Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seven Answers From Crichton

The Daily Ablution:
Q: "What is the most serious threat facing our civilisation?

A: Loss of classical liberal values in those western societies that embraced them."
Great interview with Michael Crichton. His views on Global Warming alarmism are spot-on, and I found this nugget at the end where he talks about the wane of libertarian ideals as one of the world's most vexing problems. Great stuff.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Politicians love pork. -:
"The Democrats talked a good game on pork before taking power. But, then, so did the Republicans."

Follow the link for info on the new congress' record on pork spending.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Betraying their base -- the Democrats can do it too - Los Angeles Times

Betraying their base -- the Democrats can do it too - Los Angeles Times:
"The GOP grew sweaty and bloated like a fat man at an all-you-can-eat pasta bar, and the voters were right to pry the Republicans' white-knuckled grip from the hot table's sneeze guard...
So here's the ironic part. Suddenly, it looks as if the Democrats are the Republicans on fast-forward."

Was there ever any doubt? They're all weasels.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Conservative Propaganda: Vets Vs Moonbats, Part 4

Conservative Propaganda: Vets Vs Moonbats, Part 4:
"I didn't read any further than 'FREE IMAM...' when my gag reflex kicked in and I decided whoever Imam Jamil Al-Amin might be, he was probably a guilty dirtbag that I would never want to see on the streets walking free."
Nice and be sure to check out the photo.


Four Years In @ AMERICAN DIGEST: "Four years in. An inch of time. Four years in and the foolish and credulous among us yearn to get out. Their feelings require it. The power of their Holy Gospel of 'Imagine' compels them. Their overflowing pools of compassion for the enslavers of women, the killers of homosexuals, the beheaders of reporters, and the incinerators of men and women working quietly at their desks, rise and flood their minds until their eyes flow with crocodile tears while their mouths emit slogans made of cardboard. They believe the world is run on wishes and that they will always have three more.

Like savages shambling about some campfire where all there is to eat are a few singed tubers, they paint their faces with the tatterdemalion symbols of a summer long sent down to riot with the worms. They clasp hands and sing songs whose lyrics are ash. 'We shall... over... come.' Overcome what, overcome who? Overcome their own nation? Is that their dream?"
I marvel at America's fickle impatience, and the ease with which our body politic can turn completely about. Maybe everyone thinks Islamic fascism is already defeated? But then, who are the psychos killing our troops and blowing up churches and civilians in Iraq?
Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Global warming hype -- New York Times

From a Rapt Audience, a Call to Cool the Hype - New York Times:
"Although Mr. Gore is not a scientist, he does rely heavily on the authority of science in “An Inconvenient Truth,” which is why scientists are sensitive to its details and claims.

Criticisms of Mr. Gore have come not only from conservative groups and prominent skeptics of catastrophic warming, but also from rank-and-file scientists like Dr. Easterbook, who told his peers that he had no political ax to grind. A few see natural variation as more central to global warming than heat-trapping gases. Many appear to occupy a middle ground in the climate debate, seeing human activity as a serious threat but challenging what they call the extremism of both skeptics and zealots.

Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for “getting the message out,” Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were “overselling our certainty about knowing the future.”"

Gee, ya think?!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Let's all go Vegan. Not!

Classical Values :: PETA agrees -- with me!

Researchers at the University of Chicago have determined that switching to a vegan diet is more effective in countering global warming than switching from a standard American car to a Toyota Prius.
L-M-A-O. by the way "countering global warming" is newspeak for reducing CO2 or its equivalent airborn radiative absorbers.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Global Warming Facts ....

The Rhetoric Garage

For the moment, let’s table the fact that the recent warming trend is far outside the parameters any similar previous temperature fluctuation recorded in the geological record, along with the fact that the ability to farm in Greenland as those lucky Vikings could would come at the price of significant portions of densely inhabited costal areas getting swallowed by the sea.
Thanks to Ted Remington for pointing me to this piece on George Will's use of rhetoric in framing his words on global warming ... all in all I think it was an interesting analysis of Will's word choice.

The art of rhetoric is alive and well (as well it should be): the whole reason for writing an editorial or a position piece in Newsweek is to persuade, convince, and (dare I say) convert. The appropriate tool for that job is rhetoric, this wasn't a submission for a science journal after all.

But enough about rhetoric ... I'd like to correct some faulty assumptions that rhetoricgarage makes about the "facts" of global warming. (BTW -- one of my favorite movie scenes: So I Married an Axe Murderer, the hero's mother explains that her newspaper is trustworthy and reads a headline. "Man gives birth to baby ... and that's a fact.")

