Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Perils of choosing one's friends

There is even less there there to Obama than previously thought, says Thomas Sowell.

Barack Obama's own account of his life shows that he consciously sought out people on the far left fringe. In college, "I chose my friends carefully," he said in his first book, "Dreams From My Father."

These friends included "Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk rock performance poets" — in Obama's own words — as well as the "more politically active black students." He later visited a former member of the terrorist Weatherman underground, who endorsed him when he ran for state senator.

Obama didn't just happen to encounter Jeremiah Wright, who just happened to say some way out things. Jeremiah Wright is in the same mold as the kinds of people Barack Obama began seeking out in college — members of the left, anti-American counter-culture.
Obama self-consciously constructed his persona, to a greater extent, at least, than some. Than me, anyhow.

Thanks to Althouse, where the comment thread has gotten wild and wooly.

Update: More on this from Neo-Neocon and Engram. More from Stanley Kurtz.

Another update: Rev. Wright's new house. "God damn America!"

Gore stealth campaign building a contributor database

"Join Al Gore in supporting solutions to the climate crisis." That's the Alliance for Climate Protection. Otherwise known as wecansolveit.org. 914,339 already enrolled as of 4 pm EDT March 25. 915,969 at 12:15 am the same night. I wonder if they'll all buy Al's carbon credits.

So they want to protect the climate, eh? Morgan Freeberg says everybody is linking to this:

Last Monday - on ABC Radio National, of all places - there was a tipping point of a different kind in the debate on climate change. It was a remarkable interview involving the co-host of Counterpoint, Michael Duffy and Jennifer Marohasy, a biologist and senior fellow of Melbourne-based think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. Anyone in public life who takes a position on the greenhouse gas hypothesis will ignore it at their peril.

Duffy asked Marohasy: "Is the Earth stillwarming?"

She replied: "No, actually, there has been cooling, if you take 1998 as your point of reference. If you take 2002 as your point of reference, then temperatures have plateaued. This is certainly not what you'd expect if carbon dioxide is driving temperature because carbon dioxide levels have been increasing but temperatures have actually been coming down over the last 10 years."

Duffy: "Is this a matter of any controversy?"

Marohasy: "Actually, no. The head of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has actually acknowledged it. He talks about the apparent plateau in temperatures so far this century. So he recognises that in this century, over the past eight years, temperatures have plateaued…
I don't want to be left out, so now I have linked to it, too. And a few people are linking to this:
Researcher: Basic Greenhouse Equations "Totally Wrong"

Miklós Zágoni isn't just a physicist and environmental researcher. He is also a global warming activist and Hungary's most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was.

That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA's Langley Research Center.

After studying it, Zágoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists. The data fit extremely well. "I fell in love," he stated at the International Climate Change Conference this week.

"Runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations," Miskolczi states. Just as the theory of relativity sets an upper limit on velocity, his theory sets an upper limit on the greenhouse effect, a limit which prevents it from warming the Earth more than a certain amount.
How did modern researchers make such a mistake? They relied upon equations derived over 80 years ago, equations which left off one term from the final solution.
So Gore is building a movement based on protecting a couple of degrees of temperature that seem on closer examination to be able to take care of themselves. What do you do with a movement that's as wrongheaded as that? Just send them home?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Complaints about the economy, about competitiveness? Tax cuts would help

There's some talk of a recession going round, and various remedies proposed for a slowing economy. Odd, when the simplest thing to do to move the economy along is within the reach of nearly every legislative body in the country. (Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming are off the list.)

Thirty countries are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD. Here's a nice little table from a Tax Foundation article, U.S. States Lead the World in High Corporate Taxes, showing the tax rates for the 50 states of the US and the other countries of the OECD, ordered by rate.

What this shows is that the American economy is so robust that even in chains it is strong. Imagine what we could do if we were free!

Comparing U.S. State Corporate Taxes to the OECD

OECD Overall Rank


Federal Rate Adjusted

Top State Corporate Tax Rate

Combined Federal and State Rate (Adjusted) (a)






New Jersey359.3641.1

Rhode Island35940.9

West Virginia35940.9






New Hampshire358.540.5




New Mexico357.639.9


New York357.539.9




North Dakota35739.6


North Carolina356.939.5


2United States356.5739.27











Louisiana 35 8 38.5

Missouri 35 6.25 38.4



South Carolina35538.3



Alabama 35 6.5 37.8



South Dakota35035.0

8New Zealand33033
12United Kingdom30030
13Mexico 28028
15Sweden 28028
19Netherlands 25.5025.5
23Czech Republic24024
28Slovak Republic19019
29Iceland 18018
*Michigan, Texas and Washington have gross receipts taxes rather than traditional corporate income taxes. For comparison purposes, we converted the gross receipts taxes into an effective CIT rate. See footnote 2 for methodology.
(a) Combined rate adjusted for federal deduction of state taxes paid

See who's on the bottom of the list: The Celtic Tiger, Ireland. Now instead of Irish young people seeking jobs in the USA, we meet Irish businessmen looking to buy castles in the USA.

