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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Another Food Fight As to Global Warming

Charlie Martin provides a summary and insight into the global warming debate. (Link here). My own view is that someone arguing anthropomorphic global warming and imposition of the money transfer schemes to fight it needs to show:

1.  There is global warming;

2.  It is caused by humans;

3.  It is harmful; and,

4.  We can reasonably do something to stop and/or reverse it.

The East Anglia "climate gate"--aided and abetted by many other "scientists," bureaucrats, and greedy investment banker types (e.g., Al Gore)--attempted to fake point one, and assumed the other three points. (In fact, the primary problem with this debate is that most everyone seems to believe that if point one is established, it necessarily follows that points two, three and four must also be true).

The study cited in Mr. Martin's article seems to indicate that point one is true ... sort of. According to the graph, temperature leveled off about 10 years ago, which casts a lot of doubt on point two.

Besides the famous "hockey stick" from the East Anglia graphic, Mr. Martin alludes to the other issue with Climate Gate--covering up historical temperature fluctuations. We know that temperatures dropped during the late Roman period and early Middle Ages. We know that there was a Medieval Warming Period. We know that in the 1300's, the Medieval Warming Period came to an end. We also know that there was a Little Ice Age that came to an end shortly after the beginning of the 200 year graph reproduced in Mr. Martin's article.

So, how much of the warming since 1800 is due to warming after the end of the Little Ice Age (i.e., natural cyclic changes) versus industrialization? How much is due to solar cycles? How much is due to bias in the data points (i.e., improperly placed thermometers, collecting data only from certain areas or countries while ignoring others, etc.)? And why are CO2 emissions deemed so critical, when water vapor is the most significant green house gas?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

America is an Oligarchy

I remember when taking U.S. Government in college having a test that asked us to identify what type of government was the United States, and explain why. I combined two of the possible choices, and wrote that the United States was an oligarchy, with some of the oligarchs being special interests. Fortunately, the professor was a libertarian, and I got an A.

So what is the point of the story? Well, other than showing I went to a pathetic state school that couldn't afford to hire a member of the intellectual brownshirts that clog better schools, other people have begun to come to the same conclusion. An article from Der Spiegel talks about the growing income disparity in the United States, and suggests that we have entered a second "gilded age" where the wealth and power are concentrated into only a handful of people or entities.
The political scientists analyzed statistics and studies concerning income development and other economic data from the last decades. They conclude that: "A generation ago, the United States was a recognizable, if somewhat more unequal, member of the cluster of affluent democracies known as mixed economies, where fast growth was widely shared. No more. Since around 1980, we have drifted away from that mixed-economy cluster, and traveled a considerable distance toward another: the capitalist oligarchies, like Brazil, Mexico, and Russia, with their much greater concentration of economic bounty."

There is considerable amount of stories lately to support this contention:

Exhibit A: An article from the Orange Country Register describes the dissatisfaction of some Californians having their state and national leadership ignore their wishes, most recently on a decision to blow several hydro-electric dams.
These used to be wealthy resource-based economies, but now many of the towns are drying up, with revenue to local governments evaporating. Unemployment rates are in the 20-percent-and-higher range. Nearly 79 percent of the county's voters in a recent advisory initiative opposed the dam removal, but that isn't stopping the authorities from blasting the dams anyway.

These rural folks, living in the shadow of the majestic Mount Shasta, believe that they are being driven away so that their communities can essentially go back to the wild, to conform to a modern environmentalist ethos that puts wildlands above humanity.
Exhibit B: an article from Forbes called "The 147 Companies that Control Everything."
They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. The top 20 are at the bottom of the post. This is, say the paper’s authors, the first map of the structure of global corporate control.
 Exhibit C: Cops indicted for ticket fixing schemes are cheered by other cops. Apparently, the law only applies to little people.
Forming a wall four deep in the main foyer, they applauded as the defendants appeared. The indicted officers waved and pumped their fists. A court official who came out to calm the crowd drew insults. A woman told the officers to return for the arraignments.
On Friday morning, on the street outside the courthouse, some 350 officers massed behind barricades and brandished signs expressing sentiments like “It’s a Courtesy Not a Crime.”


When the defendants emerged, many in the crowd burst into raucous cheers. Once they had gone and the tide of officers had dispersed, the street was littered with refuse.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Archimedes Text Deciphered

The Guardian reports that a portion of a text setting out writings of Archimedes has been deciphered. The interesting part is that he appeared to understand concepts of infinity; concepts that, nearly 2000 years later would be developed into the Calculus.

