Archive for December, 2014

Anthropogencic catastrophic climate change: Pope gives hope?

Phil Plait of the Slate shows why the issue is a problem in his praise of the Pope. See Pope Francis to Catholics: It’s time to take action on global warming

“The basic problem here, the very basic problem, is that arguing over climate change isn’t based on science, it’s based on ideology. The facts are overwhelmingly clear that the globe is warming, creating catastrophic effects from pole to pole, and people who deny that are shutting their eyes tightly and sticking their fingers in their ears.”

There is a problem in asserting that views on the issue are based on ideology and then saying “facts are overwhelmingly clear” as if maybe it isn’t. Then there’s the usual ad hominem to add icing to the diatribe.

One clear fact is that there isn’t disagreement about some measures of global temperature. Responsible scientists agree that this measure has increased about 1C over the past century. They also agree that there hasn’t been any such increase in this measure for the last 15 – 20 years. Another fact is that there haven’t been any catastrophic effects from “pole to pole”: polar ice hasn’t melted, hurricanes have been rather mild of recent years, no one has been able to show any statistical patterns in changes in the occurrence of any significant weather. The disagreements come in the form of how global temperature is measured and the quality of that measure, why models used to forecast climate temperatures are off base, the weighting of various climate feedback mechanism and the impact of human influences on them, and the linkage between nominal variations in climate and weather and long term trends.

Ideology would explain the Pope getting involved but an ideology based on dishonesty is the work of the devil and that should be a significant concern to any religious leader.

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The protest business

There can be some debate about whether peaceful and lawful protest is a good way to garner public support for a cause. The case gets weaker when the protest leaves the ‘peaceful and lawful’ arena. It gets weaker still when it’s composed of rent-a-mob characters and when the cause seems to be a bit dishonest. Jazz Shaw notes some of these problems in speculating about The next Michael Brown.

“Colin Flaherty has a column at American Thinker this week which should provide some important insight for those watching the unraveling of the relationship between America’s first responders and residents of high crime rate communities. In it, he discusses the disturbing trend of activist organizations and seemingly prefabricated crowds of protesters showing up within hours any time there is a police shooting these days. And to be clear, this includes incidents where there is no conceivable basis for questioning the shooting, such as when one cop already has three bullets in him.”

“Some of these protests turn violent, though not all. But the common thread in all these situations is that a protest most certainly does take place. It happens quickly and there is a generally a representative from Al Sharpton’s National Action Network – or some similar organization – on hand before you could possibly imagine they could have gotten there.”

The instigation for the ‘race riots’ is fabricated. The targets seem to be more towards economic systems and authorities rather than racism or brutality. Formation is too convenient and those who service the riots are getting to where they recognize participants. It looks as if there is a protest business that is well organized, well funded, and on careful watch for when to slide in a few players to get things going. What isn’t so clear is just what they are protesting.

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A recipe for American decline

Brian Wise says Blocking Uber’s innovation is not the American way

“Saving Uber isn’t just about one company, but giving all innovative products that aim to respond to market demand a fair chance to thrive without unjust government interference. At a time when an explosion of technology is changing the marketplace virtually every day, we either innovate or we fall victim to a debilitating self-restraint that means less productivity and a lower quality of life for everyone.”

The trade licensing issue fits in here as well. Nevada is especially pernicious in its assault on small business in the many license requirements for low skill vocational activities. These are supposedly to ‘protect the public’ but that was in a day before you could easily check up on companies and individuals regarding their service capabilities and customer satisfaction.

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Hate

Consider Stowe Boyd:

“What the Scandinavians know: high taxes and generous social benefits do not lead to higher unemployment. On the contrary. But try to tell that to wackazoid conservatives who simply won’t look at the data.”

Then the implications from An Academic’s Shocking View: “I Hate Republicans” which concerns Professor Susan J. Douglas’ expressed hatred of Republicans.

