Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The brighter side of global warming, part 2: Greenland

The NY Times had a piece on Sunday, Warming Revives Flora and Fauna in Greenland. Much interesting information, including this sentence:

When using the words “growing” in connection with Greenland in the same sentence, it is important to remember that although Greenland is the size of Europe, it has only nine conifer forests like Mr. Bjerge’s, all of them cultivated.
By Wednesday morning, another couple of paragraphs had been added to the article:
Correction: October 30, 2007

An article on Sunday about the effect of climate change in Greenland misstated its geographic size relative to Europe. It is about one-quarter as big, not the same size.
That would be the single easiest thing in the article to check. The Times' reputation for accuracy is further enhanced.

Also of interest in this article is the mention of the Medieval Optimum (though not by name; the warmingists do not like to discuss it) and the Little Ice Age:
Greenland, a self-governing province of Denmark, was settled by the pugilistic Viking Erik the Red in the 10th century, after his murderous ways got him ejected from Iceland. Legend has it that he called it Greenland as a way to entice others to join him, and, in fact, it was.

It was relatively green then, with forests and fertile soil, and the Vikings grew crops and raised sheep for hundreds of years. But temperatures dropped precipitously in the so-called Little Ice Age, which began in the 16th century, the Norse settlers died out and agriculture was no longer possible.
[Twirling moustache] Aha! So there has been variation in the past! [stops twirling] Will a correction appear for this, next? We wait to find out.

Brighter side, part 1.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Personal priorities

John Hawkins:

Let this thread over at the Daily Kos be a warning to you: life is bigger than politics. Yes, politics and ideology are important, but you shouldn't take things to such an extreme that you let it make you miserable or wreck your relationships with your friends or family.
Thanks to Michelle Malkin.

Update, over a year later: See? what happens? A thirty-some-years friendship, demolished, in public, on the Web. Over politics, and ego. This leading to this, and other bits of hostility, in the same thread. A whole lot of people would rather be right. (That's an SF link; the source of it is Henry Clay, who famously said that he would rather be right than President. He managed to be neither, but that's another story.) Maybe they'll make it up, now that the election's over.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Christopher Walken for President?

Charles at LGF links to "Perhaps the greatest music video ever made." Perhaps, indeed. (Did you spot the Dune reference?) The comment thread is one music video recommendation after another. In the course of which I find that Christopher Walken has a campaign website, Christopher Walken for President 2008. It seems like a pretty laid-back campaign. At the CafePress shop for campaign stuff, the T-shirt slogan is "This country needs more cowbell;" the bumper sticker slogan is, "If you want me to be President, I'll do it!" Another T-shirt actually seems to take a position on an issue, "No more zoos!" I for one would hate to see all those animals put out of work. It's not easy getting a job as a lion in the Bronx if you can't connect at the zoo.

More news from the cancer front

From the New Scientist:

GM virus shrinks cancer tumours in humans

A virus carefully engineered to target cancer tumours has shown promising results in treating liver cancer in a small, early-stage clinical trial.

Some of the patients enrolled in the trial experienced a greater than 50% reduction in the size of their tumours over the course of the year long study, according to researchers. The virus used in the treatment works well, they say, because it can replicate and spread quickly within the tumours.

Scientists have suspected that viruses might help thwart tumours ever since 1912. In that year, an Italian gynaecology journal reported that a woman with advanced cervical cancer showed signs of increasing tumour shrinkage after receiving a rabies vaccination for a dog bite.


To overcome this challenge scientists such as David Kirn at Jennerex Biotherapeutics in San Francisco, California, US have tried to develop treatments based on the vaccinia or pox virus. This spreads more easily within cancer tumours than previously employed viruses thanks to a 'tail' composed of a protein called actin.

In the first step, Kirn's team deleted a gene from the vaccinia virus that made it unable to produce an enzyme called thymidine kinase. Without this enzyme, the virus cannot replicate and cause damage in normal, healthy tissue.

Cancerous cells, however, contain an abundance of thymidine kinase, making it easy for the modified vaccinia virus to multiply within tumours. And once the virus creates enough copies of itself it bursts the cancer cell where it resides.

