Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Flippin' off the Eiffel Tower

So the Eiffel Tower is going to have its lights turned off for 5 minutes this friday in "recognition of" Global Warming, presumably of the anthropogenic variety.

Seems the end of some study/summit in France will be here.

Oddly, this illustrates something that I've long suspected is true. Activism is more about public moral preening than it is about actually taking real action. Turning off the Eiffel lights, which use about ~650 mwh of electricity a year -- for 5 minutes -- is a public spectacle, and it will get lots of furrowy-browed nods and "mmm-hmmm's" and stroked chins from various sectors of society.

But let's think about this. If you were REALLY concerned about Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and you REALLY wanted to do something about it....

Why 5 minutes?

They're going to turn them off for 5 minutes to recognize the alleged dire danger we're all in -- and then they are going to turn them back on.

What purpose do the lights on the nighttime Eiffel Tower serve? Do we really need them on at all, save some safety lighting at the bottom and a blinking red light for aircraft at the top? If AGW is such a huge problem and you're that concerned about it -- why not get rid of them altogether?

1 minute is 1/525600 of a year, meaning 5 minutes is 1/105120 of a year. To be fair, the lights are presumably only on at night, so 5 minutes should be approximately 1/5250 of the time they are on all year. So they're saving 0.000019026 of the total energy those lights burn per year, or 0.012 mwh. To put that in perspective, that's 12 kwh. The average American household uses ~ 9,000 kwh of electricity per year, or 9 mwh. Turning them off for 5 minutes saves 0.13%, or 0.0013 of that (for the math-challenged, that's not 13% -- that's point one three percent, or thirteen hundredths of a percent). Woah. Save the Planet, man!

The Eiffel Tower's night lights display uses as much electricity per year as 65-70 US households, and they could save all of that earth-damaging energy by just not having them on at all!

But it's not about saving the planet. It's about drawing attention to yourself for talking about it -- and pats on the head, with furrowy browed nods of approval. You told everyone about it, now it's up to someone else to, you know, actually do something practical about it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Climate Change. Take Action Now!

Government had better take action soon on Climate Change. Yep, scientists were saying this TWENTY SEVEN YEARS AGO!

Newsweek, April 28, 1975
Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects [...]

Scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.

From the article in the Science section "The Cooling World".

Think about this, folks. They were talking about things like covering the ice caps with soot and diverting arctic rivers. Why, oh why didn't they take action?

And aren't global warming believers glad they didn't?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Another political orientation quiz

Saw Morgan took these quizzes -- and so I decided what the heck.

This really comes as no surprise -- I object to any Facist categorization since I don't believe in totalitarian government in any way, but here are my results:

I was quite comforted to see myself placed over Thomas Jefferson's heart on the "Famous People" view.

And to the other quiz:

I thought question number seven on America "holding a hostile attitude" toward evolution was a tough one to answer -- mostly because I don't believe the premise of the question. The question was worded sympathetically to the study, which I'm sure was done to try to embarass Americans who don't believe in it. There really wasn't an answer I agreed with in the choices. I had to go with the last explanation just to give an answer, but it wasn't a good fit.

Update: Brother Jeffmon, who placed near Jefferson's left ear, agrees that the second quiz is unanswerable.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Couple of good ones from Sowell

The man has a way of cutting to the core of an issue. From his article: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.
  • Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination.

  • Some people seem to think that we live in more "liberated" times, when all that has happened is that one set of taboos has been replaced by another and more intolerantly enforced set of taboos.

Argument Stoppers

Ok, here's a great one from Robert Spencer ... the next time someone starts spouting off about America causing poverty and poverty causes Jihad....

If poverty causes jihad, why isn't Haiti teeming with suicide bombers?

That oughta shut 'em up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Professional Protesters




On second thought. I give. Way. I mean... it was bound to happen sooner or later. Protestors to ugly? To lazy? Don't appeal to the demographic group you'd like people to identify with?

Hire some.

Things that bug me bug Liz, too

Liz Cheney chimes in, underscoring my point in Things That Bug Me, #1

· Beware the polls. In November the American people expressed serious concerns about Iraq (and about Republican corruption and scandals). They did not say that they want us to lose this war. They did not say that they want us to allow Iraq to become a base for al-Qaeda to conduct global terrorist operations. They did not say that they would rather we fight the terrorists here at home. Until you see a poll that asks those questions, don't use election results as an excuse to retreat.

Liz Cheney is former principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. And yes, she's related. She's Dick & Lynn's eldest daughter.

Is America Ready?

I predict that this election will quickly be boiled down by the Democrats and the Press (but I repeat myself) into: "Is America ready to elect a woman President?"

If you're against her, you are a Neanderthal throwback sexist. Your only real choice, to prove your Holy Progressive Open-Mindedness™ would be to vote for her.

It will be said, if she is not elected, that America is too "backward".

As if we are not allowed to consider whether or not we want her to represent us based on, say, issues we may or may not agree with her on. Nope. She's a woman. If you don't vote her in, you're a caveperson.

