Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Off to Hong Kong

Blogging will probably be pretty sparse as I am about to leave for Hong Kong on business for the next month.

I will try to pop in and sound off when I can.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Girl Friday - 070607

What a lovely view out that window.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bringing The Title Home

For the past 6 years, the Nathan's Famous Hotdog eating contest has been won by Takeru Kobayashi, a diminutive Japanese man. It just seemed an affront to the USA, a country considered world wide to have an over active appetite. Now the title has come home:

San Jose's Joey Chestnut won the dubious distinction Wednesday of being the world's fastest eater, setting a new record at the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest in New York and snatching the title belt for the Americans.

Chestnut ate - if you could call it that - an astounding 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes. That's a rate of one dog every 10.9 seconds. Takeru Kobayashi, the Japanese competitive eating champion who has won the contest for the past six years, placed second, ingesting 63 dogs during a stomach-turning race to the finish.

Sucks To Be Them

There is no question that I find the government structure of most of Europe to be despicable, but this latest round of garbage coming from the EU elites is really beyond the pale. After the proposed EU monstrosity of a constitution (PDF) went down in flames to the will of the European people, the bureaucracy has decided to do an end around and shove the constitution down the people's throats, whether they like it or not. Only this time they are calling it a treaty (PDF), that way they don't have to let that pesky proletariat stand in the way.

So its screw you to the people. They must be taking lessons from US pols and their immigration stance. Hopefully, the people of the EU will shake the walls of their governments like we did here in the US and force them to drop this.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Et Tu, Paul!?

OK, so it pains me to report that Dr. Paul, my choice in the Republican field, is not untainted by the scourge of pork (PDF). I haven't been able to actually get the pdf to load for me, but I will be interested to see what it contains.

While Paul's voting record remains exemplary, I am greatly troubled that he has taken his place at the trough. I guess that partly explains how he has been able to get repeatedly re-elected against the odds.

My only consolation is that at least he fessed up when asked, which is more than can said about most.


Girl Friday - 062907

There's more than just sugar, ethanol and bikinis coming from Brazil.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Government Admits It Is Wasting Your Money

It is painfully obvious to anyone paying even a little bit of attention that the federal government wastes a ton of money on programs that are useless or that it has no business being involved in in the first place. Well, it seems that the Office of Management and Budget has figured this out as well.

As part of a program they call ExpectMore.gov, they are using a system called the Program Assesment Rating Tool (PART) to determine the "effectiveness" of government programs.

The Program Assessment Rating Tool, or PART, for short, is a questionnaire designed to help assess the management and performance of programs. It is used to evaluate a program’s purpose, design, planning, management, results, and accountability to determine its overall effectiveness.

Based on the evaluation, recommendations are made to improve program results.

To reflect that federal programs deliver goods and services using different mechanisms, the PART also has customized questions depending on the type of program. The seven PART categories are: Direct Federal, Competitive Grant, Block/Formula Grant, Regulatory, Capital Assets and Service Acquisition, Credit, and Research and Development.

The PART questionnaire is made up of the following questions:

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other federal, state, local or private effort?

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Are budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Using the answers to these questions, programs are divided into two main categories, Performing and Not Performing, with each having sub-categories. So, had did various government programs fare? Not well:

Based on our most recent assessments, 25% of Federal programs are Not Performing.

The actual breakdown by subcategory looks like this:

To date, we have assessed about 96% of all Federal programs. Here's how they stack up, by rating.

Distribution of Program Ratings
Number of Programs Assessed 977
Effective 17%
Moderately Effective 30%
Adequate 28%
Ineffective 3%
Results Not Demonstrated 22%

Of course, even this gives a rosier picture than is warranted. That is because of the way each program is assigned to one of the sub-categories:

The answers to questions in each of the four sections result in a numerical score for each section from 0 to 100 (100 being the best score). Because reporting a single weighted numerical rating could suggest false precision, or draw attention away from the very areas most in need of improvement, numerical scores are translated into qualitative ratings. The bands and associated ratings are as follows:

Rating Range

Effective .............................................................. 85-100

Moderately Effective ............................................... 70-84

Adequate .............................................................. 50-69

Ineffective .............................................................. 0-49

Now I don't about where you come from, but where I come from a score of 50-69 is not adequate. Just ask any school kid if those grades are considered adequate. They equate to Ds and Fs which is hardly adequate. My dad would have planted his foot firmly in my fundament if I brought home grades like that. Of course it is no surprise that the government is letting the government off easy. When taking that into account, you find that fully 53% of programs are not up to par.

Taking a look at some of the programs in the Not Performing category, we find such gems as this:

Dairy Price Support Program

USDA maintains a minimal price to dairy farmers by buying excess milk in the form of nonfat dry milk, butter, and cheese. The government owned dairy products are stored in warehouses until the dairy products are sold or donated. This program is one of several USDA programs that support dairy farmers.

Results Not Demonstrated

A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.

The program has not demonstrated results.

The program began in 1949 to assure an adequate supply of milk, but has not been updated in response to changing industry conditions. The U.S. dairy industry has matured as a global leader in milk production, while current challenges include: price variability, consolidation, global trade, and environmental impacts.

The program has major design flaws that limit its effectiveness.

The program is considered trade distorting because it can maintain U.S. prices above world prices. Dairy production represents 11% of all U.S. farm receipts, but this program accounts for over 30% of permitted trade distorting support under World Trade Organization rules.USDA manages the government owned dairy products resulting from this program for multiple purposes.

USDA is not required to minimize costs, and can choose to sell the inventory back to the commercial market, or incur additional costs to donate dairy products to USDA food assistance programs and other domestic and international charitable organizations.

And this:

Packers and Stockyards

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration regulates livestock marketing activities at public stockyards and operations of meat packers and poultry dealers. The program was instituted in 1921 to promote fair and competitive trade of livestock, meat, and poultry.

Results Not Demonstrated

A rating of Results Not Demonstrated (RND) indicates that a program has not been able to develop acceptable performance goals or collect data to determine whether it is performing.

The program lacks well-defined internal processes to determine workload priorities, conduct effective investigations, evaluate investigative findings, and monitor industry activity to determine if regulatory reforms are needed.

The program lacks standard definitions to distinguish regulatory activities from investigative activities.

The program maintains inaccurate and incomplete tracking systems.

What business does the government even have maintaining a minimal price to dairy farmers or regulating marketing activities at stockyards? Even if these programs were "effective", they would still be a waste of money. The list is rife with programs and this and then, of course, there are the programs with the feel good names such as Mentoring Program, Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grants, and African Development Fund.

The website states "As a result, all assessed programs are held accountable for improving their performance and management", but there is no discussion of how they are held accountable. You can be sure that it doesn't include shutting those programs down.

In the end, the ExpectMore.gov program only serves as a tool for people like me to complain about the failures of the government. It is highly unlikely Congress will use it as a guideline for ridding the government of wasteful programs that don't even accomplish there missions. So in that respect, OMB should list ExpectMore.gov on the Not Performing list.

Update: BTW, given the re-killing of the immigration bill, I should also point out that the Border Patrol is in the Not Performing category as well.

