Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Krugman out of his mind and over the line

Another link to Neo-neocon. Good bunch of comments over there, too.

"Traitors to the planet?" Good grief. Put down that Kool-Aid, Dr. Krugman. You're way outside your academic field here. Let no one say after this that warming is a scientific issue any more. The politicians have got their teeth into it now.

I'd be more inclined to call people voting for Waxman-Markey traitors, in the old fashioned sense of working for the destruction of their country, if I were going to sling that word around, which, of course, I'm not.

I wouldn't use apophasis on those guys. No I wouldn't.

More from Tom Maguire.

Update: Lomborg on Krugman, et Al.: Al Gore and friends create climate of McCarthyism. Via Planet Gore.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Science news

In a piece of original research which took place on the evening of June 29, 2009, a serving of ice cream (mixed chocolate and vanilla) was eaten by your correspondent. Following this, a puppy was allowed to lick the cup. This step shows that when a larger creature is done with some food, a smaller one may still be able to get some good out of what is left. (A more commonly encountered proof is provided by ants at picnics, ubique.) When the puppy was done, the cup appeared to be pretty well cleaned up. It then was replaced on the patio table, and ignored for a while. When next it was looked into, a lightning bug had continued the scavenging of leftovers. This demonstrates that the principle of leftovers, above, can apply more than once to the same dessert. (Leftovers are recursive.) It also demonstrates that at least one lightning bug likes ice cream. Your correspondent suggests that lightning bugs are not commonly thought of as being fond of ice cream because they rarely have the opportunity to feast on a very thin film of it which in turn is on a hard surface, which saves their tiny feet from the possibility or indeed likelihood of sinking into the ice cream substrate.

Preliminary conclusion: Multi-specific mutualism. Humans benefit from puppies; puppies benefit from humans; lightning bugs benefit from puppies; humans benefit from lightning bugs. Ice cream is a constant, or fudge factor, in the system of relations. Did someone say fudge?

Thus it is shown that some of the best things in the world, to wit, puppies, lightning bugs and ice cream, have a closer, one might say more intimate relationship, than previously believed. And now, when I think of ice cream, I will think of lightning bugs, and vice versa. Not forgetting the puppy. Who could forget the puppy? Not I.

The ice cream gets melty, in between the human and puppy. That makes this observation a demonstration of trickle-down economics, and how, in practice, it benefits bipeds, quadrupeds, and hexapodia. In the next installment, the relationship between ice cream and fireworks. The lightning bug may have something to say about nocturnal illuminations.

(The second picture, on the right, gets a great deal bigger if clicked.)

Deep Greens in high places

In the London Times:

UK population must fall to 30m, says Porritt

JONATHON PORRITT, one of Gordon Brown’s leading green advisers, is to warn that Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society.

Porritt’s call will come at this week’s annual conference of the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), of which he is patron.

The trust will release research suggesting UK population must be cut to 30m if the country wants to feed itself sustainably.

Porritt said: “Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure.

“Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact.”

… However, Porritt is winning scientific backing. Professor Chris Rapley, director of the Science Museum, will use the OPT conference, to be held at the Royal Statistical Society, to warn that population growth could help derail attempts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Rapley, who formerly ran the British Antarctic Survey, said humanity was emitting the equivalent of 50 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

“We have to cut this by 80%, and population growth is going to make that much harder,” he said.

These recommendations are a lot more radical than what we have heard publicly from, say, John Holdren, Obama's science advisor, but stem from the same kind of Deep Green, Ehrlichite doom-saying mindset.

Porritt has a blog, which reveals that he is strongly opposed to nuclear power. Expanded use of nuclear power is the most readily available way to produce energy without emitting carbon. So cutting carbon emissions without using non-carbon-emitting power sources, yes, that does seem to require population cuts. To cut population by only 50%, but cut carbon emissions by 80%, would also require severe poverty for most of the remainder. Burying all the (30,000,000!) corpses would provide "shovel-ready" work for those remaining, and sequester the carbon in the bodies. Incineration would be counter-productive.

I feel like I need a shower, from thinking about this stuff. This is supposed to be responsible policy debate? Why isn't this kind of thing consigned immediately to the lunatic-rants bin?

