Tuesday, October 31, 2006

John Kerry Fiasco

Senator Bill Frist - VOLPAC:
"it is perfectly clear what Mr. Kerry said … what’s unclear is whether Mr. Kerry ever means what he says. Perhaps he was against his comments before he actually made them."
I've been sick these last two days -- which has been horrible (stomach flu). the only upside has been watching Kerry be ... himself. I think this will be a big galvanizer for the republican base ... folks like my parents, for example, are probably apoplectic right about now. Angry first for the comments and doubly angry for the lack of a contrite apology. What a show ...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How I will vote

I received a sample ballot today, so I'm sharing how I'll vote with everyone.

Senator: Katherine Harris (R). This is a tough one because I've had the unpleasant opportunity to hear Ms. Harris on the radio, and she sounds like a typical politico. I also harbor a secret desire to see the GOP go down in flames this election cycle -- they must be punished for their sins! (think: Katrina-motivated nanny statism, the lack of spending restraint, corruption-earmarks-pork, anti-liberty legislation).
But. The dems would only be worse. The sad part is that I feel like many republicans are banking on this; it seems like ive heard at least two right wing radio hosts say just that, and that's pretty pitiful. (hey, im but ugly and a mental retard, but you should see the other guy ...)
Also Bill Nelson is a total A-hole -- i just despise his blatant pandering to the old people in his ads here in florida.

Govenor&Lieutenant: Crist and Kottkamp (R). Again, I don't like Crist -- i didn't vote for him in the primary; but his democratic opponent is pratically promising to raise my taxes. and believe me, i already pay enough.

Attorney general: I'm not voting because I have no idea who these guys are.

Chief Finanical officer: not voting.

Superintendent of schools: Tibbetts (R) -- Tibbetts sounded good when speaking: run a tight ship, treat the schools a business, manage costs, track performance ... my first cringe-free vote.

Judges: I'm voting that all the judges be put out on their ears. Rep and Dem alike, I just feel like we need fresh blood there.

Congress: Jeff Miller (R). See senator above -- I actually rate jeff miller above harris, but if he'd had a more stellar record on pork I'd be more enthusiastic.

Amendment1 (to limit non-recurring revenue expenditure): YES. This will make it harder for florida to piss away tobacco settlement money.

Amendment4 (tobacco advertising) NO. Hell no! This stupid ammendment would mandate anti-tobacco advertising. It would take 15% from the tobacco settlement money and waste it on little infomercials. But it would require matching funds drawn from florida's taxes, 57 million dollars this year alone. screw that.

Amendment7 (Disabled veterens tax break) NO. "disabled" veterens already get a sweet deal -- throwing more money at them through this tax break is just gratuitous.
plus this only applies to old veterens -- its blatant age discrimination/pandering to the elderly.

Amendment3 (broader support) YES. This amendment makes amending the constitution harder by requiring a supermajority instead of a mere 50.00001 %. This is a good idea because it means only more centrist amendments will get passed.

Amendment6 (increased homestead exemption for old people) NO. Hell No! This is more pandering to the old folks crap. In fact this is total shite. Basically its just seniors trying to vote themselves more wealth redistribution from younger working floridians. screw that.

Amendment8 (eminent domain) YES. Bring it on! y'all know how i feel about the travesty that was RAICH, my only beef is that this amendment doesn't go far enough -- it leaves too many holes for local governments to squeeze "takings" through. Don't let the government force you to sell you home so that your property can be developed by some fat-cat: screw eminent domain forever.

So that's pretty much it -- I'll see you all at the polls.

The Straw That Broke the Multi-Culti Camel's Back

TCS Daily:
"14-year old British schoolgirl Codie Stott was arrested for trying to get a good grade in her group science project. She had been placed with a group of students only one of whom spoke any English. When they began talking what she deduced was Urdu among themselves, she realized she had no hope of completing the project. She went to her teacher, and prefacing her request with a diplomatic, 'I'm not trying to be funny, but ...' she asked to be moved to an English-speaking team. The teacher reacted violently, raising her voice in the classroom to shout, 'It's racist! You're going to get done by the police!'"
Its hard to believe stuff like this happens, but there ya go.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Go on an eight-week carbon diet. - By Meaghan O'Neill and treehugger.com - Slate Magazine

