Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Freedom and Smoke

Smoking is gross. I agree. I'm not interested in doing it, though I do enjoy a nice cigar or pipe now and then. Cigarette smoke is ok, but stale smoke reeks, and it's dangerous and addictive. Let's go ahead and label it "bad," even.

But sometimes bad things need to be ok. Sometimes quantity or reason should be irrelevant in the face of freedom.

This is something Hillary Clinton doesn't understand.

Hillary Clinton lavished praise on New York City's tough anti-smoking laws yesterday - and said she supports smoking bans in public places across the country.

Asked at an Iowa forum on cancer whether banning smoking in public places would be good for America, Clinton replied, "Well, personally, I think so. And that's what a lot of local communities and states are starting to do."
Incidentally I think the NY Post should re-title that article. "HILL EYES NATIONAL CIG CURB" isn't exactly truthful. I digress...

Look: the point is we should never be able to demand (via legislation) that other people do things -- even if we think they are dangerous to our fellow man -- just because they "ought" or "ought not" do this or that. Sometimes freedom is ugly. Sometimes freedom means seeing things you don't want to, or smelling things you don't like, or even dealing with people, ideas, or actions you find terribly offensive.

But the freedom itself is a beautiful thing, and reason or rationale doesn't have to enter in to that idea.

Take one example: collecting. Collecting things is truthfully about the most unreasonable thing a person can do. Gathering all sorts of trinkets or knickknacks, hoarding them, doting on them, cataloging, trading, and always acquiring more and more and more. This is not rational behavior. But when it comes down to it, freedom doesn't see quantity. Freedom doesn't ever say "Look, I understand you like stamps...but must you keep so many?". If we're free to acquire stamps, we ought likewise to be free to acquire 5,000 stamps from various nations and time periods.

Expand that to guns, another oft-collected set of items. Do we see this sort of freedom? Do people appreciate it for what it is? No. Massive gun collections of the irrational sort are "dangerous" or called "arsenals".

Now, granted, you can't kill people with stamps (at least not without great creativity), but the principle therein is the same.

And that extends wonderfully to smoking, drinking, or anything else that has quantity linked with vice. Most anyone will allow one, perhaps two uses of tobacco or alcohol a week. Very few people would argue against limitations beyond that stringent degree. But if you give an inch with liberty you must allow it to take a mile; that is its very nature.

Next time you catch yourself shaking your head at one man's irrational or even self-destructive behavior (is one skydive permissible? how about 10,600?) remember that rationale or reason exists only in the eye of the beholder -- and the next unreasonable freedom or hobby that comes under fire may be yours.

So light up, sit back, and enjoy the idea of freedom...if not its particular consequences.

Read the rest.

John Edwards is a jerk

At some point Edwards' two-faced hipocrisy will catch up to him. I just hope it's in a bad, public, embarrassing fashion.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards told a labor group he would ask Americans to make a big sacrifice: their sport utility vehicles.

Edwards says Americans should be asked to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. He says he would ask them to give up SUVs.
Sure. I'll do that when you get more money efficient haircuts and stop toodling around the nation in your private jet (which, incidentally, burns more fuel than my '76 Bronco).

It's been said before, and this is nowhere near original coming from me, but if Edwards is going to continue to tell people about the jagged rift between the "Two Americas" must he make it so disgustingly obvious that he lives in the rich one?

Read the rest.

A Greenpeace article I can get behind

Despite the near hyperventilation about CO2 in this article, I can get behind it.

North Americans are the world's largest per-capita wood consumers and yet our forests cover approximately the same area of land as they did 100 years ago. According to the United Nations, our forests have expanded nearly 100 million acres over the past decade.

There is a misconception that cutting down an old tree will result in a net release of carbon. Yet wooden furniture made in the Elizabethan era still holds the carbon fixed hundreds of years ago.

Although old trees contain huge amounts of carbon, their rate of sequestration has slowed to a near halt. A young tree, although it contains little fixed carbon, pulls CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate.

When a tree rots or burns, the carbon contained in the wood is released back to the atmosphere. Since combustion releases carbon, active forest management -- such as removing dead trees and clearing debris from the forest floor -- will be imperative in reducing the number and intensity of fires.
Everything here makes sense to me, especially the part about DiCaprio not knowing what he's talking about.

I'm sure by now most people are (like me) wishing that environmentalists would just make up their minds. "Old growth is amazing, don't you dare cut it down!" becomes "Cut it down for new growth to sequester CO2!". Hands-off forestry management becomes active forest floor debris cleaning -- and either way The Man is the enemy, whether that's the government, Big Business or you and me.

The fact of the matter is, environmental activists do more harm than good. They reduce complex issues into single-facet talk or action points, and ultimately they have no idea what they're doing.

This smackdown of DiCaprio's movie from a knowledgeable environmental activist is one of the more responsible moves that's come lately out of a corrupt, nonsensical movement. If only more of the intelligent members of these organizations could (or would) hold back their intellectually less fortunate but more rabid attack dogs, we might actually be able to make some headway on conservation and responsible stewardship of our environment.

Read the rest.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dangerous

This little blurb of a story shows why Ahmadinejad is so dangerous: he speaks frankly and blends just enough truth into a statement to make you want to buy it.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday brushed off a warning by Nicolas Sarkozy that Iran risked being bombed over its nuclear drive, saying his "inexperienced" French counterpart did not know what he was talking about.

"He (Sarkozy) only recently came to power and wants to find a place for himself in the world," Ahmadinejad told reporters.

"He is still inexperienced, meaning that maybe he does not really understand the meaning of his own words.

"I think what he said is for the consumption of his inner circles. For us, it is of no political value."
And, you know, what he's saying is probably true. However, there are some politicians who don't just say things for "consumption of [their] inner circles". Sarkozy may be honest, and in that case he would be something utterly foreign to President Ahmadinejad but familiar to us here in the States.

An easy way to rewrite the story to better understand the players is to "plug in" different people in character roles. This works well in literature, theater, and politics. It helps take personal favorites or subtle perceptions out of the mix to enable the viewer (or writer) to form his own opinions using characters he knows.

Utilizing that, let's change Sarkozy to, say, Hugo Chavez...and Ahmadinejad to Bush. Is the reaction correct now? Most certainly.

But more interestingly, let's sub in Dubya for Sarkozy. Can Ahmadinejad so certainly dismiss his remarks out of hand? Might we conclude that perhaps, here, Ahmadinejad is the one feeding rhetoric to his supporters?

Read the rest.

If it looks like a rat, smells like a rat...

...then it's probably a rat.

One of the biggest sources of political donations to Hillary Rodham Clinton is a tiny, lime-green bungalow that lies under the flight path from San Francisco International Airport.

Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show.
...
No one in the Paw family had ever given a campaign contribution before the 2004 presidential election, according to campaign-finance reports. Then, in July 2004, five members of the family contributed a total of $3,600 to the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat. Five of the checks were dated July 27, 2004. About the same time, Mr. Hsu made his first donations to a political candidate, contributing the maximum amount allowed by law to Mr. Kerry in two separate checks, on July 21, 2004, and on Aug. 6.

From then on, the correlation of campaign donations between Mr. Hsu and the Paw family has continued. The first donations to Mrs. Clinton came Dec. 23, 2004, when Mr. Hsu and one Paw family member donated the then-maximum $4,000 to her Senate campaign in two $2,000 checks, campaign-finance records show. In March 2005, the individuals gave a total of $17,500 to Mrs. Clinton.
Yet again, though, we'll see the media cover their darling. There will be no outrage, no follow-up to this story. But imagine the sputtering if a Giuliani donation racket like this was uncovered?

For the record I think anyone ought to be able to give as much money as they like to anyone else. The only reason I think this is "bad" is because these folks are breaking the rules and lying about it.

Read the rest.

Watcher's Council

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Read the rest.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sarkozy: Hawk

France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy is further redefining France's global positioning:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world's powers to rein in Tehran's nuclear program was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

In his first major foreign policy speech, Sarkozy emphasized his existing foreign policy priorities, such as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union and pushing for a new Mediterranean Union that he hopes will include Ankara.
That's great and all but his stance on Russia is sketchy at best. Admonishment doesn't do a whole lot.
He also presented some new ideas, such as...expanding the Group of Eight industrialized nations to include the biggest developing states.

Sarkozy criticized Russia for its dealings on the international stage. "Russia is imposing its return on the world scene by using its assets, notably oil and gas, with a certain brutality," he said.