There's more on this at Belmont Club, with a goodly number of comments.

This story is a few months old; I missed the Belmont Club post, and just came across it at Dr. Weevil.

"There Is No Evidence"

That's what Australian former warmingist David Evans says about AGW. There's a quick summary at There Is No Evidence dot com, with a link to a much fuller discussion (PDF).

Last sentence from the PDF: "It appears at this point that the CO2 theory is doomed, and it is only a matter of time before its bubble bursts." A matter of time? How much time do we have before the Senate vote on their version of Waxman-Markey? Bursting before then, please.

Evans runs Science Speak, "a scientific modeling and mathematical research company." From their homepage I learned that his colleague there, Joanne Nova, has written a guide for the climate skeptic, called, appropriately enough, The Skeptics' Handbook, and has an informative blog.

When you list them all in one place ...

… it seems like there are an awful lot of female teachers getting in trouble for sexual contact with students.

I wonder how long a similar list of offending male teachers would be?

Since it's Politically Correct now to treat any man who comes near a child as a potential sex offender, a comparison of the lists could be instructive. Maybe it's the women who need watching.

The article was linked in a comment at Belmont Club, on a thread which will inspire another post, in a few minutes.

Obama's Chavismo revealed by reaction to events in Honduras

Read Neo-neocon on this. Compare with Obama's unwillingness to speak for freedom in Iran.

More: Ramirez in IBD:

And an editorial there.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pournelle: "Authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power."

An aphorism is born. I hope Dr. Pournelle won't mind if I quote this whole passage.

That is a world-level statement

Mr. Pournelle,

"Authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power" is an eye-opening statement. It is very good. You might want to spread it around. Much like that "power corrupts" statement.

Nathan Okun
Thank you. On reflection, perhaps the principle deserves some kind of title analogous to Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy, but I haven't thought of a suitable name yet. It does hold up to inspection. The statement was that just as in logic a false statement implies the universe class, in human affairs authority to accomplish the impossible implies absolute power, and that does seem true enough.

And now the House has passed perhaps the worst bill in its history, 1,000 pages that no one had read giving enormous regulatory power in pursuit of the impossible. The actual effect of US adoption of cap and trade on climate is essentially nil. China and India will continue to burn coal and oil as they industrialize. CO2 levels will continue to rise. Global temperatures will continue to rise. US self destruction may affect the global temperature in the year 2100, but I know of no theory that can show the effect will be greater than 1 degree C (that is, global temperature would be 1 degree C less without US contribution to CO2) and that is a very extreme limit; few of the theories show our contribution to be large enough to have that much effect. The most likely outcome is an enormous hamper to US economic recovery and no effect whatever on global temperature.

The President speaks of this as a jobs bill. The cost of each job created by this is enormous. Economic growth and energy cost have a high negative correlation and always have, and this is an energy tax; it will raise the price of energy, whatever else it does. Nearly all "green" energy produces energy at a cost great than the equivalent of $150/bbl oil.

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
Indeed. Dr. P. understates the number of pages in the bill, but that number was changing so fast, it's a trivial error.

Elsewhere, tangentially to a note about the unwillingness of alarmist modelers to share their source code, Dr. Pournelle notes a distressing possibility:
[T]he charges of "Climate Change Deniers" continue to circulate, while the number of falsifiable hypotheses from the consensus group does not increase. The very nature of science may be at stake: consensus as more important than falsifiability.
Though of course science has always suffered from the problem of consensus. Cases in point, Semmelweis, Wegener.

Your lyin' eyes - 2

The blue and the green. Take a look at this optical illusion, which proves that the images we perceive are not direct input from the eyes, but considerably processed by the brain before reaching the conscious mind. In other words, what you see is not necessarily what you are looking at.

And do take a look at the site whence it came, that of Akiyoshi Kitaoka. Much more of this there. There is a warning on the front page: "Warning: This page contains some works of 'anomalous motion illusion', which might make sensitive observers dizzy or sick. Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately." So be warned. I will not be responsible for your keyboard if you toss your cookies. By way of Rand Simberg.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Evil mutant succeeds in first battle!

Forces of Truth, Justice, and The American Way have not prevailed.