Next, Kirns' group added a gene to the virus that made it produce a signalling molecule called cytokine, which attracts the body's immune cells towards tumours. The end result of this elaborate process of genetic engineering was a tumour-targeting vaccinia virus known as JX-594.
Hopeful signs all over. Europeans will not want this, I suppose, because of the genetic engineering involved.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Somewhere, over the rainbow

As Theo says, "a bit soppy but amazing."

That's Connie Talbot.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spying for law enforcement?

At ThreatsWatch:

The Domestic Intelligence Imperative
Something is wrong when sharing requires breaking the law
By Michael Tanji

Driven to desperation by restrictive information sharing rules, and concerned about the terrorist threat to their homes and loved ones, at least five American intelligence officers established a domestic espionage ring. The target of their actions: the federal government. The beneficiary of their actions: Los Angeles. How has it come to this, that otherwise patriotic and loyal citizens feel compelled to work against their government in order to serve and protect their communities?
Patriot or Vigilante?

By Robert Haddick

Did a group of experienced military officers, comprised of intelligence analysts, Iraq war veterans, and reservists, some who are also police officers in Los Angeles, form their own "vigilance committee" to hunt down al Qaeda suspects operating inside the U.S.?

If true, what drove these men to risk their careers, their reputations, and their personal freedom to break strict laws on the handling of top-secret documents?
The military working with law enforcement to track down internal threats, sounds good, no? No? The "Gorelick wall" is still standing, and it is being enforced.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Lord Monckton takes on Gore's errors, again

It seems the Gore publicity office has reacted to the British judge who ruled that Gore's movie had 9 errors. From the opening of Lord Monckton's new piece:

Al Gore’s spokesman and “environment advisor,” Ms. Kalee Kreider, begins by saying that the film presented “thousands and thousands of facts.” It did not: just 2,000 “facts” in 93 minutes would have been one fact every three seconds. The film contained only a few dozen points, most of which will be seen to have been substantially inaccurate. The judge concentrated only on nine points which even the UK Government, to which Gore is a climate-change advisor, had to admit did not represent mainstream scientific opinion.

Ms. Kreider then states, incorrectly, that the judge himself had never used the term “errors.” In fact, the judge used the term “errors,” in inverted commas, throughout his judgment.
It does go on. Available from the Science and Public Policy Institute in html and pdf. The previous Monckton vs. Gore back-and-forth was the occasion of my first post here.

John Stossel on global warming, 10/19/07

The report from last Friday's 20-20. The kids are being frightened by having An Inconvenient Truth forced upon them by their teachers. How many neuroses will this lead to? At least the Russian bombs that frightened my generation were real. Anybody recognize the creep with the English accent who says, "We have Holocaust deniers, we have climate change deniers, and to be honest, I don't think there's a great deal of difference." at 6:55 in (1:11 remaining, if you see a countdown)?

A shorter written version at the ABC News site.

Update: Russell Seitz thinks that Tom Yulsman has called Stossel's "attempt to bluff on some bad bets in climate science." Yulsman's Prometheus site is sponsored by NOAA, which is heavily invested in the AGW "consensus." The way I read the post, it sounds like Yulsman is the one bluffing. "Flat-earthers?" Really? See what you think.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Holy Land Foundation mistrial

The verdict, awaited over the weekend, turns out to be no verdict at all.

Justice Department prosecutors can get juries to convict businesspersons such as Martha Stewart and Conrad Black, and high government officials such as Lewis Libby, on the flimsiest evidence, of non-crimes. Prison sentences result. But given networks and documents and years of real evidence of subversion, they cannot get a conviction. At least they got a mistrial and will have another chance, hopefully with another prosecutor and another strategy. It's enough to make you wonder if the DOJ are really trying. Gee, Sandy Berger has not taken that lie detector test, and DOJ is not pressing him on it. Maybe they're not really trying. There are probably people at DOJ and CIA who started working there when Jimmy Carter was president. The entrenched bureaucracy has its own agenda. Compare to this book, and this one.