"When one is a great power, one should not be brutal."
Rather than expanding the G-8, why don't we remove Russia and add someone more worthy? Brazil, South Korea and Australia all come to mind. That goes double for the UN Security Council.

Read the rest.

Interesting economic ramifications

Manpower is a commodity. It functions on scarcity just like all other resources. Its price fluctuates in value on the market based on supply and demand. We often speak of "shortfalls" in this country -- oil, credit, natural gas -- and we understand the consequences: higher prices, potential unavailability of things we need.

However, because of the general availability of labor people tend to forget that it is something which functions on the open market. These misconceptions are what cause illogical economic inanities such as the minimum wage and socialistic job security laws. Violating employment at will violates the free market principals with workers just as it does with buying popsicles or computers (can you imagine being told when and how often you could buy, say, steaks at the market?).

This excerpt is interesting.

Unemployment rates have been as low as 2 percent this year in places like Montana, and nearly as low in neighboring states. Economists cite such factors as an aging work force and booming tourism economies for the tight labor market.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports the mountain West region - covering eight states along the Rocky Mountains - has the lowest overall unemployment rate in the nation. The region hit an all-time low of 3.4 percent in May.

The effects are everywhere. Logging equipment in Idaho sits idle as companies have a tough time finding workers. A shortage of lifeguards has forced Helena to shorten hours at children-only pools. A local paper in Jackson, Wyo., has page after page of help wanted ads.
The idea of a gasoline shortage is frightening. Cement shortages have caused paralysis of construction industries (and local economies). Because of the forgetfulness of our society when it comes to labor, we don’t realize that a labor shortfall can be every bit as devastating – if not more.

After all, concrete shortages hurt only construction primarily, and those effects are only felt by the average consumer through a series of economic links. Labor shortfalls would acutely damage every industry directly.

Knowing that, how does it change your views of the illegal immigrant situation in America? “Kick ‘em all out” is good: great, in fact. It’s a start. But the fact that such a large black market for labor exists, and flourishes, is an indication of a disconnect between supply and demand. In a “correct” market, black markets have no reason to exist.

This story demonstrates to me, at least, that we need a better answer to the illegal immigrant situation than just round them up or let them in. We need a method to bring workers in – if and when we need them.

It’s a complex issue, and we need to acknowledge that there is no one-sided answer. Open borders is the equivalence of allowing steroids in baseball. You change the rules to accommodate dirty behavior. This makes it legitimate, but it isn't a fix -- it's moving the foul line to accept the position. Kick 'em all out is a rational response, but ending there isn't sufficient. It's temporary at best.

Castrating a broken market without rectifying the forces that caused it to break isn't a fix -- it isn't even a band aid. Instead, lets find why the labor market became so muddled, why the forces driving it are so strong, and apply logical controls to rectify the situation.

The demand for labor isn't going to go away; nor is the need for border security. And I fear the next non-fix bill that comes through congress may be just as ineffective as the last while having the redeeming quality (legislatively) of fewer enemies.

Read the rest.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nice folks...

Iranians are such nice people.

It was unclear exactly what his offense had been as the country's strict morality laws cover many areas, but it was reported he had been convicted of abusing alcohol and having sex outside of marriage.

The public lashings have been endorsed by the judiciary as a way of deterring alcohol abuse at a time when it is on the increase among young men but some religious leaders are said to be questioning their validity, fearing they have an adverse impact on the country's image abroad.
No kidding? Nice justice system when even the police are wearing masks. On another note, apparently black bikini briefs are "in" in Iran...

Read the rest.

Romney goof on abortion

Romney can't make up his mind about abortion. Earlier he said

We support a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.
And yet Tuesday he said
I'd let states make their own decision in this regard. My view, of course, is I'm a pro-life individual. That's the position I support. But, I'd let states have this choice rather than let the federal government have it.
Either view is appropriate in my mind for a Republican candidate. I would prefer a national amendment because it matches my view. However, I think Roe v Wade should be overturned regardless because it was a terrible decision with a legal basis that was tenuous at best.

To be honest, Romney's latest line sounds like something directly out of Fred Thompson's mouth. I think thats rather odd because Romney is pretty much the only Republican candidate with a leg to stand on when it comes to conservative credentials.

Read the rest.

Smile

This story brings a smile to my face.

Tehran has threatened to bar major German banks that are pulling out of Iran due to US pressure and steep administration costs from returning to the country.

A number of European banks, such as Credit Suisse and UBS, have already taken similar decisions, paring back or ceasing altogether their operations with Iran.

The FTD said that European financial institutions feared losing out on lucrative business with the United States if they remained active in Iran, after US officials threatened the banks' boards with consequences.
They may not like us, they may not think we're great...but they know we don't fool around. And they want the money.

The whole idea of a financial war is similar to that of a cold war -- and it plays to our strengths. Just as Reagan understood that the USSR could not keep up with the muscle of capitalism (if it were only allowed to flex!) our leaders understand now that the rest of the world can't stand up to us financially. I'm glad we're using that strong position. It's certainly more "diplomatic" than guns or embargoes, and that's something even liberals can get behind.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Potential

This story has a lot of potential to change things in Iraq on a large scale:

The leader of Iraq's banned Baath party, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, has decided to join efforts by the Iraqi authorities to fight al-Qaeda, one of the party's former top officials, Abu Wisam al-Jashaami, told pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

"AlDouri has decided to sever ties with al-Qaeda and sign up to the programme of the national resistance, which includes routing Islamist terrorists and opening up dialogue with the Baghdad government and foreign forces," al-Jashaami said.

Al-Douri has decided to deal directly with US forces in Iraq, according to al-Jashaami. He figures in the 55-card deck of "most wanted" officials from the former Iraqi regime issued by the US government.

Recent weeks have seen a first step in this direction, when Baathist fighters cooperated with Iraqi government forces in hunting down al-Qaeda operatives in the volatile Diyala province and in several districts of the capital, Baghdad.
This is not the end. But it could be the beginning of the end. The Baath party was Saddam's people. His instructions to them to disband, fall back and fight another day were the beginning of this whole headache. Saddam's ties to Al Qaeda were easily revealed in his party members cooperating with AQI. Without the Baath support, things are going to get mighty shaky for AQI.

This is entirely speculation, but the timing of this event could be brilliant for al-Maliki. The Iraqi people would not have accepted reintegration of former Baathists into their newly formed government. Decades of fear took that option off the table. However, with the new demon of AQI, al-Maliki may have done a master stroke in allowing the Baathists a means to redeem themselves -- and reconcile their past transgressions.

If the Baath party can be formerly reconciled with the legitimate government in such a way that leaves no potential for eventual takeover and a fall back into despotism, the Iraqi government's perceived legitimacy will soar.

Checkmate? Perhaps not. But check for sure.

Update: Ed over at Captain's Quarters has more (and better) on this topic.

Read the rest.

Debunked

This is an excellent article debunking two things you hear parroted in the MSM everyday: Hillary has experience and Obama is for change:

But this season's premier political cliche is already both hackneyed and trite, while having no obvious truth to it. I am referring to the claim that Sen. Barack Obama would bring real change to America, while Sen. Hillary Clinton would bring extensive experience to the office.

First, it is interesting to note where this cliche came from. As far as I can tell, its origins are nothing more than the campaign claims of the two candidates.
This is the sort of political commentary I would like to see. The article doesn't attack either candidate. It doesn't favor one or the other. It doesn't make any comment whatsoever on either of their political stances.

It merely shows fact -- true facts -- and lets the reader come to his own conclusion. This is what is severely lacking in the media these days, and this article is a breath of fresh air.

Read the rest.

We're in trouble

I'm pretty sure Russia has gotten rid of Vladimir Putin and replaced him with some sort of zombie-clone of Yul Brynner.
"No elephants? No wonder he is not winning war!" -- this explain's Russia's recent increase in arms and armament. You cannot win a war without elephants. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

"So let it be written, so let it be done".

This is bad news for the safety of the free world. Bad, bad news.

Read the rest.

New Heights of Brilliance

I think it must be time for the moose to go the way of the dodo.

Norway is concerned that its national animal, the moose, is harming the climate by emitting an estimated 2,100 kilos of carbon dioxide a year through its belching and farting.

Norwegian newspapers, citing research from Norway's technical university, said a motorist would have to drive 13,000 kilometers in a car to emit as much CO2 as a moose does in a year.
Its the only way to save them.

Read the rest.