Big Brother is Watching

Infowars discusses a new street light system that can combine cameras or other sensors, with speakers and an LED display. Just to emphasize the Big Brother aspect:
So-called ‘talking surveillance cameras’ that use a speaker system similar to the Intellistreets model are already being used in UK cities like Middlesborough to bark orders and reprimand people for dropping litter and other minor offenses. According to reports, one of the most common phrases used to shame people into obeying instructions is to broadcast the message, “We are watching you.”
Nice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Without the Consent of the Governed

The basis of all modern "democracies" (using the popular rather than technical sense of the word) is that power derives from the people, and that government is with the consent of the governed. Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works--or, at least, how it is currently working.

From Forbes:
Does this government represent you?  78% of us say that America is on the wrong track.  Only 15%, near an historic low, feel America is headed in the right direction.  This implies that a supermajority says that their intention, their well being, and their very dignity are being violated.
The article goes on to note:
Complaints about the unresponsiveness to popular will have been emerging with greater and greater clarity and force from the populace.  They were called “uprisings” by progressive journalist David Sirota, and the “Middle America Rebellion” by conservative journalist Mark Tapscott.  Citizen actions by disaffected people are crescendoing from their first (and still most effective) manifestation, MoveOn.org, to the Tea Parties, to — worldwide — the still nascent Occupy movement.  These outpourings might not agree on the solution, but all agree on the problem.  The permanent government isn’t listening to the citizens.
The United States is not alone in this. "A YouGov survey for The Sunday Times this weekend found 66 percent of Britons back a referendum on European Union membership." Although the British Prime Minister beat back a non-binding Parliamentary resolution that would have called for such a referendum, it highlights an important fact: the British (and undoubtedly other nations in the EU) never voted to be in an "European Union." The same story remarks: "The proposed referendum would ask the British public if they want to remain in the EU, leave or renegotiate membership, in the first such vote since 1975." That vote, in 1975, was for entry into the European Common Market--essentially a free trade zone. From the Daily Mail:

Today David Nuttall, Conservative MP for Bury North, told Sky News: 'Europe ought to realise that there is a groundswell of opinion in this country that many people feel we have become too entwined with the European Union.

'Back in 1975 people voted to join a common market. Since then it has developed without ever having had another referendum on what is now the European Union with its own national anthem, its own flag and its own parliament.

'European rules and regulations intrude into ever more areas of British life.

The result will lead to a major post-mortem in Downing Street over how the Prime Minister came to suffer such a grievous self-inflicted wound.

'I'm interested in trying to get a national referendum because I think that's what the British people want.

'It would be one way of strengthening the Prime Minister's arm in his negotiations with our European partners if he was able to go and say "I have consulted the British people".'
Just to reiterate the point that the will of the people is being ignored, one of the MPs stated:
Asked if the British public could not be trusted with a vote on the country's relationship with Europe, Mr Clegg replied: 'I have always advocated a vote on Europe if there is a proposal on the table to transfer significant chunks of sovereignty and policy from our country to Brussels, but it's not on the table.

'We should stop tilting at windmills about threats and challenges which simply aren't there right now.
 Of course its not on the table--the transfer of power is made by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, not through legislative action in the Parliament.

These articles reminded of this important essay published in the American Spectator by Angelo Codevilla, "America's Ruling Class--And the Perils of Revolution." Mr. Codevilla begins his essay by noting:
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors' "toxic assets" was the only alternative to the U.S. economy's "systemic collapse." In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets' nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term "political class" came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public's understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the "ruling class." And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.
 While Mr. Codevilla does not attempt to explain the end result, he states:
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority's demand for representation will be filled. Whereas in 1968 Governor George Wallace's taunt "there ain't a dime's worth of difference" between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people, in 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency (at one point he was favored by 39 percent of Americans vs. 31 percent for G.H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Clinton) simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans' conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.

While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people's realization of being ruled like Europeans shocked this country into well nigh revolutionary attitudes. But only the realization was new. The ruling class had sunk deep roots in America over decades before 2008. Machiavelli compares serious political diseases to the Aetolian fevers -- easy to treat early on while they are difficult to discern, but virtually untreatable by the time they become obvious.
 In his book, After America: Get Ready of Armageddon, Mark Steyn notes how our Ruling Class has destroyed our nation, and that we are heading toward "tribalism, both cultural and economic," and Balkanization. (p. 269). "The Eloi elites who did this to America will hunker down within protected enclaves while outside life grows increasingly  savage and violent. But eventually they will come for the elite communities, too...." (Id.).

