there is such a thing as martyrdom, I'm wondering why there can't be martyrs for the cause of sexual freedom.
Regarding sexuality, I found myself a bit startled by a remark Ms. Ates made in the interview contrasting the sexuality of Muhammad to the "asexuality" of Jesus:
SPIEGEL: Muhammad had a dozen wives. Is he a role model?Whether Jesus was in fact "asexual" (and can anyone really be 100% sure?) might seem to be needlessly contentious, and possibly a minor point, but...
I have long suspected that there is a certain tension over this Jesus-as-a-role-model business, and I suspect that many a red-blooded type man sees Jesus as, well... Seriously, I'd like to discuss this without being offensive, but I don't know how.
While this post is not about iconography, it isn't my fault that for ages, innumerable pictures of Jesus show him looking like this:
To be fair, there have been innumerable modern attempts to rework Jesus, such as this:
And I suppose someone could portray Jesus with a bomb in his head, like this:
No, it wouldn't draw death threats from angry Christians. But OTOH a Jesus with a bomb on his head would be considered so historically inaccurate that it would not be taken seriously.
As to sexual freedom, one of my worries is that a number of angry and disgruntled men might make the mistake of seeing Islam as ultimately offering them more sexual freedom -- if we assume that Muhammad is the role model -- than they would Christianity, or contemporary Western mores that pay lip service to sexual freedom on the left while penalizing it heavily from both sides. (That last link was found in a long and thoughtful essay about misandry which Glenn linked the other day, but which paradoxically triggered troubling, unwanted, and downright paranoid thoughts on my part about Islamic sexuality.) I don't think I need to belabor the point that such male sexual "freedom" is not freedom at all, but conditioned upon submission to Islam, and is totally at the expense of women, who have zero sexual freedom, and who can actually be treated as criminals under Sharia law for being raped.
If the world is in fact "global," I think that Western advocates of sexual freedom have a lot of work cut out for them.
Are You Now Or Have You Ever Fudged The Data?
Climate researchers at Penn State are in for a nasty shock this morning.
As I said yesterday, one of our jobs this year is to wipe the complacent smiles off the smug faces of the lobbyists, "experts", "scientists", politicians and activists pushing AGW.You can read the e-mail at the link.
Michael Mann has only been at Penn State for three years so most of his fiddles were done before he arrived. It may be that Penn State has no jurisdiction over the worst of Mann's "adjustments".
It may also be a stretch to prove fraud when most of what the "Team" did was to prevent publication of adverse papers.
Take this example of the "Team" attempting to keep criticism of Siberian data out of the record:
...Russia is back in the spotlight. Research released through Moscow's Institute of Economic Analysis suggests the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK was selective and forgetful with data from Russian weather stations, and exaggerated the scale of global warming in Russia.The only way to get to the bottom of all this is to do a full Audit of the data starting with the raw station data. Then a verification of the models. What is amazing is that no official verification of the models was ever done. That would never be allowed for a medical device or equipment that goes on aircraft (even the entertainment systems that are part of an aircraft have to be verified). So why hasn't the software and data that may determine the spending of trillions of dollars a year world wide been verified? From algorithms to results.
I suspect it is a case of Lysenko Science. Politicians are paying for results they want to hear. It wouldn't be the first time. In illegal drug science Dr. Heath at Tulane used to half asphyxiate monkeys with marijuana smoke and then claim the marijuana killed brain cells. And the truth? Marijuana like most anti-depressants probably grows brain cells.
Fortunately we are no longer torturing monkeys in the name of anti-drug "science". Now if we could just get the politicians to stop paying for the torturing of climate data with adjustments, deletions, suppression of criticism, and ginned up models we might actually learn something useful about what is actually going on planet wise.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Sunday, January 3, 2010
anonymous, unverifiable, but authoritative?
We've come full circle back to when it was best for your gov't to not know your name.The right to anonymity is an important right, and fortunately, it is constitutionally protected. Anonymity (and I include pseudonymity) can be a two edged sword, though. In voting, it is of paramount importance. Where it comes to the sharing of ideas and experiences, though, one of the problems with anonymity is that credibility tends to suffer. This might not matter in the context of pure idea sharing, because arguments stand or fall based on their factual accuracy and soundness of the thinking involved. The actual identity of an anonymous critic (or supporter) of government policies or global warming theory would make no difference if his argument is, say, based on the contention that the numbers don't add up, and he explains why, because these things can be independently verified. But once a claim is based on his particular experience, or special knowledge or inside position (whether in the government, the military, academia, etc.), the argument is weakened, because there is no way to verify any of it.