(H/T Stephen Slivinski at Cato@Liberty)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Time to Stop Pretending

If only the poor Palestinians were left alone by the US and Israelis, they would stop the terrorism and live peaceful lives like normal people, or so we are told. Now many Palestinians are finding out first hand that you should be careful what you wish for.

With the US and Israel basically out of the picture, the Palestinians have turned on each other even more violently than they attacked Israel. There are still some useful idiots trying to find a way to pin this on the US and Israel, but they are finding out quickly that that dog won't hunt.

Fouad Ajami does a good job of summing up what has been obvious for a long time to anyone that actually paid attention rather than just knee-jerking against the Jews.

By the time the fury of the second intifada burned out, as it was bound to, the Palestinians were politically bankrupt and bereft. The Arab world had bigger battles to fight in Iraq and the Persian Gulf; the Israelis, keen to conciliate the Palestinians, had grown weary of them. There was a diplomatic dance, the quartet, which brought together the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations in a halfhearted effort to keep the Palestinian world afloat. But the Palestinians would do all in their power to snuff out those diplomatic efforts as well. Given a chance, by an election in early 2006, to signal their desire for normalcy, the Palestinians voted for mayhem. Two convicted terrorists, Marwan Barghouti and Abu Ali Yatta, headed the Fatah list; all in all, 14 members of the new parliament were serving prison sentences. National movements are often carried away by delirium, their politics can become deeds of self-immolation, and the Palestinians have come to embody the suicidal streak of mass-based nationalism.

This is not a failure of the Bush diplomacy, the disorder now on full display in Gaza and the West Bank. This is the harvest of Palestinian history. What we see is the inevitable fate of a national movement given over to the cult of the gun.

By now it should be clear even to the most ardent supporters of Palestine that they are not interested in peace and could care less about the lives of other Palestinians. They only wish to dominate and force their beliefs on anyone and everyone they can.

Liberal Fairness

There has been much odious talk emanating from the left lately about reviving the so-called "Fairness Doctrine". The main "problem" they cite is the trouncing of "progressives" in talk radio, often claiming it is caused not by market forces, but by some structural defect that is begging for government intervention.

Fortunately, McQ and some spare time and has blown that meme out of the water.

What's that tell you?

It tells you that despite all this twaddle about 'structural problems' in talk radio, that where at least Limbaugh and Hannity and progressive talk go head-to-head, listeners have consistently and overwhelmingly chosen the Limbaugh and Hannity.

Be sure to go and read the whole thing.

Update: The Fairness Doctrine has been temporarily staved off. Of course, it don't be surprised to see it re-appear under a different guise.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Smile For The Camera

It is not often that I have praise for the ACLU, which spends considerably more time and resources trying to push leftist politics than actually standing up for civil rights. However, they do occasionally fight the good fight. Such is the case in St Louis where they are arming the citizenry with video cameras for the express purpose of recording police interaction with said citizenry.

The move by the police to video stops has long been underway and is one that I endorse. This not only helps protect the officers, but also those they interact with. I think all patrol cars should be equipped with these systems.

In the same vein, I think citizens should be taping the actions of the police. Such tapes proved critical in bringing the rogue officers in the Rodney King incident to justice and I am sure there are many more cases where police malfeasance was caught by citizen with a video camera. Unfortunately, there have been a rash of incidents in places such as Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and elsewhere where police either threatened or arrested people for taping their actions.

Police exist for the sole purpose of protecting the rights of the citizens. They are not our overseers or masters. They are our servants and it is always good to keep them acutely aware of that distinction.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Supporting the Troops

You know, time and again those on the left like to tell us how much they support the troops. Nancy Pelosi supports them so much that she wants to give Canadian troops health care (click for full size):

Of course, she meant this to be for US troops, but apparently she and her staff are so utterly clueless about the military that they just threw up the first picture of an officer with a doctor they could find. You can clearly see "CANADA" embroidered on the epaulet. If they can't even tell a foreign officer from an American one, how much can they really support the troops?

I took this screen shot at 10:35 CST. Let's see how long it stays up.

Update: As of 12:18 CST it is still up. These guys aren't too bright.

Update 2: Just checked again (1:30 CST) and it is finally down. Any guesses if she will issue an apology, or just pretend that it didn't happen?

(H/T McQ and QandO)

The Bitter Taste of US Sugar

Since the time of the founding of our great country, the government has taken every opportunity to insinuate itself into every conceivable manner of non-government business. Take for example the sugar industry. Chris Edwards over at Cato discusses the problems created by government meddling in the sugar industry in the latest Tax & Budget Bulletin (PDF).

Components of the Sugar Program

The purpose of U.S. sugar policies is to keep domestic prices artificially high. In recent decades, U.S. sugar prices have been typically two or more times higher than prices on world markets.2 The federal government achieves that result by setting guaranteed prices and backing them up with trade restrictions and production quotas.

Guaranteed Prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs a complex loan program to support sugar prices. The USDA makes loans to sugar processors, who use their sugar as collateral. In return, processors agree to pay sugar growers certain minimum prices. If the market price of sugar rises, processors can sell their product on the market and pay back the loan. If the market price falls, processors can forfeit their sugar to the government and not repay their loans. The effect is to guarantee prices for both processors and growers. Sometimes other techniques are used to prop up prices, such as paying producers to discard their current inventories.

Trade Restrictions. Import barriers help to maintain high domestic sugar prices. The government applies a two-tiered system of “tariff rate quotas” to limit imports. A lower “in-quota” tariff rate is for imports within a set quota volume. A higher “over-quota” rate applies to imports in excess of the quota. The in-quota amounts are allocated to 40 foreign countries on the basis of prior import patterns.

These restrictions prevent lower-cost foreign sugar from putting downward pressure on U.S. prices. Sugar imports are currently restricted to about 15 percent of the U.S. market. By contrast, imports typically accounted for about half of the U.S. market prior to the 1980s.3

Production Quotas. In addition to controlling sugar imports, the government imposes quotas, or “marketing allotments,” on U.S. production. Each year, the USDA decides what total U.S. sugar production ought to be and then allots it 54.35 percent to beet sugar and 45.65 percent to cane sugar. Most sugar beet production is in Minnesota, Idaho, North Dakota, Michigan, and California. Most sugarcane production is in Florida and Louisiana. The USDA allots each U.S. state and each sugar company a specific quota based on a complicated formula. In sum, the sugar industry is a cartel that is centrally planned from Washington.

This is exactly why we, in the country in which it was invented, have to have inferior Coke produced with corn syrup (which the government is also heavily involved in) rather than the good stuff made with real sugar. I rarely drink Coke when I am here in the States, but make a point of drinking it when I am in China.

Girl Friday - 062207

Sometimes it's just nice to slip on your favorite pair of jeans and hang out with friends.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dumbest Idea of the Week

Over in the comments on Hit & Run, I came across a commenter who was proposing a constitutional amendment to ban Islam. Here is a taste:

Be it resolved that the following Amendment to the Constitution be adopted:

Article I

The social/political/ideological system known around the world as Islam is not recognized in the United States as a religion.

