Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Science-fiction writers go to work on current events

From Jerry Pournelle, of course:

Sci-fi writers join war on terror

By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described "deviant" thinkers: science-fiction writers.

[…]

The 9/11 Commission called the 2001 terrorist attacks a result of the government's "failure of imagination." For this group, Walker says, there's no such thing as an "unthinkable scenario."

Why offer their ideas to the government instead of private companies that pay big bucks?

"To save civilization," Ringworld author Larry Niven says. "We do it in fiction. Why wouldn't we want to do it in fact?"
That Larry Niven line is worth repeating: "To save civilization." We loosely use the term "Western civilization." But there is no other kind, not really. The Enlightenment is only a few hundred years old. More such unconstrained thinking, please.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How to buy bank foreclosures

According to Randy Vredenburg, anyway. Part 1. Part 2.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Snakes almost on a plane

They just barely missed their flight. Well, now, life is funny that way; having just posted that link to one of Steven den Beste's old posts, I thought I would see what he was currently writing about, and found that he had linked to this:

Cairo Airport Customs Seize Egyptian Trying to Smuggle 700 Live Snakes on Plane

CAIRO, Egypt — Customs officers at Cairo's airport on Thursday detained a man bound for Saudi Arabia who was trying to smuggle 700 live snakes on a plane, airport authorities said.

The officers were stunned when a passenger, identified as Yahia Rahim Tulba, after being asked to open his carry-on bag, told them it contained live snakes.

Tulba opened his bag to show the snakes to the police and asked the officers, who held a safe distance, not to come close. Among the various snakes, hidden in small cloth sacks, were two poisonous cobras.

The Egyptian said he had hoped to sell the snakes in Saudi Arabia. Police confiscated the snakes and turned Tulba over to the prosecutor's office, accusing him of violating export laws and endangering the lives of other passengers.

According to the customs officials, Tulba claimed the snakes are wanted by Saudis who display them in glass jars in shops, keep them as pets or sell them to research centers.

The value of the snakes was not immediately known.
Oh my sweet Synchronicity L. Jackson!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Strategic overview

A classic is something that is still worth reading. Here is one, Steven den Beste's strategic overview of the war in Iraq. A "high level strategic view of the cause of the war, the reason that the United States became involved in it, the fundamental goals the US has to achieve to win it, and the strategies the US is following, as well as an evaluation of the situation as of July, 2003." TigerHawk has an annotated version, about which den Beste said "Nicely done. I am not omniscient, and as you mentioned we've learned a great deal in the last two years. I don't agree with everything you added but I think you are substantially correct overall."

Den Beste's closing section, still just as relevant as anything:

IX. We can still lose this war.
  1. If nation building in Iraq fails, we won't succeed in demonstrating that reform can work for Arabs and make them happier and more successful. We will fail to show them that reform is a better choice for them than jihad.

  2. If we permit low level resistance in Iraq to drive us out, the Arab street will once again conclude that we are ultimately cowardly, and will again feel contempt for us. And no nation or group in the region will ever again take the risk of helping us in any future operation there.

  3. If other nations in the region don't implement reforms, their people will continue to be angry and will continue to support terrorism and extremism.

  4. If the other nations in the region don't cut off support for terrorist groups, those groups will continue to have the wherewithal to operate, and may eventually target us.

  5. If we do not bring about general reform before one or another nation in the region successfully develops nuclear weapons, the political situation will become vastly more complicated and we will be in extreme peril. It will become extremely difficult for us to continue to foster reform in the region, and there will be an unacceptably high likelihood that one of our cities will eventually be nuked.

  6. It is therefore critical that we continue to be engaged in the region and continue to work for reform there, doing whatever we must to prevent development of nukes by hostile nations in the region and continuing to work to weaken existing terrorist organizations. We are winning the war but we have not won it. It will take decades to win, just as the Cold War took decades to win. The greatest danger facing us now is that we'll lose heart and give up before we finish the job.
Sounds like just where we are now. Are we about to "lose heart and give up?"

Gore's stealth campaign uncloaks a little further

The rally. Via: Charles Johnson, with hundreds of comments.

The website.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another way to influence climate: comet impact

In addition to (pay attention now) melting enormous glaciers and starting continent-wide fires, a comet impact 12,900 years ago brought about a cold spell that wiped out the North American megafauna and began a new cooler climatic period. This is The Day After Tomorrow syndrome. Funny they would leave the comet out of the movie. And the fires. And the melting.