I'm beginning to like him

I never thought too much of al-Maliki. His ties to Sadr and a seeming refusal to do something grated.

Something has changed now. He's got a little fire in his belly, and its hard not to like someone who will tell the US to shove it. After all, that's the attitude that got us where we are today -- and I wish we still had more of it.

"No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people," he said at a news conference in Damascus at the end of a three-day visit to Syria.

"Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria. We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our constitution and can find friends elsewhere," al-Maliki said.

Read the rest.

This is what sadness looks like

I've been blogging for over a year and following politics for quite a bit longer than that, but this has to be the most disgusting thing I've ever come across.

Democratic leaders in congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions.

...The first installment of Petraeus's testimony is scheduled to be delivered before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks...

The leading Democratic candidates for the White House have fallen into line with the campaign to praise military progress while excoriating Iraqi leaders for their unwillingness to reach political accommodations that could end the sectarian warfare.

Advisers to both said theirs were political as well as substantive statements, part of a broader Democratic effort to frame Petraeus's report before it is released next month by preemptively acknowledging some military success in the region. Aides to several Senate Democrats said they expect that to be a recurring theme in the coming weeks, as lawmakers return to hear Petraeus's testimony and to possibly take up a defense authorization bill and related amendments on the war.
I've long understood, mentally, that democrats are invested in defeat when it comes to the war. That much is easy to see. But I don't think it really hit home, ever, until I saw my own predictions of reversal, maneuvering, and flag-waving come true.

There are things you come to expect in politics: lies, bragging, half-truths and illusions. These, unfortunately, appear to be "necessary evils" of the game. I would hope that an honest person could win a campaign without them; but then again why would an honest person run for office?

Normally these things don't bother me. It's par for the course. You may as well get upset at the rain or the sun. Politicians lie, and Sunday comes before Monday. I get that. We can all accept lies and pandering: these are small evils.

But there are things which should be inviolate. I know, invoking words like "should" and "ought" involve all sorts of moral complications that liberals (and politicians) aren't too concerned with. And yet the point remains. There are topics, actions, and positions which really should be taboo.

One of these is treason. Define it any way you like: I'll stick with my pet definition of "performing acts with a conscious effort to undermine one's own nation or group". Treason for political gain shouldn't be on the table.

Still, there it is. On the news, in the paper, on their blogs. Political double talk that displays, if not outright treason, a callous indifference to toeing the line. A willingness to fight the war (as opposed to fighting the war) for no other reason than to gain votes.

Victory at any cost is usually ugly; victory at the cost of national flagellation doubly so.

At some point it begins to wear on me. I can't really stomach that level of duplicity. And obsequious repetition of the party line seems to me to be an empty excuse. Some things are just wrong.

The quotes tell the whole story. Two politicians speak out, one because she doesn't want to sound as if she's on board with this whole "winning" thing, and another because, perhaps, he's slowly waking to the reality, the dull, aching horror of what the democrats are actually doing here.
"I don't know of anybody who isn't desperately supportive of the military," she said. "People want to say positive things. But it's difficult to say positive things in this environment and not have some snarky apologist for the White House turn it into some clipped phraseology that looks like support for the president's policies."
"We should sit down with Republicans, see what would be acceptable to them to end the war and present it to the president, start negotiating from the beginning," he said, adding, "I don't know what the [Democratic] leadership is thinking. Sometimes they've done things that are beyond me."
If you're willing to sacrifice the nation that birthed you, that shelters your ambition, that promotes and enables your freedom (even the freedom to attack and destroy) what won't you do?

What good is ruling a nation that you ruined along the way to the throne?

Read the rest.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Enjoyable read

This is a good article, even if it does come from Canadia. Enjoy.

As Paul Feyerabend, one of my scientific heroes, wrote in his 1975 essay, How to defend Society against Science: “In society at large the judgement of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. Science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.”

Read the rest, its thought provoking.

Read the rest.

Watcher's Council

The members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around. Per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

The first time I submitted my writing I got zero votes. The next, a paltry 2/3 (by the recondite voting system this means one first place or two second place votes). Finally, last week I was fourth place in the non-council or "Nouncil" posts, receiving 1 1/3 votes and losing to Small Wars Journal and Captains Quarters, among others.

At any rate perhaps a more scientific approach this week will net me an ever increasing bounty of votes -- by my consensus-backed scientific methodology (tm) I should receive just over 78 votes by sometime next year, obliterating the weekly winning average of 3-4.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Read the rest.

"Consensus": Wrong

For the most scientific report ever made, the IPCC sure seems to have a lot of dissent in the climate community. Just a warning -- this has some science in it. I'm making an effort at putting everything in layman's terms, so you ought to be able to follow along.

ABSTRACT. The equilibrium sensitivity of Earth's climate is determined as the quotient of the relaxation time constant of the system and the pertinent global heat capacity. The heat capacity of the global ocean, obtained from regression of ocean heat content vs. global mean surface temperature, GMST, is 14 ± 6 W yr m-2 K-1, equivalent to 110 m of ocean water; other sinks raise the effective planetary heat capacity to 17 ± 7 W yr m-2 K-1 (all uncertainties are 1-sigma estimates). The time constant pertinent to changes in GMST is determined from autocorrelation of that quantity over 1880-2004 to be 5 ± 1 yr. The resultant equilibrium climate sensitivity, 0.30 ± 0.14K/(W m-2), corresponds to an equilibrium temperature increase for doubled CO2 of 1.1 ± 0.5 K. The short time constant implies that GMST is in near equilibrium with applied forcings and hence that net climate forcing over the twentieth century can be obtained from the observed temperature increase over this period, 0.57 ± 0.08 K, as 1.9 ± 0.9 W m-2. For this forcing considered the sum of radiative forcing by incremental greenhouse gases, 2.2 ± 0.3 W m-2, and other forcings, other forcing agents, mainly incremental tropospheric aerosols, are inferred to have exerted only a slight forcing over the twentieth century of -0.3 ± 1.0 W m-2.
Ok, I'm sorry, that was a little uncalled for. It can be heady if you're not used to it.

In all seriousness: Stephen Schwartz of the Atmospheric Science Division of Brookhaven National Laboratory has used empirical data (that is, actual recorded measurements) from the 1800s onward to develop some pertinent bits of information.
  1. Time constant / heat capacity = equilibrium sensitivity.
  2. Heat capacity = 14 ± 6 W yr/(m^2 K)
  3. Time constant = 5 ± 1 year.
  4. Equilibrium sensitivity = 0.30 ± 0.14 K/(W m-2)
  5. This implies that doubling CO2 increases global temperatures by 1.1 ± 0.5 degrees C.
The time constant indicates a constant, usually denoted by τ, that solves the equation
r(∆ t)= exp(-∆t/ τ)
for time required to move from a random perturbation back to the mean position (generally described as the time to 63% of the step function). In other words, its a constant that describes how long it takes for a system to "get to normal" after a given disturbance is introduced.

Heat capacity is also known as specific heat, and is defined simply as the amount of heat or energy required to raise a specified amount by a specified temperature. Some things are easier to heat up -- the metal in a skillet vs the plastic in the handle, for instance.

Equilibrium sensitivity gives an indication to the amount of time a system requires to respond to stimuli when the magnitude of these stimuli are taken into account -- big cups of coffee take longer to heat up than small ones, and boiling water changes at a different rate than lukewarm water. So far so good.

The big picture, then, is that he's modeling the system by the laws of thermodynamics. Just as you can model your skillet over the oven by taking the specific heat and thermal conductivity of the metal, the air between the burner and the pan, and the food inside it and determine scientifically how long it takes to cook some bacon, you can give an estimate for the ocean, the sun, and the Earth's climate.

Obviously this isn't a simple process, and he literally goes on for pages about how he arrives at these figures, but the net result is a relatively simple equation: Indeed, the overarching concepts involved in both climate change and heat transfer aren't terribly complicated. Energy in, energy out.