Go on an eight-week carbon diet. - By Meaghan O'Neill and treehugger.com - Slate Magazine:
"There's no longer any real doubt about it: Global warming is happening. The average temperature of the Earth's surface has risen about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past hundred years, and overwhelming evidence suggests that most of the increase is due to greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide released by humans. Though a 1-degree increase might not seem like much, even a small rise in global temperature significantly changes the climate, potentially resulting in major storms and droughts, disruption of the food supply, and the catastrophic spread of disease."
I call BS. The first part is right, of course, the earth has warmed a degree in the last century. But there is NOT overwhelming evidence that "most" of the warming is caused by GGs. To quote from the International Panel on Climate Change:
From the body of evidence since IPCC
(1996), we conclude that there has been a discernible [a small 1% effect is discernible] human influence on global climate. Studies are beginning [beginning = the science is not settled] to separate the contributions to observed climate change attributable to individual external influences, both anthropogenic and natural. This work suggests [but does not show conclusively] that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are a substantial [substantial could mean 10% or 80% of the contribution, the scale is still unknown] contributor to the observed warming, especially over the past 30years. However, the accuracy of these estimates continues to be limited by uncertainties in estimates of internal variability, natural and anthropogenic forcing, and the climate response to external forcing.

More importantly, there is zer0-zip-nada evidence that modest warming will result in "major storms, droughts, catastophic spread of disease" (which is why Meaghan uses the sneaky word "potentially" when describing these horrors.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The G.O.P.’s Bad Bet

New York Times:
"Thus society is weakened every time a law is passed that large numbers of reasonable, responsible citizens think is stupid. Such laws invite good citizens to choose knowingly to break the law, confident that they are doing nothing morally wrong."
Too true. This article correctly harps on the new online gambling law that has ticked off millions of online-poker players, but the sentiment applies equally well to copyright law and file sharing.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why are Universities so racist?

BLACKFIVE: Why are Universities so racist?:
"Universities discriminate because a merit-based entrance system would not match the rainbow diversity required by the left. Once you accept that as fact, there are two paths you can take. One is the current system of using racial preferences to elevate chosen victim groups until the rainbow is duplicated, the second is the much tougher choice to admit that racism is not the reason there are too few qualified black and Hispanic applicants"
Yep, racism against whites and asians. I think this sort of thing only hurts blacks and asians in the long run, because it becomes that much harder for truly qualified black and hispanic students to prove themselves. The situation also strengthens subtle discriminatory mind-sets by throwing white university students into contact with black students who are less qualified, on average.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Everyone You Know Thinks the Same as You

"Studies show that most people interested in politics associate nearly exclusively with others who have similar political beliefs. In fact, research by sociologist David Knoke at the University of Minnesota shows that if you know whether a person's friends are Republicans, Democrats or independents, you can predict with near certainty that person's political views.

Homophily may help explain some of the bitter partisanship of our times -- when your friends are drawn exclusively from one half of the electorate, it is not surprising that you will find the views of the other half inexplicable."
Living in an echo-chamber -- I actually wrote an engineering paper on this phenomenon last year at a cooperative-control conference. Basically, when you associate exclusively with like-minded people, you become irrationally confident in your shared views.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A secular version of Kingdom Come

spiked | A secular version of Kingdom Come:
"The environmental belief pattern fulfils all the demands of a secular religion, elevating the elect few above the common herd of vulgar, unthinking consumers; creating secular rituals, like fastidious eating, and garbage-sorting, as well as a full calendar of public worship, or protest. And like all religions, ecology has its eschatology, its end-time, the belief in the coming apocalypse, or to give it its modern name, climate change."
so true. Global warming alarmists exercise such blind faith in the climatologist "experts", who are meanwhile directly profiting from the environmental hysteria through massive increases in their funding -- kind of like some religious leaders profit from inculcating hysterical blind faith in their religion's adherents.

Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech

spiked :
"The message is clear: climate change deniers are scum. Their words are so wicked and dangerous that they must be silenced, or criminalised, or forced beyond the pale alongside those other crackpots who claim there was no Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Perhaps climate change deniers should even be killed off, hanged like those evil men who were tried Nuremberg-style the first time around.

Whatever the truth about our warming planet, it is clear there is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate."
Read the whole thing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Is Mankind Warming the Earth?

