February 28, 2007

I'M SORRY, ARE YOU A SCIENTIST?

I'm sure by now you've heard that Al Gore uses twenty times as much power as the rest of us do. In his defense, the blog ThinkProgress explains Gore's consumption and ends with this statement:

There is no meaningful debate within the scientific community, so the right-wing busies itself with talk about how much electricity Al Gore’s house uses — and even then they distort the truth.

I found this link at Jim Treacher's blog, where he makes the following hilarious post:

Not to mention that if I can barely afford my electric bill when I keep my thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter and only turn on the lights at night to keep from tripping and breaking my neck when I get up to take a piss, how am I supposed to afford "carbon offsets"?

It's great that he's using solar panels and all that, but notice he's not disputing how huge his electric bill still is. What the hell is he doing in there? Is he a Terminator from the future and requires constant recharging? (That would explain pretty much everything.)

Which led me to his comments section and to this astute thought from Mark V:

By the way, that bit about there being no meaningful debate WITHIN the scientific community is bullshit. The ONLY meaningful debate out there is WITHIN the scientific community. And then it's among only some members of the scientific community.

The problem is there is no meaningful debate among the public at large. Thanks Hollywood and MSM!

Something that people across the globe need to remind themselves of every single day. I'm not even convinced that we have enough knowledge and technology to accurately predict global weather trends, but the only people remotely approaching this level of knowledge are climate scientists. Not Al Gore, not Hollywood actors, not granola kids on college campuses. Let's all stop acting like we're outside with thermometers doing the research ourselves and stop talking in absolutes.

Now excuse me while I go put on a sweater. We can't afford to heat our house above 65.

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February 27, 2007

INTERESTING

I heard on the TV over the weekend that the cadre from West Point visited the writers of 24 and asked them to tone it down because they were having a hard time convincing cadets that torture is not the way. I'm struck by how sad our education system must be if the teachers at West Point can't educate their students and instead have to resort to trying to change Jack Bauer. And how hopeless the students must be.

So I looked up more info on this story and got completely sucked into this New Yorker article: WHATEVER IT TAKES The politics of the man behind “24.”

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February 26, 2007

FREE KAREEM

I'm fumbling with how to say what I want to say this morning. I feel sick to my stomach every time I think about Kareem.

In a landmark case for freedom of expression in Egypt, a young blogger has been jailed for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak, drawing angry condemnation at home and abroad.
Abdel-Karim Nabil Suleiman, 22, a former law student at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, was sentenced to four years in prison by a court in Alexandria yesterday after being arrested last November over eight articles he posted on his blog.

Rosie O'Donnell may think that "radical Christianity" is just as big of a threat, but there's no story in the US that remotely approaches Kareem's. And if militant Muslims had their way, we'd all live under sharia, and we'd all be jailed for blogging our minds.

If that doesn't give you butterflies, I don't know what will.

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HUH?

Apparently James Cameron has announced that he found Jesus' burial site. Can someone please explain to me how DNA evidence would be any use in proving that it's "the" Jesus? What on earth are they comparing it to?

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February 23, 2007

LINK

I know CaliValleyGirl only reads Lileks when I post a link, so I'm posting one today to make sure she sees this one.

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POLL

I just have one thought on a recent poll. Here's a summary from James Joyner:

A recent Gallup poll reveals that Americans are much more likely to elect a black man or a woman president than a Mormon or an old man. More interestingly, they’d rather be governed by a homosexual than an atheist

Check out the poll results for yourself.

My take? The results are less about who we'd elect president and more about who we feel comfortable discriminating against. Would you vote for a black president? Only the biggest jackasses would say no. We as a society know that it's a big no-no to say we wouldn't vote for someone based on the color of his skin. But would you vote for a homosexual? More people feel comfortable saying no, relying on their religious compass or other reasons they think this would be a bad idea. And an atheist? People don't have any qualms about saying exactly what they think of atheists. They won't speak freely about race, but they will about lack of religion.