Some things I found very interesting in his paper follow.
Estimates of the effective ocean heat capacity have previously been presented by Andreae et al. (2005) and by Frame et al. (2005), in neither instance with description of how the quantity was calculated or any statistical analysis.
This is something which the "Peer reviewed" crowd should take careful note of. Many of the values used in science are often uncorroborated and are accepted on faith in the veracity and competence of the author. In this case the author is somewhat bemused as to how to compare his data to other results because of the lack of substantiation available in the literature for others who have performed similar work.
The relaxation time constant of Earth's climate system determined from this analysis, τ = 5 ± 1 yr, is essentially the same as that given by the energy balance model in the absence of feedbacks (Sec. 3), τ0 = 5 ± 2 yr. This result would seem to be indicative of little net feedback inherent in Earth's climate system.
This commentary is significant in a few ways.
  • A short time constant indicates that if we were to stop increasing CO2 levels magically, the Earth wouldn't continue to heat up. There's no heat "[coming down] the pipe".
  • The Earth was designed well: small fluctuations in forcing variables won't send it into a deathspiral or unstable condition.
  • Feedback mechanisms such as increased water vapor, albedo and ice melting apparently don't play as much of a role as is commonly suggested.
Finally, the kicker:
...The corresponding equilibrium increase in global mean surface temperature for doubled CO2, is ∆T2× ≈ 1.1 ± 0.3 K. (These and other results are summarized in Table 3). This climate sensitivity is much lower than current estimates, e.g., the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC, 2007], ∆T2× ≈ 3 K.
He cuts the IPCC's latest estimate for the temperature change due to a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere in half from 3K to 1.1K. 1.1K of change is well within the natural variability of the system -- even as short as 100 years ago we had temperature anomalies well in excess of -1K globally.

Al Gore and his cronies can stop trumpeting their paranoid delusional vision of global catastrophe now. For one thing its unsubstantiated in the literature: a quick glance of Schwartz' paper reveals how much raw research is still being done on global climate change with a wide degree of disagreement between studies.

Additionally, this paper reveals many of the flaws in the modeling systems the IPCC relies so heavily upon. When compared to real, recorded data the predictions simply don't match up.

Finally, this paper relies heavily upon the GISS data for global surface temperatures. As noted previously on this blog, this data set is somewhat suspect after recent amateur scientists found massive errors in normalization and recording of data. Whenever you see Hansen, et al in a climate paper, remember that the data was just fixed last week -- and has been used repeatedly in its incorrect form, which massively exaggerates upward temperature anomalies.

Read the rest.

Woohoo!

Michelle Malkin reports that GreenStone media of Hanoi Jane fame has gone out of business!

What was expected to be a relatively quiet shutdown of the failed GreenStone Media feminist talk radio network has instead turned into a noisy flap over the way its founders are treating outgoing employees.

According to two new reports, the Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Rosie O'Donnell- backed outfit appears ready to ditch its staff without providing severance payments or offering other assistance.

In addition, there have been accusations that the firm is utilizing questionable financial tactics in order to avoid giving staffers their fair due.
I'll admit it. I'm gloating right now. Not only because their stupid sexist idea didn't work, but also because they can't even go out nicely. Powerful women stiffing "empowered" women, a commentary which is trite but true.

I love it.

Read the rest.

I'm laughing hard right now

This is one of the better posts I've seen over at IMAO.

"There is a greater terror than insurgents with roadside bombs," said Edwards, "and that's low-lifes who don't make their mortgage payments on time. If elected president, I will fight against those who betray the trust of the subprime lenders by hitting them where they live - literally - and foreclosing on their houses."

"Unlike naive and inexperience candidates who talk tough on fighting foreign wars, yet have never left Iowa, or Indiana, or Idaho, or whatever stupid 'I' state they come from *cough*Senator Obama*cough*, I have significant experience fighting this particular war. I've made almost half a million dollars working for a company that specialized on getting deadbeats out of houses and back on the streets where they belong. I don't just TALK tough on poverty, I knock the shiftless bastards around, too."

However, some critics question his credibility on this issue. The company doing the foreclosing (Green Tree Servicing) was only a small subsidiary of the company Edwards worked for (Fortress Investment Group), implying that Edwards's involvement in the actual foreclosure process was merely indirect at best.

Edwards challenged that assertion.

"I don't like to brag, but I personally dragged a 67-year-old Katrina victim out of her house by the hair, flung her down into the mud, kicked her a few times & told her to start paying her damn bills on time before we had to get REALLY rough with her," said Edwards with an air of great accomplishment. "That 'I was in a hurricane' crap may get sympathy on the evening news, but I've got a hair stylist to pay. I want my damn money. I can't buy haircuts with excuses."

Oh man thats good stuff.

Read the rest.

Obama: vote for me!

Apparently Obama is both black enough and latino enough:

Obama's campaign said Monday that, if elected, the Illinois senator would lift restrictions imposed by the Bush administration and allow Cuban-Americans to visit their relatives more frequently, as well as ease limits on the amount of money they can send to their families.
Chalk up another anti-American stupid stance for him. He's really taking the pandering to a whole new level with the hispanic community; its impressive.

I found this bit to be revealing.
Unlike the early waves of immigrants who brought their entire families, often by plane, to the U.S., most Cubans now flee by boat and are forced to leave relatives behind. Fewer of these immigrants were overt political opponents of the government, and they want to be able to visit loved ones and to send money home.
So basically we've already taken in the true political exiles who actually want to flee communism and be Americans, and now we're getting the same kind of folks we get from Mexico, only these people happen to be legal because we're granting them asylum.

There is zero political or societal advantage to be gained from accepting these people any longer, particularly if they have no desire to truly leave Cuba and are merely being forced out for economic reasons. Doubly particularly if they're sending money back to support the country -- the very thing the embargo is designed to fight!

Again, the big boys step up and just shake their heads at Obama.
Mauricio Claver-Carone, a spokesman for the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Pact, which supports full sanctions, said Obama's statement could hurt U.S.-Cuban relations at a crucial time.

"I'm sure he's well intentioned," Claver-Carone said, but he added that with the death of Castro possibly approaching and the potential for change on the island, such a statement could send the wrong message.
In Texas that statement would be followed with "bless his heart," which is a verbal bandaid that allows a person to say just about anything about someone else without sounding judgmental or mean. However, I couldn't have come up with a better way to describe Obama, and if he (by some deus ex machina) manages to fumble his way into the Democratic nomination it will be a perfect slogan to fight his campaign:
"I'm sure he's well intentioned, bless his heart."

Read the rest.

Help me

Can anyone explain to me what this means?

New military tactics in Iraq are working but the best way to honor U.S. soldiers is "by beginning to bring them home," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told war veterans Monday.

"It's working. We're just years too late in changing our tactics," she said. "We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war. We have to keep preparing to fight the new war."
What New War are we preparing for? Do we need to bring the troops home to fight the Kwazy Kossacks?

Note the shift (from April 11,2007):
First, we've got to face up to the reality that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. It is not improving, and all the happy talk in the world will not fix the grim reality on the ground. My plan to end the war confronts that reality head on. I introduced legislation called "The Iraq Troop Protection and Reduction Act." Under it, we would begin redeployment of our troops out of Iraq in 90 days. I have been pushing this plan for almost two years. The bill would fight the President's escalation by capping the number of troops in Iraq. It would also prohibit sending more troops to escalate a failed strategy.
Doesn't that make you want to vomit? All the happy talk in the world won't fix it -- but the troop increase Petraeus wanted, that you opposed for two years, will. Looky looky: Hillary Clinton was flat out wrong.

Read the rest.

Russia threatens Czechs

Russia is doing more saber rattling: you can read it here. I won't bore you by repeating the details. There's not a lot of obfuscation going on that would need clarification. My readers are smart people.

There is an interesting point embedded in the article that I think merits review:

He said the Czech Republic should hold off making a decision until after the U.S. presidential election, scheduled to take place in late 2008. Incumbent George W. Bush will not be running.

"I and my Russian colleagues simply ask that that process continue through to October-November of 2008, and I think you can all guess why."

Asked by a reporter to clarify [this guy was clearly some kind of idiot], he said: "I do not exclude that a new administration in the United States will re-evaluate the current administration's decisions on missile defense."
Again, I understand that this is about as subtle as a punch to the groin. The only thing he didn't do here was wink repeatedly while nudging the reporters: "Ehh? Ehh? Ehhh???". But I just wanted to make sure you saw that again. It should doubleplus reaffirm that democrats are not strong on foreign policy. The world may revile Bush, they may hate his guts, they may think we're a bunch of bullying, strong-arm scumbags...but they don't mess with us.

Love or hate John McClane, you still wouldn't want to be Hans, right?

I think its pretty obvious here that the Russians are counting on Hillary to win. Then they'll have someone who is sympathetic with their world views in the White House, rather than someone who might -- just might -- say yippee-ki-yay mother$^%&@# in a do-or-die situation. Can you really see any of the "progressive" candidates enjoying Die Hard?

Read the rest.