This is just as true of anonymous bloggers as it is of anonymous commenters. I don't care how long someone has been blogging, how articulate or how many readers he or she has, none of that invests an anonymous blogger with the kind of personal credibility that comes from independent verifiability. The only checks and balances on anonymous bloggers is when they are unmasked, as a man calling himself "Libertarian Girl" discovered:
One thing I learned from this blog is how easy attractive woman have it. When I had a blog as my real self, no one linked to me, no one left any comments, it was as if the blog existed in a vacuum. But things were different for Libertarian Girl. Every day I'd check Technorati and discover new unsolicited links. It was like I had warped into an alternate universe where all the rules had changed. At the rate things were happening, this would have been an A-list blog in a few more months.Human nature being what it is, bloggers suffer from a natural temptation to do whatever is necessary get hits and links, and in that sense, anonymous bloggers like "Libertarian Girl" have a huge advantage. I can't claim to be a woman, because I am writing under my name and people know me. The best I could do was a frivolous satirical claim that I was a pre-post operative sex change.
what I'm wondering right now is why I can't be a pre-post-operative female-to-male transsexual trapped in the body of a man, but who, because of pure luck, has no need to go through with the surgery, because I already have male anatomical features (i.e., a woman who wants to become a man but who is by accident of birth already trapped in the body of a man). It would be a terrible hardship (a cruel travesty, even) to make me surgically become a man trapped in the body of a woman who wants to become a man because the man is trapped in her body, if I can shortcircuit the entire process and merely accept the fact that I am already where I would be after surgery back and forth.Now, that was in 2005, and even though I realized how ridiculous I was being, that did not stop the ACLU from filing suit on behalf of another lesbian trapped in a man's body. (I'd sue the ACLU for infringement, except that the lesbian-trapped-in-man's-body idea seems to be in the public domain.)
Anyway, the fact that there's no way to verify whether an anonymous woman is actually a man highlights a serious problem which arises when anonymous bloggers make factual claims based on unverifiable life experiences, or offer opinions based on their personal claims of expertise or superiority.
There's that old rule that when something looks too good to be true, it usually is. I think that applies in spades to anonymous bloggers who say what people want to hear.
there's no way to opt out of the in-your-face cycle
I know I am sounding like a crank, but I hate it when I am asked by strangers to donate money. Not that I am uncharitable, but I prefer to select causes myself, and donate to them whenever I feel like it.
I don't mind being told about worthy causes, nor do I mind it when someone I know or respect says that he or she donated to a worthy cause, and generally urges other people to do the same. In fact, I have done that in this blog on a number of occasions. What I would not do is ask someone personally to donate money -- either by getting in his face or by directly sending him an email. It's putting people on the spot, and I find that distasteful.
But what is happening more and more is that I will go to the store to buy something, and the damned clerk will ask me whether I would like to donate to starving children or abused animals or something. This then forces me to choose to be one of the following:
I think it's rude for stores to ask people to give money simply because they've got them in a position they are unable to avoid. One solution to the problem in many grocery stores is to use the self-checkout lanes. Except then you can end up getting scolded for bagging your items too quickly and the machine freezes up and you have to yell for the clerk. Or there is no regular asparagus in their list of pictures, but only the higher-priced organic, so you have to yell about that too. Or when the machine refuses to scan that bottle of wine until you show your ID to the clerk who is not there even though you have gray hair and look over 50.
In the latter regard, quite amazingly, I have in recent months been actually asked to show my ID to buy wine. By clerks who could plainly see me! Excuse me, but take a look at a recent picture -- showing me and M. Simon:
What sort of cretin would think that I might be under 21? Or according to recent guidelines, under 27?
Are we reaching a state of zero tolerance for common sense?
Where was I? Oh, the self-checkout. So after all of that, you can still end up being asked for more money, and they force you to click "NO" on the keypad.
And what do you do when you're tired of being asked in person, tired of having to click "NO"? Earlier I bought an item on Ebay, and learned that some of these damned charities have even managed to insinuate themselves into the automatic checkout there.
Yes, call me a mean-spirited crank, but I just don't like it. To my mind, I've gone out of my way to spend my money with you. So how dare you ask me for more?
Another thing I hate about charities is the way that donating to them tends to generate huge quantities of junk mail solicitations, not only from that charity, but from others. They have so many guilt-inducement techniques in the junk mail that I think they were designed by professional psychologists. Many times I have seen an uncanceled stamp staring at me in the window. Others will put in a quarter (making it impossible to shred), and then when you tear it open there'll be a heart-rending plea that you at least send the quarter back! They also will do this with a dollar bill, knowing full well that it is next to impossible for sane people to throw away or shred currency.
And if you think that sending in a donation will make them go away, think again. Any contribution you do send in will place you in a new category, meriting special attention.
All of this notwithstanding, I still believe in donating to charity.