And the fact that people say they'd sooner vote for a homosexual than an atheist? Commenter Michael provides the moment of zen:

I wonder what Thomas Jefferson would make of that…

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February 22, 2007

SEW EXCITED

There's been sewing in the house today!

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Usually I get sewing ideas and they drag out over years. I never get around to actually doing it. But my double pointed needles really were begging for a home, so I sat down and worked this puppy out. It's not perfect -- I probably should've chosen a color besides yellow, and I should've made it an inch or two wider -- but it will certainly do. Hooray for the opposite of procrastination!

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YOU REALLY CAN SPIN ANYTHING...

Ha -- Penn and Teller get hippies at WorldFest to sign a petition banning water. Too rich. I love the last line of the clip: "Yeah, we set these folks up. But it does show that maybe they're not so much environmentalists as they are joiners...of anything."

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February 21, 2007

MORTIFYING

I read this funny story about opening presents on my friend's blog:

So I have one funny story . . . the first box I opened was a waffle iron . . . I was like this is a nice waffle iron we can make them tomorrow for breakfast. I continued to open boxes and read cards . . . about 15 minutes later Colin stepped on the waffle iron box and it collapsed. I told Nancy that I don't think it is a waffle iron in there . . . so I opened the box and it was a project that two special people have been working on for a long time . . . it was a quilt with photos of Sean, Colin, and me . . .

I have a similar story, only mine was a hundred times more bonehead.

When my husband and I got married, an old friend of my mom's sent us a package that arrived the day before the wedding. In all the commotion of wedding planning, I hastily tore of the brown paper wrapping and noticed it was a Honeywell fan. I figured it would come in handy, and I set it out on the table of gifts.

The husband and I loaded up all our gifts into a U-Haul after the honeymoon and moved to Missouri for six months, where we had air conditioning. All our stuff got packed up again and stayed in storage while we were at Fort Knox for another six months. We arrived in Germany a year after our wedding that HOT summer of 2003 when all the French grannies were dying of heatstroke. I couldn't wait for our household goods to finally arrive so I could break out that Honeywell fan.

Um, yeah, it wasn't a fan. It was bedsheets in a fan box.

Do you know how embarrassed I was? I sent these people a thank you card for a fan.

In my mortified state, I had to sit down again and pen a long, apologetic letter explaining why on earth I hadn't opened the danged box, and how, though I had thanked them profusely for a very useful and nice fan, I was also equally excited to get bedsheets. Over a year later. It was probably one of the most embarrassing things I've done in my life.

Coulda used a fan that summer in Europe...
Love the sheets though.

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BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HORSESHIT?

Whenever I think about global warming predictions, I can't help but remember Michael Crichton's Analogy of the Horses:

Let's think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horseshit? Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses?

But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport. And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in 1900 didn't know what an atom was. They didn't know its structure. They also didn't know what a radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG, EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet, interferon, instant replay, remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS… None of this would have meant anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn't know what you are talking about.

Now. You tell me you can predict the world of 2100. Tell me it's even worth thinking about. Our models just carry the present into the future. They're bound to be wrong. Everybody who gives a moment's thought knows it.

I've always thought there was a solution to global warming that we can't even fathom yet. Some energy source that will become so cheap and so available that we won't need oil and won't even remember when we relied on it. We'll scoff at oil the way we scoff at horses.

My husband is waiting for Mr. Fusion. Maybe we're closer than we think?

SCI-FI to SCI-FACT: Plasma Converter

I'd love to think that someday our discussions of oil and landfills will be moot. I have faith in science and capitalism to make that dream a reality.

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CURRENT EVENTS

Over the weekend, I read a section of our local paper that reported on a fifth-grade school project. The children were asked to add one amendment to the Constitution. I was struck by two things: 1) how awful some of the ideas were and 2) how parrot-like others seemed. Lowering the voting age to 15, forcing people to recycle, and abolishing racism are just silly. I haven't spent much time with 11 year olds, so maybe I'm delusional in thinking they're capable of deeper thoughts than that. Surely they can understand basic concepts that make outlawing war and mandating jobs for everyone just not feasible. Right? Oh, who am I kidding: I fully expect my child to exit the womb with the mind of a 30 year old. This is really going to be rough for me.

