November 2009 Archives
I am sure you have heard by now that human-caused Global Warming is settled science. The debate is closed. Everybody knows this. All reputable scientists are in agreement. There is nothing to see here. Move along.
What you may not have heard is that the consensus seems to be that the humans aren't causing the globe to heat up. Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) appears to be a theory in decline, as more and more climate data are telling us that the planet has been cooling over the past decade, despite ever-increasing levels of so-called greenhouse gases. In fact, the hottest years (according to NASA) were before 1940, which also happens to be prior to the explosion of CO2-producing industrialization.
If you listen to our politicians, not only is AGW happening, it is accelerating so fast that we NEED TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE AND WE ALL DIE! They are meeting in Copenhagen next month to hammer out an agreement which will dictate how much greenhouse gas each nation will be allowed to produce. "Failure is not an option," we are ominously told. "We must act now." Since the governments of most Western countries are not in charge of industrial production, what this agreement will amount to is a limit on free enterprise and individual liberties, as restrictions will be placed on businesses and individuals rather than on governments.
I might be on board with saving the planet if I thought that AGW was indeed universally-accepted among people who should know. But, apparently, it isn't. Recently, hackers broke into the servers at the influential Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia, in the UK. They downloaded thousands of documents and e-mails, some of which have revealed not only a clear AGW bias, but also a culture of what in any other line of work would be called corruption. For example, in one e-mail exchange a researcher tells a colleague of a "trick" he employed (given to him by a third researcher who evidently employs it regularly) to hide the fact that temperatures were declining in the period he was studying. In another, he laments the fact that the evidence (quite to his chagrin) points to lower rather than higher temperatures this decade.
But data manipulation and bias are not the only misdeeds exposed by the stolen e-mails. Several exchanges show the scientists telling their colleagues that they have either destroyed or intended to destroy documents and e-mails, in order to thwart their being revealed to the public. See, the UK has a Freedom of Information Act, and people skeptical of AGW had been requesting to see data and communications at the CRU. Conspiring to destroy data protected by the law might land these folks in all sorts of hot water, but it also belies their claims of being impartial investigators, seeking after scientific truth.
"But, Fat Kid," you are probably thinking to yourself, "these scientists at the CRU are well-regarded, world-renowned researchers. After all, they are published in peer-reviewed journals while their detractors aren't." The stolen documents also demonstrate how the CRU scientists systematically black-balled those climate researchers who either disagreed with their theories or were deemed "unpredictable." Since they were peer-reviewers for some scholarly journals, the black-balling efforts included rejecting papers from those outside their clique. They also organized a boycott of the journals that would publish those papers. They went as far as to keep lists of undesirables and sympathetic members of the media, feeding stories and rumors to their friends in the press trying to discredit their enemies. They established a set of rules to shut out others, and based their credibility upon circular reasoning: they are credible because they are published; they are published because they are credible. In this way, they were able to enforce a "consensus."
But surely, a free and skeptical press would ferret out any malfeasance by climate researchers, wouldn't it? Think again. The BBC had the story a full month before the hackers went public, but sat on it. And no major American news organization has picked the story up and run with it. But that may change. As more and more people "in the know" feel empowered to come forward with their own insider knowledge, the press may not have any choice. And this whistleblower phase may already be beginning. New Zealand's CLimate Change Minister is under fire, facing calls to explain why his agency massaged data to show warming that isn't happening.
In retrospect, it should have been obvious years ago that the climate investigators knew that the globe was cooling rather than heating. When the term "Climate Change" was substituted for "Global Warming," warning bells should have started to ring. As evidence of cooling would inevitably become public, the alarmists needed a different tactic. They could not simply say "Oops. Never mind. Our theory was wrong." That would mean losing all their moral authority, research money, and sense of importance. Claiming that increasing carbon dioxide levels correlate directly to higher temperatures is pretty easy to prove or disprove. By making the incredible leap of logic that the rising levels would cause Rapid Climate Change that could result in a lowering of temperatures, the alarmists suddenly had a corner on the climate racket. Hot summer? Blame it on climate change. Cold winter? Climate change. Busy hurricane season? Climate change. No hurricanes? Climate change. It is the gift that keeps giving.