The practice of Islam is therefore not protected under the 1st Amendment as to freedom of religion and speech.

Article II

As representatives of Islam around the world have declared war, and committed acts of war, against the United States and its democratic allies around the world, Islam is hereby declared an enemy of the United States and its practice within the United States is now prohibited.

Article III

Immediately upon passage of this Amendment all Mosques, schools and Muslim places of worship and religious training are to be closed, converted to other uses, or destroyed. Proceeds from sales of such properties may be distributed to congregations of said places but full disclosure of all proceeds shall be made to an appropriate agency as determined by Congress. No compensation is to be offered by Federal or State agencies for losses on such properties however Federal funding is to be available for the demolishing of said structures if other disposition cannot be made.

The preaching of Islam in Mosques, Schools, and other venues is prohibited. The subject of Islam may be taught in a post high school academic environment provided that instruction include discussion of Islam’s history of violence, conquest, and its ongoing war on democratic and other non-Islamic values.

The preaching or advocating of Islamic ideals of world domination, destruction of America and democratic institutions, jihad against Judaism, Christianity and other religions, and advocating the implementation of Sharia law shall in all cases be punishable by fines, imprisonment, deportation, and death as prescribed by Congress. Violent expressions of these and other Muslim goals, or the material support of those both in the United States and around the world who seek to advance these Islamic goals shall be punishable by death.

Muslims will be denied the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.

While there is no denying that a major part of the US's and the world's problems are a result of the followers of Islam, I find the idea of writing discrimination into the Constitution to be repugnant. It is in direct conflict with everything that this country was founded on and a perfect example of a "cure" being worse than the disease.

Obviously Not Muslim

OK, so I guess Obama got tired of the lingering questions about his Muslim background. Today he released his "FY08 Federal Funding Requests" and let me tell you, we are talking major league swine her ladies and gentlemen.

My first assumption when I read that he was releasing this information was that he probably only had a few million dollars worth of lard and would use this opportunity to make the candidates look bad, but once I got to his site, I knew I would have dust off the 'ol Canis Libertas super computer to come up with a total. After about an hour of 90% CPU time, I got the result. Whole hog to the tune of $399,766,475* taxpayer dollars. Ouch!

If this is average, and I can only assume that he must think he is on the light side, then we are talking some $40 billion in pork just out of the Senate.

Just for fun, here are some of his gems:

American Theater Company, for the construction of a new facility in Logan Square, $200,000

In the heart of Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood, American Theater Company (ATC) will build an 11,000 square foot theater complex using green construction standards that will provide a state-of-the-art experience for its artists and patrons. The theater will serve as a commercial and cultural hub for this diverse and growing neighborhood, welcoming audiences from within and outside of the community. It will be a home for the development of new American works and re-imagined classic American plays, and a center for the development of new talent.

Aurora University, to the Center for Latino Leadership and Education, $400,000

Funding would establish a family-focused after school bilingual program for Latino families that would promote academic preparation and college readiness within an underserved population.

Mujeres Latinas en Accion, for the Parent Support Program and Women in Transition Program, $295,000

These programs provide services crucial to increasing parental efficacy and educate parents about creating a family environment that is supportive and conducive to emotional and academic growth. The curriculum teaches parents to help youth avoid gang involvement, stay in school, and improve their school performance all in a culturally sensitive atmosphere.

PACE Suburban Bus, to replace the radio system in all of its 672 fixed route buses, $2,500,000

The radio system is currently 11 years old, and because it is the primary method of communication between drivers and dispatchers, it is imperative that it be upgraded. The new radios will solve communication gaps that current buses experience. PACE provides 130,000 trips daily, and passengers throughout the region will experience fewer missed connections with other bus routes.

Rockford College, to enhance classrooms, $490,000

This funding would equip classrooms and enhance student learning by outfitting classrooms and labs that will enable faculty to employ the most modern technology when instructing students and will measurably improve student performance.

Those were just a few I grabbed. There were more than 100 listed. Oh and just in case you were wondering, yes, both of the colleges listed above are private institutions and there are several others listed.

* The Canis Libertas intern is somewhat lazy and not very thorough (I suspect he was dropped on his head more than once as a child), so it is possible he entered the data incorrectly. Feel free to run the numbers yourself.


Yet another scientist has had the audacity to speak out about the "settled" science that forms the basis of the "consensus" about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Professor Timothy R Patten, director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, joins the ranks of those claiming that global cooling is the real issue and questioning the politicization of the science.

Politicians and environmentalists these days convey the impression that climate-change research is an exceptionally dull field with little left to discover. We are assured by everyone from David Suzuki to Al Gore to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that "the science is settled." At the recent G8 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel even attempted to convince world leaders to play God by restricting carbon-dioxide emissions to a level that would magically limit the rise in world temperatures to 2C.

The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change." Liberal MP Ralph Goodale's June 11 House of Commons assertion that Parliament should have "a real good discussion about the potential for carbon capture and sequestration in dealing with carbon dioxide, which has tremendous potential for improving the climate, not only here in Canada but around the world," would be humorous were he, and even the current government, not deadly serious about devoting vast resources to this hopeless crusade.

This guy is obviously a tool of "Big Oil" and should be publicly flogged for challenging the Gorian Orthodoxy.

Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thou-sand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.
Blasphemy! The changes we are seeing now are UNPRECEDENTED in the history of the earth and it is all man's fault!

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.
Just stop it! I have absolute faith that man drives the climate.

In some fields the science is indeed "settled." For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments.
LA LA LA LA LA LA LA... I'm not listening!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Government Cheese

I guess it is only appropriate that Wisconsin, known for its cheese, would be just as fervent about government cheese as it is about Cheddar and Colby. In fact, they have a non-profit, Wisconsin Procurement Institute, that is dedicated solely to the purpose of helping to get Wisconsin companies on the federal dole.

The Wisconsin Procurement Institute is a nonprofit organization established in 1987 to "bridge the gap" for Wisconsin companies interested in supplying their products and or services to federal, state, local agencies and prime contractors.

WPI guides, trains and provides hands-on assistance to firms in developing government business and improving process and technical capabilities to access and compete in the Government marketplace.

That in itself, is bad enough, but to find out that, David Obey (D-WI) the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who earlier tried to take the earmark process underground, has created an earmark for WPI, is just surreal. That's right folks, Obey wants to give them your tax dollars so they can help others get your tax dollars.

WPI is just the start though apparently. Governor Jim Doyle (D-WI), it seems, actually gives out awards for the companies that are the most successful at milking the US taxpayer. This year's lucky winners:

Governor's Award - Federal Procurement - Small Business: McNally Industries, Grantsburg, Burnett County. This company makes complex systems and components for a variety of air, land, and sea combat applications. Its products include ammunition handling systems and hydraulic systems, pumps, and valve bodies. Customers include the US Government and defense contractors.

Governor's Award - Federal Procurement - Large Business: Astronautics Corporation of America, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County. This company was established in 1959. It is major supplier of avionics equipment to airlines, aircraft manufacturers, the U.S. Government and governments around the world.
I am sure there is some equivalent here in the Lone Star State, but this is just sickening.