Tuesday's Skim

Here's a sampling of quasi-interesting articles out there today. None of these really rate their own post, so here ya go.

This one is kind of funny:

Rep. Bob Filner is facing an assault and battery charge after an incident at Dulles Airport where he allegedly pushed an United Airlines bag claim employee as first reported by ABC7/Newschannel 8. Filner, a Democrat from California, allegedly attempted to enter an employees-only area on Sunday night. Van Cleave spoke with several witnesses who said they heard Filner yell "You can't stop me," before pushing aside the employee and refusing to leave the office.
Next, we have the whatever of India berating us for global warming...
West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday accused the US of being "largely responsible for global warming". His comments come at a time when the CPIM leadership has locked horns with the Congress-led UPA government over the controversial Indo-US nuke deal.

Addressing a seminar on global warming organised by Bengal National Chamber of Commerce, Mr Bhattacharjee said: "It is strange that the Americans who are responsible for global warming are now advising us on how to improve environment.

Way back in 1992, it was decided by the nations of the world to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 50%. And it is the US in particular, who have violated the Kyoto Protocol."

"The global warming created by the US and other European nations have led to water scarcity and tropical diseases the world over," said a visibly agitated Mr Bhattacharjee.
Blah blah blah, US bad, third world good. Human rights bad, India good. CO2 bad, Kyoto good: US economy bad, destroying it so we can catch up good. And PS send us more uranium (funny that he keeps talking about megawatts when I'm sure he means kilotons...)

Foreclosures are up.

This'll make you chuckle...or cry, whatever happens to be your reaction to extreme irony:
Calderon has repeatedly pushed the U.S. to take more responsibility in fighting the two countries' common drug problem, including doing more to stop the flow of illegal U.S. arms into Mexico and trying to combat the demand for drugs north of the border.
Getting fat isn't because you intake more calories than you expend, fatty -- its not your fault because someone got you sick, see?

Perhaps she should run, for president, then?
Barack Obama often says that his wife, Michelle, is smarter than he is, stronger than he is, and gives better speeches than he does.

Read the rest.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Comments

I really love finding semi-obscure political articles on the net and reading the comments. It really demonstrates to me the differences between left and right in this country. I'm reprinting these from a CNN.com article about Karl Rove, and I'm not intentionally picking the "good" rightist ones and the "bad" leftist. It is what it is.

I'ld bet that if the Clinton campaign had enough money to hire Rove, he'ld accept, and run her campaign into the White House. After all, he was successful in getting a failed business man, Yale C-average, barely two-termer former Texas governor into the White House. And like a typical republican, he'ld do it for the right price.
She voted against giving a tax break to people paying for their own healthcare. She voted against people being able to take more control over their lives as it relate to SS and healthcare.

Sounds like the American public is invisible to her.
Coming from the sleaziest Pol in the history of this country, Rove's comments are a reminder about how badly we need to get rid of Bush and his entire crime family.
A quick scan of this blog certainly proves Hillary IS a divisive personality.

These posts reveal she is either the second coming or satan herself.

Do we need more of that in our national discourse?
Mrs clinton says our President doesn't care about health care for the Amercian people, well she was in the white house with Mr Clinton for 8 years and worked on health care and did what, nothing , she failed there and she thinks she can do it if she is President God for bid, she can't blame the President then if she is in office cause it would be her to try and do what she couldn't do in 8 years.
I just can't beleive people are still willing to defend bush and his administration. All he has done is reinitiate Nazi terror control over the american people with anti-civil liberty legislation and fear mongering. The world will be a better place with someone who cannot be bought in the white house. I think Hillary is that person. If not, we're all screwed.
The audacity of this man to critique!!
His "Agenda" has crippled this country. His "Ideas" whispered into the ear of a gullible and simple political puppet have mired this nation in a conflict that has cost almost 4000 American Patriots their lives.
When he steps forward and takes responsibility he will have the right to critique but until then he should keep his opinions to himself and spend a little more time in self reflection.
His "Architecture of Destruction" has poisoned the United States and it will take decades to recover from this debacle.
Hillary Clinton has already admitted she is bought and paid for. She refuses to do away with money from PACS and special interest groups.

This person is bought, paid for, and already stamped "MINE" by way too many special interest groups.

NO THANKS! Not another incompetent Clinton in the WH.
What does Karl mean when he says Hillary is "fatally flawed?" That sounds like a threat against her resolved by a fatal act. I hope the Secret Service interviews him and asks him why he threatened the presidential candidates life.
This doesn't matter anyway. Cheney already has a plan to postpone the election under martial law (war with Iran) and not relinquish power in January 2009. 4 more years of Cheney/Bush!!!
The left is Anti-Bush, even though Bush isn't running. They're also Pro-Hillary and Pro-Edwards: some even think Edwards could win in the general election.

Now I'm not saying there aren't idiots on the interweb commenting sphere that are rabidly Republican either. But this is a decently randomized sample...and look at what you get. Its amazing.

Read the rest.

Bad idea

Obama is talking again. Some of the things he's saying sound suspiciously similar to campaign promises made by high school student body presidents...Vote for me and it'll be pizza every day!

To make the government more accountable, Obama said he would post all non-emergency bills online for five days before he signed them into law, allowing Americans a chance to weigh in on the legislation. In addition, he said he would post all meetings between lobbyists and government agencies online.

Obama said he would require Cabinet officials to speak to Americans via national broadband town-hall style meetings to discuss issues at their agencies. He also pledged to issue an executive order that information about the government's operations must be released to those seeking it unless it could harm a protected interest.
This is why we have an elected body of representatives. The time for Americans to "weigh in" on legislation is when its being written, not when its already gone through committee, debate, revision, and been voted on in two houses of congress.

Cabinet officials should report to the president, not the people.

That's the beauty of the executive branch of government. It was given power by the founding fathers -- significant power -- and it is supposed to be used. One of these powers is that of the "bully pulpit," used to request the American people to lobby congress for an issue the President feels important. Again, that's the time to get folks involved. Not when its a binary yes/no to veto question.

I don't think I'm going to follow Obama's statements any more. They're ridiculous and childish. The man either knows nothing about the government he works in or he's just saying whatever he thinks will make people happy...only he's not very good at it.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Profile of a Liberal

This Reason Magazine article talks about an experiment designed to gauge people's altruism. It comes up with some not so surprising results -- which reveal a lot about why people vote liberal:

Here's one of Smith's experiments: Two total strangers are placed in separate rooms. They never meet, they never learn each others' names, and they come and go by separate entrances. One of them is selected randomly to receive 10 one-dollar bills and an envelope. He can put any number of bills in the envelope and send it by messenger to the other subject. Then everyone takes his money and goes home.
Simple economics predicts that no money ever goes in the envelope. And that prediction is borne out about two-thirds of the time. The remainder of the time, the prediction is still not far off. When there's anything in the envelope, it's most often a single dollar bill.
...
Now we come to the dark and unsettling part. James Cox, one of Smith's colleagues at the University of Arizona, has been running a variant of this experiment where subjects know that everything they put in the envelope will get tripled by the experimenter before it's sent to the other room. If they give up a dollar; the other guy gets three. If they give up 10, he gets 30.

In the Cox experiment, even with elaborate anonymity procedures, subjects gave up a lot more money. In fact, virtually all of the subjects put at least a dollar in the envelope, and instead of $1.08, the average envelope contained $3.63 (so the other guy got $10.89 on average). In other words, subjects give more generously when they can get a bigger bang for their buck.

Altruism means personally paying for the privilege of enriching a total stranger. That's not what these people are doing at all. Instead, they're paying for the privilege of taking money away from one total stranger -- namely the taxpayer who's funding the experiment (through the University of Arizona and the National Science Foundation) -- and giving it to another total stranger who happens to be in the next room. There's no sense in which that makes the world a richer place. And the subjects do all this without knowing anything at all about either stranger or having any reason to believe that one is more deserving than the other.
It makes them feel better to have done so; they feel as if they're doing good. They get the "feel good" factor of $9 bucks for spending (on average) $3, while with the non-matching scenario they either get the feel good factor of $3 for spending three.

And they're right: it is scary. If anything, its an indictment of our tax-the-rich system that liberals love so much.

Read the rest.

Magic!