My worry is that the techniques of getting in people's faces might backfire and actually have the unintended consequence of desensitizing people (especially in this economy). Which could predictably lead to ever more fiendish cycles of in-your-face tactics.
The University of Sydney Is Building Small Polywell
Prometheus Fusion reports that the University of Sydney is building a small Polywell with copper coils.
He has picture and a link to a series of Power Point slides explaining the work.
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Constitutional principles, practical obstacles
I'd like to get some sleep before I travel,The recent government harassment of bloggers who published a TSA directive (which I discussed here) is worrisome for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the unprecedented nature of the federal government threatening and intimidating U.S. citizens because of the content of what they wrote. Not only is this is a direct violation of the First Amendment, but I think it's evidence of an emerging and very dangerous pattern of unconstitutional discrimination. It's bad enough for the government to direct its power against unapproved forms of speech, but by singling out bloggers for something that would be tolerated by the MSM, the government sends a clear message that some citizens have greater free speech rights than others. Thus, the New York Times and ABC News are free to publish allegedly "secret" government regulations, but ordinary citizens such as bloggers are not. How this is being allowed to happen I don't know. The First Amendment applies equally to everyone and makes no such distinctions. I am hoping that someone takes this all the way up to the Supreme Court, because right now that seems to be the only branch of government with a modicum of respect for the Constitution.
A more practical and pressing concern is what to do when the feds come knocking and want to get into your computer. While there's an emerging consensus along the lines of "COME BACK WITH A WARRANT!" my worry is that there might be more to the government's intimidation process than simply putting citizens to the trouble of having to insist on their rights. My concern is that in these situtations, the government agents may not be content to simply return with the proper piece of paper and limit themselves to only what they originally sought. These people have vast power, including the right to break down doors, shoot dogs, and ultimately use fatal power, and when people stand up to them, they have a tendency to retaliate. Just as the citizen who demands his right to a jury trial will end up paying dearly for asserting that right if he is convicted, I fear that a citizen who says "COME BACK WITH A WARRANT!" might very well discover that when they do come back, they'll stay longer, search harder, tear the house apart, and maybe even "discover" things that were "in plain sight." (Illegal wood, perhaps?)
MORE: If we see what is happening in conjunction with President Obama's quiet grant of unprecedented (and unconstitutional) power to a foreign police agency along with other developments limiting freedom -- such as our right choose the health care we want or even to enjoy life free from "carbon footprint" regulations -- too many things are flying at us fast and furious. The question becomes, how much is too much?
for the first time, maybe it was reading Hayek, that I worried we could conceivably be losing our democracy. Apocalyptic? Yes, sure. But still an ominous thought that will not go away. 2010 could indeed be a Year of Living Dangerously.
The Army CID showed more interest in tracking down the electronic route of an unclassified document than tracking down Hasan's connections with terrorism. One of us had all of his computers confiscated and the hard drive was copied by Army CID, just like the two bloggers in the TSA incident. He noticed that the screen names of the other two bloggers of TAH were on the search warrant - but neither was visited by CID.Hopefully they can't shut down the Internet.
Friday, January 1, 2010
The Two Wings Of The Party
The two wings of the Democrat Party are the Crooks and the Communists. (about 7 minutes into the video)
H/T Jccarlton at Talk Polywell
Cross Posted at Power and Control
Death to "mouth peace"!
So many people on the left are wishing Rush Limbaugh dead that the death-wish "movement" has caught the attention of legacy media. Rochelle Riley (no Limbaugh fan) has a column titled "Stop wishing Rush Limbaugh Dead," and quite predictably, the Limbaugh death-wishers are showing up in the comments.
One champions his First Amendment right to wish the man dead:
I'm gonna pretty much keep wishing him a slow, painful death. Stop telling me how to feel about this a-hole. Free speech, right?Yes, and it's free speech to scream "DEATH TO THE JEWS!" I suppose.
Another commenter compares the hatred liberals have for Limbaugh to the hatred conservatives have for Olbermann:
As much as liberals hate Rush, conservatives hate Olbermann wayyy more.Not only do I disagree with Olbermann, I think he's a thoroughly dishonest demagogue. But if he had a heart attack I would not wish for his death. Wishing for such a thing would mean putting him on a pedestal with evildoers like Osama bin Laden, Ayatollah Khamenei, Fidel Castro, Alois Brunner, etc. People who publicly voice opinions I don't like -- no matter how dishonest or despicable I might consider them to be, simply do not rise to anywhere near the same level as people who actually commit evil deeds. And even if Olbermann called for shooting conservatives (which he has not), even that would not rank him with an actual shooter. Moreover, wishing people dead because of their opinions is an admission that their opinions have vast power beyond your ability to cope. Such an inability to tolerate free speech is inconsistent with the spirit of the First Amendment, as it comes close (IMO) to being a tacit admission that certain opinions should be prohibited.