Dallas Morning News: Judge declares mistrial in Holy Land Foundation case.
Rod Dreher: Holy Land Foundation snafu.
LGF: Breaking: Mistrial Declared in HLF Hamas Trial - Update: Official Verdict Document Added, quickly followed by CAIR Gloating Over Mistrial.
NY Times: U.S. Prosecution of Muslim Group Ends in Mistrial

Update, Tuesday Oct 23: More from the talkative juror, William Neal, a 33-year-old art director in Dallas: Holy Land defendants' long wait ends as U.S. vows to retry case.
From the American Thinker: Bad News for Holy Land Defendants.
And from the Investigative Project on Terrorism: Second HLF Trial Could Bring Changes. This includes a link to a video interview with juror William Neal. It seems odd that he can't remember his own age: "I'd never been on a jury before, never, this is my first time in 30, what, 20 years since I'm 18, or whatever …" He makes good points about the way the case was presented. Too much evidence that was too technical for the jury to deal with; too many charges. 197 charges! An hour a charge is not too much time for debate and voting, but 197 hours is five 40-hour work weeks, or 25 days. Assuming no time is spent on deciding what's for lunch—and Neal says that some days were mostly spent discussing lunch—then the 19 days of deliberation were still inadequate for the case as presented.

Another update, Oct 29: Steven Emerson in the NY Post:

Prosecutors in the Northern District of Texas deserve praise for bringing this case in the first place. The trial record conclusively demonstrated that Holy Land and several of its unindicted co-conspirators - including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) - grew out of Hamas. Moreover, it showed that they spent the better part of 15 years deceiving government agencies and the media, hiding their true goals under a mask of work for charity and civil rights.

To be sure, the mistrial was portrayed as another in a series of setbacks for the government's anti-terror prosecution strategy. Notably, several jurors seemed to discount the testimony of an Israeli security expert, testifying under an assumed name, apparently on the belief that Israelis cannot be trusted on Palestinian matters.

Some jurors may even have bought the defense argument that anti-Israel terror isn't truly terrorism, but merely "resisting the occupation." One juror told the Dallas Morning News of his difficulty in describing Hamas as a terrorist group, stating, "Part of it does terrorist acts, but it's a political movement. It's an uprising."
This juror was of course William Neal, the only juror who has spoken to the press.

Here previously: Islamic fifth column.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Garlic, it's good for you

One more health post, while I'm thinking about it and have the windows open. Rand Simberg links to a NY Times article:

In the latest study, performed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers extracted juice from supermarket garlic and added small amounts to human red blood cells. The cells immediately began emitting hydrogen sulfide, the scientists found.

The power to boost hydrogen sulfide production may help explain why a garlic-rich diet appears to protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer, say the study authors. Higher hydrogen sulfide might also protect the heart, according to other experts. Although garlic has not consistently been shown to lower cholesterol levels, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine earlier this year found that injecting hydrogen sulfide into mice almost completely prevented the damage to heart muscle caused by a heart attack.

One of my favorite things to do with garlic is to grow it and then clip the leaves. They are not as fibrous as the leaves of "garlic chives," and are pleasantly oily, making them a good substitute or supplement for scallions in salads or anywhere else that you might want to use green onions.

Identifying the unidentified

And while I'm linking to Jim Macdonald at Making Light, I must link his post about Alien Abduction: Betty & Barney Hill.

Today, this very day, forty-six years ago, Betty and Barney Hill drove down U.S. 3, right past my house and into history. They were about to become Patient Zero for Alien Abductions with Weird Medical Experiments, Missing Time, and Big-Eyed Extraterrestrials. The first and (we are told) best documented case of Alien Abduction Evah. There was a book. There was a made-for-TV movie. Magazine articles. Mentions in other books. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. X-Files.

So what happened out on Route 3?
Jim, who lives in the area, retraces the route, and reveals all.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Did you get your flu shot?

Whether you did or not, flu season is here anyway. And Jim Macdonald has a post at Making Light on How To Wash Your Hands.