“It’s possible to confront a “single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview” and respond with something besides hate. That, in fact, is what I am doing in this very post — and it’s something Republicans (and Democrats less hateful than Ms. Douglas) do all the time in this country.”

“I have not read the “studies” Douglas cites, but it’s clear that the qualities she describes are derisive terms for a world view that Thomas Sowell describes as “constrained.” “Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance
 of ambiguity” as well as “a need to avoid uncertainty” represent a philosophy that recognizes the importance of incentives, and favors order even if it potentially raises the chances of individual instances of injustice. “Resistance to change” represents a support for traditions that reflect common wisdom over ages. “Support for inequality” is a nasty and unfair slur against a philosophy that prizes equality of opportunity over equality of result — and recognizes that efforts to equalize results often result in government creating power imbalances among groups, and in unintended consequences that decrease the quality of life for everyone, including the least fortunate.

In short, Ms. Douglas, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy. While I don’t hate you, and I try not to hate even your ugly thoughts — because hate is a negative emotion that corrodes the soul — I certainly reject your hatred. I feel sorry for those who have to deal with someone so hateful. I feel sorry for your students, for your colleagues, for your neighbors, and everyone else who crosses your path and feels the sting of your nasty worldview.

And ultimately, I feel sorry for you — because you’re clearly proud of your hatred, which means you are unlikely to change. Which means you’re trapped — you have trapped yourself, that is — in a situation I don’t envy: a life driven by negative emotions and ugliness.”

Hate distorts. It leads people to defensiveness and that to a lack of intellectual integrity that can be seen in logical fallacies such as Boyd’s conclusion.

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A matter of intent or intent matters

Bruce Thornton thinks it is Sloppy Thinking About ‘Torture’ and explains why. Intentions matter. So does the actual law. Feelings can get in the way but due care needs to be taken so that they don’t mislead.

“Contrary to Noonan and McCain, and despite the dishonest rhetoric from our resentful allies, rivals, and enemies, the Senate report does not diminish America as a “force for good in the world,” a beacon of freedom, tolerance, and opportunity. That is why the U.S. is the emigrant’s favorite destination, why the U.S. is the go-to power for those countries in need when stricken by natural disasters or violent aggressors, and why the basic attitude of most of the world’s peoples is “Yankee go home, and take me with you.” The United States is in fact the “city on the hill,” the only world power in history that has used its power more for good than for ill. To think that reports of interrogation techniques used to save lives challenge the reality of American exceptionalism bespeaks a lack of confidence and faith not in our perfection, but in the fundamental goodness of America and its aims despite our occasional imperfections.”

What is not put on table in regards to intent is the intent behind the Senate report release. Those who put out the report are not very clear in regards to their motives and that tends to feed suspiciond. Arguing with ‘feel good’ rather than reason and fact don’t help much, either.

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Another ‘big lie” – bank bailout

It’s Hinderaker on the occupiers and their complaints about Wall Street and the bailout of big banks:

“For years, my friends in the banking industry told me that the federal government was forcing them to make bad loans. Mortgages were not the only such bad loans, but while they were the largest, they were also the least problematic from the banks’ standpoint, since the taxpayers, through Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, stood ready to buy them and assume the risk. The financial collapse of 2008 and the recession that followed were caused primarily by liberal policies enforced by the federal government that went back to the Carter administration.”

“”In what sense were banks “bailed out”? They weren’t “given” anything. Large banks were forced to take liquidity loans by the lender of last resort to prevent a bank run while the equity holders got mercilessly hammered in the market. Most “bankers” had huge amounts of their bonuses and net worth in options or in equity in the bank, respectively, which also became nearly worthless. Hundreds of thousands of “bankers” lost their jobs and will never work in finance again, most likely. This is a “bailout”?””

“”The bank liquidity programs were nothing like the bailout of GM or Chrysler, which were actually given money directly and indirectly, through special tax legislation creating a loophole worth about $45 billion in foregone taxes, most of which will never be recovered. And it was done in an irregular.””