Did a comet wipe out prehistoric Americans?

The Clovis people of North America, flourishing some 13,000 years ago, had a mastery of stone weaponry that stood them in good stead against the constant threat of large carnivores, such as American lions and giant short-faced bears. It's unlikely, however, that they thought death would come from the sky.

According to results presented by a team of 25 researchers this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, that's where the Clovis people's doom came from. Citing several lines of evidence, the team suggests that a wayward comet hurtled into Earth's atmosphere around 12,900 years ago, fractured into pieces and exploded in giant fireballs. Debris seems to have settled as far afield as Europe.

Jim Kennett, an oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the team's three principal investigators, claims immense wildfires scorched North America in the aftermath, killing large populations of mammals and bringing an abrupt end to the Clovis culture. "The entire continent was on fire," he says.
The fires and general chaos would help to explain why it's so hard to find the ruins of Hyborea and Tep's Town.

Steyn on "Children of Men"

Having neither read the book nor seen the movie, I remain neutral. Mark Steyn's review says that they are very different.

I mentioned P.D. James's thoughtful novel in my book. Then came the shriekingly bad film.

There are zillions of bad movies, but Alfonso Cuarón's film Children Of Men is bad in an almost awe-inspiring way. They should teach it in film school as the acme of adaptation. Mr. Cuarón's previous films (including A Little Princess and one of the groovier Harry Potters) were perfectly fine, and certainly different directors will approach the same property in entirely different ways. But, with Children Of Men, he's managed to spend a ton of time and money, hire a fine cast, lavish inordinate care and attention to detail on the film's design and cinematography -- and yet completely miss the point of the book.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Borders? We don't need no stinkin' borders!

Better no immigration bill at all than this one. Alfonso Bedoya explains it.

This whole immigration debate makes so little sense, just starting from the basics, that it seems like there must be more to it, that our masters are not telling us about. (How it pains me to write "our masters.") When I was a kid in the 1950's, every winter we would see announcements on the TV urging resident aliens to register at the Post Office. We've come a long way.

Apparently the registration at the post office requirement was dropped in 1981. By that time we had already had the first amnesty sponsored by Ted Kennedy, the Hart-Celler Act of 1965. 21 years later, Kennedy was involved with another massive amnesty program, the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act (Andrew McCarthy has some satirical history). I say Kennedy "was involved" with IRCA because, though he spoke in favor of it, and authored some amendments to it, he apparently claims to have voted against it. (No telling how long that last link will last.) Now, 22 years after that, Kennedy's doing it again.

This post is formless and vague, but I'll post it just to get the link to the article by Fredo Arias-King up. I want to get to the subject of how Ted Kennedy, in particular, learned early on that rules are made to be broken.

Bill Quick linked this article by Fredo Arias-King a while back: Immigration and Usurpation: Elites, Power, and the People’s Will. It seems to connect to the poem by Berthold Brecht:

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
Can our political class have become so removed from their roots in the citizenry that they would rather import a new population than represent the one that's here?

Tony Blankley in the Washington Times: Immigration Inconsistencies.

If we, the American people, wanted to expel all of the illegal aliens who are illegally here now, we could do so. We went to the Moon, on a whim. There is nothing of a practical nature that Americans can't do, once they decide to do it. American know-how, the can-do spirit, Rosie the Riveter graphic goes here. But to try to run a welfare state and keep the borders open at the same time, is suicide.

It's great for the poverty pimps, though. If you're a champion of the downtrodden, you wouldn't want to run out of poor people. So importing large numbers of them would help to ensure a supply. It's just like outsourcing! Oh, not really.

Tunku Varadarajan of the Wall Street Journal interviewing Milton and Rose Friedman:
Is immigration, I asked--especially illegal immigration--good for the economy, or bad? "It's neither one nor the other," Mr. Friedman replied. "But it's good for freedom. In principle, you ought to have completely open immigration. But with the welfare state it's really not possible to do that. . . . She's an immigrant," he added, pointing to his wife. "She came in just before World War I." (Rose--smiling gently: "I was two years old.") "If there were no welfare state," he continued, "you could have open immigration, because everybody would be responsible for himself." Was he suggesting that one can't have immigration reform without welfare reform? "No, you can have immigration reform, but you can't have open immigration without largely the elimination of welfare."
So this post is a draft. Alpha minus one. Link dump!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Politics ain't beanbag, Dr. Paul

Politics is the art of getting other people to do what you want them to do. It's not an impartial search for truth, not a debating society. The dustup between Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani at last week's debate exemplifies this point.