But some of the more shocking amendments showed me just how much kids partially understand what's going on around them. One fifth grader came up with "Before the president can send troops into a war, he has to have a plan. And he has to share it with the country on CNN." Think she came up with that one on her own? Or the kid who said "Change the use of oil to corn juice. There's too much global warming now." Corn juice. He has gleaned something from the debate around him, but not enough to understand the subject. Thank heavens 15 year olds aren't voting.

Is it too much to ask that I'd hope that my kid would write "The Constitution should only be amended in extreme cases, never at the whim of fifth graders"? And that he could still get an A for that answer?

I started thinking about my imaginary kid and what I'd like his answer to be, and whether it'd make the paper, and how I'd blog about how proud I am of him. And then I realized that's 12 years from now, and how could I possibly still be blogging then...

Varifrank wrote today about how he's ending his blog as we know it. I've felt this was coming for a long time, not just from him but from everyone. How much longer will we all still want to hash out current events in this forum?

I, for one, don't see myself blogging in 12 years.

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February 19, 2007

SELFLESS SERVICE

On Valentine's Day, my husband reminded me that it was exactly three years ago that he left for Iraq. I can't believe how time flies. I told him that I was happy he wasn't leaving again this Valentine's Day, and he got a bittersweet look on his face and said, "I'm not..."

When people like Rangel and Murtha and Kerry say that the only reason people are in Iraq is because they can't get a better job, I wish they could meet people like my husband. There are soldiers like my husband who grieve at not being in Iraq. There are soldiers waiting for the day they can get out of Walter Reed so they can get back to their unit. They are not stupid, and it's not bloodlust either; they just take their Army values seriously.

He started his training this week, but so far they've just done the boring stuff like PT tests and jumping out of planes. My husband has qualified to learn Arabic or Farsi, so hopefully he'll get assigned one of those and he can get to work at being all he can be.

Did I mention I'm the luckiest wife in the world?

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February 18, 2007

SOME LINKS

These are apparently older posts, but I just happened upon them via LGF today:
The Perils of Moral Tourism
Blunting the Senses in the Name of Fairness

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February 14, 2007

WOW

I don't know how I missed this a month ago, but CaliValleyGirl pointed out the words from the MySpace of a soldier killed in Iraq. I really recommend reading what 2LT Daily had to say if you haven't already.

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February 13, 2007

THE JACKPOT

If you're the praying type, send one up for me today. I'm gonna need it when my husband gets home...

I went to the store intending to buy $3-worth of yarn for teddies. Instead I came home with this.

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Welcome to Divorceville, population: me.

LATER THAT EVENING:

Still married. In fact, he didn't seem that fazed. And I don't have anything specific in mind to make with it; I just bought all the store had because it was 50% off. Ideas will come...bags can be felted...the yarn will find its purpose.

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I EAT IT UP

The best part about 24 is Jack Bauer. The second best part about 24 is James Lileks.

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February 12, 2007

OOPS, YOUR AGENDA IS SHOWING

When I took a US history class in college, I remember reading tons of firsthand sources, letters and the like from the different time periods. We had a separate textbook of just these firsthand sources. So I find it odd that the new president of Harvard, a war historian, seems to be arguing that we should dissuade people from relying on firsthand sources in order to understand the war in Iraq. Why would a war historian not want people to pay attention to blogs and emails and YouTube videos from soldiers and Marines who are currently fighting this war? Surely this war historian doesn't think that letters from the Civil War are just propaganda and "war porn" that need to be downplayed, so it's ridiculous to ignore modern firsthand sources of war. Apparently she's just against the idea because war historians like herself haven't had time to cherrypick these sources and weed out the ones that make Americans feel that fighting the War on Terrorism is a good thing. Nothing like a war historian with an agenda to brighten my day.