“Of course, if the Democrats want to base their 2016 campaign on anti-bank populism, they will have to deal with the fact that the financial industry contributed more money to Barack Obama’s campaigns than any industry has contributed to any candidate in the nation’s history. Why might that be? The Democratic Party is, and has been for a long time, the party of Wall Street. The congruence between the Obama administration’s policies and Goldman Sachs’s interests is almost perfect.”

It’s where the money is and that means it is a rich target for political hacks who haven’t considered the morality of their ideology. The lack of intellectual integrity is a necessity in order to maintain the pretense, to believe the lie. That never turns out well.

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The Curse of Cassandra

Ken Allard says its Giving our enemies aid and comfort … but. of course, they don’t think so.

“By their deplorable conduct, the Senate Democrats not only aided our enemies but also undermined a tradition of bipartisan trust that has been the bedrock of intelligence oversight for more than a generation. Our recent elections have only begun the longer and more difficult process of putting things right.”

One only has to consider the recent rhetoric from countries such as ISIS, Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea to see who is gaining aid and comfort from the Democrat’s war on Bush and the CIA. It does worry some. It should probably worry many others.

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tortured politics

Persistence has its value but it really needs a bit of intellectual integrity to avoid damaging results. The Democrats are still trying to recover from their turn-around in 2003 in regards to the war on terror. The latest is a partisan political (the Senate is in a lame duck session of a Democratic Party majority) effort to excuse the mess. Jed Babbin, a former deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration, describes some of the problems in Feinstein’s tortured report — “It’s a political condemnation of CIA that thwarts interrogation of terrorists.”

“The “torture” report released Tuesday by California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is the latest attempt to prove that the George W. Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on a small number of terrorist prisoners amounted to torture and that the CIA lied to congress about them. It is a political condemnation of CIA conduct meant to erect another barrier to effective interrogation of terrorists, and it is wrong in its statement of the law.”

One of the issues is the attempt to redefine torture. A U.N. convention in 1994 prohibited it but was so vague that statute was needed to define it. The interpretation of that statute is what the left is trying to distort. On the right, the conclusion is that the techniques we use in training military personnel that do not produce lasting mental or physical harm. Another issue is the idea that the enhanced interrogation techniques did not produce useful intelligence. That is disputed by those who used information gained to stop attacks are even to find OBL.

The war on the NSA, the CIA, and other components of the U.S. spy community by the Left is damaging both in terms of ability to protect and in terms of international relationships with long term allies. 

Then there’s the current riot season. This also appears to be an attempt by leftist organizers to leverage current events with false propaganda in order to develop anti-capitalism protests and foment social unrest. 

The assault is in full force on several fronts. 

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What a drag

What separated the United States from a Peru or Nigeria or Mexico or Laos or Russia was the sanctity of the law, or the idea that from the highest elected officials to the least influential citizen, all were obligated to follow, according to their stations, the law. Under Obama, that sacred idea has been eroded. We live in a world of illegal immigration and amnesties, Ferguson mythologies, and alphabet government scandals, presided over by a president who not only does not tell the truth, but also seems to be saying to the public, “I say whatever I want, so get over it.”

when the law is a drag by Victor Davis Hanson.

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There are real heroes

Carl Rowan goes on a rant about the real heroes of Furguson. The inconvenient heroism of Witness No. 10“Eric Holder could learn respect for the law from a Brown shooting bystander”.

“Then we learned that some true heroes had chosen to rise up and tell the truth (supported by the forensics) about the shooting. Several community members, apparently all black, stepped forward to state clearly that Brown had charged at the policeman. He had not tried to surrender as some witnesses had falsely said. These people, such as Witness No. 10, chose to tell the truth about what they saw when doing so made them subject to social scorn and physical danger. They are true American patriots who will never get so much as a nod of appreciation from Mr. Holder or the useful idiots, black and white, who can’t accept the truth and who applaud while race hustlers like Al Sharpton compare Brown to slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman.”