Waxman-Markey passed in the House, 219 to 212.

Watts Up With That has the vote, and a video from the ridiculously brief debate.

More at Ace of Spades.

Michelle Malkin liveblogged the debate, Part 1, Part 1.1 (looking forward), Part 1.2 (sidelight on the relative importance of Michael Jackson's death), Part 2, Part 2.1 (sidelight on Barney Frank, and the bill's implications for financial regulation), and Part 3, the vote.

It's not a bill, it's a concept! I mean, it really is not a bill. Details will be filled in later. So they didn't know what they passed because they had not read it, and because it was not there to read. Both at once! There is some serious dereliction of duty going on here.

EPA suppressed a skeptical climate study

CEI has a draft copy. More at Watts Up With That. Part 1, Part 2, with a link to the study.

More at The Corner.

And more from Michelle Malkin: EPA plays hide and seek; suppressed report revealed.

More yet at Cnet News.

Update, June 28: Watts Up With That now has the final version of the report. Unfortunately, it lacks Section 5, "Conclusions," for which space was left in the draft. It still lacks the polish of a proper final report, but the rushed circumstances of its preparation, and the suppression, explain that. Too bad the Conclusions section was never written. There is, however, an Executive Summary, which states, among other things, "Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until about 2030 given the 60 year cycle described in Section 2) there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain much of the available data."

Evil mutant continues to grow!

Mutation rate update! The Waxman-Markey bill gained another 300 pages overnight! This alone should be reason to postpone the vote.

The debate is live on C-Span. At this moment, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is griping about how little the bill contains on the subject of flex-fuel cars. How does he know what's in it? Did he read all 1500 pages since this morning?

Club for Growth lists 15 Reasons to Oppose Climate Bill.

Even Greenpeace opposes Waxman-Markey.

Earlier post: Waxman-Markey, evil mutant — can it be stopped?

"Iraq is like a baby right now"

In the London Times:

Iraqis have second thoughts over June 30 date for US troops to leave

For six years Iraqis in this restless provincial capital have been waiting for US forces to withdraw, in the hope that the area will return to being Iraq’s sleepy rural backwater.

However, with only days to go before the last American soldiers are due to pull out of Baquba and other Iraqi cities, the residentshaving doubts.

There are fears that a premature departure will lead to a return of sectarian violence or allow al-Qaeda to re-establish itself. Many would like the Americans to remain until security is restored permanently.

“After you guys pull out from the city I don’t know what our enemies are going to do,Thaban Hassan said. The head of an Iraqi Army battalion in Baquba, he told the American soldiers gathered in his office that “safety is not 100 per cent . . . why are the Americans leaving?”

Remembering what happened after our abandonment of Vietnam … It would be a shame to see Iraq's new democracy torn to pieces by a power struggle among terrorists and despots, leading to another dictatorship or mullahcracy. Democracy is a thing previously unknown to the region.

In the past few days a bomb hit a mayor’s convoy, another hit an Iraqi army patrol and there was a revenge killing of an al-Qaeda militant.

In line with the status of forces agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, which came into effect at the beginning of this year, all US troops will cease patrolling Iraqi cities from June 30.

Despite the spike in violence Mr al-Maliki has insisted that the withdrawal will go ahead as planned.

Colonel Thompson called this insistence political and said that he would prefer to keep US soldiers in Diyala province, which remains a hub for insurgents coming into the country, until after elections next January.

That view is shared by residents. Dhea Taha, 32, who lives with her children near Baquba, said: “The security situation is not stable in the first place ... there is an increase in terrorist activity.”

Mohammad al-Obeidi, the chairman of the Security Council of Qais and Khalis, areas of Baquba which still have sectarian tensions, said that Mr al-Maliki’s reassurances did not ease concerns.

“Iraq is like a baby right now," he said. "It needs people to look after it.”

Update: Jay Nordlinger on Iraq:

There are many, many Americans — including most of official Washington — who are heavily invested in opposition to the Iraq War. They think it was a mistake, even a crime. They think the war was an impossible task. They think that no good can come of it. So, if good — much, much good — does come of it: Who will be around — who will be willing — to say, “Hurray! Well done! This was a fine American hour, a boon to ourselves and others”?