I don't think Ron Paul is a "truther," and I doubt that Rudy Giuliani thinks that either. Michelle Malkin seems to be trying establish that, but she has a way to go yet. But to try to make a point as subtle as the one that Ron Paul was going for, on that stage, in front of that national audience, with others on the stage with him who are seriously in the race for the Presidency, was not good political thinking. Giuliani displayed his political skill by seeing that Paul had left himself open for a smackdown, then seized the moment (as a skilled politician will), re-phrased what Paul had said, and condemned the re-phrased point. It went over big.

Paul was trying to say something about years of policy. It was too subtle, and left him open for attack. This has nothing to do with whether I agree with what he was saying. Debates like these are not the place for subtlety and nuance, nor for a lot of history, or even worse, historical perspective. (It's too bad, but it's the fact. The audience sees what's before it.) Perspective is for observers with a viewpoint outside the action. If a candidate can see the big strategic picture as well as the immediate tactical one, and can switch viewpoints fast enough to react accordingly, he's a rare bird indeed, and is likely to be successful. Participants in a candidates' debate have to see things from inside the action. What matters is what we do now, today.

Personally, I think the Western oil powers made their big mistake by permitting the Gulf countries to take over the oil production facilities back in the 1960's and '70's. Those facilities were built by Western companies. The governments of Britain, the United States, and the Netherlands (and others, it's late, I'm just thinking of BP, all the US companies, and Shell, I'm sure there were others) should have defended the property of their corporate citizens, owned by their individual citizens, the shareholders. If those oil fields were still in possession of those who had developed them, there would be a lot less loose money around the Middle East than there is now. Loose money financing jihad. But that's history.

To return to my main point: this moment in the debate proved that Paul is not capable of being President of the US. He's out of his depth. A goldfish in a shark tank. To be successful, a politician has to be be able to capture a crowd, sway the mob, seize the moment, persuade people to do what he wants them to do. All this goes along with the arm-twisting in smoke-filled rooms and other behind the scenes activity. It would be wonderful if we could make public policy out of reasoned debate, without all this other stuff, and I would like to have a pony, too.

Ron Paul is still repeating the Libertarian Party platform points from before 9-11. I broke with the party after that event, as did others. I still like much of the program; but national security must come first. Which is why the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill is such a disaster. More on that later.

Update: Cathy Young says: "Paul has no chance of winning the nomination; but he certainly has a good chance to enrich the debates." I would like to agree. But for that to happen, the others will need to treat him more as a contributor than as a competitor, which is unlikely to happen, given that the debates and indeed the campaign as a whole are not a series of in-depth exploratory discussions of policy, but more like series of soundbites in which each candidate says "Vote for me, don't vote for him!" (Or her as the case may be.) Giuliani was trying to eliminate Paul as a competitor. To knock his marble out of the ring. Since he has no chance at the nomination anyway, it might seem overkill to go after him so fiercely, but it's the default action.

Also: the press expects each candidate to have an articulated position on all issues, any deviation from which will be condemned as flip-flopping. Granting respect to positions that differ from those already staked out would be seen as weakness. That is, there is next-to-no chance that a candidate will change his mind about something, especially not because of something another candidate says in a debate. Maybe not the best way to run an election, but it's what we have right now.

Just to clarify: I come not to praise demagoguery. My point is that a leader must know enough about leading to defend his flank, as Paul did not, and to strike when an opportunity is offered, as Giuliani did.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Colonial computerology

Russell Seitz starts from an Onion piece about computer archaeology and spins it hard and funny.

The Mayflower Compaq.

Gore's stealth campaign growing slightly less stealthy

I mentioned a while ago that I thought that Al Gore would make another run for the Presidency. The worshipful tone of this Time magazine cover story would incline me to double down my bet. If I had made a bet.

Let's say you were dreaming up the perfect stealth candidate for 2008, a Democrat who could step into the presidential race when the party confronts its inevitable doubts about the front runners. You would want a candidate with the grass-roots appeal of Barack Obama—someone with a message that transcends politics, someone who spoke out loud and clear and early against the war in Iraq. But you would also want a candidate with the operational toughness of Hillary Clinton—someone with experience and credibility on the world stage.