Much is being made... by the press ... about the first black head coach(es) to make the Superbowl. Frankly, it never occurred to me that I should make anything of it. Two qualified men coached their teams well and they made the Superbowl. It does not matter to me what their racial origin is. Isn't this the way it's supposed to be?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dudes, in my world, that day is here, if you let it be. The reporter asked a man who has spent the last decade or so promoting black coaches if one day it won't be a big deal when a black coach makes or wins the Superbowl. I thought "yeah, the day folks in the press decide not to make it one." Because as far as I can tell, it isn't a big deal to anyone else.

Interestingly, in the same report it was pointed out that 70% of professional football players are black. This was mentioned to point out the disparity between the percentage of players and the percentage of coaches of color -- an obvious sign that The Man™ is at work here.

Completely missing was any shock that, in a country that's around 13% African American, 70% of people in a certain profession are ... African American. Note that I don't have a problem with those statistics -- if the better athletes are black, then they should make the team. And they do. It's the selectively applied criticism that I find ... um ... hypocritical.

Ultimately, the most satisfying way to diffuse this casting of the election is "are you sexist or not?" would be for the Republicans to throw up a female candidate for president. It would be even richer if she were black. Too bad Condi doesn't want to run. There has to be someone else out there.

This alone should keep her from getting elected

How... Orwellian.

"We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society."
-Hillary Clinton, 1993

Key word is "should". For reference:
"Comrades! We must abolish the cult of the individual decisively, once and for all."
-Nikita Khrushchev , February 25, 1956

Things that bug me, #1

Polls. But in this particular case, I'm narrowing it down to the poll question "Do you approve or disapprove of the direction the country is headed?" -- because it is a question devoid of context - and therefore can only have a meaningless answer.

About the only meaningful thing you can glean from an "approve" or "disapprove" answer is that the respondant is happy or unhappy about ... something.

Polls questions like this are designed to be used to argue -- pretty much anything you want, since the question and answer are devoid of meaning, you can apply the answer to anything you like.

"61% responded they disapprove of the direction the country is headed, so we should pull out of Iraq as soon as possible."

Now maybe I was thinking about the popularity of Paris Hilton and/or reality shows when I said I disapproved of the direction the country was headed. Perhaps I was worried about the trend away from state soveriegnty to power grabs at the federal government level. Maybe I think that government by Judicial fiat is very far from what Jefferson & Adams had in mind. Perhaps I disapprove of one-way multiculturalism. But no. This person wants us out of Iraq, so that's clearly what it means. We're in Iraq. Ergo if you said you are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, that means you want us out.

It can be applied to anything that "is" that you would like to change. Before last fall's election, it was used to "show" that Americans wanted a Democratic-controlled congress. But now that we have one, if we took that poll today it would almost certainly not mean that anymore. It must mean we hate Bush, or we don't like the last two Supreme Court appointments, or that we want an open border with Mexico and wish to grant citizenship to anyone who makes it across.

Perhaps it means that America really wants us to be subject to some world government body such as the U.N. . Maybe it means we should capitulate to Islamists. Or that we should all become Vegans. See? It doesn't matter. It can mean anything you want it to.

"61% disapprove of 'the direction the country is headed'" -- therefore, do what I say.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sliding down the slippery slope

Lately there has been a lot of talk on the Left about censoring critics of the AGW (anthropological global warming) theory from Al Gore to US Senators Rockerfeller and Snowe, and even the Weather Channel's Dr. Heidi Cullen (via Hog On Ice) calling for the AMS to withdraw endorsement from any scientist who questions AGW. Free speech advocates on the right side of the fence criticized the senators from as far away as England, but it doesn't really seem to make a dent in their fervent religious belief in AGW.

Then I saw this. Yep, that's right. The academic psychology elite have decided that it's official now. Conservative ideology is a mental pathology. (Do go read it, it's a very good article discussing the much lauded ... ahem ... "study").

Do you see where we're headed? I was discussing this with a well educated and well read friend of mine (who I'll leave anonymous since I haven't asked his permission) ... he had this to say:
There is a striking analogy to a trend in the U.S.S.R. in the decade before its well-earned collapse: what to do about internal critics? The earlier approach under Lenin and Stalin would be to arrest critics, perhaps give them a show trial, and then execute them publicly. More common would be a bullet through the neck in the dark woods. Then the Soviets became more sophisticated: if you held alternative views to Marxist orthodoxy, it must be because you suffered a mental aberration from seeing what was so patently true. Hence the rise of political psychiatry in the USSR, which could result in a "patient" being confined in a sanatorium. Of course, we could turn the same argument around and say that those who espouse Left-Liberalism suffer from uncontrollable delusions and sociopathy.
But we don't (outside of frustrated hyperbole).

Liberals routinely dismiss arguments simply on the grounds that the person espousing them is a "conservative", or that the argument is in agreement with another known conservative, or simply because the argument itself sounds "conservative". It is thus not necessary for the liberal to argue a case on its merits. I mean, hey, it's "conservative". Let's not waste our time, that man needs help! Now we have people actually laying academic groundwork to say this is officially a mental pathology. It's like being schizophrenic.