To further support my theory that the media knows jack squat about guns, fighting, the military, etc., I present to you this information (h/t Rachel Lucas):

Captioned thusly by the AP:

An elderly Iraqi woman shows two bullets which she says hit her house following an early coalition forces raid in the predominantly Shiite Baghdad suburb of Sadr City. At least 175 people were slaughtered on Tuesday and more than 200 wounded when four suicide truck bombs targeted people from an ancient religious sect in northern Iraq, officials said.(AFP/Wissam al-Okaili)
Now anyone with half a brain would have said "You're an idiot" and gotten a better photograph. And if they really don't know that those shells have not been fired, they're criminally ignorant and shouldn't be allowed to feed me my news.

If you don't see what's wrong with that picture, well...sorry. You're ignorant too. But at least, presumably, you're not in Iraq reporting stuff to the world.

Update: Ok, so instead of the person being stupid and gullible, they're stupid and inept. Hot Air has more on the latest in fauxtography. The idiot's name is Wissam al-Okaili, and he's taken quite a few interesting pictures.

Like this one of Muqtada al-Sadr. Gee, he must be a great reporter to get that close to Sadr. There's no chance at all that Wissam actually works for him or anything like that.

Especially considering that all of his photos are taken in Sadr City, usually connected with an evil coalition raid that killed innocents. Totally unbiased. We're fortunate he's too stupid to know the difference in appearance between fired and unfired rounds.

Update II: More here.
Let's go back for a moment to the lady holding the ammunition above, and focus on the catridges in her hands. What kind of ammunition is it?

I don't think that it is either 7.62x51 NATO or 7.62x39, or 7.62x54R. The bullets themselves are too small, and overall, appear to be the wrong size and shape.

That would seem to narrow this down to the smaller class of assault rifle bullets, primarily the 5.56 NATO in common use by U.S. soldiers as the standard chambering for the M4, M16, and M249. Indeed, that is probably what they want you to infer from these photos.

But here's the thing: The standard 62-grain M855 5.56 ball ammo used by our military today has a green tip, the M856 tracer has an orange tip, the M995 AP a black tip, and the Mk262 is a hollowpoint with an open tip.

The picture seems to show common commercial 55-grain civilian ball ammunition patterned after the Vietnam-era M193. With this in mind, I'd state that this ammunition wasn't even dropped by American forces, as they don't carry such ammunition.

Update III: Yahoo has taken the photo down. Edit: Actually it just moves as they add more photos.

Read the rest.

Barack Obama is an idiot

I tried to not do it. Through his Barackalypse moment with Pakistan and his meek refusal to ever nuke anyone, ever, period I refrained from calling him an idiot. Despite his lack of any sort of meaningful experience, I was willing to give him a shot -- anything is better than Hillary, right?

I'm afraid I can't any longer. This is the smoking gun; this is the proof. Barack Obama is a freaking idiot.

Its beyond stupid. Its undignified. Pandering on the most basic level. "What's your favorite song, Senator?"

"Oh, just this little number I like to call...'Look how Latino I can be'."

Update: WILLisms.com has a nice list and summary on this position:

  • When asked how we would respond to another major al-Qaeda attack on the U.S., he talked about disaster response instead of military action.
  • Last May, in the wake of the deadly Kansas tornado, Obama said "Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed". The death toll was actually 12 people.
  • Obama stated that he would meet with enemy dictators - without any preconditions.
  • Not long after, he said "if we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharaf will not act, we will." With allies like Obama, who needs enemies?
  • He then declared that the use of nuclear weapons against al-Qaeda were "not on the table."
  • Obama just last week referred to the 'president' of Canada. Canada has a prime minister, not a president.
  • "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there."
And the singing. You can't forget that.

Read the rest.

50/50

Newt is a smart guy, but he's kind of a blowhard.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday he is "sickened" that President Bush and Congress went on vacation "while young Americans in our cities are massacred" by illegal immigrants.

"The federal government's incompetence, timidity and uncoordinated efforts to identify and deport criminal illegal aliens have had devastating consequences for innocent Americans," Gingrich said, in a newsletter.

Gingrich said that the "war here at home" against illegal immigrants is "even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"As an American, I am sickened that the political leadership of America could continue to go on vacation and do nothing," he said. "Why are the August vacations for the president and the Congress more precious than the lives of young Americans who are being killed because of government incompetence and inaction."
Dafydd discussed the "vacation" issue on August 10th:

Bush receives ambassadors and other official visitors at Crawford; he commands military actions and manages rescue and recovery actions by FEMA from Crawford; he drafts executive orders and legislation he hopes to get through Congress, lobbies congressmen, meets with his cabinet, prepares for foreign trips, spends hours on the phone with various officials, writes speeches, manages personnel problems, holds press conferences, and interviews potential federal appointees. A "vacation" like that I need like a hole in the head...

So let's be honest: Bush has not spent 418 days on "vacation;" he has spent 418 days at the Crawford branch office. It's possible that on some of those days, he did no work... possible, but not likely; the presidency is a 24-7 job. More likely, he even works on Sundays (after church) and holidays.

President of the United States isn't something you do, its something you are. When this potshot comes from the liberal media its one thing. To hear it from Newt is quite another. Gingrich should know better.

I find it interesting that Gingrich is taking his own advice regarding "how to win in 2008". He suggested that Republicans emulate Sarkozy's recent victory in France by not running against the Democratic candidate but instead campaigning against Bush.

Its going to be mighty confusing when both sides are talking about nothing other than how much not like Bush they are.
Gingrich said that President Bush should call Congress back into special session for three days to pass a bill in honor of the slain students.

The measure should order the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security to outsource the development of an identification system to check the legal status of felons and have it up and running by Jan. 1, 2008, he said.

In addition, it should withdraw federal aid from any city, county or state that refuses to participate in checking the legal status of arrested felons, Gingrich said.
Now this really isn't a bad idea. And thats the big problem with Newt Gingrich. Its like 50/50 hot air and brilliance. I'm not convinced thats a viable mix.

Read the rest.

Giuliani on Immigration

Giuliani says he can stop illegal immigration:

The ID card and other immigration proposals have been part of Giuliani's campaign speeches for several months. He says he would allow a pathway to citizenship only for illegal immigrants who identify themselves as illegal, who learn English and who go to the back of the line to apply.
If there's a person who might be able to do it, its Giuliani.

Still, the only candidate who has come forward with any sort of common sense -- stop the bleeding, close the border -- is Fred Thompson.

It'll be interesting to see how the primaries turn out.

Read the rest.

Heh

Michael Vick is being sued -- for $63,000,000,000 billion!

Riches alleges that Vick stole two white mixed pit bull dogs from his home in Holiday, Fla., and used them for dogfighting operations in Richmond, Va. The complaint goes on to allege that Vick sold the dogs on eBay and “used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government.”

The complaint also alleges that Vick would need those missiles because he pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year.

“Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes,” Riches writes in the complaint.
You can read the hand-written filing here if you're so inclined.

Read the rest.

Cool

This is promising:

A unique gene that can stop cancerous cells from multiplying into tumours has been discovered by a team of scientists at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver.

The team, led by Dr. Poul Sorensen, says the gene has the power to suppress the growth of human tumours in multiple cancers, including breast, lung and liver.

The gene, HACE 1, helps cells fight off stress that, left unchecked, opens the door to formation of multiple tumours.

Dr. Sorensen's team found cancerous cells form tumours when HACE 1 is inactive, but when additional stress such as radiation is added, tumour growth is rampant.

Kick-starting HACE 1 prevented those cells from forming tumours.

The study appears in the advance online publication of Nature Medicine.

Read the rest.

This is what I like to see

It seems the Bush administration is finally willing to push back against Iran:

The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances.

The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said. The decision follows congressional pressure on the administration to toughen its stance against Tehran, as well as U.S. frustration with the ineffectiveness of U.N. resolutions against Iran's nuclear program, officials said.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard isn't a normal military operation. In a way, they hold the country hostage through massive amounts of business interests.
"They are heavily involved in everything from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications and pipelines -- even the new Imam Khomeini Airport and a great deal of smuggling," said Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations. "Many of the front companies engaged in procuring nuclear technology are owned and run by the Revolutionary Guards. They're developing along the lines of the Chinese military, which is involved in many business enterprises. It's a huge business conglomeration."

The Revolutionary Guard Corps -- with its own navy, air force, ground forces and special forces units -- is a rival to Iran's conventional troops. Its naval forces abducted 15 British sailors and marines this spring, sparking an international crisis, and its special forces armed Lebanon's Hezbollah with missiles used against Israel in the 2006 war. The corps also plays a key role in Iran's military industries, including the attempted acquisition of nuclear weapons and surface-to-surface missiles, according to Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Its an interesting model for a country's military to take. The Revolutionary Guard's forces are nearly as big as Iran's true army. When you combine that with political clout (Ahmadinejad gained power by rising up their ranks) and massive amounts of money, you've got a pretty good way to ensure a stranglehold on a nation.