In other words, you would want someone like Al Gore—the improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet with an army of followers and huge reserves of political and cultural capital at his command. There's only one problem. The former Vice President just doesn't seem interested. He says he has "fallen out of love with politics," which is shorthand for both his general disgust with the process and the pain he still feels over the hard blow of the 2000 election, when he became only the fourth man in U.S. history to win the popular vote but lose a presidential election. In the face of wrenching disappointment, he showed enormous discipline—waking up every day knowing he came so close, believing the Supreme Court was dead wrong to shut down the Florida recount but never talking about it publicly because he didn't want Americans to lose faith in their system. That changes a man forever.

It changed Gore for the better. He dedicated himself to a larger cause, doing everything in his power to sound the alarm about the climate crisis, and that decision helped transform the way Americans think about global warming and carried Gore to a new state of grace. So now the question becomes, How will he choose to spend all the capital he has accumulated? No wonder friends, party elders, moneymen and green leaders are still trying to talk him into running. "We have dug ourselves into a 20-ft. hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder. Al's the guy," says Steve Jobs of Apple. "Like many others, I have tried my best to convince him. So far, no luck."
I'm starting to feel a draft. A prophet with grass-roots appeal, transcendent message, charismatic, dedicated, toughness, discipline, experience, credibility, and in a state of grace. All he needs is the white horse. Most of the encomia above (and that's just the first three paragraphs!) are matters of opinion, but the statement about the Academy award is just wrong. Doesn't Time bother to check facts any more? Davis Guggenheim and Melissa Etheridge won the Oscars. That's the only checkable statement in the quoted passage (aside from the Nobel Prize nomination, but anyone can be nominated), and it's wrong.

In Gore's view, "the Supreme Court was dead wrong to shut down the Florida recount" only because he was losing. That recount was done over several times by different agencies, with Gore losing every time. What I imagine he had in mind was something more like the recounts in the gubernatorial race in Washington state in 2004, as documented here: November timeline, December timeline. In other words, keep on recounting until you win, then stop.

But the Supreme Court did shut down the recount. Gore tried something similar to a job for a while, teaching journalism at Columbia. For one semester in 2001. But being in the classroom meant being off the big stage, out of the public eye. Since then, he has returned to pursuits suited to a Senator and Senator's son, as a director of Apple (see Steve Jobs, above), chairman of the board of Generation Investments (his own carbon offsets firm), and president of Current TV. (Is this a channel like Oxygen, that the newspapers write about now and then, but no-one actually watches? Oh dear, I just took a look at the CurrentTV website. I wish I hadn't done that.) And movie star and author of a new book, release of which occasions the Time piece quoted above. Tellingly, the book is titled The Assault on Reason. Gore likes to present himself as the smart one in the room, the one who knows better, thus the embodiment of reason. An assault on reason, then, is an assault on Gore, which places him in the favored Lefty role of victim. So it's reasonable for him to be intolerant of the dissenters to his program, who are assaulting reason by disagreeing with him:
We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth.
This sounds like someone whose mind is made up. Well, it is. He's told us so. It also sounds like someone whose idea of science is based on precious little other than argument from authority. And, since he gets to decide which studies are pseudo (pay no attention to that broken hockey stick!) and is clearly the only one who can uncloud our ability to see the truth, there must be nothing to these observations by John Derbyshire at NRO:
And if you think Al Gore’s nutty preoccupation with what he calls “the climate crisis” is going to turn people off, you’re not paying attention. Global warming is not just a new fad for liberals and the liberal-inclined; it’s also a welcome refuge from the previous fad, “diversity,” just as that previous fad is starting to grow fungus and smell bad.

The Left always needs a Grand Cause, and global warming is a perfect fit for the liberal mentality. It allows you to feel good without actually inconveniencing yourself overmuch, demands massive new government powers and corresponding taxation, is open-ended enough to, in theory, go on forever, makes capitalism look bad, and offers endless opportunities to feel warm throbs of guilt while gazing on pictures of poor, dark people suffering pitiably in remote places.

Al knew all that before you did. He’s a smart cookie. He has a fine presidential jaw, massive celebrity support, full campaign experience, tens of millions of aggrieved supporters who feel they were swindled out of their last shot at a Gore presidency, and the ability to swiftly gin up lotsa cash.