Do you know what I mean? An astounding victory, an astounding achievement, could be swept under the rug, because of the bitterness, inflexibility, and embarrassment of countless American elites.

Last fall, Ryan Crocker, then our ambassador in Baghdad, told a group of us the following — this was at the end of our discussion, when I asked whether there was anything else he wanted to say:

“Iraq is really, really important. How things go here will transform the region and America’s role in the region, one way or the other. If Iraq is successful in establishing itself as a democracy, where the rule of law is paramount, that will be something remarkable for the region. . . .

“People are tired of Iraq. They say, ‘Let’s get it over and done with. We don’t want to watch the Iraq movie anymore.’ But the Iraq movie will go on for many more reels, with or without us. And it will have a big effect on us, whether we like it or not.”

Funny, but we don’t seem to be watching the Iraq movie much at the moment, do we? Is it because George W. Bush is in Texas?
Another story: As U.S. troops move on, Iraqis fear the coming turmoil.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Palin on women in politics

A campaign speech, from October 21, 2008 (it says here). And a good one. She speaks so well. I was struck, listening to her in debates and interviews, by how she never, well hardly ever, used fillers like well, um, ah, to gain time; and by her ability to construct complex sentences on the fly. Her interviews with Greta Van Susteren were particularly good. For instance. I think a lot of the criticism of her speaking was from people who simply didn't have the grasp of the language to understand her. Obama, by contrast, always talks down to his audience, using simple grammar and simple vocabulary.

John Ziegler recently interviewed her on the radio. About 20 minutes.

The speech was mentioned in a comment at Reclusive Leftist. The main post deals with internal politics of NOW and their connection with generational changes in approaches to feminism. Linked by Reynolds.

A new game

BS Bingo! Gee, I wish I could figure out how to print up a few of these cards with government- rather than corporate-type BS, in time for tonight's ObamaCare infomercial.

Thanks to Dust Bunny Queen, commenting at Althouse.

Update: and see How to Stay Awake During Obama Speeches at Naked Capitalism (via Charlottesvillain at TigerHawk).

Barney Frank wants to roll the dice again

Barney Frank in 2003: "I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing…"

In the WSJ this morning: "After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development."

That last one was so much fun, he wants to do it again.

Thanks to Veronique de Rugy at The Corner, who also links to some discussion at CNBC.

design classics only

Here. Elegance, occasional weirdness; things I'd seen before, things I hadn't. Cars, computers, telephones, china. Everything manufactured is designed.

Found this as a result of looking at this collection of East German artifacts, via Althouse.

ABC needs a new logo today

And Theo Spark has it.

Here's a collection of ObamaCare links from The Corner, ObamaCare Cometh.

And Rep. Paul Ryan, interviewed on CNBC this morning, talks about the tax hikes that will be needed to pay for it all. He mentions a VAT as a possibility. Thanks to Katherine Jean Lopez at The Corner, who also quotes this statement:

The House Democrats’ proposal is being sold as one that contains costs, gets a grip on our entitlement crisis, and allows those that like what they have to keep it. Yet again, the gap between what they are saying and what they are doing is nothing short of astounding, as what they’ve actually put forward would impose trillions of dollars in new spending, taxes, and debt, would create a new open-ended entitlement, and would force millions of Americans to lose the coverage they currently enjoy. Despite promises and pledges of fiscal responsibility, the Democrats don’t even pretend to level with the American people on who they plan to tax to pay for their proposals.

The Democrats’ proposal concludes that we are not spending enough on health care in America. We already spend over two-and-a-half times more on health care than any other country. Rather than add trillions more on top of that, let’s take the money we already spend on health care, and spend it more efficiently, more effectively. With the Patients’ Choice Act of 2009, my colleagues and I have proposed to do just that. We show that we can achieve universal access to quality, affordable health care in this country – regardless of preexisting conditions – without the government taking it over and without spending, taxing, or borrowing trillions more dollars.