Fortunately, these same aspects make them particularly vulnerable to what we can do without making an international incident: financial warfare.

I wonder how long it will be before we begin seeing an embargo-like effect in Iran itself due to this tag on one of their biggest "corporations".

Read the rest.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Before Gore

The Washington Post mentioned the bad GISS / NASA temperature data in passing, and offered some nice anecdotal evidence to boot:

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt."

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention "great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones," and "at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared."

"This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s," says Mr. Lockwood. "I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all."

Read the rest.

Harvey: Straight Shooter

Harvey over at IMAO answers a question. Oh for politicians with this level of straight talk.

In a terribly off-topic comment to a John Edwards post, anonymous commenter with no contact information Yak asks:
Exactly why is the U.S. deployed in Iraq, according to you?
Fine.

Let's stop mincing words.

We're in Iraq because Muslims have stated over and over and over that their only goal is to kill all non-Muslims.

After 9/11, we started taking them at their word, and since we didn't want to be killed, our only choice was to start killing Muslims before they killed us.

Iraq had Muslims in it, so it was as good a place to start as any. In fact, better than most, because it was in the heart of Muslim country, and having troops there gives us a credible force-projection threat throughout the entire putrid, corrupt, murderous Muslim region. It's easier to kill Muslims in other countries from Iraq than it is from Kuwait.

And now Muslims have two choices:

They can reform their vicious, degenerate religion so that it allows for peaceful co-existence with other religions and - after embracing this enlightened, live-and-let-live philosophy whole-heartedly - they can become productive members of the civilized world, much like post-WWII Germany and Japan.

OR

They can be exterminated like vermin.

All the rest of this crap about WMD's, and mass graves, and liberation, and oil fields, and insurgents is just so much political window-dressing. America is fighting for its life against an insidious, deadly ideology. The people who cling to that sick, 7th-century belief system must either change their minds or be killed.

I wish with all my heart that we had enough manpower to conquer every damn last Muslim nation on earth and root this virus out once and for all, but we don't. So we'll start in Iraq, dragging these barbarians kicking and screaming into the 21st century. After that, hopefully the rest of the Muslim world will get the point. If not, there will be further examples, nation by nation, until they do.

Then, when the Muslim world is either civilized or dead, the war will be over.

I hope that answers your question.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

More on Bad Data

Global warming is (not) in the news again, thanks to a bunch of bad data from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). A brief summary is required.

Temperature stations around the country (and globe) measure the temperature all the time. This data is handy for weathermen to say "it is 4 degrees hotter than normal today" and to look for global warming (or cooling, I suppose). Unfortunately, urbanization has crept around many of these once-rural stations, ruining their readings: concrete and buildings hold heat, and in some cases things like air conditioning have been found to blow hot air directly onto the stations.

GISS accounts for this by "adjusting" the data for urbanization. Unfortunately, it would appear that they based their adjustments to the net data on the bad stations, making the whole thing skew upward. Additionally, they seem to have some sort of Y2K bug in their programming, showing a ridiculously large jump from 2000 onward.

All this was found by amateur bloggers and scientists. Here's a few articles weighing in to state the significance of this far better than I can:
From the discoverer of the error, Steve McIntyre:

...[O[n Jan 7, 2007, NOAA announced that "The 2006 average annual temperature for the contiguous U.S. was the warmest on record." This press release was widely covered as you can determine by googling “warmest year 2006 united states”...while Schmidt describes the changes atop the leader board as “very minor re-arrangements”, many followers of the climate debate are aware of intense battles over 0.1 or 0.2 degrees... Readers might perform a little thought experiment: suppose that Spencer and Christy had published a temperature history in which they claimed that 1934 was the warmest U.S. year on record and then it turned out that they had been a computer programming error opposite to the one that Hansen made, that Wentz and Mears discovered there was an error of 0.15 deg C in the Spencer and Christy results and, after fiixing this error, it turned out that 2006 was the warmest year on record. Would realclimate[.org] simply describe this as a “very minor re-arrangement”?
Also at Coyote Blog:
In a week when Newsweek chose to argue that climate skeptics need to shut up, this incident actually proves why two sides are needed for a quality scientific debate. Hansen and his folks missed this Y2K bug because, as a man-made global warming cheerleader, he expected to see temperatures going up rapidly so he did not think to question the data. Mr. Hansen is world-famous, is a friend of luminaries like Al Gore, gets grants in quarter million dollar chunks from various global warming believers. All his outlook and his incentives made him want the higher temperatures to be true. It took other people with different hypotheses about climate to see the recent temperature jump for what it was: An error.
There's also a letter from Hansen responding to the new revelations and a response to his response here.
Hansen may have been for 1934 before he was against it. But now that he’s for 1934 once again, he can’t say that he was for it all along.

In the NASA press release in 1999 , Hansen was very strongly for 1934. He said then: The U.S. has warmed during the past century, but the warming hardly exceeds year-to-year variability.Indeed, in the U.S. the warmest decade was the 1930s and the warmest year was 1934.

However within only two years, this relationship had changed dramatically. In Hansen et al 2001 (referred to in the Lights On letter), 1934 and 1998 were in a virtual dead heat with 1934 in a slight lead. Hansen et al 2001 said:

The U.S. annual (January-December) mean temperature is slightly warmer in 1934 than in 1998 in the GISS analysis (Plate 6)… the difference between 1934 and 1998 mean temperatures is a few hundredths of a degree.
This website has all the data laid out for visual use. Enjoy.

Read the rest.

Great Quote

I just read a very profound statement from historian and author John M. Barry:

American populism has always been a complex phenomenon containing an ugly element, an element of exclusivity and divisiveness. It has always had an "us" against a "them". The "them" often included not only an enemy above but also an enemy below. The enemy above was whoever was viewed as the boss, whether a man like Percy, or a Wall Street, or Jews, or Washington; in the 1920s the enemy below was Catholics, immigrants, blacks, and political radicals. - Rising Tide, p. 154.

I think thats just as true of the Klan of the 1920s as it is of the newly crowned "progressives" (vice "liberals") of today.

Read the rest.

Warning: Math

For all the global warming critics who always say things like "I want you to find one just one paper that refutes what Al Gore says!" I've got one thats pretty good.

Unfortunately, unless you've taken a heat transfer course it'll probably be muck to you. At any rate, take it on faith that I followed the calculations, and they're correct.

The essence of the paper / exercise is that CO2 can't physically absorb-reject enough heat to cause the changes that are being attributed to it. This also means that it can't be the instigator in the so-called 'water vapor feedback' cycle that everyone loves to talk about.

An excerpt:

Considering the whole mixture of air the Δq by Solar Irradiance absorbed-emitted by the mixed air would only be 0.734 W/m^2*K (0.175 th-cal). From this quantity, the CO2 can store 0.012 W/m^2*K (0.003 th-cal) by radiation for only one second, which is equivalent to 0.01 °C.

The maximum change observed in the tropospheric temperature occurred in 1998, and it averaged 0.52 °C throughout the year. The discrepancy, regarding the change caused by carbon dioxide is -0.51 °C.

To cause a variation in the tropospheric temperature of 0.62 °C (registered in 1998) required 1627.6 ppmv of CO2, a density of atmospheric CO2 that has never been recorded or documented anywhere in the last 420000 years. (Petit et al. 1999)

The total change in the tropospheric temperature of 0.62 °C was only given for the duration of one minute of one year (1998) since 1850; however, CO2 has increased the tropospheric temperature by only 0.01 °C. From where did the other 0.51 °C come from?
If you like math, go for it.

I think its time for global warming global climate change supporters to start backing their stuff up with cold, hard, math.

Read the rest.

Good News

More good news out of Iraq:

The number of truck bombs and other large al-Qaeda-style attacks in Iraq have declined nearly 50% since the United States started increasing troop levels in Iraq about six months ago, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq.

The high-profile attacks — generally large bombs hitting markets, mosques or other "soft" targets that produce mass casualties — have dropped to about 70 in July from a high during the past year of about 130 in March, according to the Multi-National Force — Iraq.

Successes against al-Qaeda have also been helped by shifting Sunni public opinion and a growing number of insurgent defections, the military says.