Anyway, rhetoricgarage erroneously believes that "the recent warming trend is far outside the parameters of any similar previous temperature fluctuation recorded in the geological record". Unfortunately for him, this is not a fact. The fact is that we don't have high-confidence estimates of global temperature trends beyond 80-100 years ago. The reason is that we didn't have reliable weather stations at enough locations before this time. Lacking any direct temperature data, we scientists are forced to look for proxies of temperature -- essentially variables that are related to temperature (but nevertheless not driven by temperature alone). Examples might be tree rings, analysis of ice cores, etc. These give an imperfect, fuzzy, and error-prone "history" of the earth's temperature but one that is probably accurate only on geologic time scales (i.e. this gives a good idea of how global climate changes over the course of 10000 years.) There were some papers published a decade or more ago that tried to claim our current warming trend is some sort of thermal abberation (the infamous hockey-stick graph) ... but this paper has been heavily criticized from within the scientific community for both its methodology and its conlcusions. in fact the whole thesis is fragile enough to be completely overturned by removing a single proxy set (the bristle-cone pine data).

So its just not accurate to claim that our current warming trend is abnormal -- we simply don't know what "normal" is yet.

The next "fact" presented by rhetoricgarage is that farming in greenland "comes at the price of significant portions of densely inhabited costal areas getting swallowed by the sea." Er, not really. True, global warming causes rise in sea level. But the rate of this rise is the key issue. For the past hundred years average sea levels have risen, what about 8-10 inches? Current rate of sea level rise? = about 10 inches/CENTURY! Yeah, we're going to have a real crisis because of the flooding this causes. NOT. No city is going to be suddenly swallowed by the sea.

rhetoricgarage continues:
With hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies on global warming agreeing, without exception, that the earth is warming due to human actions, it is those who deny that it is happening who are basing their position on faith divorced from facts...
Err, except that this statement is untrue. Though a minority, there are reputable and actively publishing memebers of the global-climate community that dispute this very point. Richard Lindzen and Claude Allegre come to mind immediately. Additionally we should be precise: there are hundreds of peer-reviewed studies showing that the earth is in a modest warming period (about 1 degree in the last century). There's a scant handfull of articles that try to establish a link between this warming and man's activities. Think about it -- how does one, even in principle, establish a causal link between mankind's CO2 emissions and global climate change? Is this a process that we can experiment with, can we hold all the variables constant except one and do a test? Can we perform multiple runs and find a least-squares fit??? The best the scientific community has done is establish the plausability of such a scenario, and then trot out some computer simulations as proof. (Please excuse me for a second, while I laugh my a** off at this brand of "science"). Alright I'm done laughing.

Lastly let me make one gesture of reconciliation: I am a scientist, and I could be convinced of global warming catasrophe ... if the global mean temperatures were to suddenly accelerate or if sea levels were to suddenly begin rising at a truly unprecedented rate or if scientists made a computer model that was validated to be accurate for more than a few months and it predicted climate catastrophe, in short if there were a solid, fact-based, case that human-caused catastrophe was impending then I'd gladly support reductions in CO2 or whatever solution was found best to combat the coming ... Armageddon?

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Another one bites the dust...

Allegre's second thoughts

Dr. Allegre now sees global warming as over-hyped and an environmental concern of second rank.
His break with what he now sees as environmental cant on climate change came in September, in an article entitled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in l' Express, the French weekly. His article cited evidence that Antarctica is gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro's retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, come from natural causes. "The cause of this climate change is unknown," he states matter of factly. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the "science is settled."
As I've tried to say many times.

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Next gen Dvd Encryption cracked.

More bad news for DRM: PowerDVD AACS key found, AnyDVD supports Blu-ray - Engadget

Bad news MPAA, good news fair use folk: this weekend not only marks the date of extraction for PowerDVD's AACS key (which, as you may recall, is one of the two HD disc-playing apps in Windows right now along with the already cracked WinDVD), but also signals the release of AnyDVD, which officially adds Blu-ray support. Go forth and enjoy easily ripping those heavily armored Hollywood titles, dear readers, and let no motivated power-user take the weekend off from sticking it to the man by consuming their media on the devices and whichever manner they wish.
This was inevitable. And everybody knew it was bound to happen ... so why did the studios demand such restrictive DRM when they had to have known it would be broken?

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Fight the power ...

Boing Boing: NPR "Xeni Tech" - RIAA vs. college students, Gizmodo boycott

The RIAA recently sent out 400 "pre-litigation settlement letters" to students accused of illegal downloading at 13 universities, and launched, where the accused are invited to avoid lawsuits by turning themselves in and paying fines online.
Those b*stards!

Gizmodo is organizing a month-long RIAA boycott that kicks off today. They've published this manifesto, and they're encouraging people to contact lawmakers, write protest letters to the RIAA, and purchase indie MP3s instead of copy-protected songs from RIAA member labels.
Alright then, lets do it. Stick it to the Man!

for more on my thoughts about copyright in the digitial age go here.