Dum dum da-dum dah de-deedle-dardle dum dum (That’s “Hail to the Chief”). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next president of the United States: Al Gore!
Update: More on the book, with video, at Hot Air. A commenter there noticed that the title of the book could be taken in the way it was no doubt intended, or as a label: the latter interpretation would make the book itself the "assault on reason."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Crinoids not so sessile after all

Or as Russell Seitz titles his post, "CREEPING CRINOIDS!" Zooillogix has the video. Like Seitz, I remember seeing these things in books about prehistoric life, looking sessile as could be. I'll be getting a new frisson from chrysanthemums in the future. If the skrode-riders in A Fire Upon the Deep had been a little less plant and a little more animal, they'd be something like these critters. If these crinoids ever get skrodes, we may have to look out for them.

Atlantic conveyor shutdown unlikely, says IPCC

According to the NY Times:

OSLO — Mainstream climatologists who have feared that global warming could have the paradoxical effect of cooling northwestern Europe or even plunging it into a small ice age have stopped worrying about that particular disaster, although it retains a vivid hold on the public imagination.

The idea, which held climate theorists in its icy grip for years, was that the North Atlantic Current, an extension of the Gulf Stream that cuts northeast across the Atlantic Ocean to bathe the high latitudes of Europe with warmish equatorial water, could shut down in a greenhouse world.
I guess we can stop worrying about that, then. But darn it, wasn't the debate supposed to be over? The science settled? Has anybody asked the Goracle about this?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sen. Dodd -- ignorant or mendacious?

Pick one. From Back Talk:

Here is what Senator Christopher Dodd said about this last Sunday:

Again, this is a civil war going on in Iraq. This is not the United States versus Al Qaida. It's Shia versus Sunnis tearing each other apart. It's gone on for centuries, but particularly here right now.

Dodd is clearly not being truthful about what he knows. He says "This is not the United States versus Al Qaida," but he surely knows all about this:

Al-Qaida group claims killing of 9 GIs in Iraq

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 4:54 p.m. PT April 24, 2007

BAGHDAD - An al-Qaida-linked group posted a Web statement Tuesday claiming responsibility for a suicide car bombing that killed nine U.S. paratroopers and wounded 20 in the worst attack on American ground forces in Iraq in more than a year.

That looks like the United States versus Al Qaeda to me. What does it look like to you?

But let's take a more systematic tour through the evidence concerning the critical role played by al Qaeda in Iraq. In response to the senator's claim, I am going to overwhelm you with compelling evidence from multiple sources showing that al Qaeda is the main enemy we are fighting in Iraq. In light of that evidence (none of which is top secret), I am suggesting that Senator Christopher Dodd is being deliberately misleading. And I am challenging you to prove me wrong.
Much more at the link. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Decoding "Code Monkey"

Clive Thompson, who showed us the Dana octopus squid a while back, has a piece in the NY Times Magazine about Jonathan Coulton. "Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog" is the title; it is not just about Jonathan Coulton, it's more of a look at how MySpace and the Internet in general are changing the relationship between pop artists and their audiences.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Making Light, a musician himself, linked this indirectly, through the video it contains, as one of his sidebar "Sidelights."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

World's oldest family business sold

1428 years is a pretty good run.

The world's oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders' descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.… Two factors were primarily responsible. First, during the 1980s bubble economy in Japan, the company borrowed heavily to invest in real estate. After the bubble burst in the 1992-93 recession, the assets secured by Kongo Gumi's debt shrank in value. Second, social changes in Japan brought about declining contributions to temples. As a result, demand for Kongo Gumi's temple-building services dropped sharply beginning in 1998.
Just another real estate bubble victim.
From Jerry Pournelle's mail.

Songs you didn't know were covers

A list of some of them at Blender. Thanks to Karol Sheinin. Who as a child was closer to the Ft. Dix-terror-plotting Duka brothers than she would have liked.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Canada still affected by the last ice age

In an article titled "Canada's odd low gravity a relic of the ice age," Dawn Walton writes about the Canadian gravitational anomalies. You'd weigh less in parts of Canada than you would in New York or Moscow, though not much.

In 2002, NASA and the German Aerospace Center launched a pair of satellites to circle the planet from 500 kilometres above to map changes in mass and gravity.… The satellites found that the Earth's crust over Canada has not completed what scientists call the "post-glacial rebound." Now, it's clear that the ice age is still affecting the planet.
Like a hangover, and Earth is still a little unsteady from all that ice. This means that Gore and the AGW promoters are like bad friends who won't let a drunk sober up.