AGW Causes Genocide

Apparently, Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) has evolved from simply being a crime against Gaia into a crime against humanity:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizon, in an article published Saturday.

"The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change," Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 percent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons.

"This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming," the South Korean diplomat wrote.

"It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought," Ban said in the Washington daily.

Oh, the weather made them do it. I guess that explains it then. It's all America's fault since we are singlehandedly trying to destroy Mother Earth with our consumerism. Shame on us.

(H/T Craig at Liberty Just in Case)

Jessica Alba - American

Generally speaking, I pay very little attention to the drivel that comes out of Hollywood. Since it is usually some idiotic praise of Castro or some other completely useless leftist drivel, it just isn't worth paying attention to. However, the latest kerfluffle has caught my attention.

Apparently, super hottie Jessica Alba (see pic below) was interviewed by the Spanish language magazine Para Todos and had the gall to say the following*:

Alba is my last name and I'm proud of that. But that's it. My grandparents were born in California, the same as my parents, and though I may be proud of my last name, I'm American. Throughout my whole life, I've never felt connected to one particular race or heritage, nor did I feel accepted by any. If you break it down, I'm less Latina than Cameron Diaz, whose father is Cuban. But people don't call her Latina because she's blonde…

My grandfather was the only Mexican at his college, the only Hispanic person at work and the only one at the all-white country club. He tried to forget his Mexican roots, because he never wanted his kids to be made to feel different in America. He and my grandmother didn't speak Spanish to their children. Now, as a third-generation American, I feel as if I have finally cut loose.

My whole life, when I was growing up, not one race has ever accepted me, ... So I never felt connected or attached to any race specifically. I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don't speak Spanish. So, to say that I'm a Latin actress, OK, but it's not fitting; it would be insincere.

It was that last paragraph that really got her in trouble. Apparently she has committed the unforgiveable sin of considering herself American, rather than playing the usual identity politics roll. You know, you can't have that and so she is being savaged around the internet by a bunch of ignorant bafoons:

If what I’ve read is true ( I need a copy of that magazine to confirm this) then Miss Alba is nothing but a CUNT!!! ... We have great latina actresses we can do without that stupid ignorant witch!




Now, I have no idea what Jessica's politics are, but to get these kinds of reactions are just mind blowing to me. It is not as if she actually denounced Mexicans or Latinos, she simply stated the fact that she was not raised in the culture and self-identifies as an American. The only way she could have stirred up more vile is if she threw in a line about Mohamed being gay or something.

Regardless, she is really hot:

* I am unsure where these English quotes came from. The online version is in Spanish and I read through it and did not find these statements, so I guess they must come from the print version. I got them from Mary Katherine Ham at Townhall.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Confessions of a Budding Sado-Masochist

Over the past couple of years, I seem to have developed into somewhat of a non-sexual sado-masochist, at least to some small degree. Fortunately, it only manifests when I am in convenience stores. I tell myself that it was not a conscious decision; that it was purely a self-defense mechanism to prevent me from either shooting myself or strangling an attendant. However, I suspect, deep down, that it has been there all along. In fact, I am sure that it would not be hard to find people that have known me for any modest length of time to make such declarations about me.

It all started as I began to discern a trend in the quality of cashiers at various convenience stores. It was becoming increasingly difficult to find one that could produce correct change regardless of what the register told them. Heaven forbid that I would produce any change from my pocket once they had entered the total on the register. More often than not, they were stumped. At first, my reaction to this was irritation, then the more often it happened, anger.

At some point along the way, I began to notice that I was intentionally waiting until my purchase was rung up to produce some amount of change from my pocket. I was actually deriving pleasure from seeing the looks of horror on their faces as they were faced with the daunting task of recalculating my change. I usually leave them squirming for at least 30 seconds before I let them off the hook. I know this is rather petty, but it was either that or face an eventual snap that would lead to a verbal pummeling for some poor bastard just trying to do their job.

The reason I bring all this up is because I think I may have actually had a condescending smirk on my face earlier as I walked up to the local 7-11 for my monthly Big Gulp fix. I got a few other things and my total was $4.09. I gave her a Hamilton and waited until she had rung me up to then hand her a dime. I figured that should be a fairly simple one, but she was absolutely flummoxed. I could tell the woman behind me was in a hurry, so as she stood there with $3.00 in her hand desperately trying to come up with my change, I just told her the answer and left.

Of course, I should have known better. After all, this same girl had previously had problems giving me change, I even watched as a customer gave her $20.00 for gas. She accidentally entered $2.00 in the computer and told me the customer would have to come back in. Somehow, she managed to figure out that the she had to reset the machine for $18.00, but when the customer came back in, she then gave him back $2.00. At first, he looked at her like she was retarded, but after she "explained" that the $2.00 was for the gas he had already put in, he just took it and continued filling his car. I am sure he enjoyed the 10% discount she had unwittingly given him.

I can't imagine that she will last long considering that her register must be short after every shift, but then again, it is likely that 7-11 has a "stupidity tolerance" for its employees that will allow for being X dollars short per shift.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

$790,000 Later

After months of work and a cost of approximately $790,000, the London 2012 Olympic Committee has put forth this piece of crap as it's official logo:

What a great use for taxpayer money. According to London 2012 organizing committee chairman Seb Coe:

"It won't be to be eveybody's (sic) taste immediately but it's a brand that we genuinely believe can be a hard working brand which builds on pretty much everything we said in Singapore about reaching out and engaging young people, which is where our challenge is over the next five years.

"If we don't that, then frankly the whole project is unsustainable."

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Little Understatement Before Supper

Nothing like a little understatement before sitting down to supper:

"It has become increasingly apparent, during the course of this week, in some ways that it might not have been before, that my presence as the district attorney in Durham is not furthering the cause of justice," Nifong said.

Earlier Friday, Nifong acknowledged that he "maybe got carried away a little bit" in talking about the three lacrosse players who were once charged with raping a stripper, and he said he expected to be punished by the state bar.

Lucky Bastards

OK, so not only do they have some of the most beautiful women in the world, but the Czech's also have, as far as I can tell, the most libertarian president in the world.

The more that I read about and by Vaclav Klaus, the more I envy the Czechs. I have spent a considerable amount of time in Europe and while I consider Salzburg, Austria to be the most beautiful city I have ever visited, I could never imagine living in Europe under their current systems. The specter of Socialism is well advanced here in the US, but Europe makes us look like stumbling neophytes in that respect. Klaus sure makes it tempting though.

Could you imagine a US president saying something like this and actually meaning it:

“Fifteen years after the collapse of communism. I am afraid more than at the beginning of its softer (or weaker) version, of social-democratism, which has become – under different names, e.g. the welfare state or the soziale Marktwirtschaft – the dominant model of the economic and social system of current Western civilization. It is based on big and patronizing government, on extensive regulating of human behavior, and on large-scale income redistribution.”
Or this:

As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning.

Girl Friday - 061507

For those of you that appreciate the darker side of life, this week's Girl Friday is a Suicide Girl:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Daily Must Reads

OK, since I have been gone from the blogging scene, several of my favorite daily/weekly reads have gone dormant but randomly clicking through some of the huge blogrolls out there is not something I cherish.