There’s more: “facts caught up with the craven politicians who were trading on rumor and demagoguery” … “When a city is set on fire by looting criminals, I expect to see a furious attorney general declare that the full weight of the federal government will be brought to bear on the rioters” … “They have tried on the cloak of victimhood and found it to be very comfortable” …

obviously not happy. good rant. worth reading carefully.

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Anti-military propaganda: just for fun?

Carl Forsling provides a rant about how Onscreen Science Fiction Is Not Doing The Military Justice.

“Everyone likes watching an epic sci-fi battle. But whether it’s Star Trek’s Federation versus the Borg, Battlestar Galactica versus the Cylons, or the Rebel Alliance versus the Empire, most veterans are left wondering, “It’s like a thousand years in the future. Why are they fighting like it’s the Bronze Age or something?”

“One might think that these futuristic battles are just idle fun, and in a way they are. They allow us to fantasize about the way we wish war was — straightforward battles between good and evil, and not the inhuman, horrific spectacle as it actually is. Nonetheless, they shape the way the public looks at war today. Pop culture shapes the subconscious, which shapes public consciousness. Public “knowledge” of war comes in more ways than we realize. Most of the biggest onscreen battles in recent years have been science-fiction. More often than not, they ignore military innovation, real warfare strategy, and the grim reality of loss of life in battle.”

“Probably the biggest disservice though, is portraying death as completely cost free, both to the attacker and the attacked. Princess Leia personally witnessed the destruction of her entire planet — something that could be considered the Holocaust, the Mongol invasion, and Stalin’s purges put together and multiplied by a thousand — yet is nonchalantly kissing her brother on Hoth a few weeks later. Luke single handedly took out a small planet’s worth of Imperials on the Death Star. Sure, he probably feels justified in killing the Stormtroopers, but even he has to feel a twinge of guilt having wasted probably hundreds of innocent space janitors along with them.

“The day Luke Skywalker is shown talking in a veterans advocacy group about the trauma of losing his arm fighting his own father in hand-to-hand combat, maybe that will be the day we know the public has finally abandoned the illusion that war is painless … or glorious.”

In reality it is going towards one, carefully selected, shot to produce one kill. In the movies, you’d think it was Ghengis Kahn and the Mongol Hord. But then, reality would be boring and not much fun. The question is just how much of an impact the fiction has on perceptions of reality.

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The eternal search for the magic bullet: learning calculus and nutrition

David L. Katz Cooks, Kooks, Culture and Calculus: a Lesson in How We Treat Nutrition — “We don’t sanction a daily dose of hogwash about how to best learn calculus.”

“If we treated calculus the way we treat carbs or calories, no one would ever learn it. We would be too busy arguing over the best magical way to teach it.

Health, weight and nutrition are just as meritorious as, and more intimately relevant to more of us than, all these other subjects. They, too, are products of imperfect methods and knowledge that can be improved. But they are also products of established methods and considerable knowledge that can be applied right now, to stunningly good effect. If any other legitimate field of inquiry does not invite experts, pseudo-experts and non-experts alike to reinvent our knowledge and methods every day, and disparage everyone who came before – why does nutrition? Maybe it just doesn’t matter as much to us. After all, it’s only the construction material for the growing bodies of children we love.

We don’t sanction a daily dose of hogwash about how best to learn calculus with no investment of time, effort or study. But we tune in routinely to just such nonsense about health, weight and food. We squander the opportunity to use what we know. We allow far too many cooks and kooks into the kitchen, with the inevitable outcome: a culture awash in spoiled stew.”