From TaxProf, where there are comments, by way of Glenn Reynolds.

Friday, March 21, 2008

How can hypallage help you as a wirter?

What? you say. The answer is here. Try to keep from laughing so hard that you hurt yourself. This may be the secret to poetry.

Climate models : climate :: map : territory

I casually tossed off a quote ["the map is not the territory"] from Alfred Korzybski's Science and Sanity in a post below that was supposed to be about Eliot Spitzer. On further reflection, it seems to me that there is a connection between this line and the global warming hysteria. This whole post is encapsulated in the title; if you know how to read that punctuation, all that follows is redundant. Reading the title out loud, one would say, "Climate models are to the climate as the map is to the territory."

Maps or models may be good, better, not so good; none of them is the actual thing, therefore all will have non-correspondences to the actual thing. The only way to build a perfect map of Rhode Island involves a lot of water, earth, and stone, and a table about 75 by 40 miles on a side. Thousands of years of history would have to be included, also. You would not want to forget the arrowheads beneath the ploughed land. The trick is to get the model to correspond closely enough to the thing being modeled that it is useful.

I submit that current climate models have not reached a degree of accuracy such that they are actually useful. And that the makers of such models who think they are useful are overly enamored of their own brilliance, and should take a step back to look at the real world, whose complexity is far greater than the calculations of human beings. In order to create a computer model, one first must list all the factors. If you think you have listed all the factors, then you need to re-examine your assumptions, because it's that close to certain you have left something out. Or as Donald Rumsfeld said, "[A]s we know, there are 'known knowns;' there are things we know we know. We also know there are 'known unknowns;' that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also 'unknown unknowns' — the ones we don't know we don't know." Neglecting the existence of the unknown unknowns is a sure path to the kind of fall before which pride goeth.

A bit of Procol Harum

I have been a guitar player for most of my life. There are notes in the guitar parts of these pieces that I cannot identify. A little mystery, thank you Mr. Trower. A Christmas Camel. Cerdes. Repent Walpurgis, with Dave Ball carrying the guitar; not quite so mysterious or powerful as the version with Trower, but that is not online. I wish I could link "Something Following Me" here, but it does not seem to be online either. And this, for sheer weirdness, without guitar, Gary Brooker with The Drifters (what!?): A World of Love.

Update: Well, in a world which includes an Internet, what wonders we may behold. YouTuber ftyfty123 has the Trower guitar part on Repent Walpurgis note-for-note, almost but close enough, and up close. Look sharp to see the bits that involve almost the same note on two strings, with one choked enough to make the notes beat against each other.

Gorbachev a closet Christian

It was not hard to see, when Mikhail Gorbachev took the reins of the USSR, that something was different. All the glasnost and perestroika were new policies. An observer might have thought that the new Maximum Leader was perhaps not fully committed to the dialectical imperative. A bit of a softie, that is to say. And now we find that Gorbachev was a Christian all along, and indeed one with a particular fondness for the most gentle of saints, St. Francis of Assisi. No wonder the Wall fell. Reagan was playing the hardest of hardball against an "evil emperor" whose heart was not really in the evil empire game, unlike all of his predecessors. Sooner or later, the USSR would have had a leader who was a human being, with human feelings, rather than a committed ideologue. Better sooner than later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, R.I.P.

The last of the big three of classic SF has left the planet. Glenn Reynolds says: "The world is better for his having lived, and worse for his having died." We may all hope for such a notice. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says: "He rejoiced to live in a gigantic universe of unencompassable scale, and he thought the rest of us should rejoice, too." Jerry Pournelle says: "Farewell, old friend." Ann Althouse quotes: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." John Derbyshire says: "His feet were always planted firmly in known fact, while his mind soared through infinite space and time." Charlie Martin says: "By his 90th birthday, Clarke had seen the world go from aircraft of cloth and wood to robotic starships, made of metal and silicon, sending back reports from the deep cold dark between the stars." NY Times obit here; an appreciation by Jeff VanderMeer at Amazon's Omnivoracious.

From the NY Times article that gets Glenn Reynolds's name wrong [see first comment]:

"I get fed up with things you can't solve one way or another," he said. "I'm not a dreamer, never have been. I think of myself as somebody who looks at scientific things, and asks: 'Where can we go with this? How can we use this to make our world better?' And I hope that in some small way I have helped push the process forward."
He did that.