With that in mind, I would like some suggestions from my readers. What sites do you consider must reads on a daily or weekly basis?

Finding Their Religion

I have made no secret that I believe environmentalism in general, and global warming in specific, has become a de facto religion for many on the left. In fact, the proselytizing is often more militant and annoying than anything coming from Christians.

This has always struck me as odd coming from a group that is so openly hostile to religion, at least it did until I realized that most of the hostility was directed solely at Christianity and Judaism, not religion in general. It is not uncommon, on leftist sites, to hear about how religious Republicans (and Bush in particular) are a bunch of theocrats 1000 times worse than the Taliban.

Of course, as an atheist myself, I find all religion bizarre and disturbing. However, not being of the militant type, I am content to live with my beliefs and let others live with theirs so long as I am not proselytized and they don't try to force their beliefs on me via government.

Lately, however, there seems to be a trend within left to claim Christianity as their own. It started with the typical sound bite stuff like "Jesus was a Liberal" etc and moved into attempts at justifying their desire for socialism with religious appeals. Well, that honestly scares the crap out of me. It was one thing when those on the right wanted to throw their social mores on me using the law, because as long as I have economic freedom, I can have social freedom.

Now that the left is combing its religions of socialism and environmentalism they can only get more fanatical, and might even get some on the right to join them. That is likely to have a much more troubling affect on my day to day life. Already the neo-prohibitionists are at work on the left trying to control everything from what we eat and drink to what is and is not allowed on TV and radio. Because of that, you get stuff like this:

Once she wrested control of the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works Committee from conservative stalwart Sen. Jim Inhofe (R.-Okla.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) was expected to aggressively pursue legislation to combat global warming. What wasn’t expected was that she would do it with blessings from the Church.

Last Thursday, Boxer held a hearing that highlighted the growing role of religion in liberal political campaigns--particularly in the name of “environmental justice.” There, a coalition of 35 religious denominations called for an 80 percent reduction in global warming emissions by the year 2050, and bill S.309, sponsored by Boxer and avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.), calls for the same.

“Evangelical Christians, Catholics, African Methodist Episcopals, Jews, mainline Protestant Christians, and many other people of faith see the need for action on global warming as a moral, ethical and scriptural mandate,” Boxer said.
As McQ over at QandO points out, much like the feminists did with Clinton, you can expect most of the secularists on the left to just shut up and pretend this isn't happening. After all, Christianity is only bad when it is being used to push things you don't like, when it works for you, then it is great.

Monday, June 11, 2007

GOP Demagogues -- Our Last, Best Hope

Probably the most significant reason (behind Iraq) for the Democrats return to power was their promise to clean up the "Culture of Corruption" that is created by the way earmarks are handled. I called bullshit at the time, not because I didn't think the process needed to be cleaned up, but because I knew the Dems wouldn't actually keep that promise.

After a just-for-show swat at the earmarks during their 100 hours agenda, it was back to business as usual, or at least it was briefly. Now things have gotten even worse. House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey (D-WI) has decided to take the process completely underground and tack the earmarks on after the passage of bills just before they went into conference. This makes the chance of sunlight reaching these projects virtually nil. Indeed there are already some 30,000 requests (more than under the Republicans even) waiting to get slipped in.

Fortunately, there are a few members of the Grand 'Ol Party that either still hold to small government beliefs or that have found religion on the subject now that the electorate has kicked them firmly in the balls. They are making noise and the Dems don't like it. We've already seen Murtha castigating anyone that would dare challenge his place at the trough and now Obey is trying to get those pesky few Republicans to pipe down:

House Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., today outlined how earmarks will be disclosed before conference, and warned that if Republicans “demagogue” the issue there might be no earmarks in the fiscal 2008 bills.

Now call me crazy, but you have to be one hell of an idiot to threaten these guys in such a manner. If I was a member fighting against earmarks and the guy that controlled all earmarks threatened to put an end to all those earmarks if I didn't pipe down, what do you think I would do?

Update: There may be some progress.

Freedom in Fiction

When I was in junior high, I read all of the Chronicles of Narnia series. In high school, it was Lord of the Rings books that had my attention. Back then, I just enjoyed the books and didn't really put much thought into the allegories behind both series.

Despite my ignorance at the time of my first readings, both series do indeed represent something beyond just what appears on their pages. If you understand that and would perhaps be interested in creating a literary work that represents the ideas of free markets, liberty and personal responsibility for the next generation, then you should consider vying for the Freedom in Fiction Prize.

I have, in the past, considered writing a non-fiction book, but there were always excuses. I had never considered writing a fictional book, but I bet there are plenty of good writers out there that cherish such ideals as those put forth by this prize that may have no idea of this opportunity. If you have a blog, you should consider helping to get the word out.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


OK boys and girls, the Spanish word for today is "ironía".

Translation: Mexican officials complaining that the US government is not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal items across the border

Party in a Pouch

Just wait until MADD finds out about this:

DUTCH students have invented powdered alcohol which they say can be sold legally to minors.

The latest innovation in inebriation, called Booz2Go, is available in 20g packets that cost €1 to €1.5 ($1.60 to $2.45).

Top it up with water and you have a bubbly, lime-coloured and flavoured drink with just three per cent alcohol content.

There is sure to be a full on battle to keep this from making it to our shores here in the US. I would be very interested to see a legal analysis of US alcohol laws to see if this is or is not currently permitted.

Also, look for this reported loophole to be closed as quickly as is legislatively possible:

The students said companies interested in making the product commercially could avoid taxes because the alcohol was in powder form.
Update: In search of the answer to Tom's question concerning how the alcohol is powdered, I came across a post from 2005 about a German company that had a powdered alcohol product:

According to the manufacturer, the powder is produced in the following way. A solution of water and alcohol is mixed with maltodextrin and then spray-dried at relatively low temperatures. Each molecule of alcohol is encapsulated by dextrin during the spray-drying process and the smaller water molecules are allowed to pass through the surface and evaporate. There is about a 5% loss of alcohol on the surface of each droplet.
I have no idea if the Dutch students used a similar process or if this description is correct as the website of the German company is currently down.

I will do some more searching to try to track down the exact technique used by the students.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Thompson's Federalism

In this comment on a previous post about Ron Paul, Kyle takes note of Fred Thompson's position on Federalism, specifically mentioning his vote on a tort reform bill.

The other day, Thompson was on with Larry Kudlow and this point was specifically discussed:

The pundit featured in this video didn't seem too happy with his answer, but I sure liked it a lot.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Lest There Be Questions

Just in case someone might question why I have nothing but contempt for people like John Edwards, this little Q and A should set things straight.

I am so sick of these socialists setting aside actual rights and trying to create a whole new set of rights which are actually privileges.

Update: Walter Williams give a pretty clear and concise explanation of why this is wrong:

Liberals love to talk about this or that human right, such as a right to health care, food or housing. That's a perverse usage of the term "right." A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn't produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That's because, since there's no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American. I'd like to hear the moral argument for taking what belongs to one person to give to another person.