Update: more on this, with the focus more on MRSA, at the NY Times: Best Defense Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria: Wash Your Hands. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Another update: Cold weather really does spread flu. Thanks to Maggie's Farm.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On the integrity of Ann Coulter

TigerHawk knew Ann Coulter in college days, and reminisces a bit about the conservative bomb-thrower:

I do not really know Ann now, but I knew her pretty well back at Michigan Law School. In the first week or two of my third year we threw a party at our house and Ann -- who had just arrived in Ann Arbor as a first year -- materialized as the date of one of my classmates. Mrs. TH and I ended up talking conservative politics with her at some length, and over the course of the 1985-86 academic year became pretty good friends. We would study in the Michigan Union and end up laughing (or ranting) about something hideous we had read in the New York Times (plus ça change...).

The thing is, she has not changed. Apart from being a tad more polished, the Ann you see on television is essentially identical in mannerism, turn of phrase, and bomb-throwing rhetoric to the Ann we shot the breeze with more than 20 years ago. Long before she had a book to sell or even envisioned a career as a pundit, she took great pleasure in phrasing her opinions in the starkest possible terms, especially if she could make her friends laugh guiltily or offend people who offended her. Ann's public life is just an extension of actual personality -- she has a sharp sense of humor, takes endless pleasure in irritating people to the left of her, and does not much care (or seem to care) what such people think of her.

So when people say that Ann says what she says to sell books, I do not think that is right. Mrs. TH and I agree that her public personality today conforms so well to her private personality back in the day that we are all seeing the real Ann. She does what she does because it gives her great pleasure. She is the rare celebrity, I think, who has found a way to have a public life that is not really in conflict with her private life.

Draw whatever conclusions you will.
That's a big excerpt, but it's not the whole post, and the comments are interesting. So go there and RTWT.

To "Dan Rather" is a verb

One character to another (a journalist) on Flash Gordon, about a minute ago, on the Sci-Fi channel: "Do you really want to be Dan Rather'd? What if the story turns out to be a hoax?"

Another candidate enters the Presidential race

LGF correspondent Zombie managed to attend three campaign events last Sunday. There was a Hillary! event, an Obama event, and another event, in which Frank Moore, of the Just Makes Sense Party, took part. Of course he has a website and a blog. He makes about as much sense as most of the other candidates. As usual with Zombie's reports from California's moonbat zone, the photos are many and colorful.

The brighter side of global warming

One of Jerry Pournelle's readers points out a paper in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons [Yes, it's a right-wing mag for capitalist doctors. So?] by, among others, Arthur Robinson of Access to Energy (started by Petr Beckmann, who was previously mentioned here in Al Gore's electric bill). Robinson's quite an interesting character, you might say eccentric, but clearly brilliant for some value of brilliant. This paper has plenty of graphs and footnotes. It is in .pdf format. There's a small version, just under a megabyte, and a high-res color version, about 5.5 megabytes. I'll quote the conclusion here:


There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape. There is no reason to limit human production of CO2, CH4, and other minor green house gases as has been proposed (82,83,97,123).

We also need not worry about environmental calamities even if the current natural warming trend continues. The Earth has been much warmer during the past 3,000 years without catastrophic effects. Warmer weather extends growing seasons and generally improves the habitability of colder regions.

As coal, oil, and natural gas are used to feed and lift from poverty vast numbers of people across the globe, more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere. This will help to maintain and improve the health, longevity, prosperity, and productivity of all people.

The United States and other countries need to produce more energy, not less. The most practical, economical, and environmentally sound methods available are hydrocarbon and nuclear technologies. Human use of coal, oil, and natural gas has not harmfully warmed the Earth, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not do so in the foreseeable future. The CO2 produced does, however, accelerate the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions. Animal life, which depends upon plants, also flourishes, and the diversity of plant and animal life is increased.

Human activities are producing part of the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of this CO2 increase. Our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed.
It's a pleasant change to see someone looking on the bright side.


Warmer:I know which picture I'd prefer to be in.