It's hard to think of a favorite Clarke story, there are so many. Against the Fall of Night would be the one, of all of them, if I had to pick one. I first read it in the expanded version as The City and the Stars, with this cover by Richard Powers. But at this moment, "The Nine Billion Names of God" [link via] is the one that comes to mind: "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."

A little more Gore

Let's start with this:

The founder of The Weather Channel either wants to sue, or thinks someone should sue, Al Gore for fraud over his peddling of carbon credits. Who has standing? Sooner would be better than later. Thanks to Morgan Freeberg at the blog nobody reads for the video.

And move on to this: A year ago, I said "I still think he'll announce, possibly at the last minute, after all the other candidates have shredded each other to bits. He could then step in as the (choke) non-political candidate, the Man With a Mission." Now, the stealth campaign seems to be simmering a little more warmly. There are petitions, no end of CafePress goodies and an "Official Gore Store" for those official campaign buttons (ever so much better than the knock-offs), and more websites than you want to visit. The convenient GoreHub site lists quite a few of them. And Roger L. Simon has this: "You Know Me Al."

On the other hand: Gore is busy with his CurrenTV IPO, and the millions at stake there might look more interesting than the Presidency. Still, if the IPO can be done by the middle of August, he could have both!

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Another batch of these? Why, yes.

How the Markets Really Work.

David Mamet explains why he is "no longer a brain-dead liberal." Good comments at Roger L. Simon's place; more discussion at Althouse; observations and links at Powerline.

How could you pull the trigger of the world's smallest pistol? (via)

Ten Simple Rules for Graduate Students in the Evil Sciences. In the spirit of the classic "The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord." (via)

Nice surrealistic music video from Panic at the Disco: Nine in the Afternoon. By way of Politiscope, who asks "How many times did Panic at the Disco have to listen to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band before they finally decided, 'Eff it. Let's just try to be them.'"

Obama not so much the Messiah (see below) as the Kwisatz Haderach. (via)

How many Obama supporters does it take to change a light bulb? (via)

Theo is serious sometimes, funny sometimes. He's got the funny goin' on with some videos. The cellphone with all the features, the Sumsing 3000 Turbo Xi Multitask. The wackiest, sexiest juice commercial you'll ever want to see. Oh, those Canadians! NSFW.

Tech note: the post below with the MSNBC video is not editable. I suspect that this is because the embedding is done with an iframe tag, rather than the object tag that Youtube videos use for embedding. It's annoying, as it keeps me from adding updates, or doing anything to it at all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Earth and Moon as seen from Mars

Beautiful in itself; useful when explaining that it's not the Earth's shadow that is responsible for the phases of the Moon. Click the pic to go to the HiRISE zone at U of AZ. Thanks to Bad Astronomy.

"The sign that points to Boston ...

… doesn't have to go there." Sometimes "Do as I say, not as I do" is very good advice. Roger Kimball on Elliott Spitzer. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds. The map is not the territory, the signpost is not the destination. And see the Maverick Philosopher for a little more on the source of this line.

And Reynolds links to a review of a Spitzer biography written when he was A.G: Robespierre Rising. The book is Spoiling for a Fight. The Amazon reviews, obviously written by Democrats, contain some gems of self-delusion.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Obama music videos coming too fast to keep up

I was planning to save these for the next Gleanings, but I think I'll just get them up here now. Who knows how many more there will be in a week or two?

Let's start with "We Are Building a Religion:"

"We are now accepting callers for these pendant keychains." By way of Mark Hemingway at The Corner.

Theo has a parody of the Sammy Davis Jr./Willy Wonka "Candyman" song, which I thought was tasteless and awful the first time around. I assure you this is far more tasteless and awful even than that: The Obamaman Song. Unsafe for work or kids, but funny. Completely unrelated to Mississippi John Hurt's Candy Man.

Aaand here's another incredibly tasteless, unsafe-for-anyone, funny music video, a parody of "Umbrella" by Rihanna. (What? Who? I'm so out of it.) Hillary! and Obama discuss power-sharing. From Metafilter, by way of Radley Balko's link to something so strange that you'll just have to click through to find out about it. It's the first item in the multi-item post.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Rachel Lucas has some words for Michelle Obama

I used to read Rachel Lucas regularly. Then she took a break from blogging, and I got out of the habit of visiting her site. But she's back, in fine style. And she doesn't think much of Michelle Obama's contributions to the nation's political discourse. Adrian points to this post, about Mrs. Obama's advice to young women to refrain from trying to make money, for the greater good:

Mrs. Obama, speaking to a group of women in a day care center in a poor, uneducated Ohio town:

“We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” she tells the women. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that. But if you make that choice, as we did, to move out of the money-making industry into the helping industry, then your salaries respond.”