Girl Friday - 060807

With the femosphere in a snit over a picture of Fred Thompson "leering" at his wife, it is with great pleasure that I bring you this picture of a woman that is not your wife. Enjoy, but don't let the neo-Victorians catch you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Coming Soon to a Government Near You!

It is well known that the UK is more advanced in its nanny state policies than the US. It is also well known that the nanny staters here in the US often look to the UK and the rest of Europe for guidance in their quête de jour so you can bet good money that it won't be long until this kind of nonsense makes its way to our shores.

“We want to target older drinkers, those that are maybe drinking one or two bottles of wine at home each evening,” a Whitehall source said. “They do not realise the damage they are doing to their health and that they risk developing liver disease. We are not talking here about the traditional wino.” (Emphasis Mine)
Naturally, the excuse being made is that since the government has already improperly imposed itself upon the health care system, it can now justify such intrusions into people's personal lives. Sounds familiar, right? The same arguments are routinely made by those seeking to save to people from themselves.

(H/T Elliot Joseph)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Finally Fusion?

For those of you interested in either Physics or energy policy and its related politics, there is a great video over at Google Videos of a presentation made by Dr. Robert Brussard concerning his fusion reactor.

It is an hour and a half long, but well worth the time. His team's approach to the problems of fusion is very novel and seems, to me, head and shoulders above what others are doing in this field. His is the first project I have seen that makes me think we could have clean fusion in the next decade or so. Very exciting.

Jaw Dropping Arrogance

I have been a fairly avid observer of the political scene for the last 15 years or so and in that time, I have seen no shortage of pure unadulterated arrogance displayed by various politicians. However, over at Politico.com, I just found what I believe to be the quote by which all other political arrogance will be judged henceforth:

Later, after McCain briefly chatted with reporters, Dave Coddington of Gilford, a self-described conservative, stopped the senator and read a question he had scrawled down on a notebook questioning whether "the more people see [the immigration deal] in the light of day, the more they see what it can do to America?"

"Actually, I always do the right thing and it always turns out alright and I know what the right thing is," McCain responded looking directly into the Coddington's eyes. (emphasis mine)

The fact that this man is still somehow a leading contender for the Presidency in '08 is astounding. Of course, I bet this gets precious little play by the MSM, who continue to be enamored by their favorite "maverick".

I know there is some stiff competition in the arrogant remarks category, I mean he is competing with such doosies as Hillary's "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good" but can any of you come up with a statement to top this?

Update: In other news, Vladimir Putin, astutely sensing that he was falling behind to Ahmadinejad and Chavez in the "Most Asinine Statement by a Foreign Leader" category, comes out swinging with this whopper:

Of course I am an absolute, pure democrat. But you know the problem? It's not even a problem, it's a real tragedy. The thing is that I am the only one, there just aren't any others in the world.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Collection of Kooks

True believers of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) would have you believe that there exists an absolute concensus on the science behind "climate change", as they have recently taken to labeling it. Those that call such claims into question are labeled Deniers, evoking association with Holocaust Deniers.

Anyone that disagrees is considered either ignorant, an enemy of science, or in the pocket of "Big Oil". Lawrence Solomon questioned those assumptions and has done yeoman's work over the last six months in a series entitled "The Deniers".

More than six months ago, I began writing this series, The Deniers. When I began, I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies.

My series set out to profile the dissenters -- those who deny that the science is settled on climate change -- and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world's premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop -- the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

His list of profiles is long and distinguished. They include, but are not limited to:

Edward Wegman
Edward Wegman received his Ph.D. degree in mathematical statistics from the University of Iowa. In 1978, he went to the Office of Naval Research, where he headed the Mathematical Sciences Division with responsibility Navy-wide for basic research programs. He coined the phrase computational statistics, and developed a high-profile research area around this concept, which focused on techniques and methodologies that could not be achieved without the capabilities of modern computing resources and led to a revolution in contemporary statistical graphics. Dr. Wegman was the original program director of the basic research program in Ultra High Speed Computing at the Strategic Defense Initiative's Innovative Science and Technology Office. He has served as editor or associate editor of numerous prestigious journals and has published more than 160 papers and eight books.

Richard Tol
Richard Tol received his PhD in Economics from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. He is Michael Otto Professor of Sustainability and Global Change at Hamburg University, director of the Centre for Marine and Atmospheric Science, principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change, at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a board member of the Centre for Marine and Climate Research, the International Max Planck Research Schools of Earth Systems Modelling and Maritime Affairs, and the European Forum on Integrated Environmental Assessment. He is an editor of Energy Economics, an associate editor of Environmental and Resource Economics, and a member of the editorial board of Environmental Science and Policy and Integrated Assessment.

Christopher Landsea
Christopher Landsea received his doctoral degree in atmospheric science from Colorado State University. A research meteorologist at the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he was chair of the American Meteorological Society's committee on tropical meteorology and tropical cyclones and a recipient of the American Meteorological Society's Banner I. Miller Award for the "best contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting." He is a frequent contributor to leading journals, including Science, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Climate, and Nature.

Duncan Wingham
Duncan Wingham was educated at Leeds and Bath Universities where he gained a B.Sc. and PhD. in Physics. He was appointed to a chair in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 1996, and to head of the Department of Earth Sciences in October, 2005. Prof. Wingham is a member of the National Environmental Research Council's Science and Technology Board and Earth Observation Experts Group. He is a director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & Modelling and principal scientist of the European Space Agency CryoSat Satellite Mission, the first ESA Earth Sciences satellite selected through open, scientific competition.

Richard Lindzen
Richard Lindzen received his PhD in applied mathematics in 1964 from Harvard University. A professor of meteorology in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. He is also a consultant to the Global Modeling and Simulation Group at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a Distinguished Visiting Scientist at California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the AMS's Meisinger, and Charney Awards, and AGU's Macelwane Medal. He is author or coauthor of over 200 scholarly papers and books.

Henrik Svensmark
Henrik Svensmark is director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish Space Research Institute (DSRI). Previously, Dr. Svensmark was head of the sunclimate group at DSRI. He has held post doctoral positions in physics at University California Berkeley, Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, and the Niels Bohr Institute. In 1997, Dr Svensmark received the Knud Hojgaard Anniversary Research Prize and in 2001 the Energy-E2 Research Prize.

Habibullo Abdussamatov
Habibullo Abdussamatov, born in Samarkand in Uzbekistan in 1940, graduated from Samarkand University in 1962 as a physicist and a mathematician. He earned his doctorate at Pulkovo Observatory and the University of Leningrad.He is the head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academies of Sciences' Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station's Astrometry project, a long-term joint scientific research project of the Russian and Ukranian space agencies.

Eigil Friis-Christensen
Eigil Friis-Christensen is director of the Danish National Space Centre and a member of the space research advisory committee of the Swedish National Space Board, where he serves on the panel on space weather. He is also a member of a NASA working group and a member of the Earth-science advisory committee of the European Space Agency. The author or co-author of some 100 peer-reviewed articles, he has been chair of the scientific advisory group of the Institute of Space Physics. He holds a Magisterkonferens (PhD equivalent) in geophysics from the University of Copenhagen.