"Tribes and people are starting to stand up and fight back," said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commander of the U.S. division north of Baghdad. "They are turning against al-Qaeda."

Some of the groups have provided intelligence on their former al-Qaeda allies, Lt. Col. Rick Welch, a staff officer who works with tribes, has said.

The increased security in many neighborhoods has also prompted more civilians to come forth with tips, officers said.
This is exactly the effect that a counterinsurgency is supposed to have. Its looking more and more like Gen. Petraeus will be reporting good news in September.

Read the rest.

Watcher of Weasels

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Here's my last submission, Lexicon, for which I got 2/3 votes. That's either one first-place vote or two second place votes. Perhaps I can do better this week.

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Well, yeah...its what we've been saying

Democrats are grudgingly admitting what most Republicans have been saying all along -- Iraq isn't a situation thats going to fix itself, and Saigon-style abandonment really isn't an option:

Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home, the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years.

John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, would keep troops in the region to intervene in an Iraqi genocide and be prepared for military action if violence spills into other countries. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York would leave residual forces to fight terrorism and to stabilize the Kurdish region in the north. And Senator Barack Obama of Illinois would leave a military presence of as-yet unspecified size in Iraq to provide security for American personnel, fight terrorism and train Iraqis.
Er...isn't that precisely what we're doing now?
“We’ve got to be prepared to control a civil war if it starts to spill outside the borders of Iraq,” Mr. Edwards, who has run hard against the war, said at a Democratic debate in Chicago this week. “And we have to be prepared for the worst possibility that you never hear anyone talking about, which is the possibility that genocide breaks out and the Shi’a try to systematically eliminate the Sunni. As president of the United States, I would plan and prepare for all those possibilities.”
I love how suddenly the buzzword for Iraq (or anywhere that may involve military intervention) is "genocide". Darfur, Iraq, Bosnia; if there's genocide, the Democrats are there! Huzzah for America! Huzzah for the Left!

... Mrs. Clinton often says, “If this president does not end this war before he leaves office, when I am president, I will.” But she has affirmed in recent months remarks she made to The New York Times in March, when she said that there were “remaining vital national security interests in Iraq” that would require a continuing deployment of American troops. The United States’ security, she said then, would be undermined if part of Iraq turned into a failed state” that serves as a Petri dish for insurgents and Al Qaeda.”
I thought we weren't fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq? Note to Sen. Clinton: the official Party Line is that its a civil war, not Al Qaeda, that we're currently fighting.

All the anti-war candidates are talking out of both sides of their mouth. This will come back to bite them. The Sheehans and Kossacks of the world are literally crazy about the war issue and no amount of rational discussion over the relative worth of troops in the region or terrorist breeding grounds will pacify them.

Do these sound familiar to you?
“It is time to bring our troops home because it has made us less safe,” Mr. Obama said to a throng of supporters, cheering wildly despite the pouring rain, at a campaign stop in New Hampshire last month.

Mrs. Clinton has been equally vocal in making “bringing the troops home” a central theme. In February, she said her message to the Iraqi government would be simple: “I would say ‘I’m sorry, it’s over. We are not going to baby-sit a civil war.’ ”

Both candidates, in interviews or debates, have said that they would not support intervening in a genocidal war should the majority Shiites slaughter Sunnis — and Sunnis retaliate — on a much greater scale than now takes place.
Oops. I guess yKos is over now, so the candidates can come back to reality.

Read the rest.

Are you black enough?

Our country can be such a ridiculous place. We suffer through decades of segregation, wrongheaded race-based social protection policy and Jim Crow laws only to arrive at this: Senator Clinton (or Obama, for that matter) are you black enough?

Senator Clinton, are you black enough?

The question usually aimed at her darker opponent from Chicago triggered a burst of laughter from Hillary Rodham Clinton. She recovered from the barb and proceeded by not answering it.
...
The national crisis with African-Americans, she said, concerned the "1.4 million young men of color between the ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school, and out of work and too often out of hope. It includes nearly one out of every three young African-American men. They're not earning legal wages or learning marketable skills; many grow up without fathers, locked up in prisons, or end up losing their lives, or taking lives, due to guns and violence."
Of course, it is a terrible situation. But let me remind you that blacks in America were on their way up, doing well in the level playing field (and even making great strides while playing 'uphill,' so to speak, before civil rights reform) until they were crushed by welfare dependence.

Statistically its not so hard to see. A perfect example of the ability of men of any race to excel in an environment which does not specifically limit them is the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. In 1900 Indiana Judge Robert Taylor noted
"[the Delta allows] the negro to better his condition...In considerable and increasing numbers he is buying land and becoming an independent cultivator...Nowhere else in the south are as favorable opportunities offered to the black man as in the reclaimed Mississippi lowlands, and nowhere else is he doing as much for his own uplifting."
In 1900 the average family on the Delta made $1,000 -- or about $20,000 of todays dollars, in a time when a little could buy a lot. But that number came from over 120,000 blacks and only 20,000 whites. Indeed, blacks in the Delta were making equivalent (or better) sums of money than many whites all over the South, primarily due to their efforts "for [their] own uplifting".

The early 20th century was not a good time for America. Growing pains rarely are. One particular nastiness that developed was a departure from so-called "Social Darwinism" which respected black men enough to allow them to compete -- as men -- against whites. Largely fueled by politician-inspired racism 100% Americanism, the rebirth of the KKK and Jim Crow laws hurt not only blacks but any non-Anglo-Saxon immigrant, Catholics, Jews, gamblers and drinkers. However, out of the mix of the Depression rose a black society that was gathering itself, and was beginning to truly compete in America. This was not accomplished by advantaging them; it was accomplished by not disadvantaging them.

E. Franklin Frazier studied black family economics in the 1930's and noted a disproportionately high number of "urban Negro families with women heads". Throughout the 1940's almost 25% of all black families were headed by females. However this number was static through the 1950's, but increased from 25% to over 40% in the period of 1965 to 1980. This period coincides perfectly with well-meaning (or power hungry) folks like Senator Clinton implementing the unfortunate cycle of welfare dependence.

Blacks in America have still not recovered from the blow they received at the hands of white welfare checks. And rather than recognizing this fact, our current "Black leaders" (whether black, sort of black, or not black) are striving to continue faster down the same path, to throw good money after bad.

So, Senator Clinton, I ask you this: Are you black enough to recognize that the way you fix "economic crises" that are staggeringly race based is not by unfairly advantaging or disadvantaging one side?

Sources:
Barry, John. Rising Tide, 1998.
Darity, et al. Changes in Black Family Structure: Implications for Welfare Dependency. The American Economic Review, Vol. 73, No. 2, pp. 59-64.

Read the rest.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'm not sure I agree

Clinton splits hairs over what "socialized" means:

Clinton was asked why as a candidate for president she is "still insisting" on bringing "socialized medicine" to the United States, when people are "pulling away" from similar systems in Canada and Great Britain. Worse, the questioner said, such systems hurt rather than help poor people.

"That was a string of misrepresentations about me and about the systems in other countries," Clinton started. "Number one, I have never advocated socialized medicine, and I hope all the journalists here heard that loudly and clearly because that has been a right-wing attack on me for 15 years."

Clinton then asserted that "on balance," countries with uniform national systems of health care, including Japan, Australia and Canada, offer better health care than the United States. The answer left her questioner shaking his head in disagreement.
So explain to me what the difference between socialized medicine and Hillary Care is? Apparently she believes it is the ability to choose which doctor you go to -- implying some kind of competitive ability within the marketplace. However, that's only one part of the supply and demand equation.

Let's have a quick recap shall we? Capitalism (and all true markets) are driven by scarcity. There are two things that enable the consumer to differentiate between product or service providers: cost and quality.

Medicare (presumably) allows the consumer to differentiate between service providers for quality, but not cost -- because ultimately its not their money. The price of payment is set at least in part by the government. This is the same as if the government garnished all wages and redistributed them for any necessity in life. But wait...isn't that socialism? According to Clinton it isn't, because only a "small minority" of Americans believe that it is. Didn't you know popular opinion dictates facts?

This is a stupid, stupid argument. Another analogy is in store. What if under HillaryDrive, a percentage of all paychecks was taken to provide auto insurance and a "vehicle for All America"! The best part is, its not socialism if the consumer chooses which vehicle they buy...right?

The fact that there are (sort of) private companies ultimately providing services doesn't change the fact that the means of payment is through a forced redistribution of wealth -- the primary tenet of socialism.

Read the rest.