The other clue that AGW was being debunked was the ever-increasing shrillness of those who have a stake in perpetuating fear over AGW. Repeated claims of "There is a consensus" and "It's settled science" were clearly premature. Gravity is settled science. The motion of heavenly bodies is settled science. Oxygen and water mixing with iron to create rust is settled science. Global Warming/Climate Change is anything but settled. Yet, the arm twisting continues. The most hard line of the AGW-ites - those whose blind passion and unrepentant desire to stick their hands in other's pockets would make a televangelist proud - refer to AGW skeptics as "deniers", comparing them to people who deny the Holocaust. It is a truism that the weaker the argument, the louder the person making the argument. It certainly applies here. And that is "settled science."
Aerosmith has always been one of those "supergroups" that I could kind of get into, but not really deeply into. I like songs like "Dream On" and "Sweet Emotion" but if the band fell off the face of the world tomorrow, I wouldn't have to go find myself some support group to cope. Still, my interest was piqued when guitarist Joe Perry told reporters last week that front man Steven Tyler was leaving the band. (As an aside, is it just me or does anyone else think that Liv Tyler's mother must be drop dead gorgeous to neutralize daddy's contribution to her gene pool? I mean, Steven Tyler looks like he fell out of the Ugly Tree and hit every branch on the way down.)
What jumped out me from one of the stories was that Tyler said he really wasn't quitting for good, but wanted Aerosmith to take a two year hiatus.
Steven Tyler is 61 years old in human years. In rock star years, he like 437. Sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll have not been kind to him. He doesn't have two revolutions of the sun to spare - he's already living on borrowed time. Think about it - if Steven Tyler dropped dead tomorrow of a heart attack, would anybody's first thought be "But he was so young! How could this happen?" Of course not.
Joe Perry said that the band will be looking for a new lead singer. I wonder what Sammy Hagar is doing right now.
In the wake of the horrific shooting last week at Fort Hood, Texas, in which a US Army Major walked into a military facility and gunned down more than a dozen people, Dept. of homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano immediately took to the airwaves to let us all know that she is hard at work. She is ordering her department to determine whether Major Nidal Malik Hasan acted alone or if he was part of a larger movement of home grown terror. "Every resource available to the federal government is being used to determine Hasan's connections to foreign or domestic terror groups, and how we failed to pick this up on our radar and prevent this terrible tragedy."
I was just channeling the feed from the What Should Have Happened If Our Government Weren't So Full Of Clueless Tools Network. Back here on Terra Firma, what Napolitano actually did do was to announce that she was alerting her agency to be on the lookout for any sort of anti-Muslim backlash.
Of course, Napolitano wasn't alone in having her first thought turning to how normal Americans would react rather than to the potential presence of a larger terror cell working in the armed forces. Blogger, military vet, and Muslim convert Robert Salaam told the AP that his immediate thought upon hearing of the carnage was "I hope this wasn't a Muslim." He didn't want to have to deal with being associated with violence committed by a fellow Muslim. "We're apologizing for people we don't know."
Apologizing for people we don't know. Hmmmm. That got me to thinking.....Isn't that just what this wave of terrorism is all about -holding people you don't know responsible for things they didn't do and have absolutely no control over? For example, I don't think any of the passengers on any of the four hijacked planes that crashed on 9/11 had any control over US foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia or Israel, yet they were being held responsible by those seeking to punish the United States. Likewise, the innocent train passengers in Madrid and London were simply going about their lives, uninvolved in the war in Iraq, yet Muslim terrorists held them responsible by murdering them.
The problem with Islam today is that too many of its adherents are stuck where 10th century Christianity was mired: hostile to non-believers, ruthlessly crushing dissent by fellow-believers, oppressive of women, violently opposed to progress and change, and bent on ruling the world. And it isn't just poor, uneducated people on the other side of the world who are being taught to violently oppose those different from themselves. Major Hasan had reportedly given a lecture to dozens of fellow doctors at Walter Reed Medical Center, during which he declared that non-Muslims were infidels who deserved to have their throats slit. The Major was born in the United States, had been educated in the United States, and had (being an educated American) a pretty high standard of living. He does not fit the profile of someone who is lashing out at the Great Satan due to his bad lot in life.