Update: And another thing: All this rebounding means that previously glacier-covered land is rising, and previously unglaciated land is sinking, relative to some level, which might be sea level. The water is rising on the southern shores of the Great Lakes, for instance, while sinking on the northern shores, or so it appears. Scotland rising means England is sinking, so the Thames will flood more, but it not the CO2 that's doing it at all. That Globe & Mail article has gone behind a pay wall, so here is Wikipedia on post-glacial rebound, and a New Scientist article, Satellites solve mystery of low gravity over Canada, on the GRACE mapping satellites.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Support the Troops — Let them Win!

Support the troops bumper sticker. There now, that's a little more Google-juice for this item. It's not my Cafe Press shop; the idea was mentioned at Outside the Wire on Feb. 16, and by Feb. 19, it was something you could buy. I guess that was JD Johannes writing, though the posts are not signed. It looks very nice on my white car.

Then again, contributions for projects in Iraq and Afghanistan could be sent to Spirit of America.
Which will do more good than a bumper sticker will do. And then there's Soldiers' Angels, who do not seem to have a cute graphic button, but who do a lot of good for individual members of the armed forces. Project Valour-IT is just one of their projects.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Deep Greens

There's an Anne Rice novel in which the villain is a Deep Green who wants to wipe out the majority of the human race to save the planet -- Servant of the Bones, I think. A horror story, of course. It's been a long time since I read it. Every now and then one of the Deep Greens in the leadership of the movement will come out in public with revelatory statements of the real program. Glenn Reynolds spotted a couple today. Here's one, Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society:

We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion.… Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans. Being a parent should be a career.… There is, of course, a complexity of problems in adjusting to a new design that will simply allow us to survive the consequences of our past ecological folly. Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach. It won’t be easy but then it’s better than the alternative.
Getting rid of approximately 5,710,000,000 human beings = "a complexity of problems?" There is a new understatement champ in town. But it's all for Gaia, so it's all good.

I won't link to this editorial. But I did take a screenshot.

Update: Can't find the screenshot. I thought some sense of decency or shame would have led to this being taken down. It's still up as of November 2008, so I guess they are actually proud of it. Here's the link to the whole rancid thing.

Sarkozy gagne

Looks like a good margin. Adieu Chirac!

The end is nigh

No more fooling around, now. This is it. The debate is over, and it's time to do something. A massive dose of regulation administered by UN bureaucrats would be a really good place to start.

Global Warmers Give Us 8 Months to Live.

Really, stop that fooling around. You want to live, don't you? Don't make me come down there.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Glenn Beck on warming

CNN has a transcript.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Global clearcutting saves .3°C

In Trees--what about them? I mentioned that not all trees are created equal in their ability to promote or discourage warming. The Economist writes about a daring computer modeler who has taken on the question, "What if we just get rid of all of them?" The assumption by many AGW promoters

that planting trees will make the world cooler than it would otherwise be, is the subject of a newly published study by Govindasamy Bala, of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in California, and his colleagues. Dr Bala has found, rather counter-intuitively, that removing all of the world's trees might actually cool the planet down. Conversely, adding trees everywhere might warm it up.
Dr Bala's model can be told to replace all the world's forests with shrubby grasslands, and left alone to work out how such a change would alter greenhouse-gas concentrations and how that, in turn, would influence the temperature in different places.

When Dr Bala ordered global clearcutting, the model calculated that the atmosphere's carbon-dioxide levels would roughly double by 2100. This is a much greater increase than happens in a business-as-usual simulation, but it would, paradoxically, make for a colder planet. That is because brighter high latitudes would reflect more sunlight in winter, cooling the local environment by as much as 6°C. The tropics would warm up, since they would be less cloudy, but not by enough to produce a net global heat gain. Overall, Dr Bala's model suggests that complete deforestation would cause an additional 1.3°C temperature rise compared with business as usual, because of the higher carbon-dioxide levels that would result. However, the additional reflectivity of the planet would cause 1.6°C of cooling. A treeless world would thus, as he reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, be 0.3°C cooler than otherwise.
If indeed the fate of civilization depends on fractions of a degree, we had better sharpen up the axes and get rid of all those trees. If higher carbon dioxide levels are important only because they lead to warming, but we can have less warming and more CO2 at the same time, that would lead to better crop yields in the regions that are currently under cultivation. Unless the crops were apples. Or timber. But you wouldn't need to harvest any more timber, because you would already have harvested it all. But there would never be any more.

I like trees pretty well. I think we should keep them. Some, at least. The good ones. Treebeard has a list.

Seen at The Unsettled.