While the Majority may wish to ignore these innovative, patient-centered solutions, the American people will begin looking for alternatives the more they learn about what Democrats are trying to rush through Congress.
"Democrats don’t even pretend to level with the American people …" Just what I was thinking while watching the President's press conference yesterday. There's some discussion of this at Althouse, kicked off by a question from Theo Boehm, "Is it possible to describe in a word or short phrase Obama's technique of pretend-reasonableness? I know what he's up to, and I'm sure most of you do too, and have encountered it in everyday life."

Waxman-Markey, evil mutant — can it be stopped?

It was evil all along, but now it's mutating at an incredible rate!

The bill is scheduled for a vote on Friday, that's in two days, and suddenly it has gained 250 pages! Sunlight Foundation: "Despite having a bill, H.R. 2454, that has been reported out of the Energy & Commerce Committee and discharged by eight other committees, there is now, suddenly, a new bill that is almost 300-pages longer — but it’s still being considered as H.R. 2454."

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

And at The Corner, Jim Manzi has posted a letter: Dear Member of Congress: Why You Should Vote Against Waxman-Markey. It's a concise 5-point summary, with links. RTWT.

Climatic homeostasis

Or, The Thermostat Hypothesis, a guest post by Willis Eschenbach at Watts Up With That.

Organisms employ homeostasis to regulate temperature, chemistry, everything else; IF Gaia is [like] an organism, THEN Gaia is a homeostatic system.

The idea of "Snowball Earth" is an example of what a non-homeostatic system would look like. Although recovery was possible even from the snowball glaciation, if indeed that ever occurred, else we would not be here now. But since the transition from reducing to oxidizing atmosphere, resulting from the evolution of photosynthesis (the real "green revolution"), the homeostasis we know and love today has provided the feedback buffers to keep another snowball from forming, or alternatively keep a runaway greenhouse from boiling the oceans.*

That chart is from Snowball Earth dot org. After we get to "life as we know it" and an atmosphere with free oxygen, the homeostasis sets in, and while we still can have Ice Ages, the best result of which are moderately amusing cartoons, we no longer get out-of-control climate feedbacks. We have a pretty good interglacial going here. What would it take to start another glaciation? Maybe some geoengineering, which need not even be internationally agreed on to have an effect. What the real precautionary principle says is "Don't mess with things you don't understand."

* Boiling the oceans: unlikely. Ian Schumacher has calculations showing that "The earth is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Updated and corrected: FYI: ACORN is now COI, sort of

In a transparent attempt to confuse and distract, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has changed its name to “Community Organizations International.” No more bad news about ACORN! And if you hear some, well, it's old news. There is no more ACORN! ACORN does not exist any more! Move on, move on! Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.

Update: If there is no ACORN, that certainly explains why Rep. Conyers no longer plans to investigate it. More. "Powers that be?"

Update: The confusion and distraction started working on me right away. As Blake points out in the comments, there's more than one ACORN. This is "ACORN International" doing the name-changing. Your regular domestic ACORN will carry on as usual. And that was the group Rep. Conyers was going to investigate.

When Edward met Buffy

Edward Cullen and Buffy Summers, that is. Video.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Roger L. Simon on Walter Duranty

At PJTV. Part 2 of a series on the NY Times.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nothing deliberate about Obama's speed

I have mentioned several times here that Obama is moving his programs as fast as he possibly can, to get them through before opposition can muster. Here is Neo-neocon, with an excellent group of commenters, on this topic: Captain Obama: full speed ahead. Gramsci is mentioned in the comments, with a link to the same Eric S. Raymond post that I linked a while back, Gramscian damage.

So many have forgotten, or never learned, that the level of peace, prosperity, and, particularly, freedom, that we in the US enjoy, is not the natural condition of humanity. It's not a ground state, to which we will revert if something goes wrong. It's metastable and dynamic, and enormous changes at the last minute, undertaken with little consideration, are more likely to wreck it than to enhance it. In every discussion of global warming, climate change, or whatever it's called today, lefties invoke the "precautionary principle." They never mention it when the subject is economics.

And from Van der Leun: Checklist for the Next 4 Years. Hyperbole? Humor? History will answer.