Many have been quick to opine that Major Hasan was a madman, motivated by stress and not religion. Geraldo Rivera stated on the air that it wasn't Islam driving him to kill, but might have been a toothache for all Rivera knew. Of course, the fact that he worked as a psychiatrist in a controlled military environment for years and none of the other mental health professionals picked up on the fact that this guy was a madman disturbs me. But what disturbs me even more is that he did show signs of being a radical fundamentalist with radical beliefs, but nobody did anything about it. The possibilities are both troublesome: either our military failed to identify a nutcase working in the mental health field, or they ignored warnings that this guy hated America and non-Muslims and believed that infidels deserves a cruel death.
What is the solution? I am no great thinker, but the answer seems pretty clear to me. The cause of all this terror and hate is radical clerics preaching hate. We are told over and over and over again that the Koran is being misinterpreted by these guys and that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and tolerant (and, for what it's worth, every Muslim I have ever known on a personal level has fit this description). Moderate Islam must assert itself and become the dominant strain in every single mosque in the world. That is something that I don't think America can take the lead on. But it must be done. If we are going to coexist, Islam has to have an intellectual and religious Enlightenment akin to the 18th century movement in the West, which ushered in more respect for the rights of the individual human, and dampened the power of the Church.
The West cannot change Islam from without. We simply can't kill enough bad guys to make this all stop. But what we can do - and what we must do - to help ourselves is twofold. First, we can't do what Janet Napolitano obviously thinks we will and that is to blame moderate and liberal Muslims for the deeds of the radicals. It would only hinder any movement towards Westernization and assimilation. Secondly (and conversely) we can't stick our heads in the sand and pretend that there aren't a number of anti-American, anti-infidel radical Muslims who are actively plotting to kill innocent Americans. We need to call a spade a spade and identify acts of terror as such, rather than fantasizing that men who shout "Allahu Akbar!" while shooting helpless victims are merely deranged.
Another Halloween has come and gone. My favorite times were when all three kids were old enough to scrounge for free candy but too young to count or remember how much was in their bags when they went to bed. They never complained about the "Candy Tax" I imposed, either. Sadly, my youngest is the only one who really trick-or-treats anymore, and she is too good at math to allow her daddy to help himself to Kit Kats and Reece's peanut butter cups.
Some expressions that have outlived their charm and need to be sent the way of "talk to the hand" and "gag me with a spoon": "Really?!" as in "Really?! You're still on the couch?", "Don't be that guy", "Fail!," (don't forget it's little brother "Epic Fail!") and "Much?" as in "Grouchy much?"
A lot of my fellow conservatives are up in arms over plans by several different levels of government to require nutrition information on fast food menus. They think that it is the Nanny State poking its nose into places it doesn't belong. I am of the opposite mind, believing that one of the very few useful functions of government is to assist consumers in having all the information they need to make an informed decision.
The older I get, the less tolerance I have for drama. Save the drama for your mama.
I am very glad that bike helmets for kids have become more fashionable and "normal." When I was a wee lad, you'd get beat up by the local neighborhood knuckleheads for wearing a helmet or pads while riding, so I never did. But after wiping out on my bike at high speed and bouncing on my helmet-adorned melon, I fully appreciate the protection they offer.
Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate. What's up with that?
Why do we take so seriously the political opinions of any Hollywood actor or rock star? I remember when Meryl Streep testified before Congress on the dangers of Alar. I kept waiting for the caption under her picture to read "Meryl Streep - Chemical Engineer" but it never did. She makes her living pretending to be other people and speaking things that other people have written for her. Most of these politically-active entertainers did not waste their youth studying in the career fields of which they proclaim their expertise. They simply parrot what some activist group has told them and written for them. At least Alice Cooper got it right when he said that anybody who gets his political views by listening to an actor or a rock star is a moron.