It is truly sad how far we have fallen. I was recently reading History of Julius Caesar by Jacob Abbott, published in 1904. Mr. Abbott wrote about Rome toward the end of the Republic:
Many of the most important offices of the state depended upon the votes of the people; and as the people had very little opportunity to become acquainted with the real merits of the case in respect to questions of government, they gave their votes very much according to the personal popularity of the candidate. Public men had very little moral principle in those days, and they would accordingly resort to any means whatever to procure this personal popularity. They who wanted office were accustomed to bribe influential men among the people to support them, sometime by promising them subordinate offices, and sometimes by the direct donations of sums of money; and they would try to please the mass of the people, who were too numerous to be paid with offices and gold, by shows and spectacles, and entertainments of every kind which they would provide for their amusement.

This practice seems to us very absurd; and we wonder that the Roman people should tolerate it, since it was evident that the means for defraying these expenses must come, ultimately, in some way or other, from them.
The author goes on:
In fact, furnishing amusements for the people, and also providing supplies for their wants, as well as affording them protection, were considered the legitimate objects of government in those days. It is very different at the present time, and especially in this country. The whole community are now united in the desire to confine the functions of government within the narrowest limits, such as to include only the preservation of public order and public safety. The people prefer to supply their own wants and to provide their own enjoyments, rather than to invest government with the power to do it for them, knowing very well that, on the latter plan, the burdens they will have to bear, though concealed for a time, must be doubled in the end.
(p. 24). Mr. Abbot may have been describing the United States in the 21st Century. It is sobering to think that his description of Rome was on the eve of the death of the Republic and rise of the tyrants.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dwarf Planet "Snow White" Covered with Water Ice

One of the recently discovered dwarf planets (what they now call objects like Pluto, after it got de-listed as a planet) on the edge of our solar system, called "Snow White," was red, generally indicating that it lacked water ice like other object in the Kuiper Belt. However, recent spectral analysis shows that it does, after all, have an icy surface. (Story here).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No, Al! Tell me it isn't so!

Believe it, or not, the blogger at Whatsupwiththat has determined that Al Gore's "Climate 101" video was a fake. Not only did he demonstrate that there was some video chicanery involved with making the video, but he was also unable to replicate the amount of heating in the time shown on the video. More damning, the "atmosphere" that was plain air actually warmed faster than the "atmosphere" with high levels of CO2.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Sybil" a Fake

The Daily Mail (UK) reports that "Sybil," the famous story of the woman with multiple personality disorder, was a fabrication by the alleged patient, Shirley Mason, her therapist, Cornelia Wilber, and a journalist, Flora Schrieber. (Link).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pathetic Confessions of a Feminist Spinster

The November 2011 Atlantic has an article by Kate Bolick titled "All the Single Ladies [sic]." (Link). It mirrors a theme that I've seen in several articles and op-eds over the past several months that there are too few "good men" for women--specifically, professional women--to marry.

Ms. Bolick starts her therapy session by relating:

when I was 28, I broke up with my boyfriend. Allan and I had been together for three years, and there was no good reason to end things. He was (and remains) an exceptional person, intelligent, good-looking, loyal, kind. My friends, many of whom were married or in marriage-track relationships, were bewildered. I was bewildered. To account for my behavior, all I had were two intangible yet undeniable convictions: something was missing; I wasn’t ready to settle down.
Mr. Bolick acknowledges that marriage may now, 10 years later, be more a matter of luck, than choice. (Strangely, she doesn't seem to consider that someone else's choice may play a part). However, she explains:

The decision to end a stable relationship for abstract rather than concrete reasons (“something was missing”), I see now, is in keeping with a post-Boomer ideology that values emotional fulfillment above all else. And the elevation of independence over coupling (“I wasn’t ready to settle down”) is a second-wave feminist idea I’d acquired from my mother, who had embraced it, in part, I suspect, to correct for her own choices.
Poor Ms. Bolick. She just hasn't found anyone that provides emotional fulfillment. Except, that isn't really what happened (at least in the sense that a normal person would define emotional fulfillment). Ms. Bolick's thesis is:

[A]s women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind. We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up—and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.
She notes that after nearly 40 years of reverse discrimination against men, and preferences for women (I'm summarizing), the pool of marriagable men is smaller.