With six you get cheese steak roll

Looking around some more at the delightful Language Log, I find a synthesis of Philly and Cantonese: Chinese Philadelphia Food. There is a picture of the item, and the address of the restaurant. I'm not a huge fan of the Philly cheese steak, but I certainly would try one of these ones if I were in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Return of the Pirahã

A comparison of nonchalant innumeracy among the Pirahã of the Amazon with lack of statistical numeracy among newspaper readers and writers, at Language Log. The Pirahã appeared here earlier in "Thus I refute Chomsky."

A little more looking around reveals an earlier, more technical article at Language Log, Parataxis in Pirahã. Elmore Leonard—his syntax, anyway—makes an appearance.

Different ice cream flavors in Rehoboth

Commenter Jennifer at Althouse mentions the bacon ice cream at a shop in Rehoboth, Delaware. Other flavors at this place include peanut butter and jelly and Memphis barbecue. I've tried garlic ice cream, once, and thought that strange enough. But I've never tried Guinness ice cream.

Eggcorns -- the database

Sometimes eggcorns are hard to tell from malapropisms and mondegreens.

ghost » goat
Chiefly in: give up the goat
Classification: English - idiom-related
Spotted in the wild:
  • My old 14″ monitor went completely wrong and after a few years trusty service it finally gave up the goat, hence my need to find a new monitor for my little machine. (Ciao.co.uk review, Feb. 18, 2001)
  • The INS had finally given up the goat, and we were standby gauges only. (Naval Safety Center, Approach Magazine, 2004)
  • Canon mp760 gave up the goat. (TGForumz, Sep. 22, 2005)
  • One could argue that since he’s focused his practice largely on documentary filmmaking since the Eighties … he might as well have given up the goat for all the attention given to the form in theaters in the media until recently. (Reverse Shot Online, Winter 2006)
  • Luckily our old Toyota just got us through and then gave up the goat. (ABC Rural, SA Country Hour, Jan. 11, 2006)
  • Stay calm, collected, and don’t give up the goat. (Paul Davidson, Ten Rules for Making Rules, Apr. 16, 2006)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Jeanette Winterson (The Times, May 13, 2006)

Jeanette Winterson writes:

The other day my elderly country neighbour asked for a bit of help to get his new washing machine into the kitchen. That generation never use “it”, always, “he” or “she”, so I wasn’t surprised to hear the washing machine called “he”, but I was surprised by what followed: “My old washing machine, he’s given up the goat,” he said, in a broad Gloucestershire accent.
“The goat?” I replied. “Are you sure?” “Oh, yes,” said my neighbour, “ain’t you never heard that expression before, given up the goat?” “Well, not exactly . . . where does it come from?” “Ah well,” said my neighbour, “in the old days, when folks didn’t have much, and mainly worked the land, a man would set store by his animals, especially his goat, and when he come to die, he would bequeath that goat to his heirs, and that is why we say, ‘he’s given up the goat’.”
I am thrilled with this and from now on there will be no more ghosts, only goats.
There are hundreds more at the Eggcorn Database. (Thanks to the Internet Ronin.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Al Gore wins Nobel

Big roundup of commentary at PJ Media.

Another roundup at The Reference Frame.

A list of all the Peace Prize winners, from the Nobel site.

A list of non-winners, from the WSJ.

I had been hoping for a mild winter, but I suppose that's unlikely now.

Update, Oct. 17: (Thanks to GR,) here comes the mob.

The People's Cube had this back in February! Which shows the advantage of centralized planning.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Newly discovered theorem of Archimedes

Why "palimpsest" is not a dirty word, though it sounds like it ought to be.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Clear vision and chain reactions, and a sip of wine

From P.J. Doland, a NY Times Magazine article on highway signage and how a typeface evolves; and a pleasant timewaster, Boomshine. Also: how having more advice makes it worse, not better: How to Ruin a Web Design. Aaand furthermore, something significant about wine, and the making thereof: Two Buck Chuck takes a bite out of Napa.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Analemma with included total eclipse = Tutulemma.