Damn, that is some FANTASTIC advice. And it has an extra smack of authority coming from a woman who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year herself. Why didn’t I have female rolemodels and counselors like this when I was young, encouraging me not to make more than about $40,000 a year because of what the community needs? Screw what I need, such as money. I’m just greedy, I guess. I don’t care about the commuuuuunity.

Here's another, on the speech in which she said

“The life that I’m talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl.… So if you want to pretend like there was some point over the last couple of decades when your lives were easy, I want to meet you!”
Rachel Lucas has some words for Mr. Obama also, in regard to the speech in which he said

… And if that child should ever get the chance to travel the world and someone should ask her where is she from, we believe that she should always be able to hold her head high with pride in her voice when she answers, “I am an American.”


That is the course we seek. That is the change we are calling for. You can call it many things, but you can’t call it empty.

To which Ms. Lucas says, "I call it bullshit."

Also, Rachel Lucas has dogs. You'll like the dogs.

Update: Are Arab-American families "being rounded up without benefit of an attorney"? Or is Mr. Obama just postulating a ridiculous hypothetical? I haven't heard anything about roundups. Cassy Fiano takes off from this and gets around to Mrs. Obama's remarks in a post at Wizbang!
What is it about liberals, and especially the Obamas? Why is it they see such negativity when they look at our country? To hear them talk, this is the reincarnation of the Soviet Union, complete with a dictatorship, gulags, and death for political dissidents. The Obamas, like many liberals, don't look at their country and feel their hearts swell with pride. They look at America and feel shame, anger, fear, and contempt. They look back on our proud history, and are ashamed, guilty, and outraged. The mistakes we have made loom so large in their minds that everything that is good about the United States is diminished. But can they really see America so oppressive as to be able to compare to Cuba, China, and the Soviet Union?

Interesting thoughts for them to have, considering that if America was as bad as they saw it, they'd be killed or jailed for saying the things they say.

Are these the kind of people we want leading our country -- people who feel nothing for her except a sense of grim determination that they should be the ones to "save" her from all of her sins?
There's more.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Obama, Rezko, the house and the lot: video

Here's a video from MSNBC that shows the house and lot in question.

The direct link, if this doesn't work, is here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/ 22901959#22901959

In the interest of clarity.

From MyDD, by way of Althouse commenter George, who seems to know more about Rezko and his connections than anybody.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Beginning with the gruesome, moving on to the funny.

This seems to be a custody dispute. From Saudi Arabia: Toddler beheaded in supermarket. Arab News: Man Butchers 15-Month-Old Nephew in Jeddah Supermarket. Follow-up from Saudi Gazette: Dad Denies He was there at Son’s Beheading. (via)

Terri Irwin and Australia Zoo are in trouble with the tax authorities in Australia.

I knew I had seen FDR with a halo, or at least a nimbus, in old movie shorts. Lileks has found one of these, in which Jimmy Durante sings "Give a Man a Job." The post includes some commentary on the NRA (not the National Rifle Association, the other one.) (via)

If you have a copy of Love and Consequences by Margaret B. Jones, hang on to it. It's going to be a rare book. (via)

New supersonic business jet on the way. Shiny! (via)

Unusual instruments: I suppose this is a form of glass harmonica, but what a form! Michel Lauzière plays Mozart on wine bottles, on rollerblades. (via)

A new typographical term: keming. I have been having trouble with modem and modern for years. Though one can usually tell by context, with that pair. (via)

Photoshopped comics, not a new idea but very well done indeed: Rampant plagiarism. (via)

Continuing the discussion from comments at BitMaelstrom on smart TV shows, Jennifer Ouellette, of Cocktail Party Physics, mentions a bit of genuine erudition on, not "Buffy," but "Angel." Close enough. Also: the music of the spheres. And from the same post at Flares into Darkness, some photographs whose intensity makes them dreamlike: 20 beautiful HDR pictures. (HDR = high dynamic range.) There's a lot of griping in the comments about how unreal they look; I would have thought that was the point. It would be easy to slip into Thomas Kinkade or Velvet Elvis land with this effect, but it's just another tool in the toolbox. Here's a Flickr group for this technique. Also on photos with dreamlike intensity, take a look at this. The reds on left and right seem to *pop*!

Speaking of photos, the Library of Congress has uploaded a large collection of images to Flickr. Two sets so far, 1930s-40s in Color, and News in the 1910s. From the LoC blog: My Friend Flickr: A Match Made in Photo Heaven.

Gruesome, or funny? More on the funny side, I think: LOLTHULU: Cthulhu Fhtagn Cheezburger.

How did the Amazon reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk, one-gallon size, become a repository of gloriously absurd short fiction, and some poetry even? I have no idea. But I laughed and laughed. Look at the customer images too. (via)