Handy rot-13 bookmarklet

Picked this up at Making Light some years back.

javascript:inText=window.getSelection()+'';if(inText=='')%7Bvoid(inText=prompt('Phrase...','')) %7D;if(!inText)%7BoutText='No%20text%20selected'%7Delse%7BoutText='';for(i=0;i%3CinText.length;i++) %7Bt=inText.charCodeAt(i);if((t%3E64&&t%3C78)%7C%7C(t%3E96&&t%3C110))%7Bt+=13%7Delse%7Bif ((t%3E77&&t%3C91)%7C%7C(t%3E109&&t%3C123))%7Bt-=13%7D%7DoutText+=String.fromCharCode(t)%7D%7Dalert(outText)

That's all one line.

Make a new bookmark and paste that in for the location. When you come across rot-13 text, select it, then click the bookmark. The decoded text shows up in one of those little javascript boxes. Try it on this: "Qevax hc, rirelobql. Gb gur arj cnegare naq gur byq barf. Jr fvzcyl unir gb trg n fxvashy gb fgnaq gung Xvnevna yhapurba." And of course it works the other way round, as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CPSIA even more unneeded than previously thought

Katherine Mangu-Ward at Hit & Run:

Mattel Gets Fined for Lead Toys, Three Years and One Terrible Law Too Late

… After years of hullabaloo, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has finally gotten around to levying a $2.3 million fine against Mattel and Fisher-Price for violating a perfectly good law that went into effect in 1978. That law, of course, already banned all of the stuff that freaked people out in 2007.
Some of the commenters get a little emotional, by which I mean, language warning! A good comment from Hazel Meade: "We've got so many laws and regulations on the books that it's easier for the political class to simply pass new ones than it is to figure out what the old ones are." Sure looks that way.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Freeman Dyson speaks on climate modeling ...

… in a recent interview: Freeman Dyson Takes On the Climate Establishment. Jerry Pournelle says this is important.

The interviewer is Michael Lemonick, not a scientist but a science journalist and teacher of science journalism. Judging from his latest at the same site, As Effects of Warming Grow, U.N. Report is Quickly Dated, he is firmly in the alarmist camp.

The whole interview is available at the site as a streaming sound file, which reveals that the transcript is heavily edited, with some sections transposed, some just cut. For instance, here is my transcription of what was said during the ellipsis between "That’s the crucial point: I don’t see the evidence..." and "And why should you imagine that the climate of the 18th century —"

Dyson: That's the crucial point: I don't see the evidence. I mean, about the Sahara, which is something they never discuss, which to me is one of the strong points that — I don't know if you're familiar with that —

Lemonick: No I'm not.

Dyson: Anyway, six thousand years ago, we know, absolutely for sure, there were people in the central Sahara drawing paintings on the rocks, and lots of them. There are lots of these paintings. They show people with herds of animals, giraffes and cows and such, apparently living there quite happily. We know at the same time, six thousand years ago, that there were forests in the north of Russia, much further north than they are today, so the climate was definitely warmer. There probably was ice-free Arctic. We don't know that for sure. It's very likely, since the climate was warmer, it's quite likely that the ocean was ice-free. What we do know for sure is there were trees in the valleys in Switzerland underneath where there are glaciers today. So the glaciers were even smaller then than they are now. So anyway, you put that all together, it implies that six thousand years ago there was a much warmer climate in the North, and there was a very much pleasanter climate in Africa. That seems to me to be a very strong argument that a warmer climate may be good for us. I can't imagine why you'd want to keep the Sahara a desert.

Lemonick: Right.

Dyson: So anyway, I mean, nobody ever discusses that.

Lemonick: I would guess the argument would be that if the Sahara became fertile again, or had a lot of rain again, and if Siberia became more hospitable, and Greenland became more hospitable, other changes might well — that you couldn't necessarily twist that dial without doing something else over here, because it's all interconnected, and that it's plausible at least that some of those changes could be very harmful to large numbers of people, so

Dyson: Yeah, that's possible, that certainly is possible, but it's pure speculation. Nobody knows. And why you should imagine that the climate of the 18th century, or whatever it is, what they call pre-industrial climate, is somehow the best possible, I can't imagine.
No idea why that would have been omitted. Why would anyone want to keep the Sahara a desert? Mr. Gore, speak up please.

Here earlier: Freeman Dyson on scientific attitudes toward "global warming."