The problem here is that calculus proficiency has better metrics. Errors in a mathematical proof are much more concrete than errors in nutritional know-how. That is why you don’t get so much hogwash about calculus as you do about nutrition and health — or about how to learn. In education there is a fundamental issue of the difference between knowledge and skill that is often clouded. You can “learn” a new language but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can carry on a conversation with a speaker of that language. You may have acquired a skill with the vocabulary and the grammar of the language but are still missing the knowledge needed for effective communication with it. This dilemma is seen in the difficulties involved in getting computers to understand language. Computer programs express skill but not knowledge. In the trades, this distinction is shown in the classification of apprentice, journeyman, and master. 

But if you want hogwash in hard sciences, take a look at quantum mechanics or astrophysics where some who suffer in knowledge try to pretend they don’t. Or look at many of the issues plaguing politics like climate change or energy production.

Some people work to improve ideas and innovate. Others just wish for a genie in a bottle that can produce a magic bullet.

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The Big Ugly

Some call it the Big Ugly:

“Multiple far-left groups are using Ferguson as a pretext to rehearse widespread civil disobedience when the Welfare State taps the brakes.”

It’s a yearning for a vision of the old days and the Vietnam war “don’t draft me” violent riots confused with civil rights protests.

“leftist, community organizing groups — meaning those that openly define their guiding ideology with socialist/communist language (quoting Marx & Lenin, while avoiding any mention of Stalin) — have been using Ferguson to stretch their muscles, largely unused after the 2008 election of an ally in the White House. For them, the Ferguson protests have little to do with Michael Brown’s death, and more to do with anti-capitalist rants, punctuated by chants against police brutality against young, innocent, black men.

Their stage setting is Brown’s death — the play is about anti-capitalism.”

Lee Cary says Leftist organizers are using Ferguson to rehearse the Big Ugly and puts the welfare state as the prime motivation. That fits into the general rule of thumb to trace the money. In this case, it’s the issue of how to get someone else’s money.

“The means of inspiring leftist street zeal are justified by the end.

Lies have long been a tool used by the tyrants of fascists, socialist, and communist ideologies.

In contrast, capitalism — an economic system in great distress in America — is inescapably tied to Arithmetic.

Real math doesn’t lie. It requires unbiased calculation. Far-left community organizers don’t traffic in unbiased calculation.”

“The key leaders are savvy enough to understand that funding for the American Welfare State is living on borrowed time — or, more literally, on borrowed money. Borrowing from other nations, and from our own nation’s future, reflects the long-running prostitution of John Maynard Keynes’ notion of deficit spending as a means to stimulate a slack economy.

Deficit spending is a federal addiction.”

Ferguson shows just how deep it goes as well. Carol Brown describes an illustration in the reaction to Rich Lowery on Meet the Press as A few seconds of truth on Ferguson and progressives go nuts!.

“If you look at the most credible evidence [of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a Ferguson, Mo., police officer], the lessons are really basic,” Lowry said during an appearance on Meet the Press. “Don’t rob a convenience store. Don’t fight with a policeman when he stops you and try to take his gun. And when he yells at you to stop, just stop.”

Before Lowry got to the end of his statement, everyone on the panel started making faces, interrupting, waving their arms around, and nearly jumping out of their chairs.

It was just that hard for them to hear the truth.

You know, early on in my journey from left to write I often read comments on blogs that would say: “liberalism is a mental disease.” And I didn’t quite get. But now I do. I know no other way to explain the sheer inanity that is the left in action.”

The there’s the politicization of football. Evan McMurry reports that the St. Louis Police Demand Rams Punish Players for ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ Pose.

““The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory,” the association wrote Monday.

“I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights,” said SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda.* “Well I’ve got news for people who think that way, cops have first amendment rights too, and we plan to exercise ours. I’d remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser’s products. It’s cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it’s not the NFL and the Rams, then it’ll be cops and their supporters.””

Some are actually taking note of the nonsense and speaking out against dishonesty and destructive behavior. Those are first steps in pushing back against the ‘Big Ugly’.

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