MORE:

Read this analysis by Sean Lawson.

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FORMING CLOUDS

Via Conservative Grapevine: An experiment that hints we are wrong on climate change

The sun’s brightness may change too little to account for the big swings in the climate. But more than 10 years have passed since Henrik Svensmark in Copenhagen first pointed out a much more powerful mechanism.

He saw from compilations of weather satellite data that cloudiness varies according to how many atomic particles are coming in from exploded stars. More cosmic rays, more clouds. The sun’s magnetic field bats away many of the cosmic rays, and its intensification during the 20th century meant fewer cosmic rays, fewer clouds, and a warmer world. On the other hand the Little Ice Age was chilly because the lazy sun let in more cosmic rays, leaving the world cloudier and gloomier.

The only trouble with Svensmark’s idea — apart from its being politically incorrect — was that meteorologists denied that cosmic rays could be involved in cloud formation. After long delays in scraping together the funds for an experiment, Svensmark and his small team at the Danish National Space Center hit the jackpot in the summer of 2005.

In a box of air in the basement, they were able to show that electrons set free by cosmic rays coming through the ceiling stitched together droplets of sulphuric acid and water. These are the building blocks for cloud condensation. But journal after journal declined to publish their report; the discovery finally appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society late last year.

I won't claim to know the reasons why journals didn't publish this report, but could it perhaps maybe slightly be be that there's little room for dissent in climatology these days?

Remember that what you know about global warming is only what you've heard. That is, what has been chosen for you to hear. As Mark Steyn says, "Most of us aren't reading the science, or even a precis of the science. We're just reading a constant din from the press that 'the science is settled,' and therefore we no longer need to think about it: The thinking has been done for us."

This reminds me of a section in Bernad Goldberg's book Bias entitled "How Bill Clinton Cured Homelessness":

In 1999 [Philip Terzian, an editor at Providence Journal] wrote a column about a Village Voice study that showed that in 1988 the New York Times ran fifty stories on the homeless, including five on page one. But a decade later, in 1998, the Times ran only ten homeless stories, and none on page one. ... The conservative Media Research Center found that in 1990, when George Bush was president, there were seventy-one homeless stories on the ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN evening newscasts. But in 1995, when Bill Clinton was in the White House, the number had gone down to just nine!

Homelessness didn't stop when Bill Clinton took office; it just stopped being front page news. But our worldview is shaped by what's showcased on the news, what the Important Issues of the day are, and it can be manipulated based on what journalists think you should hear about. The issues don't go away just because they're not reported.

Svensmark formed clouds from cosmic rays. Just because no one wants to publish it or put it on the nightly news doesn't mean it didn't happen. And it doesn't mean it doesn't have anything to do with global warming. It just means you haven't heard about it yet.

But now you have.

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February 11, 2007

RECYCLING

The German government charges the American armed forces for every pound of garbage that they dispose of, but they charge less for recycled materials than refuse. So, in an effort to reduce my "economic footprint" and save Uncle Sam some money, I dutifully washed plastic and cans and recycled every scrap of trash I could. I think my neighbors and friends thought that I was an Environmental Nut, but really I was just ticked that my government had to pay money to another government for my banana peels. Thus I breathed a huge sigh of relief when our plane landed back in the US so I could stop with the recycling nonsense. I haven't washed a piece of trash since.

LGF posted a Penn and Teller clip on the myths and complete bunk we've been fed for decades about the recycling movement. I highly recommend watching this show. There's a definite foul langage warning though, so maybe don't watch it while your kids toddle in and out of the room.

Now excuse me while I go put that empty Jim Beam bottle in the trash can.

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February 10, 2007

LINKS

Your patriotic links for the morning:

The Polish city of Katowice wants to replace their Soviet monument with a statue of Ronald Reagan.

Albert Pujols scores a perfect 100 on his citizenship test earlier this week. I expect no less out of CaliValleyGirl in 2011. Start studying.

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