Zbigniew Jaworowski
Zbigniew Jaworowski is chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection in Warsaw, where he has held various posts since 1973. He was a principal investigator of three research projects of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and of four research projects of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The author of four books and 300 scientific papers, he has held posts with the Centre d'Etude Nucleaires near Paris; the Biophysical Group of the Institute of Physics, University of Oslo; the Norwegian Polar Research Institute and the National Institute for Polar Research in Tokyo.

Antonino Zichichi
Antonino Zichichi, Professor Emeritus of Advanced Physics at the University of Bologna, has published over 800 scientific papers and 10 books, some of which have opened new avenues in subnuclear physics. He has received numerous awards and honorary degrees from academic institutions around the world, and is the subject of seven books published by others about his accomplishments. He founded and directs the Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture, an organization dedicated to voluntary scientific service, the elimination of secret laboratories, and scientific freedom.

Regardless of whether or not you believe in the validity of the AGW theory, you should take the time to read every one of the articles in the "Deniers" series. There is serious dissent available on the matter and it isn't just from a bunch of quacks and kooks as the AGW proponents would have you believe, but from some of the most preeminent researchers in the field.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Girl Friday - 060107

OK, since I was out of pocket last week, I guess I owe you a double post this week. Here you go:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

In Case You Were Confused

Just in case any of you were confused and actually bought into the Democrats promises to clean things up in DC, here are a couple of pieces from CNN that should set you straight.

As I have said too many times to count, the Dems are just as crooked as the Reps. They are two sides to a very dirty coin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Libertarian Paternalism

Over at The Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin has a couple of posts about "libertarian paternalism". I won't get into the specifics of that particular philosophy other than to say that it troubles me.

I have, many times and in many places, derided the couching of various liberty depriving systems in the language of liberty. Libertarian paternalism is no different so it is not surprising that reading through the comments to those posts, you find, not libertarians, but rather leftists defending the idea.

My main fear is that someone generally ignorant of political philosophy equates these authoritarian systems with actual libertarianism.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Score One For Common Sense

As I got in last night, I caught an interesting little segment on my local news. It seems that during the last year since speed limits on parts of I-10 and I-20 in west Texas were raised to 80 mph, the fatality rate on that section of interstate has actually dropped 25%. Which isn't really saying much since the drop was from 4 the year prior to the increase, to 3 in the last year, but it is still a drop.

Back when the raise was announced, you heard all the usual gloom and doomer safe us from ourselves types preaching sure chaos and spikes in the death rates and got quotes like this:

"That's not good news for safety," says Richard Retting, senior transportation engineer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry group. "When states raise speed limits, they're trading lives for faster travel times."

and this

"This will result in more deaths. The research is pretty clear about that," said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "You get someplace faster but at what cost?"
I have a feeling these guys won't be looking to get their names in the paper this go around.

Global Warming Gravy Train

OK, so I was off on an extended Memorial Day holiday and was away from a computer so I couldn't blog.

Now that I am back, let's get things rolling with this piece over at Mises.org by David Evans, a mathematician, and a computer and electrical engineer who worked for the Australian government.

He starts by laying out his role in the AGW machinery and stating that he has changed his mind:

I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry. When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened that case. I am now skeptical.
Now why exactly would someone with first hand experience go from being a true believer to a skeptic?

In the late 1990s, this was the evidence suggesting that carbon emissions caused global warming:

  1. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, proved in a laboratory a century ago.

  2. Global warming has been occurring for a century and concentrations of atmospheric carbon have been rising for a century. Correlation is not causation, but in a rough sense it looked like a fit.

  3. Ice core data, starting with the first cores from Vostok in 1985, allowed us to measure temperature and atmospheric carbon going back hundreds of thousands of years, through several dramatic global warming and cooling events. To the temporal resolution then available (data points more than a thousand years apart), atmospheric carbon and temperature moved in lockstep: they rose and fell together. Talk about a smoking gun!

  4. There were no other credible causes of global warming.

This evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we are absolutely certain when we apparently need to act now? So the idea that carbon emissions were causing global warming passed from the scientific community into the political realm. Research increased, bureaucracies were formed, international committees met, and eventually the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 to curb carbon emissions.

The evidence at the time lead him to believe Global Warming was a man made phenomenon. But soon the evidence started pointing away from this:

But starting in about 2000, the last three of the four pieces of evidence above fell away. Using the same point numbers as above:
  1. Better data shows that from 1940 to 1975 the earth cooled while atmospheric carbon increased. That 35 year non-correlation might eventually be explained by global dimming, only discovered in about 2003.
  2. The temporal resolution of the ice core data improved. By 2004 we knew that in past warming events, the temperature increases generally started about 800 years before the rises in atmospheric carbon. Causality does not run in the direction I had assumed in 1999 — it runs the opposite way!

It took several hundred years of warming for the oceans to give off more of their carbon. This proves that there is a cause of global warming other than atmospheric carbon. And while it is possible that rising atmospheric carbon in these past warmings then went on to cause more warming ("amplification" of the initial warming), the ice core data neither proves nor disproves this hypothesis.

  1. There is now a credible alternative suspect. In October 2006 Henrik Svensmark showed experimentally that cosmic rays cause cloud formation. Clouds have a net cooling effect, but for the last three decades there have been fewer clouds than normal because the sun's magnetic field, which shields us from cosmic rays, has been stronger than usual. So the earth heated up. It's too early to judge what fraction of global warming is caused by cosmic rays.

There is now no observational evidence that global warming is caused by carbon emissions. You would think that in over 20 years of intense investigation we would have found something. For example, greenhouse warming due to carbon emissions should warm the upper atmosphere faster than the lower atmosphere — but until 2006 the data showed the opposite, and thus that the greenhouse effect was not occurring! In 2006 better data allowed that the effect might be occurring, except in the tropics.

So, like a good scientist should do, once he got better information, he adjusted his beliefs in the direction that the evidence supported.

He also brings up a problem that I have previously pointed out, namely the problem of political entanglement with the science.

Let's return to the interaction between science and politics. By 2000 the political system had responded to the strong scientific case that carbon emissions caused global warming by creating thousands of bureaucratic and science jobs aimed at more research and at curbing carbon emissions.

But after 2000 the case against carbon emissions gradually got weaker. Future evidence might strengthen or further weaken it. At what stage of the weakening should the science community alert the political system that carbon emissions might not be the main cause of global warming?

None of the new evidence actually says that carbon emissions are definitely not the cause of global warming, there are lots of good science jobs potentially at stake, and if the scientific message wavers then it might be difficult to later recapture the attention of the political system. What has happened is that most research efforts since 1990 have assumed that carbon emissions were the cause, and the alternatives get much less research or political attention.

Unfortunately politics and science have become even more entangled. Climate change has become a partisan political issue, so positions become more entrenched. Politicians and the public prefer simple and less-nuanced messages. At the moment the political climate strongly blames carbon emissions, to the point of silencing critics.

He then goes on to assert his belief that science will win out in the end, but I personally have my doubts. There seem to be far too many scientists unwilling to follow the evidence which is increasingly pointing away from AGW and the would put a nix on all the money flowing their way.