Proud To Be Canadian .ca:
"Ten years ago, Danish researchers Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen first hypothesized that cosmic rays from space influence the Earth’s climate by effecting cloud formation in the lower atmosphere. Their hypothesis was based on a strong correlation between levels of cosmic radiation and cloud cover – that is, the greater the cosmic radiation, the greater the cloud cover. Clouds cool the Earth’s climate by reflecting about 20 percent of incoming solar radiation back into space.

The hypothesis was potentially significant because during the 20th century, the influx of cosmic rays was reduced by a doubling of the sun’s magnetic field which shields the Earth from cosmic rays. According to the hypothesis, then, less cosmic radiation would mean less cloud formation and, ultimately, warmer temperatures – precisely what was observed during the 20th century.

If correct, the Svensmark hypothesis poses a serious challenge to the current global warming alarmism that attributes the 20th century’s warmer temperatures to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases."
I've always had a gut feeling that celestial conditions will be found to be much more significant for global temperature trends than carbon-based air pollution.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

men have higher IQ than women ?

Its official, men have higher IQ than women:
"At each and every level of family income, for every level of fathers' and of mothers' education, and for each and every one of seven ethnic groups, males had higher G scores than females, the study found.

A study of 100,000 17- to 18-year-olds on the Scholastic Assessment Test published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Intelligence, has confirmed a surprising new finding -- that men have a 4- to 5-point IQ advantage over women by adulthood.

Because girls mature faster than boys, the sex difference is masked during the school years, which explains why the sex difference was missed for 100 years."
I'm not sure what to make of this. Frankly, I believe it. I note however that this means nothing for any individual woman: my wife for example, or my daughter for that matter, are extremely intelligent women. That's the key thing to remember about these statistics -- average group capability says nothing about an individual's capability.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

same-sex marriage confusion

Instapundit.com -:
"IS THERE A RATIONAL BASIS for banning same-sex marriage?"
The rhetoric on this subject is totally backwards. The headline should read:
Is there a rational basis for re-defining marriage to include homosexual unions?
The problem here is three-fold:

First, the burden of proof has magically been moved from those seeking a change of the status-quo (ie the gay-rights crowd who are hell bent on changing the meaning and *legal definition* of the word marriage) to those who oppose such change. Does this strike anyone else as bass-ackwards? Usually when someone seeks to change a venerable and well-functioning institution, the burden of proof falls on those seeking alteration, not vice-versa.

Second, the phrase "ban same-sex marriage" misrepresents the issue. Imagine, if you will, someome who proposes a "ban on heterosexual marriage". To me this sounds like a law against forbidding men and women from living together as husband and wife. This is *not* how I would describe someone who was merely quibbling about the *label* that society attaches to a man and woman living together as husband and wife.
AFAIK, noone is proposing a ban on homosexuals living together as a couple -- so why the disengenuous rhetoric? Traditionalists merely oppose redifining a word that provides a useful distinction, a description of certain type of solemnized co-habitation.

Third, the question (as posed) is a raging case of Circulus in demonstrando (circular argument). In other words the whole issue is posed in a way that accepts homosexual relationships as a form of marriage -- the very thing that is at dispute! No honest discussion of this issue can begin with a question including the words "same-sex marriage", because for traditionalists of my persuasion those words are meaningless: marriage is (by venerable and long-standing definition) never same-sex.

Lastly it also occurs to me that this SSM push seems fundamentally illegal -- all of the laws governing marriage have been passed with a traditional marriage in mind. By redifining the word marriage, a revolution in law will have been perpetrated in an essentially un-democratic way.

TIME: Another Ice Age? (1974)

TIME Magazine, Jun. 24, 1974:
"However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age."
A nice article in Time magazine circa 1974 when all the experts were convinced we were heading for another ice age. Yep, global cooling has been a real bitch for us.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Natioal Academy of Science -- junk study on women in science

The Becker-Posner Blog:
"The study was conducted by a committee appointed by the NAS (along with the National Academy of Engineering), and it concludes that women's underperformance in academic science and engineering relative to men is caused not by any innate differences between men and women but by subtle biases, and by barriers in the form of refusing to make science jobs more 'woman friendly.' The study is available online at http://darwin.nap.edu/books/0309100429/html/R7.html.

The study will, one hopes, be carefully dissected by experts, but I will be surprised if it stands up to expert scrutiny."
Me too. I'll go out on a limb here and say that men *on average* are innately better at the spatial sort of reasoning required in many science and engineering disciplines. Just my own observation and experience.