Nuclear power for some

In the Jerusalem Post, May 21:

Obama OKs nuclear deal with United Arab Emirates

President Barack Obama agreed Wednesday to share US nuclear power technology with the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, giving his consent to a deal signed in the final days of George W. Bush's administration.

The pact now goes to Congress, which will have 90 days to amend or reject it.

The agreement creates a legal framework for the US to transfer sensitive nuclear items to the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Middle Eastern states that wants nuclear power to satisfy growing demand for electricity.

Although flush with oil, the emirates imports 60 percent of the natural gas they use to generate electricity. The United Arab Emerates wants to break its dependence on outside sources for its energy needs and settled on nuclear power as the best option.
But the new head of the FERC says that here in the US we can make do with wind and solar.

At the art show

But is it art? If the committee says so.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Keeping it simple

I've had this book on my "one of these days" list for years, now. Coming across this just moved it a little closer to the top.

Metafilter: What are the simple concepts that have most helped you understand the world?

Via Jaltcoh, via Althouse.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


A big book, if you want it. Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

Mini-review at Power Line. The Amazon page has a few more reviews, all positive: 5 reviews, 5 stars each, that's nicely symmetrical. I suspect the usual battle of the reviewers will break out any time now. $154 for the paperback, which at this writing is out of stock anyway, but free for the reading or downloading at the NIPCC website. (Does any one else want to pronounce that "Nipsey?" So of course the first, Inter-Governmental IPCC would be "Ipsey," as in "Ipse dixit," or "Ipsy-Wipsy Institute.")

Friday, June 5, 2009

Just like old times

The State Department is still infested with spies. Communist spies, at that. Of course, they have to work cheap, now.

The Justice Department charged Friday that a former State Department analyst and his wife worked as spies for Cuba for nearly 30 years, using a short-wave radio to pass on secret diplomatic information to their Cuban handlers. Officials said the couple, Walter K. Myers, 72, and Gwendolyn S. Myers, 71, received little in the way of compensation from the Cubans except for the short-wave radio and some travel expenses. Rather, the officials said, the couple appears to have been driven by their strong affinity for Cuba and their bitterness toward “American imperialism.”
What, no cigars or rum? Communists do tend to be puritanical. Venona, Mitrokhin, nothing new here. This calls for an investigation into hiring and vetting, and a through screening of the remaining employees and appointees. Were I a betting man, I'd bet that we will not see one.

Spies, they're like cockroaches — where you find one, there are probably more that you did not find. As I said somewhere else a while ago, it's not too hard to confuse the vigilance that is necessary to maintain a country's — that would be our country's — security with an unseemly paranoia that does not go well with the nice clothes, polite talk and cucumber sandwiches.

CWCID (as TigerHawk would say) to Escort81, at TigerHawk's place, who links to this at Yahoo news.

More at Washington Post. They sound like standard-model academic lefties, thoroughly Gramsciated and demoralized*, like their neighbors. Good educations, elite backgrounds, accustomed for so long to the benefits of freedom and prosperity that they came to take those things for granted.

* Not demoralized in the usual sense of lacking morale, but in the sense of lacking a moral compass. To one with no compass, all directions are the same; to one with no moral compass, moral equivalence is the background of reasoning. The technical term used in this description of how a society is "demoralized."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Possible good news on light bulbs

Maybe we'll get to keep our incandescents after all.

An ultra-powerful laser can turn regular incandescent light bulbs into power-sippers, say optics researchers at the University of Rochester. The process could make a light as bright as a 100-watt bulb consume less electricity than a 60-watt bulb while remaining far cheaper and radiating a more pleasant light than a fluorescent bulb can.
Lasers, how did we ever get along without them?

Via The Register, via Jerry Pournelle's mail. Here earlier: Energy policy: who let the loons out?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Radio waves erase pre-cancer cells in esophagus

How long before this becomes widely available? From Glenn Reynolds, a short item at PhysOrg:

In a study published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, lead authors at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill report that the technology completely wiped out pre-cancerous cells in 90.5 percent of patients with Barrett's esophagus who underwent the procedure. Only 1.2 percent of patients went on to develop cancer a year later.

Among patients who got a sham procedure, 9.3 percent developed cancer.
Tough for the sham patients.