Hopefully more like him will continue to do the right thing and put a stop to the madness.

Oh and one last thing he mentioned that is very important.

Science has not progressed by calculations and models, but by repeatable observations.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Click It or Ticket

Well, its that time of year again. I am sure you've send the endless stream of commercials sternly warning you that there is no escaping the all seeing eye of the law. Yep, Click It or Ticket is here again.

The program, created by the NHTSA, is ostensibly targeted at saving us from ourselves. Since the government likes to treat its citizens as property, rather than sovereign beings, this makes perfect sense to them and the nanny staters whose mission it is to use the government to protect us from ourselves.

Of course, in actual practice, the program is nothing more than a revenue grab. Police departments nationwide salivate at the opportunity of windfall revenues from the issuance of citations. As usual in politics, it is more about the money than anything else.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Girl Friday - 051807

This weeks Girl Friday is a study in the elegance of the female form:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nickle Plated Epiphany

It is amazing the clarity of thought having a man with a gun chasing you can bring to even "true believers".

One such case is that of Michael DeBose (D-Cleveland). He was among those that just knew that people shouldn't be able to carry guns to defend themselves:

DeBose voted his conscience. He feared that CCW permits would lead to a massive influx of new guns in the streets and a jump in gun violence. He feared that Cleveland would become the O.K. Corral, patrolled by legions of freshly minted permit holders.
At least until he was chased by a man with a gun:

"The tall one reached in his pocket and pulled out a silver gun. And they both started running towards me."

"At first I just backed up, but then I turned around and started running and screaming."

"When I started running, the short boy stopped chasing and went back to the car. But the tall boy with the gun kept following me. I ran to the corner house and started banging on Mrs. Jones' door."

Now he sees the light:

"I was wrong," he said Friday.

"I'm going to get a permit and so is my wife.

"I've changed my mind. You need a way to protect yourself and your family.

"I don't want to hurt anyone. But I never again want to be in the position where I'm approached by someone with a gun and I don't have one."

DeBose said he knows that a gun doesn't solve Cleveland's violence problem; it's merely a street equalizer.

"There are too many people who are just evil and mean-spirited. They will hurt you for no reason. If more people were packing guns, it might serve as a deterrent.

Better late than never I guess.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Government Funded Science

As a follow up to one of my points in this post, namely the problem with government funding of science, be sure to go check out this piece by Robert Higgs over at LewRockwell.com:
When your research implies a "need" for drastic government action to avert a looming disaster or to allay some dire existing problem, government bureaucrats and legislators (can you say "earmarks"?) are more likely to approve it. If the managers at the NSF, NIH, and other government funding agencies gave great amounts of money to scientists whose research implies that no disaster looms or no dire problem now exists or even that although a problem exists, no currently feasible government policy can do anything to solve it without creating greater problems in the process, members of Congress would be much less inclined to throw money at the agency, with all the consequences that an appropriations cutback implies for bureaucratic thriving. No one has to explain all these things to the parties involved; they are not idiots, and they understand how the wheels are greased in their tight little worlds.
Be sure to read the whole thing.

Libertine vs Libertarian

One of the most common things that I run across when either directly discussing political philosophy or reading others discussion of it is the conflation of libertine with libertarian, especially, but not only, among conservatives. However, they are by no means the same and should not be treated as such by anyone that considers themselves to be informed.

When I hear the term libertine, it is not great libertarian thinkers such as Bastiat, Rand and Mises that come to mind. Rather I think of people such as the Marquis de Sade, Ami Perrin or John Wilmot. I think of rejection of imposed religious morals and sexual freedom exercised to the utmost extremes.

When I hear the term libertarian, on the other hand, I think of personal freedom from government coercion and laissez-faire capitalism. I also think of personal responsibility. To be sure, I see how it could be easy for those opposed to ideas such as the legalization of drugs and prostitution to confuse libertarian advocacy for the legality of such things for libertine philosophy, but only if they were not being intellectually honest with themselves.

The fact that a libertarian may call for legalization of such things does not mean that he is rejecting social standards, it means that he is rejecting the forced implementation of those standards via government coercion.

To be sure, there may well be libertine libertarians, but the two are distinct philosophies and should be treated as such.

Turtle Bay Perfidy

I gave up some years ago trying to view the United Nations as a serious body whose intent was to accomplish serious things. The idea behind the founding of the UN was a noble one, but noble ideas from yesteryear have not been able to save the UN from the fatal flaws of its charter.

These flaws have been used time and again to not only render the organization useless in accomplishing it various stated goals, but also to turn it into a stick with which second rate thugs and dictators can smack the West in general and the US in specific, a task in which they are gleefully joined by nations such as France looking to exercise a position of world power that they haven't had in hundreds of years.

The latest in a long line of various corruptions, scandals and inconceivable actions involve Zimbabwe and Belarus, two countries ruled by ruthless thugs.

Zimbabwe was recently chosen to lead the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. That's right the same Zimbabwe that, under the foul hand of Robert Mugabe has gone from a shining example for all of Africa, to among the worst of a long line of corrupt hellholes on that continent. As Peter Brookes points out:

The former British colony was once an outstanding example of African development. But then dictator Robert Mugabe began to fear losing his grip on political power - setting out to destroy domestic threats to his rule through land seizures and redistribution. The result? The once-prosperous country's economy has shrunk 40 percent since 2000 - with no end in sight. Years of consecutive negative growth and inflation (at over 2,000 percent annually) are the world's highest; 80 percent of the populace is unemployed and/or lives below the poverty line.

And a nation that used to be Africa's prime food exporter now faces widespread hunger. As many as 4 million have left the country, mostly for South Africa, putting Zimbabwe on par with Sudan's Darfur in refugee terms.

Life expectancy has plummeted - where once the average newborn would live into his or her 60s, that infant now survives only to his or her 30s. A population that should be 18 to 20 million is just 11 million - with a reported 1.3 million orphans.
This is a country that should be leading a commission devoted to smart economic development? What a joke! Well, it would be a joke if it wasn't so tragic.

Belarus, which is ruled by the Soviet wannabe thug Alexander Lukashenko, is about to be chosen to head the UN Human Rights Council. Belarus is so bad in fact that even many of the usually feckless human rights organizations are opposing this move, but this is the same council that was headed by Libya, so don't expect such opposition to be headed.

While none of this surprises me, I am continuously surprised that so many people still think the UN can be taken seriously as the sole purveyor of international legitimacy. The time for the US to do the right thing and completely abandon the UN and its failed system has long since passed, but there are just too many people in this country that are willing to overlook things such as the above situations, the mass corruption, and everything else wrong with the UN simply because they enjoy seeing the US beat about the head and shoulders by thugs. It doesn't matter to them how much the world suffers so long as the US is "kept in its place".

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cowardly Punks

I don't know how many of you have seen the video of the elderly gentleman beaten by the carjacking thug, but here it is:

This is the kind of thing that makes me sick. Not only is the guy that did this a cowardly bastard, but so are the jackasses that just sat by and watched it happen. I haven't checked yet, but you just know that somewhere, some idiot is making excuses for this thugs, blaming rich people or some other such nonsense.