I may be old-fashioned, but I still believe in that Voltaire-credited saying, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." And wishing someone dead because of what he says is hardly consistent with defending his right to say it.
The only thing more idiotic than wishing someone dead, is to do so publicly. But there's an echo chamber of Limbaugh death wishers, reveling in their idiocy and egging each other on. Naturally, Rochelle Riley's article drew them as honey draws flies.
I culled a few examples:
I wish Rush Limpballz dead. And every other republican also. This Country was never meant to be fascist which is what the neo-cons are trying to bring to America. Rush Limpballs sure doesn't speak for me or any middle-class for that matter.Where it comes to "me's," I guess any "middle-class" will do.
Here's someone who is against feeble-minded authority:
I wish a horrible, painful death on the worthless excuse of a man because he is a horrible human being who has the ability to fuel the hatred of other feeble minded people. And as the saying goes(sort of)...fear those feeble minded people in positions of authority!I didn't know that talking on the radio meant being in a position of authority, and that worries me, because the same thing could be said about writing a blog. I do not want to be placed in a position of authority against my will on the say-so of total strangers.
Another commenter is angry at Limbaugh (and now Riley) because a co-worker joined a Nazi group:
Riley says the freedom of speech must be upheld. Rush must be allowed to ferment hate and seeing this first hand I say death to a monster is fair also. I just hope someday to hear of this justice by the higher powers. My co-worker listens to this fervor causing former drug adddict daily and last week he joined a Nazi group. Whats Ms riley got to say about this?Hey, I didn't know that hate could be fermented, but maybe I can brew all these comments and try to get myself pickled with the lefty spirits.
And why not? After all, it is New Years Day.
What better way to party with the death wishers?
The party is planned, bringing chips and dip. Just let me know when he dies. We will consider that passing as civic improvement. He is nothing but a rude, nasty person and a drug addict on top of it.So there!
This one sarcastically urges Limbaugh's fans to stifle their gay tears, and threatens to take drugs:
SNIFFLE, SNIFFLE!! Leave poor Rush alone! It doesn't matter that we conservatives jumped for joy at the word of Ted Kennedy's death and berated him mercilessly in the days and weeks after. And it doesn't matter that most of us don't respect anyone who has a view that differs even slightly from ours. Rush is different. He's one of us -- a REAL American... unlike anyone who's ever voted for a Democrat or belonged to a labor union. So, picking on him is way out of bounds you un-American commie terrorist lovers. If crying weren't something so gay, us real Americans would be sobbing in the street. Instead, I urge my fellow tea baggers to pray for Rush tonight while you're cleaning your assault rifles. For me, I'll take an extra dose of Oxycontin in his honor!Whoa, isn't that a borderline suicide threat?
This one doesn't exactly wish him dead, but the spelling is precious:
My own butt hole view is that there's nothing like being a "mouth peace" for love.
Especially when you don't think your crap stinks:
If he lives, then he'll continue to makes conservatives look insane and stupid.Well, my crap stinks as much as anyone else's, and I don't pretend otherwise, but there is a difference between the failure to mourn a titan of the left and wishing someone dead because you don't like his opinions.
Anyway, there are a lot more, but there's only so much hate I feel like regurgitating today. (After all, it is New Years Day, and I really should be trying to be more of a love peace than a hate peace.)
To end on a more pleasant note, the bright side is that the wish-you-were-dead brigades seem to have driven at least one commenter to libertarianism:
As much as I'm bored by Rush Limbaugh, I have to say that I'm equally disgusted with wish-you-were-dead comments. There are a lot of talking heads out there who annoy us. Hey, when are liberals going to tell Perez Hilton to put a cork in it? Liberals and conservatives ruin my day everyday. That's why I'm a Libertarian now.I've had plenty of days ruined by liberals, and occasionally (although not nearly as often) by conservatives.
I'm almost tempted to resolve not to let anyone ruin my day, except they don't. Other people can ruin my day only when I let it happen.
So maybe I should resolve to stop ruining my day. Might be too much of a mouthful, though.
There are too many mouth peaces in the war.
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all. Comments welcome, agree or disagree.
The news that Limbaugh's tests revealed that nothing was wrong must come as quite a disappointment to the death wishers. Hmmm...
Might their teleological thinking have backfired?
Search the Site
Classics To Go
See more archives here
Old (Blogspot) archives
Now they threaten to withhold sex? How small of them!
Tea Party Coordination
China Is Bubbling
Exploring a minor issue in "religious" detail
Smoke and Mirrors (A Rube Awakening)
Let's Talk About Political Correctness!
A Solar Powered Government
left wing fat cat corporatist fesses up
(and tugs at conservative heart strings)
An Economics Rap