Not that psychology is even a science, or anything.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Absolute insanity from the Euroweenies & the U.N. Weenies on killing Al Queda in Somalia.

From the BBC:

Somalia's interim President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, said the US had the right to bomb those who had attacked its embassies.

But Italy - the former colonial power in central and southern Somalia - condemned the US strikes.

Italian Foreign minister Massimo d'Alema said Rome opposed "unilateral initiatives that could spark new tensions".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed "concern" that the air strikes could lead to an escalation of hostilities.

So it would appear that "fighting back" means "escalating", and that "unilateral" means "the United States is actively involved".

Apparently when a group of Muslims, no matter how much they do or do not represent the bulk of Muslims -- embarks on a stated mission of World Conquest, we dare not fight it lest we make them mad.


See, the worst thing in the world of the Left is "Hostilities". And "hostilities" will go away if you refuse to engage in them, or so goes the Progressivist Religious Belief. "Turn the other cheek" has its limits. I doubt Christ was advocating cultural suicide. If we stop fighting, they are encouraged and fight harder. If we fight, they are enraged and keep fighting, but at least they are dying in the process and, in the long run if we are consistent about it, they will have a much harder time recruiting.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Just in case you were wondering

Apparently the violence in Iraq is still worsening, as I heard on an NPR report this morning.

It's been worsening every day for, what, almost 4 years now? I can hardly remember a day when I haven't heard the violence in Iraq referred to by someone in the press (most often NPR, since that's what's on in the car) as "worsening".

It must be a black, smoldering, lifeless pit by now.

Anyway, to further illustrate the press' outlook on the world, I'd like to steer you back to Morgan for another insightful post: Saddam Hussein's Last Negotiation

And they don’t see things the way “real” people do. It’s like the old joke where God decides to end the world, and they see women-and-minorities as hardest hit. Superman himself could be swooping around Iraq fishing kittens out of trees, and they’d say that was botched too.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Paul Lutus on Victimhood

I really need to link Paul. I've read most of his writing over the years, and he's one of my favorite modern-day philosphers (though he doesn't present himself as one, he is one nonetheless).

Anyway, after a long hiatus I decided to go back and hit his site again to see if anything had changed. It has. He's reformatted it, but more importantly, he has a new essay out there that pretty much nails what I think is wrong with a bunch of people. Do go take a read. It'll be worth it.

Victimhood by Paul Lutus

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A bit of real Journalism

And in the New Yorker, no less! There may be hope.

As enlightening as this article is about the whole Enron fiasco, his paradigm of analytical method, puzzle vs mystery -- as well as the "external" (analogous) examples he uses -- is particularly interesting. His approach to the story is actually more impressive than the story itself. This guy actually thinks about stuff.

I would like to see this kind of thinking applied to debunk the "Bush Lied" theory.

Enron, intelligence, and the perils of too much information.

One of my favorite bits is this analogy he goes to (while illustrating what he means by the puzzle/mystery paradigm):

The analysts listened to the same speeches that anyone with a shortwave radio could listen to. They simply sat at their desks with headphones on, working their way through hours and hours of Nazi broadcasts. Then they tried to figure out how what the Nazis said publicly—about, for instance, the possibility of a renewed offensive against Russia—revealed what they felt about, say, invading Russia.
Ok, so I like it because it's deliciously snippy and snide, but the example and argument really does go much deeper than that. And the analogy really does apply to how he is suggesting we're going to have to tackle analyzing companies, too. And probably lots of other things as well. Like "insurgents" and Al-Queda.

It is interesting, getting back to Enron, to note -- that he's saying here that Enron did not, in fact, really hide anything (in the sense of denying of failing to disclose anything). They relied on the complexity of the detail -- that nobody would take the time to figure out what they were doing by looking at their very public and largely accurate reports (and it worked for a while). This kind of "Puzzle" is better handled by using the "Mystery" approach because there is too much information. You can't see the forest for the trees. Which is basically what we did in Iraq. And it's basically how I believe much of Modern Intelligence works.

A very interesting tidbit comes up near the end where he talks about some Economic students analzying Enron in 1998 -- two or so years before the big collapse, and their findings using some standard economics analysis tools (and using the "mystery" approach):

The students’ conclusions were straightforward. Enron was pursuing a far riskier strategy than its competitors. There were clear signs that “Enron may be manipulating its earnings.” The stock was then at forty-eight dollars—at its peak, two years later, it was almost double that—but the students found it over-valued. The report was posted on the Web site of the Cornell University business school, where it has been, ever since, for anyone who cared to read twenty-three pages of analysis. The students’ recommendation was on the first page, in boldfaced type: “Sell.”

Compare that to the timeline for the Enron collapse.

Timeline for Enron Collapse

Not saying nobody did anything wrong here, mind you. But it certainly shines a different light on it than the popular version of the story.

At any rate, that really gets away from what impressed me most about the article -- the tools he used for his analyis, and how they might be applied to other things. Eye-opening.