[T]he decline of males has obviously been bad news for men—and bad news for marriage. For all the changes the institution has undergone, American women as a whole have never been confronted with such a radically shrinking pool of what are traditionally considered to be “marriageable” men—those who are better educated and earn more than they do. So women are now contending with what we might call the new scarcity. Even as women have seen their range of options broaden in recent years—for instance, expanding the kind of men it’s culturally acceptable to be with, and making it okay not to marry at all—the new scarcity disrupts what economists call the “marriage market” in a way that in fact narrows the available choices, making a good man harder to find than ever. At the rate things are going, the next generation’s pool of good men will be significantly smaller.

At this point, you could be excused if you thought that the United States had suffered some disaster that has decimated the population of eligible bachelors. But no, even Ms. Bolick recognizes that the United States, in fact, has a healthy ratio of 50.8 percent of women to 49.2 percent of men. So why does Ms. Bolick tell us, "[t]hat we would marry, and that there would always be men we wanted to marry, we took on faith," but now lament that, in fact, the men she wants to marry don't want to marry her?

Well, to understand Ms. Bolick's lament, you have to understand what she means by "good men." Based on her statements, it simply boils down to someone who makes more money than her. For all her pride in being a feminist, she is no different than the post-civil war women she cites in her article that chose to become spinsters instead of marrying down socially and economically. Apparently, "emotional fulfillment" and "independence" is code for "someone that can support me in the style and comfort I desire."

Perhaps, if Allan had made more money, Ms. Bolick would now be married.



Friday, October 14, 2011

The Gunwalker Scandal is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Robert Farago, the editor of The Truth About Guns blog, recently had an op-ed in the Washington Times concerning the Gunwalker scandal. (Link). He writes:
For one thing, the ATF didn’t “lose” some 2,000 firearms to Mexican gun smugglers. The bureau intentionally allowed firearms to “walk” from U.S. gun stores to members of the Sinaloa drug cartel. For another, Fast and Furious is only one spoke in an entire wheel of extralegal intrigue.
Mr. Farago further reminds us:
There’s the FBI’s manipulation of the instant background check system to allow ATF-monitored felons to purchase firearms from U.S. gun stores. There’s Operation Castaway, another gun smuggling operation run out of Tampa, Fla. There’s the U.S. attorney’s office’s decision to overrule the ATF and release from custody a man who made machine guns and grenades. The man returned to Mexico.

There’s U.S.-government-sponsored arms and ammunition (including grenades) sales to the Mexican military and police - knowing full well that weapons seep to the drug cartels. There are the Mexican military raids against Zetas cartel members launched from U.S. soil.

There’s the sworn testimony of a captured cartel boss languishing in a Chicago prison. Vicente Zambada-Niebla says the U.S. government turned a blind eye to his narcoterrorist organization’s drug smuggling as part of America’s fight against Los Zetas.

According to sworn testimony, the Gunwalker scandal involves an entire alphabet soup of federal agencies: the ATF, FBI, DOJ (Department of Justice), DHS (Department of Homeland Security), ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and IRS (Internal Revenue Service), not to mention the State Department and White House.
 Also, CBS doesn't want us to forget about the direct sales of military weapons to drug cartels.

Deer are not "Domestic" Animals

Obviously some one (or more than one) has been watching too many Disney movies. Deer are not domestic animals, nor are they cuter, more loving versions of human beings.
Donald Dube was killed [by a male deer] on Sunday evening as he tried to feed his herd of domesticated deer near his home in Saint-Leonard, New Brunswick.

The attack was so violent that the father-of-three had piercings to his skin and was missing a boot and sock when found, investigators said.
 (Link). Don't know if poor Mr. Dube thought the deer were "domesticated," or the reporter did, but deer are wild animals.

This is Why California is in Trouble....

UCLA is introducing co-ed dorms, not for the benefit of male and female students, but to accommodate transgender students. (Link). Obviously, this specific incident is not by itself causing California's financial crises. But it is a symptom. A symptom of what happens when a government shifts its priorities from fulfilling its core mission (in this case, providing a university education for its students) to frivolities, such as advancing a specific political and social agenda. Obviously, if UCLA has money to throw down a rat-hole, it has too much money.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

NYPD Accused of Making up Drug Busts

From the Daily News (UK): "An ex-NYPD officer admitted last week that the force regularly busts innocent people on bogus drug charges to meet arrest requirements."